The defiled generation: A lesson from Ezra

The book of Ezra chapter 2 verses 61- 63- a most pathetic story. An account of people who came back home from captivity, with everyone listed and numbered until it gets to the turn of the sons Habaiah, Koz, and Barzillai. Suddenly there’s a pause. I can imagine the official who was checking through the scrolls, asking them over and over to repeat their names. In my society of today, they would ask them to spell their names while those on the queue would be pushing and jostling impatiently. The men would be asked if they’d forgotten their own names; someone would very likely shout that they should move out of the way for others. Alas! It was a fruitless search. Their names were not in the listing; they had not been registered by genealogy like the rest and so there was no record of their membership of the priesthood. They could not access that which rightfully belonged to them. Why? because they had “sold” their birthright- well in a sense. They had intermarried with foreign women and taken their mothers’ names. They had despised their lineage, probably at a time when it seemed like the name was of no use to them. At a time when it was more profitable to be identified with the foreigners than with their own people. They didn’t reckon that their own name would one one day amount to anything worth having and so they sacrificed the long term for the immediate. They gave up eternity for convenience.
Sad as this story makes me, I can’t help but reflect on what happens today in our society. We have succeeded in raising a generation of people without a sense of history; a sense of genealogy, a sense of pride in the family heritage. Everyone today wants to “belong”. We have people in their twenties and thirties, old enough to be “priests” but with no sense of history. Some of them have never as much as set foot in their villages and hometowns. Others have only been a few times for funerals and a few celebrations. They do not speak their languages and have so melded with the city people that it has become close to impossible to differentiate between the man from Ogun state and the one from Taraba state (I use these states as examples only).
In several cases, the mothers have been largely to blame as they frequently disparage the husband’s ancestry and raise the kids to identify with the “city people”. It makes me wonder what would happen if we all had to go back to our homes to partake in the “holy things” of our different ancestry. Would we and/our children be missing from the books? Would our children be described as defiled and unfit to participate in that which is rightfully theirs?

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Everyone has a need

I’ve been reflecting on the stories of two women in the old testament of the Holy Bible. The stories appear in the 4th chapter 2 Kings. They both detail encounters with the Prophet Elisha (the man with the double double annointing)
In the first story, there was a widow in great distress. She was in debt and in danger of losing her sons to the creditors. She ran to the Prophet in desperation. She had no options, she had no airs, no pride. Nothing. She saw no way out. She didn’t know what to do but she refused to accept her situation as final. She had a need and she went for help.
The second story is different. She was rich and had no lack. She went to the Prophet, not to seek help, but to offer it. When pressed, she responded that she had no need of anyone’s assistance. She was self-assured and at peace with herself. She had accepted her circumstances and no longer considered it a need.
It took the watchful eyes of the Prophet’s servant for her need to be identified. Interestingly, both women had their needs met by the same means- a word from the prophet.
The first woman had her need in front of her and she actively tried to solve it; the second had her need buried so deep she no longer saw it as such.
What is your need today? Buried deep or surface level, every need can be met. Rich or poor, we all have needs. Some obvious, others hidden. Whatever your need(s), be assured the solution is not so far away. Whether you go seeking for help or you go seeking to help, may your need be met speedily!

Time to move forward

” To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven” Ecclesiastes 3:1

Life is a collection of changes; some big, some small. We all change. In our bodies, careers, beliefs, whatever. We change. Some of these changes are so insignificant, we don’t notice them happening. For instance, at some point in my life I had 32 strong and healthy teeth and I enjoyed chocolates and ice cream. Changes were going on in my mouth and I didn’t notice until pain woke me up and bam! Three teeth gone in one week and now I manage toothache. Chocolates are no longer as attractive as carrots and ice cream is a truly avoidable luxury! 

Some of the changes do not cause pain as above; some are quite exciting and life-changing like the changes I have been making in the past few years. Writing, writing and writing even more. Now I’m moving further and making more changes and what better place to announce what’s next?

It’s that season again; more books, for your kids, for you, for a friend. The plan was to make this an annual event but as we always say, Life happens, and this is for now. This is the time, the season for this purpose, under this heaven. Several books, same author, same day, same season, same grace. Bigger fears, even bigger courage, for you see, courage is not the absence of fear but the ability to move on in spite of your fears. And so I can say, I am moving on in excitement, taking my fear and using it as a springboard for the next big leap.

It’s time to move forward. Join me will you? Change something, cooperate with change, use change, advance, progress, overcome. Big, small, fearful or not, failure or not. Move anyway, anyhow. I did, I am doing, so can you!

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OROJITOMAYIDIOGBA

WHEN I was in primary school in Warri, my best friend was a very beautiful girl named Agnes. Her second name was Orojitomayidiogba, meaning, you’re only a champion or a strongman until you hit adversity, or put another way, the one that has not been hit by unpleasant situations or circumstances is the strongman. A lot of African names have very deep meanings and my friend’s name was as deep as they come. We all called her ‘Toma which was easier to pronounce and definitely more fitting for such a pretty young lady. Nevertheless, I used to ponder on the meaning of her name; it made me think of something my father used to say half in jest when we were younger and full of mischief. When anyone got into trouble and the others laughed or whenever we were careless with anything of value, he would shake his head, and say, “another man head na garawa”. The two phrases above mean more or less the same thing. The speaker of English would say it like this, “Who feels it knows it”. I am waxing philosophical today because I realize now that in some way, I have been rather insensitive without meaning to be.

I have had my share of pain and loss and had reached a point where I felt I could use a break. When I saw comments on Facebook newsfeeds about people who died, I would pause only briefly and then carry on. I didn’t want to dwell on death or anything like it, we were travelling on parallel roads and that was good enough for me. Until this week; I was in the printing press struggling to get some work done, the heat was pushing rivulets of sweat into my eyes and the noise was causing me to strain in order to hear my thoughts. As usual there was no public power supply and all the diesel generators were competing for the title of “noisest machine of the year”. I noticed by chance that my phone’s backlight was on and a number was blinking, I snatched it up without checking who it was and started screaming “hello, hello?” the noise in the ‘hood had almost rendered me deaf and I was reacting like one hard of hearing. Unlike me though, the person at the other end was calm and gentle and in a few seconds, the normalcy in her tone brought me back to my senses and I recognised who it was on the line. I tried to sputter some sort of explanation for my uncouth way of answering the phone but she went on with her pleasantries. This was a dear friend I didn’t hear from very often and I was a bit piqued that I wasn’t in a place where I could enjoy this call thoroughly. Pleasantries over, she dropped the bombshell, “ what did they say happened to Efere? I saw something on Facebook and was shocked, blab bla bla…“She didn’t bla, but my ears bla’d and my brain bla’d. “No it is not true o! Nothing like that happened, no it cannot be, I was chatting with Maero, a few days back bla bla bla…” I denied and denounced the possibility of it being true like a child caught stealing meat from the soup pot. I ended the call with very little idea of what I said to her and tried to log on to Facebook. The network was not in the mood, my phone was not in the mood and I definitely was not in the mood.

Finally, gradually, I went online and confirmed what I had dreaded and denied. Efere Ozako, fondly known as Zakilo was dead. I felt like an idiot. I was angry at the friends who were sending condolences and writing comments. I felt it was premature, way too soon for them to accept it just like that. I felt like we should wait a bit, debate the matter a little, fight it somehow. How does Efere die in the morning and you begin to write RIP, shortly after? It didn’t add up, I didn’t think Zakilo would accept to just “siddon look” or in this case, “lie down die”. It was out of character for bow- legged, tough Senior Efere. Hours passed and I couldn’t bring myself to accept it. I was too far away to cry with anyone and the phone was too impersonal for all the things I wanted to say. RIP was too lame and too tame and defeatist. I couldn’t think of a single prayer to pray or song to sing.

It’s been four days and my mind is full of thoughts of Maero and Makaino and all the other Ozakos that we know and love. I’m thinking of Efere’s wife and kids and what it must mean to lose such a dear one. I don’t want to think of Efere or write a poem or a dirge or a song as I often do, maybe another day, but not today. Today all I can do or want to do is think of Maero and her siblings and share in their agony from miles away. I’m thinking of their beautiful Mum and wondering at the heartrending pain she must be feeling. I’m wondering at the suddenness of this thing that took Efere away; and realizing that it takes people away all the time but because they are not my friends and family, I could continue scrolling when I saw the notices on their timelines. Now I stare at Maero’s wall and feel the squeeze she must be feeling. Indeed, orojitomayidiogba!

IDENTIFYING YOUR NETWORK

WE live in a world of networks. Facebook, Twitter, Myspace  you-tube  g mail  yahoo, the list is endless. But who is in your network? What is your network? Take FB for instance, you add someone as friend but how much of a friend is s/he? I have people in my FB list of friends who would walk past me on the streets and vice versa. A little over a year ago, I was at the Lagos airport waiting to catch a flight to Uyo and someone walked past me who was my “friend” on Facebook  I stopped this person and introduced myself and we chatted for about ten seconds and we parted. So much for my “friend”. 

You need to do “network” analysis and identify who is who and for what purpose. There’s your spiritual, social, family and business networks. Some people are in your life just to make you laugh; some are there to pray for you and watch over your spiritual welfare; some just want to peep and see if you are still breathing(LOL!). Some just love you in their hearts and silently wish you well. Some are there because, well, they are family and real life friends. Whatever the reason, analyse your network and don’t mistake one group for the other. I have friends in my online network that I will never see face-face, at least not on this side of Heaven (in fact, there are some I may not see on the other side of Heaven); then there are some that would gladly donate a body part if I needed one-thankfully I don’t so I don’t have to put their love to the test!

The whole point is to be careful, enjoy your networks and use them appropriately; banana and pepper-soup don’t go together even though both are good for you. Know what to share with each group, sometimes, people would move from one group to the other based on circumstances, enjoy it, and know who goes where. I met someone on FB sometime ago who is a relative of a friend, s/he advertised an event and I attended. The person was very pleased and now I have gained an offline friend from an online interaction  but I would not do that with everyone…to be continued

 

Selah!

Why am I not like my Master?

The Doctor saw me that Saturday and while he did not look very worried, he did insist that I visit the big Government facility for a critical test they did not have the equipment to carry out. So on this bright Monday morning I find myself in the Government hospital in a sea of humanity.

From the swirling crowd, I wondered how many people were left in the city who were not ill or in need of medical attention. To my immediate left was an obviously new mother with a baby who could not have been more than a few days old. The baby was crying pityingly and the mother hunched over as she tried to give suck without exposing herself completely. She winced in pain as the infant grabbed at her and my suspicion was confirmed that she was a new mother. I was tempted to give her a few lessons on the proper way to position herself and the infant for a less painful and more effective feeding time but I thought better of it. I had my own issues and didn’t feel up to talking to anyone. There were so many people; I tried to make polite inquiries and was directed to the payment section. First you have to pay for a folder, and then go to a separate place for the folder. There were too many people and I was seriously tempted to junk the whole process and go home. I knew my hubby would not let me hear the last of it if I did that and besides, I was here already, was I not? With one more person to go before it got to my turn, a fat, official-looking lady bustled her way to the front and started exchanging pleasantries in vernacular with the clerk. She had a man in tow and I knew they were jumping the queue. I sighed wearily! Why do we find it so difficult to wait patiently for services in this Nigeria? Everywhere one goes, there’s someone who knows someone who knows someone who…..We never want to wait for our turn and it beats me why.

Finally fees paid and long queues scaled, I find my way to the consulting rooms and my heart almost broke! There were more people waiting to see the Doctors than I had imagined. Every available space was taken up by men women and children. Short, Tall, Fat, Skinny, all shades of colour and all ethnic groups. Some had come with family members, some were obviously pregnant, some were old and there were a few children. An unhealthy representation of humanity. Here was misery in all its sickly ugliness and I wished there was something I could do about it. For the moment, I forgot my own issues; in fact, I could no longer feel the pain that had plagued me all week and had landed me in this abode of misery. I just wanted everyone else to be well and able to get up and go. Then I started to think of the One whose thought is never far from me these days. I thought of Jesus Christ my Saviour and what He would do if He were the one here? Then I realized that He had given me the same power that He had for healing the sick. So why was I staring helplessly at the the sick and infirm? Why could I not just go to each person and lay my hands and heal them? Why did I feel this sense of helplessness and inability? Why oh why could I not do anything? I was moved with compassion but that was all! And I can’t help but wonder why I’m not more like my Master; is it my sin or my unbelief or failure to exercise faith? or just plain cowardice? Could it be that at the back of my mind was a niggling fear of what the people would do or say to me if I started praying for them? I don’t really know, but I think that maybe, I do not love them enough. My Master loved so much, He was willing to lay down His life. His total agenda was the salvation of people. What is my own agenda?

I fear the answer!

THE DAUGHTERS OF ZELOPHEHAD

There’s a notion sometimes that gives the impression that women are inferior in the sight of God. Nowhere is this further from the truth than in the Bible. God is just, regardless of gender. He is no respecter of persons.

Nowhere is this better illustrated than in the story about the daughters of Zelophehad; the daughters of Zelophehad knew what they wanted; in a culture that did not appear to give much regard to women, they were bold and fearless. They took their matter straight to the highest authority in the land-Moses. Moses was like the President; he was ruler of the nascent nation , after him was YAHWEH  God Almighty, the unseen one. they went to Moses to state their case; they refused to rely on assumptions and hear-says   They refused to be intimidated by their male counterparts. They stood before the highest governing authority and presented their case, and got victory, not only for themselves but for generations of women and families down the line. They brought about a change; a proper interpretation and implementation of the law.

When we face issues in our lives, before we give in and accept the status quo, we should consider pushing in the right direction for what we want; we should learn to take our issues to the right authority. Things are not always what they appear to be. SELAH!