Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Baby boy or girl- does it really matter?

Picture taken from
So the other day I went with my mum to visit a family friend who has five boys. I was saddened by the way the kids interacted with their mum; one of them was so disrespectful to her even in our presence that I was beyond shocked! I remember thinking, 'gosh if this was my younger brother, my mum would've whooped him upside his big head!' Actually if he were my brother the scenario we witnessed would never have played out. Anyway, as she bemoaned the fact that her boys were such a headache and that people that had girls were so lucky, I couldn't help but wonder why her kids turned out the way they did. As I thought about it, I began to piece the puzzle together. You see, she initially had three boys and a girl, but she lost the girl at a very young age. Her and her husband wanted another girl so badly that they decided to try again, and in the process, had two more boys. I believe what happened (but obviously, I don't know for sure) was that the three boys they had before were somewhat forgotten in their parents' search for a girl. And this led to them becoming the rebellious young men they are today.

Their story is not actually uncommon in the African culture. Usually, it is the other way round. An African man has not yet 'arrived' until he has a male child. I know a family that had seven children in their search for a male child. Seven! Thank God the seventh was a boy, otherwise who knows when they would have stopped? Even one male child is not enough sometimes. Another woman I know had a boy and two girls. One day I overheard a conversation she was having with my mum, and she mentioned that she wanted to try for more children to see if she would get another boy, just in case her only son died. Yes, you read right. What a crazy way to think right? I guess maybe it's because I'm a woman that I really don't understand why men want to have a male child so badly. So what if there's no one to carry on your name after you're gone? Truth is you wouldn't even know about it because you'd be dead! Think about it, if you knew that that particular child you long after so much would be your downfall on this earth would you still want him/her so badly? I'm sure many of you know of families where the male children have caused untold heartache to their parents, whilst the females are the ones bringing pride (not to talk of money) to the family. I know the reverse is the case too, and I tried telling that to my mum's friend.

Now I'm not saying I don't want to have a male child. I'm not crazy. I want both male and female, because I believe both sexes are gifts from God. But if I only have one sex, I hope to God I don't beat myself up about it, or put my life at risk by getting pregnant for as many times as it takes to get a particular sex. I would be grateful to God for the fact that at least I have a child/children and I would love and cherish them like life itself. If my mum's friend (who is a lovely lady by the way) had focused on giving her three boys all the attention and love they craved especially when they'd just lost their sister (instead of trying so hard to replace her), maybe today she'd have three boys who loved, respected and honoured their mother, instead of five boys who kept her on her knees every night. To be fair though, I don’t know exactly what she went through during that period so who am I to judge?

But what I’m trying to say is this; whilst I pray that someday I'll be blessed with both sexes (and at least two boys- what can I say, I'm African!) the truth is that I would be happy with any. Boy or girl. I just pray I marry someone that feels the same way.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

The pressure to get married...Aaarrgh!!!

I was looking through a wedding magazine the other day (it wasn’t mine, I promise) and one of the columns in there caught my attention. It was written by a single lady in her thirties, and she mentioned the fact that even though most people would’ve started losing hope of ever getting married at her age, she still ‘had a dream’. I loved the article, but something she wrote struck a chord with me. It was something along the lines of ‘In Nigeria (and most African cultures), no matter how successful you are as a woman, you’re still considered a failure if you don’t have a husband.’ As I read this, I realised with sadness that this is actually true. I have a few aunties that have done very well for themselves career-wise but for some reason whenever people talk about them, the fact that they are still unmarried always crops up. Having lived in a part of the world where marriage is not seen as a big deal and some women even put their career ambitions before any thoughts of getting married, it came as a shock to my system to find out when I arrived in Nigeria that even though I’m still a few years to my thirtieth birthday, some people already consider me as ‘old’! It’s crazy.
This insane way of thinking has led many girls to rush into marriage for fear that they might never get another proposal. What really gets to me is that I think some men have taken advantage of this and don’t seem to be in a hurry to get married anymore. It’s like they know there’ll always be an abundance of pretty girls for them to choose from, so they can afford to wait. Let me tell you a story. I went with my mum to visit one of her friends, and whilst we were there, a friend of the lady’s husband arrived. I met him outside as I popped out to get something from the car and I noticed as I greeted him that he seemed a bit too friendly towards me. I thought nothing of it at the time. The man of the house later introduced him to my mum and after he left, my mum mentioned to me that he gave her his business card and said he was interested in coming to ask for my hand in marriage! Bear in mind that this guy is friends with someone that is in his fifties. So, I put him at not less than forty-five. Now, if old men* are your thing, good for you, but I must say I was a tad disgusted. After a bit of prying, my mum discovered that this man was very selective in his choice of women and this was the reason he was still single. Anyway, I told the people we were visiting to tell him not to bother.
I guess it’s not just an African thing though; we women are ‘blessed’ with a biological clock so ideally, ‘the sooner, the better’. But what’s a girl to do if there’s no one around? Grab the first guy that says ‘marry me’? I think not. One of my friends actually said she’s having kids, man or no man. Her solution?  Sperm donation. I think she was joking but I guess I can understand women that decide to do it themselves. The only problem with this is that where I come from, you’ll probably be considered a harlot for having kids outside wedlock. Anyway, I’m learning to be content, husband or no husband, but to be honest, it was a lot easier when I wasn’t in Nigeria.

*I know forty-five isn’t that old obviously, compared to someone that is say, eighty. But the guy is more than fifteen years my senior so in my books, he’s old.

Check out the poem below. Even though I cracked myself up whilst writing it, I think the last two stanzas are worth noting. I’ve titled it ‘The prayer of a weary single sister’. Enjoy!

Another day gone, he still hasn't appeared
It's happening you know, the very thing that I feared
That one day I'd find myself clocking thirty
But for marriage, still be very thirsty

Another invitation, one more friend now wedded
To be perfectly honest, it was worse than I even dreaded
I waited and waited, till the very last hour
But not one grooms-man was keen to pluck this flower

One more church service faithfully attended
I smiled, and a gorgeous looking brother responded
Got all excited as he began to walk over
But then I looked, and saw the ring on his finger

How long Lord, does a sister have to wait?
Sometimes it's so strong, I feel like I could faint
I know the single life ain't all doom and gloom
But you know me, Lord, I'm no Corrie Ten-Boom!

I created you for a purpose, and not just for marriage
To love me, to serve me and pay me due homage
Many think that marriage will bring happiness
But most end up just getting themselves in a mess

You ask for a husband, but you're not ready to be a wife
You've had to wait a little, but I'm saving you a lot of strife
When the time is right, it won't cost you nearly a dime
And you'll be glad you waited, for I make all things beautiful in their time

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Still a virgin? Super-freak you!

Picture taken from I chose it because
 Patrick Dempsey is hot.
So, I just finished watching an episode of Grey's anatomy, 'Superfreak' to be exact. It was fab. I love Grey's anatomy; at one time it was just because they were using one of my favourite songs as their theme song but then I watched a few episodes and thought, 'wow, this is pretty good!'. Plus it's a great way to learn about the human body without being a doctor. Anyway, my love for Grey's is not what this is about. One of the story-lines in this episode was about a 27-year-old virgin, who was having difficulties breathing. Turns out she had something stuck in her breathing apparatus; you need to watch it to see what it was. Riveting stuff. Anyway, the buzz the virgin patient creates gets everyone reminiscing about their first time. One of the doctors, April, doesn't say much, because she’s a virgin, too. When asked for a contribution to the discussion, she makes up a story about her first time being on the beach with the sunset, fireworks and all. The others think this sounds too good to be true and soon figure out that she's a virgin. They go on to tease her about it, and when she's had enough, she speaks up to defend herself. But what she goes on to say, I find somewhat disheartening.

Apparently she decided not to have sex because she was waiting for the right person and she wanted it to be special. But then she realised that she'd waited too long and no guy would probably even want to be with her because of her apparent weird and annoying nature. She also adds that she doesn’t think her sex life (or lack of one) should be up for public discussion. It was a really well-acted scene, I must say. But it made me think, as most things do; what kind of messed-up world must we live in for one to be embarrassed about having morals? Or be ridiculed for it? Or for it to be something that we 'don't talk about'?

Having counselled numerous teenagers seeking the 'morning-after pill', 'waiting for the right person' and 'wanting it to be special' both sound like good ideas to me. Sometimes I look at these young girls (I feel so old around teenagers) and in my head I'm thinking, 'do you even know what you're doing?' The consequences of premarital sex don't just stop at the possibility of getting pregnant or catching a deadly disease. Watching the other doctors teasing April, I couldn't help but wonder how many of them (if they were to be honest) regretted the person they had had sex with; one of them couldn't even remember their name! I know it's only a series but the reality is that this storyline actually reflects the current situation a lot clearer than probably even the writers realise.

So whilst I can understand April's trepidation at revealing that she's 28 and still a virgin, I really wish she wasn't ashamed or embarrassed about it. I wish she didn't just say 'we all have things we don't talk about'. I wish instead she said something like 'I'm a virgin, so what? At least I don't have to live with the regret that I gave a most precious gift to a random guy whose name I don't even remember!' or something along those lines. I wish more people in the world would stand up for what they believe is right without any shame or fear of rejection. She did give them an earful though, but I still wish...

Monday, 14 March 2011

Why my country is in need of a natural disaster...

After all the craziness going on in Japan, I honestly feel like I couldn't blog about the random stuff going on in my own life at the moment. The earthquakes, tsunamis and explosions make me wonder about so many things, one of which is why God allows stuff like this to happen. In my own life, I am slowly (and painfully) coming to the realisation that when God allows certain things in your life it is because He is trying to get through to you; to change something about you, to teach you some lessons or to get you to reach out to Him. Basically, He's trying to get your attention. 

Now I'm not saying God caused the earthquakes, or that He is punishing the Japanese people, but if I know anything about human beings, it is this; when we are desperately in trouble and in need of help, we call out to God. All people do, whether Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, atheist, agnostic, or people from any other religion. Suffering makes us think about our lives and the frailty and value of it, if any. When we get to the point where we can no longer maintain control, we have to hand it over to Someone else who can. I have always believed in God, but only when I started going through some serious challenges in my life did I start seeking Him fervently. I believe this is the reason God allows certain situations in our lives; that is the only way He can get through to some of us.
Pictures taken from BBC news website
So, whilst I sympathise with and pray for Japan, I sincerely hope that these natural disasters aren't complete disasters, but that at least some people would be wise enough to seek Him in their moment of need, whilst He may still be found.

The other thing I've noticed (and well before all this happened) is that some countries, e.g. Nigeria hardly ever experience natural disasters on the scale that other countries do. No earthquakes, no tsunamis, no tornadoes, no hurricanes. Nothing. Nigeria is blessed. In so many ways. But for some reason, the country is messed up. In so many ways. We create our problems ourselves; we don't need nature's help! We hate each other, we cheat each other, we discriminate against each other. Everyone looks after himself and no one else. Like the popular saying goes, 'Every man for himself, God for us all.' What a load of tosh. But that is the Nigerian mentality. Hence the country is probably at the worst point she's ever being in since her inception. Nigeria just celebrated her fiftieth birthday anniversary for goodness' sake, and we still do not have constant electricity! I won't join the band-wagon criticising the government and others in power, because I actually believe the problems we have in Nigeria stem from the people.

Don't get me wrong, I love Nigerians. I am one of them, even though there have been times I've wished that wasn't the case. But I feel like sometimes we take for granted what we have as a nation; the natural resources, the diversity of culture, the resilience of the people, not to mention the jollof rice. Nigeria is amazing. But Nigeria is divided. I do not wish to make light of the situation in Japan, but sometimes I feel like the only thing that could bring Nigeria together is a serious natural disaster. Maybe then, we would rally together to help each other and make sure the country doesn't go under. But then again, maybe not.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Stepping out of the boat: My impromptu evangelism

Like most Christians, my greatest fear is actually telling people about Jesus. But as many people come to realise at some point in their lives, God has a fantastic sense of humour, and you can't run away from Him forever. So, I decided to attend my mum's church today. It was actually one in which I grew up, and spent most of my free time from about the ages of five till sixteen. I didn't really want to go to be honest, the main reason being it's an Anglican church and after you've been used to spending an hour and a half maximum in church in the UK, spending close to four hours in church seems like torture sometimes.

Anyway, I can't be bothered to get a cab to my usual church so I decide to go with my mum. I get there, and it's all good. The Sunday school is interesting, lots of lively discussion. At some point I take a look at the bulletin (or programme, for those of you not familiar with the Anglican way). I notice that number five on the list says 'Evangelism'. I think nothing of it, assuming it's probably something to do with the evangelism department, maybe a drama sketch or something. I'm actually looking forward to it. But as the minutes go by, and from some of the stuff the pastor is saying, I begin to realise that the word 'Evangelism' actually means what it says this time; we (i.e. the church) are going out on the streets to try to win some souls. I am mortified. 'Lord, you can't be serious!', I think to myself. 'On the one day I decide to pay this place a visit, they decide the church must go out and preach?'

So I begin to devise an escape plan in my head.

Option one: Go home. Just get a cab and head home.
Problem with this option; people will see me and it won't look good escaping whilst others are going out. Plus I'd feel guilty for about a week, and I can't deal with that right now.

Option two: Go to my usual church, will probably still meet the second service.
Problem with this option; same as with option one, plus I'm wearing the same dress I wore to that church the last time I was there, and we all know that won't do.

Option three: Stay at the church and wait for others to come back.
Problem with this option; everyone is going out, even the kids. And if I'm asked why I'm staying back, I'm screwed. I've never been good at lying, especially in church. Plus I'd be bored out of my mind; they won't be back for at least an hour!

 Anyway, when I decide there's no good enough escape route, I head out with the rest of the crowd. We're told to go out in pairs, and I know no one, and I don't talk to people, so I'm standing there like a muppet. I'm paired up with a random teenager and he turns me down. Seriously. Anyway, I finally find someone willing to go with me, and we head out to fish.

After walking for a few minutes down some dead streets (everyone goes to church on Sundays in Nigeria, believer or not), we find a potential candidate for our Bible bashing. Just kidding. Anyway, we get talking to this guy, and it is amazing. He listens, and I don't even have to threaten him with hell once. For real. He even sheds a few tears whilst we're praying for him! In my head I'm like, 'this is not happening!' (and I promise I didn't hit him). 

In the end, I add two souls to my collection (that sounds kinda evil doesn't it?) and it feels great. I'm so happy I even go into a fast food joint for a quick celebratory meal, before I head back to face the remaining three or so hours of the service. I love Nigerian churches.