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Monthly Archives: December 2012

Pickings from Penguins

Antarctica, the continent of ice and home of the beautifully plumed bird with a really awkward gait- the Emperor Penguin, standing at an average of 1.1m tall and weighing about 65kg. Can you remember Private, Skipper, Kwalski and Rico? The four daring, funny and totally mischievous Penguins of MADAGASCAR!!!!! In this post, we are going to find out what we can pick from penguins.

According to scientists, penguins are birds who have over the years adapted to life not only in harsh temperatures but also at sea. Their feathers are waterproof and their wings have evolved into flaps. Under their black and white plumage lies layers of fat that serves both as store for nourishment during the protracted periods spent in Antarctica tending to their young and as insulation against the cold.

Let’s consider a scenario “metaphorically”; where we were all amphibians or perhaps ambidextrous? We would be able to fit in to various environments, solve complex problems with our plethora of skills. Adaptation is one of our latent characteristics as living things (remember MR NIGER AD?) but most of us are yet to maximize this immense natural gift we all have lying within us. We want people and environment to suit our sometimes outrageous whims and caprices. But, by simply being more aware of our adaptability and calling on it more often, we can surmount the challenges of life.

Penguins are probably the most social of all the birds on earth. During breeding season, the males would make distinct calls and displays to attract their mate and when they find one, they’d find the best piece of rock on the shore and present it to her. This special piece of rock shall now form the foundation upon which their nest for new offspring would be built. How much more romantic can he get?

When the eggs are laid, the females transfer the egg(s) to the males for incubation. This is to enable the females go out to sea for what might sometimes turn out to be a long while to feed. For Emperor Penguins, this can last up to 90-120 days. When she returns, they switch roles so the males can go out in turn to feed. What a remarkable sense of responsibility for their young as well as an amazing display of team work.

Now I want to ask, how many of you men take part actively in the upbringing of your kids? Do you know the hair style your daughters make for school? Do you know why your son loves PS3 so much? Or what their favourite colour is? What are your kids hobbies? Are you one of those that see your toddler(s) with soiled diaper and chase them to their mother?

Child upbringing is a team effort, there are no clear cut lines defining roles. It’s not a matter of- I pay the school fees while she attends the PTA meetings; I buy the Christmas clothes while she takes them to the beach so I can watch Man Utd vs. Arsenal derby. Let’s get it right from now on because from where I stand, I think playing it like a team will not only ensure better offspring but also foster a much healthier relationship between you and your spouse.

Penguins memorise the calls of their spouse and young ones. This is to enable them find their spouse and young whenever they return from their fishing expeditions at sea as there are often hundreds of thousands of other Penguins in the rookery. Hence, each Penguin’s call is unique.

Many of us are already familiar with the theory that the actual vocalised speech only constitutes 7% of the entire communication exercise. When your kids, spouses, friends or co-workers make certain facial expressions, walk in a certain manner or dress in a particular colour of clothing; do we know what they are trying to express subliminally? Have we taken time to understand those we live, work or got to school with to know what every tiny expression of theirs mean? Especially within the family, it is important that we understand the non vocal communication of our spouses and children. Children who face bullying at school or who are facing peer pressure often show this non-verbally and if parents are not on the look out, they will miss out on opportunities to help out.

When I was much younger; when I complained about foods I didn’t like, my mum would give me a quick riposte: I’m your mother, and I gave it to you, for that reason, it will not harm you so eat it up! Penguins on the other hand didn’t need too much talk as they have another technique. The parent regurgitates partially digested fish and feeds it to their young directly; thus taking direct responsibility of their offspring’s nutrition. What they eat is what they feed the children. Unlike some homes I know, where the father eats all the choice fish and meat or the children are not allowed to eat eggs while the adults who don’t need it feed themselves fat.

Again, taking charge of your family’s nutrition means you will not constantly feed them on junk or meals you have no say over how they are prepared. This could be inform of fast food home delivery services or actually eating out. The need for a healthy diet rich in vegetables, fruits, fibre, and water cannot be over emphasized. Why don’t we take advantage of the overwhelming benefits of preparing our family meals? Its not only cost effective both on short and long term basis but it also puts you in the driver’s seat as regards meal preparation hygiene, ingredients utilised, cooking techniques employed, plus it’s a great family bonding activity; this I know from personal experience.

Penguins are indeed such remarkable creatures. Let’s ruminate on the points already shared in a bid to ensure better relationships, healthier habits, and wonderful meal times to name a few.

Until next time, I remain Chika AKAEZE. Follow me on Twitter @chika365.

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Posted by on December 26, 2012 in General

 

As We Were

I stood
Tethering
Watching
Hoping
Convincing myself, saying
soon… soon.

I could
Give up all hope
Say I can’t cope
Cos I aint dope
Berating myself, I grope
Soon…soon

I stand outside
Staring from the other side
Telling me: take it all in stride
Accept it don’t give in to pride
Life is only taking you on a ride
So you’ll have all the time to decide
What to accept with which laws to abide.

I wept inside
Tears from my eyes dried
Telling me: let this be your guide
Not all deserve your trust to hide
Someone in whom I thought to confide
No longer in my secret place does she reside.

There they were
The ones I once called friend
The ones I thought I’d love to the end
I walk past, I know them not I pretend
Yet in secret, their honour I defend
My heart I seek to mend
Forgiveness extend
As we were

Make your foot rare at the house of your fellowman, that he may not have his sufficiency of you and certainly hate you~Prov 25:17

 
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Posted by on December 24, 2012 in General

 

We Can Learn From Ewe

‘Baa baa black sheep
Have you any wool
Yes sir, Yes sir,
Three bags full’

As a child, you may have recited that nursery rhyme. The rhyme reminds us that one of the reasons we keep sheep is for their wool. But we also keep sheep for their meat and milk. Sheepnomics is good, but of far more value in this post is eweducation. (For the purpose of this post we shall use sheep and ewe interchangeably)

By the way, I hope you know that ‘ewe’ is said exactly like ‘you’? Good! Now you know. So what are some characteristics of sheep that we can learn from?

In Eastern Nigeria, there is a saying: The sheep says there is nothing more important than to observe. Sheep (plural sheep) can sit around all day looking. Sometimes, people say this means sheep are stupid. But in observing, sheep are able to tell who their shepherd is. Sheep only follow the one person they know is their leader. Also while observing, sheep ruminate and chew the curd.

The power of observation can save us humans a lot in pain and heart ache. A young lady/man who stops to observe the person s/he is in a relationship with, will not be quick to get into marriage with someone he doesn’t know. The time spent dating /courting will be utilised in seeing how compatible you and your future partner are. And when you observe you take action. Remember, a sheep will not follow anyone who is not his shepherd neither should form marriage alliance with anyone who is not for you.

Speaking of following people, sheep teach us to only follow the true shepherd. Sheep have the ability to recognise the shepherd based on their observation and long-term facial recognition skills. Do you have the ability to recognise a true leader. Or are you easily deceived into following people who disguise themselves as shepherds?

A true leader will not be forced, coerced or pressured into leadership. He will not wait to be told ‘Hey! You are the leader we need’. No, a true leader begins the walk and then people see he is leading and follow.

A true leader does not preach virtue and practice vice. He does not wear a garb of humility over his pride and arrogance, only to strip it off when it suits him. He is neither abusive nor does he make himself unapproachable because he has many followers.

Let us learn from the sheep and use our powers of observation. What manner of leader only begins to speak up against rot and corruption when he is kicked out of the system of corruption he has been romancing with. Observe! Do no follow a false shepherd.

Moving forward, sheep are sacrificial animals. This perhaps explains why a sheep’s first reaction to a confrontation is to flee. But this in no way means sheep can not stand up for themselves. When pushed to a corner, an ewe will exhibit aggressive behaviour.

So, do you have a sacrificial spirit? What would you give to make your fellow man happy. A key problem Nigerians have had with their government is that they have been forcing them to make sacrifices while they loot and get fatter. Some have even gone as far as saying that they will give nothing because they get nothing. But the truth of the matter remains that you don’t make sacrifices because you are hoping someone else will reciprocate by making a sacrifice.

Jesus for instance, as Christians believe, made the ultimate sacrifice by giving up his life on behalf of his friends. Like Vicki Soto, first grade teacher who died protecting her pupils during the Newton school shoot out. Reports say, she threw herself in front of the gun man to save the children. What sacrifice could be greater than this?

Now, you are seated in a bus and someone in discomfort asks you to move over a bit, and you react angrily. Would you then be willing to run into a burning house to pull out someone who is in danger of being burnt to death. You may think that is the stuff super hero tales are made of, but remember Vicki? What do you think moved her? How many times have we seen someone facing a near death situation and instead of helping out, we pick up our phones and tweet at Gidi_Traffic? The ewe tells us to be sacrificial.

And did you know that taste is the most important sense in a sheep. You never know whether you will really like something until you try it. The sheep eats grass and it loves sweet grass. So go ahead try something new today. Perhaps a meal you’ve always shunned because of the tribe that prepares it. Many people from South West Nigeria now enjoy dishes from the South East, but I do know a lot of my South Eastern brothers who wouldn’t try out meals from other ethnic groups. Why not taste and see.
I am anabagail and next week will be time for another great discussion on Lessons From Animals:) till then just say eeeeeeewe:)

 
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Posted by on December 19, 2012 in Lessons From Animals

 

Once Upon a Friend

I had a very bad dream
I found myself in a world where you and I were no longer besties.
I found myself in a place where you and I no longer spoke jesties
I found myself in a time when you and I no longer shared nesties
I found myself in a season where you and I couldn’t be pesties

You and I were a team
We could talk for hours without end about nothing at all
We could be silent for hours without feeling the long haul
We could laugh for hours without taking the wrong call
We could cry on each others shoulder stop each other from making a fall

How will this really seem?
To our mutual friends, what will we say made us part?
Will we say we were forced to put the horse before the cart?
Will we say we had a fight over a game of darts?
Or will we say we couldn’t bear the smell of the other’s fart?

Wake me up, for this dream has become a nightmare
Shake me up, for this night has torn my heart bare
Cheer me up, for this day has brought with it despair

Do not leave me, please spare me this pain.
Stay on with me, my love for you will not wane.
Bear with me, even when I’m proud and act vain

For I am only human and can only walk the ways of man.

A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.~Prov 18:24 – King James Bible “Authorized Version”.

 
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Posted by on December 13, 2012 in Poetry

 

The Graceful Giraffe

Today, we talk about the giraffe. The tall lanky animals with the long neck. You may remember stretching your neck in class to copy from someone’s work and hearing the teacher’s voice boom ‘No giraffing’. But here’s some news: it’s time to do some ‘giraffing’ into your future. Please stretch your neck, stretch it right out and see beyond the obvious. Stretch it and see where you are going. And with that picture fixed in your mind, work towards achieving your dreams.

The giraffe reaches right to the top to get green leaves to feed on. What stops you from feeding off your dreams? Any creative person will tell you, each work starts with a vision. A journey without a known destination is simply wandering. A proposal without clearly defined objectives will get thrown out. So dream it, then stretch your neck and reach out for it.

Giraffes are graceful gentle creatures. When you watch them in a safari, you get the feeling that they don’t have a care in the world. But they do, giraffe meat is a lion’s favourite and so giraffes are on a constant look out for the enemy. Humans too have daily worries. And when you look around or meet people they seem to always be angry. If they were giraffe’s they wouldn’t wear their problems on their foreheads. They would be gentle and graceful even though they are aware of the dangers around them. Advice: Act like you don’t have a care in the world, it doesn’t take away your problems…it just lowers your blood pressure. As my Nutri C wrist band says: keep your fears to yourself, but share your inspiration with others.

Giraffes are non-territorial, they move in herds without any discriminatory structures, instead they only have nurseries to keep the young ones protected. The giraffe doesn’t care who is tall, short, pretty, ugly, intelligent, foolish, Hausa, Igbo,Yoruba, Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Atheist, Anglican, Catholic, PDP, ACN, CPC…every giraffe is a giraffe. Come to think of it, are we not all humans? Made from dust? Returning to dust? Giraffes teach us to be sociable, mix with others and gain from them and forget about creed, colour or political affiliations.

But by far the biggest lesson I learnt from the giraffe relates to how a baby giraffe is born: first it drops from a height of eight feet and lands on the ground, the mother smooches the baby with her neck and then just when the baby is beginning to get used to the smooching and is looking too lazy to rise, she kicks it right off the ground into the air and it lands with a thud. Now if baby giraffe still doesn’t get it, the mother keeps kicking until it does: the baby must learn to walk and run as soon as it is born to increase its chances at survival.

Two lessons from the giraffe’s birth.
1. No matter where you fall from you can rise. If you don’t know how tall eight feet is to a baby giraffe, think of yourself falling from a story build! Yet, the giraffe rises, walks and then runs.
2. It takes love to kick a friends butt. The mother giraffe smooches the baby and then kicks. No time for unnecessary displays of affection. There is a time and a place for that. When you see a friend wallowing in self pity because they have fallen, do you let them be? Whatever for? You need to find the courage to kick them hard and good. How will they get back their senses if all you do is sigh and say ‘it is well’? Do something! Are they depressed? Drag them out for a walk, spend time with them. Love them then kick them.

And if you don’t have a friend you can trust to kick your butt, I’m up for hire!

That’s it on lessons from animals for the week. I am @anabagail on Twitter and I’m always learning:)

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2012 in Lessons From Animals

 

Now or Never

I screamed!

Dele had forced himself into my anus. My whole body shook as spasms of pain shot through me. He retracted.

‘Do you want to wake the kids?’

I rolled up in a ball as the pain
subsided but I could still feel the point throbbing. So this is what it had come to. Was my vagina no longer good enough?

I heard Junior in the other room. Dele must have gone to him. Some explanation about an ant bite must have sent him back to sleep.

Dele forced me to turn over.

‘Sorry, I won’t put it there again. I didn’t know it would hurt you’.

You didn’t know?! I had begged and pleaded, tears running down my face, knowing what you were aiming at. Asking you to spare me the pain.

I kept my face averted. There was no need for him to see the hate and pain and anger that were in my eyes. This was supposed to be love making.

I scoff.

Lovemaking. The type I had dreamed of as I read those steamy romance novels, as my heart beat in tandem with the heroine’s, anticipating with her the first touch; the weakness of the knees that comes with that sudden wetness; the throbbing of the nipples in arousal as it awaits the touch and then the wet lips suck; the groans of pleasure as he fills her and then goes from shallow rhythmic thrusts to stronger more urgent bangs as they both reach the heights, two hearts in one.

This was no lovemaking. Dele no longer cared whether I was ready. Sometimes it was just a question of ‘turn around I want to fuck’ and when I refused, he would take it by force. The only scripture he remembers so clearly: do not be depriving each other of it. He forgets: love her as your own body. This was no lovemaking. Can there be a making love without love? I lay on the bed and let him do his thing.

True, there was a time I used to anticipate Dele’s coming. When I would look forward to being with him. Had we not made love everywhere conceivable: in the car, office, under the moonlight, kitchen table, floor, standing, bath tub, hotel room…just name it, we’ve done it.

But something changed. Or maybe in my naivety and haste to become Mrs Somebody I didn’t stop to see Dele for who he really is. Why didn’t I notice that Dele had the capacity to rape. Why didn’t I notice that a key weapon in his hands was emotional torture?

I have lived through the torture these past five years. Everyman that speaks to me must be having sex with me…or at least wants to. I have had to break up all friendships, cut off my family just to make him happy and lately he has been asking me to stop talking to virtual friends. All our problems seem to come from other people. He says he loves me. All he does is because he loves me. I want to believe him but my heart has made its own decision.

I wished he had just taken without inflicting so much emotional and physical pain. But these days a ‘lovemaking’ session is preceded by my getting the story of my life laid out- all I am to him is a cheap whore. I give it to any man who stops to ask. Today, the culprit is my boss whom I had a meeting with earlier in the day. If you gave to your boss, then you should give it to me as well.

As I watched him hump, enjoying the sweetness I felt in pain. I knew it was now or never. I have rehearsed this so many times. I clutched the kitchen knife and shut my eyes. All I wanted to remember was one sweet memory but all I could see was the many faces of torture and pain. It was now or never.

He shut his eyes in ecstacy and in that second, I saw my chance to shut his eyes forever…

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2012 in Short Story

 

C is for Cat

You may already know these sayings with ‘cat’ in them:
Curiosity killed the cat.
Who will bell the cat?
A cat has nine lives: three for playing, three for straying and three for staying.
Look what the cat dragged in!
But a few of these may be somewhat strange:
A cat can look at a king.
All cats are grey in the dark and
Nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs.

Yet, all these sayings are built on a characteristic of our feline friends, the cat. True, in some cultures in Africa, seeing a cat, especially a black one is judged a bad omen as cats are generally thought to be used by witches. But, some people do keep this creatures as adorable pets. Let us take a few lessons from cats.

Cats stare

They stare at everyone with those huge eyes. Little wonder the saying: A cat can look at a king. This saying is used to mean ‘no one is so important that an ordinary person can not look at him or her; we can all be curious about important people’. Cats are very curious creatures. Remember curiosity killed the cat?

The bigger question is: where should our curiosity or looking, if you choose, at important people lead us. Should we just look at pictures of how they live and spend time day dreaming about someday being like them or do we become curious about how they achieved their success with a view to learning from them how to be better in our personal endeavours?

Do you understand the concept of mentorship? Can your curiosity move you to walk up to an ‘important’ person and ask that they take you under their wings? Let’s say, your dream is to become a professional footballer. Would your curiosity move you to find out all you can about footballers you know and can be introduced to and who can help you advance your career or will you sit all day reading sports magazines and dreaming of how one day you will play in the European League? Curiosity should move you to find out and then you must act on your knowledge.

Still on the cat’s stare, who can hold back from a cat staring with those luminous eyes? Interestingly, cats also use the same eyes to stare down their prey. Bottom line is cats use their eyes to help them get what they want. Let’s relate this to the workplace. Picture this scenario:

James has been working hard all year for this promotion. Getting it means so much to him which is why he has ensured he has a clean slate all year: he arrives at work early and does all he is asked. He has even gone a step further to do some things he hasn’t been asked. There’s no way he is not getting this promotion.

But then, there’s Peter. Peter does good work too, well not as good as James and he has been late a number of times- damn traffic. Here’s the catch, Peter does something we all like to call ‘kissing arse’. He sucks up to the boss. Just the other day, he was sharing pro golf tips with the boss. No, Peter does not like golf, he took an interest because it is something the boss likes. Slowly but surely, Peter warmed his way into the bosses heart. Now who do you think will get that promotion?

Never forget: it’s a jungle out there and a cat is king of the jungle.

Cats play

On my TL yesterday someone made a note about people trading their sense of humour for a bag of seriousness. After I read that update, I realised that I wasn’t the only one who has noticed how much less playful people were these days. Even when they take out time to unwind, they are still uptight. Or have you not seen instances of people fighting in a party?

Interestingly, the cat’s nine lives is made up of three sets of activities, each getting three lives each: playing, straying and staying. Can we balance our lives the same way? Like someone said: no one ever died from laughing.

My ‘friend’ @sagaysagay on Twitter runs a humour blog. If you ever find yourself worked up and uptight, do pay him a visit here sagaysagay.com/category/blogn… . Remember, playing decreases your chances of dying young! And no one really wants to be around people who are grouchy.

Inspite of how playful the cat is, it knows there’s a time to stray and a time to stay, that’s balance if you ask me. I hope the players out there learn that a time comes in their lives, after they have said ‘I do’ that they just need to stay and take care of the one they call their own.

So much more we can learn from cats which we can apply practically in our day to day living: the cat’s grooming, dragging something in…

I am anabagail on Twitter and on my TL today, I’ll be all catty;)

 
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Posted by on December 4, 2012 in Lessons From Animals

 

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