Dealing with Diabetes (Pt. 2)

So, you have Diabetes…..

It is not the end of the world

Excess body weight is the most important risk factor for diabetes. Several studies from within and outside Sub-Saharan Africa have confirmed that the prevalence of diabetes increases with increasing Body Mass Index (BMI). Being obese makes you 20 times more likely to have diabetes than somebody with a normal BMI and losing just 10% of body weight can cut risk in half. The best option would be to avoid gaining excess weight as shedding weight can be a tedious process. Without proper guidance and encouragement, many attempts at weight end in futility. However, there is no doubting that the two pronged approach of diet and exercise is important in losing weight and none can be successful without the other.
Dietary changes involve reducing caloric intake and changing dietary constituents. Refined carbohydrates like white bread and white rice should be shunned in favour of whole grains. Refined carbohydrates have a high glycemic index i.e. they cause a sustained spike in blood sugar levels and this increased the risk of diabetes. A reduction in total caloric intake is recommended and sizes of food portions can be reduced as long as a balanced diet is maintained.
Sugary drinks are a no-no. Processed fruit juices and carbonated sugar-sweetened beverages should be off your list if you have an increased risk of diabetes. The high glycemic load can overwhelm the body’s glucose control mechanisms. This is compounded by the fact that consumption of these beverages and fruit juices leads to an increase in body weight which increases the risk for diabetes. Artificially sweetened drinks are not as dangerous as their sugary counterparts, but this doesn’t mean they are totally safe. Studies are have controversial and are not yet conclusive. However, it is safe to say that consumption of artificially sweetened beverages in moderation will not increase risk. Water and tea are healthier, but less fanciful, substitutes.
For the proteinaceous aspect of diet, limiting the consumption of red meat (beef, pork and lamb) and processed meat (hot dogs, luncheon meats and bacon) can help to reduce risk. Even consumption of these foods in small quantities can greatly increase risk. Reasons why they are so dangerous are varied and the high sodium and nitrite content may be to blame. Healthier alternatives include fish and poultry (remove the skin and not fried). Yogurt and low fat dairy also helps to reduce risk.
Then, of course, you can never go wrong with eating vegetables. Green leafy vegetables are very protective.
If you smoke, you will have to quit. Smokers are 50 percent more likely to have diabetes than non-smokers.
On the other hand, alcohol consumption in moderation – a drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men – may be of some positive effect. They also have salutary effects on the heart, reducing the risk of heart disease. Consumption of higher quantities will increase risk. If you don’t drink alcohol, this is not an invitation to start, you can get the same benefits by losing weight exercising more and changing your eating habits.
Some nutrients like Vitamin D may be helpful in people who have pre-diabetes but not diabetes. Some studies have shown that Vitamin D may improve the sensitivity of the body’s glucose control mechanisms.
Above the level of the individual, there still remains much to be done. The first step is proper gathering of data. There is a need for epidemiological data and proper estimation of the burden and incidence of the disease, particularly in the high-risk populations. This prevents under-budgeting and ensures that the most vulnerable don’t get left behind. Another point of note is that diabetes-related expenditure is still very low in Nigeria. This is reflective of the bigger problem of health care in Nigeria where the majority of monetary allocations goes into recurrent expenditure. Proper infrastructure for diagnosis and management needs to be available at primary, secondary and tertiary care levels. The current system only provides specialist care in the tertiary centres and a few secondary centres clustered in urban areas. Access to insulin and oral hypoglycaemic agents remains beyond the reach of those who require them the most. The IDF has reported that the cost of insulin preparations is higher in sub-Saharan Africa than anywhere else in the world. Even those who can afford medication are beset with the problem of erratic supply.
Diabetes is a chronic disease and the long term economic and human costs of managing the disease are enormous. Preventive measures are at the heart of successful government interventions. Media campaigns aimed at behavioural modification can be very cost-effective. Increasing the awareness by the population of facilities for detection and monitoring will decrease the incidence of long-term complications like blindness. Training of local health support workers at the community level is also a priority as they are often the first point of contact for many patients in the rural areas. They are also in the best position to ensure local adaptation of government programs as they already understand the nuances and cultural mores of the environment.
The role of diabetes associations cannot be overstressed. The efforts of the Diabetes Association of Nigeria are laudable but they are in great need of support. These associations can serve as think-tanks and perform research and advocacy on issues that are peculiar to this environment. They can assist in the process of data gathering. National associations also play a crucial role in imparting education at different levels of health care and to the community at large. Patients should be encouraged to join these associations as they help promote consistent use of medication and provide fora for diabetics to seek solutions to challenges.
Every year, the world celebrates World Diabetes Day on the 14th day of November. This is in response to the alarming rise of cases of diabetes globally.I find it prudent to listen to the Harvard School which has summarised diabetes prevention in five words worth remembering: stay lean and stay active.

Dealing With Diabetes (Pt.1)


They are a common sight in our hospital clinics and wards, a recurring decimal across the landscape. Sometimes they hobble as a result of lower limb amputations, and other times, their eyesight is the victim. Regardless of the part of the body under plague, the culprit is the same. Diabetes.
In 2014, diabetes and its complications were responsible for nearly 106,000 deaths across Nigeria. Alarmingly, 77.6% of these deaths occurred in adults under the age of 60 thus, it is not ‘a disease of old people’ as is commonly thought. All these fatalities constituted a large part of the 481,000 deaths that were estimated to occur across Africa.
At the risk of oversimplification, diabetes occurs when the body cannot effectively control its sugar levels. Virtually every cell and organ in the body depends on one simple sugar, glucose, for most of its energy needs. When the body’s glucose control mechanisms fail, the high concentrations of glucose wreak havoc all through the body. Cardinal symptoms to watch out for in diabetes are increased frequency of urination and increased thirst. The list of problems associated with, or caused by, diabetes is endless – male and female infertility, kidney failure, nerve damage, stroke, blindness etc. Newer studies are establishing correlations with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, frozen shoulder and sleep apnea.
Figures from the International Diabetes Foundation (IDF) have indicated that 3.75 million people (ages 20 – 79) have diabetes in Nigeria. Of this number, 1.7 million people do not know they have the disease. These figures are underestimates as epidemiological data from Nigeria is only starting to improve. Nigeria, and much of Africa, now faces an increase in the incidence of non-communicable diseases like diabetes and hypertension. This upsurge in the face of known problems like malaria, HIV/AIDS et al is due to increased urbanisation and changes in lifestyle such as physical inactivity among urban dwellers and, surprisingly, in rural areas.
There are many forms of diabetes. Most people will have a form known as Type 2 Diabetes. It used to be called adult onset diabetes since it was not seen in children, however, rising rates of obesity in children have proved that diabetes is no respecter of youth. In addition to the millions of people who have established diabetes, a larger number have “pre-diabetes”. A person with pre-diabetes has not distinct symptoms, they only have a blood glucose level which is higher than normal – but not in the range of diabetes. Without adequate intervention, up to 70% of people with pre-diabetes will progress to Type 2 Diabetes within 10 years or less. Studies conducted among various Nigerian populations have reported pre-diabetes in populations as young as university undergraduates.
The good news is that not everybody with pre-diabetes has to develop full blown diabetes. Healthy changes in diet, body weight and exercise habits will prevent progression to diabetes and may even send pre-diabetic blood sugar levels back to their normal range.
A host of genetic and environmental factors are responsible for diabetes. However, not everybody with genetic predisposition to diabetes will develop the disease as environmental factors are more important. Thus, it is safe to say that diabetes is not curable but preventable. Several clinical trials and prevention programs have demonstrated that simple lifestyle modifications have the capacity to prevent diabetes. These benefits extend beyond the realm of diabetes and lower the risk of heart disease and some cancers.

So, If you have diabetes, what do you do?

Epsilon (Pt.1)

“Charm is the ability to insult people without offending them; nerdiness the reverse”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb

I wasn’t sure what to title this post as it’s still a work in progress. Maybe when it is done I have a name. It’s about what occurred to me a few days ago regarding social grace. The rules of charm and social etiquette are universal but have various cultural modifications. An Italian girl may swoon if you kiss the back of her hand when introducing yourself, the Bini girl will cringe and wonder what has gotten into your head.
However, I think some tips can be utilized across both sides of the Atlantic

1.) Footwear
It is a bit ironic that the most iconic part of a man’s appearance lies at the feet. It is commonplace but underutilized knowledge that you can tell a lot about a man by just looking at his shoes.
Footwear are among the first three things to be noticed about any man ( along with his handshake and his fragrance). They send a message and put you on a pedestal. If possible, have clean, non-torn socks (nothing more annoying than removing your shoes and seeing your big toe poking its head through the window in your socks.) Look for shoes that fit your style. There is a type of shoe for every body type, depending of course of what needs to be achieved and what image needs to be projected. You want to look like a classic man, maybe you should go for some Oxfords. You like something with some versatility, maybe Brogues. Then there are sneakers and loafers and others.Personally, I favour Chukka boots as they fit my evolving style.
No matter what you do, no matter where you stay, have a pair of black leather dress shoes for that special party, wedding or meeting. A man must have a pair of black leather dress shoes.
And for those who choose to wear slippers a.k.a palms a.k.a sandals, you might want to invest in basic skincare and grooming. It is not ‘un-masculine’ to rub Vaseline or body cream on your feet. Nobody (sane) will doubt your manliness if your cut/trim your toe nails every once in a while. Even if you don’t know your way around a scissors, there is probably an aboki in your neighbourhood who will trim your nails to perfection for a very small fee.
You don’t have to wear slippers by Kene Rapu, just have one or two pairs of quality slippers and strut your stuff

And for Heaven’s sake, don’t forget to polish your shoes

No!   No!!   No!!!

No! No!! No!!!

2.) Be inquisitive . . .

. . .but don’t be intrusive.
Everybody loves to talk about themselves. That’s Psychology 101. For some, it comes naturally. They’ll almost bore you to death with endless tales of their achievements and/or acquisitions. There’s that thing that is said ’bout empty barrels
Other more refined people will need a bit of coaxing before sharing themselves with you. Man is a creative spirit. There must be an outlet for the products of the mind. There is no such thing as a person who does not like to talk. An individual may not like to engage in conversation at that moment, that place or that current state of mind. However, given standard conditions, they’ll demonstrate the worst case of oral diarrhoea ever seen.
Be genuinely interested in the person. Let them be the expert in something and massage their ego by sucking up their information.

Be quiet, listen more and try to learn and remember more about the other person. I know somebody who had a small exercise book filled with nitty-bitty details he had gleaned from conversing with people. Later, he would call back and discuss their lives with them in a a non-creepy way. It can look creepy or stalker-ish
‘Why do prefer Tecno phones, most people are Blackberry people?’
‘If you could go back to your primary school self, would you do anything differently?’
Be fascinated about everybody

And for Heaven’s sake, if somebody bluntly tells you to butt-off, you had better butt-off

. . . to be continued

Festac Town, Season 1, Episode 1: Pilot

The field for quality production in Nigeria’s cine-verse is getting bigger and wider. This era, call it ‘New Nollywood’ if you will, is often marked by good scripting and even better directing with decent musical scores to boot, subtitling is usually ‘on point’ and – no – the grossly uncomfortable Part 1 to Part 10 is absent.

Since Blessing Effiom Egbe (B’concept Productions) had the first bite of the pie with the uber-successful ‘Lekki Wives’, there has been a mad dash for the market with other companies picking up the gauntlet.

ROKSTUDIOS steps up the plate with ‘Festac Town’, a show that promises to take us inside the ‘secret lives of the upper, middle, and lower class living in Festac. Their fears, tears, pains and victories.’ I absolutely love the ensemble cast of tested industry hands and a generous sprinkling of fresh faces.

Created and Produced by Mary Remmy Njoku and Directed by Abbey Esho; ‘Festac Town’ promises to be a story of crime, power and love.

Here we go . . there may be some spoilers
Festac town series

Episode 1 starts rather slowly. We get introduced to a lot of people very quickly. Ada Ameh portrayal as Madam Bendel is hilarious. You couldn’t help but feel that all that ‘talent’ at cussing was unscripted. Then we meet Silver (Oge Okoye) and Boniface( Kelvin Ikeduba) – a seeming Bonnie and Clyde narrative – as they honeytrap randy married men to extort money. It was really uncomfortable watching Silver as she exchanged in heavy petting and necking with her victim. Both the kisser and the ‘kissee’ were not at ease and you could see the relief when Boniface came in, with mock anger, to bust them up. Boniface seems to be the local crime co-ordinator in Festac Town, an enforcer of some sorts and Silver just wants him to man up and put a ring on her finger.

Most of the verbal exchange in this episode is done in Pidgin English and teaspoons of Yoruba. This is not unexpected in order for the character portrayals to be appropriate, besides the denizens of Festac area of Lagos are not renown for pristine diction. Yes, there are translations at the bottom of the screen, but sometimes, it is all too easy for those not schooled in ‘Pidgin’ to get lost

Fast forward to Joshua Richards (Solomon), the young son of Chief P (Kunle Coker) is strolling down the wrong path and mixing with the wrong kinds of people. First we see him going to create a key duplicate (that is never a good sign) and by the end of the episode, he joins up to rob James and Clara.

Ahh. . .and then we have the dancing duo – Janet and Jane (Binta and Jemila Bulama). The producers made sure these twins were identical down to the last p – from their woven unkempt hair to their tattered green rubber slippers. Whoever taught them to dance should be applauded as the twins’ dance choreography was beautiful. We also meet Justina (Mary Remmy Njoku), the mother of the twins, as she juggles the baby in her womb with her extra-uterine problems.

Fast and light, Episode 1 is really determined to introduce as many cast members as possible as we breeze from scene to scene. The producers really did make an effort into making the show setting as realistic as possible, seeing Young Lawyer (Blossom Chukwujekwu) brush his teeth with ‘pure water’ showed how much attention was paid to minutiae.

James (Keppy Ekpeyong) was simply cantankerous in this scene; playing Mr. Grouchy to everyone from his wife – Clara (Vivian Anani) to the police men investigating the robbery attack on he and his wife.

That look on Clara's face!

That look on Clara’s face!

Seeing Tina Mba was nostalgic for me. I didn’t know she was still in the game.

To discuss Episode 1 properly would be quite lengthy, I believe the depth was sacrificed on the altar of latitude in order to really get the show going by the second episode.

Anyway, Festac Town has the promise of a good show, the ensemble cast promising a lot of story lines. Let’s see how it goes.You can catch Festac Town on

. . .then came Zahra

If there is anything I’ve learnt in the run-up to the 2014 Nigerian Presidential election; it is the value of packaging.

This essential concept is the difference between

Nowhere is this more manifest than in the ‘re-packaging’ of a major Presidential aspirant – Maj. General Muhammad(u) Buhari. This prominent son of Daura received a cosmetic makeover even as he guns to displace incumbent President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan from Aso Villa

How you are perceived by the public is often more important than how you perceive your self. Case-in-point: The current No1 citizen of this country has been viewed in many quarters as ‘clueless’ and ‘slow’. This writer does not share those sentiments and I’m sure that the Commander-in-Chief does not think of himself in that light.

Back to Buhari

buhari meme

I must commend the General’s handlers for whitewashing the image of our dear General. He had always been viewed as a fundamentalist and/or a religious bigot; an fanatical individual who was hatching a grand scheme of enforcing Sharia throughout Nigeria and pushing this secular country into the Organization of Islamic Conference.
He has always worn the toga of incorruptibility and piety. His apparent lack of material resources despite some years as a military president have convinced many that he is not a thief. When he declared his assets, he valued himself at about ‘ 150 cows and one million naira’.
Heck, there was even a time he could not pay his house rent.

But despite his pros, the hardliner ethnic/religious fundamentalism was a proving a hard sell to the electorate in the 2014 race (as it also was in 2011, 2007 and 2003).

Like a breath of fresh air, like the much promised change, the public has been treated to a whole new General Buhari.
Gone is the hard-ass dictator and say hello to a jovial child-friendly granddaddy.

from this…buhari angry 2

buhari angry 1

…to this trendy daddy!!

Muhammadu Buhari OfficialNEW BU

                                                                                  Muhammadu Buhari official

A twitter account was opened to keep up with the social media conversation of Nigeria’s youth

Follow General Buhari on Twitter here


There is no more talk of monkeys and baboons drowning in blood if the election does not go as per-planned way.

Enter the daughter 

zahra 3

zahra 6

The General’s media machine realizing that “beauty attracts”, has thrown in the pretty daughter of General Buhari into the party.

Her name is Zahra (which means beautiful/flower/shining).
She is an undergraduate student at the University of Surrey and she apparently has a taste for high end fashion.


She was literally a game-changer( apologies to Messr Adamu Muazu).
Her young blood (and bod) immediately got people talking positively about General Buhari. Why shouldn’t we vote in the father of this hot chic? If he can maintain his daughter this good, then he can maintain Nigeria as well? Is he really a religious fundamentalist; because his daughter don’t look like the daughter of a hardliner?

Then, there were the marriage proposals

In all, It was good to see a warm side of General Muhammad(u) Buhari. If he does win the February 14 polls, we can be sure of one thing, we will have a serious contender for the prettiest First Daughter of the Federal Republic. Excelsior.


. .Waiting for the ‘robust reply’


Being labeled as something you aren’t can’t ruin you.

Being accused of something you didn’t do can too

Eight months ago, a certain Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo (of Commonwealth of Zion Assembly) was accused of sexual and spiritual manipulation. The accuser/alleged victim: an upwardly mobile young woman named Ese Walters. The salacious details of the affair were fodder for gossip blogs and a topic for heated discussion at your local watering hole.

Usually, a tale of this nature is bound to elicit emotions and reactions from all and sundry. There’s shock, denial, surprise and even disappointment. Some sour pussies will even whip up the I-told-you-so card. This WalterGate was no different. Miss Walters was called a mudslinger amongst other unprintable names. How does a grown up woman have consensual sex and then publicly accuse her partner of manipulation? Not a small number of ‘Christians’ rose up in defence of the vocally talented Pastor. Was she not an instrument that the devil was using to batter one of the fastest growing churches in Abuja?

The man himself, Pastor Biodun, was morbidly aghast.

He mounted the pulpit the next Sunday and addressed the matter

“I’m sure you read some things about me in the social network. I’ve been receiving calls from different people even big people in government… They have been advising me; ‘don’t talk, we understand’. We are going to speak but we are consulting. We’ll come out with a robust reply…..My wife and I love you”

Thus, we decided to wait and hear from Pastor B before coming to conclusions.

We waited

. . .and waited

Time went by. The Sochi Olympics came and went, Russia invaded Crimea, Nelson Mandela died and was buried and there were episodes of fuel scarcity in Nigeria. . .and still, we waited.

The next time I came across Pastor B in the news, he was receiving a brand new Rolls Royce ; a robust gift from American preacher Mike Murdock. The next time I decided to google him, he was treating Abuja denizens to a round of free Valentine’s Day shopping

Meanwhile Ese Walters found a man to put a ring on it. She got married to her friend, Benny Ark.

. . .and here I am, still waiting for Pastor B’s team to finish consultations and issue a robust reply.

Defending a pastor is not equivalent to defending God. Some individuals Pastor Biodun is human, Ese Walters is human and I am human. We often hold our religious leaders to superhuman expectations. They have become brands, almost celebrities. We have so deified them that any whisper of frailty is  swiftly shot down. We need to have heroes and we can’t bear to lose them

On a side of this crooked coin, I could say: If you did it, say you did it; and if you didn’t do, say you didn’t do it.  More duplicitous advice would be: Whether you did it or not, say you didn’t do it. That would settle the matter and send everyone to bed.

I can understand, but not tolerate, the quietude from Pastor B’s camp.Imagine he admits to a dalliance with Ese Walters, the reaction would be scandalous, to say the least. He will forever be known as the ‘Pastor that slept with That Girl’. He may show contrition, ask for forgiveness and even do penance; but still, our desperation for holy heroes will ensure that our views of him will be forever jaundiced. People may forget his wonderful sermons and lovely attitude, but the moment(s) of weakness will be indelible. That is the nature of human existence, we always see the blot of ink in the bowl of water. Even if he denies all the allegations, he will have to provide some serious explanation and this will provide Miss Walters with fodder for another attack.

Thus, the silence leaves us second-guessing and those who love their heroes will still have this last straw to cling on to. Those who hate him will have nothing to work with and no words to trap him with. He will be able to hide under the umbrella of  forceful inaction- don’t say anything & don’t do anything-  and slowly, the passage of time will paper over the cracks and we will forget and move on to the next scandalous piece of steaming gist.

Thus, let those who wait continue to wait and let those who are tired of waiting move on with their lives.

Happier days

Happier days




The Death of Ndubuka John


John Ndubuka
(Husband, Father, Friend)

I’m not sure the number of Nigerians that will die before the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) challenge this issue of ‘accidental discharge’. That’s why the average Nigerian is scared of coming near the average police man. The chap’s finger may just be on the trigger and nobody is sure if the officer is drunk, frustrated, tired or even trigger-happy.

John Ndubuka was a cousin to Engr. Chinedum Orji, the son of the governor of Abia state. This husband and father was shot dead by a police man who was on duty at a civic reception for the governor. Eyewitnesses claimed that the trigger was accidentally pulled as one of the policemen on duty at the venue held his gun with one hand and was clearing the surging crowd with the other hand.

So, in other words, a police man had his fingers on the trigger of a LOADED gun and was attempting to control a civilian crowd at a peaceful event!

WTF!! (Where’s the fufu?)

C’mon, what the heck is wrong with the Nigerian police. I have never attended a police college and yet I know a cardinal rule of gun safety- keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot. Even if we assume that his finger ‘slipped’ to the trigger and he ‘mistakenly’ squeezed it, the gun should have been locked with a trigger lock ab initio

I don’t what they teach them at the police training colleges/academies but I know that some of them are in a deplorable state.What exactly do they teach them there? How to collect 100 naira? (they don’t do 20 bucks these days and some even demand American dollars) It took an undercover visit by Channels TV for the College at Ikeja to wear a new look. I’m angry because there is a woman somewhere who has been robbed of her husband because a ‘trained’ police officer could not handle a gun.

I don’t even want to talk about whether or not the erring policeman will be prosecuted. Those asking me if the NPF will compensate the deceased’s family will have to answer the question they are asking. This case has generated a lot of ruckus because the individual involved was a Somebody; a cousin to the Governor’s son. What happens to the Nobody danfo driver who is shot for refusing to part with some naira notes? What happens to the Nobody detainee who is shot for being ‘too stubborn’.

And yet, the government is playing politics with our security. Police Service Commission has been plagued by the spirit of jeun koku. I can confirm that many Nigerian legislators are either Citizens or Permanent Residents of a developed European country or America.

It shall be well. I may be angry now, but I know it shall soon be well

May God console the families of all the Nobodies who have been discharged accidentally by the Nigerian men-in-black


Let’s flog our kids. Please!


My aunt invited me to her house at NICON town in Lekki. It was another opportunity to waltz into those high-walled exclusive estates on Lagos Island, where all the generators have silencers and all the residents’ passports have American or British visas( that is, if they are not already second citizens of a developed country across the Atlantic).

After having a very nice lunch, i noticed that her six year daughter, Chichi, was throwing a terrible tantrum. Honestly, I don’t know what she wanted but my aunt was unwilling to give it to her because she felt her daughter had had enough of it. The little madam was screaming and acting like a stubborn little monster.  After the intense altercation, my exasperated and exhausted aunt then issued what must have been her ultimate threat;

“Be careful or you will get a time-out”

Hian!! Time-out ke! Are we playing basketball?

Long before the tiff escalated to this present stage, my mother would have slapped the earwax of my ears. When she was feeling merciful, she would only anoint my disobedient buttocks with some strokes of Hausa koboko. The memory of ‘buttocks-past-flogged’ would prevent me from be stubborn in the future. Corporal punishment seems to be on the decline in Nigeria. We seem to think that it is inhumane to flog an errant child. Some believe that children who ‘feel good’ will ‘act good’. Other ‘no-spanking’ apologists believe that children grow up to hate their spankers and spanking damages the parent-child bond. If you scour the internet, I’m sure there are more than a million more reasons.

Firstly, it is important to separate spanking from violence. Any form of discipline carried out in anger becomes violence. Anger beclouds objectivity. It makes you lose control and it turns you into a bully It is often better to ‘hands-off’ from a child when you’re angry. Even what you say to the child in anger often leads to regret. Personal experience has taught me that discipline is better effected without the emotional overload of anger or frustration.

Children, by nature, have a lot of foolishness. It is often a benign foolishness. The barriers of appropriate and inappropriate behaviour are not very distinct to six year old. Telling an erring child to go sit in her room and think about what she has done is one of the most ridiculous forms of discipline I have ever seen. Granted, children are different and some will exhibit amazing maturity at a tender age, nevertheless, stubborn children will always need a firm child. Constant negotiation with a child, all in a bid to preserve self-esteem, is often futile.

In 1979, Sweden became the first country in the world to pass a blanket ban on spanking, arguably creating a nation of brats. Leading experts have warned of the possibility of breeding a generation of ill-mannered children in Sweden. Children are different and parents should be able to implement different methods of discipline. Despite all the flogging from my parents, I still love them all the way from Lagos to Maiduguri.

Finally, I agree that child-rearing is a difficult thing. Reasoning with kids can be great, but what do you do when it fails? Besides, flogging doesn’t last forever. As children grow, there should be a phasing out. Some parents flog all day, every day. That’s terrible. There’s an igbo adage about not flogging a child the day he throws away palm oil. I can’t remember it now.

There is talk of a ‘rod’ in the Biblical Book of Proverbs 23:13(KJV). What do you think?


Let Girls be Girls. Please!

 girl lipstick makeup in pink vanity with mirrorSome time ago, I attended an event at a popular hotel in Asaba, Delta state. At the end of the occasion, Lady Boredom cajoled me into taking a stroll around the hotel, savouring the evening air and engaging in the proverbial clearing of the head. A little later, I stumbled upon a children’s party in full swing.  It had bouncy castles and face painters, gaily dressed clowns and pink candy floss; infact, all the paraphernalia of an upscale kiddies shindig.

And then I saw some of the dresses.

Little girls, surely no older than eleven years, seemed to be the most sorely plagued, as some were decked in heavy make-up and skimpy dresses. My eyes fell on short skirts and ridiculously long hair attachments. As I sat on a plastic chair under a canopy, wondering the last children’s party I attended, a very fat middle aged woman strode past me with two children in tow; the boy had a blue t-shirt and black khakis while the bespectacled girl, who I presumed to be his sister, was wearing the shortest pair of jeans shorts I had ever seen on a prepubescent girl. The children disappeared into the party while their fat mother engaged in banter and back slapping with other grown-up guests.

Maybe I was surprised because I had always assumed that a child party would be characterized by girls in elaborate frocks and boys in shoes with multicolour shining lights, all jumping about whilst waiting for cake and Styrofoam packs of jollof rice and one piece of meat. Well, maybe that’s why I’m a bit old-fashioned

I was still caught in thought in the plastic chair under the canopy when the DJ changed the song. Chai! The new song was a horrible choice for a gathering of children, majority of whom may have barely started secondary school. The lyrics were flavoured with ‘18+’ words like ‘ashawo’ and ‘ukwu’.

*eyes open in shock*  Nna mehn, come and see dance steps

The very small children were twirling about happily without a care in the world; they were largely left to their own devices. All the attention and applause was lavished on the ‘elder’ children who were seriously wriggling their waists like their next meal depended on it. They knew all the right directions to pull and push, the right time to gyrate downwards and then slowly come back up, in summary, the way to do some serious ‘rocking’. Fast forward a couple of years, delete the under-sixes and throw in some booze, and I might as well have been in a night club in Ikeja.

After I left a while later (I didn’t want to be accused of staring), a part of me dismissed everything as harmless fun. They were kids and they knoweth not what they do. The oldest child at the party would not have been more than 14 years and such interaction was good for self-esteem.

Today’s world is a tough & terrible terrain for a child to grow up in. Parenting has become individualized and thus more difficult to practice properly. Schools are ‘in loco parentis’ in name only. Parents are either too arrogant or too ignorant to ask for help.  Exempli gratia, try correcting another woman’s child in a public or private setting. More often than not, your attempts at discipline will be rewarded, by the mother of the erring child, with a big Ghana-must-go bagful of insults, pressed together and running over.  Some parents have hectic schedules and alternative care is scarce and expensive. Your cheerful next door neighbour might be a child molester. The end result is that children are forced to grow up faster. They have become little adults instead of just being kids. I accept that look after growing children can be a bothersome chore but we’ll have to put our backs into it. The television pedigree for babysitting is deteriorating beyond repair. You never know when Iyanya or Timaya would jump on-screen demanding for ‘waist’ or ‘ukwu, treating us unabashedly to quivering derrieres. Don’t put MTV and Trace in place of playing in the sandpit or with LEGO. Many children can’t sing the second stanza of the national anthem but they’ll gladly sing how they are ‘looking for Caro’

Sometimes civilization comes with a lot of silliness. Maintaining the status quo will yield a morally bankrupt generation. This vicious cycle will even be more detrimental for our grandchildren as you can’t give what you don’t have.  Parents have to roll up their sleeves and become good examples as the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Spend good time with your child as children are highly impressionable. Every action always has a reaction (at least Isaac Newton thinks so).  Let them play soccer, chess, ludo, scrabble or ten-ten. Let them learn musical instruments. Maximize that developing intellect.

Some have argued, and I tend to agree, that no matter what you do, pikin wey wan spoil go spoil’. But every child is a product of nature and nurture. Many children are exposed to things that they are not ready for.

So, instead of allowing society to teach your child how to dance ‘azonto’ read her a nice story.

*listening to Mike Okri’s Hear your papa, hear your mama