Posts by Kenneth Igiri

Purple Hibiscus

I have been reading Purple Hibiscus, Chimamanda Adichie’s first novel, for a while now. I bought the book at Glendora Books a little while after a colleague wondered how come I hadn’t read any of her books. And, my goodness is she a wonderful writer. A few weeks ago I also watched a video of her speech on “The danger of A Single Story”. She is very smart and she does speak like she writes: very deliberate, very articulate, simply engaging.

 

I am just about on page ninety-nine in her book and it has been quite interesting. The story surrounds a wealthy family whose head happens to be a staunch Catholic more religious than Christian in character and a strict, controlling disciplinarian. My first impressions are the discomfort of the second child of the family Kambili who is narrating the story. She and her elder brother Jaja obviously felt imprisoned yet she finds herself always yearning for affirmation from her father.

 

I admire Chimamanda’s writing style a lot. It amazes me how she stretches even the events of a dinner table into several pages and one still finds it interesting. She also manage to subtly weave the Igbo culture and language into her book like the classic Nigeria writers who were very well educated yet neither intimidated by westerners nor ashamed of where they were born. They had authentic identities.

 

Like I wrote earlier, I have not even gone half way but I do recommend the book as a good read. Do get one for yourself and the video is free, you can watch it on youtube.

Ghana: Public Offerings in Public Preaching

I have been living in Accra from awhile and noticed that much like Nigerians or even more, Ghanaians are very religious. I have only got one rejection since I have been offering people tracks in taxis. However, sometimes I wonder whether our motives are still right in our practice. In this short article I will describe the scene of four preachers whom I see every morning on the same walkway at the market close to Kwame Nkrumah circle.

 

All preachers along this road apparently speak either Twi or Ga so I may not be able say exactly what they preach but I do see Bibles on their pulpits and I notice for the second preacher he keeps repeating “twenty pesewas”. Here is the first preacher:

 

 

The box acts as both his pulpit and offering basket. And I did see someone dropping her bit in the box. This guy was actually wondering why I was taking his picture and tried to call my attention.

 

The second preacher kept repeating “twenty pesewas” in his speech so much so that I wondered whether it was actually preaching he was doing. There was definitely a Bible on his ‘pulpit’ and he did have that microphone and the gestures made while preaching.

 

Preacher number three is below:

 

 

Preacher number four is a young and very fiery preacher and I am not sure he started out having an offering basket. Maybe he saw the need at some point in his ministry.

 

 

My intention is not to embarrass the faith in posting these pictures but I just want to air my opinion that having the listeners become supporters of the messenger means that the messenger is more in need than those who are supposed to be saved by the message. I believe that if one has been sent by God to preach the gospel, he has capacity to support that ministry without burdening those who are listening or more seriously embarrassing the faith.

 

Having offering baskets in public preaching or requesting for money in bus preaching as is done in Nigeria is uncalled for as far as I am concerned. I should mention that these preachers do have sympathizers. I use that word deliberately because I do not think anyone is being convicted by these messages, people may just be sympathizing with these preachers and giving them money because they feel it is better to preach than to steal. This is embarrassing to Christianity. Please let me know your views.

Ghana: Crossing Cultures

Culture refers to a people’s way of life – their greetings, their clothing, their language, their food and so on. Travelling exposes one to various cultures and living among people with a different culture does have a way of broadening one’s mind. In the past two months plus I have encountered what one might call a culture shock mostly on two fronts: food and language. I did write a bit about food in my first article on Ghana including highlights on Banku and Foofoo. I will just share thoughts on language in this article.

 

In the capital city of Accra, I found it a bit surprising that most people on the streets spoke Twi by default. Even on radio presenters mix their English with Twi at will. Initially I wondered whether Twi was one of Ghana’s official languages but it definitely is not, it just happens to be the predominant local language in the country. Another language I have had an encounter with here is French! My organisation is ‘PAN-AFRICAN’ and Africa does have two predominate official languages of which English is just one, so better say ‘bye bye’ to the notion that those who can’t speak English are not educated. That is definitely an uneducated notion.

 

The French in my organisation is so dominant that it is an advantage to be able to speak French. This makes a lot of sense considering that you have to provide support for affiliates from several countries across Africa. No matter how technically skilled you are, you do have communicate with your customer don’t you. Bottom line for me is that I am definitely learning French.

 

Now to the lessons of the article. Some estimate that in say 20 years or a bit more, Europe will not be such a super power after all. Eastern countries like China and India are emerging as economic giants. Right now some statistics classify Chinese as he most spoken language in the world. You may want to consider having your children learn global languages like Chinese or Hindi (What?!!!). Then you can add the more popular European/American languages like Spanish; finally, our very own English and French. Strange, huh, how the world is changing.

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La culture se réfère à un mode de vie des gens – leurs salutations, leurs vêtements, leur langue, leur nourriture et ainsi de suite. Voyager expose à diverses cultures et de vie chez les personnes atteintes d’une culture différente ne disposant un moyen d’élargir l’esprit de personne. Au cours des trois derniers mois, j’ai rencontré ce que l’on pourrait appeler un choc des cultures sur deux fronts: la nourriture et la langue. Je l’ai fait écrire une un peu de nourriture dans mon premier article sur le Ghana, y compris les faits saillants sur Banku et foufou. Je vais partager réflexions sur la langue dans cet article.

Dans la capitale d’Accra, j’ai trouvé cela un peu surprenant que la plupart des gens dans les rues parlé Twi par défaut. Même sur les présentateurs de radio mélanger leur anglais avec Twi à volonté. Initialement je me demandais si Twi était une des langues officielles du Ghana, mais ce n’est certainement pas. Il se trouve être la langue locale prédominante dans le pays. Une autre langue que j’ai eu une rencontre avec ici est le français! Mon organisation est «PAN-AFRICAINE” et l’Afrique ne avoir deux langues officielles prédominent dont l’anglais est un seul, alors il vaut mieux dire ‘au revoir’ à l’idée que ceux qui ne parlent pas anglais ne sont pas instruits. C’est certainement une notion non-instruits.

Le français dans mon organisation est si dominante que c’est un avantage d’être en mesure de parler français. Cela fait beaucoup de sens étant donné que vous avez à fournir un soutien pour les affiliés de plusieurs pays à travers l’Afrique. Peu importe comment techniquement vous êtes qualifiés, vous ne devez communiquer avec votre client ne vous. En bout de ligne pour moi, c’est que je suis vraiment apprendre le français.

Maintenant, pour les leçons de l’article. Certains estiment que, dans disons 20 ans ou un peu plus, l’Europe ne sera pas comme une super-puissance après tout. Pays de l’Est comme la Chine et l’Inde sont en train de devenir des géants économiques. À l’heure actuelle des statistiques chinois classer comme il la langue la plus parlée dans le monde. Vous voudrez peut-être envisager d’avoir vos enfants à apprendre les langues mondiales comme le Chinois ou le Hindi (Qu’est-ce?!). Ensuite, vous pouvez ajouter populaires langues Européennes / Américaines comme l’espagnol, et enfin, très propre à notre anglais et en français. Etrange, hein, comment le monde évolue.

 

No I havent finished learning French yet, I used Google Translate to do that. Au revoir.

Ghana: The Place, the People and My Perspective

By the time you are reading this, I would have spent sixty days in the second most populous country in West Africa. When it was clear that I was moving here, I looked forward to a number of things: new people, some adventure, a new house, the new job I was coming for and maybe most of all, the truth or not of the fairy tale we heard back in Nigeria that power never fails in Ghana. Take note, ‘the fairytale’.

 

My first impression at the Kotoka International Airport was that there were some shared traits among African Government workers. There was a bit of extortion going on, just a bit, not really like the Nigerian Airport. Well I was surprised at first but then I decided that maybe it was because I was coming from Nigeria; the somethingth most corrupt nation in the world. (now where’s that Blackberry emoticon that covers its eyes).

 

The have very nice houses and hotels around the airport and I discovered later, very pricy apartments to let too in the so-called Airport Residential area. Foreigners appeared to be ubiquitous: Other Africans, Asian and Caucasians from the West. Who wouldn’t want to live in a quiet town with stable power and water led by a stable democratic government? Further into town, on my way to work daily, I passed through the Kanda Estates, moderate middle class residential area. Cutting over to Ring Road, one began to see banks, hotels and businesses up till Kwame Nkrumah Circle, a  major bus stop which reminded me of Mile 2 in Lagos Nigeria. Further down that road, one could connect to Adabraka on the left and North Kaneshie/Industrial Area ion the right where I now live.

 

Well, away from the airport, I did meet very nice people, well very nice smiling people or maybe you could say very smiling people all over town especially at the Hotel. Everyone smiled, I guess it was part of their training. But beyond the Hotel, everyone still smiled. At my new office, everyone, at least the Ghanaians, smiled. They were very courteous too. Even the cleaners asked me ‘How are you?’, the waitress at the restaurant would ask ‘Are You OK?’. I heard the last phrase a number of times before I realized they were just asking out of courtesy not that I looked sick!

 

Sooner I started hearing the ‘Massa’and ‘Chale’ and so on. The first time I heard ‘Chale’ I thought my colleague had mistaken my name for Charles or something. This strange new Pidgin English was really rampant amidst the excellent regular English (with a Ghanaian twist) that I heard everywhere in the capital city Accra. Most of all I heard the local language either Akan or Ga. The first language a taxi driver, market woman, waiter and all spoke to you was a local language until you indicated you did not understand. I wondered how come this was in the capital city. Well I guess they have much fewer languages and are possible very proud of their culture.

 

While on loving their culture I should mention the food. I have seen women dressed in English suit eating foofoo dumped in a bowl of white soup with their hands in the office canteen! Wow! The way that combination looks, the first time I tried it and subsequently, I definitely used a spoon. I have also tried the Banku a lumpy meal made from maize and eaten with soup or sauce and beef, goat mean or more often, Tilapia fish. The one I kind of liked was the Eba and Palava sauce. (by the way, do not assume all my spellings are correct by any means). I learnt Palava sauce is made from spinach leaves and fried eggs! The food is Ok generally but I mostly eat one out of the several variants of rice.

 

I haven’t been about so much but I did visit the Accra Mall where the well-known Shoprite, The game and a Theartre were located reminding one of The Palms Shopping Mall in Lekki, Lagos Nigeria. I will probably have more to tell you guys when I visit the beach and the pretty looking  ‘African’ hotels in the Labadi Beach area. Cheerio!

 

P.S. I found a nice map of Kwame Nkrumah Circle here: http://www.maplandia.com/ghana/greater-accra/accra-tema/alajo/squares/kwame-nkrumah-circle/

Honey’s Budget

Budgeting! Personal Finance!! Concepts that make most people sit on the edge of their seats. Everyone wants to know how to either make more money or make the money they already have do more for them. Most people prefer the former.

 

A senior friend of mine dealt with this issue in a book launched in the last quarter of 2011 (talk about great timing!). He is an experienced accountant responsible for billions in a well-known firm. Funny thing is that he testifies that before he stumbled on the principles of personal finance that have worked for him, he did have his own challenges saving any significant amount of money. In his words, he and his wife, an upper middle class couple, were once ‘one paycheck away from bankruptcy’ simply because of urgent wants that needed to be met every month.

 

The book has an interesting title: Honey, Is It in the Budget? The typical question a spouse would ask his/her more spendthrift partner. You may consider it an unconventional title for an unconventional book. Mr. Yinka Ogunnubi does not propose a quick fix or magic wand for our financial troubles rather he emphasizes that some work needs to be done in gathering data of your spending pattern over six months to one year, then planning your short/medium/long term financial goals.

 

The approach described in the book is unique, even drastic. Mr. Ogunnubi emphasizes that staying financially free requires discipline not just wishes. No matter how much one earns, one could still be bankrupt if there is no plan for how you spend. One piece of information that dazzled me was the fact that ‘many people cite money as the main cause of divorce’. I definitely did not know that.

 

I was half way into the book before I took a break. I will finish it, trust me. You can see a preview on the official web site www.honeysbudget.com. It’s a good read, please do get a copy. Honey, Is It in the Budget also comes with a Personal Finance and Budget Tool which is available for download on the website. Happy reading.

The 2060 Dream

I was at a book launch today. It was not the regular book launch, it was a part of the effort of an admirable Social Entrepreneur to influence the course of his nation by shaping the lives of the nation’s future leaders. I am sure that the amount of minds raised at this launch was far more than the amount of millions raised. Most attendees were very young people who will be leading Nigeria in the right direction forty-nine to fifty years from now.

 

The 2060 Dream is an inspirational which communicates the writer’s burden for a new crop of well-formed leaders who will deliver our nation from the darkness of the last 50 years. The primary target readers of this book are those presently in secondary school or just leaving secondary school. The writer is consistently making efforts to challenge these young ones to deep thought on the future of their nation. He has a ten-year vision to distribute free copies of this book in secondary schools throughout Nigeria over the next ten years.

 

Reading the book like the reviewer pointed out, is like listening to the writer, Michael Oluwaseun Bangbade, speak passionately about his vision. The reviewer, Deji Ogunnubi, rightly pointed out that each line in the book is like a compressed bundled of thought which the reader can expand to several pages in his or her mind. The book delivers the writer’s passion, sense of purpose and vision for a new breed of leaders. It appears his life’s goal is to help fill the gap left by our present set of leaders who to a large extent have failed to be proper mentors to the rising generation. Michael’s burden is that the last fifty years will not be repeated by 2060.

 

During the launch today, I was impressed by the enthusiasm, intelligence and curiosity of the young people present. I was also challenged by the lady and gentleman who spoke at the event. I saw again that we do have a great future as a nation and that we do have a chance to make right in our children whatever it was that went wrong with our fathers.

 

You can connect with the vision on Facebook by joining the group The 2060 Brand.

Goofs and Grace

I know someone I consider special and I am going to talk about his professional goofs today.  Don’t worry, I’m sure he won’t mind.

 

Back in 2003/2004, Wi-Fi Expert dropped a NGN60000 Grid antenna from 60 feet while attempting to adjust its position. That was the end of that day’s work. He hung from the height, wishing he could press the ‘rewind’ button and recover the antenna but … there is no rewind button in real life.

 

In 2006, while working at a client’s site, Wi-Fi Expert fell through a roof and fell to the hard floor about eight feet away, left arm first. He obviously broke his wrist and had to wear POP for a while. Once again, end of the day’s work.

 

Earlier in that same year while practising Cisco Router configuration, Network Administrator issue erase nvram twice on a 1900 router and got away with it (after all only the configuration was erased). The third time around he issued erase and the very smart Cisco iOS interpreted it as erase flash. When the router booted up, Bros saw a rom monitor prompt! OUCH! The entire Operating System on the router was gone! He then waited for his boss’s bashing the next day.

 

And now more recently, Dr. DBA was logged on to two databases, one test environment and the other production. Dr. DBA issued truncate table … three times on the test environment (or so he thought). The next day, three tables were completely empty in the production environment. OMG!!! An embarrasing disaster! It took days to complete the restore from backup.

 

The amazing thing in all this is that my multi-talented IT proffessional friend is still upwardly mobile in his career, no bad records … on record. Well, whateverrrr… if you never make any mistakes; you are probably not doing anything, are you? Whatever you are doing, make the following statement part of your prayer points:

 

“Father, crown my efforts with success and cover my errors with grace.”

 

By the way, you might not find this post funny if you are not an IT person. I apologize. But please still make the prayer regularly.

 

Cheerio. 

Till Death – Excerpts – 3rd October 2011

I have not written in a long, long while. In the seventh chapter, Emeka and Dupe’s children are in their teens. We start here and in the next two or three chapter to explore some teenage issues parents may have to deal with.

Excerpt Starts Here

It was a dark period for the Eluigwe’s. Elite Bank had closed down the previous year and Emeka had not found a job that fit his qualifications just yet. Dupe had a good job but they struggled with the children’s fees, the house mortgage, and now grandma’s death. Dupe was essentially the bread winner but once in a while Emeka did some freelance consulting work and brought in some good money. Those bursts of income were very happy moments for the family. Dupe tried to encourage him to start his own business formally but he just didn’t feel quite ready to be a CEO. At forty-something, Dupe wondered when he would be ready if he wasn’t ready now. She was grateful that at least they would own their own house in two years thanks to his close to twenty years with Elite Bank.

“YGhaaaa …” their thoughts were interrupted by the three-month-old baby’s cry.

 

“Oh! Shut up!” snapped Linda, spanking the little boy making him cry harder.

 

“Bring him” offered Dupe. She turned on her seat, loosened her seat belt and stretched to carry Chima. Linda ‘gave him away’ heartily.

 

“Hey, what’s wrong, little boy? Is it Mummy?…” Chima just gazed at her precociously, still crying at intervals.

 

Dupe kept pampering and rocking him till he stopped crying and started sleeping again. Emeka was so quiet Dupe was worried. Once in a while she glanced at him on the way home.

 

“Mom, I need a new pair of black sandals! These are so tight”

“Not now Lucy.”

“Everyone is so quiet; I might as well say something”

 

Emeka winced. His children had become accustomed to asking their Mom for their needs and he didn’t feel right about that. Sometimes he felt he had missed something. After all, Roland was affected by the tragedy at Elite Bank but he managed to get back on his feet in just a few months – A Zonal Head role in another bank! Asides that, his wife Nneka had set up three fashion shops at exotic locations. Every quarter, Nneka took African fabrics to Europe and returned with casuals which she sold at her shops. Emeka did have a few significant investments in stocks and real estate but he felt he could have done better with twenty years of work.  He suddenly felt Dupe’s left hand on his thigh.

 

“Honey, are you OK?”

“Yeah, yeah”

 

Dupe could not help but notice the startle in his response. Was his mother still on his mind or something else? She hoped he was concentrating on his driving. Just then he took the next turn that would lead straight down to their house.

 

Excerpt Ends Here

 

Your comments are welcome.

The Stigma of Men, the Grace of God

I recently started writing the chapter where Linda has given birth to a child out of wedlock. It can be a disturbing experience when something happens that one was not expecting to happen and for Christians, it can be a ‘faith-threatening’ experience. Those who experience such ‘miss-haps’ in Christian circles face some serious stigma, some lowered marriage chances in some circles and possible lower self-esteem. This applies to other lifestyles considered abhorrent.

 

I joggled through my mind today the issue of the prodigal son’s brother; how he said to his father something like ‘I have been with you all this while and served you faithfully but you have given me nothing yet when this son of yours returns from spending you wealth on women and parties, you throw a party for him’! Sometimes you probably feel that way without saying it: someone is getting something out of life that you think you deserve more than that person.

 

You might have in the past thought about women who you felt were too loose or lousy to be good wives but they are married long before you are; men who were every lady’s plaything back in school but they are now taking care of their families making more money than you are while you are faithfully working for your boss trying to save enough to talk to a lady. It’s amazing that life simply does not follow our calculations.

 

The matter at hand further reminds me of a certain feast the Lord Jesus attended. While at the feast a prostitute walked in, fell down at his feet and started kissing his feet. When Jesus heard the judgemental thoughts of His host, he told a parable and asked a question. Something like this: ‘If I cancel the debt of two people, who would be more grateful, the one who owes NGN5 million or the one who owes NGN5000?’ The answer is obvious.

 

The workings of God’s grace are indeed mysterious. Where sin abounds, grace abound much more yet we cannot justify deliberately sinning in order to produce grace neither can we deny those who have ‘sinned more’ than we have a greater abundance of grace.

Till Death – Excerpts – 30 August 2011

We are approaching 150 pages now. A bit behind schedule, shaa but not too bad. We have turned our attention a bit to Roland and Nneka (I do hope you remember them), they had to baby-sit for a neighbour for just a few hours and Nneka apparently was emotionaly attached to the children which were not hers. Enjoy and pelase give feedback:

 

Excerpt Starts Here

 

Nneka was turning down the TV’s volume with the remote when she was startled by a loud slap on Joshua’s backside.

“Come-on stand up!” scolded Deborah.

“Ouch!” exclaimed Nneka “Debby!”

Nneka squeezed her face in disgust. Joshua sat up and broke into a short cry.

“Mummy welcome. Daddy welcome” he sobbed, rubbing his eyes with the back of his left hand. Roland scratched his head and looked at Thomas.

“Oya… sorry…” began Thomas referring to his first son. “Come.” Joshua stood up and sat next to him.

“You are a big boy now o. All this noise we were making and you were still sleeping”

“Don’t mind him. Sleepy head” added Deborah.

“Debby, that was too much now…” Nneka could not hold it in anymore.

Roland cleared his throat again. He tried to change the subject before another argument about how to take care of children ensued between the two women. He wondered like his wife why those who have children don’t seem to value them as much as those who don’t. Soon enough, the Tarighas were back to their own wing and the Ndukwe’s was quiet again. Nneka and Roland went back inside after spending some time admiring the Heavens together. Roland locked the door.

“Back to our good old house”

Nneka stood akimbo, thumbs in her pockets, staring at the chairs. “Have to clean up a bit”, she murmured. Roland didn’t particularly like the expression on her face.

“Time for the news”, he said, grabbing the remote control device from the top of one of the side stools. Nneka was still standing by herself. He wondered what next to expect. He turned to look at her and she suddenly broke down, crying.

“Honey!”

She walked briskly away and ran up the stairs. Roland went after her. “I thought this had passed” he murmured to himself. Half way up the stairs, he hesitated and went back to check the kitchen doors leading out to the backyard. Nneka had locked herself in the room before he got back.

“Nneka open the door now, why are you acting like this?”

The only response he got was sobs. He banged at the door so hard the neighbour heard.

“They are at it again,” whispered Deborah to her husband “Na wa o”

“It’s a pity. I hope God helps them soon”

“But her behaviour is just crazy. Does she want us to leave our children with her permanently?” laughed Deborah.

Thomas did his best to suppress his amusement. Deeply thinking about the mater one would realise it was not that funny what the Ndukwes were going through. He motioned to his wife to lower her voice further; both families shared a wall so one could easily be heard if one spoke loudly enough.

“Who knows what she did,” whispered Deborah, standing from the bed and moving closer to her husband. There was silence.

“What do you mean by ‘what she did’?” asked Thomas.

“Don’t be naïve Thomas. Some babes after killing several babies in their youth decide to join Pentecostal churches and think God would just wipe away their sins and forget the past sins. Merciful God” Deborah laughed and made a mock sign of the cross.

“God’s right hand woman!” retorted Thomas while grappling with his fancy guinea brocade shirt, undressing.

“I thought God is known to be merciful. Besides, I actually think it’s those who did evil when they were young that have children fastest. After all, you are not perfect are you?”

“I never committed any abortions!”

“Like abortion is the only sin. Please calm down jare. You need reminders, abi?”

Deborah heard one of her children scream and ran out of the bedroom. “What is it now? I can’t leave these children alone for just five minutes!”

 

Excerpt Ends Here

 

How would you handle the situation if you found out after the wedding that your spouse cannot have children?