Life is a circle, and stories take us all around it.
© Oke Iroegbu
Life is a circle, and stories take us all around it.
© Oke Iroegbu
Autumn is a second spring when every leaf becomes a flower.
Memories fade, distanced more
Yet apart we wade, off
Tears are part of the roles
And distrust has become one too
Your words still cut through
I’m assured that love went wrong
I was rock but you made me gold
So I offer this little flower token
In appreciation to your absentia love
I always stand beautiful
Love made me wonderful
Resilience is key to success. A resilient person through series of failures, disappointments and tough experiences build character and important virtues like confidence, patience, and empathy.
Watch Deshauna discuss how being resilient molded her into what she became today. She has a simple message for us: Never give up. 💚
This is Nairobi, Kenya’s capital and most populated city. The city is also known as The Green City in the Sun and Safari is just a few kilometres ride away. There are museums and parks in the city. Uhuru Park and Nairobi Botanical Garden is an excellent place to relax.
When you consider places to visit in Africa, check out this ‘Jewel of Eastern Africa’, her sheer beauty will surely amaze you.
If the heat bothers you plant a tree
If the water bothers you plant a tree
If you like fruits, plant a tree
If you like birds, plant a tree
And if you like life, plant many trees
The global trade of wild animals is cruel and puts our health and the world economy at risk from pandemics like COVID-19. Join in calling on African Governments to support and champion a global ban on the wildlife trade.
Tell global leaders to act now to protect wildlife, our health, and the planet before it’s too late.
We’re running out of time to protect wild animals.
G20 global leaders are meeting in November. We need them to end the international wildlife trade before it’s too late.
Every day they don’t act, thousands more wild animals are poached or farmed and sold into the global multi-billion-dollar trade – for food, for pets, traditional medicine, and entertainment. Not only is this animal cruelty, but it’s also putting us at risk from diseases like COVID-19 and destroying delicate ecosystems.
I join in calling on African Governments to urge the G20 to support an immediate and permanent ban on wildlife markets and end the global wildlife trade.
One morning the old Water-rat put his head out of his hole. He had bright beady eyes and stiff grey whiskers and his tail was like a long bit of black india-rubber. The little ducks were swimming about in the pond, looking just like a lot of yellow canaries, and their mother, who was pure white with real red legs, was trying to teach them how to stand on their heads in the water.
“You will never be in the best society unless you can stand on your heads,” she kept saying to them; and every now and then she showed them how it was done. But the little ducks paid no attention to her. They were so young that they did not know what an advantage it is to be in society at all.
“What disobedient children!” cried the old Water-rat; “they really deserve to be drowned.”
“Nothing of the kind,” answered the Duck, “every one must make a beginning, and parents cannot be too patient.”
“Ah! I know nothing about the feelings of parents,” said the Water-rat; “I am not a family man. In fact, I have never been married, and I never intend to be. Love is all very well in its way, but friendship is much higher. Indeed, I know of nothing in the world that is either nobler or rarer than a devoted friendship.”
“And what, pray, is your idea of the duties of a devoted friend?” asked a Green Linnet, who was sitting in a willow-tree hard by, and had overheard the conversation.
“Yes, that is just what I want to know,” said the Duck; and she swam away to the end of the pond, and stood upon her head, in order to give her children a good example.
“What a silly question!” cried the Water-rat. “I should expect my devoted friend to be devoted to me, of course.”
“And what would you do in return?” said the little bird, swinging upon a silver spray, and flapping his tiny wings.
“I don’t understand you,” answered the Water-rat.
“Let me tell you a story on the subject,” said the Linnet.
“Is the story about me?” asked the Water-rat. “If so, I will listen to it, for I am extremely fond of fiction.”
“It is applicable to you,” answered the Linnet; and he flew down, and alighting upon the bank, he told the story of The Devoted Friend.
“Once upon a time,” said the Linnet, “there was an honest little fellow named Hans.”
“Was he very distinguished?” asked the Water-rat.
“No,” answered the Linnet, “I don’t think he was distinguished at all, except for his kind heart, and his funny round good-humoured face. He lived in a tiny cottage all by himself, and every day he worked in his garden. In all the country-side there was no garden so lovely as his. Sweet-william grew there, and Gilly-flowers, and Shepherds’-purses, and Fair-maids of France. There were damask Roses, and yellow Roses, lilac Crocuses, and gold, purple Violets and white. Columbine and Ladysmock, Marjoram and Wild Basil, the Cowslip and the Flower-de-luce, the Daffodil and the Clove-Pink bloomed or blossomed in their proper order as the months went by, one flower taking another flower’s place, so that there were always beautiful things to look at, and pleasant odours to smell.
“Little Hans had a great many friends, but the most devoted friend of all was big Hugh the Miller. Indeed, so devoted was the rich Miller to little Hans, that he would never go by his garden without leaning over the wall and plucking a large nosegay, or a handful of sweet herbs, or filling his pockets with plums and cherries if it was the fruit season.
“‘Real friends should have everything in common,’ the Miller used to say, and little Hans nodded and smiled, and felt very proud of having a friend with such noble ideas.
“Sometimes, indeed, the neighbours thought it strange that the rich Miller never gave little Hans anything in return, though he had a hundred sacks of flour stored away in his mill, and six milch cows, and a large flock of woolly sheep; but Hans never troubled his head about these things, and nothing gave him greater pleasure than to listen to all the wonderful things the Miller used to say about the unselfishness of true friendship.
“So little Hans worked away in his garden. During the spring, the summer, and the autumn he was very happy, but when the winter came, and he had no fruit or flowers to bring to the market, he suffered a good deal from cold and hunger, and often had to go to bed without any supper but a few dried pears or some hard nuts. In the winter, also, he was extremely lonely, as the Miller never came to see him then.
“‘There is no good in my going to see little Hans as long as the snow lasts,’ the Miller used to say to his wife, ‘for when people are in trouble they should be left alone, and not be bothered by visitors. That at least is my idea about friendship, and I am sure I am right. So I shall wait till the spring comes, and then I shall pay him a visit, and he will be able to give me a large basket of primroses and that will make him so happy.’
“‘You are certainly very thoughtful about others,’ answered the Wife, as she sat in her comfortable armchair by the big pinewood fire; ‘very thoughtful indeed. It is quite a treat to hear you talk about friendship. I am sure the clergyman himself could not say such beautiful things as you do, though he does live in a three-storied house, and wear a gold ring on his little finger.’
“‘But could we not ask little Hans up here?’ said the Miller’s youngest son. ‘If poor Hans is in trouble I will give him half my porridge, and show him my white rabbits.’
“‘What a silly boy you are!’ cried the Miller; ‘I really don’t know what is the use of sending you to school. You seem not to learn anything. Why, if little Hans came up here, and saw our warm fire, and our good supper, and our great cask of red wine, he might get envious, and envy is a most terrible thing, and would spoil anybody’s nature. I certainly will not allow Hans’ nature to be spoiled. I am his best friend, and I will always watch over him, and see that he is not led into any temptations. Besides, if Hans came here, he might ask me to let him have some flour on credit, and that I could not do. Flour is one thing, and friendship is another, and they should not be confused. Why, the words are spelt differently, and mean quite different things. Everybody can see that.’
“‘How well you talk!’ said the Miller’s Wife, pouring herself out a large glass of warm ale; ‘really I feel quite drowsy. It is just like being in church.’
“‘Lots of people act well,’ answered the Miller; ‘but very few people talk well, which shows that talking is much the more difficult thing of the two, and much the finer thing also’; and he looked sternly across the table at his little son, who felt so ashamed of himself that he hung his head down, and grew quite scarlet, and began to cry into his tea. However, he was so young that you must excuse him.”
“Is that the end of the story?” asked the Water-rat.
“Certainly not,” answered the Linnet, “that is the beginning.”
“Then you are quite behind the age,” said the Water-rat. “Every good story-teller nowadays starts with the end, and then goes on to the beginning, and concludes with the middle. That is the new method. I heard all about it the other day from a critic who was walking round the pond with a young man. He spoke of the matter at great length, and I am sure he must have been right, for he had blue spectacles and a bald head, and whenever the young man made any remark, he always answered ‘Pooh!’ But pray go on with your story. I like the Miller immensely. I have all kinds of beautiful sentiments myself, so there is a great sympathy between us.”
“Well,” said the Linnet, hopping now on one leg and now on the other, “as soon as the winter was over, and the primroses began to open their pale yellow stars, the Miller said to his wife that he would go down and see little Hans.
“‘Why, what a good heart you have!’ cried his Wife; ‘you are always thinking of others. And mind you take the big basket with you for the flowers.’
“So the Miller tied the sails of the windmill together with a strong iron chain, and went down the hill with the basket on his arm.
“‘Good morning, little Hans,’ said the Miller.
“‘Good morning,’ said Hans, leaning on his spade, and smiling from ear to ear.
“‘And how have you been all the winter?’ said the Miller.
“‘Well, really,’ cried Hans, ‘it is very good of you to ask, very good indeed. I am afraid I had rather a hard time of it, but now the spring has come, and I am quite happy, and all my flowers are doing well.’
“‘We often talked of you during the winter, Hans,’ said the Miller, ‘and wondered how you were getting on.’
“‘That was kind of you,’ said Hans; ‘I was half afraid you had forgotten me.’
“‘Hans, I am surprised at you,’ said the Miller; ‘friendship never forgets. That is the wonderful thing about it, but I am afraid you don’t understand the poetry of life. How lovely your primroses are looking, by-the-bye!”
“‘They are certainly very lovely,’ said Hans, ‘and it is a most lucky thing for me that I have so many. I am going to bring them into the market and sell them to the Burgomaster’s daughter, and buy back my wheelbarrow with the money.’
“‘Buy back your wheelbarrow? You don’t mean to say you have sold it? What a very stupid thing to do!’
“‘Well, the fact is,’ said Hans, ‘that I was obliged to. You see the winter was a very bad time for me, and I really had no money at all to buy bread with. So I first sold the silver buttons off my Sunday coat, and then I sold my silver chain, and then I sold my big pipe, and at last I sold my wheelbarrow. But I am going to buy them all back again now.’
“‘Hans,’ said the Miller, ‘I will give you my wheelbarrow. It is not in very good repair; indeed, one side is gone, and there is something wrong with the wheel-spokes; but in spite of that I will give it to you. I know it is very generous of me, and a great many people would think me extremely foolish for parting with it, but I am not like the rest of the world. I think that generosity is the essence of friendship, and, besides, I have got a new wheelbarrow for myself. Yes, you may set your mind at ease, I will give you my wheelbarrow.’
“‘Well, really, that is generous of you,’ said little Hans, and his funny round face glowed all over with pleasure. ‘I can easily put it in repair, as I have a plank of wood in the house.’
“‘A plank of wood!’ said the Miller; ‘why, that is just what I want for the roof of my barn. There is a very large hole in it, and the corn will all get damp if I don’t stop it up. How lucky you mentioned it! It is quite remarkable how one good action always breeds another. I have given you my wheelbarrow, and now you are going to give me your plank. Of course, the wheelbarrow is worth far more than the plank, but true, friendship never notices things like that. Pray get it at once, and I will set to work at my barn this very day.’
“‘Certainly,’ cried little Hans, and he ran into the shed and dragged the plank out.
“‘It is not a very big plank,’ said the Miller, looking at it, ‘and I am afraid that after I have mended my barn-roof there won’t be any left for you to mend the wheelbarrow with; but, of course, that is not my fault. And now, as I have given you my wheelbarrow, I am sure you would like to give me some flowers in return. Here is the basket, and mind you fill it quite full.’
“‘Quite full?’ said little Hans, rather sorrowfully, for it was really a very big basket, and he knew that if he filled it he would have no flowers left for the market and he was very anxious to get his silver buttons back.
“‘Well, really,’ answered the Miller, ‘as I have given you my wheelbarrow, I don’t think that it is much to ask you for a few flowers. I may be wrong, but I should have thought that friendship, true friendship, was quite free from selfishness of any kind.’
“‘My dear friend, my best friend,’ cried little Hans, ‘you are welcome to all the flowers in my garden. I would much sooner have your good opinion than my silver buttons, any day’; and he ran and plucked all his pretty primroses, and filled the Miller’s basket.
“‘Good-bye, little Hans,’ said the Miller, as he went up the hill with the plank on his shoulder, and the big basket in his hand.
“‘Good-bye,’ said little Hans, and he began to dig away quite merrily, he was so pleased about the wheelbarrow.
“The next day he was nailing up some honeysuckle against the porch, when he heard the Miller’s voice calling to him from the road. So he jumped off the ladder, and ran down the garden, and looked over the wall.
“There was the Miller with a large sack of flour on his back.
“‘Dear little Hans,’ said the Miller, ‘would you mind carrying this sack of flour for me to market?’
“‘Oh, I am so sorry,’ said Hans, ‘but I am really very busy to-day. I have got all my creepers to nail up, and all my flowers to water, and all my grass to roll.’
“‘Well, really,’ said the Miller, ‘I think that, considering that I am going to give you my wheelbarrow, it is rather unfriendly of you to refuse.’
“‘Oh, don’t say that,’ cried little Hans, ‘I wouldn’t be unfriendly for the whole world’; and he ran in for his cap, and trudged off with the big sack on his shoulders.
“It was a very hot day, and the road was terribly dusty, and before Hans had reached the sixth milestone he was so tired that he had to sit down and rest. However, he went on bravely, and as last he reached the market. After he had waited there some time, he sold the sack of flour for a very good price, and then he returned home at once, for he was afraid that if he stopped too late he might meet some robbers on the way.
“‘It has certainly been a hard day,’ said little Hans to himself as he was going to bed, ‘but I am glad I did not refuse the Miller, for he is my best friend, and, besides, he is going to give me his wheelbarrow.’
“Early the next morning the Miller came down to get the money for his sack of flour, but little Hans was so tired that he was still in bed.
“‘Upon my word,’ said the Miller, ‘you are very lazy. Really, considering that I am going to give you my wheelbarrow, I think you might work harder. Idleness is a great sin, and I certainly don’t like any of my friends to be idle or sluggish. You must not mind my speaking quite plainly to you. Of course I should not dream of doing so if I were not your friend. But what is the good of friendship if one cannot say exactly what one means? Anybody can say charming things and try to please and to flatter, but a true friend always says unpleasant things, and does not mind giving pain. Indeed, if he is a really true friend he prefers it, for he knows that then he is doing good.’
“‘I am very sorry,’ said little Hans, rubbing his eyes and pulling off his night-cap, ‘but I was so tired that I thought I would lie in bed for a little time, and listen to the birds singing. Do you know that I always work better after hearing the birds sing?’
“‘Well, I am glad of that,’ said the Miller, clapping little Hans on the back, ‘for I want you to come up to the mill as soon as you are dressed, and mend my barn-roof for me.’
“Poor little Hans was very anxious to go and work in his garden, for his flowers had not been watered for two days, but he did not like to refuse the Miller, as he was such a good friend to him.
“‘Do you think it would be unfriendly of me if I said I was busy?’ he inquired in a shy and timid voice.
“‘Well, really,’ answered the Miller, ‘I do not think it is much to ask of you, considering that I am going to give you my wheelbarrow; but of course if you refuse I will go and do it myself.’
“‘Oh! on no account,’ cried little Hans and he jumped out of bed, and dressed himself, and went up to the barn.
“He worked there all day long, till sunset, and at sunset the Miller came to see how he was getting on.
“‘Have you mended the hole in the roof yet, little Hans?’ cried the Miller in a cheery voice.
“‘It is quite mended,’ answered little Hans, coming down the ladder.
“‘Ah!’ said the Miller, ‘there is no work so delightful as the work one does for others.’
“‘It is certainly a great privilege to hear you talk,’ answered little Hans, sitting down, and wiping his forehead, ‘a very great privilege. But I am afraid I shall never have such beautiful ideas as you have.’
“‘Oh! they will come to you,’ said the Miller, ‘but you must take more pains. At present you have only the practice of friendship; some day you will have the theory also.’
“‘Do you really think I shall?’ asked little Hans.
“‘I have no doubt of it,’ answered the Miller, ‘but now that you have mended the roof, you had better go home and rest, for I want you to drive my sheep to the mountain to-morrow.’
“Poor little Hans was afraid to say anything to this, and early the next morning the Miller brought his sheep round to the cottage, and Hans started off with them to the mountain. It took him the whole day to get there and back; and when he returned he was so tired that he went off to sleep in his chair, and did not wake up till it was broad daylight.
“‘What a delightful time I shall have in my garden,’ he said, and he went to work at once.
“But somehow he was never able to look after his flowers at all, for his friend the Miller was always coming round and sending him off on long errands, or getting him to help at the mill. Little Hans was very much distressed at times, as he was afraid his flowers would think he had forgotten them, but he consoled himself by the reflection that the Miller was his best friend. ‘Besides,’ he used to say, ‘he is going to give me his wheelbarrow, and that is an act of pure generosity.’
“So little Hans worked away for the Miller, and the Miller said all kinds of beautiful things about friendship, which Hans took down in a note-book, and used to read over at night, for he was a very good scholar.
“Now it happened that one evening little Hans was sitting by his fireside when a loud rap came at the door. It was a very wild night, and the wind was blowing and roaring round the house so terribly that at first he thought it was merely the storm. But a second rap came, and then a third, louder than any of the others.
“‘It is some poor traveller,’ said little Hans to himself, and he ran to the door.
“There stood the Miller with a lantern in one hand and a big stick in the other.
“‘Dear little Hans,’ cried the Miller, ‘I am in great trouble. My little boy has fallen off a ladder and hurt himself, and I am going for the Doctor. But he lives so far away, and it is such a bad night, that it has just occurred to me that it would be much better if you went instead of me. You know I am going to give you my wheelbarrow, and so, it is only fair that you should do something for me in return.’
“‘Certainly,’ cried little Hans, ‘I take it quite as a compliment your coming to me, and I will start off at once. But you must lend me your lantern, as the night is so dark that I am afraid I might fall into the ditch.’
“‘I am very sorry,’ answered the Miller, ‘but it is my new lantern, and it would be a great loss to me if anything happened to it.’
“‘Well, never mind, I will do without it,’ cried little Hans, and he took down his great fur coat, and his warm scarlet cap, and tied a muffler round his throat, and started off.
“What a dreadful storm it was! The night was so black that little Hans could hardly see, and the wind was so strong that he could scarcely stand. However, he was very courageous, and after he had been walking about three hours, he arrived at the Doctor’s house, and knocked at the door.
“‘Who is there?’ cried the Doctor, putting his head out of his bedroom window.
“‘Little Hans, Doctor.’
“’What do you want, little Hans?’
“‘The Miller’s son has fallen from a ladder, and has hurt himself, and the Miller wants you to come at once.’
“‘All right!’ said the Doctor; and he ordered his horse, and his big boots, and his lantern, and came downstairs, and rode off in the direction of the Miller’s house, little Hans trudging behind him.
“But the storm grew worse and worse, and the rain fell in torrents, and little Hans could not see where he was going, or keep up with the horse. At last he lost his way, and wandered off on the moor, which was a very dangerous place, as it was full of deep holes, and there poor little Hans was drowned. His body was found the next day by some goatherds, floating in a great pool of water, and was brought back by them to the cottage.
“Everybody went to little Hans’ funeral, as he was so popular, and the Miller was the chief mourner.
“‘As I was his best friend,’ said the Miller, ‘it is only fair that I should have the best place’; so he walked at the head of the procession in a long black cloak, and every now and then he wiped his eyes with a big pocket-handkerchief.
“‘Little Hans is certainly a great loss to every one,’ said the Blacksmith, when the funeral was over, and they were all seated comfortably in the inn, drinking spiced wine and eating sweet cakes.
“‘A great loss to me at any rate,’ answered the Miller; ‘why, I had as good as given him my wheelbarrow, and now I really don’t know what to do with it. It is very much in my way at home, and it is in such bad repair that I could not get anything for it if I sold it. I will certainly take care not to give away anything again. One always suffers for being generous.’”
“Well?” said the Water-rat, after a long pause.
“Well, that is the end,” said the Linnet.
“But what became of the Miller?” asked the Water-rat.
“Oh! I really don’t know,” replied the Linnet; “and I am sure that I don’t care.”
“It is quite evident then that you have no sympathy in your nature,” said the Water-rat.
“I am afraid you don’t quite see the moral of the story,” remarked the Linnet.
“The what?” screamed the Water-rat.
“Do you mean to say that the story has a moral?”
“Certainly,” said the Linnet.
“Well, really,” said the Water-rat, in a very angry manner, “I think you should have told me that before you began. If you had done so, I certainly would not have listened to you; in fact, I should have said ‘Pooh,’ like the critic. However, I can say it now”; so he shouted out “Pooh” at the top of his voice, gave a whisk with his tail, and went back into his hole.
“And how do you like the Water-rat?” asked the Duck, who came paddling up some minutes afterwards. “He has a great many good points, but for my own part I have a mother’s feelings, and I can never look at a confirmed bachelor without the tears coming into my eyes.”
“I am rather afraid that I have annoyed him,” answered the Linnet. “The fact is, that I told him a story with a moral.”
“Ah! that is always a very dangerous thing to do,” said the Duck.
And I entirely agree with her.
Once, a chief told one of his servants to bring him the best meat from the market.
The servant brought him a tongue. The next day the chief told the servant to bring him the worst meat from the market.
The servant brought a tongue again. “What?” the chief said. “When I ask for the best meat, you bring a tongue and then you bring the same thing for the worst meat.”
The servant said, “Sometimes a man is very unhappy because of his tongue and sometimes his tongue makes him very happy.”
“You are right,” the chief said. “Let us be masters of our tongue!
“You cannot plant greatness as you plant yams or maize. Whoever planted an Iroko tree — the greatest tree in the forest? You may collect all the Iroko seeds in the world, open the soil and put them there. It will be in vain. The great tree chooses where to grow and we find it there, so it is with the greatness in men.”
— from Chinua Achebe’s NO LONGER AT EASE (1960)
We may do many things
Out in the sunny African noon:
Take a swim, gather fruits,
Talk to nature or sing with it,
Dance to live drum beats
And eat skewered suya meat
Anything that makes life fun
And all that makes us nature bond
We may have sun-flies on our trail
Or pluck the sunflower from its stalk
But this ride is one of a lifetime!
So sit back…
And look out for big silly cats
We may ride on tall ostrich backs
Or throw banana to sad apes
Or even feed the overgrown giraffe
From tall treetops where we can reach the neck
We may hear buffaloes and wildebeest stampede
Or elephants trumpet through the valley
Bring a flask for some local brew
Beware, these can make one swivel
Do not listen to me, enjoy a cup or two!
Wade through small rivulets
Let her cool noon tide
Caress away the stress
Listen to the loud hornbill
From the caves and rocks
Wait for the lion’s roar
Or the wild boar’s snort
Play with water-drunk crabs
Teach the snail her pathway
And grab a wild cucumber along the way
Scream away from beneath a waterfall
Scare the birds that live around
Watch the great Nile crocodiles grovel
And listen to the common waxbill tweet
Gather for a story at moon nights
Listen to the cheetah’s purr
Or to the spotted hyena’s laugh
From the distance and sunset
Watch the nocturnal bats fly away
To a land where only sunrise may reveal
Heal with mother nature,
Live in a happy journey,
One riding through wheat fields,
Passing smiling and greeting faces
Beyond farms, great hills and vales
A place waiting out there;
A perfectly magical land
Where forever yawns for a ride
Suya: Cow meat prepared with crushed onions, groundnut and hot spices.
Chinua Achebe was born on November 16, 1930, in Ogidi, Nigeria.”The sun will shine on those who stand before it shines on those who kneel under them.” — Chinua Achebe, THINGS FALL APARTABOUT THINGS FALL, APART
THINGS FALL APART tells two overlappings, intertwining stories centered around Okonkwo, a “strong man” of an Igbo village in Nigeria. The first of these stories traces Okonkwo’s fall from grace with the tribal world he lives in. In its classical purity of line and economical beauty, it provides us with a powerful fable about the immemorial conflict between the individual and society. The second story, which is as modern as the first is ancient, and which elevates the book to a tragic plane, concerns the clash of cultures and the destruction of Okonkwo’s world through the arrival of aggressive, proselytizing European missionaries. These twin dramas are perfectly harmonized. They are modulated by an awareness capable of encompassing at once the life of nature, human history, and the mysterious compulsions of the soul. THINGS FALL APART is the most illuminating and permanent monument we have to the modern African experience as seen from within. https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/565351/things-fall-apart-by-chinua-achebe/
Always remember that we are considered human when we show kindness to all that Providence placed under our care, and when we love others as we are born compassionate beings.
Failure defeats losers but inspires winners
Is it not odd
When life turns
With memories of
Death, and great failures?
If pain greets the weary,
Life like salt may lose its taste
Instincts then question life:
Its meaning and reason
Daring it to find another
In a world away from the living
Consider the world with its uncertainties
Where challenges belittle many
And men born of women
Live but a few great years
Yet life goes on
Sunrise and sunset,
Pretty lilies grow
And will wither
Morning and night
Live with joy and hope
Find these in everything;
The flowers, the hills,
The birds and trees,
Shrieking babies or crawling ants,
The system or cycle called life,
Keeping nothing so sacred
That life lose its meaning
When that finally flies away,
So live not just for one’s self
But for others’ happiness
All has its time and season
Time to leave, time to return
Time to wine, time to dine
Time to live and time to die
But it’s not for one to take life,
Dear life that man cannot create
If all can remember that
Nothing is worth dying for
That suicide is not an option
Then life can find its meaning
Let’s think and act differently everyday. Let’s spread some love.
The protesting Nigerian youth is a sitting time bomb.
I type with trembling hands. These are trying times indeed.
This morning I saw a troop of angry protesters march through town demanding end to police brutality. Since its inception last week, the national protests had gained momentum. For days now the Nigerian youth protested in cities and villages, and everywhere you could find them. The government had ignored them for long, and now they want things to change. I mean to change for good. I hope.
It’s common to witness police brutality in Nigeria. Well, everyone thinks that the uniform of the armed forces grants ultimate power. The police are involved in extortion, extra-judicial killings, bribery and all manner of corruption; this is the unfortunate reality we live in. Worst, they are like puppets in the hands of the government which use them as they chose, especially during elections. I’m particularly annoyed with the extortion of bus drivers – this I have witnessed since I was a child. The roadblocks on our highways and other roads are their markets. This doesn’t paint our law enforcement or the nation right.
In some parts of Lagos and Abuja, protests turned violent. Reports of cars being set ablaze, of wounded or killed people, looting, make the coming days look gloomy. In Benin city, videos of prison breaks fill Nigeria’s social media space. In some videos, I saw crying prisoners, thankful for freedom, some police stations burning and of course, hoodlums who took this as an opportunity to rob innocent people. So I’m worried about many things. I’m concerned about the future of my country and about the gunshots I hear in my backyard.
Recently the army planned to resume the Operation Crocodile Smile, the second. I hope these smiling crocs do not stray into hot boiling water.
What the Youth Demand
All the youth demand is police reforms and an end to bad governance. Yes, and gainful employment, plus the provision of essential social goods. We buy water and electricity, while in some countries these are free. I had another thought: if the protesters had a good job, no one would have time to protest. Nigeria’s leaders must be informed again that Nigeria belongs to everyone and resources for all Nigerians.
Will the government and her army play this game? Will they molest and intimidate peaceful protesters? To our dear, highly respected armed forces note that the youth is not antagonistic towards you. We are just demanding a better future – one that includes you, the youthful soldier and your generations born and unborn. A word is enough for the wise.
I’m a worried Nigerian youth.
Igbo: Ùda akùilu abùghí ùtō ya
English: Bitter Cola doesn’t taste like its sound (literally).
Just like the name, bitter cola is a very bitter fruit! Sometimes I do wonder why it’s not called a ‘very bitter cola.’
Alongside the kola nut and garden egg, it is commonly used as a ‘welcome fruit’ in West Africa. There’s a loud crunchy sound made when a soft fruit is chewed. The sound is more like one made when we eat waffles or some biscuits. Those are delicious. But that doesn’t work for bitter cola; the crunchy sound will not translate to a sweet taste! Most juveniles who had never chewed on one before could think otherwise because of this loud crunchy sound.
As I mentioned earlier, the crunchy sound can be very deceptive. The Igbo people of southern Nigeria believe that some things are not what they seem, hence the proverb. It relates to the English saying, ‘looks can be deceptive.’ What is your opinion?
The Pharos of Alexandria was a lighthouse completed in about 280 BC and was used to warn ships of the rocks surrounding the port of Alexandria, Egypt. The building measured over 110 metres to the top. During the day polished bronzed mirrors reflected the sunlight, and at night a fire burned that could be seen up to 50 kilometres away. A spiral ramp led from the ground to the top.
The gigantic lighthouse was a real survivor – it stood for over 1,500 years and survived being buffeted by massive waves and countless earthquakes.
It was built by a man called Sostratus who, in order to get the credit for this Wonder of the World, sneakily carved his name into the stone, and plastered over it. On top of the plaster he carved a dedication to the ruler of Egypt. In time, the plaster wore away and his own dedication, ‘Sostratus of Cnidos, son of Dexiphanes, to the saviour god’s, for sailors’, was left permanently displayed.
In 1994, an archaeologist located huge masonry blocks believed to be from the lighthouse, which was toppled by an earthquake in the 1300s.
A Crow was sitting on a tree
Doing nothing all day.
A small Rabbit saw the Crow,
And asked him, ‘Can I also sit like you
And do nothing all day long?’
The Crow answered: ‘Sure, why not.’
So, the Rabbit sat on the ground
Below the Crow, and rested.
All of a sudden a Fox appeared,
Jumped on the rabbit and ate it.
The Great Pyramid at Giza, Egypt is both the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and the only one still around today. It was built for King Khufu who died in about 2465BC and is said to have taken thousands of men 20 years to construct. According to Herodotus, an Ancient Greek historian, 100,000 men laboured on the pyramid, though archeologists now think the number is more likely to have been about 20,000 men.
The finished pyramid was 147 metres high, which made it the tallest structure made by man for over 4,000 years. It contains 2,300,000 blocks of stone each weighing over 2.25 tonnes. When it was built, the steps seen now were originally capped with pure white limestone that must have shone brilliantly in the desert sun. Sadly, over the centuries the limestone capping was stripped off and now the pyramid is only 138 metres tall.
It’s a titanic, one you would love to see!
She hears the sun cry.
Only a sky full of pain.
Her mind becomes crowded,
and she remembers her country.
Sohana penned these words for her #Rohingya friends.
v/@unicefbd #TeamEurope #EUSolidarity #StrongerTogether
Hi everyone! How was your day? I have a story to share. So bring your seats and mats to the fireplace, listen attentively and may the nightingales sing us a lullaby when we retire to bed.
Once upon a time there lived a wise man by the name of Mamad. He never lied. All the people in the land, even the ones who lived twenty days away, knew about him.
The king heard about Mamad and ordered his subjects to bring him to the palace. He looked at the wise man and asked:
” Mamad, is it true, that you have never lied?”
” It’s true.”
“And you will never lie in your life?”
” I’m sure in that.”
“Okay, tell the truth, but be careful! The lie is cunning and it gets on your tongue easily.”
Several days passed and the king called Mamad once again. There was a big crowd: the king was about to go hunting. The king held his horse by the mane, his left foot was already on the stirrup. He ordered Mamad:
“Go to my summer palace and tell the queen I will be with her for lunch. Tell her to prepare a big feast. You will have lunch with me then.”
Mamad bowed down and went to the queen. Then the king laughed and said:
“We won’t go hunting and now Mamad will lie to the queen. Tomorrow we will laugh on his behalf.”
But the wise Mamad went to the palace and said:
“Maybe you should prepare a big feast for lunch tomorrow, and maybe you shouldn’t. Maybe the king will come by noon, and maybe he won’t.”
“Tell me will he come, or won’t he?” – asked the queen.
“I don’t know weather he put his right foot on the stirrup, or he put his left foot on the ground after I left.”
Everybody waited for the king. He came the next day and said to the queen:
“The wise Mamad, who never lies, lied to you yesterday.”
But the queen told him about the words of Mamad. And the king realized, that the wise man never lies, and says only that, which he saw with his own eyes.
I came to town
Where nights are cold
And stray cats walk it,
Where playing street children
Kick oval leather around
But return hungry to mothers,
I see glittering stars
Shine from afar
Nothing lights night better
I see men in huge cars
Puff smoke into air
Through engines and mouths
I detest their folly sport,
Smell of over spiced food
Cause me sneezing bouts
I came to town again
Where little makes sense to me
Let me lead you this way
I found thorns with honey just for you
Wishes I stroll you farther, for the intense of my instinct is all warming
While along, I was going to tell you,
But every passing sunrise, my words are rolled back to breathing you
My fume is reluctant, craving you as
Just this path, Just this way
I’ll unravel my thoughts.
The Sahara Desert in North Africa is big – very big! It covers a third of the whole continent, measuring 8.6 million square kilometres. It is almost the same size as the USA. It is the largest hot desert in the world. The highest temperature ever recorded there was 58 °C. In a single day, the temperature can range from below freezing to 50 °C. These extremes of hot and cold combined with the dry, dusty winds make the Sahara a place where few plants and animals can survive.
The Sahara is very hot, but it isn’t the heat that makes it qualify as a desert. It is the lack of rain. The average rainfall in the Sahara is less than 8 centimetres a year (London’s average rainfall is about 60 centimetres).
The desert stretches from the shores of Morocco to those of Djibouti and it’s not a place you like to go without a gallon of water!
The Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe earns the title of the biggest waterfall in the world. It is 1708 metres across and it drops between 90 and 107 metres into the Zambezi Gorge. An average of 9.2 million litres of water cascades over the edge of the falls every second at peak seasons.
Because Victoria Falls is so wide, the water drops in a vast curtain. The thunder of the spray when it hits the gorge below is incredibly loud. Local people call the falls ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya‘, which means ‘the snake that thunders,’ and for many people the place has magical qualities.
The first European to see the falls was the explorer David Livingstone in 1855. An island in the river is named Livingstone Island in his honour.
The lake is a tourist attraction.
I write to you with a sad heart
Somewhere in my being I grieve
My blue ink run fast on paper
Like red from men on the streets
I wonder why you look elsewhere
Sipping your tea with disgust
While this nation fall apart!
Trust is a rare commodity
We gave all to you when we let you in
But you are now stronger than the people,
The same people who crowned you king
I remember your warm smiles
And the moustache I so admired
Now we lost faith, we no longer believe
In you and all you stand to represent
You attend grande parties
Your minions extort from people
You dance your merry heart away
Oblivious of this nation’s pain
Mothers lend you their children
They march away with pride
News reveal they are MIA or KIA
Another dream aborted while they slept
The police is not our friend
When young men are wasted
If one’s struggles finally yields good
You become automatic target
The voice of young men cry out
The blood of men wasted on the field
The sorrowful tears of mothers
This won’t prick your conscience
Listen carefully, we protest for our rights
We want to live
And we deserve some respect at least
Good evening. Today I will share with you THREE COLOURS OF L♡VE poem.
In one’s lifetime one may experience only three kinds of love:
1. You love at a young age and let everything go down the drain because of stupid things
2. You fall in love and along the journey you get hurt, lied to and damaged
3. You fall in love without noticing, and you end up rising in it because of your joy and happiness
I hope you will enjoy reading the poem, if you experience any challenges as you are reading, I’m here to help out.
Enjoy the rest of your evening.
Thank You – Njabulo N.
You fall in love at a tender age,
Hoping to be loved much better tomorrow,
More than you were loved today and yesterday.
That blinds your eyes and mind,
Not noticing that you are growing apart,
Then you decide to call it quit over silly things.
Look at you now with so much regrets,
Written all over your skin and face,
Tears and heartbreak of a fragile human being.
You think that was not love.
It was love, a true one,
For what you know love to be.
It was not that deep like an ocean,
You were still young,
You were blinded by fairy tales and fantasies,
That happened in your head,
As you watched love performances.
Colour of love
You are not as hard as I had imagined you to be.
You fell in love,
You made yourself vulnerable and you got hurt,
I’m pretty sure you learnt your lesson,
You are now strong as a tortoise shell.
Fact that you passed all this,
Great pain, damage, lies and betrayal.
You have grown,
You know what you love about love,
You know what you don’t love about love.
Since you can’t read people’s mind,
You are now cautious, careful, closed and considerate,
Because you own a fragile loving heart.
This love taught you so many things,
Look at yourself,
You now know what you want and what you don’t.
The third colour of love,
Beware of the love that comes blindly,
Without any warming as it creeps on you silently.
This is the love that always get you,
You can paint the walls red,
But all that will be washed out.
Now you started to care about that person,
Without even trying to let it slide.
You don’t allow yourself to get lost in their eyes daily,
That is when you see beauty in their imperfections,
Not hiding even a single thing from them.
Look, you even want to get married to them,
Have a family together,
You thank the universe for them,
You just love them,
Without hiding your emotions
Tell me an amusing story
One that drives sorrows away
Laugh at me or with me
Sing a song, hum a slow lullaby
Pull my ears and call me names
Let’s ride on a train to Utopia
Grab my hands let’s elope
To fields wild as a writer’s mind
Call my name, bring me back to you
Hold my hands, tell me long stories
Distract me from a sick world
Remind me only of your love
I’m memories away from you
Yet you live just in my heart
I look up the skies to see your face,
And each star glitter with your smile
I’m left with memories of us, so blessed
It’s been 15 years already and I continue to miss your love and care. For DSc Nduka Iroegbu, my father.
How winds have howled! How all small life lay low, Trembling in the face of awesome pow’r!…Sonnet: The Storm is Over
Once the sun rise, life regains its joy
More birds glide up the pretty skies
Fast rodents play in the shrub nearby
As smoke rise from long chimneys
Little children leave for school,
Fathers spend the day in farms,
Mothers gather materials for food
Everyone has got a role to play
Squirrels hide in tree branches
Throwing several nuts at passersby
The forests beyond the clan wakes
To savour beauty of sunny summer
Small villages are world of their own
Tranquil, beautiful and full of life
Sunrise warms the soil for seeds sown
And gives hope to contented people
Is enough not enough?
In peaceful times, it is easier for the victor to reconcile with the vanquished.
It’s ten days already, and I kept wondering why these two governments prefer to use force over dialogue. I regret that the Armenian political leadership failed to engage the Azeri in peace talks when they had the upper hand (after winning the 90’s war and occupying western Azerbaijan). If they had acted on that, maybe we would have some peace.
Nagorno-Karabakh is officially Azeri territory but settled by ethnic Armenians. Let’s look at a scenario where the Armenian Government used the occupation period to rally and hold a referendum for the breakaway state. Let’s assume further that they did attempt to make peace with Azerbaijan while rallying local and international support for a plebiscite. Azerbaijan would either say yes or no. If no, then something could be done to alleviate them. Give back some occupied territories (not Nagorno-Karabakh) or agree to grant the region a greater autonomy under Azerbaijan. If the Azeri accepted, then all this stress will be long forgotten. The two countries have legitimate claims but can only find a solution by consensus.
Stepanakert, the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh and some Azeri areas, are under heavy shelling. Two neighbours are constantly exchanging fire as both record military and civilian casualties. News agencies play videos of destroyed homes, offices and farms. A few months ago, these people, now victims of war suffered from Covid-19 pandemic. Now that the impact is gradually reducing, a war greets them.
It’s in every human nature to want freedom from where they feel marginalised, threatened and subdued. Many places still seek self-governing status. Denying that leads to rebellion and conflict. This happened in Biafra – Nigeria’s bloody war and is still happening in Ambazonia – Southern Cameroons.
Role of External Influences
It’s evident that each side has a cheerleader and also has a national ‘pride’ to protect. So it hurts some pride to want to cease hostilities first. My anger is that innocent people bear the brunt of the war—what a waste of resources and lives in these challenging times.
Turkey has openly pledged support for Azeri forces, while the Russians are committed to Armenia where it has a military base. Greece (recall the territorial issues with Turkey) supports Armenia. It now seems like an unfolding ethno-religious war. Syrian mercenaries are fighting alongside Azeri forces. If care is not taken, this may escalate into a full-scale regional war. This time, Turkey, Greece, Iran and Russia will be drawn into a direct conflict with each other.
Since Nagorno-Karabakh is the bone of contention, why not administer a joint plebiscite on the territory with international agencies as observers? Excuse me, but you can’t force a cat to be a dog. Whoever anyone chose to be, well let them be!
Role of the United Nations
I have a couple of questions to ask the UN, the warring nations and humanity in general. The first is for the United Nations: should we continue to look away while people die in this meaningless war? To conflicting nations: Hasn’t the Coronavirus done enough harm to your people and economy already? And now to everyone: Does it occur to you that some countries are trying to use a regional or global conflict to revitalise its economy or influence? It may not make much sense until it does. Time will tell.
The United Nations needs to wake up before it’s too late. I don’t know how the protocols work, but the UN can mobilise a peacekeeping force to help broker a ceasefire, create a buffer zone and return all parties to the negotiation table. Why do we always wait for the last minute to act?
1. NATURE SINGS TO ME
Nature sings to me
In the most melodious tune of joy
Tickling happiness into the shattered lonely me.
Nature sings to me
To make me feel like a king
Tune of everlasting peace
In my ears, it ring
And truly, I know I’m really blessed.
Nature sings to me
And I cross over the worries
Of the uncertain realities
Casting away the giggling joy
of the shadowy calamities.
2. ONCE THE LITTLE TIDDLERS
We were once the little tiddlers
Roaring high with our whimpering mouth
Pleading to the moon, mama must be awake!
We played with beautiful toys and patterns
We played with every man and woman
We played with everything that made us happy.
How so innocent we were
With our coat of many colours
Fun everywhere, here and there.
Those were good old days
When men be babies
The awesome gloom’s wonders, They’ve never gazed.
Now babies be men
Broaching so hard in the tangled race
Can we go back to the good old days?
Oh no! We must surely set the pace.
No one wants an army of ants patrolling around his front door or garden. But talk of an endless stream of army ants? That doesn’t sound so good.I saw a file of soldier ants (ólú-MBA in the Igbo language) yesterday night. I never imagined they would mobilize to a greater force. The following morning I witnessed the army ‘arrest’ a big mamba and some insects. In one raid, they can strip a garden of living things. In West African soldiers, ants dwell in the forests and rarely come in contact with human beings.I’m impressed with the teamwork portrayed by army ants. It’s hard to break through a fortified line, so when they descend on prey, it’s harder to escape. They march through cold nights and sun heat, building shelters to reduce any weather impact. When they go for a night raid, they take sleeping rodents and insects by surprise. I’ve seen them construct bridges with tree leaves, sticks, sand, and stones. Soldier ants are very intelligent, and their leadership structure sound and competent. Every ant has got a role to play, and each has mastered its role! I’m particularly wary of ants with the most prominent heads.When they march, it’s swift like a fast-flowing stream, drowning unsuspecting grasshoppers, bugs, worms, spiders, lizards, snakes, livestock, and every life. The unfortunate victims are killed, stripped of flesh, and then transported in pieces. Soldier ants are highly organized flesh eaters. They can take on any living thing, and there are reports of attacks on vulnerable humans. It’s advised to avoid them.To keep these ants away: apply insect repellent dust or petroleum products like crude oil or gas. Ash also can help keep them out. Indeed, no insect has such organizational ability as the soldier ant.
I sit outside my granny’s house, clad in blankets and a pillow. It was a rainy day and a very cold one. The cold extended into the evening and early night. The village is surrounded by streams and hills and this must have contributed to the extreme weather. I left town a few hours ago but the rain caught up with me.
One good thing about this place is it’s hilly countryside – it’s nested in-between ancient hills and surrounded by forests. So morning is a beautiful sight to behold. I remember how scared I was to walk through the path blanketed by tree branches. Trees stuck out their branches, covering the roadside and sunlight. During night time, I mistake those branches as ghostly fingers waiting to grab their victim.
One time I missed falling millipedes as they lost their grip and fell from tree branches. I won’t forget the funny scenario displayed by a friend when a pair of millipedes fell into his shirt. I have witnessed a monitor lizard slain. I also have seen several rodents and snakes disturb the bush. I have seen an owl hunt in the moonlight and soldier ants visit frequently. The hills are their playground. Even now as a young man I feel indifferent towards the hills and her numerous inhabitants. I am suspicious of any movement near the bush path.
Back to my lonely reflection: I feel welcomed by insect zithering. They sing a disturbing lullaby. Sometimes I wish them away. There’s no frog in the vicinity, thankfully. A crazy frog choir would have been worse. Some insects stroll into my room. Crickets hide in cracks. Moths marry my torch-light, sun-flies drive me crazy during the day, wasps and bigger moths buzz about, investigating the lamps around the house and other light craving insects play out their hearts. Indeed, insects are a restless bunch. I know a lot of them but not their names. My favourite is the handsome lady bird.
The cold hands of night grip this tranquil village. It’s very dark out here safe for few stars, which are dots imposed upon the dark sky. I’m familiar with this hilly climate.
Now lightning take images of the clouds and grassland. I see tree skeletons with each flash but the hills are invincible without much illumination. It seems it will rain again. It’s good to be home
Many walk this path, many never return the same
Before sunset, the town gets filled-up with tired men
Those who found providence in wood
Returning hands weak and worn-out,
Overtaken by life’s numerous good
For faith waits to guide to paths
Where hope as lush forests flourish
The drums of war have been beating since the beginning of this year.7
‘When it starts, it will be over there. Eurasia* may introduce the world to a global conflict.’
Those were my words as I sat watching BBC’s global news. Before the announcement on Nagorno-Karabakh, I had always predicted that a future global war might start from Eurasia. I will share my opinion after reflecting on the events that happened this year.
And I’m not talking about Coronavirus or the upcoming US presidential election. Of course, 2020 will always be associated with the deadly Covid-19 pandemic which took the world by surprise and drew attention away from many things. While the world was distracted, something else kept on brewing behind the curtain.
If you follow global news, you may agree with me that the political tensions flaring up in Eurasia is not ordinary. Well, Africa, known for violent political clashes, is enjoying ‘some peace’ when compared to Eurasia. There’s an ongoing battle for political and economic control in Asia. Nationalist feelings are on its zenith, and countries are disinterested in reaching an agreement through dialogue. It is now necessary to engage in military drills and showcase hardware to intimidate others—what an unnecessary show off of military strength in times when many economies are crumbling or struggling.
Eurasia is boiling, old rivalries and wounds scratched open. Consider the territorial dispute between Turkey, Greece and Cyprus over drilling rights in the Mediterranean. Iran is at the background though quiet in the meantime but protecting its interests. Syria and Yemen haven’t gotten over their wars. Israel is wary of Hezbollah and Hamas. Let’s look at Pakistan and India over Kashmir and internal issues in Afghanistan and Iraq. Consider also the Chinese aggression over the South China sea, and the Indian, Taiwanese, Japanese borders and currently the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
In the past, nationalist feelings and movements preceded dangerous events. Such was with the years preceding WW1 and WW2. While the leading world governments look elsewhere and show indifference to the collective responsibility to protect fundamental human rights, rogue nations grow morale to intimidate their citizens, political opponents and bully other countries. This further encourages barbaric misadventures of territorial expansion and resource grabbing.
This is not good for humanity and not good for the world.
I kept wondering why the forces want a conflict in Eurasia. Many questions float through my mind. With the world’s current position, one match can trigger a bigger global war. Some nations make a lot of money through sales of military hardware and weapons. Will I say they are innocent or guilty for the rising tension?
How unfortunate it is for Armenia and Azerbaijan to allow their armies to be drawn to this crave, this madness for a senseless war. These are trying times indeed, and any discerning leader should be wary of that. The drums of war kept beating since the beginning of this year. It has drawn two Eurasian nations to its dance floor.
I hope these two beautiful brothers find a peaceful way to settle without hurling bombs at each other and that things do not get out of hand.
Time will tell.
*Eurasia: Subcontinent comprising of large portions of Europe and Asia linked by history and culture. In this blog post, I am referring to both continents with more emphasis on Asia.
On this day 60 year’s ago Nigeria got her independence. Things may not be right at the moment but our hope and faith will prevail. We shall rise above tribalism, intolerance, hatred and indiscipline.
Let’s celebrate Nigeria, the giant of Africa with her beautiful images.