Abi Adegboye Ph.D

Abi Adegboye Ph.D

Abi Adegboye began writing as a young girl growing in western Nigeria.  In a culture that reveres boys, she was born the second of three girls.  Certain she had to be her family's 'boy,' she climbed trees to harvest fruit, dressed chickens for dinner, caught mice, and whatever else required male-handling.  She also loved to read, write, and draw.  Her initial efforts yielded publications in local newspapers and newsletters.  However, she was advised to get a day job which turned out to be as a professor of political science.  This opened to her, a different avenue for publication in her areas of research including African women and development, women migrants, and the impact of public policy on women’s political economy.

On her 40th birthday, she rekindled her creative writing with the publication of Butterfly, a picture book and Reflections on Nigerian Christianity, a social commentary.  Since then, she’s co-authored Owanbe! Yoruba Celebrations of Life (2010), a cultural anthology and published Wanna B Prez? 10 Life Strategies from President Barack Obama’s Journey to the White House (2012), a YA motivational YA book, and Renike comes to America (2016), a novella.  

Abi writes multicultural fiction and nonfiction for children and young adults.  She shares her writing through speaking engagements, performances, storytelling, and classroom visits. 

For more information about Ms. Adegboye’s publications, or to connect with her, visit her

Website at www.abiadegboye.com

Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/abiadegboyeauthor

Blog at http://www.abiadegboye.com/blog

And Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/abiadegboye

 

 

After all is said and done, more is said than done - Aesop.

It all started with this piece of social media flotsam – A young lady had her dad’s picture as a screensaver on her cell phone.  One of her friends saw it and asked, “So you too know this yẹ̀yẹ́ man?”

Thanks to Nollywood, the term, “yẹ̀yẹ́ man” has entered pan-African lexicon.  It describes a shyster, ne’er do well, a layabout, a consumate liar.  A major characteristic of such a person is that they talk a good game but deliver zilch.  Rather, they build castles in the air.  For example, a yẹ̀yẹ́ man one who has been “about to graduate” for twelve years!

He’s a business man, a lawyer, an architect, a neurosurgeon, and a part-time astronaut.  Yẹ̀yẹ́ man is most adept at weaving a world of words.  With his mouth, he builds empires and wins wars.  His saliva alone establishes conglomerates yielding billions.  From his sofa, he commands the universe; all humans hold a collective breathe awaiting his pronouncements.  He is king of his (sand)castle.

With his sweet tongue, he woos even the most astute of women.  He talks of his plans and dreams.  Who could resist such a visionary?  But wait a while, and she soon discovers he’s the master of sweet nothings, beautiful zeros, and empty kisses.  At first, he turns a girl’s head, but soon enough, her stomach.

Yẹ̀yẹ́ man asks you to marry him by saying, “You know, marriage elevates a woman’s status.  It beautifies her life.”  When you go, “Hmm?” he continues, “A woman who weds is very fortunate indeed because a good man is hard to find.”

A consultant par excellence, yẹ̀yẹ́ man tells you how to start or do everything.  He walks into your shop to instruct you on the arrangement of shelves, goods to sell, vendors to buy from, customers to cultivate, and most especially, employees to hire or keep.  Never having done any real work himself, yẹ̀yẹ́ man was born an expert so listen to him.

You plan to have children together and after 10 years of waiting, you get restless.  You say, “let us check our fertility, now?”  Yẹ̀yẹ́ man agrees but never takes action.  In fact, he loses one of his occasional jobs about the same time you need money for fertility treatments.

The rental in which you’ve raised your children is a testament to ‘honey-didn’t do nada.’  Scrape money to buy land and yẹ̀yẹ́ man informs you that it is a dangerous place to build a house.  Travel to visit friends, and yẹ̀yẹ́ man intimates that they gave you the evil eye and must be avoided at all cost. 

After spending 25 years marking time, you tire of yẹ̀yẹ́ man and suggest it might be better to part ways.  He tells you, “Yes, now, I’ve been wanting to divorce you for a long time.  Marrying you has derailed all the plans I had for my life!” So, he storms out of the master bedroom to colonize the basement.

(Photo credit: http://www.wivestownhallconnection.com/2016/08/on-wedding-day-proper-bride-discovers.html)

Thursday, 16 February 2017 00:11

If you want to marry a husband...

“If you want to marry a husband, never you marry a waka about.  If you marry a waka about o, tomorrow, trouble, trouble, trouble…” goes Nelly Uchendu’s 1970s highlife classic, “Waka About.” The song tells the story of a sweet sixteen seduced by an older man whom she met at a superstore. He was ‘all correct’ – fine looks, fine clothes, fine car. Against her parents’ advice, she married him in a flamboyant society wedding. Post-marriage, she found out he was a womanizer, fraudster, and abuser who regularly used her as a punching bag. Unfortunately, the story ends with her enduring bouts of boxing suggesting that once married to him, she had no recourse. Given this premise, the best way to avoid an abusive marriage is not to get into one. Following are ways to spot a “Waka About.”

1. He plans everything: When he takes you out, he chooses where you go, what you wear, what you discuss, and how you act. He seldom asks what you’d like.
2. He introduces you to a myriad of women but you can’t tell how they’re related to him. Deep down, you suspect he’s dating one or two of them.
3. He has a thin skin and can barely tolerate a slight. If you say or do something that hurts him, he’s unable to accept an apology as the end of the matter. He keeps bringing it up or seeks revenge.
4. He finds it hard to “feel your pain.” He does not care that you’re hurt by his or other’s words or action. Or he pretends to care but repeats the hurtful words or action.
5. He’s using you – for ego boost, status, money, sex, power, etc. You feel the imbalance of your relationship and his exploitation.
6. He’s a god unto himself. Nobody can tell him what to do. No one can counsel him or beg him to treat you better.

Watch out! Stay away from a Waka About.

Thursday, 16 February 2017 00:08

Ìfẹ́: Loving, the Yoruba Way

Love in Yoruba culture is playful on one hand and serious on the other.  Love consists of afẹ́rí and ojúṣe.  Afẹ́rí, the closest form to romance, includes use of praise names, endearment, and ìtage or oge.  Lovers often engage in playful banter called "oge" whereas they tease and cajole one another.  Oge can be used to coax an angry partner out of a bad mood or bribe one into making concessions.  It might go thus:

"O dẹ̀ wa n'bínú.  Áh, ah!  Kí ló dẹ̀ lé to yẹn?" goes the husband nudging his wife's playfully.

"Fi mí 'lẹ̀ jọ̀ ọ́.  Má ba mi s'ọ̀rọ̀," returns the Mrs shaking off her husband's hand. 

"Ṣe b'ọ́n se ma a n binu l'óko yín nì yẹn?" He cajoles touching his wife's lips.  But she's less forceful than the first time.  He snuggles closer and puts and arm around her.  She doesn't shake him off.

"Pẹ̀lẹ́, ma binu.  Ol’ójú edé mi.  Akankẹ̀."  He finishes off using both a term of endearment and her praise name.

Ojúṣe on the other hand is duty or representation.  It comprises of the husband doing for the wife what husbands are supposed to do and vis versa.  For example, a husband is supposed to buy the coffin when his wife's father dies.  Similarly, a wife is expected to care for her husband's people so he looks good.  In combination, Yoruba love grounds the couple in a nucleus of their own and within the broader context of an extended family.

Thursday, 05 January 2017 07:12

Picking Money off the Streets

“You’re so lucky to be heading to Yankee,” Bisi continued. “Everything is abundant there; light, water, food, money, everything!  You will be picking money from the ground!” (Excerpted from Renike comes to America)

The myth that people pick money off the streets in the US is pervasive for many reasons.  For one, work is readily available and those who apply themselves to industry, get paid.  Once they get paid, they send money ‘home.’  In fact, migrants remit more money than some of their countries receive in development aid.  There are two sides to the remittance story however; one good, the other bad.

Most migrants sacrifice their own comfort to cater for their relatives back in their natal countries.  They send money despite their own dire conditions.  It is not uncommon for a migrant to work two or three labor-intensive jobs to scrape together money to send to relatives.  On the upside, such monies are used to fund school fees for kids who would most likely not darken the door of an educational institution; medical bills, and businesses.  Secondarily, these private grants ensure community development.

Unfortunately, not all relatives who request and receive remitted funds use them for progressive projects.  Often, money sent is squandered on parties, white elephant projects, and businesses that never take off.  Most sinister however is the perception that those who live abroad are cash cows to be continually milked for funds.

I was told the story of a migrant who travelled to his natal country only to be kidnapped from the airport. The kidnappers demanded N3,000,000 for his release.  At some point, he called the American Embassy which negotiated his release.  When he returned to the US, he uncovered the fact that his younger brother was behind his kidnapping and demand for ransom.  Interestingly, this was the same young man he’d been sending money to regularly.

Lessons?  Watch who you send money to and what you fund.  Go for progressive individuals and goals.  Fund education sure, and business, if there’s a sound business plan.  Avoid incentivizing greed and a sense of entitlement.  Nobody works to put money in your pocket, don’t allow them to work to take money out.

And check out Renike comes to America to find out what part remittances played in her story.

On Monday morning, eight of your friends have forwarded the same message to you on WhatsApp.  It ends thus: “Please don’t break this chain.  Send to at least 7 of your friends.  If you break it, you will not receive the good news you’ve been waiting for.” 

Besides the fact that it lacks originality, you find the message offensive for several reasons: 1. It’s coercive in demanding you forward the crap to other unsuspecting friends in order to ruin their Monday; 2. It contains a veiled threat of mayhem should you fail to comply; and 3. It clogs up your inbox. You’re sorely tempted to unfriend all culprits.  But before you do so, you hope they will read this blog post of what’s appropriate to share on social media and govern themselves accordingly.

Let’s start with the Don’ts:

  1. Don’t peddle ghastly photos and stories featuring unsavory practices such as cannibalism or bestiality.  If it outrages you, it damages other people’s psyches too.  Your sharing unwittingly spreads around what you claim to abhor.  As the saying goes, “what you focus on, persists.”
  2. Don’t post unoriginal and unimaginative drivel – If you did not write it, check twice before you repost.  First, check its accuracy, its soundness, and its capability to elevate the minds of your readers.  Some items posted as jokes on some forums hearken back to the days of Beavis and Butthead.
  3. No ethnic, religious, political posts on heterogeneous groups.  Don’t offend or marginalize persons in the group.  Cartoons of the latest political buffoon may be floating around in cyberspace; do not repost in your politically diverse forum.
  4. Don’t double-share.  If a group is a microcosm of a larger one such as the women’s group of the church, do not post the same article on both forums.  Either launch it on the larger forum or target the inner circle.  Avoid inundating your audience with repetitive postings.
  5. Do not post inappropriate items on a group board.  Too often, one opens a group page to find all kinds of information not remotely connected to the group e.g. caustic jokes, crass stories, unscientific medical advice, etc.
  6. Avoid long, windy posts.  If you can help a friend focus less on the small screen, you’ll be doing her eyesight and posture a world of good.
  7. Even if true, do not be the eager bearer of bad news.  Hesitate to broadcast the death of a celebrity or personality.  If s/he is not a family member, have a care.

Dos

  1. Post news and information relevant to the group including upcoming events, minutes of meetings, information to be shared, etc.
  2. Share uplifting stories and anecdotes that inspire and elevate your readers.
  3. Broadcast original articles about your area of expertise – healthcare, home care, parenting, jobs, teaching, sewing, etc.
  4. Tell all your friends about good things that will bless their hearts and uplift their moods.
  5. Teach skills and spread how-to posts for a better world.

Like a leader, share hope!

(Insert photo: Post on Wow! Words of Wisdom)

Friday, 05 August 2016 04:45

Embracing Accountability

I went to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting last Friday; my very first and quite an eye-opener.  My friend and I arrived at the midtown location at about 7:15pm.  On the lawn of Ray’s home, about 50 people milled around talking, hugging, or lounging in lawn chairs, benches, and other surfaces.  Several cars lined both sides of the street and about a dozen motorbikes were parked curbside.  At the other end of the lawn, refreshment tables were laden with liter bottles of root beer, pints of vanilla ice cream, and coffee.  As we made our way to the refreshment tables, my friend, a regular attendee, stopped to greet his friends - people of all races, ages, and positions.  I met a county judge, a business owner, and regular folks.  Everyone was friendly, exchanging pleasantries, hugs, and conversation. 

At about 8:30 pm, our host roused our attention.  Standing at a makeshift podium in the center of the gathering, Ray began, “let’s all rise to say the serenity prayer:” 

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference.”

As we prayed, I felt something momentous happening and schooled my mind to absorb the experience.  Interestingly, I’d memorized the Serenity Prayer a while back because it helped me deal with my Type A perfectionism not even realizing its connection with AA.

A young lady read out Alcoholics Anonymous’ Twelve Steps.  I was particularly by #4 which states, “[We] made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”  This dovetailed into the topic for the evening – Accountability. 

“My name is Bob and I’m an alcoholic,” our speaker began.  He recounted his journey as a recurrent alcoholic who only broke free 11 years ago when he became accountable.  For years, he’d believed he wasn’t answerable to anyone.  Finally, he met a Sponsor who was able to reach him and to help him embrace accountability to himself, family, club, and community. 

After the main speech, it was open mic.  One by one, individuals walked up, picked up the mic, and introduced themselves - “Hi, I’m James and I’m an alcoholic and a drug addict.  I’ve been sober 14 years.”  Following intros, each relayed their journey of accountability.  One guy was only 3 months into his journey of sobriety and was depending on the community to hold his accountable.   At the end of each speech, the audience clapped and cheered. 

I left the meeting thinking how much better we’d all be should we practice some good old-fashioned AA accountability.  It would help us:

  1. Achieve more:  for those of us mired in procrastination, being accountable to a mentor or group would help us get out of the rut to accomplish our goals.
  2. Prevent hypocrisy:  when we can open up to one another about our weaknesses, we become stronger.  It’s not whether you can successfully sneak a drink but that you are strong enough to ask for help to resist the lure of alcohold.  Or drugs, or stealing, or lying, or adultery, or damaging those near and dear to you.
  3. Build community:  when we no longer have to wear masks in our interactions, we thrive.  Each person is able to reveal their real selves, receive kudos for their strengths and help for their weaknesses
  4. Strengthen both the weak and the strong:  accountability demands participation from both the weak and the strong.  It’s a give and take proposition; no sitting on the sidelines.
  5. Increase inner strength: regardless of how many accountability partners one has, one must still do the internal work it takes to triumph.  Nobody will devote every sleeping and waking hour to your success like you.  Ultimately, you must be accountable to yourself in order to ensure your victory.

But barring joining AA, how can you find accountability?

  1. Find an accountability partner or group: who will you be accountable to?  Choose a person you respect and is where you are heading.  That is, if you want to become a successful CPA, select a person who could help you achieve your goal whether because they’ve done it themselves or have motivated others to achieve their goals.  Similarly, choose a group that’s headed where you want to go. 
  2. Decide on the goals for which to be accountable:  because you cannot tackle everything at once, select the goal/s for which you want to be held accountable. 
  3. Set regular times to report in:  do you need to give an account every day?  Or can you stay on track for a week or month?  Set a regular time to give an account of your goals.
  4. Stay motivated: keep your spirits up both personally and alongside your accountability team.

 

And if we emulate AA by embracing accountability, imagine how much more we can learn from a community that exists to support its weakest members until they’re stronger, healthier, and whole.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016 03:26

Discover your Passion

“You know you are on the road to success if you would do your job, and not be paid for it”   - Oprah

 

Oprah says she knew her purpose as soon as she could speak - she loved to talk!  As a child, she recited bible verses at her grandmother’s church and spoke up at school.  She was poised, articulate, and bold.  She discovered her passion for public speaking early; it was as an extension of her personality.  From an early age, Oprah captivated audiences at church, in class, and on the literary stage.  Where most people have a mortal fear of public speaking, Oprah was a natural and this aptitude set the trajectory of her life.

Her voice having such a resonance beyond her years landed her a job at a radio station at 16 when most of her colleagues were still working odd jobs.  As she worked in her passion, her aptitude for public speaking led to bigger and better things including news reporting, talk show hosting, interviewing celebrities, and super stardom.

Discovering and working in her passion presented Oprah with opportunities to grow, have incredible success, and make significant impact.  It has produced both personal and professional rewards for over five decades!  Discovering and working in one’s passion provides tremendous personal and professional successes.  Discovering one’s passion is about finding one’s purpose, essence, thing, groove, love, or desire.  Both the journey to discovering and finding and working in your passion is worthwhile and rewarding.  So how would you discover your passion?  Try the following:

Aptitude: Everyone is born with certain attributes, talents, or gifts but most people do not take the time to discover what those are talk less of passionately pursuing them.  Think, what gifts and talents were you born with?  What comes easily to you?  Like Oprah, do you have a gift of the gab?  If so, there are hundreds of career paths open to you both in the limelight and off including public speaker, politician, and lawyer.  

  1. Intuition:  If you believe you are born to pursue a particular path in life, that’s your passion.  Or perhaps you know instinctively that you will do well in anything mechanical whether you have done it before or not, then find your passion there.    When you have an inner urge to pursue a certain profession, follow it to your passion.
  2. Experience:  If, for example, your parent/s runs a computer shop, you’ll have innate knowledge about computers that most people won’t have.  Thus, if you decide to start something involving computers, you’ll be ahead of the game.  Experience can be formal through training or informal as a hobby.  It is a great teacher and the more of it you have in an area of work, the better your odds for success.
  3. Fascination: What do you love?  What holds your interest?  What fascinates you?  Can you make a living from it?  A love for toys could lead into a career creating, manufacturing, distributing, or re purposing toys.
  4. Hate: What do you hate?  Pay attention to what you don’t want and then spin it around to get what you want.  For example, if you don’t like the look of shutters in houses, you may parlay that into a creative outlet designing window dressings.
  5. Inspiration: Are you awestruck by someone excelling in their passion?  When you watch Oprah work her magic on television, are you inspired?  State emphatically, “I want to do that too!”  Then go ahead, make it happen.
  6. Expedience: What needs to be done?  Oprah said, “I don’t think of myself as a poor deprived ghetto girl who made good.  I think of myself as somebody who from an early age knew I was responsible for myself and had to make good.”  Find what needs to be done, do it, and cash in.

So, you say, “that’s all well and good but I don’t love or hate anything nor have a burning desire to change the world.  Yet I would like to live a more passionate life.”  Don’t despair, simply take some to look inwards.  When asked about their passion and people respond “I don’t know,” what they really mean is “I think it’s so out of reach that it is not worth speaking aloud.”  Unfortunately, they stop thinking or doing anything about it.  Discovering and pursuing your passion is as much a journey of uncovering hidden talent as it is about deciding that whatever you uncover is worth pursuing. Thus, follow these steps:

  1. Embrace your passion:  Before you come up with your passion, affirm that you will accept whatever you find.  Do not judge it as good or evil, possible or impossible, realistic or unrealistic.  Just accept the passion you discover.    
  2. Think: Find a quiet spot to think.  Ask yourself the following questions:
    1. Who are you?
    2. What one thing do you feel supremely qualified to teach other people?
    3. Who would you do it for?
    4. What do those people want or need that they’ll come to you for?
    5. How do they change or transform as a result of what you provide
  3. Select your passions, rank them and begin to pursue them in order.  If you find you’re adept at writing, drawing, and crafting; choose which to pursue first.
  4. Protect don’t expose.  Protect your discovery from internal and external dream crushers.  Don’t go blabbing your passion to everyone if you want to avoid being shut down.

Now you’ve discovered your passion, start working.  You have discovered you have many passions.  You have selected the one you will start with.  Now focus and begin to make things happen.  Remember, life is an adventure, just as you journeyed to the discovery of your passion so you will journey to wealth.  But you must dare to follow your dreams.  The dream is yours, nobody else’s.  NO APPROVAL NECESSARY!

(Excerpted from Wanna B Rich?: 10 Life Strategies from Oprah's Journey to Wealth)

Thursday, 09 June 2016 03:31

Legacies of Polygamy

Last week, a friend complained about her mother-in-law spreading tales all over town.  “Can you imagine,” She lamented, “a 70-year old telling lies about a woman half her age?”  She was especially grieved that someone that old still exhibited such moral decrepitude.  I reminded her that said ‘spreader of lies’ is living out her senior years as the second wife of a polygamist; the implication being she had not aged in a polygamous setup without having some nefarious tricks up her proverbial sleeve.

Arguably, polygamy is a poisonous institution that creates an environment in which participants are trained to fight for their survival by any means necessary.  Children raised in polygamous households (whether standalone sub-households or one compound) are vulnerable to all kinds of abuse and experience psychological, emotional, and social trauma that change their nature and profoundly impact their lives, families, and communities.  If they physically survive the dog-eat-dog interactions that characterize such families, they do not escape the lasting socio-emotional impact of their upbringing.  Polygamy abrades their souls in such an insidious, systematic, and sustained manner that they seldom recognize its deleterious effect on their lives and life choices.  But the impact is there and is projected in the following attitudes: 

  1. Distrustful – persons emerging from polygamous backgrounds exhibit a general distrust of any and every one.  A typical polygamous household is rife with schemes, plots, and contentions.  Heads of such households, rule using divide and conquer techniques.  Likewise, new brides arrive with their own schemes and manipulations, ready to fight for the status of ‘husband’s favorite.’  Consequently, everyone is on guard, constantly watching for traitors and enemies; wholly distrustful.
  2. Treacherous (A je’ni l’ese)The mentality within most polygamous homes is ‘eat or be eaten’ hence a child quickly learns to scheme his way out of trouble both real and manufactured.  This developed ability to scheme, carries into adulthood causing him to instigate trouble at will.  His social interactions are often characterized by trickery, underhandedness, double-dealing, and chicanery.
  3. Deceptive (Oni’ro ati Eke) - It may start with the poor man who deceives himself into thinking he can afford two wives.  Then it transfers to the soon-to-be bride who assumes he’s either unmarried or wealthy enough to keep a large household.  In time, he deceives the original wife into believing his level of socio-economic commitment to her family unit will not change.  Finally, the family and community see his additional marriage as both an exhibit and harbinger of wealth. While this held true in traditional days when a new wife, her natal extended family, and soon to come offspring provided the farmer more hands to work the farm, today is a different story.  Thus, when the wealth bubble bursts, family interactions become a game of smoke and mirrors. 
  4. Secretive – In order to avoid sabotage, ridicule, opposition, or competition, one keeps mum about one’s business.  For instance, a pregnant bride never discloses her condition to the family and even vehemently denies said condition until she gives birth to a live baby.  Unfortunately, neither does the woman suffering from a major illness disclose her condition until she either recovers or succumbs.  When one marries the product of a polygamous home, it is incredibly frustrating to get them to divulge anything of value – financial status, business interests, associate’s address, health status, name on Social Security Card (J)…
  5. Cutthroat – New brides come in swinging their tongues, their hands, or their juju.  They slash and burn anything in their path to household dominance. Not dissimilarly, normal sibling rivalry could escalate to cutthroat competition when combatants employ means most foul to attain their goals. For example, it is whispered that a co-wife may kill the child of another so her offspring can attain primacy.
  6. Clannish - typically, siblings who share same parents (mother and father) bond better and are apt to look out for each other.  This of course leaves out in the cold, the sole child of one of the wives.  My pastor tells this story of a missing object in a one-compound polygamous home.  All the children were assembled and interrogated in order to discover the culprit.  Out of twenty+ children, the sole child of his mother was finger-pointed as the culprit.  Though he had not committed the crime, he lacked alibies aka siblings to corroborate his story.
  7. Fearful – Due to vulnerability to all shades of abuse, children in polygamous homes live in fear.  This fearfulness carries into adulthood where they live cautious, hyper-vigilant lives able to spot an enemy at 50 miles.  They second-guess the motives of everyone around them – their spouses, colleagues, and friends.  They are unable to launch initiatives or new ventures without consulting their prophet or Baba Awo to whom they are eternally welded for safety.
  8. Alienated or withdrawn – When my then fiancé told me he wanted nothing to do with his family, I was affronted on their behalf.  “Surely,” I remonstrated, “you didn’t raise yourself!  You have to honor those who have contributed to your upbringing.”  Little did I know I was borrowing trouble.  Persons scarred by the resource wars that characterize polygamous homes, tend to distance themselves from parents and siblings.  Some selectively distance themselves from half-siblings; others from the entire family.  Unfortunately, this alienation carries into their own families where they are unable to connect intimately with their spouse or children

By far the most deleterious impact of polygamy is on society wherein these emotional ticking bombs permeate society making it a veritable landmine of immense proportions.  While they’ll make great secret agents or spies, persons raised in polygamous homes make fractious citizens at best.  Their emotional imbalance creates a society where distrust, deception, treachery, and cutthroat completion.  In fact, it is not far-fetched to blame most of the ills of our nation on the institution of polygamy. 

[*The operative word in this article is “arguably.” I have not conducted any psychological studies on polygamous progenies and therefore cannot conclusively state they have warped minds.  However, as a social scientist, trained in the art of observation, I have gleaned the opinions shared above.]

Thursday, 26 May 2016 02:58

What drives innovation?

Necessity is the mother of invention.  Or is it?

A couple of weeks ago, I shared a video about a young man who had invented a ‘lion repellent,’ a device which used flickering lights to distract lions from attacking the villagers’ cattle.  To summarize, Richard Turere was charged with herding his family’s cattle like other youth of his age in the village.  Every night, the villagers lost livestock to prowling lions.  Some villagers came up with the idea of setting up a sentry each night who was charged with killing any lion that tried to steal from them.  They rotated guard duty and were successful in their plan.  However, it cost the lives of some lions and cattle.

Richard came up with an alternative plan.  Initially, he thought fire would keep the lions away.  Then, serendipity struck and he noticed that flashing lights confused the lions and kept them away from the cattle.  So he designed a device that he placed on the fencing around his family’s pasture.  Soon, other villagers noticed his success in keeping his family’s cattle alive and they asked him to design the same device for their own pastures.

So what made Richard invent such a device?  If we say ‘necessity is the mother of invention,’ every boy in the village had a similar ‘necessity.’  They each wanted their cattle safe from lions.  Indeed, there had been generations of youth who’d lost cattle to lions and who had used the sentry method to keep their livestock safe.  Yet, Richard chose to create a better method of dealing with the problem rather than accepting the age-old remedy.  Why?

Let’s review what it took for Richard to invent his lion-deterrent device:

  1. A problem – Family livestock facing depletion from predatory attacks.
  2. Independent thinking – Richard knew what others were doing, participated when necessary but chose to believe that was not the only way the problem could be solved.  He thought for himself.
  3. A curious mind – prior to creating lion-detractor, Richard had been interested in how things work.  He recounts taking apart his mother’s radio just to review its components.  He’d also tinkered extensively with other things.  So Richard had a curious mind.  He was interested in how things worked.  He tinkered.
  4. A refusal to give up – when his first invention didn’t do the trick, he tweaked it.  Richard was committed to his mission regardless of how long it took or how many tries before getting it right.  Like all successful inventors, Richard persisted in working on his invention (think Edison and the lightbulb).  It takes dogged determination to make a breakthrough so any inventor worth his salt, must persist.

Of all these elements however, one trumps all – a curious mind!  Villages across Africa are replete with problems or ‘necessities awaiting inventions.’  Unfortunately, a dearth of independent thinking generates the same tired old approaches to problems generation after generation ad nausea.  And though people never give up, they cling to the wrong ideas.  Indeed, there’s no substitute for a curious mind.  It drives the three other factors – if there’s no problem, a curious mind finds ways to make an existing remedy better.  It cannot follow the crowd because each person’s personality drives their curiosity and there’s nothing curious about a tired and worn path.  Finally, a curious mind never gives up.  It keeps on generating new ideas.  A curious mind is the mother of invention.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016 02:08

The Abigail Principles

Happy Mother’s Day - In honor of the mothers who died in the line of duty.

Reading stories of recent domestic violence victims, one gets the impression that born-again Christian women are especially vulnerable.  This vulnerability could be attributed to the sect’s: (a) over-emphasis on a wife’s unquestioning submission to her husband; (b) blind obedience to leader/church edicts to the exclusion of all reason; and (c) trans-fixation on miracles.  Simply put, the over-emphasis on a wife’s unquestioning submission forces abused wives to tolerate whatever their husbands dish out regardless of the impact on their families or lives.  Blind obedience to leaders reinforce the preceding in that when a wife runs to her leader, battered and bruised, he advices her to continue to submit to her abusive husband with the edict that “God hates divorce!”  Finally, the sect’s miracle-focused faith lures the woman into believing her abuser would miraculously be ‘delivered’ from the demon of abuse and they will testify as they renew their marriage vows.  Thus, instead of looking for alternative remedies to her domestic mayhem, she prays tirelessly that God perform a ‘midnight hour transformation’ on her marriage.  So she hangs in there, slap after blow, believing her day of salvation is nigh.

Unfortunately, her salvation comes but not in the form she’s expecting.  Rather, her abuser hastens her footsteps to heaven’s pearly gates.  At her funeral, the leader extols, “the Lord gives and the Lord takes, blessed be the name of the Lord.”  And the church agrees that “she’s gone to a better place.”  No one admits that the outcome could have been different or that she should not have ‘gone so soon…’

Indeed, the story of Abigail, wife of Nabal in 1 Samuel 25: 1-42 presents an alternative outcome to what would have been a catastrophe.  To summarize, David, who became king of Israel is running for his life, from the current king, Saul.  Along with his men, he becomes hungry and requests nourishment from Nabal, a prosperous farmer.  Nabal, also a notorious as**le, refuses to feed David and his men thereby treating them like nonentities.  David is so outraged that he determines to obliterate Nabal and family.  But Abigail saves the day by sidestepping her husband and providing to David and crew, more victuals than requested.  Consequently, Abigail’s maneuvers saved her family and are instructive to women in similar circumstances; married to Nabals:

  1. Abigail acknowledged her reality.  She did not delude herself into thinking Nabal was not who he was nor that he didn’t put all their lives into jeopardy.  If he punched you last week and slapped you today, he’s an abuser.  As the saying goes, “love is blind; marriage is an eye-opener.”  Even if he was an angel while courting, the beast has since revealed himself in marriage so treat him as such.  Don’t participate in the charade that you somehow bring out the worst in him.  If he was not a beast before you, he will not be a beast with you.  So, know the beast you live with and get smart. 
  2. Abigail colluded with her household.  A servant reported Nabal’s folly to her.  Others carried out her orders without informing her husband.  They were close to her and trusted her direction.  Be the mistress of your own home!  Befriend everyone under your roof – children, servants, visiting friends, etc.  If you befriend everyone, you defeat your bully husband’s strategy to isolate you and ensure you’re not the last person to know he is planning to sell your car. 
  3. Abigail did not provoke her husband.  She didn’t include him in her plans nor flaunt her success in his face.  As much as was in her power, she kept the peace of her household.  Similarly, whenever you interact with your abuser, do so in humility and grace.  The Yoruba saying is sound, “ka pe were l’oko iyawo ko le je a r’ile gbe.”  As much as possible, do not goad your husband into attack mode.  Let sleeping dogs lie.
  4. Abigail acted to avert catastrophe.  Think, strategize, do everything to prevent calamity!  If someone is beating you, don’t run into the room; run out of the house yelling and screaming.  Get away from the beast as fast as possible.  This strategy likely saved the life of the late Deji of Akure’s ex-wife?  When the beast went to pour acid on her in her family home, she ran out into the streets and was delivered from his hands by neighborhood youth.  Additionally, don’t hide from those who can help you.  If he tore up your arms, wear a sleeveless gown so you can tell the story to everyone who asks; the shame is not yours but his.
  5. Abigail took decisive action.  Note that she did not ask God to deliver her household.  She did what needed to be done.  James 2: 14-26 warns us, “Faith without works is dead.”  So go with God.  Be clear-thinking, composed, and take action.  If yours is a situation that requires fleeing, then plan ahead.  Plan when to go, how to go and where to go.  Keep your plans secret.  Save money for your escape.  Liaise with people who can help you and avoid those who will send you back into domestic hell.
  6. Abigail moved on.  After the Lord has delivered you, find ways to live well and in peace.  Don’t shrivel and die or live in bitterness.  Live on.  Live well.  After all, Abigail became a queen after God eliminated Nabal!
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