Thankful Thursdays

Thankful for:

  • Work Mentors: I have begun pulling together my chartered engineer application as part of my big push to gain traction on my 12 things in 2012 program for the year. Part of the process requires getting sponsorship from a senior colleague. This week I am thankful for the implicit confidence my work colleagues have in me. As a bonus, the forms have been filled out and are almost good to ship off.
  • Accountability: I asked one of the lads O to hold me accountable to deliver on a number of tasks over the course of the week, and he duly delivered. This week I am thankful for his interest and willingness to make time out to remind me of the deliverables.
  • Travel plans: Thankful for reasons to travel to Nigeria and booked holidays.

In which I recall my memories of being a new hire…

Recovered from an old computer…. The joys of spring cleaning, I guess… Apologies for any one who finds the pidgin English excessively ‘conc’

Not too long ago I resumed at one of the much vilified companies in Nige… No complaints from me though, as long as them roger me my small thing at the end of the month and dem no kidnap me – No long thing..  I went to complete my in-processing a few weeks ago. Over serious naijaboy like me go organize better trouser and korrect shirt, come tuck-in with my glasses and fresh hair cut. Mehn.. Me sef trip na, as I look myself for mirror o..  Note to self – Next time take a photograph for posterity’s sake!

But sha police na the same everywhere o, whether dem stand for road or dem be Security Specialist, all na the same o…

Like a real ju-man, I arrived there well ahead of time.  8 am sharp, I don tanda for the gate, meanwhile na 10 o’clock dem talk for the letter o. The gate was closed as expected. But I just waited anyways. One police man come dey eye me one kind. Me self dey pose na, like wetin concern me, na Oga I come see o, not police.

Maybe the police come dey suspect sha, cos after a while he walked up to me. Like a well brought up Naija boy, I come greet the guy.

Me: Good morning sir,

Policeman: Yes, Ken I help you? You have been loitering around here for a while

Shoo – persin wey seat down for bench outside gate, na loitering be that?

Me: Yes please, I need to see Mr ** in HR

Maybe I was imagining it, but the police man was suddenly more alert.

Policeman: Do you have an appointment? You can’t just see him like that. He is very busy especially on Tuesdays.

Before nko? Which one concern me concern day of the week? Shebi I get letter

Me: Yes I do, I have a letter.

Mistake number one, telling him I had a letter. Mistake number two having my appointment letter in the top section of my portmanteau.

Policeman: Oh you do? Lemme have a look at it. I need to verify the signatures.

Naïve me, promptly delved into my portmanteau begin find the letter o.

Me: Here it is.

See wahala o, police man dey jack the letter like say na JAMB exam o..

Policeman: Ermm, young man, follow me. You need to speak to my superior officer.

Omo, one kain fear begin grip me sha o, Abi na fake letter dem send give me?

Superior officer ke? Na so dem go bundle me go kirikiri o.. And some kain string faced community boys dey outside gate dey try peep sha.

Anyhow, superior officer turned out to be one woman with a very Igbo-itic skin color. I come dey believe small sha, say if e too  hard I go beg am as Mummy. There was a barrier – like the stuff at banks, so I stayed outside it. She motioned for me after a while.

MummyPolice: *No long thing*, come over.

I jejely waka enter the barrier go meet the woman o. I dey use style spy her name tag whether I go fit see her name, no be lie na one Ibo name like that sha.

MummyPolice: Do you have any identification? I mean how can we verify that this is you? A lot of you young men are into impersonation.

Haba! Impersonation ke? Me wey don drop my ID card for school and Nige no gree give me National ID card. How I wan take prove say I be me?

Thankfully, my ID card from my bank account as a corper was in my wallet. I presented that. Mummy police dey eye the ID card like say na rat poison o.. After much sha, she looked up..

Mummy Police: Okon, give Mr *** a call and see if he is expecting this young man and take him in if he is.

No be small relief flood my body o.. I jejely collected my letter while Police Man placed a call to Oga’s Secretary.

PoliceMan: Madam, his secretary says they have been expecting him, I’ll take him over.

Mummy Police: All right then, just make it snappy.

Police man prepared a temporary gate pass for yours truly and proceeded to lead  me through. The guy just dey try walk side by side with me. Which pattern?

As we neared the office, the guy cleared his throat,

PoliceMan: Ah, e be like say you know persin for HR o, because company never employ for like 5 years o.

Which one the guy come dey speak pidgin na? after all im hassling me?

Me: No o, na just God do am o.. My papa na lecturer for University o.. Im no know anybody o.

PoliceMan: Mbok! Na so una dey always talk!   Na the office be this sha. O boy e don better for you o. Anything for your man? At least make me sef drink beer follow you celebrate o.. U know say na me call you enter that time o, u for still dey outside.

Olodo, so na small thing you dey find before come make u dey try harass me.

Me: Oga, Nothing dey today, I still dey come here tomorrow, I go roger una small thing tomorrow

The guy no wan waka comot o. Thankfully secretary saw me through the glass door and motioned for me to come over.

Me: Oga, thank you, I no dey run, I full ground. I go represent..

As the guy see say nothing go drop , he turned to walk away.

Oloshi, im wan panic correct Naija boy before! Nonsense!

As God would have it, dem charter company car go drop us for hotel, so norrin’ doing for the police man..

114 days in…

This year I decided I would only have seven focus areas – from which twelve things for 2012 were derived.  Interestingly, whilst there has been progress in some areas, quite a few other areas have been the equivalent of a Lagos traffic jam for progress. 114 days in, here’s my review.

  1. Develop a daily practice of prayer and meditation: This has come along in fits and starts. there definitely has been some progress, but nothing sustained so far. I’d rate myself as ‘poor’ here.
  2. Lose 20 kg:  An epic fail here. I suspect I may have actually gained half a kilogram!
  3. Read and review 25 books:  Currently on book number four. No real reviews have been completed so far. I’ll need to decide a format and start progressing these ASAP.
  4. Call Parents and siblings at least once a week:  I’ve made some progress on here with phone calls, but again not on the level of consistency that I’d be hoping for.
  5. Save £1,000 each month: One of the areas where I’d say I have performed very well.
  6. Get Chartered Engineer Status: In progress, I hope to send in my initial applications this May and kick start the process of getting C.Eng registration through the IMarEST.
  7. Get a Driver’s Licence: A couple of false starts here. The intent is to get the CEng application done and dusted and then focus on studying for the theory test and passing it in May 2012.
  8. Resolve long term settlement options:  Canada featured heavily in the plan for a while, but at the moment it’s looking like the UK is the base plan. The intent is to sort out the CEng status and then take it from there.
  9. Resolve my dating issues:  Not quite progress here. Met Q who ticks a lot of the boxes (geek, recovering bookworm, under 31 yrs of age, Nigerian with the added benefit of real life mutual friends/ connections). The one quirk is she’s very into the Grail Message thing which ended up scuttling my dalliance with EJ from back in the day. I’m not quite sure I can risk lettnig my heart go when there are these issues.
  10. FAN integration/FOL Service:  One word, abysmal.
  11. Find a mentor: Some progress, O’s essentially become my non work mentor what with his interest in getting me married and his listening ears, and the three gorgeous kids he’s got. 🙂 On the work front, I’m getting along quite nicely with the QNX* team now – RG seems like a good candidate for a work mentor. Getting him to sponsor my CEng application cxould be the key.
  12. Finding a hobby:  New item on the lsit, thanks to pressure from CS & NP at QNX and my buddy Chizz. I’ve signed up for the company touch rugby team – hopefully that pans out nicely.

All in all, there’s been areas of progress and some of none. The top targets for Q2 through end of June are getting the CEng application through, passing the theory test and heading off to Nigeria.


Joshua Harris on ‘Sanctuary Moments’

Joshua Harris on ‘Sanctuary moments’ (ones where God steps into our lives to impact change in us) from the message ‘Is He Enough? (New Attitude 2004) [mp3]

… I am not advocating for you that you wait for some sort of mystical experience. I want you to have a sanctuary moment here at new Attitude, but you know what, that’s not going to look like some moment in worship where God just wipes you out, knocks you on the floor, takes away your desire for marriage and sex, and really fills you with a hatred for the opposite sex and you stand up and say I’ve had my sanctuary moment. No…

It means obeying James 4:8 which says come near to God and he will come near to you. wash your hands you sinners, purify your hearts you double minded. It means getting serious about rooting sin out of our lives, it means getting serious about turning away form worldliness, and double mindedness. It means reading and studying god’s word. It means seeking god with all your heart, it means pursuing him in prayer, it means embracing fellowship in a local church, and all of these things are the means and the actions by which we can live not just sanctuary moments, but sanctuary lives.

The Friday Read: Gas is all around…


In the week that saw a cloud of gas leak from Total’s North Sea Elgin-Franklin field, the scramble for gas offshore Mozambique continues apace as Anadarko and Cove announce further finds, adding to the significant plays booked by ENI in 2011. The BBC’s Antonia Quirke ponders the impact exploiting these resources will have on this hitherto pristine corner of the world:

There is a sense on Vamizi of anxious anticipation. Some hope that the Mozambique government will run the project well and money will filter down to the islands which are particularly poor. Many people have feared the worst from the start. An islander tells me that when they heard that gas had been found to both the north and south, they watched all night as the illuminated exploration vessels searched and searched ever closer to their shores.

We stood on the sand, he said, and prayed it would not be found right here, thanking Allah when the vessels moved on.

The vast majority of African countries have not managed natural resources very well. Oil in Nigeria’s Niger Delta and Equatorial Guinea, and diamonds in Sierra Leone and the DR Congo are perhaps the most obvious examples of natural resources fuelling fat cat dictatorships, internal strife and burgeoning insurgencies – arguably with the connivance of the West. Tullow in Ghana and Uganda appear to be setting about it the right way; one can only hope that Mozambique uses this as a unique opportunity to build an industry from the ground up, learning to avoid the pitfalls that have befallen others who have gone before.

Listen to the podcast here.

Image from the Imagine Africa website.

Thankful Thursdays

Better late than never, thankfulness was supposed to be one of my 12 focus areas for 2012. Here goes in any case:

  1. New starts, new beginnings and the christening of god daughter number 3
  2. Both bosses concurrently on holiday – doesn’t happen all the time, useful to have a few days where I’m free to set my own agenda
  3. Progress at work –  leak in the plant which turned out well given I was on top of the issues right from the get go
  4. Reconnecting with old friends – the beauty of having an oddly spelled surname is it’s instantly recognisable.
  5. Friends who care – who take my singleness as a significant enough concern to try to hook me up

False dawns, god daughter shenanigans and an unexpected meetup

The god daughter and I having a nandos moment

The mini heat wave that was, threatened to leave nerves frayed and tempers flared all week in Room 3.26 before – like a duplicitous conman – it vanished as abruptly as it had arrived. It just so happened that the air conditioning – perhaps suddenly burdened by the heat load and the multiplied tinkering of the occupants of  the various offices in our section – huffed and puffed to an untimely death; leaving us in varying degrees of grumpiness. I had taken half the Friday off, looking to spend the afternoon strolling leisurely up and down Union Street, binging on the copious amounts of skin that had suddenly appeared, coaxed out by the warmth from beneath the bland greys and austere blacks that had been the standard fare for the last few months. The flirty weather had other plans though, and Friday morning arrived with a chill in its wake putting the dampers on any thoughts of prancing about town. I promptly cancelled my holiday, resigning myself to a full day of number crunching and copious amounts of milky, weak tea. So much for an early return to warm, sunny days!

My weather induced malaise extended through to Saturday morning – until some wily scheming from the god daughter finally lured me off my back side. I was in the middle of a telephone conversation with her father – wrapped in a snuggie for warmth and with re-runs of NCIS on TV for company – when she interjected to remind me of a promise I had somehow failed to deliver on. A year and some ago, she had turned five, smack in the middle of my North American jaunt. The promise of an afternoon out on my tab had been the only way to placate her at the time, something I had hopelessly failed to deliver on. At her insistence, no doubt egged on by her father, we agreed to meet up at 1.00pm for a walk down to the centre of town to grab lunch and chat. It was barely one o’clock when my doorbell rang, shattering whatever sense of lethargy I might have slipped into. I grabbed a large jacket and proceeded to take the fifteen minute stroll to Union Square, with her skipping merrily along a tad bit too excitedly, whilst her father and I – not exactly quintessential examples of fit, young men – struggled to keep up.

We clearly were not the only ones keen to spend the day out – in spite of the chill there was a small crowd of ten to twelve people clustered around the entrance to my Nandos all waiting to get seated and enjoy lunch. All told, it probably took the better part of thirty five minutes before we finally got a seat for three, wedged into a corner with the bristly leaves of some unknown plant digging into my side and a stern looking gentleman on the other. The scant consolation was the wide vista that the position afforded us – looking outward unto the central courtyard and the milling masses of gaily dressed people seemingly intent on sticking the finger to the weather, sudden chill or not.

I am handing the kid a chunk of lemon and herb flavoured prei-peri chicken when I see some movement from the corner of my eye. He walks past, pauses, moves on and then returns a few minutes later like someone weighing up a decision. When he returns a second time he marches straight to my table; only then does the flame of recognition flicker into life in my head. He and I shared six years studying together at the turn of the century. Not since those rain-beaten July months just before we shipped out to serve the nation have I seen him. He’s lost the gaunt frame, mean, hawkish eyes and the goatee that were his signature look back in the day, all that replaced by premature balding, a rounded face and the beginnings of a pot belly.

We shake hands excitedly, our enthusiasm only slightly doused by the icy look from the man to my right. He’s spent the last four years working in Port Harcourt and is in town for a three week training program. I fill him up on what I’ve been doing since leaving UX5 – studying and now stuck behind a desk crunching numbers. We swap phone numbers. He has a flight to catch early the next morning and is keen to do some last minute shopping – my now forsaken chicken is rapidly growing cold.

His parting shot is to nod in the god daughter’s direction and remark that she’s got my eyes. All I do is offer up a wry smile without comment. I suppose if MG and I had worked out – and no although I was at that wedding, I didn’t get married – I could conceivably be her father. That, somewhat sadly, I am not.

On Pentecostalism…

Some of my more memorable passages in Binyavanga Wainana’s witty, somewhat self deprecating if irreverent memoir, One Day I Will Write About This Place relate to his early contact with Pentecostalism whilst growing up in Kenya. In one of those he describes his mother’s desire one Sunday morning to attend a church and how they end up in one that is unmistakable Pentecostal:

The heat and light are blinding and people are jumping up and down and singing what sounds to me like voices from an accordion. It smells of sweat and goats.
We sit. All hot and in Sunday sweaters and collars and vaseline under the hot iron roof, and people spit and start and this is because we are frying, not because God is here.

The picture is one of chaos and disorder:

People are dressed in wild robes: orange Peter Pan collars, neon blues and golds and yellows. People reach into bras and pockets and purses and take out notes and envelopes and throw them in the moving dancing collection baskets. A crescendo is reached after we have given money, and people are writhing and shouting in the heat. Words are flowing from their lips like porridge, in no language I know, but in a clear coherent pitch. Each person has her or his own tongue

The contrast offered is one between this garish mix of colour and energy and the more sedate, introspective one he is more used to from the Catholic Church:

The Catholic church I know is all about having to kneel and stand when everybody else kneels and stands, and crossing and singing with eyebrows up to show earnestness before God, and open-mouth dignity to receive the bread.

In my experience, being a non-dancing member of a (Nigerian) Pentecostal church can be painfully odd at times. There have been days, often first (thanksgiving) Sundays of the month, where the thought of having to face yet another gruelling marathon  of excited dancing, loud music and the incessant admonition to those of who stand ram-rod straight to ‘dance for the glor of God’ has left me petrified to the extent that I have justed stayed at home. This after many many years of rolling in those circles. I suppose people coming into contact with it for the first time are excused whatever shocks they get then.