boys

July 6, 2020 Leave a comment

📸: The Mail & Guardian

Some time ago, I called a friend to check on her. She’s been in between jobs for some time, even before the lockdown, so I wanted to know how her job search was going. Thankfully, she has some promising leads, but also exploring ventures playing to her strengths. However, what I’d like to discuss came after.

From career to business to family, and then, her love life. Last time we spoke, she had three men talking to her, and I’d given her some advice, so this was more of a follow up. Mr A is a Muslim, and being a Christian, she’s put him in the friend zone. She dodged a bullet with Mr B, a serial womanizer. Mr C, who I had been secretly rooting for, really disappointed me.

I’ll give you a bit of a background. He’s good-looking, intelligent, polite, sociable, well-spoken, and has a high six-figures job. The problem is his personal hygiene; it’s very poor. I won’t divulge the extensive list, but he constantly has BO, bad breath, and days-old used pans and plates in his kitchen sink, just to name a few. The sad part is she’s tried to advise and correct him subtly and lovingly, but he gets upset and defensive. He’s not teachable.

Here’s where I’m going. She talked to an older married woman about it, and her advice was “It doesn’t matter now; boys are always dirty.” Unbelievable, right?
Did I mention, she video-called Mr A twice, and in the background were shirts and pants scattered all over his room?
Her question to me, now, was “What kind of men are being raised these days?”

I think a lot of Nigerian, dare I say, African, parents have dropped the ball here. Their sole focus is to train decent daughters to the detriment of their sons. A lot of these sons have grown up with an indolent attitude towards chores, which eventually affects personal hygiene. In high school, know guys that used a pair of boxers for a whole week. They’d play/work, sweat and sleep in the same pair the entire week. Even in college, a roommate’s friend once bragged that he once used his for an entire month!

Yes, boys don’t like doing chores, but I don’t think girls do either, but they’re made to understand from an early age that it’s non-negotiable. It shouldn’t be any different for boys. Washing dishes and clothes, ironing, sweeping, mopping, even cooking, were non-negotiable for me. As a young boy, my mom made me wash my dishes (as well as my younger sister’s) immediately after every meal, and to wash my underwear before bedtime. As a teenager, it was she taught me how to shave my armpit hair and use deodorant daily. I didn’t enjoy the chores, especially on Saturday morning, but they instilled in me cleanliness, discipline and responsibility. I’m the better for it today.

Please teach your boys to: brush their teeth and bathe twice daily; wash their dishes immediately after their meals; use their underwear and socks once; wash, sun-dry, iron, and fold/hang their clothes; polish their shoes; cook; and so on. Please do, so they can grow to become good “husband material”, not just money-earning liabilities to their dutiful, responsible wives. Let’s raise real men.

While we’re on this subject, I like to address the prevalence of rape in Nigeria. I think this is an issue that has gone unchecked for years, and now, has gone completely out of hand. However, it has, hopefully, at the unfortunate expense of the late Uwaila Omozuwa, finally gotten the [local and international] attention it needs. We need to start by stopping the trend of “blaming the victim” in Nigeria. Rape is only the fault of the rapist(s). It doesn’t matter how old she is, what she wears, where she goes, what she does, how she earns a living, her religion [or faith], or her relationship status. The victim is never to blame. A lady being naked or scantly dressed is not permission to rape. A lady walking alone at night or in a night club is not seeking to be raped. A lady working as a hooker/prostitute or secretary is not permission to rape. As a man, a woman being your bestie, girlfriend, fiancée, even wife, is not grounds for rape. No girl or woman should be forced into sex against her will. There is no room for coaxing or coercion. She’s allowed to change her mind or say “no”, irrespective of previous arrangements or obligations. No consent, no sex.

I like to add that we should be aware that consent goes both ways. Boys/men are also raped. I think the current statistics, according to UNICEF, is “1 in 4 girls and 10% of boys”. Men aren’t “always down”, so there should be no harassment. They can refuse/turn down sexual advances too. I’m glad to know the Nigerian Senate is looking to revise the criminal code on rape to recognize that both genders can be raped. The code currently only defines rape as an offense against women.

So, please, as we teach our girls to be careful, mindful of their surroundings, and even, self-defense, the boys shouldn’t be excluded. Additionally, both should be educated on “consent” and taught that “no means no”. Most importantly, please teach your boys (who will become men) to always respect girls/women and their choices. Real men respect women and vice versa.

yolo

June 18, 2020 Leave a comment

There have been many high profile deaths over the past week. At home, we’ve lost Idoko Negedu, Ibidunni Ituah-Ighodalo, and Dan Foster, to name a few. On the international scene, Indian Actor, Sushant Rajput; and Korean Pop Star, Yohan. 2020 really has been something.

All across the globe, about 150,000 people die daily. Every single day, someone loses their dad, mom, husband, wife, daughter, son, uncle, aunt, granddad, grandma, bestfriend.What makes some of these recent losses more painful is the abruptness. No sign of trouble. No ailment or disease. Just young, wonderful people, with a lot to live for, cut off in their prime.

Let’s also not forget the tragic deaths of aspiring medical doctor, Tina Ezekwe (17), and promising microbiologist, Uwaila Omozuwa (22); and those of Ahmaud Arbery (25) and George Floyd (46). Lives lost to senseless acts of hate and violence.

As I went through the social media accounts of some of the deceased, I saw posts of disdain for racism, rape and violence, appreciation for life, and words of encouragement; not unlike most of ours. They had no clue. All these happenings, though painful and sorrowful, remind us of the frailty and uncertainty of life.

You only live once. We all have to die someday, but before we leave this world, we hope to live long, fruitful and impactful lives. I pray God mercifully grant us our hearts’ desires, but as we hope, let’s make each day we’re given count. No one is promised tomorrow, no matter our plans.

May the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in perfect peace. Amen.

lockdown education

May 5, 2020 Leave a comment
A major concern for me, over the past week, has been how to educate/stimulate pupils and students in Nigerian public schools during this extensive lockdown period. It’s my understanding that the children receiving any formal education right now are those in private schools. The private [primary and secondary] schools are about the only ones that can afford to implement e-learning protocols. However, the vast majority of Nigerian pupils and students attend public schools, so for the time being, most aren’t learning anything academic.

As a passionate advocate for continuous personal growth and development, my fear is a lot of them will lose a whole term, or worse, a whole year of school, and fall far behind (than they already are/were) their peers in private schools. So, in a bid to provide, in my small way, a solution, I considered some sort of YouTube channel, in partnership with teachers of basic subjects (like English Language and Math). However, there are 2 challenges.

First, there would either have to be enough content for classes by level, i.e Primary/Form 1-6, JS1-3 and SS1-3; or (the better option) classes by [broad] age groups, i.e ages 2-5, ages 7-10, and ages 11-15/16, for example. Secondly, there is the possibility that, because of their meager means, most of their guardians or parents may not have laptops/tabs and WiFi modems or smart phones (with enough data) to stream the content for long periods of time, talk less of several times a week. I concluded, since the target audience may find it challenging accessing online content, YouTube may not work.

Next, I considered working with a radio station, as this may be more practical for their parents/guardians. However, off the bat, the first issue is children have short attention spans, so without constant supervision, audio might not be too effective; especially for a subject like Math. This led to my final consideration.

Instead of subjects, the focus could be on puzzles and/or problems with quantitative and verbal elements [according to age groups]. They might not learn anything new, but those could help keep them sharp and mentally-stimulated. So maybe the best option for the masses would be to broadcast verbal and quantitative problems catered to various age groups on a regular basis – possibly, a different group at a specific time every weekday?

While seeking a partner for this initiative, I learned that 9Mobile Nigeria had begun providing free data to access certain e-learning portals to support the Federal Government’s e-learning program for students during this lockdown. Some of those portals include, MobileClassroom and Schoolgate. Kudos to 9Mobile for taking the initiative; wonder if and when the other national carriers (MTN Nigeria, Airtel Nigeria and Globacom Nigeria) would make similar arrangements.

This initiative will, in no doubt, help those with access to smartphones, but those without access to those devices would still at a disadvantage, so back to square one. I wonder if there are those equally concerned and willing to partner with me or support the radio programing angle (#RadioSchoolNigeria), as a palliative/temporary measure, of course? Classrooms are still the best method teaching children and teens.

Please note that it might not be profitable, monetarily, but I do believe it would go a long way in leveling the academic playing field and enriching the lives of our younger ones.

spousal rape

April 4, 2020 1 comment

What to Do if You're Raped on a Date - Date Rape Victim

Yesterday afternoon, my wife brought an Instagram post to my attention. The post was a screenshot of an email from a distraught woman to a popular Nigerian relationship platform. The woman, a wife, narrated the gruesome story of how her philandering husband raped and beat her [in the presence of their three-year-old daughter] after she refused to have sex with him. She asked for advice on what to do as they’re observing an isolation period. We discussed how terrible and unfortunate her situation was/is, read some comments (which included sound advice offered), and moved on.

Later that night, my wife showed me the screenshot of an email from another subscriber in response to the woman’s email. This email proceeded to berate the woman for being a bad wife who deserved what she got. I couldn’t believe my eyes as I read. The basic gist was a husband owns his wife and cannot rape her; and because he paid her bride price, he can do with her as he pleases. Honestly, I wasn’t going to comment on the issue, until I remembered he stated his entire high school alumni Whatsapp group agreed with him. I suspect they attended an all boys’ school. Apparently, the only person who had disagreed with him was his wife! Yes, he’s a married man. So, if his claim that scores of other men agreed with his logic, then there’s clearly a huge problem with a lot of men who were raised in this country.

I sent an email to the platform to set him straight. I’m not sure if it was posted, but I figured I might as well go on a larger platform to address the issue. As Edmund Burke said,”The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

First, like I did in my email, in case there is someone going through or has gone through something similar, I sympathize. It must have been so devastating to be raped and beaten, not by a stranger or boyfriend, but by your husband [and in front of your daughter/son]. According to her narration, their daughter was crying and telling her dad to stop. I hope the little girl is too young to remember that traumatic experience. Anyway, in the email, since they apparently live in New York, my advice was for her to report the abuse to the police as promptly as she could, before the situation escalates into something life-threatening; because sadly, that pattern of abuse may continue and worsen. If that’s happening elsewhere, like Nigeria, I’d advice doing the same, and additionally telling someone who can help and/or reaching out NGOs like the popular Crime Victims Foundation (CRIVIFON) and Stand To End Rape (STER) Initiative. I also applauded her for sticking it out with her husband – living with him, making his meals, doing his laundry and all, despite the cheating and insults.

Secondly, I apologized to all women for the shameful comments some men put up there to insult the woman or cheer the “responder”. The comments from a lot of men were appalling and disappointing. There were many stand-up guys that condemned that behavior, but it seemed to me that egoistic and unexposed men were the majority; and they were from all across Nigeria, and the diaspora as well, unfortunately.

Now, to the issue at hand. If my wife refuses to have to sex with me, and I force myself on her, it’s rape. Plain and simple. Once there’s sex without consent, it is rape; whether she is your wife or not. A woman being your wife or paying bride price doesn’t make her your personal sex slave nor does it rid her of her individuality. It is absolutely possible to rape your wife, and if you forcefully have sex with her, you’ve raped her!

It is absolutely ridiculous to me that grown men are defending the actions of such a shameless and uncultured husband. He supposedly has a girlfriend who is currently unavailable (due to the isolation), and because of that, turned to the wife, who he regularly ridicules and disrespects, for sex?! Who does that? How shameless and horny does one have to be to do that?

Another thing, the “responder” quoted a popular Bible passage to buttress his point on submitting and letting a husband have his way with his wife. I hate it when people quote the Bible out of context. Let’s just stop. The passage is Ephesians 5:22-25. The summary is women submit to your husband, men love your wives. If you, as a husband, love your wife the way Christ loves the church (that is, unconditionally, with all your might, with all your heart), she will undoubtedly submit to your leadership and respect you. God’s word is infallible. Don’t demand respect or submission, if you haven’t been loving. God is not a liar. Do your part and she’ll do hers!

Granted, the good book also says couples shouldn’t deny each other their bodies in marriage (1 Corinthians 7:4) – whether in spite or whatever – a husband’s body “belongs” to his wife’s and her body “belongs” to him, but your wife can say no, if she doesn’t want to. It can be quite upsetting, but rather than dwell on that, the onus is on you, as her husband, to understand the reason why and see what can be done. Self control is very important here. Wanting to have your way every single time is how children behave; that’s not being a good man/husband.

If your wife doesn’t want to have sex and you do, it could be for several reasons. It might be because she’s tired or not in a good mood, and you should try to understand that. It might be not easy, but that’s marriage. Maybe you could give her massage, or get her to talk about what’s wrong etc. She might feel better and pounce on you later, she might sleep off, she might not want to talk about it at the time. Whatever it may be, the important thing is to respect her and respect her wishes.

Her refusal is also not grounds for infidelity. No one can chase you into the arms of another woman. If the refusal is frequent, maybe see a marriage counselor. My point is, please do not force yourself on your wife; it is rape. You made a vow before God and man to cherish, honor and love her, and you should have the integrity to keep it. Husbands, please, be responsible and respectful to your wives. Think about the sort of example are you setting/planning to set for your daughters and sons.

think

March 28, 2020 Leave a comment

Pensive

Why are you in Nigeria?

I’ve been asked that question more times than I can count. My answer is usually the same – I have some ventures I’m looking to explore. Sometimes, there are looks of confusion, heavy sighs, or just good old-fashioned disbelief and head-shaking. But, I understand. Someone moving to Nigeria from Canada, at time when people are leaving Nigeria for Canada in droves, is puzzling. I guess my “interviewers” are wondering whether I know something they do not. Maybe I do.

I lived in Canada for eight years, and within that period, started three different businesses there that did fairly well (most popularly, Pearl Kreations) before I moved back. I came here to set Nigerian subsidiaries and explore other possibilities. I did I come with a mindset to introduce new concepts, disrupt/turn things around and rake in millions? Absolutely. Have I been humbled? Most definitely. Have I done well? Yet to be determined. I’m joking; by God’s grace, I’m doing well. However, here’s what I’ve realized about entrepreneurship in the Nigerian economy – there readily is no reward or support for competence, effort and ingenuity. The system largely favors those with access to power/political connections and rewards them with highly lucrative government contracts and ridiculous grants. Vusi Thembekwayo put it this way – if you look at how the top 25 wealthiest and most celebrated people in your country made their wealth, you can easily determine the type of economy you live in. Did the top 25 wealthiest Nigerians all build their businesses from the ground up (without backdoor deals and government favors)? You decide.

Of course, there are/will be exceptions to the rule, and certainly, you can live comfortably as an entrepreneur, especially if you’re a professional, like an accountant or architect. Anything other than those, would be tough, but not impossible. However, real wealth may elude you. As you may have concluded, there are very few entrepreneurs in this country who have built substantial wealth without connections or government contracts/favors. That says a lot about our business environment. This is particularly disappointing for me because a little over ten years ago, I had a totally different experience.

After running my first business for about a year, I applied to be a vendor for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. I noticed there were vendors for all manners of merchandises, but no one selling button-badges (which was my product). I saw that opportunity and applied. I got a response requesting for, what then seemed like, all sorts of random documents. I can assume now, in actuality, they were probably things like business registration documents, bank statements and so on. I replied the email stating that I was a freshman at McMaster University, had started a small business, saw an opportunity and decided to take it; I had none of the documents requested of me. A few days later, I was approved! I got sent all the documents verifying my business community membership by mail, and a congratulatory email as well. Just like that, I got in. No connections; except God, of course.

Small businesses are the backbone of any economy, and in recent years, it seems Nigeria has caught on. Things are still a little dodgy, with hints of favoritism here and there, but improving. I’m thrilled that with the impending COVID19 lockdown, so many people have gotten fired up to start a venture of their own, either to complement their income, or in transition from former employment. Whatever the reason, the best time to start is now.

However, in my experience, a lot of Nigerian SMEs aren’t equipped to take advantage of the new business environment and emerging opportunities. They are simply not very creative in their quests for business opportunities. They’re not entrepreneurial. I’ve discovered that what most people get into, and aspire to go into, once they have some capital is trading – purchase and resale of goods – and this makes them traders, not entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneur is a word that has become so loosely used, people think it’s a synonym for business owner. The fact is, not every business person is an entrepreneur. By the way, with the way things are going, except you’re selling foodstuff or hygiene essentials, you’re in the wrong business (as a trader).

The truth is, people pay for solutions, and entrepreneurs are solution providers.

Entrepreneurs create products and/or services that meet the needs of people for a profit. Entrepreneurs meet needs and get paid for it.

If you really want to be successful and wealthy, as an entrepreneur, you need to solve problems.

We tend to think too small here in Africa. The average entrepreneur is scared to be ambitious. Rather than thrive, they’re content with surviving. Well, I won’t stand for it. I’m incredibly passionate about small business, and for the past three years, have devoted most of my time into Herança Financial, the venture through which I work with/help budding entrepreneurs start, grow and manage their businesses. Coupled with my personal experiences, I’m somewhat of an expert in business (humble brag). So, with current state of the nation and the shape of the economy, I think now is as good a time as any, to share my knowledge and expertise with a greater number of people, and help them start the right way and avoid the unnecessary hardships that ignorance tends to lead.

First of all, I’ll reiterate. An entrepreneur identifies a need and works towards satisfying it, or works towards improving upon an already existing product/service, or creates demand for a product/service of value i.e. creates a need and provides the solution. The provision of the solution brings the reward – money. The bigger the problem, the bigger the reward for its solution.

Once you have a solution, please ensure the product or service has a Unique Selling Point (USP). A USP is the mark of distinction of any business. It can also be referred to as your value proposition. In all likelihood, your company won’t be the only one offering that product/service (at least, not for long), so it’s important to have either a feature, advantage or benefit that’ll separate your business from current and prospective competition. Without a USP, you won’t stand out. Please note, lower price is not a good strategy for a small business; it’s just not sustainable.

Next, identify your target market. Never make the mistake of assuming your product or services will appeal to everyone. You’re dreaming. However, your target customers will want and appreciate your products or services. They can be grouped into primary, secondary and invisible; I’ll explain later. Just know that they are the persons or businesses with the highest probability of buying your products or services. Once, you’ve identified them, profile them. Your profile should include their locations, spending habits, hobbies, and age group. These will help you know how much they would be willing to spend on your product/service and the best way to reach them. I like using Indomie Noodles as an example. Their target market isn’t everyone, it’s children. Children are their primary target market. That’s why their ads are so playful and colorful; why they invented “The Indomitables” (Superheroes) figurines and stickers; why their ads are on television and radio, not Facebook, Instagram or Twitter (most children are not on social media). They have bigger sizes (like Hungry Man and Belleful) for adults, their secondary target market.

With the proper identification of your target customers, you need know your competition. Your competition is the person or business who offers the same products/services or benefits (as perceived by your target customers). They can be grouped into direct, indirect and invisible. Direct competition are those that offer the same products/services you do; for example, Coke and Pepsi. Indirect competition are those that offer the same benefits; for example, Domino’s Pizza and KFC – different products but same benefit (fast food). Invisible competition are those you didn’t consider. They usually the bigger players that have the capacity [and potential desire (especially if you’re successful)] to offer the same product/services or benefits as you. By understanding your competition, you gain competitive intelligence. Competitive Intelligence is the process of learning, collecting/gathering and using information about your competition for the purpose of growing your own business. It helps you to keep improving upon or redefining your business model, so you’re not easily surpassed.

I’m sure I’ve given you more than enough to think about, so I’ll stop here.

The first step is to sit down and think! Find a need, preferably in an area you’re passionate about. Ask God to reveal the solution to you, and provide you with the means to execute it. Entrepreneurship isn’t just about the idea, but the execution of the plan. And as you execute, remember, please think globally. Find the application of the solution not just within your locale, but regionally and worldwide. The world is bigger than Nigeria.

All the best!