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Tuesday, 18 October 2022

ON ANXIETY & ASUU STRIKE: THIS FEELS LIKE WAR


Black girl on twists wearing a black long sleeve shirt

I don't think I have ever felt this anxious in my entire life. Being a student in Nigeria does this to you; every month, you are one leg in and out of different opportunities because you are not sure when the federal government will end it's charade with ASUU. But one day you do a deep dive, you go all in, you decide to move on with your life and take on as many jobs/ opportunities as you can because the wait has become too long. Once you do this, ASUU conditionally calls off the strike. You look at the news. You go on Twitter. You panic. You wonder what this means for you. Then you start to cry.


You wonder what conditional means; if you are in your final year, you will be done before ASUU gets the chance to strike again, but if you are not, you can only hope and pray. Your parents or guardians want you to be happy that the strike is finally over and you want to be happy, but if there is anything you know about public universities in Nigeria, it's that they don't care if students have been adequately taught before the strike, they don't give two cents about the mental state of the students whose lives they have paused for months, all they want is to continue this race against time, to give out exams in a twinkle of an eye and admit new students as soon as possible. If we had a system that worked, we would start the session afresh and let students take their time to settle in and be properly educated. Being away from school for this long does something to you! You lose zeal. You lose motivation. Schooling now becomes a case of, 'let's just go and finish what we have started.' Why do students have to be the ones to suffer every time the federal government and ASUU start their back and forth? 



Nobody is really interrogating the effects and magnitude of this long pause in a student's life. In Nigeria, you almost don't have the luxury of just being a student. You are compelled to find something that gives you some sort of meaning or value, something that your certificate clearly can't give you upon graduation. Let's not start talking about the rate of unemployment in Nigeria or the gross underpayment of those already employed. That's a story for another day. 


Brown girl lookig at the camera

It is easy for anyone to sit on their impetus and say students should have used the strike to do something productive or at least read their books. While that is not entirely a wrong suggestion, it is often said without good faith, in a way that is conveniently ignorant of the reality of things. Not every student has the luxury of finding things to do. Heck, not every student wants to! Not every student can read without the structure of a functional academic session. Some students just want to be students. Is that too much to ask? Why does everything in this country require mental gymnastics and a lot of rigmarole? 


This is all to say students in Nigeria have felt different strings of emotions following the news that ASUU has called off the strike. We have gone from numb, shocked, sad, and hopeful. Most people are worried about the financial, academic, and mental implications of returning to school. The nerve of some federal universities to summon students to school with immediate effect, do they know we are in different parts of the country? Some people are not even in the country. I saw a rumoured timetable from my school that suggests we are writing exams in December. I have seen many types of wickedness, but this one takes the cake. This post is a rant and will probably do nothing to change anything, but here are a few tips to survive this period if you are overwhelmed by anxiety like me.


  1. Breathe, accept the situation and stop being in denial. Start slowly packing your bags and getting ready. You will be stretched and stressed but go to school and do your best if you believe in God, like I do, pray & praise. God is with you. You will not fail. Here is a heartfelt Prayer for students returning back to University by Mazino Malaka. It gave me strength. You should listen to it. 


  1. Try not to feel pressured by other people's achievements because you are about to hear many versions of, 'I earned in domestic and foreign currency and I turned Udemy and Coursera upside down.' It's good that they have moved mountains, but don't let it make you feel less than.  ASUU  and FG shouldn't have let this strike go on in the first place, so it's okay if you did not do and undo these past months. It's okay if all you did was not die.


  1. I don't know what this means, but find a way to read smart, adjust your reading pattern to suit the times ahead. Maybe join a reading group, consume summaries from different people or solve past questions. All I know is there is no time to overspend time on one particular course.


  1. If you are working remotely, renegotiate working hours, any sane employer should understand, except you lied that you were not a student when you applied. If you are like me and you can't totally stop work, take a day or two and focus on the bulk of your work, use the other days for school work. If you can quit work totally, then fine. It would be best if you had all the time you can get.


  1. Be ready to give weight watchers and body shamers gbas gbos, and this is my personal favorite. Stop enduring the nasty talk. Take it from someone who has endured it her whole life. Ignoring or pretending it doesn't hurt always leaves you feeling helpless and worthless. I think it's time to teach people emotional intelligence the hard way. Here is a template; if someone comments on your weight loss or gain in a lackluster or intrusive way. You can say "Don't talk about my body like that, you sound unintelligent and insensitive,"  say  "my body size should not concern you in this way, are you a pervert,"  say  "you must really be bad at time management and lacking in common sense for you to take out time to talk about my weight like this." As you people can see I am ready for everybody this period, the Roseline that used to suck it up, retired after her many visits to Nigerian hospitals these past months ( One day I will write about this in detail)



Black girl with hands Akimbo
As you can see my hands are on my head. It's only God that can do it at this critical point.

I am still walking through my anxiety and panic attacks while planning my life. Try to do the same. It's hard, it seems impossible, but try. I am genuinely praying for all of us who have to go through this. Also, if you know a Nigerian student, send them money, you can start from me. I highly recommend. 


Bye.





Tuesday, 16 August 2022

NOT AN EVOLUTIONARY SCIENCE EXPERIMENT - GOD'S AND GOD'S ONLY

Natutal hair goals


These days, I am realizing that we are believers, simply because we chose to believe. It's beyond human and logical comprehension. 


Just two days ago, I sat down to examine the chaos that has been my life and it just dawned on me that I can name a thousand reasons why God should not make sense to me. I even saw a video on TikTok where a former fervent Christian itemized dozens of reasons why she stopped believing in God and I cannot lie to you, she made very valid points. I have seen people lose faith because of loss and pain. I have even had moments where I held my faith to light and questioned the potency of it. 


I don't even know why I am making this post, if not to tell you that I have tasted a life where my faith in God was not the center of my being and I felt like a fish out of water. When I say faith, I am not talking about organized or performative religion. I am not even talking about being a churchgoer or posting scriptures on the internet - I am talking about the fierce and unflinching belief that there is a God, and that God knows exactly who you are by perfect love, purpose, and design. I cannot even rationalize it to you, I just know I am not an evolutionary science experiment or a product of the big bang theory. I chose to believe that I come from a perfect entity who gave life to the nullity of this world. It's easier that way. 


Belief is powerful, it helps you power through. For some people, it helps them make sense of grief - to understand that a person they care about, has found peace in a place that is beyond this world. It can be a painful, yet hopeful thing. For me, it is in my heartbeat. As I breathe I know it, as I wake, I know it, as I move and love and grief and cry, I know it. I know there is a supreme being and He exists beyond my intellect or contradictions. It's almost like a burden. I have not been able to pray or study the word as I would like to lately, but today I did, and I just found myself shouting, 'God you are so real, it hurts.'  Not that His existence is hurting me, no. It's just… I am fresh off a sea of doubt and this sudden wash of truth that has overwhelmed me feels surgical to my heart. 


Woman Praying

A series of events led up to this, but one of them is my writing. I feel more like a child of God when I write. It doesn't matter what I am writing about, it can be murder, sex, love, or history. I just feel like a god when I turn letters into stories and sentences. 


I don't pretend when I write to God.


I say - hey God I don't trust you today because I am tired of life, help my unbelief.

I say - God, I am horny for no reason and if this body is truly the temple you say it is, help me worship my way out of this raging desire.

I say - God, I am jealous of my friends' progress, teach me to be happy for them, for I am not a witch.

I say - God, I don't like my body today, why didn't you create me without extra skin?

I say - God, I am not one of your strongest soldiers, is it not enough to bleed every month, why not take this severe pain away?

I say - God, representation matters,  some people make serving you look like suffer head, I need more examples of your fervent daughters & sons enjoying this life.

I say - God,  am I a rebel for believing that men and women are equal?


Natural hair from God

This type of honesty keeps me grounded. Because I am baring my heart in its broken and contrite form and you know what God does with a heart like this. He balms it with answers and courage and hope and love. I don't have all my answers yet, but what I have is peace, that I am led by light. That  I am on a journey with the God of all heavens and earth and my answers are in the number of steps I am ready to take with this God. 


This post is already too long. I just came here to say that if your faith is failing start with honesty, no matter how brutal, God can take it. Don't pretend because you don't want to look like a bad person or question God. Tell him exactly how you feel. It's therapeutic to talk to God. God would meet you exactly where you are. 


I have more to say. But later. Talk to me in the comments. 


Roseline's logo


Thursday, 14 July 2022

ON HEARTBREAK, GYM MEMBERSHIPS AND COMMUNITY


Gym and club memberships


I am at the gym, watching people lift things that defy the weight of their own bodies as I type this blog post. Sometimes I wonder which joy or grief makes a person carry a 50kg dumbbell like it's sachet water. I wonder what unspoken thing makes a person run on the treadmill for two hours non-stop. What near misses in a person's life, prompts them to skip over a thousand times in five minutes. What are they searching for with all this gravity,  is it hope, is it anger? 



Going to the gym has taught me that fundamentally, everybody craves community. We want to be seen, to feel and be felt, to touch and be touched. To speak and be spoken to. I have also come to appreciate gestures, and how quickly they become a love language, an invitation for friendship, a welcoming. Sometimes all a person needs to champion this world is acknowledgement. I have seen people, who were on the brink of giving up a deadlift attempt, succeed, just because they got a wave from a random gym buddy. For some people, hope is the motivation a trainer gives in the middle of a difficult set. It is the shared laughter of two strangers as they fall face flat, after attempting a one-minute plank. 


Flowers and beautiful Ambience

I am mostly shy at the gym, but I have gone there long enough to know that nobody is really looking at your love handles or mocking your belly fat, except of course they are mad. Most people just want to sweat and go. If your experiences at the gym are different, please feel free to share. 


Anyway, I want to use this medium to announce to you that I got my first heartbreak. It was a very brief relationship seeing that we never really spoke. Just know that he was really muscular, tall, dark and handsome. I had planned everything out, I would pretend to drop my 10kg dumbbell on my big toe, and he would rush to help me out, our eyes would jam and before you know it,  we are making hot  Instagram reels with Muni Long's, hrs and hrs. Plan B was to approach him and ask him how he grew his muscles, he would then start talking and talking because you know men like to brag about these things, my strategy was to seize the opportunity and ask him for his number, and because I serve a living God, he would give it to me and we would start texting and asking each other have you eaten and in about nine years, we would be walking down the aisle.


Beautiful brown girl

was about to shoot my well-thought-out shot when I found out he was married and his wife was also a member of the gym. And since my name is Roseline Mgbodichinma and not asunder, I have carried my crush and moved on swiftly. Let me continue from where I stopped with the duke of Hastings abeg. My takeaway from this experience is that not all things we crave are cut out for us. That no matter how long our desires are, there are some pleasures we should not reach. I know the full-time side chicks have left the chat but okay.


At the gym, there are people who don't even work out, they just come to gist, converse and take photos. I am learning that this is not a bad thing. Maybe coming to the gym is what escape looks like to these people. I am learning to appreciate the seemingly little things people use as a coping mechanism.  


Selfie

I have missed writing here and sharing bits of my life with you. So this feels good. I have also tried to be consistent with this whole fit-fam thing, but I am failing woefully.  I hope to get my workout routine and diet in check next week, fingers crossed. I pray I don't skip the gym more than two times this week. Also, my gym instructor is a woman who is over fifty and this makes me feel so safe and motivated in a way that I have never felt before, she is so strict and flexible and I adore her. She makes me laugh and is very fond of her rabbits, she takes care of them before coming to the gym to challenge my body. This makes me so joyful. 


What little things have given you joy this month, please tell me. I want to share in your joy.


A girl laughing


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Sunday, 10 April 2022

On being attacked by Fulani Herdsmen surviving and fleeing Nigeria


Fulani Heardsmen


Some months ago, on my way back from school we were attacked by Fulani Herdsmen. I was in the car with my friend. 


I have written about this experience in so many ways. First I tried writing it as an Op-ed, I wanted a notable newspaper or journal to publish it, so the world can see that Nigeria is an incredibly unsafe place to be. But the feedback I got said I highlighted problems without solutions. I tried again, to write it as a personal essay and there was this pressure to sound like a writer and articulate it properly. I have now decided to write it on my blog because it is the only way I can say exactly what happened without being performative or bearing the pressure of being chronological. Also, forgive the typos in advance, I will type this on a spree and I will not go back to edit, writing it is hard enough. 


Nigeria is starting to look like a sequel for 1000 ways to die because as we are trying to survive, the system is having a swell time making sure we don't. 


While in school with my friend, our parents advised us not to use public transport because they didn't want to hear any horror stories about our trip back from school and they wanted us to be comfortable. To avoid the stress and uncertainty of the public transport system, they sent us a private car from Ebonyi. We attend school in Awka. 


We had reached the expressway in Enugu when we saw that a big vehicle had stopped in the middle of the road. As we got closer, we saw that a Cow was in fact chilling in the trunk of the vehicle. This obviously caused a lot of traffic and every sane car including ours was swerving to avoid hitting this Car and the Cow. A few Fulani men were trying to stop the Cow from fleeing, fastening its legs with tight ropes and yelling. They were beating it and trying to keep it in place. It was a very chaotic sight. Whether their car broke down or not, I don't know. All I know is that a Cow was center stage in an expressway in this big 21st century and they thought it was okay.


As we inched closer, a Fulani man, tall and young, charged at us and used his fist to punch down the glass at the driver's side. The shattered glass splashed into our car and while we were still trying to make sense of what was happening, another Fulani man totally unaware of the situation came and slapped our driver three times. I was seated in that back seat, wide-eyed and scared to my bones, there and then I learnt that these people needed no explanation for violence, violence to them is wildfire, they just need someone kind enough to light a match. I have lost count of the number of slaps our driver collected that day because it was sporadic. He was treated like a slave. 


Fulani Heardsmen

Soon, more Fulani men surrounded us with sticks and the man who broke our glass with his fist went to get a cutlass while shouting, "You dey mad, so you people want to kill me and my cow?" He honestly believed that two Nigerian students and a driver drove from Awka to come and play fetch with potential beef in the hotness of the afternoon? 


Anyway, my friend who was in the front seat noticed she was bleeding, the glasses had dug into her skin, the driver was bleeding on all his fingers and I was looking at my legs amid shattered glass wondering how this was going to be my last day on planet earth. I had never begged for my life before, until that day. We were just inside our car begging our fellow Nigerian not to kill us. 


Attack by the Fulani Heardsmen
This was the only photo we could get. Had I really taken photos of our bodies and the interior of the car, I would have had to put up a content warning before posting.

The Fulani man with the cutlass rose it up and before it could come down at us, an elderly Fulani man came out and stopped him. He said "No worry, leave them, leave them, just leave them!" luckily for us the bloodthirsty Fulani man listened and dropped the cutlass. He was still furious, huffing, puffing and looking at us in fuming anger.


I wish this thing happened in a secluded place because then it might justify why we had no help, but no. It happened in broad daylight and cars continued to pass and mind their business. Nobody stopped to help us or shout or call the police or ask if we were okay. They quickly drove past us, some looking at us with pity, others acting like they were not witnessing an attack firsthand. We were just two young girls and a driver - three innocent people who were about to make the headlines because a Fulani man in the middle of the road got emotional over a cow.


The driver got out of the car and went to meet with them. He knelt and was begging. That was when I found out he could speak their language. Maybe he was Hausa or Fulani, I really don't know. He was clearly not from the same place as me. My friend opened the door and asked that we leave everything and run. I remember she looked at me with fear in her eyes and said, "Roseline, there is nothing in this car that is not replaceable, let's get out of here!" 


Now that I think about it, who was to say they would not have stoned or butchered us before we took our first step. We were just irrational because we needed escape. If I was not in the car I would have assumed the driver did something to them, or ask stupid questions like are you sure you people did not hit them? but I was awake and our car did nothing but stop close to a car with a cow in the trunk, in a bid to beat traffic.


When I read the news that Fulani herdsmen go to villages to butcher people or kill people on the road, all I have is sympathy and wonder. Now, I have experienced firsthand what it means to see your life hanging by a thread and it is the worst thing ever.


As we made to come out and run, the driver came back and said, the Fulani men said we could go. We drove past the Fulani herdsmen and made a stop at the corner of a road to remove the glass from our car and bodies before continuing our journey. It didn't even occur to us to take photographs of the damage until we were done cleaning up. 


Fulani heardsmen attack

It made sense that the driver was able to reason with them in the end, he spoke their language. This did not make me feel safe at all. My guard went up immediately.  I became afraid of him too. Anytime he stopped or took a different route, we panicked. 


Language is not supposed to make you feel unsafe, but after what my friend and I experienced, we were beyond afraid. What if they have asked him to drive us into the bush and butcher us? It didn't help that he made a series of phone calls as we kept going and those calls were not in English. I am sure he was probably just informing his people of what happened, but we felt fear and uncertainty. 


It is sad to admit but anytime I go to a place and all I hear is people speaking Hausa or Fulani, I become afraid. Fulani Herdsmen are becoming the single story for all Fulani people and it is heartbreaking, people are starting to see their culture and existence as a statement of war. I am not one to buy into stereotypes but the herdsmen make it hard for people like me. 


This happened in the east, in our car, in broad daylight, now imagine what is happening to people in the North or less favorable conditions. Awka to Ebonyi is just three hours and in minutes I had the scariest experience of my life. In Nigeria a lot can go wrong in split seconds. The life of the average Nigerian is of less value compared to a cow. 


I became emotional when I got home and told my mum everything and she fell on her face and started wailing to God. She could have lost me because of a cow. This post is already longer than I expected. So I am going to end by saying that my patriotism for this country is now in need of CPR. I do not blame anyone who wants to Japa because every day Nigeria gives us a reason to take flight. The system is failing, every day on the news something awful is happening to an innocent Nigerian somewhere because of failed or non-existent structures and systems. This country needs a leadership overhaul and fast. 


I am well and safe. Just always paranoid from road trips and trying to overcome the PTSD from the attack. I am also grateful because again God has shown me that it is not my time to die. My friend is well too, she tells me she has anxiety about road trips and she is now extremely careful around people she is not familiar with. 


I hope one day, Nigeria can be better. I have no suggestions or solutions for our leaders and their immense love for cattle.  I am just thankful to be alive. And praying that things change, because the brain drain this country is about experience would be second to none. 


Thank you for reading. Please share and tell people to be very careful and alert. Nigeria is not built to keep us Alive. 





Friday, 27 August 2021

So I hit 100k views...

I hit 100k views on my blog


Thoughts...


The reason I will continue to believe no person can exist in a vacuum is that I feel the need to apologize for being absent in a space that I created, a presence I made.
As I dance around this thought,  I find myself questioning the selfishness of it, how I want to be read while demanding  that no one should expect the consistency of writing from me. 


I have stared at my blank screen for months not knowing which leg to move with. It is not the lack of stories or experiences to share, but the decision on whether or not to share each memory. I find myself quantifying openness and quality, wondering what is TMI ( too much information) and what is not, wondering if anyone would be interested in reading this mix of calm and chaos that has been my life.  It is also life and all its clich├ęs, the fact that is common knowledge that life will continue to happen yet when the happening starts, it starts to sting and we wonder. 


I want to tell you about a loss that has me unable to write anything, the new joy I have found in a habit, the new friends I have made, the stress that makes even the presence of sleep feel like a pang of guilt, but I want to live with it long enough before sharing, whatever this means. 


I am realizing that this post will not be everything I want it to be, but I have chosen to write it still. Not for the sake of just posting, but for foundation. Foundation which is sharing, which is giving, which is documenting, which is ranting, which is writing everything into something, which is showing up. 


I want to say also, that I am incredibly shocked that people still read this blog, that I get random messages from a handful of people talking about my writing and asking that I come back to posting. I tell my friend that I only have random readers, that I don't have a community. I am glad she slapped those words right back to where they came from, to tell me that all the people who make space & time for my writing no matter how little, are in fact community. I thank her for the revelation.


Google emailed to say I had 426 users visit my blog last month. I screamed internally. I imagined myself in a room talking to over 400 people, how surreal it must be. One night, I woke up and randomly checked my stats, and at that time, in that moment about 40 people were present on this blog. So over 40 different people with their gadgets, in different parts of this world were scrolling through my blog for whatever reason, wild! Do you know how humbling this is for me?


As I type this I am in class and not listening because there was a burden in my chest to just type this out. I just want to say that I am still in awe that this blog has over 100k views because you read, cared and shared. 

I do not exactly promise to be consistent but I promise to be honest and write to you about everything and nothing as much as I can. Also, the way my content is structured may or may not change, but I'd have you know there is a tenderness in me that is yearning to be laid bare, can't wait to dig into it and share it with you. I am choosing to be honest, even in uncertainty.


I thank you again for being here, for reading, for closing your eyes to typos and getting the message, for taking a screenshot of parts that resonate with you and sharing, for volunteering to help me edit since it's such a chore, for commenting, for telling a friend to tell a friend, for saying hi to me in odd places and screaming "wait... I know you, you are the blogger." You all know who you are and I am thankful that you live.


Please subscribe as well, the subscribe button is bold on the home page. Let's move this ministry together! 



With Love,





Monday, 22 February 2021

FFELIX TRANSLATED MY POEM " IN MY COUNTRY GIRLS DISAPPEAR" TO SHENG!


Felix Omondi


FelixSheng is a slang language that originated in the '50's in Nairobi' s Eastland suburbs/ghettos as a way for the young people to communicate amongst themselves without the older generation getting in on their discussions. The language which borrows words from English kiswahili and other ethinic languages in the country grew in prominence in the 90's through the local hip hop scene of the likes of Kalamashaka- a hip hop group - and is now mostly used by many youths in their daily communication instead of English and Kiswahili.



In My Country Girls Disappear 


The Sheng version 



Chibok

Kabila ya madenge yenye 

Ililoba wakati gova 

Ilikua inachea monopoly na magaidi        wenye 

Waliwasanya 

Wengine wao walirudi bure            wengine 

Wakagenya na uzito

Wangine bado wako kwa iyo ngori        na 

Wengine hawakuwai rudi 


Uwa

Mi uomba mercy kila time naandika poetry juu 

Hapa 

Sir-godi anaweza geuzwa vumbi 

Niaje mdenge anaweza omba ku 

Bakwa, kukat(i)wa, kupeanwa mbele ya 

Msalaba? 


Tina 

Stage yoyote  karibu na mtaa

Ni shooting range 

Hakuna mwenye alivuka baro in time 

Kumchapia eti kusimama ni catfish 

Wakati sanse ni synonym ya point alafu 

Angusha 


Jennifer

 Wakidaisha mdenge ameiva 

Kenye wanamaanisha ni -        je

Ako old enough kudishiwa?

Hapa, ni carnival kwa mtoi kunajisiwa 

Na mafadhelaa kadhaa


Girls 

Kwa zile kesi zaidi ya thao zinatendeka daily 

Wakiuliza victims timestamp, zabe gani

Na vile alikua amedunga 

Ni kaa izi vitendo vya kinyama 

Ni design flani ya sherehe



~ Translated to sheng by Felix Omondi




    Art: © Opeyemi Matthew Olukotun (@opeyemiolukotun).
    Art: © Opeyemi Matthew Olukotun (@opeyemiolukotun).


    The English Version




    Chibok

    A tribe of girls went

    Missing while the government

    Played monopoly with the terrorists that stole them

    Some of them returned empty         some of them died burdened

    Some are still in harm’s way           & others never returned


    Uwa

    I ask for mercy when I write poetry because here

    God can turn to dust

    How does a girl ask to be

    Raped & mutilated, offered in front of a cross?


    Tina

    Any bus stop near home

    Is shooting range

    No one took the road in time

    To tell her that standing is catfish

    When the police is synonym for point and kill


    Jennifer

    When they say a girl is ripe

    What they mean is  -                              is she old enough for us to devour?

    Here, it is carnival for a child to be abused by multiple men


    Girls

    & for thousands of daily unfolding cases 

    They ask victims for timestamps, locations & outfit styles

    As though this inhumane invasion is some sort of feast



    My thoughts:

    Each language in my opinion gives a different kind of depth, it possesses its meaning & it has a distinct texture on the tongue. So it means so much to me that this poem I wrote about a very sad but significant event in my country Nigeria has taken meaning in another tongue, in another language - Sheng!

    This means a lot to me and I hope more of my pieces get translated across the board!

    Thank you, Felix!


    Roseline Mgbodichinma


    About ME
    Welcome to my creative space. I am Roseline Mgbodichinma, Law student & creative writer. I created this platform to share & explore stories, lifestyle, art, issues, and the beauty of language. I believe words formed the world and with words we can fix it too. I hope this bread eating Jollof beans lover keeps you glued to your screen.
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