The Driving Test


I don’t like tests. Don’t get me wrong, I pass them. But I don’t like them. Reason? How does my answering them correctly indicate that I really know what I know? How do 5 sets of questions determine that I have really learnt what I was meant to over a period of time? What if I didn’t actually know the answers and only crammed them for the purpose of passing the test? I digress.

So about a week ago, I carried out a test of my own. Some kind of survey – let’s call it a driving test. It started when I mentioned in a Whatsapp status that I find it weird that when I’m driving on expressways linking two or more states, I rarely find women behind the wheel. But the moment I get into a state, women crop up almost one out of every two cars. So I carried out a survey – 12 women responded, all between ages Twenty-five and Forty-five. Four of those Twelve have been driving less than three years. Only one doesn’t own a car or drive. Only one doesn’t own a car but drives. Their reason, fear – fear of trucks and tankers, fear of bad roads, fear of car breaking down with no help coming, fear of commercial drivers. Truth be told, those Danfos and trucks can put the fear of God in somebody especially when they swerve to your lane and start saying “wo egbe e o” (watch your side o) while simultaneously hitting the side of their bus/trucks or just full out blaring their horns. But it’s my lane now, you think to yourself. Before you know it, they are right ahead of you threatening another car to wo-egbe-e-o as they move to take that space too. They are not okay walahi!

Picture this.
My friend Biona *not real name was heading to Surulere sometime ago. She prides herself on being street and strong-headed – one of those I-no-go-gree people. But the moment a truck blares its horn or she sees a trailer coming at full speed behind her, gra-gra don end. She swerves into the exit lane and parks the car. Then she waits an extra three to five minutes after the truck has gone to continue her journey.
***

The first time I stepped behind the wheel of a car was in Sagamu at one secondary school at High Court road. The next time I stepped behind a wheel was on Oda Road in Akure. My driving school instructor, let’s call him Baba, cramped 4 of us inside the car and gave us lessons while we all took turns to drive. Just before the roundabout towards Governor’s office, I was to exit the roundabout at the second turning and make my way towards a side road leading to Ijoka road. I nearly climbed the curb. My mistake was trying to figure out how to switch gears and still shuttle between brakes and clutch and the throttle. I looked down. Next thing, I was on the receiving end of a “Towa”. It was a hot slap that landed on the back of my neck. Anger rose up in me and tears sprang from the pain. I nearly retorted then I realized any comment I made at that time would have me “being referred home”. i.e. I would be regarded as a person with no home training for talking back or shouting at an elder. I held my tongue. Ah! The effort.

Back at the driving school, Baba said in Yoruba: A car is not something you pose with. It is a machine. It can kill. It requires a lot of responsibility – to you, to other road users, to the car. And one thing you don’t want to do when you drive is be afraid. You must have no fear when you handle a car. You must not panic. Behind the wheel, you must pack up your fears and throw them out.

Several times while living in Apapa, I snuck under a parked truck waiting for another truck to pass. Whenever that happened which was frequently, I was afraid. Every time I looked around me and all I saw was a sea of parked and moving 9ft 6inches high trucks and trailers, I almost pissed in my seat. So I psyched myself out of those fears. So a trailer is honking like a mad man. Ehn he should fly now. He sha won’t climb over me. Okay, Danfo is flashing lights behind me. Eh yah! He’ll wait noni.

I can hear your thoughts right now; this one wants to die o, you’re thinking. Truth be told, if you parked every time a trailer or Danfo blares at you, when will you ever get to where you’re going?
Let’s go back to my test.

Here’s the thing: no matter what, the fears will always be there. Who says we can’t do things afraid? What’s life without fears, without risks and without the strength to push them aside? The Greatest Showman has something to say – comfort is the enemy of progress. So for now I’ll go on in the world, in hope that one day, one woman will join me in driving on the expressways. And that woman will become ten women. And ten will become hundred until one day I can drive on the expressway and not have people look at me like I have the wrong head on my body.

Selah!

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Moments from my Growing Years (1)


“You will kill me today”, I cried as I continued to slap the hands of a boy who wouldn’t stop beating me. I was in JS1 and he was in my class too. He was at least 3years older and much bigger. I was a typical smallie in secondary school which meant everyone was much bigger than I was. And there I was, caught in a case of beat-me-I-beat-you.

I’ll get back to this incident in a bit.

One of the things I learnt in various literature classes is that a writer is an embodiment of experiences and his society; all of which must come to bear on his writing. I hated Shakespeare. He wasn’t an easy read especially as G.C.E/WAEC made him a mandatory one. My first meeting with Shakespeare was in SS2 when I was studying for G.C.E. Before that, I had an almost non-existent relationship with Literature. Although I had spent the last 2 years in Arts class, we didn’t have a Literature teacher. So imagine being thrust with a book written in 15th century English. Oh my God! I struggled. Then I took that G.C.E, the first of 3 I’d eventually write. We were to discuss a scene from Merchant of Venice. How do I explain something I didn’t understand? Needless to say, I failed that paper overwhelmingly.

I have been in a lot of literature classes since then. Not enough, but a lot. I realized early enough that characters are not that different from real life. Their choices are influenced by the culture, society and age they live. In one word, nurture.

The experiences that shaped me happened mostly in Secondary school and University. I attended a notorious secondary school in Lagos state – Trinity Secondary School, Olodi-Apapa. At the time, it was a government school acquired from the Mission. I was one of the smallest and youngest in class. We had lots of teachers but the classes were overcrowded. We students didn’t make things easy either. We were noisy, we were loud. We were easily distracted. We fought at the slightest opportunity. So when teachers came to class, it was either to give notes to the class captain who then proceeded to copy to the board for the rest of us or to give tests.

The school was all shades of trouble waiting to happen. But the real trouble began in 2003 when the government decided to return all Mission schools back to the Mission (I hope I’m right with the year). My school was one of those. School fees were introduced. That alone reduced the class by more than half as most couldn’t afford it. Teachers left, the school could no longer pay them. We were left with mostly mediocre teachers who didn’t care whether we got educated so long as they were paid. In essence, teachers left faster than you could say Dele and there were months we didn’t have subject teachers.

But let me go back to that JS1 experience at the beginning of this story. We’d had a test that day, just before break and I had covered my book to discourage anyone from spying. This boy was sitting right behind me and kept stretching his neck to see. After the test and during break, he asked why I covered my book since he was openly copying from me. As a smallie in a class of bullies, my mouth did most of the fighting where my hands couldn’t. I insulted the boy and told him I would go report. Biggest mistake ever! The boy beat me blue black, and when I reported , the teacher simply said “Ah, it’s Sadiq! You too should have shown him your work now. Abi what’s there?” My tears would not end. I cried and cried. As I was later to find out, Sadiq was one of those boys who got away with anything because his school father was one of those who terrorized the school. The teacher did not want to be attacked.

I cried all the way home. My dad asked what happened and I told him I was beaten. The minute I said the boy was my classmate, my father said, “Your classmate beat you and you came crying home? You better go back tomorrow and beat him too.” To my father, the boy’s age and size didn’t matter. The fact was the boy was my classmate. So I went to school the next day, ready to “beat my own back” but knowing fully well that I would get even worse beating.

When Sadiq came to class, I went to him and slapped him. Everyone looked at me with probably one thought running through their mind: “this girl wants to die”. Sadiq beat me again. Then I beat him in return. It became a case of beat-me-I-beat-you. By this time, everyone in class was waiting to see what would happen next. My tears were a waterfall and I couldn’t even see amidst it all. I only knew I had to keep beating in the direction of my last slap. Sadiq kept beating me and saying “I’ll kill this girl. Somebody hold her o” but I didn’t stop. No matter how much beating I got in return, I kept beating back. Then Sadiq got tired and stopped but my hands were in automatic mode and I wouldn’t stop. That was when the Principal came in: to see what was causing the noise coming from JS1B. We both got punished but Sadiq got the bigger one for “spying” and then bullying. Sadiq left in JS3 when school fees were introduced.

However I learnt two crucial lessons that day. One, no matter how hard life gets, no matter how huge that problem, a win is just around the corner. Two, only after you’ve fought for yourself will anyone else fight for you – if they will fight for you at all.

PS: Till date, I still don’t know how to report anyone. You won’t even hear Taiwo reported me to so and so. Once beaten… or in my case, twice beaten.

Africans on Sale in Libya: It’s the 15th Century All Over Again


Sometime last week, I saw a video on an Instagram page belonging to Diary of a Naija Girl (DANG). It was pulled off a CNN report about ongoing human auction in Libya. The young man in the video, Victory a 21 year old Nigerian, recounted his ordeal in the 8 months he was traded until he was able to buy his freedom. It was gut-wrenching.

I decided to do a thorough search about the CNN report via Google, and the results from the search Engine had me angry. Then I watched the full report. From the video, humans are sold as “merchandise”. Humans are sold like cattle and forced to work. In Victory’s words, even while they were doing the work, they are beaten. They were abused. Some died.

I remember a story I heard a few months ago during my Annual Leave, that a woman celebrated after she got a call that her daughter had finally crossed into Europe. At the time, all I could think about was that girl who would have had a harrowing experience. Now I think to myself, was she sold too and forced to work until she could buy back her freedom and escape into Europe? Or is she still someone’s slave in Europe? These questions, I’ll never get answers to.

In many online comments, the judgement were, what were people looking for trying to escape into Europe through Libya? Some said these horrifying incidents will teach people to stay home. But it’s easy to condemn people for taking a chance if it will give them a better life than they currently have in Nigeria. Many of us are online to see and read the stories. The people who are right now saving every kobo to make the trip to Libya are largely unaware of these events. No be who chop belleful dey buy data? They just want to make it out of these climes. We keep saying Europe has its problems, but to them Europe without food is better than Nigeria without food.

Let’s go back to Victory and the countless unnamed Africans who have been or are still going through such horrifying experiences in Libya. The world finally heard about Libya’s thriving human auctioning industry. From all indications, it is an open secret. The UN is naturally appalled because it is violation of the basic rights of man. Celebrities, Football icons are adding their voice to it on social media, calling for an immediate stop to it. Some African countries are acting swiftly to get their people out.

I heard this morning that some 239 Nigerians arrived today from Libya. However more are still in shackles. The Nigerian Government has “naturally” remained silent. “If the rights of a resident alien are violated without proper redress in the state of residence, his home state is warranted by international law in coming to his assistance and interposing diplomatically on his behalf.” (pg 507 of The American Journal of International Law). What is the Nigerian government doing to ensure other Nigerians currently still in shackles in Libya is released and returned safely home? What are we doing to ensure when they get back home, there are effective social welfare programmes to set them up with? Are we calling for diplomatic protection of every one still in Libya? Are there stringent diplomatic measures already ongoing against Libya to push them to conduct a full scale territorial search for those who may still be held in Libya? Will perpetrators be tried?

This is the time for the Nigerian House of Assembly to call an emergency session. The Nigerian government should fix the country so that our people can stop escaping the country. If country good, who go wan run comot? Nigeria is in disarray economically. Social welfare is non-existent. The Nigerian life is not worth a Naira to the government. Make we first comot the dust wey dey our eye before we comot another person own. We need to fix our home. We need to intensify efforts to stop illegal migration of our people. We need to educate the populace in urban and especially rural communities on the dangers of sneaking into Europe through Libya. The government should make it easy for us to be Nigerians. We need to bring back our people while also fixing our home.

Stop It! Writing Is Not “Ordinary”


Today, I’m addressing this issue of Nigerians who disregard writers or writing generally because they see it as something anybody can do. Nigerians need to start respecting creative people especially writers. I know many don’t see writing as a prestigious career but if you love television, movies, music and gaming, then you need to shift your thinking about writing. Programmes are created by writers. The movies you love so much were first, stories on paper. That show you can’t get enough of on TV, were written by guess who – writers. Jenifa’s Diary has a script. The Wedding Party which everyone loved in Nigerian cinemas has a script. Big Bang Theory was scripted. Titanic was scripted too – all by writers. Also, each of these movies and TV material have made and are still making millions of Naira and/or Dollars from sales and rights.

Now let me give you a typical example of my day as a writer in Nigeria.

Client: I need a blogpost on so so so.
Me: It’s 30k o. When do you need it?
Client: 30k ke? For ordinary blogpost?

Shebi it’s “just” a blog-post

Or another example. Let’s call this person Mr. T.

Mr. T: Taiwo I need your help. I’m doing a documentary on markets in Nigeria. I want to submit the documentary video for an International prize. So I need like a script, well-researched o.
Me: Eh ehn! Your fee is so-so amount!
Mr. T: Ah ahn! Taiwo, can’t you do it for free? You’re my person o.
Me: Sir, will I get credit as the writer if you win?
Mr. T: Taiwo, why are you talking like this?

Bottom line, no one wants to pay a writer because “what’s there? Ordinary writing? Everybody can write na”.

Everybody can write. Anybody can copy. Anybody can take somebody else’s note, and write it down in theirs. But not everybody can create a story or write content from scratch on a blank paper. Not everybody can create something from nothing. Not everybody can write out the stories in their heads and make you look forward to more. Not everybody can write a blogpost that is so good, people who read it, and go out to buy the product or service. That is what makes a writer different.

Whatever is written is original content from the writer, it is a product. The writing process is service. So when you contract a writer for content, what you get is product and service. Why then will you say “ordinary writing” or cheapen a writer’s efforts by offering insulting fee for content that will be of economic value to you? How would you feel if as an accountant someone tells you what you do is “ordinary” audit? Would you go to MTN or Airtel asking them to give you free data? Shebi, “what’s there? Is it not to just go on Instagram and like pictures? And maybe Google stuff?” So why can’t Nigerians respect writing and the creative industry? I’ve seen writing job adverts in the Obodo Oyibo offering $2000 a month meanwhile over here to pay a token to a writer “dey hard us” because it’s “ordinary” writing.

This “ordinary” writing has taken a lot of sacrifices, a lot of schooling, years of training, and lots of practise, money and time investment as well as constant development to be this good and for me to remain passionate about it. It is a tad insulting to generalize it as “ordinary”. I may not have a sealed package to show for it but every story or content I put out or work on is a product. Respect the work. Respect writers. Pay our due without cheapening our effort or our work. If you want free ideas or content, do it yourself.

House Hunting in Lagos: Things They Don’t Tell You


First things first, Lagos apartments are OVERPRICED. If you think you will get value for your money, please get ready to be shocked out of your wits. What you will find is that rent property quality is not even at par with the cost placed on it. I’ll get back to this in a bit.

Source: Google
Source: Google

So January 1st this year I had a list of what I want in 2017 and top of that list was paying my own rent. Rationale: My dad retires this year and it was past time papa mia stopped footing the rest of my responsibilities. Then I thought again, Olodi-Apapa (where I currently stay) is too far. I’ll search for a place in a central location in Lagos and pay.

Thus the search began. First I learnt that what I have known as a self-contained apartment all my life is called the Mini-flat in Lagos. So by Lagos definition, a self-contained apartment is just one-room with bathroom and toilet carved into a corner of it and a Mini-flat is usually a room, sitting-room, kitchen and toilet facilities in it. For me and everywhere I have lived (Ogun and Ondo) except Lagos, what I described as a self-contained apartment will be regarded as just what it is – a room.

Source: Bellanaija

That understood, I limited my search to “Mini flat” in Ilupeju, Airport Road area of Oshodi, Gbagada, Yaba, Onipanu and Maryland. Budget: 250,000 Naira per year. Can I hear some short snorts, somebody? Google became my friend, that’s aside the BBM announcement I made about searching. The first few responses I got to this “advert” was “250k? For Miniflat in this Lagos? Make it 300 or worse 350 na”. At this, I get my small Nokia and put the calculator to good use. Let somebody not come and be counting bridges in Lagos abeg. After the calculation, I realised going up on my initial will put plenty pressure on my pocket. After rent, I will sha still pay bills and feed and look good; all of which also cost money. So 250k or nothing.

Between Jiji.com and Nigeriapropertycentre.com, I managed to find some agents. The first I met in Yaba, very customer-centric, was the one who taught me the difference between self-con and Miniflat according to Lagos. Then we (My twin and I) decided to go see the apartment and then he says we’ll be paying 3000naira for inspection fee. The Ijebu in me kicked in. I need to pay to check? What if I don’t like the place? Will I get refund? Answer: No. I calculated; if I saw five different agents to check different places, 15000 is gone? LOL! So I quickly told him I’ll call him later about it as we’re undecided as to whether we want Yaba.

Source: Google

My next stop was Oshodi. I saw two places there. The first place, if you have a car, you will be parking on the street. That told me one thing. The man who owns the house is not progressive. Is he praying his tenants never own cars? Did I mention the almost non-existent ventilation? Lagos is hot enough for one to add cramped apartment to the wahala. My answer, Mbanu! The second place had a very poor road network, and the apartment, two stories up, had not been connected to water. Again, no thank you. For both I paid 1,500naira inspection fee.

Please note that at this time, I hadn’t thought to ask my dad how much my current two-bedroom apartment costs. Next stop was Ogudu, this one was found by a friend. The sad part about that area was that both ways, I will always be in traffic: whether to work or from work. That’s like adding ten years to my twenty-something already. Still, let’s see the apartment. It was nice. The builder or landlord however made a mistake: the window of the sitting room and the stair outside the house are on the same level; which meant if it rained and water flows down the stairs, it will flood the room. Did I go in rainy season? No. How did I know? Chuck that to the few times my twin and I have gone to Popsi’s house while it was being constructed. The detailed eye helped where nice would have just been enough for some people.

Long story short, I found another apartment at Onipanu. 270,000 yearly as rent and 120,000 for “agency and commission”, the agent said. Total: 390,000 Naira in the first year. Note again, this is rent only. Then I called papa and he said “120k commission and agency? Isn’t it supposed to be 10percent of rent again? That’s what the law says. That’s too much to pay”. That’s when I decided to ask, “Daddy, how much do you pay for this our place?” Let’s just say the answer got me realising I can pay 1 and three-quarter year’s rent at my current place. Did I mention that my current house can comfortably park 10 cars, has steady water supply and is only “far” when you’re coming from after Oshodi (Ikeja, Ojota, Ketu, Ikorodu)? Also to and from work or anywhere, I’m always against traffic unless the Apapa traffic demons (oil tankers and freight vehicles) are out to play.

Source: Google
let’s just stop here please

Final decision: Rent paid and I will not be moving.

Lessons Learnt?

  1. Lagos apartments are priced based on Location. Please note, location doesn’t necessarily mean quality apartment. It only means you’ll be paying almost double the price of a Mile 2 apartment in Yaba
  2. Only you know your pocket. Don’t let your big girl/boy status be determined by those who think living in one area isn’t good for your status when they are not supporting you with a dime.
  3. That thing they say about Lagos and packaging, it’s true. Don’t let your need for a fine house take your eyes off the really important details. Go with a detailed eye.
  4. If you have a low budget like the one I had, look beyond the really catchy areas of Lagos. It doesn’t make sense to drive a Murano while living in one-room in Magodo when you can get a mini-flat or standard flat at the same rate in Okota, Mile 2, Palmgrove or Egbeda and still drive that Murano.
  5. Only you know what you want. Don’t let Lagos’ idea of what is good make you lower your standard.
  6. Most importantly, life is too short to be living to pay rent alone.

 

Thoughts on a Random Day


It’s Friday and there’s a party about to start. Drinks are showing up. Small chops are making mouths do the Skelewu. soon, feet will join the movement. You see It’s TGIF somewhere in the city of Lagos. but before i go join the party…

 

Dear Reader,
The gods of writing must be having the time of their life right now as they imagine the many stories that could win literary prizes if only someone will write about current happenings in Nigeria. In the same vein, these gods must be having a good laugh at the situation called Nigeria. Allow me to explain.
Until some days ago, I’ve been away from here. It’s hard putting aside the worrying state of things to put thoughts to text. In my defense, i want to say that the Muses deserted me but that is not what happened. “What happened?” You ask. The only answer: Nigeria. Well to be fair, Nigeria has always happened but recently, more often than not. Nigeria is renowned for its corrupt abilities and fraudulent nature. Cameron gave it a fancy name: fantastic corruption.

 

However lately, Nigeria has found more ways than one to remain the topic of the day internationally: the conspiracy called Chibok girls, the desperation called Niger Delta Avengers, the disaster called Nomadic farmers, the rising despair called saving the economy, The southward turn of the naira, the growing fear called depleting oil and the sad situation called job cuts and rising unemployment.

 

When you grow up in a country like Nigeria you come to expect anything.No matter how depressing the news, life goes on. You thrive on the belief that where life exists, hope abounds. You expect nothing from the government but understand that when your tide turns, the government expects everything from you. So you get used to the negativity and make jokes about it until then. So like most Nigerians out there, i take bad news like one would buy roasted corn at a street corner- in stride after only a slight pause or shake of the head. But in all the years of my existence, all twenty-five of them precisely, nothing came close to breaking me than accumulated events of the past few weeks. There was the fuel price hike, thousands of job cuts across the country, the back and forth in government (too many propagandas and too many of those who take a knife to Nigeria like it’s their family inheritance.)

 

There was a time when it-is-well was the statement that marked the end of every complaint but these days even that is no longer enough. To agree with Igoni Barrett, each of us has become Ministers in our own right- Ministers of power, works and housing, defence, youth development, education and so on. we provide these things ourselves.

 

Lately, many of my friends are leaving the country. Some for study, some for work but in retrospect, for many of them it looks like a permanent move. Of course, I’m happy they can leave this despair called Nigeria behind but I’m sad at the avoidable circumstances that prompted their decisions. Nigeria is a country that beats hope out of you no matter how much you try not to let it. Weeks ago, I found myself looking out too. I find I want to take a break from all the depressing news surrounding Nigeria especially as the Naira keeps doing a Hopfrog against other currencies. And when I think “Oh, that’s typical Nigeria”, this time it lacks the conviction with which I used to voice those words.

 

Therefore I came back here to the one place where I can write out my thoughts without losing them. When I first started this blog, the idea was to give relevance and meanings to the regular, the everyday. Now as much as I cannot term every post on here an everyday kind of story, I find that you relate to some of the stories and give feedback albeit privately. Perhaps this is not your typical everyday situation, it is slowly becoming mine.
Right now, I write not as one hiding behind the fictive creation of a story nor behind the condensed words of poetry. Here I write as one who needs to be reminded, why I should continue to love Nigeria despite all its madness.

What It Really Means To Be a Man in Nigeria (A Lady’s Perspective)


This is for every man out there who is in constant psychological battle for his masculinity
************************************************************************
Gentlemen, shall we?
For once let’s talk about what it means to be a man. Let’s leave society’s drama of man versus woman and social media standards of men and women. Let’s look beyond the Yoruba demon hash tags and the men-are-insensitive speeches and take a look at what it really means to be a man.

Admittedly the Nigerian society is unfair on women. It’s very demanding on us, tasking us to have woven ourselves many yards thick into the fabric of wifely actions and/or inactions from our teenage years. Judging us to be good wives and great mothers, expecting us to birth and raise children who will be model citizens from the moment we become women and making sure anything short gets us the “you’re not a good woman” tag. But this is not about women.

Carried away by the noise constantly raging between the sexes, we forget that this part of the world is equally unfair on men. It’s more subtle but it’s there. It’s there every time you approach a girl for a relationship and in the first few sentences, she’s gauging how much you’re worth, if you can cater for her needs and if you can really match up with the image of the man she has in her head. So first you have to be better than the man in her head or some prior man in her life.

imageSociety’s unfairness is there in the subtle way it expects you to cater to your family and woman’s needs not minding whether you even have enough for yourself. It’s also there in other men’s expectations of you. So from go, you’re made aware of the many people you have to convincingly provide for to be called a man. There’s you, family (nuclear and extended), woman (or women) and of course social responsibility. It’s brutal if you’re unable to. Society will not hold back.

So you get a job to keep up with those expectations. You’re happy with the job but soon, the little you make is no longer enough because the bills at home keep going up or “your mates are driving good cars and you’re still on leggedez benz” or “Temi’s boyfriend took her to Dubai for Christmas but where did you take me?” So you buckle up and start one or two side-businesses in order to meet up responsibilities and keep up with the social scene. Did I forget to mention that the kind of career you find yourself increases your reputation? Oil sector is equal mega hit. Business and ICT equals he-get-prospects. Banking is big-boy. Medicine/Law/Engineering gets you a he’s-a-professional. Every other, you’re on your own. Try explaining to a Nigerian what it is you do as a copywriter (hopefully they don’t get it confused with copyright).

The unfairness is there in the expectations from family in taking care of your younger ones or in even supporting the home front especially if you’re the first born son. And just when you’re getting the hang of it, just when you’re beginning to understand what it means to be a man, then you’re subtly urged to begin to include iyawo rere in prayers because you need a woman who will hold home down so you can focus on the hustle. So like the woman who doesn’t want to be tagged for Shiloh 2030, as a man too, you don’t want the tag of someone who can’t keep a woman. So you try to be a man and man your way through heartbreaks and sadness and deaths and depression and manipulation and family. So you learn to be bigger than you really are, even if it means faking it and dressing it up. You have to be a man. Remember?

deceptionWhat about sex? Every day you go online, somebody is talking about 6 inches and 9 inches and without even realizing it, you’re measuring yourself against someone’s preconceived idea of how many inches you need to be a conqueror in bed. You begin to wonder if that hot new girl you are about to conquer has been with someone bigger or smaller and if you’ll somehow do better or less than her last man. You begin to ask yourself if the you’re-the-man which Precious was chanting the last time you both rolled in the hay was her being good at faking orgasm or her being the real deal.

In the end, the struggle to be a man is no small feat. Men may break your heart, take advantage of your love, choose the hustle over you; in the end those things are things  society conditioned them to be in order to be called a man.

So for once, guys tell us, what does it mean to be a man?

This thing called Youthful Exuberance


As a writer, there are certain things that come to you easily; particular attention to things (details) even when it seems you are not looking.

So sometime ago, a contact of mine used a Display Picture that most people keep hidden, an insignia of a particular confraternity. Usually I’m not one to ask people stuff about their DP except we are very good friends, I proceeded to ask him about it nonetheless and if he was a member. He answered in the affirmative. He then proceeded to explain his reason as “youthful exuberance”. My antenna went up just then. I thought he could have just own up to his choices and then let it go. I’m a sucker for people who own up to their choices, good and bad anyway. But calling his choice “youthful exuberance” when he is apparently still proud of his membership didn’t go down well with me.

For me, youthful exuberances are choices one would rather not associate with as one grows, but which are part of a person’s growing up reality. If you’re proud of your choices as an adult, then it no longer qualifies as youthful exuberance. A friend argues that though youthful exuberance is not necessarily something you’re not proud of, it could be something you’ve outgrown nonetheless.

If this guy’s choice was something he has outgrown or regret because he did it out of curiosity or peer pressure (I didn’t ask his reason), why is he identifying with that choice? However, confraternity is not the subject of this article. This article is about a young man who blamed his choices on youthful exuberance when he still very much enjoys the benefits of that choice as a young adult.

I think everyone of us have done things that looking back, either makes us smile, fill us with regrets, make us wish for those times, is the reason why a particular nickname stuck or just become great entertaining stories for when we meet old friends again. I think it is fair to call exuberances experiments i.e. experimenting with life until we get to that point where we can make informed decisions about what to let go of and what to continue with. If as a young person, I had experimented with drugs and alcohol and then decided to stop because I have outgrown that period of my life, then I can call it exuberance. If I had at one time derived joy in partying all day every day, going from one party to another, with no direction to my life and then one day I stopped it all, then that also qualifies as youthful exuberance. But if I still do these things and take pride in them, then it is not exuberance.

I’m open to a different opinion though. What do you think qualifies as youthful exuberance and what does exuberance mean to you?

Should Tribe Be a Major Factor in Marriage?


Hi guys,

Tonight, we will be doing things a little differently. Today’s article went up on another blog I’m a contributor on. I had a different topic planned for here so I had to debate with myself about it. In the long run, that topic won the debate. So here goes, Should tribe be a major factor when getting married? Click on that and it will take you to the other blog. I hope you enjoy it as always and please don’t forget to share and leave a comment.

I love you guys always.