ISSN 1 5 9 7 - 1 9 0 2
The Ikoyi Club 1938 Magazine
special children’s’ issue october 2012
babies keeping ‘em
battle, paying double
child or not
toying with a visa ban
19 6 Update
Member Andrew Yakubu sits atop NNPC as half-AGM holds successfully.
Looking for jolly good children? Don’t go too far. You’d find them at Ikoyi Club 1938. C’mon, let’s go.
Volunteering has its rewards. Bolla Bello shares her experience. It’s worth exploring. Being a “frequent traveller” to the United Kingdom does not mean that you could never be denied a visa.
42Bar & Delicacies
Story. Story. Story. Once upon a time.... with Gerwine Bayo-Martins. It’s a good idea to praise a child when she/he’s done something extraordinarily or isn’t it?.
What pretty much nearly always lifts your mood, puts a spring in your step and a smile on your face? He’s called “Mr IVF.” In an exciting interview, Prof Osato Giwa-Osagie tells us why and more.
43 52 Health
The bulk of a child’s growth and development in later life is determined by the mother’s nutritional status during gestation and lactation.” Read more here.
53 Hahaha Mixed grill
F R O M T H E H O N O R A R Y S E C R E TA R Y
Blessed Generation THE TRUSTEES • Mr R.L. Kramer • Mr Alaba Okupe • Engr Akin Laguda GENERAL COMMITTEE MEMBERS OFFICE BEARERS • Chairman – Mr Richard Giwa-Osagie • Vice Chairman – Mr Babatunde Akinleye • Honorary Secretary – Otunba Abiodun Olufowobi • Honorary Treasurer – Mr Oludayo Olusanya • Golf Captain – Mr Ebiyemi Pinnick Other Members Chairmen of Sections • TennisMr Billy Joe Ekwunife • Swimming – Mr Freeborn Okunowo Erherede • Squash – Arc Sanya Akindele • Table Tennis – Mr Tony Owolabi • Billiards, Snooker & Pool – Mr Adediran Benson • Badminton – Reginald Ezebube Udeagbala • Other Sports – Mrs Ify Onukwuba • Entertainment – Mr Olatunji Okesola • Premises Adviser – Engr Sunmade Agbe-Davies • Bar Adviser – Adeniyi Adesegun Sowemimo • Catering Adviser – Olabimpe Esho Publications Sub Committee Chairman: Otunba Abiodun Olufowobi Members: Segun Afadama, Lanre Idowu, Ted Iwere, Taiwo Obileye, Tony Onyima Editorial Consultancy, Design and Production: Harpostrophe Limited, 2 Anifowoshe Close, Surulere NG101211, Tel: +2348023130829, 08186935900 email: email@example.com. Printed in Nigeria by Printpro Projects Limited, 2 Anifowoshe Close, Surulere, Lagos, Nigeria NG101211. Tel: +2348120168147
he Rules of Ikoyi Club 1938 defines a juninflict any form of CP may attract a warning letter ior member as a person between the ages from a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (intervention of 12 and 25 whose parents are members with Human Right to dignity, liberty and security of the club. However, a person, nay, a junof person and freedom from torture, and inhuman ior member, may elect to join the full membership or degrading treatment or punishment etc). We (ordinary member) of the club from the age of 25 can “stroll” from Ikeja to Lagos Island; they cannot years if all other requisite conditions for membereven cross the road and the driver has to take them ship are met. “around the corner.” We eat from the fringe of the At every Membership interview, I see intimidatplate and only take meat when we are full; they feed ing resumes of these multi-competencies – (“ma from the centre of the plate and start off their meal people-will-talk-to-your-people”) generation of with a mouthful of assorted meat. We started enjoying life at maturity by drinking beers; they start by junior members and I am convinced that: Nigerians quaffing crystal champagne attended by are intellectually endowed; Nigerians caviar. The few lucky ones amongst us love and covet high quality education; the future of the country is secured if its Welcome started driving with a Volkswagen Beetle; manpower can be efficiently harnessed; to the their first cars are from the Honda “end discussion” to an AMG equipped with our leaders (or rulers) spend a significant world of of “run flat” tires and other aviation-like proportion of their “soft-earned” wealth our youth. gadgets. Most importantly, my first day at on the education of their children in Ivy We are of Ikoyi Club was as an adult guest whereas leagues around the world. a different the club had been an extension of their This cadre of Ikoyi Club 1938 membership parades a kaleidoscope of intimigeneration home from the cradle. dating classroom-earned qualifications Welcome to the world of our youth. and disposiat very tender ages and I am confident We are of a different generation and distion but we position but we share the same heritage. that the Club leadership and Nigeria share the We pray that they become more successful will not be in want of worthy heirs, gosame her- than we are and though the elders say that ing forward and in their lingo, it’s “No itage. We even as the child may have more clothes, shaking” for the Club and Nigeria. In the pray that he has fewer threadbare ones than the world of work, it is also gratifying to note they become that in corporate leadership, particularly elder; but if you ask me, of what moment in Telecommunications, Banking and more suc- is a collection threadbare clothes to a Finance and the Energy sectors, top spots cessful than wardrobe of Balenciaga, Armani, Gianni are gradually and steadily being yielded we are. Versace et.al ? Pardon my indiscretion. to this category. These are our Children. However, like it or not, the young They are our Youth. They are a Blessed must become old and the old will become young. History is replete with what Generation. Really, even if we excused our elders born before changes the youth have occasioned. For instance, Nigeria’s independence, taken from those born the celebrated Martin Luther King lived for just from 1960, we are of a different and distinguishable 39 years. He became an icon for civil rights, was the generation and the divide is evident and sharp. We youngest Time magazine Man of the Year, and won the had Lactogen; they have Gerber. We had rusty stag1964 Nobel Peace Prize at the age of 35. nated water that we shared with cows but they have In Ikoyi Club 1938, we celebrate and indulge a multi-swimming pool section and the home pool our youth within the Rules of the Club becausethe to play with. We had the wardrobe type black and youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow and, like white TV (that takes forever to come on) that we it or not, it is unto their hands we shall commit the watched from the window of our fathers’ parlours; future of the Club. I salute this category of members they have multi-system LCD flat screen TV in every as we devote this issue to them. room of the house. We had school boxes made of Please enjoy and treasure it. disused tin plates; they have fanciful backpacks. We Otunba Abiodun Olufowobi never had suya; they eat it at will. We had groundnut (PABIEKUN) and gari; they have nutrient-filled sandwiches. We editor-in-chief/Honorary Secretary, had four figure table; they have electronic scientific Ikoyi Club 1938 calculators/iPods/iPads/iPhones/BBs’. We cut grass; firstname.lastname@example.org. Mob: 08060934000 they watch the mower cut the grass. We were fagged and received corporal punishment; any attempt to
Andrew becomes NNPC GMD
half-year AGM 2012
Viva Ikoyi Club 1938
ngr. Andrew Yakubu, a member of Ikoyi Club 1938 was recently appointed the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). He joined the club on 14 April, 1998. He belongs in the Golf and Swimming Sections.
all about the club , outside and w ithin
By Abiodun Olufowobi
Abiodun Olufowobi, occupying a vantage position on the high table, in his capacity as the Ikoyi Club 1938 honorary secretary (re-elected), reports on the 2012 Annual General Meeting, from a perspective filled with insight and laced with uncommon wit.
he long and short of the Ikoyi Club 1938 half-year General Meeting (the most powerful organ under the Rules of the Club) held on 23 August at the Club’s rotunda is that the club is marching on – and stridently too. Now, here are the details, based on the report presented by Club Chairman Richard Giwa-Osagie, who also presided, with two of the Trustees - Mr. Richard Kramer and Mr. Alaba Okupe in attendance as well as members of the General Committee. MEMBERSHIP
Relisting, revenue increase, 15,665-strong The Membership Sub-committee during this period conducted the routine monthly interview sessions for membership candidates (candidates and sponsors now enjoy free refreshment drinks while waiting to be interviewed) and ensured that only qualified candidates are afforded the Club’s membership. The club’s revenue was always boosted with periodic membership checks to discourage non-financial members from enjoying the club’s facilities and each of these checks usually led to tremendous increase in Subscription payments. The General Committee-en-
dorsed delisting of non-financial members was carried out and apart from the insistence on 100 per cent payment of all arrears before relisting, a penalty of N100,000 was introduced and the sum of N5.2m was in the last four months generated for the Club under this head (Penalty for Relisting of membership). The Membership strength of the Club as at 30th June 2012 was 15,665 made up as follows: Ordinary
Green Card Holders
Parking Pavilion Project (Multi-storey car park) All that’s being awaited is the Building approval from the Lagos State Government. Bid shall be accepted only from reputable “Class A” contractors. The marketing of this laudable project to Corporate Nigeria (Corporate Sponsors shall be rewarded with several benefits including but not limited to Exclusive Floor Branding) commences in September. harmony
u p d ate a l l a b o u t the c l u b , o u ts i d e an d w i th i n
The appropriate membership levy for this project has generated the sum of N91.91m as at date. Main and Cads Bar Renovations The contract for the Main and Cads’ Bars renovations has been awarded and work has started, and should be ready in eight weeks. Also state-of- the- art furniture for the Main and Cads bars will be delivered immediately after the renovation. Heineken Bar Heineken Bar donated by Nigerian Breweries Plc has been completed save for some snags which the General Committee has communicated to the company. Children’s Playground A new concept for the Children’s Playground has been developed. It is intended to be an “extreme makeover” with a new face befitting our children. It is expected that a Corporate Sponsor will be found for this laudable project. Library Renovation The Club’s adult library is to be moved to a whole floor at the new administrative building. The proposed new library will be equipped with modern information and technology devices, new books, computerised archival system, e-library and new furniture. Access Control The much desired Access Control project which is considered as a top priority project has been awarded to NEAT IT LTD. The work has started and should be completed in twelve weeks. The project when completed shall ensure that the club not only has an access control worthy of its image but also one that is unique with more value-added features – the membership card shall be an e-purse, data store and access card. Main House Kitchen The Main House Kitchen is to be concessioned to a reputable company who will run the kitchen commercially, subject to terms and conditions to be specified by the General Committee. The Concession Sub-Committee was inaugurated on 13 April. Company Bids have been
received and are being analysed. FIRE INCIDENT PANEL REPORT
The Investigation Panel recommendations are being implemented by the Premises Sub-Committee. An insurance claim of N94.7m was received from the Insurance underwriters up from the N70m previously tendered but rejected by the General Committee – thus saving the club about N20m but for the collective vigilance of the General Committee.
club chairman Richard giwaosagie
The Club produced a Special Elders’ issue of the Harmony magazine in February 2012 which has enjoyed wide acceptance and positive review from members in Nigeria and the Diaspora. Harmony has now been turned into a publication that members can keep and be proud of. The model of zero-financial contribution by the club continues and the Honorary Secretary and his team have another edition underway that will focus on our Children. OPEN AIR CINEMA
The reactivated Children’s Film Shows for which the Club was known in the past are now being shown on the lawn every last Saturday of the month. The Entertainment Sub-Committee has the task to select the appropriate children-friendly movies. The General meeting voted and approved all the reports as presented by the General Committee. And now, to other news: At the AOB stage, members raised the issue of an obnoxious Internet-based broadcast under the pseudonym of www.eyeondclub.com. Members unanimously and roundly condemned this emerging trend of “guerrilla” and “faceless” broadcast in matters
A new concept for the Children’s Playground has been developed. It is intended to be an “extreme makeover” with a new face befitting our children. It is expected that a Corporate Sponsor will be found for this laudable project.
of Ikoyi Club 1938 as one below the standard of acceptable behaviour expected from members of this reputable international family club. More so that the Club has clear-cut avenue for grievances/complaint ventilation and all shadowy uncivilised mode should be condemned lest the club be consumed by the unlawful acts from faceless and spineless rabble-rousers who could not be man enough to place their persons behind their supposed grievances. The broadcast and similar faceless broadcast (including anonymous text messages sent in the recent past by the equally faceless group “Fraud alert”) were thoroughly condemned and a formal vote was taken and unanimously carried by the General Meeting to the effect that members should condemn and discountenance such broadcast in future and whenever it is broadcast particularly when the author(s) is/are not indicated and is/are not bold enough to stand behind their “haramic” publications. Meanwhile, preliminary investigation by the General Committee on the obnoxious broadcast had indicated that the Domain name Host Company for the www.eyeondclub.com is: Sky Market Limited UK of 431 London Road, Camberley, Surrey GU15 3HZ UK. The Domain name: www.eyeondclub. com was registered by a UK-based company, Games Genius Ltd of 10 High Street, Gravesend, Kent DA11 0BQ UK (a company that has since been officially dissolved). It was also discovered that the Directors of the company are: Mr. Olubukola Ayotunde Akinyele (37) and Mr. Westerfield Opeyemi Akinyele (38) Records from the Subscription Office of the Club however indicated that neither of these persons are members of Ikoyi Club 1938. Otunba Abiodun Olufowobi (Pabiekun) is the Honorary Secretary of the Club
p r e fa c e
“I discovered that children are very important people in this whole world. They know you inside out, if you stand in front of them, that you want to entertain them. If you are not serious about it, they will know and in less than five minutes you will lose their concentration.” – Master story teller and internationally acclaimed performing artiste Jimi Solanke, speaking on CNN’s African Voices.
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You can call this a sequel. After an issue devoted to the elders of the club, it became logical to follow up with one for the ones who will one day take over the Elders’ Corner. Of course, the club has membership in the Junior cadre, with persons in the 12-25-year age bracket admitted into the fold. These are children of members. From this cadre too, members have upgraded to full membership. Much of the fare in this issue is devoted to matters relating to children and the youth. We took the advice of Jimi “Baba Agba” Solanke by assembling stuff that will not cause any loss of concentration, not even for a second. By the young – and the old too. From the reportage of the children’s party held on Easter Sunday 2012 to the reports on activities for the juniors at the sections, the thought-provoking discourse on rewards for children, the fables and dietary information and the other features that would make this issue a treasure. You can start from anywhere you choose, really. As we say, every page of this magazine is irresistible: true.
co v er
o y j ll good children in the house By Oyindamola Affinnih
“We try to make it memorable, even better than the previous year’s” – Duty Manager
ight or wrong? “Obviously the event is a lot more organised this year than it’s always been.” That’s Dr (Mrs) Onuora - mother of Anayo (who wants to be an aeronautic engineer) and Chinedu (who wants to be a medical doctor) both pupils of Onward Nursery/Primary School – attesting to the duty manager’s claim. harmony
co v er j o l l y g oo d ch i l d ren i n the ho u se
The Onuoras were the second family to arrive at the Ikoyi Club 1938 Children’s Party that Easter Sunday afternoon. Like every children’s party, this one had all the works, almost in double portions: balloons, buntings, clowns, loud music, games, food and drinks and carefree children in their “Sundaybest.” Not to forget their parents and guardians who also turned out resplendently. The chairs were properly aranged. There were guys helping to inflate more balloons. Activity sports at different corners were in top gear. No doubt, a lot had gone into making this a bomb! “We realise that children pull a lot of crowd,” says Mr Adesuyi Adebola, Duty Manager 1,”and because of the holiday, it became just ideal to let them have their fun. The planning of this event began over two months ago. We are the committee that caters for it. The Young Shall Grow. And we can never run out of children. Did I mention it is strictly by invitation?” The event was handled like a top notch project. “(This year), they introduced the voucher thing. With that, the organisers have a clearer picture of the number of children that will be attending, so they can make a better preparation,” says Dr (Mrs) Onuora. There was no possibility of missing your direction, all you had to do is move in the direction of the beat and sway as the music got into your system, and lose yourself in the environment. It started with D-banj’s Oliver Twist, and as expected, everyone moved feverishly to the beat. Soon, Davido’s Dami Duro was in the air as the first family to arrive made their appearances. Mr Sam Osunsoku agreed it was the best he could do for his children, Oyinlola and Wuraola, both pupils of Esta Port Nursery and Primary School, as he tries every avenue for them to have fun. And, fun they did have. As soon as they got in, they dashed off to have their faces painted. Dr (Mrs) Onuora said she and her brood arrived early because she wanted to sit in front to catch a proper glimpse of the event. “I just came to have fun,” says Mrs Catherine Echendu, mum to Kachi (6)
Mr Sam Osunsoku agreed it was the best he could do for his children, Oyinlola and Wuraola, as he tries every avenue for them to have fun. And, fun they did have. As soon as they got in, they dashed off to have their faces painted.
and Chioma (7). It’s so good to see my children unwind and this is certainly the best place they can do that. I enjoyed my childhood. It’ll be just fair if they enjoy theirs too”. Asked if she wanted to see anything done differently in the coming years, she said it would be good to see a further improvement on food and gift packages. Emmanuel Ebhodaghe was the DJ on the wheels (thanks Will Smith). Sleekly dressed with a navy blue face cap this afternoon, he’s been spinning since 1997 and surely knows all kinds of songs to get the children in the groove. “D-banj’s Oliver Twist is a rave at the moment and the children walk up to me blatantly to request it, even when obviously they have no clue – or so I think - what the lyrics say. They love some foreign music as well like Cabo Snoop, but Nigerian songs do it for them.” When Brymo’s Ara came on, you couldn’t miss the goosies that developed on the skins of parents and their children. With a coordinator like Uncle Yoyo of Party Base, it would be tough not getting it right. He’s had lots of experience on his hands and he relates with them considering their numbers, their ages, their moods. He had the job of doing everything he could to bring them out of their moods and help them participate in the activities, to put the fun spirit in them. It is sometimes
tough to deal with children and for them to all look so happy and participatory, it was Check for Uncle Yoyo. There was also the Uncle Labi and his Puppet Show Top 77, where different stories were told especially Sesame Street, mainly to teach and inform the children of stories which eventually turn into dancing sessions. This was intended for them to have fun, and they did a good job of it. Rayce’s Roll filled the air and the dance was fun. The way the children wriggled was shocking. Somehow, from the beats, they just somehow knew the cue song the DJ fitted in after because they were already prepared for it. It would all be incomplete without the caterer, as food is vital to the lives of these children. Barrister Bimpe Esho, the club’s Catering Adviser promised a variety of extremely healthy, timely, dynamic, adventurous delicacies. They had new recipes, best hands, A la carte which was new, Owo, (short for Owofibo), an Urhobo soup, which was also new. She was undoubtedly sure they would enjoy every bit of the meal. Adedamola Esho, Barrister Bimpe’s son, is three –nd-half years old. He attends Crown Dominion Nursery/ Primary School, he’s in Pre-Nursery and properly dressed in his Superman outfit, mask and make up, his favourite cartoon programme is Ben10 and he enjoys taking pictureswith his mum’s phone. Amanda Okorafor was the cute baby in KG at Twinkle toes. The Ebizie’s made a proper appearance from Laurel Nursery/Primary School. Destiny Ihetuge from Queens’ College intends being a journalist. And so the party went into a sweeter swing, there was a Cotton Candy stand,
photos by richard enesi
co v er j o l l y g oo d ch i l d ren i n the ho u se
co v er j o l l y g oo d ch i l d ren i n the ho u se
photos by richard enesi photos by richard enesi
co v er j o l l y g oo d ch i l d ren i n the ho u se
there was an ice-cream stand, Suya spots, children colouring their faces, others dancing, some eating, parents chatting and rocking to the music and some food disagreement. The fashion parade drew the attention of all and Cabo Snoop’s ‘Windek’ was a winner. Questions were asked, the children were smart with their answers and gifts were distributed. A false Michael Jackson performed and did his share of stealing the moment, because the children really, really loved him. It’s safe to say that this was the high point of the show. And then the clowns came out to dance with the children, everyone was on the dance floor and it was fun watching the clown exchange partner with the not-too-shy children who giggled all the way. Feeling my Super Star the children sang as they did all kinds of acrobatic dance styles that even awed the parents. There was Dexter Anetoh. It would
The crowd begins to fizzle out as everyone took their leave after four hours of undiluted, adrenalinepacked fun. The joy on all the children’s faces was priceless
have been unbelievable if he hadn’t bagged the ‘Best Dancer of the Day’ title. Anetoh is the chubby 11-year-old from Corona Ikoyi. Cool-headed and super cute, he has been dancing since he was three. He has even represented the club abroad in several dancing competitions. This afternoon, every song brought out the best in him. He is definitely a star in the making. He was there alongside his brother, Dumebi. Party finally hits the final phase, even though music was still blaring, while everyone was still dancing. Ifeoluwa Olubitan was our female best dresser. Eight years old, she attends Tee tops Nursery/Primary School . She was so smartly dressed we had to ask how she got it all right.“I dressed myself up without any assistance. I am a fashionista.” Aha. But, hey, she “wants to be a medical doctor.” Her hobbies are “swimming and dancing.” Emeka Anonyei, our best male dresser attends Queensland Academy,
he is seven and in Year 3; he also dressed himself in a red, blue and white striped shirt with blue shoes and brown shoes. He says his brown shoes most definitely match his outfit. He’s a regular face at the event, he adds. Witty Anonyei wants to be an accountant because he “wants to be very rich.” The crowd begins to fizzle out as everyone took their leave after four hours of undiluted, adrenaline-packed fun. The joy on all the children’s faces was priceless and, with the yawns from many of them, you could bet that it would be zzzzzz for much of the next day. Thank God, it’s also a holiday. “When is there going to be another one?” A five-year-old asked her mum at the car park. Smiling. “Soon.” “Tomorrow?” Her mum shook her head, placing her gently in the car. With reports by Oyinade Affinnih.
On Children By Kahlil Gibran*
Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing or itself. They come through you, but not from you. And though they are with you yet they belong not to you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts, For they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls. For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday. You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far. Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness: For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.
Gibran (1883-1931), Lebanese-American artist, writer and poet, was the third best -selling poet of all time, after Shakespeare and Lao-Tzu.
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sect i ons & the j u n i ors
SECTIONS & THE JUNIORS
Some of the children in a training session during the squash clinic receiving instruction from the coaches
Tomorrow’s players today By Anthony Okeoma
ven as the message was sent through email, it rang out loud and clear: “Get the children out of the house….” And so did the children leave the house – in response to the Squash Section’s Lady Captain’s call-out to parents to let children aged 5-17 years to show up for Squashtival – squash clinic, games, music, movies and cartoons – at the club. Not only that, there were lots of prizes from individuals and organisations including: Tanus Communications Ebuka Iloghalu (Dr Yemi Ogunbiyi), Healthcare International (Tosin Awosika), Templewood Associates (C Dozie), Tokunbo Ogundipe, FB Initiatives (Funke Babatola), Captain Tanmiwa Adefekun Dayo Awobokun, Stress Buster Platinum Events (Tolu Babatola), Etihad Airlines and amala.com (Mrs Mogbonjubola Ladipo). That’s the story of the 2012 and ninth
edition of Squashtival organised by the Squash Section to catch them young for the game of squash. In 2011, 42 young ones were taught the basics of squash; they were also taken through fitness and exercise routine and a CPR session. No fewer than 260 children have been trained since it began in 2003. Held between 16 and 27 July this year, the sessions were only on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Let’s meet some of these lads and lasses who put smiles on the faces of Lady Captain Ogunbiyi and Coaches SamIke Iloghalu jr uel Omoronseghe (Head) and Taiwo “My name is Ik Iloghalu. I am 10 years old. I am happy playing squash, though it is my first time, I have learnt a lot in the game, like Iman Eldau hitting the ball on the wall and serving the ball. Am enjoying the game but I love football best.” “Am enjoying the game and am trying
to learn, though I don’t play squash that much,” says Ebuka Iloghalu, 9. “I believe I can perform well if I continue, but am good in tennis and football.” Here is Iman: “Squash is a fun game, it exercises the body. I have been playing for two years now but have not gone for any tournament. I play football very well too, but right now am enjoying squash.” Tanmiwa Adefekun has also been playing for two years. “I love playing squash because it builds the biceps and I play it for the fun of it. I have learnt to be steady while hitting the ball, and I am enjoying myself.” Afopefunlowa Awosekan, who came with her friends to cheer her up, says: “I have been playing squash for some months now and am improving. It’s a way of keeping fit especially now that we are on holidays. I love Olumide and the game, Seikiola Oduta yo though I do other sports harmony
sect i ons & the j u n i ors
Entertainment Secretary Squash Section Mr Ifeanyi Abiodun Maduka, Coach Taiwo and Captain Squash Section Mrs Wunmi Ogunbiyi
Ebuka Iloghalu receives a gift as the most improved player, flanked by Mrs Iyabo Eldau and Mr Tokunbo Ogundipe
like athletics, I run 100 metres and relay. I also swim and am enjoying myself.” Here is six-year-old Sekinola Odutayo who is in Year Two in Greensprings School: “Squash is a fun game and it helps me exercise my body. The game is easy to play because you only need to serve the ball, then hit it with the racket. I am happy being here.” Her brother, Olumide, was so overwhelmed with the whole activity that in a bid to explain how squash is played, he took us into the squash room and started coaching: “First you pick the ball, throw it and hit it on the wall with the racket. I love squash even though it’s my first time. I also love football, swimming and tennis. The coaches have been encouraging me and my dad promised to take me to the squash teenage where I will learn how to play better.” One proud father, Mr Ikechukwu IloghMr Ikechukwu alu, during one of the Iloghalu sessions, expressed joy for the opportunity given by the Squash Section to train the children, saying it’s a welcome development. He is happy that his children (Ik and Ebuka) are doing well thus far, adding that Ebuka is a great sportsman
Iman Eldau receives his gift as the best behaved boy
A cross-section of the children having their lunch during the squash clinic
Kamsi Iloghalu, best aerobatic girl
in his school. He thanked the club for the nice gesture during the holidays. Coach Taiwo who has been coaching in the club for 20 years, says squash is a game that you play and within 30 minutes your whole body is exercised. “If you want to play you need to be fit.” For the uninitiated, here’s a one minute tour of squash. “(On the court) there are some red lines. Once the ball is above the red upper line, it is out, the middle is for service, and one has to be in the box to serve the ball which must not cross the middle; while the bottom line means the ball is out once it falls below the bottom line. Also, there is a referee who gives judgment and a marker who counts the point.” Head Coach Omonroseghe has spent 40 years in the club as a member, and listen to this: “I have played for Nigeria on many occasions after my training in Kingsway in the UK.” He corHead coach Samuel Omonrects the popular noroseghe tion that it’s a military game. Says he: “Though most military men play it, its’ not a military game. It was actually started in Nigeria at the Ikoyi Club. Chief Tayo Shofoluwe used to be the first champion of the club in those days and that was
Iyke Iloghalu receives his certificate of participation
Ebuka Iloghalu receives his certificate of participation
how squash started in Nigeria.” He tries to give an analogy of what squash is: “(It) is like an accountant who must think well in order to give a proper account of events; the one playing the game has three seconds to decide in order to be able to get his opponent out of space. Those who wish to play must go to the gym too for fitness.” Explaining the rationale for the clinic, Omonroseghe says, “as we grow older we become weaker, so we need the junior members of the club to take charge, and if we start them early they won’t have much difficulty.” It is the Grand Finale this Friday. “Let’s start,” Lady Captain Mrs. Wunmi Ogunbiyi, was getting her boys and girls ready for a group photograph. Aerobics was first, to prepare and make the children fit. Ebuka and Kamsi Iloghalu; received a ball and a hula-hoop for their performance respectively during the aerobics. The children were divided into two groups “A” and “B”; to play squash, balancing the ball, bouncing the ball and picking the ball. At the end, team “A” emerged winners. Their prize: a trophy, after a delicious lunch of French fries, fried and, jollof rice, chicken, hot dog, ice cream and soft drinks to lubricate…. It was merriment of sorts as the Squashtival ended with gifts and certificates’ presentation. Till 2013.
sect i ons & the j u n i ors
Taught by Venus and Serena
t is curiosity and excitement at the thought of the sport celebrities soon to arrive; it’s the Williams’ sisters everyone is expecting; but before then the children aged 8-16 are taking through an exercise and training session: backhand stroke, forehand, service and smashing; with Coach Austin Uba, instructing. Skill level is tested; beginners, intermediates and experts are separated. Indeed the event won’t start at the tennis court; all attention then moved towards the rotunda-the welcome venue. In a jiffy the Williams arrived, basking in a standing ovation, amid flashes from various kinds of cameras. The Bar Adviser, Mr. Sowemimo, introduced the members of the General Committee, while welcoming the chairman Ikoyi club 1938, Dr. Richard GiwaOsagie to give the welcome address. Said Giwa-Osagie: “We followed the Williams sisters achievements right from when they were 17, they surprised the whole world; now at the peak of their profession-they will remain there for many years to come.” He asked rhetorically, “Having been in Africa-Nigeria for some time, I hope you won’t like to go back.” Venus winking! “The traffic.” Appreciating, Serena thanked the Ikoyi Club 1938 “On behalf of myself, Venus and my mum Oracene, we’ll gonna go play some tennis.” The tennis court by now is beaming with cheering crowd as the Sisters made entry into the court; it is almost impossible to get a glimpse, let alone a photograph. The children filed in; begin-
ners played with the sisters first, then intermediate and then experts. The children are tutored as they played; some of the children enthusiastically gave the sisters a tough play, while some are yet to return from the oblivious anxiety of facing the Olympic champions. Ajibayo Akinkube, 10, states excitingly “I am very excited about playing with Serena. It’s fun and am happy seeing them live.” “Am happy playing with Serena; it was nice, even though I didn’t get to play enough,” Mayowa Akinkube, 12, expresses. “Have been playing since I was seven, so am an expert now.” Jeje Oluwaseyi has this to say: “This is my first time seeing the Williams sisters, its’ so great for me playing with them, though I was under pressure, but now am no longer under pressure.” Emmanuel Jebutu has been playing since he was 4. He says: “I love today because I played with Serena, and I won her, I say thank you to them.” However, the following schools were invited to the clinic: yy Avi Cenna International School yy British International School yy Day Waterman School yy Grange International School yy Role Model School yy St. Saviour’s School yy Government College Sponsors of the Williams sisters visit to the club includes: yy Beat 99.9 fm yy Naija 102.7 fm yy Classic 97.3 fm yy Amstel Malta yy Supersport, and yy Skymit (official sponsors) and yy Connect Marketing. harmony
LAPD Loss And Pay Double
We seem not to know there is a battle to make our society an acquiescent appendage of the dominant (foreign) culture.
By Ikeddy ISIGUZO FEW things show the changes in society more than the meaning we are ascribing to words. It is increasingly difficult to say what one means or mean what one says.
I have books from primary school days with the legendary inscription, LAPD. It stood for loss and pay double, a caveat we pointed out to whoever was borrowing the book. Years of imbibing the media has changed LAPD to Los Angeles Police Department, which I assume is the meaning many would assign to LAPD. We are doubtlessly in the LAPD loop with our children. If we move fast, we can avoid some of the loss, and save the future from cultural minimisation that dovetails seamlessly into commerce. A mishmash of education, fashion, food, music, sports and theatre create the new cultural imperialism on the wheels of technology. Our children know so much, but unfortunately, they remain children (and will always be) in our mind’s eyes. Technology has put the world in their hands for information by the second! We send them to international schools where they learn everything except what concerns their society. They do not have to step beyond their streets to obtain international education offered in any language but ours. In conversations, most of them are proud of their inability to speak a Ni-
gerian language. They wear international clothing reflecting status and global standing and eat junk foods that leave them with health issues our medical facilities cannot handle. Their ears are permanently clamped to phones that send music of hatred and lurid love directly to the brain. Do they know traditional Nigerian music? How would they learn the messages they bear? Theatre is filled with constructions of easy life, happiness and a large dose of violence. The children are the target of the dominant culture America imposes on the world. It is better to catch them young and children are there to be taken. Even adults mindlessly gulp these impositions which poverty enhances. Our children wear used clothes, which are cheaper, and more importantly reflect fashion the global and domestic media promote. The cultural dissonance is felt mostly in sports. Today’s youth see more international football matches yearly – at least 380 in one season, from the English Premiership alone – than most of the older folk saw in 30 years. They are wholesome consumers of international media buffets. Their only contribution is as statistics that marketing communication commodifies as “audiences.” They pay to subscribe to this one-sided relationship. Hairstyles, gait, tattoos, piercings, ear rings (more for boys), are some of the things our children have lifted from their sports heroes, who they meet regularly in the media. Sadly, parents encourage these and sometimes pay for them. The devastating influences are more than many contemplate.
Hairstyles, gait, tattoos, piercings, ear rings (more for boys), are some of the things our children have lifted from their sports heroes, who they meet regularly in the media. Sadly, parents encourage these and sometimes pay for them. The devastating influences are more than many contemplate.
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Resources that should have been used in developing Nigerian sports are sent abroad to obtain the franchises that guarantee international sports in our media. Nigerian sports are unattractive, uncompetitive, and incapable of sustaining the attention of sponsors because the global media have captured the “audiences”, also tagged “pair of eyes.” The subtlety of the conquest of our society, through our children, our future leaders, through whom we are supposed to transmit our cultures, the essences of our society, is mostly lost on us. We complain about their habits, ironically, we finance them. We mock their laziness, unaware that they have strengths that are beneficial to the dominant societies, which through cultural products - education, fashion, food, music, sports and theatre – are ensuring that the totality of these products prospers their commerce and industry. Nigerian sports suffer the multiple tragedies of poverty (in tact and thought), and malnourished children who cannot make a headway in competitive sports. They have no mentors or methods that can enhance their aspirations, assuming they have any. Media impact on children, according to research, is more than that of the family or the school. Media images of the sports greatness of other countries are etched on the minds of our children in a battle for impressionable young minds. We are losing the battle without throwing a punch. We seem not to know there is a battle to make our society an acquiescent appendage of the dominant culture. Those who wonder why our schools are not producing sports people of international standing can find answers in a nexus of factors. Our schools have no modern sports facilities and no sports teachers. On a visit to our public schools, teachers who are poorly motivated, ageing and barely in a state to encourage, physical activities are in charge. Poverty produces malnourished children, without adequate physical strength for sports. We have embraced lifestyles that limit the early years’ mobility children need to develop their bones and muscles. Our uncaring governments (most of them) address every situation with all words and no action. Our resultant inability to supply international markets with quality athletes is a big loss to the economy and the regenerative abilities of sports in our society. We pause for a trip to Kenya. St. Patrick’s, Iten, tucked in the Rift Valley, about 350 kilometres from Nairobi, has produced more Olympics and world champions (in athletics) than any high school in the world. It is also strong in hockey, volleyball and basketball. St. Patrick’s has won the national volleyball title 17 times – 15 times in succession! Yet in academics, it is consistently among the top 100 of Kenya’s 2,200 high schools. Brother Colm O’Connell, a 63-year-old Irish missionary and retired teacher, the most successful distance trainer on the planet, drives the training at St. Patrick’s with monastic zeal. The school, by last year, had produced four Olympics champi-
ons and 25 world champions. Its runners are multiple winners of marathons in Berlin, London, Boston and Chicago. A former geography teacher, Colm has no formal training in coaching. He explored the natural settings of the Eldoret region, the people’s early abilities honed by running through the valleys and a rigorous attention to the youth to keep the supply chain of Kenyan athletics running. He has been at it for 35 years. Though he has retired from teaching and administering St. Patrick’s, he still lives on the school premises overseeing its running programme. From two Kenyans of global consequence in 1978 - Mike Boit (800m) and the legendary Henry Rono (who broke world records at 10,000m, 5000m, 3000m and in the 3000m steeplechase) - Kenya won 17 medals, all in long distance events at the 2011 World Championships in South Korea. Ten of the medallists passed through St. Patrick’s which has no fewer than 700 students. Scores of international camps have spurned around Eldoret, some belonging to Kenyan international stars, others by international concerns who have founded businesses around Kenya’s massive running culture. Githeri, a local stew of beans and corn, bricks of ugali, a maize meal, and plenty of fresh local milk are on high demand as hundreds of runners pour into the area yearly to benefit from nature’s training facilities. Incidentally, Daniel Toroitich arap Moi, Kenyan President for 27 years, is from the Rift Valley. He has no hand in the Eldoret sporting miracle. His only helping hand is an international airport in his name, 35km from St. Patrick’s, ensuring easy passage for athletes with commitments abroad and the influx of foreign athletes to Eldoret. Back home, Adokie Amesimaka, former Attorney General of Rivers State, was a great factor in the Eagles’ victory at the 1980 Nations Cup, while finishing his law degree studies at the University of Lagos with a second class upper. He could have made first class if camping had not kept him away from school. His team mate, Felix Owolabi, eventually earned a doctorate in education from the same university. Patrick Ekeji (2-1 in physical education at the University of Nigeria) achieved that still playing for the Eagles. Segun Odegbami, also in the 1980 team, studied mechanical engineering at The Polytechnic Ibadan. While Dr. Bruce Ijirigo, one of Nigeria’s top 400m runners, decades back, later taught geology at the University of Ibadan which two medical students won Nigeria international sports honours. Emmanuel Ifeajuna (2.03m) at the 1954 Commonwealth Games in Vancouver, Canada won the gold in high jump with a record, the only time three Africans won all the medals for the event. The others being Ugandan Patrick Etolu (1.99m) and Nafiu Osagie (1.99m). Another medical student, George Ogan, won a silver medal in triple jump at the 1966 Commonwealth Games; another Ni-
Media images of the sports greatness of other countries are etched on the minds of our children in a battle for impressionable young minds. We are losing the battle without throwing a punch. We seem not to know there is a battle to make our society an acquiescent appendage of the dominant culture.
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gerian, Sam Igun, won the gold with a record. Perhaps, where we have lost it most is in production of youthful athletes as St. Patrick’s does. Christian Chukwu strolled into the Eagles from his exploits in school football at Nike High School while John Egbonu, later a vet doctor, played for the senior national team as a school boy. The women were not left out - Modupe Oshikoya won her early international honours as a high school student. Most Nigerian top athletes used to be products of missionary schools and government elite schools with intensive sports programmes. These schools paraded their achievements at the annual school competitions where boasts about sports excellence were as robust as academic attainments. Government takeover of schools abbreviated the interests of missionaries in Nigeria. Father Dennis Slattery (St. Finbarr’s, Lagos) could not have run a successful sports programme in a school he did not control. Moreover, governments mindlessly downplayed the role of schools in sports (and sports in schools) through (mis) appropriation of playgrounds for more classrooms. Jos, which has the closest conditions to the Eldoret region, is perpetually in turmoil. Who can think of training there? Other societies have sustained sports, education, socialisation and health by steeping their children in them. They are investing in their future. Our hope lies more in individuals tackling these issues, which bother mostly on the poor development capacities: human and material. Isaac Akioye, who died in 2007, was the closest we had to St. Patrick’s Colm. His emphasis on combining sports with education made a difference to athletes. Christian Nwokocha, one of few Nigerians who got scholarships through sports to further their studies in the United States, in a recent interview with Nigeria’s The Guardian allowed that his active participation in school sports opened a lot of doors for him which have helped shaped his life. He proffers that “government must mandate all the universities, secondary and primary schools to establish a type of leadership rewards with athletic scholarships for Nigerian students and implement the kind of collegiate sports in America that will improve competition and encourage athletics participation to improve the economy of the country.” Without youthful, sports-educated zealots, dedicated to teaching sports, reviving interested in sports would be more challenging. There are no easy solutions but these can help: Governments should enunciate policies that would permit more private investments in public schools. Alumni should channel resources to restoring their alma mater. We need trained teachers in schools before the current generation of teachers run their course. Unless we do these quickly, we would lose our children and pay double through generations that would gladly acquire no identity in their quest for global acceptance. We need a Colm, not just for sports, but the recovery of our collective future. Isiguzo, Chairman Editorial Board Vanguard newspapers, Lagos, is studying Media Enterprise at Pan African University. He has concerns about the future of humanity and the possibilities of communicating years hence
a d v i sory
Career choice and application timing by Sue Griffin
ome families on completing their children’s education to either IGCSE or WAEC are in a position to consider sending their son or daughter overseas for either their A Level or IB years prior to entering university. Despite concerns over UKBA Visa applications and the rising study costs, the UK continues to remain a popular destination for A-Level and Foundation Year study. The student’s best prepared for this ‘next step’ are those where the family have spent time to research the opportunities available and undertaken frank and honest discussions with their children about their career dreams. Below are a few tips to consider: Medicine is a popular career aspiration for many Nigerian students but how many can truly be realistic in achieving this goal. When Medical Schools start the selection it is true that they expect predicted A*/A Grades. However many students fail to recognise that their previous IGCSE/WAEC results are also part of the selection process. Some Medical Schools will look for Grade A in all three science subjects and contrary to belief, chemistry is the most important subject when applying for Medicine/Dentistry & Veterinary Science. So young students who claim to love biology but dislike chemistry may need to review their career goal. We strongly recommend that any student with a specific University ambition should be encouraged to research the various entry requirements, these do vary between institutions. Furthermore some students can be disappointed when they discover that a subject they have dropped is actually crucial to their future study. At the same time students should research what other criteria can aid entry to such competitive careers as Medicine and Law. The student who undertakes a committed voluntary programme related to a caring environment such as an orphanage may suddenly find they have increased their chances to Med School most dramatically All universities have minimum entry requirements for both English and Maths; in most cases this is Grade C but for some career routes, as in Medicine and Law, Grade A is required. Too often a student not intending to study Maths or English at A Level fails to recognise that a good grade may still be relevant for their future University progression. Every year we meet families who submit school applications as late as June and this can often result in the student not getting the accommodation they prefer or more importantly, they miss out on any scholarship opportunities. Most schools who manage a scholarship programme will generally finalise scholarship offers by late April/early May. The offers are generally based on past school reports, IG predictions and a scholarship test. It is therefore so important that families are speaking to schools at least 10 months prior to the September start date – delays can result in potentially good students missing out on a scholarship offer. At the same time students must be aware that consistently good reports will favour a scholarship offer. The student who intends to throw all of his or her efforts into the final days of study before the exams can be making a crucial mistake. Schools are looking for consistent reports where effort and progress is sustained across the academic year – not a last minute burst! Griffin is Group Director for Bosworth Independent College & St Michaels School, both in the UK
member? Want to be a
Ikoyi Club 1938 is a premier family club of highest standards in Nigeria with eight sporting sections in one location. Home to all nationalities, its motto is ‘Global Harmony Through Recreation’ and it strives to retain the elitist status of the founding fathers with members who must be on top of their professions. How to join
Step 1 An intending member must first obtain and complete the White Form at a cost of N7,000 through a financial Ordinary Member, whose membership must not be less than two years, or a Life Member as a condition for being considered as a person who can join Ikoyi Club 1938. Step 2 The intending member will complete the White Form and obtain sectional Chairmen’s signatures on it; before submitting the form to the Subscription Manager. Step 3 At this stage, the Membership Sub-Committee will screen the candidate through an interview with the proposer in attendance. At the interview, the sub-committee is at liberty to call for relevant documents, such as marriage certificate, evidence of professional and educational qualifications, audited accounts/reports etc, after which the successful candidate will be issued the Green Card at the rate of N10,000. Step 4 The successful candidate will complete the Green Card which shall be sponsored and seconded by two Ordinary Members who are: yy Paid-up yy Of not less than two years standing. yy Are personally acquainted to the candidate for five years or more. Step 5 The Green Card will be forwarded to the Subscription Officer for preparation of the bill. Step 6 The candidate makes payment
to the club and is issuedis made to the club and the candidate is given a temporary membership card which is to be surrendered on the day of induction. The Green Card is valid for three months from the day of issuance. CATEGORIES OF MEMBERSHIP
Membership in Ikoyi Club 1938 comprises the underlisted categories: ORDINARY MEMBERS
This category of members comprises persons over 25 years of age and they must go through Ikoyi Club 1938 Membership joining process according to the Rules. SPOUSE AND LADY MEMBERS
This category is made up of persons over 21 years of age, having fulfilled all conditions in Rule 2.2 of Ikoyi Club 1938. Members under this category have no say in the management of the club, except having gone through a process of election as provided for in Rule 3(g) of Ikoyi Club 1938. LIFE MEMBERS
A member who has been elected an Ordinary Member of Ikoyi Club 1938, on attaining the age of 65 years and having been a paid-up member for 25 years without break, with his spouse and children who are junior members, shall be entitled to a Life membership. Such a member shall be exempted from paying subscriptions or other fees in respect of the use of the club facilities and shall be entitled to all membership privileges. HONORARY MEMBERS
Members under this category have the honour conferred on them at the discretion of the General Committee who will propose such a person for election as Honorary Member. Such persons must have rendered an exceptional service to the club or the country, and will have their names displayed on the Club Notice Board for seven days prior to the consideration of such a proposal by members at the February General Meeting of the Club. JUNIOR MEMBERS
A Junior Member is a child, aged 12 to 25 years, whose parents are Life, Honorary, Ordinary or Spouse/Lady Members of the Club. A Junior Member, on attainment of 25 years of age, who wishes to continue as an Ordinary Member shall be granted 50% rebate on the entrance fee, provided such Junior Member satisfies conditions stipulated in Rule 2.5(i), (ii), (iii) and (iv) of Ikoyi Club 1938. BENEFITS OF A LIFE MEMBER
Benefits of a Life Member are as prescribed in the Club’s Rule. These include exemption from payment of membership subscription bills, and some other statutory fees or levies, as may be approved from time to time by the General Committee through the February Annual General Meeting. Such exemption covers children who are Junior Members, as well as the Spouse of such a Life Member.
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d n a l s I e l b Fa
woke up early this morning when I felt a wet touch on my cheek. Sleepily I tried to open my tired eyes when I looked into the hazel eyes of Tini my goat. “How did you get to my bedroom, Tini?” I enquired. “You left the door ajar, so I just thought I should come in. Please understand. I need your help!” “What help?” I replied, lifting myself up a little. “Please I need to go to my village, I had a message from my brother in my dream; his wife feels sick, she is expecting. You know how far it is, and you have a bicycle.” I swallowed. “Tini, you know, I have to go to work, and I don’t know how to help.” Her eyes looked into mine so trustingly, I felt bad to turn her down. Tini had been a wonderful companion to me. I drank her milk; she watched my home, when I had to go to work,
Gerwine Bayo-Martins is the German-born wife of late Nigerian-born ace drummer, Bayo Martins. She created and manages the Gerwine’s Page of Fairy and Folk Tales Collections from all over the world on Facebook, and has graciously shared some of them with this magazine Gerwine lived ten years in Nigeria and visits regularly from her Frankfurt, Germany base. She has travelled extensively in10 Nigerian states. Her short stories are published in anthologies. She had her historic crime novel “Aminas Welt” (German language) published in December 2011. Gerwine is founder and chair of the NGO Orphan Children in Nigeria – Direct Help. Now, gather the family together, it’s story time.
very faithfully. I was living all by myself, my girl friend I had wanted to marry died two years ago and I had not quite gotten over it. Against knowing better I replied: “Let me think of something.” She nodded and put her head briefly on my arm, then went out of my bedroom, saying “I’ll wait for you.” Only one of my neighbours, a very old man knew my attachment and companionship with Tini. I confided in him once that I understand her language and that we converse sometimes. I got up, put on shorts and went to see him. It wasn’t yet six in the morning, but he was up in his garden, watering the tomatoes and smoking his pipe whose sweet smoke curled up into the
bluish morning sky. “Papa Ero,” I called his attention, “good morning!” I went to him and told him what Tini wanted from me. I asked him if his grandchild, the tenyear-old Yomi could go to
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my office at the police station and tell them, that today I could not come to work, because of a call from my village. He looked at me probingly, then nodded and consented. I was relieved and thanked him. I went back inside, ate some left over bean cake and drank some tea, then put on my jeans and shirt, and together my goat Tini and I rode to her village. Her weight wasn’t too heavy on my back. I just knew I owed her the favour. I hadn’t been there for some time, but remembered the way to the village. It was hot already; we rode along a canal, no shade in sight. Later, the way led into a forest and immediately I felt comfortable under the green roof the trees formed. We had about half the way behind us. Tini nuzzled my neck a little; I understood she wanted to stop. We rested a little, she nibbled the fresh lush grass, and I drank water from a well and picked some juicy red berries nearby. After a while we continued. From far we could see the village roofs. About time, the afternoon would soon become early evening. When we entered the village, the children were calling out and greeting us. I let Tini come down to go and find her brother and his wife. They were owned by a nice family who looked after them well. They seemed to have been expecting me; Mama Kafila was pounding yam outside the house. I greeted her and asked about the pregnant goat. “Welcome, Deji,” she greeted me, “so nice you made it here. She has been unable to eat for two days, just lying down there, breathing heavily and only drinking a few sips of water. We are worried. She is such a good goat. The babies are due in about four weeks. Come, sit down, drink some wine and later we can eat,” she offered kindly. “Thank you so much,” I replied gratefully, sat down on the bench and stretched my tired legs in front of me, leaning my back against the warm wall of the house. “How is Papa?” I asked. “He will soon be home, he has been out fishing,” she replied. Soon, the relaxing late afternoon atmosphere, the rays of the departing sun, the sparkling fresh palm wine made me sleepy and my eyelids dropped. A soft touch on my shoulder made me
The peacock’s complaint
peacock was very unhappy with his ugly voice, and he spent most of his days complaining about it. “It is true that you cannot sing,” said the fox, “But look how beautiful you are!” “Oh, but what good is all this beauty,” moaned the dishearten bird, “with such an unpleasant voice!” “Oh hear,” said the fox, “Each one has its special gift. You have such beauty, the nightingale has his song, the owl has his eyes, and the eagle his strength. Even if you had an eloquent voice, you would still complain about another thing.” Aesop (620-560 BC)
open my eyes. I shook my head a little and stretched. Nobody was there. Who touched me then? I looked around, gazing at the twilight and an almost full moon rising just behind the dark silhouettes of the trees. Not too far a soft light was glowing, it seemed to move slowly nearer towards me. I looked intensely towards the light, and the nearer it came the better I saw that it wasn’t just a light. It was a woman, a beautiful woman, the light around her like a veil, her long shining brown hair merging with the veil, her lovely legs moving gently one step after another, her hands outstretched and her beautiful hazel eyes locking with mine. Those hazel eyes…I knew them only too well. “Yes, Deji, you know, it’s me, Tini, and the one you believed is a goat. I had to ask you this favour to bring you back to my village to see if you are really as attached to me as I became to you. You have proven your worth. The spell I was under, you have broken it.” “You are so beautiful,” I whispered, too stunned to say more. All I knew was that I did not want to be without
this beautiful woman anymore. I saw how people had gathered around us, enchanting sounds of drums, flutes and guitars made everyone tap and move, as Tini and I danced the dance of our joy and love under the moon. NB: Gerwine Bayo-Martins was inspired to write this in November 2009 when the picture became viral on the Interrnet.
Tortoise and the dog
t was famine time and there was nothing to eat. The dog was always going to nearby farm to steal yam but taking only his daily meal. Seeing that the dog never lost weight while other animals looked haggard, he asked for the secret and the dog confided in him by telling how he went about it. The next day, they went together. As usual, the dog took only enough for the day, but tortoise took too much to carry. While the dog ran to safety, the tortoise was struggling with yams in hand, neck , back everywhere and wanted dog to assist. He started shouting thus: harmony
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Aja duro ran mi leere .. fen-ren-kun fen (Dog help me carry my loot, fen-ren-kunfen); Bo o ba duro ran mi leru, fen-re-ku-fen. (If you fail to help me fen-ren-kun-fen); Ma kigbe oloko a gbo , fen-ren-kun-fen. (I will shout and the farmer who owns the yams would hear fen-ren-kun-fen); A gbo o a gbe wa a de fen-ren-kun-fen. (He will hear and tie us down fen-ren-kunfen); A gbe wa de a gba wa n’isu fen-ren-kun-fen. (He will tie us down and take our stolen yam fen-ren-kun-fen). The dog did not wait and so he escaped while the farmer heard tortoise’s voice. He came round and impounded tortoise’s stolen yam.
cooked concoction for Tortoise with a strict warning that he, tortoise must not taste out of it, as it is meant for his wife only. But on the way home, Tortoise, being a glutton and a greedy man ate almost every bit of it, thereby becoming pregnant himself, instead of his wife, for whom the medicine was made. Of course, he returned to the medicine man begging for restitution. When he got there, he started singing thus: Babalawo , mo wa be beebe...alugbinrin (Medicine man I come to beg...alugbinrin); Ogun to se fun mi lerekan ...alugbinrin (The medicine you gave to me a while ago ....alugbinrin); To o ni ki n mama m’owo banu...alugbinrin (Warning that I should not dip my finger into it...alugbinrin); To o ni ki n mama m’ese ba’nu ...alugbenren (Also warning that my leg should not touch it ...alugbenren); Gbongbo lo yo o mi geere... alugbenren (I got tripped off by a root..alugbenre); Mo m’wo b’obe mo mu b’enu...alugbenren (My hand got slipped into the pot of medicine soup, and got into my mouth ...alugbenren); Mo m’se b’obe mo mu banu.. alugbenren (My toe also also slipped and got into my mouth..alugbenren); Mo boju wo’kun o ri gbendu alugbenren..(Looking into my stomach it is swollen..alugbenren). After becoming object of ridicule, and out of sympathy for his wife Yanrinbo, the medicine man made restitution.
Tortoise and the yams Tortoise and the medicine man
any years after the marriage of Tortoise and his wife, Yanrinbo, the lady was not fortunate to have the fruit of the womb. As a result of the barrenness, of his wife, Tortoise sought the assistance of a babalawo who agreed to help them. He
here was a famine, and there was a great scarcity of food all through the country. One day the lizard was in a plantation searching for something to eat, when he found a large rock full of yams. The owner of the plantation was near the rock. He cried, “Rock, open,” and the rock opened. He went in and took yams, and came out again. Then he said, “Rock, shut,” and the
rock closed up. The lizard saw all this. He heard also what the man said, and he went home. Next morning, at cock-crow, he went to the rock. He said, “Rock, open,” and the rock opened. He went in and carried out yams to take home and eat. Then he said, “Rock, shut,” and the rock shut. Every day the lizard did this. One day, Tortoise, the bald-headed elf, met the lizard on the road carrying yams. He said to him, “Where did yoti get your food from, comrade? The lizard said, “If I were to tell you that, and take you to the place, I should be killed.” Tortoise answered, “No, I will not say a word to anyone. Please take me.” And the lizard said, “Very well, then; come and call me tomorrow morning at cock-crow, and we will go together.” Next morning, long before cock-crow, Tortoise came to the lizard’s house. He stood outside the house and cried “Kekere-ke*.” Again he cried “Kekere-ke.” Then he went in and woke the lizard. “The cock has crowed,” he said. “Let me sleep,” said the lizard; “it is not yet cock-crow.” “Very well,” said Tortoise. And they both went to sleep till cock-crow. Then the lizard got up, and the two went together. As soon as they arrived at the. place the lizard said, “Rock, open,” and the rock opened. The lizard went in, took yams, and came out again. He said to Tortoise, “It is time to go. Take your yams and come.” “Wait a minute,” said Tortoise. “Very well,” said the lizard. “Rock, shut.” And he went away without waiting. Tortoise, the bald-headed elf, helped himself to yams. He put yams on his back and yams on his head; he put yams on his arms and yams on his legs. The lizard had already gone home. He lighted a fire. Then he lay on his back, with his feet in the air, as if he were dead; and he remained like that all day. When Tortoise, the bald-headed elf, was ready to go, he wanted to make the rock open. But he could not remember what he ought to say. He said many many words, but not the right words; and the rock remained shut. By-and-bye came the plantation-owner. He opened the rock, and found Tortoise inside. He took him and beat him. He beat him badly.
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“Who brought you here?” asked the man. “It was the lizard who brought me,” replied Tortoise. Then the man tied a string to Tortoise, and took him to the lizard. When the man reached the house of the lizard, he found the lizard lying on his back, with his feet in the air, as if he were dead. He shook him. He said to him, “This bald-headed elf says it was you who took him to my plantation, and showed him my store of yams.” “I?” said the lizard. “You can see for yourself that it is impossible. I am not in a state to go out. I have been sick here for three months, lying on my back. I do not even know where your plantation is.” Then the man took Tortoise and smashed him. And Tortoise, groaning and moaning, said in a pitiful voice, “Cockroach, come and mend me. Ant, come and mend me.” And the cockroach and the ant mended him. And the places where they mended him are those parts of Tortoise which are rough. *In Yoruba, kekere-ke, an onomatopoeic word supposed to resemble the crow of a cock. It is from keke, which, like the onomatopoeic word “cackle,” means the cry of the hen.Translate it as “Cock-a-doodle-do”
Foolish Tortoise Told by Kunle Akinsemoyin
ne morning a long long time ago, tortoise woke up, feeling very angry with the world. What shall I do to show my anger? he asked himself. He thought and thought, scratched his head and thought again. Then he had an idea which pleased him so much that he patted himself on the back and said: “Bright idea! Bright idea! And so easy to carry out.” His bright idea was to collect all the wisdom in the world and hide it where no one could find it. The first thing he did was to get hold of the largest clay pot that was made. This he found at the market and being a crafty animal, he talked and talked and talked till it was sold to him for very little money. Then he went round and collected all the wisdom he could find. This took him a week. He put it all in the pot which he covered with a piece of leather, held tightly in place with a piece of straw. “Now, where shall I hide it?” he asked himself. He thought and thought, scratched his head and thought again. Then he gave a shout of joy and said: “I’ve got it. I’ve got it. I’ll hide it
on top of the tallest tree.” So he went for a walk in the forest and had a good look round. The tallest tree was either the Palm Tree or the Coconut Tree. But he liked the look of the Palm Tree best and so he chose it. Having chosen the tallest Palm Tree, he went back for the pot, slung it on his back and began to climb. He did not get far before he had to come down. He rested a little and then tried again. But he did not get far before the weight of the pot was too much for him, and had to come down again. He kept on trying, but he never got any far up the tree. Unknown to him, a man passing by had seen him and had been watching him for some time. Suddenly the man loughed out loud. Tortoise heard and was angry. “What are you trying to do?” the man said. “Mind your own business,” came the reply. “Oh, don’t be cross!” said the man in a friendly voice, “can I help you?” “No!” “Tortoise!” the man went on, “you can’t climb a Palm Tree without a strong piece of rope tied around yourself and the tree.” “How do you know?” “Because climbing Palm Trees is my trade. I’m a Palm Wine Tapper.” “Go away!”said Tortoise, “I don’t need your help!” “Very well. Very well. You’ll be sorry, tortoise.” “Will you go away, you are only a man!” Without another word the man left. Tortoise made sure he was well out of sight, then he began climbing again. This time he got on better. Slowly but surely he climbed higher and higher. “I wish that man was here to see me now,” he said to himself, feeling very, very pleased. Nearer and nearer the top he climbed. And then it happened. He missed his foothold. Pot and Tortoise came crashing down. The pot was smashed into a thousand pieces. And tortoise got such an ugly hump on his back that from that day on he has worn a shell to hide it.
Hansel and Gretel
Here is a classic tale from the collections of the famous Brothers Grimm, German fairy tale collectors who did groundbreaking work in collecting hundreds of tales, told to them by people and writing them down. This is one of my favourite tales – GB-M
ard by a great forest dwelt a poor wood-cutter with his wife and his two children. The boy was called Hansel and the girl Gretel. He had little to bite and to break, and once, when great dearth fell on the land, he could no longer procure even daily bread. Now when he thought over this by night in his bed, and tossed about in his anxiety. He groaned and said to his wife, “What is to become of us? How are we to feed our poor children, when we no longer have anything even for ourselves?” “I’ll tell you what, husband,” answered the woman, “early tomorrow morning we will take the children out into the forest to where it is the thickest. There we will light a fire for them, and give each of them one more piece of bread, and then we will go to our work and leave them alone. They will not find the way home again, and we shall be rid of them.” “No, wife,” said the man, “I will not do that. How can I bear to leave my children alone in the forest? The wild animals would soon come and tear them to pieces.” “Oh! you fool,” said she, “then we must all four die of hunger, you may as well plane the planks for our coffins,” and she left him no peace until he consented. “But I feel very sorry for the poor children, all the same,” said the man. The two children had also not been able to sleep for hunger, and had heard what their step-mother had said to their father. Gretel wept bitter tears, and said to Hansel, “Now all is over with us.” “Be quiet, Gretel,” said Hansel, “do not distress yourself, I will soon find a harmony
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way to help us.” And when the old folk had fallen asleep, he got up, put on his little coat, opened the door below, and crept outside. The moon shone brightly, and the white pebbles which lay in front of the house glittered like real silver pennies. Hansel stooped and stuffed the little pocket of his coat with as many as he could get in. Then he went back and said to Gretel, “Be comforted, dear little sister, and sleep in peace, God will not forsake us,” and he lay down again in his bed. When day dawned, but before the sun had risen, the woman came and awoke the two children, saying, “Get up, you sluggards. We are going into the forest to fetch wood.” She gave each a little piece of bread, and said, “There is something for your dinner, but do not eat it up before then, for you will get nothing else.” Gretel took the bread under her apron, as Hansel had the pebbles in his pocket.
Then they all set out together on the way to the forest. When they had walked a short time, Hansel stood still and peeped back at the house, and did so again and again. His father said, “Hansel, what are you looking at there and staying behind for? Pay attention, and do not forget how to use your legs.” “Ah, father,” said Hansel, “I am looking at my little white cat, which is sitting up on the roof, and wants to say good-bye to me.” The wife said, “Fool, that is not your little cat, that is the morning sun which is shining on the chimneys.” Hansel, however, had not been looking back at the cat, but had been constantly throwing one of the white pebble-stones out of his pocket on the road. When they had reached the middle of the forest, the father said, “Now, children, pile up some wood, and I will light a fire that you may not be cold.” Hansel and Gretel gathered brushwood
together, as high as a little hill. The brushwood was lighted, and when the flames were burning very high, the woman said, “Now, children, lay yourselves down by the fire and rest, we will go into the forest and cut some wood. When we have done, we will come back and fetch you away.” Hansel and Gretel sat by the fire, and when noon came, each ate a little piece of bread, and as they heard the strokes of the wood-axe they believed that their father was near. It was not the axe, however, but a branch which he had fastened to a withered tree which the wind was blowing backwards and forwards. And as they had been sitting such a long time, their eyes closed with fatigue, and they fell fast asleep. When at last they awoke, it was already dark night. Gretel began to cry and said, “How are we to get out of the forest now?” But Hansel comforted her and said, “Just wait a little, until the moon has risen, and then we will soon find the way.” And when
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the full moon had risen, Hansel took his little sister by the hand, and followed the pebbles which shone like newly-coined silver pieces, and showed them the way. They walked the whole night long, and by break of day came once more to their father’s house. They knocked at the door, and when the woman opened it and saw that it was Hansel and Gretel, she said, “You naughty children, why have you slept so long in the forest? We thought you were never coming back at all.” The father, however, rejoiced, for it had cut him to the heart to leave them behind alone. Not long afterwards, there was once more great dearth throughout the land, and the children heard their mother saying at night to their father: “Everything is eaten again, we have one half loaf left, and that is the end. The children must go, we will take them farther into the wood, so that they will not find their
way out again. There is no other means of saving ourselves.” The man’s heart was heavy, and he thought, “It would be better for you to share the last mouthful with your children.” The woman, however, would listen to nothing that he had to say, but scolded and reproached him. He who says a must say b, likewise, and as he had yielded the first time, he had to do so a second time also. The children, however, were still awake and had heard the conversation. When the old folk were asleep, Hansel again got up, and wanted to go out and pick up pebbles as he had done before, but the woman had locked the door, and Hansel could not get out. Nevertheless he comforted his little sister, and said, “Do not cry, Gretel, go to sleep quietly, the good God will help us.” Early in the morning came the woman, and took the children out of their beds. Their piece of bread was given to them, but it was still smaller than the time before. On the way into the forest Hansel crumbled his in his pocket, and often stood still and threw a morsel on the ground. “Hansel, why do you stop and look round?” Said the father. “Go on.” “I am looking back at my little pigeon which is sitting on the roof, and wants to say good-bye to me, answered Hansel. “Fool.” Said the woman, “That is not your little pigeon, that is the morning sun that is shining on the chimney.” Hansel, however, little by little, threw all the crumbs on the path. The woman led the children still deeper into the forest, where they had never in their lives been before. Then a great fire was again made, and the mother said, “Just sit there, you children, and when you are tired you may sleep a little. We are going into the forest to cut wood, and in the evening when we are done, we will come and fetch you away.” When it was noon, Gretel shared her piece of bread with Hansel, who had scattered his by the way. Then they fell asleep and evening passed, but no one came to the poor children. They did not awake until it was dark night, and Hansel comforted his little sister and said, “Just wait, Gretel, until the moon rises, and then we shall see the crumbs of bread which I have strewn about, they will show us our way home again.” When the moon came they set out, but they found no crumbs, for the many thousands of birds which fly about in the woods
and fields had picked them all up. Hansel said to Gretel, “We shall soon find the way.” But they did not find it. They walked the whole night and all the next day too from morning till evening, but they did not get out of the forest, and were very hungry, for they had nothing to eat but two or three berries, which grew on the ground. And as they were so weary that their legs would carry them no longer, they lay down beneath a tree and fell asleep. It was now three mornings since they had left their father’s house. They began to walk again, but they always came deeper into the forest, and if help did not come soon, they must die of hunger and weariness. When it was mid-day, they saw a beautiful snow-white bird sitting on a bough, which sang so delightfully that they stood still and listened to it. And when its song was over, it spread its wings and flew away before them, and they followed it until they reached a little house, on the roof of which it alighted. And when they approached the little house they saw that it was built of bread and covered with cakes, but that the windows were of clear sugar. “We will set to work on that,” said Hansel, “and have a good meal. I will eat a bit of the roof, and you Gretel, can eat some of the window, it will taste sweet.” Hansel reached up above, and broke off a little of the roof to try how it tasted, and Gretel leant against the window and nibbled at the panes. Then a soft voice cried from the parlour - “Nibble, nibble, gnaw who is nibbling at my little house?” The children answered - “The wind, the wind, the heaven-born wind,” and went on eating without disturbing themselves. Hansel, who liked the taste of the roof, tore down a great piece of it, and Gretel pushed out the whole of one round window-pane, sat down, and enjoyed herself with it. Suddenly the door opened, and a woman as old as the hills, who supported herself on crutches, came creeping out. Hansel and Gretel were so terribly frightened that they let fall what they had in their hands. The old woman, however, nodded her head, and said, “Oh, you dear children, who has brought you here? Do come in, and stay with me. No harm shall happen to you.” She took them both by the hand, and led them into her little house. Then good food harmony
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…And, children, you know what?
Unilever Nigeria has provided us with some of their products that you will win when you provide us with the MORALS to any or all of the stories, and perhaps relate them to some of the things happening around us today. Please send them to harmony@ harpostrophe.com, with the Subject: Fable Island. We are expecting them. Thank you, Unilever. Story…story. Story… was set before them, milk and pancakes, with sugar, apples, and nuts. Afterwards two pretty little beds were covered with clean white linen, and Hansel and Gretel lay down in them, and thought they were in heaven. The old woman had only pretended to be so kind. She was in reality a wicked witch, who lay in wait for children, and had only built the little house of bread in order to entice them there. When a child fell into her power, she killed it, cooked and ate it, and that was a feast day with her. Witches have red eyes, and cannot see far, but they have a keen scent like the beasts, and are aware when human beings draw near. When Hansel and Gretel came into her neighborhood, she laughed with malice, and said mockingly, “I have them, they shall not escape me again.” Early in the morning before the children were awake, she was already up, and when she saw both of them sleeping and looking so pretty, with their plump and rosy cheeks, she muttered to herself, “that will be a dainty mouthful.” Then she seized Hansel with her shrivelled hand, carried him into a little stable, and locked him in behind a grated door. Scream as he might, it would not help him. Then she went to Gretel, shook her till she awoke, and cried, “Get up, lazy thing, fetch some water, and cook something good for your brother, he is in the stable outside, and is to be made fat. When he is fat, I will eat him.” Gretel began to weep bitterly, but it was all in vain, for she was forced to do what the wicked witch commanded. And now the best food was cooked for poor Hansel, but Gretel got nothing but crab-shells. Every morning the woman crept to the little stable, and cried, “Hansel, stretch out your finger that I may feel if you will soon be fat.”
Hansel, however, stretched out a little bone to her, and the old woman, who had dim eyes, could not see it, and thought it was Hansel’s finger, and was astonished that there was no way of fattening him. When four weeks had gone by, and Hansel still remained thin, she was seized with impatience and would not wait any longer. “Now, then, Gretel,” she cried to the girl, “stir yourself, and bring some water. Let Hansel be fat or lean, to-morrow I will kill him, and cook him.” Ah, how the poor little sister did lament when she had to fetch the water, and how her tears did flow down her cheeks. “Dear God, do help us,” she cried. “If the wild beasts in the forest had but devoured us, we should at any rate have died together.” “Just keep your noise to yourself,” said the old woman, “it won’t help you at all.” Early in the morning, Gretel had to go out and hang up the cauldron with the water, and light the fire. “We will bake first,” said the old woman, “I have already heated the oven, and kneaded the dough.” She pushed poor Gretel out to the oven, from which flames of fire were already darting. “Creep in,” said the witch, “and see if it properly heated, so that we can put the bread in.” And once Gretel was inside, she intended to shut the oven and let her bake in it, and then she would eat her, too. But Gretel saw what she had in mind, and said, “I do not know how I am to do it. How do I get in?” “Silly goose,” said the old woman, “the door is big enough. Just look, I can get in myself.” And she crept up and thrust her head into the oven. Then Gretel gave her a push that drove her far into it, and shut the iron door, and fastened the bolt. Oh. Then she began to
howl quite horribly, but Gretel ran away, and the godless witch was miserably burnt to death. Gretel, however, ran like lightning to Hansel, opened his little stable, and cried, “Hansel, we are saved. The old witch is dead.” Then Hansel sprang like a bird from its cage when the door is opened. How they did rejoice and embrace each other, and dance about and kiss each other. And as they had no longer any need to fear her, they went into the witch’s house, and in every corner there stood chests full of pearls and jewels. “These are far better than pebbles.” Said Hansel, and thrust into his pockets whatever could be got in. And Gretel said, “I, too, will take something home with me,” and filled her pinafore full. “But now we must be off,” said Hansel, “that we may get out of the witch’s forest.” When they had walked for two hours, they came to a great stretch of water. “We cannot cross,” said Hansel, “I see no foot-plank, and no bridge. “And there is also no ferry,” answered Gretel, “but a white duck is swimming there. If I ask her, she will help us over.” Then she cried - “Little duck, little duck, dost thou see, Hansel and Gretel are waiting for thee. There’s never a plank, or bridge in sight, take us across on thy back so white.” The duck came to them, and Hansel seated himself on its back, and told his sister to sit by him. “No,” replied Gretel, “that will be too heavy for the little duck. She shall take us across, one after the other.” The good little duck did so, and when they were once safely across and had walked for a short time, the forest seemed to be more and more familiar to them, and at length they saw from afar their father’s house. Then they began to run, rushed into the parlor, and threw themselves round their father’s neck. The man had not known one happy hour since he had left the children in the forest. The woman, however, was dead. Gretel emptied her pinafore until pearls and precious stones ran about the room, and Hansel threw one handful after another out of his pocket to add to them. Then all anxiety was at an end, and they lived together in perfect happiness. My tale is done, there runs a mouse, whosoever catches it, may make himself a big fur cap out of it.
d i sco u rse
It’s conventional wisdom, isn’t it, that when your child does something adorable, commendable, you say, “well done; that’s my girl” or “good job, son?” Well, Alfie Kohn, American author, lecturer and a leading figure in progressive education, quite often goes against conventions. He has a body of works challenging accepted theories and practices in areas such as discipline, standardised testing, grades, homework, and parenting. In his book Punishing by rewards, Kohn argues strongly that children should not be praised for their efforts on tasks or whatever else. Children, he says, construe praise as “conditional acceptance,” and this can be counter-productive. “Rewards and punishments are not opposites at all; they are two sides of the same coin. And it is a coin that does not buy very much.” Mr Kohn has graciously granted Harmony permission to reprint his article, “Five reasons to stop saying ‘good job!’” where you will find his strident opposition to effusively rewarding children. Our editors having grown up with bouquets of praises from their parents and guardians decided to subject Kohn’s submissions to challenges, by an expert as well as children themselves. That’s what this discourse is all about. We trust that you will find it not only stimulating but also thought-provoking. So, we would expect to hear your views. Please send them, as precisely as possible to harmony@ harpostrophe.com. Thank you. - EinC
to praise or not to praise harmony
d i sco u rse f i v e reasons to sto p say i n g ‘ g oo d j o b ’
Five reasons to stop saying ‘good job’ By Alfie Kohn
ang out at a playground, visit a school, or show up at a child’s birthday party, and there’s one phrase you can count on hearing repeatedly: “Good job!” Even tiny infants are praised for smacking their hands together (“Good clapping!”). Many of us blurt out these judgments of our children to the point that it has become almost a verbal tic. Plenty of books and articles advise us against relying on punishment, from spanking to forcible isolation (“time out”). Occasionally someone will even ask us to rethink the practice of bribing children with stickers or food. But you’ll have to look awfully hard to find a discouraging word about what is euphemistically called positive reinforcement. Lest there be any misunderstanding, the point here is not to call into question the importance of supporting and encouraging children, the need to love them and hug them and help them feel good about themselves. Praise, however, is a different story entirely. Here’s why. 1. Manipulating children. Suppose you offer a verbal reward to reinforce the behaviour of a two-year-old who eats without spilling, or a five-year-old who cleans up her art supplies. Who benefits from this? Is it possible that telling kids they’ve done a good job may have less to do with their emotional needs than with our convenience? Rheta DeVries, a professor of education at the University of Northern Iowa, refers to this as “sugar-coated control.” Very much like tangible rewards – or, for that matter, punishments – it’s a way of doing something to children to get them to comply with our wishes. It may be effective at producing this result (at least for a while), but it’s very different from working with kids – for example, by engaging them in conversation about what makes a classroom (or family) function smoothly, or how other people are affected by what we have done -- or failed to do. The latter approach is not only more respectful but more likely to help kids become thoughtful people. The reason praise can work in the short
run is that young children are hungry for our approval. But we have a responsibility not to exploit that dependence for our own convenience. A “Good job!” to reinforce something that makes our lives a little easier can be an example of taking advantage of children’s dependence. Kids may also come to feel manipulated by this, even if they can’t quite explain why. 2. Creating praise junkies. To be sure, not every use of praise is a calculated tactic to control children’s behaviour. Sometimes we compliment kids just because we’re genuinely pleased by what they’ve done. Even then, however, it’s worth looking more closely. Rather than bolstering a child’s self-esteem, praise may increase kids’ dependence on us. The more we say, “I like the way you….” or “Good ______ing,” the more kids come to rely on our evaluations, our decisions about what’s good and bad, rather than learning to form their own judgments. It leads them to measure their worth in terms of what will lead us to smile and dole out some more approval. Mary Budd Rowe, a researcher at the University of Florida, discovered that students who were praised lavishly by their teachers were more tentative in their responses, more apt to answer in a questioning tone of voice (“Um, seven?”). They tended to back off from an idea they had proposed as soon as an adult disagreed with them. And they were less likely to per-
sist with difficult tasks or share their ideas with other students. In short, “Good job!” doesn’t reassure children; ultimately, it makes them feel less secure. It may even create a vicious circle such that the more we slather on the praise, the more kids seem to need it, so we praise them some more. Sadly, some of these kids will grow into adults who continue to need someone else to pat them on the head and tell them whether what they did was OK. Surely this is not what we want for our daughters and sons. 3. Stealing a child’s pleasure. Apart from the issue of dependence, a child deserves to take delight in her accomplishments, to feel pride in what she’s learned how to do. She also deserves to decide when to feel that way. Every time we say, “Good job!”, though, we’re telling a child how to feel. To be sure, there are times when our evaluations are appropriate and our guidance is necessary -- especially with toddlers and preschoolers. But a constant stream of value judgments is neither necessary nor useful for children’s development. Unfortunately, we may not have realised that “Good job!” is just as much an evaluation as “Bad job!” The most notable feature of a positive judgment isn’t that it’s positive, but that it’s a judgment. And people, including kids, don’t like being judged.
Suppose you offer a verbal reward to reinforce the behaviour of a two-yearold who eats without spilling, or a fiveyear-old who cleans up her art supplies. Who benefits from this? Is it possible that telling kids they’ve done a good job may have less to do with their emotional needs than with our convenience I cherish the occasions when my daughter manages to do something for the first time, or does something better than she’s ever done it before. But I try to resist the knee-jerk tendency to say, “Good job!” because I don’t want to dilute her joy. I want her to share her pleasure with me, not look to me for a verdict. I want her to exclaim, “I did it!” (which she often does) instead of asking me uncertainly, “Was that good?”
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4. Losing interest. “Good painting!” may get children to keep painting for as long as we keep watching and praising. But, warns Lilian Katz, one of the country’s leading authorities on early childhood education, “once attention is withdrawn, many kids won’t touch the activity again.” Indeed, an impressive body of scientific research has shown that the more we reward people for doing something, the more they tend to lose interest in whatever they had to do to get the reward. Now the point isn’t to draw, to read, to think, to create – the point is to get the goody, whether it’s an ice cream, a sticker, or a “Good job!” In a troubling study conducted by Joan Grusec at the University of Toronto, young children who were frequently praised for displays of generosity tended to be slightly
good work” that gets in the way of doing so. Partly because their interest in what they’re doing may have declined. Partly because they become less likely to take risks – a prerequisite for creativity – once they start thinking about how to keep those positive comments coming. More generally, “Good job!” is a remnant of an approach to psychology that reduces all of human life to behaviours that can be seen and measured. Unfortunately, this ignores the thoughts, feelings, and values that lie behind behaviours. For example, a child may share a snack with a friend as a way of attracting praise, or as a way of making sure the other child has enough to eat. Praise for sharing ignores these different motives. Worse, it actually promotes the less desirable motive by making children more likely to fish for praise in the future. * Once you start to see praise for what it is – and what it does – these constant little evaluative eruptions from adults start to produce the same effect as fingernails being dragged down a blackboard. You begin to root for a child to give his teachers or parents a taste of their own treacle by turning around to them and saying (in the same saccharine tone of voice), “Good praising!” Still, it’s not an easy habit to break. It can seem strange, at least at first, to stop praising; it can feel as though you’re being chilly or withholding something. But that, it soon becomes clear, suggests that we praise more because we need to say it than because children need to hear it. Whenever that’s true, it’s time to rethink what we’re doing. What kids do need is unconditional support, love with no strings attached. That’s not just different from praise – it’s the opposite of praise. “Good job!” is conditional. It means we’re offering attention and acknowledgement and approval for jumping through our hoops, for doing things that please us. This point, you’ll notice, is very different from a criticism that some people offer to the effect that we give kids too much approval, or give it too easily. They recom-
“Good painting!” may get children to keep painting for as long as we keep watching and praising. But, warns Lilian Katz, “once attention is withdrawn, many kids won’t touch the activity again.” Indeed, the more we reward people for doing something, the more they tend to lose interest in whatever they had to do to get the reward. less generous on an everyday basis than other children were. Every time they had heard “Good sharing!” or “I’m so proud of you for helping,” they became a little less interested in sharing or helping. Those actions came to be seen not as something valuable in their own right but as something they had to do to get that reaction again from an adult. Generosity became a means to an end. Does praise motivate kids? Sure. It motivates kids to get praise. Alas, that’s often at the expense of commitment to whatever they were doing that prompted the praise. 5. Reducing achievement. As if it weren’t bad enough that “Good job!” can undermine independence, pleasure, and interest, it can also interfere with how good a job children actually do. Researchers keep finding that kids who are praised for doing well at a creative task tend to stumble at the next task – and they don’t do as well as children who weren’t praised to begin with. Why does this happen? Partly because the praise creates pressure to “keep up the
mend that we become more miserly with our praise and demand that kids “earn” it. But the real problem isn’t that children expect to be praised for everything they do these days. It’s that we’re tempted to take shortcuts, to manipulate kids with rewards instead of explaining and helping them to develop needed skills and good values. So what’s the alternative? That depends on the situation, but whatever we decide to say instead has to be offered in the context of genuine affection and love for who kids are rather than for what they’ve done. When unconditional support is present, “Good job!” isn’t necessary; when it’s absent, “Good job!” won’t help. If we’re praising positive actions as a way of discouraging misbehaviour, this is unlikely to be effective for long. Even when it works, we can’t really say the child is now “behaving himself”; it would be more accurate to say the praise is behaving him. The alternative is to work with the child, to figure out the reasons he’s acting that way. We may have to reconsider our own requests rather than just looking for a way to get kids to obey. (Instead of using “Good job!” to get a four-year-old to sit quietly through a long class meeting or family dinner, perhaps we should ask whether it’s reasonable to expect a child to do so.) We also need to bring kids in on the process of making decisions. If a child is doing something that disturbs others, then sitting down with her later and asking, “What do you think we can do to solve this problem?” will likely be more effective than bribes or threats. It also helps a child learn how to solve problems and teaches that her ideas and feelings are important. Of course, this process takes time and talent, care and courage. Tossing off a “Good job!” when the child acts in the way we deem appropriate takes none of those things, which helps to explain why “doing to” strategies are a lot more popular than “working with” strategies. And what can we say when kids just do something impressive? Consider three possible responses: * Say nothing. Some people insist a helpful act must be “reinforced” because, secretly or unconsciously, they believe it was a fluke. If children are basically evil, then they have to be given an artificial reason for being nice (namely, to get a verbal reward). But if that cynicism is unfounded – and a lot of research suggests that it is – harmony
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then praise may not be necessary. * Say what you saw. A simple, evaluation-free statement (“You put your shoes on by yourself” or even just “You did it”) tells your child that you noticed. It also lets her take pride in what she did. In other cases, a more elaborate description may make sense. If your child draws a picture, you might provide feedback – not judgment – about what you noticed: “This mountain is huge!” “Boy, you sure used a lot of purple today!” If a child does something caring or generous, you might gently draw his attention to the effect of his action on the other person: “Look at Abigail’s face! She seems pretty happy now that you gave her some of your snack.” This is completely different from praise, where the emphasis is on how you feel about her sharing * Talk less, ask more. Even better than descriptions are questions. Why tell him what part of his drawing impressed you when you can ask him what he likes best about it? Asking “What was the hardest part to draw?” or “How did you figure out how to make the feet the right size?” is likely to nourish his interest in drawing. Saying “Good job!”, as we’ve seen, may have exactly the opposite effect. This doesn’t mean that all compliments, all thank-you’s, all expressions of delight are harmful. We need to consider our motives for what we say (a genuine expression of enthusiasm is better than a desire to manipulate the child’s future behaviour) as well as the actual effects of doing so. Are our reactions helping the child to feel a sense of control over her life -- or to constantly look to us for approval? Are they helping her to become more excited about what she’s doing in its own right – or turning it into something she just wants to get through in order to receive a pat on the head It’s not a matter of memorising a new script, but of keeping in mind our longterm goals for our children and watching for the effects of what we say. The bad news is that the use of positive reinforcement really isn’t so positive. The good news is that you don’t have to evaluate in order to encourage. Copyright 2001 by Alfie Kohn. Reprinted from Young Children with the author’s permission. For more on this topic, please see the author’s books Punished by Rewards and Unconditional Parenting or visit his website at www.alfiekohn.org.”
Parenting, praising parri passu By Esther Akinsola
deas about the best way to rear children have gone through a lot of changes over the years and do vary across cultures. These changes have embraced the more nurturing and caring dispositions from parents and other care givers as opposed to the strictly “spare the rod” and “spoil the child” stance. The parenting styles currently being practised fall into four categories: Authoritarian, Authoritative, Neglectful, and Indulgent. Authoritarian parenting is restrictive and punitive. It demands that children follow parents’ directions and obey them without questioning or verbal exchange. It also demands that children value hard work and effort. When children fail to comply with parents’ dictates, they are punished. “For example, an authoritarian parent might say: You do it my way or no food or pocket money for you! Spanking can even accompany this punishment.” The authoritarian parents exert limits and firm controls over their children with little or no verbal exchange. Such parenting is associated with social incompetence, inability to initiate activity and poor communication skills. Authoritative parenting encourages children to be independent but still places limits and controls over their behaviour. Extensive verbal give and take (dialogue) is allowed and authoritative parents are warm and nurturing toward their children. “For instance, an authoritative father might put his arm around his child in a comforting manner and say: You know you should not have done that, let us talk about how you can handle the situation better next time.” For a child to assimilate and take in such a rebuke –such a correction, the child needs to be appreciated or praised when s/he does the right/proper thing by being told “well done” or “good job.” This is the function of “PRAISE” in positive and effective parenting. From this perspective, praise is not manipulation. Children raised by authoritative parents have been found to be socially competent, selfreliant, socially responsible and they demonstrate strong self-control. In Neglectful parenting, parents are uninvolved in their children’s life. “It is do-your-
own-I-do-mine kind of relationship.” You may ask such parents at 10pm: Do you know where your children are? The likely answer you will get is NO! Children of neglectful parents tend to develop a sense that their parents do not care about them and that their parents value other aspects of their life more than they– the children. Such children have been found to be less competent socially, they handle independence poorly and demonstrate poor self-control. In Indulgent parenting, parents are involved with their children but they place very few or no limits on them. The children are allowed to do whatsoever they want to do and behave anyway they want. Some parents are indulgent because they believe that the combination of warm involvement with giving the children the freedom to behave as they wish will produce creative and confident children. On the contrary, children of indulgent parents have been found to lack social competence, they fail to learn to respect others, they expect to have their way always and find it difficult to control their behaviour. With all these social and behavioural deficits, it is questionable how creative such children could be. In the literature on human development, a new born baby is totally dependent on the primary care giver for survival. New born babies require feeding, stimulation, nurture and affection to grow and attain balanced development. In addition, as they grow, they need to be trained to fit into the social world, and as such their behaviours have to be shaped into that of matured adults and which are acceptable in their social domain. Such shaping requires the use of “Praise” or “Appreciation” of right behaviour or thought and corrective measures or reprimand for wrong behaviour or thought like the example given earlier in the authoritative parenting.. Parents are expected to help their children
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learn the norms of their society, the do’s and don’ts, the acceptable and the unacceptable patterns of action in their society and by so doing help them to develop conscience and the concepts of rights and wrongs and sound morality and judgment as perceived by the society in which they live. It is through the offering of praise or appreciation for right action and rebuke of wrong action that the children learn to differentiate between what is right and what is wrong and develop conscience to uphold that which is right and abhor that which is wrong. In essence “Praise” is an essential part of positive and effective parenting. This background would be helpful in analysing Mr Alfie Kohn’s submissions on not saying “good job.” In Kohn’s first reason -- Manipulating Children, he asks: Suppose you offer a verbal reward to reinforce a two-year-old who eats without spilling or a five-year- old who cleans up her art supplies, who benefit from this? I say the child benefits because the child will learn gradually through the association of verbal reward and eating without spilling or cleaning up art supplies that such behaviour is good and the right thing to do, it is what is expected, acceptable and valued by the society in which they live. In addition, the child will gradually learn how to be neat and tidy in his/ her daily living because it is good to be neat and tidy. Professor Rheta DeVries says such verbal reward is sugar-coated control – I disagree with the sugar-coating insinuation. True that such verbal reward is a way of doing something to children to get them to comply with (our wishes) which are getting them to do the right thing, the desirable/acceptable thing in the society. Verbal rewards and reprimand/correction are ways of getting and training children to recognise the right thing to do and the wrong thing to be avoided. When they behave appropriately, we use verbal praise to commend and appreciate them. Offering verbal rewards to children does not stop adults from engaging them in conversation or dialogue as to what makes the family or the environment function smoothly. It is actually the combination of praise when they do the right thing, reprimand when they do what is wrong and dialogue in which they are made to understand why they were praised and why they were reprimanded that result in effective and positive parenting and this is the proper way to bring up children. When one praises a child for behaving appropriately or doing something good and fol-
lows this appreciation with a conversation or explanation to make the child understand the adult’s action- that is why the child is praised, it prepares the child for understanding and accepting rebuke when he/she behaves inappropriately or does something wrong especially when the rebuke is equally followed by an explanation of why the child is rebuked. Training children in this way is not and cannot be Manipulation. It should be noted, however, that training or child-upbringing from this perspective should not be personalised in the sense that attention should not be drawn to the trainer or the trainee. For example: An expression such as ‘I like what you are doing’ is better phrased thus: Well done! I am happy about what you are doing because it is the right/appropriate thing to do. This latter expression points to the moral dimension of the child’s action and the effect of the child’s action on the person making the statement. Another expression: You are a bad child/ you are stupid to have done that is better phrased: what you have done makes me very sad because it is wrong/ inappropriate and I cannot say ‘well done’ to you for that. Using praise in this context cannot be regarded as sugar-coating or taking advantage of children’s dependence on adults. From birth, children are dependent on their primary care givers for survival. Their survival needs include physiological, safety, social-relatedness and esteem needs. In satisfying these needs the children have to depend on adults, and the adults have to ensure that the children receive adequate and balanced feeding, stimulation, affection and they are socialised. In socialising them the adults use praise (approval) and correction ( punishment) to build their self-confidence, self-competence, self- esteem, creative potential, conscience and morality. It is when we have used the combination of praise/reprimand/ dialogue to build their confidence and competence in the preschool years that make them during the middle childhood usually called the school year period (6-11yrs) to be competitive and eager to show adults their competence level in whatever they believe they are good at. It also builds their creative potentials. The five reasons given by Mr. Kohn appear
to have been analysed out of developmental context. Within developmental context, praises are used purposively not to manipulate children or create praise junkies, or steal children’s pleasure or make them lose interest or reduce their achievement potentials. On the contrary the use of praises in the course of bringing up children is to help them develop self-confidence and competence, conscience and sound moral character and to be able to take pride in their own achievements. Saying we should stop using praises is like saying we should stop reinforcing our children for behaving appropriately and our children should stop learning appropriate behaviour. We are all learning animals and learning is based on reinforcement principles. In learning, positive behaviour is expected to be reinforced so that more of it can be produced and negative
It is actually the combination of praise when they do the right thing, reprimand when they do what is wrong and dialogue in which they are made to understand why they were praised and why they were reprimanded that result in effective and positive parenting and this is the proper way to bring up children. behaviour is to be punished so that it becomes extinct. Since we cannot stop learning we cannot stop reinforcing. Even we adults desire to be appreciated for good deeds much less children. That is the reason why we have recognition and award nights in organisations. One can never be wrong in recognising good deeds. The use of praise is part and parcel of human behaviour. It cannot be divorced from it. It is also said that you cannot give what you don’t have. If you do not experience being praised when growing up it becomes difficult for you to praise others as adults and the use of praise in this case may become artificial and manipulative and carry all the reasons propounded by Kohn. I agree with him that the motive for what we say matters. If we use praise for the reasons he puts forward, then we are using praise for the wrong reasons. If we use praise to help our children to develop potentials for success in life and for becoming responsible citizens of their society then we are using praise for the right reasons and we should not stop to use praise or say ‘well done’ when it matters. It is using praise for the right reasons that lie within the developmental context. harmony
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I also want to agree with Kohn that we should not use praise lavishly or frivolously. As the saying goes – “excess of everything is bad.” When we use praise excessively or lavishly or frivolously it may become meaningless and may not achieve the long term goal that it ought to achieve. What this means is that for the use of praise to achieve its purpose it should be used in moderation and meaningfully. At the cultural level and in Nigeria in particular Nigerian families have different ways of portraying and teaching their family values and beliefs. Yoruba families for example have praise sayings for their families (oriki ati oruko idile) and they give praise names to their children. A family’s praise name such as “ayandola” reflects that the child is from the family of professional drummers and that the profession has brought wealth to the family. A family’s praise saying such as “omo wa a gba temi to mi” means that the child belongs to a family that is not covetous and who is content with what she has. From the foregoing examples it is evident that the use of praises to teach our values and beliefs to our children is entrenched in our culture in Nigeria. Therefore for us Nigerians it is not hypocritical or manipulative to use praises to appreciate our children’s good deeds and appropriate behaviour, rather it is developmental and cultural and therefore appropriate to say good job or well done to our children to appreciate and reinforce their effort in the right direction.
The “non-judgmental” freedom and unconditional involvement that Kohn advocates for is similar to the indulgent parenting that is described above. Such parenting style will do the child more harm than good. It is doubtful if this type of parenting approach will actually bring out the creative potential in the children. The authoritative parenting style is a much better option for bring up our children. Interestingly in a recent study on parenting carried out by me a combination of authoritarian/ authoritative hybrid parenting approach was found among Yoruba parents. A high percentage of the children studied reported that their parents were authoritarian some of the time and authoritative at other times. This finding is novel but not surprising. This is because Yoruba parents in their parenting style demand obedience and compliance to parental instructions and directives, but also show sensitivity and affection towards their children and engage them in dialogue as to why it is important for their children to comply with their directives. In addition,this hybrid combination of parenting was found to have had positive impact on the children’s personality characteristics and achievement similar to the impact of authoritative parenting. At this point I would like to say that the authoritative parenting still seems to be the best approach to a balanced upbringing of children. As a guide please find below some tips for effective and positive parenting:
TIPS FOR POSITIVE PARENTING:
yy Parents should be warm, supportive, and affectionate towards the children rather than being punitive. yy When disciplining children parents should use reasoning that the child can understand yy Parents should provide opportunities for the child to learn about others’ perspectives and feelings yy Parents should involve children in family decision making and in thinking about moral decisions yy Parents should model moral behaviours and thinking and provide opportunities for children to engage in such behaviours and thought yy Parents should provide information to children about what behaviours are expected and why yy Parents should foster in their children an internal rather than an external moral orientation
If parents can practise all these tips they would be laying a solid foundation for the balanced development of children who will emerge as responsible adults in the society. This is where I rest my case. Thank you. References:
yy Akinsola E.F. (2011). Relationships between Parenting Style, Family Type, Personality Disposition and Academic Achievement of young People in Nigeria. Ife Psychologia: An International Journal. 19 (2) pp. 246-267. yy King, Laura A. (2008). The science of Psychology: An appreciative View PP 107-157 New York: McGraw-Hill yy Sternberg R.J. (2001). Psychology: In Search of the Human Mind. (3rd edition) PP 375. New York: Harcourt Inc. Akinsola, Ph D, is a consultant developmental psychologist at the Department of Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Lagos, Nigeria.
BOOK S HELF
Recommended Reading By Ibiso Graham-Douglas
Books for children ages 6-12 yy Anna Hibiscus (Cassava Republic) yy Tambari in Dukana (Longman) yy Femi and his dog (Longman) yy No School For Eze By Ifeoma Okoye (Farafina Books) yy The Yellow Mosquito Net (Cassava Republic) yy The Rising Sun - Barack Obama Stories (Lantern Comics) yy The Risen Sun - Barack Obama Stories (Lantern Comics) yy Sun Of Hope - Barack Obama Stories (Lantern Comics) yy The Sun Of Change- Barack Obama Stories (Lantern Comics) yy Preye and the sea of Plastics (Cassava Republic) For Older Children / Teenagers yy Arrows of Rain (Longman) yy What Sunny saw in the flames by Nnedi Okorafor - (Cassava Republic) yy The Last days at Forcados High School by A H Mohammed (Cassava Republic) yy Nelson Mandela - (Lantern Hero Series) yy Obafemi Awolowo - (Lantern Hero series) yy Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Adichie - (Farafina Books) yy Burma Boy by Biyi Bandele - (Farafina Books) yy Equino’s Travels (Longman) yy 17 Secrets by Fela Durotoye (F D Media) yy The Teen Leader by Zannie Odoko (Teen Africa Renaissance) Ibiso Graham-Douglas founded and runs Paperworth Books (www.paperworthbooks.com), a book business comprising a bookshop, publishers, libraries development and book advocacy. She strongly believes in harnessing indigenous creativity content.
d i sco u rse ma k i n g n i g er i a tr u l y f i t for ch i l d ren
here can be no development without equitable development. Careful planning and budgeting of national resources are critical to ensure access for all citizens everywhere to essential social services and commodities. At UNICEF, we strongly believe that equitable development begins with children who should have a first call on national resources.
Children are not objects of charity; they are full-fledged citizens with rights and responsibilities which they must live up to in accordance with their evolving maturity. All children have a right to adequate and proper nutrition, decent affordable health care and quality basic education. They have a right to grow up well-protected and with guidance that will allow them to mature into responsible adults and parents, productive members of society who will in turn be able to establish and care for their own families. This includes children’s right to know – the right of accessing information and freely expressing themselves in matters that concern them. For children to grow up healthy and safe, robust systems need to be firmly in place. Nigeria needs a primary health system which is affordable and acceptable for children and their families, an education system that meets standards of quality and relevance for learners, and a child protection system that is sensitive to the challenges children must navigate as they go through childhood and adolescence. This includes a child justice system that looks at alternatives to punishment for children in conflict with the law. It is - unfortunately –commonplace for people to have a very anti-social attitude toward children in conflict with the law when these are in fact children that we have failed collectively as adults, in our various roles as parents, politicians, policy-makers, social workers etc. Children are first of all children, and some go through precarious episodes on their lives that leave them vulnerable to unscrupulous adults keen to use them for illicit purposes. I cannot overemphasise the role and importance of parenting for the healthy growth and development of children. Parents and guardians need all the knowledge and support they can get from professionals, from each other, and from members of their communities to raise their children in accordance with sound practices of positive and nurturing child-rearing. Systems are not limited to the official social and justice sectors. Many actors have a role to play in creating networks to support the safety and well-being of children. If we look broadly at civil society, the newly emerged Child Protection Networks, now active in 22 out of 36 states, stand out as dedicated NGO coalitions, growing in strength and number and playing a significant part in monitoring the situation of children in their particular geographical areas. I take the emergence of these networks as an indication of a growing, critical mass of people genuinely interested in making their society a safe place for children. If we look at families and communities – in themselves a system or web of systems – there are several ways that people can influence how children grow up and are treated in their homes, schools and communities. School-based management committees are an example of an interface between school management and parents where issues of teaching quality, learner retention, safety, budgets or any other legitimate concern may be slated for discussion and consensus on solutions that fit a particular school in a particular community. For systems to be in place, investment is critical. Capital investment in basic social services must be based on population data and carefully budgeted to meet the needs of specific populations in specific areas. To plan and effectively deliver social services – routine immunisation, routine health checks, education etc. – predictability of funding is essential at every stage and level of Government. Without it, the availability of commodities and staff at a health centre, school or other point of service is jeopardised. Facilitating population access to services is another important issue which in-
Making Nigeria truly Fit for Children volves the provision of adequate infrastructures and availability of extra cash at household level for every family to take advantage of basic services. Once in place, the uptake and continued use of social services invariably depend on their quality. Dialogue between service providers and users is essential, and the users – ordinary men, women and children – need to take an active and responsible role in demanding quality services. In summary, making systems work is hard work. It requires constant dialogue between users and providers; lesson-learning; documentation and adaptation. Doing it in a country with 36 plus 1 states; 774 LGAs, and several hundreds of ethnic groups and linguistic communities makes it a daunting, although not insurmountable challenge. Working in partnership, the only way forward UNICEF engages in partnerships across a wide range of sectors and they all have one pursuit in common: the best interest of the child. Clearly, the Government of Nigeria - at various levels - has a lead role in shaping the future for growing generations, but families, communities, civil society organisations and the private sector all have potential and particular strengths which they can bring to bear for the children of Nigeria. If it takes a village to educate a child, it takes all living forces to educate and develop a nation. I would like to end this script with a call to action for the private sector. The private sector can greatly contribute to an equitable socio-economic development of Nigeria and private companies have every reason to invest in children, in one way or another – after all, children are the future workforce and consumers of any society. We are seeing a gradual increase in CSR reports from private enterprises interested in reporting back to stakeholders as well as shareholders on the way they do business. I believe this is a positive trend. In future, we would like to see even more CSR work focused on children – not just in the shape of charity but also as innovations for children, family-friendly policies and practices in the work place and so on. Last June, in partnership with Save the Children and the UN Global Compact, UNICEF launched Children’s Rights and Business Principles, a compact of ten principles that businesses should aspire to respect and promote in various areas of child welfare, from product safety concerns to child labour. These principles have been developed to complement existing standards for good corporate governance with a child rights perspective. They are intended as an input for companies to reflect on their business models and practices to gradually bring them into sync with sound principles for child welfare. Nigeria can do it. It has the financial resources, the social capital – its people - the intellectual acumen and spirit to persevere in the quest to make Nigeria a great place for children to grow up. At UNICEF, we pledge our continued commitment to support the Government and People of Nigeria in their quest to make this great nation truly Fit for Children. Boyer is deputy representative, UNICEF Nigeria. For more on the principles highlighted in this piece, please visit: http://www.unglobalcompact.org/Issues/human_rights/childrens_principles.html harmony
a d v ent u re
e v a h u o y When e h t n i e m i t all the world…. By Bolla Bello
ither because you didn’t pass the required subjects to get you admitted into university after your secondary school education, and so had to attend remedial classes to resit the examinations, or that you did make the requisite subjects but didn’t scale JAMB or post-JAMB. So, you had to wait…. In my case, my parents felt –and I agreed – that I was too young to proceed to the university. My dad suggested volunteering – and I also agreed. Unlike many things in life, volunteering is about choice; free from pressure to act from others. It is about giving your time, energy and skills freely. The year was 2004. The first step I took after deciding to volunteer was to register at (LIVA) Live Vanguard, a Non-Governmental Organisation in Osogbo, Osun State. They were in partnership with BC (British Council) & VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas) for recruiting young people for volunteering. From November 2004 through January 2005, I was attending all their events and partaking in LIVA activities. It was during this period I registered to be a volunteer. Nine of us were chosen from diverse cultures and in February we all came together for orientation before embarking on our journey. Eighteen volunteers came together at Hampstead Heath YHA, London for “Global Xchange 1” which we called “GX1.” Nine of us had just flown in from Nigeria. The other nine had been recruited from all around the UK. We came together because we shared a vision for the future - a future where the colour of your skin, the belief you hold, and the passport you carry - do not matter. A future where every human being is a member of a global community. A future where there are no borders and boundaries. We we spent the he first three out of our six months in Glasgow, Scotland. High up north, where I battled the forces of nature and the difficulties that came up from sharing lives with people of a different culture. The remaining three months we spent in Ibadan, capital of Oyo State, Nigeria. In the blazing heat we had to face an entirely different set of issues. During our time on the programme, all volunteers lived with host families in the host communities. We worked with various charities and organisations. While the overall theme of the exchange was HIV/AIDs awareness, the placements were varied and included organisations dealing with other issues, for example ‘Pensioners Action Centre’. As volunteers, myself and my team changed many lives, and gained a deeper understanding of other cultures. It was an opportunity for us to build our intercultural skills, engage in their communities and network with our peers in other societies. I was able to put my skills, energy and personal qualities to work by helping people break out of ignorance on HIV/AIDs. During GX, we had Community Action Days that we organised. On those days we all went into the community and worked together as a team on a project.
On our first CAD, we helped Raleigh International, Scotland by gutting their basement. They had moved into their current offices a year before and really hadn’t done very much with the rooms in the basement. The task took about four hours and at the end of it, Raleigh International was left with two (relatively) clean rooms in which to continue their work on the Motive8 Project. Hard work but definitely worth it. Govan was the venue for our second CAD; we’d decided to do a litterpick. The logic behind it being that if we made a visible change, with some hope, the residents’ attitudes would change and ultimately result in behavioural change. Areas in New York City and Brixton, London have been similarly regenerated, showing that a little effort can go a long way. Guess what? A few weeks after, some of the team members went back to that community and found litter bins everywhere and the environment was a lot cleaner. Even though we didn’t know where the bins came from we were happy to see change. Later, we decided to hit the High Street of Govan. The aim was to increase HIV awareness by handing out AIDS (Red) Ribbons. All in all we felt the day had been a success: even as there were some unpleasant encounters, overall, people were willing to listen to what we had to say. I was deeply moved when I met a grown Scottish man living with AIDs. He had travelled to a foreign country and while there he had an accident and needed blood transfusion. This is how his blood was infected with HIV. What really touched me was that he was still living his life normally; he had a job and was never discriminated against. I held on to this man’s story all through the programme, letting everyone I talked to personally or with my team know that being infected with HIV doesn’t label you as an outcast or mean it’s the end of the world. I shared this story with some of the Female Sex Workers in Ibadan who we talked to. And discussed with them the importance of knowing their HIV status and why it was important to use protection especially for some of them who had children living with them in the brothel. They had to know this because STDs are not only transmitted through sex but also by sharing sharp objects that have been used by an infected person and if they are not careful they could pass to their children some of these diseases. While in Nigeria, between June and August - we decided to set one day aside per week (Friday) so we could increase the impact we had on our community. We also realised that, to really make an impact we would have to focus on a few areas, so we chose ‘environmental awareness’ and HIV/AIDs (specifically, the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDs). Finally, we decided that we had to follow a multi-sectoral approach to be able to reach as many people as we could in the limited time. The folk in Orogun community; students at Yinbol College and some education, media and health care professionals, and even Youth Corps members would remember our interactions with them – for a long while to come. Volunteering is truly amazing: it is the perfect vehicle to discover something you are really good at and develop a new skill. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” It is never too late to learn new skills and no reason why you should stop adding to your knowledge just because you are young, in employment or have finished education. Planning and implementing a major fundraising can develop your goal setting, planning and budgeting skills. Managing and training other volunteers helps to develop decision-making and training skills. These are examples of skills that can enhance a career but you don’t have to develop skills with the intention of facilitating your career. Painting a mural or making banners for International Volunteer Day – to celebrate the wonderful and priceless work that volunteers do – could gently push you to discover graphics and art talents. You would not only make new friends, but you would also be touching lives. What are you waiting for? After her volunteering, Miss Bello got admission into Ajayi Crowther University where she obtained a B Sc in Mass Communication. She’s now a copywriter at JWC/LWT advertising agency. If you have reactions to her story or you have your own story of adventure to share, please go ahead and send to firstname.lastname@example.org
Frequent traveller, my foot By Abiodun Olufowobi
hief Nnamdi Agesheku is a renowned entrepreneur with his hands in all the major pies from politics to oil and gas business. He is a frequent traveller to the UK and all other Western capitals - for business and pleasure. He had made extensive preparations and informed all “his people” that he would be in London “live” for the London Olympics 2012. How wrong he was: his application to It has become a major pain for me that renew his 10-year UK many of my compatriots (especially those Visa was not only denied, a 10-year ban was with long standing UK travel history) still find themselves in very embarrassing placed on future applications. Didn’t I just position when the ban penalty is invoked say he was a frequent against them for innocuous acts which traveller to the UK and may be independent of their will. the world’s capitals? Point one: UK Visa renewal is NOT a given and NOT merely a routine for long time travellers. On April 1 2008, a Statement of Changes in the UK Immigration Rules came into force amending the general grounds for refusal of an application for Leave to Enter or Entry Clearance. Paragraph 320 (7A) sets out the following provision as a mandatory (automatic) ground for refusal: False Representations: Rule 320 7(A) in force since October 2008, makes its mandatory for UK visa applications to be refused where the applicant has engaged “deception”, false document or “false representation” in the application. The Rule stipulated that entry clearance (Visa) must be denied: (7A) “where false representations have been made or false documents have been submitted (whether or not material to the application, and whether or not to the ap-
cant’s knowledge), or material facts have not been disclosed, in relation to the application.” The penalty which UK Immigration Rules prescribed for this infractions and which the ECOs happily dispense is a ban from future applications for a period of 10 years (the ECOs have been generous with the 10 year ban, trust me). A false document has been defined to include: “a genuine document which has been altered or tampered with; a counterfeit document (one that is completely false); a genuine document that is being used by an impostor, a genuine document which has been fraudulently obtained or issued; a genuine document which contains a falsified or counterfeit visa/endorsement. Whereas a false representation is made when an applicant or third party lies or makes a false statement in an application, either orally or in writing. The application will be refused even if the false representation is not material to it. This means that the false representation does not need to be relevant to the decision to grant entry clearance (for instance, a lie about your academic credentials in a visit visa application) The application will also be refused even where the applicant was not aware that false representations have been harmony
made (for instance, where you are not aware that the submitted Tax Certificate is a forgery). The ECOs however must maintain a higher balance of Probabilities as the Standard of proof in these cases. It has become a major pain for me that many of my compatriots (especially those with long standing UK travel history) still find themselves in very embarrassing position when the ban penalty is invoked against them for innocuous acts which may be independent of their will. No sympathy given however because justice in the UK, unlike in some other climes, is status blind. You don’t have to be a lawyer to read that the wordings of this rule allows little room for the role of human error which one all too often finds in Visa application forms completed summarily and without close attention to detail. For instance, apart from the normal invocation against falsity on major issues like the previous passport that was not declared, I have seen the invocation in a case where in the letter of invitation, the UK Sponsor indicated that he is inviting the cousin whereas in the Visa application form, the applicant indicated that the UK sponsor is his brother (the indigenous norm of calling all relatives as brother and sister will not be excused by the ECO and once the ECO decided that the familiar description amounted to a falsity or deception, the Rule is invoked and the applicant may be banned for 10 years. Also, the materiality of the alleged false representation is apparently irrelevant for the engagement of the Rule. Similarly, that the alleged false representation occurred as a result of mistaken belief on the part of the applicant, or their relative, also appears to have no bearing upon the application of the rule as the applicant’s knowledge or lack of knowledge is also immaterial. I have been involved in a case where the applicant had been a regular traveller to the UK for at least 30 years but on a renewal application for the 10-years visa, an overzealous Personal Assistant in his office, included an “irregular” tax clearance certificate in the application package. The gentleman involved, believing that the PA had done all he has to do went and submitted the package. The ECO discovered the irregularity on the face of the Tax Clearance Certificate and promptly invoked the 320 7(a) – the applicant was banned for 10 years.
Entry clearance applications has assumed such a delicate state that virtually all applicants, except of course, you are so much familiar with the extant Rules, need professional guidance in making an application and even a renewal. We have seen cases where student study visas were refused in the face of abundance of funds and all other logistics but where the student was left on his own to putting the visa application package together. Of course the avoidable blunders may be committed and all the previously transferred funds to the school will have to wait until the visa refusal is sorted. MY TWO PENCE When in doubt of the authenticity of any document – leave it out. Ensure you inspect all documents to accompany your application. Leave any question for which you are in doubt or do not have the answer on the VAF blank – omission is explainable. Do not patronise touts in whatever form for the packaging, submission or the procurement of any document. It’s cheaper to consult a specialist. Be consistent and abide by the strict meaning of stated relationships – a “brother” cannot be same as “cousin.” Leave out any item or document which may suggest a different intention from the purport of your intended class of visa – the discovery of your academic credential in your baggage at the point of entry may lead the Entry officer to the strict conclusion that you have the “intention to work” and he will be disposed to cancelling your “leave to enter” and deport you. Remember the online version of your VAF is before the Entry officer at the point of entry – so be consistent in your story. When things go wrong at the point of entry – don’t volunteer information that is not asked – request to speak with a lawyer/ your UK Sponsor – if you have problem understanding the accent of the Immigration Officer, demand for an interpreter – do not sign any “waiver document” unless your lawyer is present. Considering the steep cost of UK Visas and the pain of a denial, it may be cost effective if you consult your lawyer about your application before you submit – Reconsideration and appeal procedures are costly and you will require the service of a specialist.
It has become a major pain for me that many of my compatriots (especially those with long standing UK travel history) still find themselves in very embarrassing position when the ban penalty is invoked against them for innocuous acts which may be independent of their will.
Otunba Olufowobi is a legal practitioner. Email: email@example.com
b ar & d e l i cac i es
Everything in the Garden is
Rosé By Laura Clay
osé wine seems to create a bit of controversy. It might be either too sweet or too fruity for white wines’ drinkers and too light or too fresh for those who prefer red wine. And for those completely out of touch with their feminine side, it’s just too darned pink. But rosé is perfect for so many occasions and it pretty much nearly always lifts your mood, puts a spring in your step and a smile on your face. Let’s get the most popular pink out of the way first - o from USA. This sweeter style appeals to many, I might even stretch to saying the masses (without meaning to offend anyone), for its tinned strawberry fruitiness and heavily confected sweetness. It is, without doubt, not an ideal choice for a good food match other than perhaps with red fruit desserts. But even then, its low level of acidity would struggle to complement even a Summer Pudding. Much better to drink it on its own, if you must, or better still go for a pink Moscato such as Innocent Bystander from Australia makes a fine example, neatly packaged in a half (or 75cl) bottle and with a crown cap. At only 5.5% alcohol this makes a great picnic and lunchtime wine, slightly fizzy with rose petal, Turkish Delight and Summer fruits enchantment. Or try the ever-popular, well-made Martini Rossi Rosé. Its off-dry zesty and elderflower flavours are wonderfully appealing and with lively effervescence to boot, who can fail to be won over by its charms? More serious rosés hail from Provence in the South of France where the warm climate cries out for these gently refreshing, lightly spiced and white peppery wines which also reveal a modicum of complexity. Enticingly pale in colour, the wines are made predominantly from Cinsault, Mourvèdre, Carignan and, particularly good for rosés in general, Grenache but also, increasingly, with a dash of other varieties such as Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Despite costing considerably more than the average bottle of wine, these are still wines which are not meant for keeping. Nevertheless rosés can occasionally age. A favourite is aged rosé Champagne and a 1989 Louis Roederer Rosé drunk in 2010 at 21 years old, tasted as if had just come of age. It was enjoyed with a lamb dish which seemed an ideal accompaniment and an experience to be remembered forever with relish. Only sparkling pink wines may be made by adding still red wine, all others must be produced by leaving the grapes in contact with the skins, known as the saignée or bleeding method. The length of time may vary from just a few hours of skin contact to a full day or two depending on the style the wine-maker is after. He must extract colour from the skins but he will also be extracting tannin and weight at the same time which he may not want, so great skill and attention is needed to ensure the right balance. Rosé can be made wherever red grapes are grown and if fuller styles are your thing, try rosés from Cabernet or Merlot from Bordeaux, where they also make Clairet – not quite a rosé not quite a red, or from the Rhône Valley, specifically Tavel. These are often more savoury than fruity, more ruby than pink and may even boast a few tannins. For a nice balance of weight and fruitiness, the UK comes up trumps: Chapel Down English Rose is delicious with tomato-based dishes.
Whatever rosé you are drinking, whether it is salmon, cerise, coral, or orange-pink, make sure it is served well-chilled but with a warm heart and see how it brightens your day. Clay is a wine presenter and educator as well as a writer. The UK Champagne Ambassador for 2010, she is an accredited Bordeaux Tutor and Chairman of the Midland Wine and Spirit Association. She is Honorary Secretary of the Association of Wine Educators and a certified tutor for the WSET. harmony
hea l th
From the mum’s womb by JANE ELEODImu
he word “growth” indicates an increase from the original size. Growth actually starts intrauterine (i.e. in the womb). The bulk of a child’s growth and development in later life is determined by the mother’s nutritional status during gestation and lactation. And then nutrition in pregnancy actually starts from pre-pregnancy stage. For example, a woman’s weight before conception can actually determine the presence or absence of IUGR (IntraUterine Growth Retardation) or LWB (Low Birth). These conditions can actually affect a child’s growth and development in life. But then “nutrition in Pregnancy and Lactation” is another topic entirely.
First six months of life
Breastfeeding is a crucial aspect of a child’s growth and development. Research has shown that children breastfed exclusively for at least four to six months have better response ability, normal physical growth and proper cognitive (mental) functions. WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for at least six months. Breast milk has all the necessary nutrients in the right quantity and quality for infants 7MONTHS – 2 YEARS
At this stage, the child must have used up all the storage of nutrients acquired while in the womb. Growth is rapid during the first year of life; infants should double their birth weight by seven months and triple it by age 1. No basic nutrition knowledge therefore should be spared at this crucial stage of growth. Here children are introduced to complementary feeds in addition to breast milk.
These feeds can be modified variably from our local foods Modified local foods are: i. More economical, safer and healthier. ii. Enables the mother to follow up and understand what the child is eating iii. The child can share the family meals with the mother and other members of the family. This creates faster adaptation and family bonding. Prepared formulas are also available for convenience. General rules for preparing feeds 1. High level of hygiene is needed to avoid any form of infection to the child 2. Feeds should be semi-fluid, spice less and salt less 3. Solid foods should be cooked very soft and mashed to avoid choking by the child. 4. Avoid high fibre foods, e.g. fresh fruit juice can be given but sieved and diluted. 5. High protein intake is necessary for building vital tissues. 6. Feeds must match the tenderness of baby’s stomach/GIT 7. Avoid acidic foods, stimulants and concentrates 8. Iron is highly needed for blood building and to prevent any form of anemia. Here suitable sources of iron include fish and dairy foods. 9. Calcium is needed in the right quantity (RDA of 1,200mg) for proper bone structure, musculature teeth development 10. Water; a greater percentage of a child’s total body weight is made up of water. Children are prone to dehydration and a dehydrated child is at the mercy of numerous infections and diseases. 11. Feed the child with patience, love and care. 12. Other minerals and vitamins should be inculcated adequately for proper mental (cognitive) development 13. Energy nutrients, basically carbohydrates are needed for protein sparing. 3-11 YEARS (SCHOOL AGE CHILDREN)
Here, the child’s growth rate becomes irregular. Growth spurt occurs at this stage. Children develop increased appetites and eat accordingly. Increased activities in school means increased energy needs. A child’s energy needs increases as they grow but protein needs decreases. Children’s appetites fluctuate in response to physiological, emotional and physical conditions. Careful food selection is essential to ensure
that a child receives the right amount of nutrients. Diet is targeted at proper social, psychological, physical, cultural, and learning pattern development. Failure to thrive The term “failure to thrive” is used in children’s health management to describe any child who does not measure up to growth and development. The following factors may be involved: i. Clinical Disease: -Nervous disorders, endocrine diseases, congenital diseases or intestinal absorption anomalies. ii. Neuromotor Problems: Poor sucking or abnormal muscle tone, poor reflexes, and eating, chewing and swallowing problems. iii. Dietary Practices: Parental misconceptions and mythical health beliefs about what constitutes a “normal” diet for children, inappropriate feedings or improper dilution of fluids. iv. Unusual Nutrient Needs Or Losses: Certain children may have special nutrient needs or nutrient losses may occur as a result of inadequate absorptions. Mal-absorption syndromes or metabolic disorders such as Galactoseamia, phenylketonuria, lactose intolerance etc may require not just increased dietary intake but appropriate dietary modification. v. Psycho-Social Problems: E.g. new environments, bullying at school, fear, anxiety etc Breakfast, in-between meals (snacks), lunch packs and dinners are necessary. ADOLESCENCE (11-18 YEARS)
The onset of puberty brings another stage of rapid growth which continues to adult maturity. Sex hormones and increased growth hormones bring multiple body changes and a voracious appetite. During this period, long bones, sex characteristics develop and fat and muscle mass increase. Two extreme forms of eating disorders occur at this stage 1. Bulimia Nervosa (Binge Eating). This is common with adolescent boys as a result of increased appetite for growth, muscular development and increased activities. 2. Anorexia Nervosa (The Fear Of Eating). This is common with girls due to popular social information on “slim fitness” “thin is beautiful” etc. This is a socio-psychological menace and can lead to nutrient deficient disorders.
p ersona l i ty
… s e i b a b Making er matters and oth -Osagie a iw G o t a s O f ney of Pro r u jo e f li e h t … y Nkanu Egbe meInterview B is it that it is so y h W . F IV r. sM ew millenn is th in We know you a d r o w ecome the buzz thing that has b hich is fertilisw , n nium? o ti a is il rt itro fe body in the VF means in-v e th f o e id ts u n egg o ct ing the huma ’s sperm, colle n a m a e k ta u ry. laboratory. Yo in the laborato it e is il rt fe d n a and the wife’s egg, ells, four cells c o tw to in g d dividin an’s womb, an m o When it starts w e th to in n inject it and the woma e iv eight cells, you rv su l il w of cases, it gned for wom si e d y in about 30% ll a ip c n y. It was pri n’t will have a bab r those that do o s, e b tu e th f age o pregnancy. ic p to c e f o en with block se u low ll, maybe beca n the man has e have tubes at a h w s le p u o c as to treat ICSI, so that h d e ll Also it is used a c e u iq n h by the tec sperm count; ns for IVF. o ti a ic d in e th expanded
p ersona l i ty ma k i n g b a b i es an d other matters
It has been a great development because many years ago I and Professor Bomi Ogedengbe looked at about 100 infertile women who had tubal disease, by doing a procedure called laparoscopy. In about 40% of them, the only treatment that could solve their problem is IVF. We started IVF in 1984. Me, Prof. Oladapo Ashiru, Dr. Akin Abisogun, Mr. Ayo Sanyaolu, and Mr Aro, were involved. We are the first to get successful IVF in 1984 in the whole West, East and Central Africa; but a live baby from IVF first resulted from our work in 1989. Since then we have had many IVF clinics all over Nigeria and West Africa. By the last count, there were 29 IVF clinics in Nigeria, of which Lagos alone has about 10; Abuja – five; Port Harcourt, four. Other countries too have: Ghana has four, Togo - one, Gambia - one, Burkina Faso - one and maybe Cotonou very soon. In other parts of the continent, Kenya has three clinics, Uganda - three, South Africa has several, while am not sure if Tanzania has any yet. The main issue about IVF is the cost, which stays at half a million–1.2 million naira depending on where you are. It is more expensive in Abuja than any other part of Nigeria. In Lagos, you can do IVF with as little as N500, 000 or as much as N900, 000. Currently, it’s only being done in government hospitals, at the National Hospital in Abuja. University of Benin Teaching Hospita,l and University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital are about to start. They are cheaper than private hospitals. The following must be available to run a very successful IVF: three to four generators, double incubators and borehole. Very soon LUTH will start IVF again and they have asked me to assist them. (Enugu Teaching Hospital is about to start too). IVF is not the only form of managing difficulty in fertility It is not, but it is the most spectacular. We have artificial insemination where you inject the sperm into the woman’s cervix or uterus when you think she is going to ovulate; that one is easy to set up. We train people in that, and then upscale them to IVF which is more difficult to set up. If a woman is not ovulating, she cannot have any eggs she can fertilise, so she cannot be pregnant. That can be treated using tablets which give rise to multiple births; (not more than triplets), but if you use the injections, like we do for IVF, people have been known to give birth to seven to eight children abroad. In Nigeria, people have been known to have four babies at a go! My advice is that specialists should not transfer more than three embryos, so that the most you can have is triplets; but when they inject four to five embryos, the complications for the mother and baby become high. Mostly in our clinics here we normally have one, at times two babies because we don’t transfer more than three embryos to any woman. Apart from IVF, people know you for your work in fertility. Why did you choose Obstetrics and Gynaecology? My choosing obstetrics and gynaecology, firstly had a lot to do with the hospital in England where I trained: Kings College Hospital University, London. I finished from Cambridge University, where I did my first three years. I took a degree in pathology. At that time Cambridge University did not have a clinical school. All Cambridge graduates who wanted to read medicine had to go to London Teaching Hospitals or to Oxford, some occasionally went to Birmingham. So I went to Kings College Hospital in London. Kings College Hospital has a very long reputation for producing Presidents of Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology…. So I ended up there and obviously I got influenced by what I saw and the practice of obstetrics at a very high level, and the fame and fortune that came to practitioners in London who read obstetrics and gynaecology. So coming from a country where child-
If a woman is not ovulating, she cannot be pregnant. That can be treated using tab lets which give rise to multiple births; (not mo re than triplets), but if you use the injections, like we do for IVF, people have been know n (in Nigeria) to have four babies at a go! bearing is so important, that affected my choice. Secondly, I had an uncle, now late, called Prof. Tira Belo Osagie, who was a gynaecologist, and was already practising in Nigeria when I was in medical school. He was the Provost of the (then) new College of Medicine in Benin, having been Chief Consultant of Lagos Island Maternity in Lagos; so I had in my family somebody who had already made a name in the field. Thirdly, my training in science where in Cambridge you do your first three years and you get a degree; I was already drifting towards scientific aspect of medicine. As part of obstetrics and gynaecology training you are allowed to take one year as an elective where you can do something else. So after doing one year of obstetrics and gynaecology, I then took a year to do Masters degree in endocrinology at Leeds University, that is, the study of hormones. When I finished that I was interested in things hormonal, things like contraceptives, how the fertility works, and how it can improve by using drugs; I qualified as an obstetrician and gynaecologist but with a special interest in endocrinology, so that is how I ended up where I am. Before I came to Nigeria I had already become a lecturer at the Kings College University of London Hospital. So I was involved in several World Health Organisation projects in the field of contraception at that time; I was in my late 20s, specialising in obstetrics and gynaecology with a Masters degree in endocrinology and working in a unit that was doing research with the WHO. Unlike now when the natural thing is for people to remain abroad and probably become a professor. eventually, or at least a con-
p ersona l i ty ma k i n g b a b i es an d other matters
sultant, as many of the younger ones are doing. Then, most of us who went to England, am talking of the 1960s, came back to Nigeria. In fact you would be seen as a failure if after schooling you didn’t come home, your parents would be very sad that you didn’t come home. So I eventually came home and was appointed by Lagos University Teaching Hospital. In those days things were much better than now: I was interviewed in London on behalf of LUTH, then I got a letter of appointment to the department of obstetrics and gynaecology at LUTH, my ticket and that of my wife and two children were sent to Nigeria Airways, so we came back to Nigeria. Within three months of coming to Nigeria. by Christmas 1978, I was in a three-bedroom flat at LUTH, so that was how things were very well-organised then. So here I was coming to a famous teaching hospital in Nigeria and with all this training and ideas behind, it was now a matter of not letting my vision to become dimmed by the temptations of the Nigerian society and am happy to say that now I’m over 60years my vision did not dim. I may have lost the opportunity to make money but am happy at what I am doing. I could have gone into cardiology which I was interested in and respiratory medicine, and I went to McGill University in Canada as a student to do an elective in respiratory medicine, but then I changed my mind to do obstetrics and gynaecology. Why is there more opportunity for IVF in Europe than in Africa? In fact if you were to ask the question in a different way, and say; “is there more need for IVF in Europe than in Africa?” the answer is NO. There is a greater need and greater unmet need in Africa and in developing countries in general, for IVF than there is in Europe, which has the technology and has been wise enough to invest in research and development. Many developing countries with the exception of India don’t place emphasis on research and development, they just stumble along and just get one or two people who decide to push and bring the technology into the country, which was what I and Prof. Ashiru did. We decided that there was a need for IVF, so he went to Nebraska to do the basic sciences in it, and I went to Monash University Teaching Hospital in Melbourne, Australia to learn the human aspect of it and then we combined to do IVF in Nigeria for the first time in 1984. Two or three hospitals in England do more IVF in a year than the whole of Nigeria does!! So we have a long way to go yet, considering our population of 150million. If I recall there was a time Late Prof. Olikoye Ransome Kuti was talking about the management of health care in Nigeria. He honed it on Primary Health Care. IVF, I believe, belongs to the tertiary area, but we have yet to meet the requirements of the primary health care. We have so many needs in Africa and Nigeria. What can be done by the public sector, civil society, private sector to step up the level of health care on our shores so that people will not have to fly abroad to go and access medical care. We have the human resources here but people still have to travel out. So what can be done to stem the tide of people, particularly, the rich and famous from travelling abroad for treatment? Professor Olikoye Ransome-Kuti… without doubt the best Minister of Health Nigeria ever had, was totally committed to Primary Health Care as the “ordinary man’s” only way out, because common things are common. If
you are able to treat all the diarrhoeas, vomiting and abrasions in the society, then you would have solved the health problem of many people. Malaria, vomiting, diarrhoea and all those sorts of things are what affect the majority of people; not heart attack or stroke, those are what the statistics show. And that is what Ransome Kuti believed in; make primary health care available and within near reach of everybody. Of course, once he left there, his philosophy was virtually abandoned and it’s only in the last four years or so, that the Primary Health Care Development Agency started trying to do the right things, not because they don’t know the correct thing but now they are committed to it and we are now beginning to see what Prof. Ransome -Kuti was thinking. There is no doubt about it, primary health care is the best way to care for the people; the masses. But when you were doing that, some other issues arose and initially Prof. Ransome-Kuti did not understand that. Let us imagine that indeed you provide widespread primary health care, where do the ones that primary health care can’t deal with go, if you neglect secondary and tertiary health care? It shows later on that he was quite aware of that because he started encouraging investments in secondary and tertiary health care, and this is where his colleagues used to criticise him a lot, because he would make statements like, for a place to be clean you don’t need millions, you just need soap and water; you don’t need money to do research but you cannot do any meaningful research without money. But that was Ransome Kuti for you; his life and philosophy. So, while anybody with intelligence will accept that primary health care is the solution to the
If you are able to treat all the diarrhoeas, vomiting and abrasions in the soc , then you would have solved the heiety alth problem of many people. Malaria, vomitin g, diarrhoea and all those sorts of things are what affect the majority of people; not heart attack or stroke, those are what the statistics show. And that is what (Olikoye) Ransome Kuti believed in; make primary health care available and within near reach of everybody.
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people’s health problem, you must also follow it up with investments in secondary and tertiary health care. For a start you need secondary and tertiary health care to train manpower because we can’t all be village doctors and nurses because people are living in the cities. I am very sensitive to that argument because when I was specialising in England, it was a very common question I used to be asked at the interviews. “You come from Nigeria; you say you want to go back to Nigeria... am talking about 35–36 years ago, a generation ago...why are you interested in being a registrar in London or doing Masters in endocrinology? You should just go back and go to general practice, do public health, do infectious diseases?” The white men used to ask me this question at every interview, and my answer always was “yes, we know, we need public health specialists, we need malaria specialists, but who is going to look after the specialised care?” So I was quite clear, I was correct in my argument because today there are hundreds of specialists in Nigeria. I’m a “super specialist”, in the sense that, I am sub-specialised. That is the answer to that, you need to develop primary health but you must also push secondary and tertiary health care along. The question then is whose responsibility, on whose shoulder does it lie, that should push for first of all, the Research and Development in these areas. And then the eventual propagation of hospitals for secondary and tertiary health care? Normally, primary health care should be local governments’ responsibility. Now, federal government, being the government of Nigeria, has a say in terms of policy, and through the National Health Council, the Governors have to agree to whatever is going to be done. They may agree that this year, local government is supposed to have X billion and these are supposed to be the priority for Nigeria; then they give local governments their money directly and hold local governments’ chairmen responsible for not performing. But since they are not giving them any money, they cannot hold them responsible; to the extent that local government employees, some of them, I have not checked this in a year or two, are paid by the state governments rather than by the local government; so there is no true decentralisation of the Nigeria’s health care system yet, and all the Governors know it, all the Minister know it, and the President of Nigeria knows it, but nobody is doing anything about it. Therefore, in an ideal system where you have true decentralisation, then the State Government can face secondary health care, and federal government can face tertiary health care, but what you find is that every State wants to have Teaching Hospital; they are no longer prepared to have specialist hospitals only. States have universities; they said it was because their people didn’t get places in the federal universities. Fine, but they all tried to have teaching hospitals. And some go as far as having teaching hospitals but don’t have teachers. They put half-baked people there to head the department, but that is their own headache. If that is what they want for their people, good luck to them. Now State governments are not satisfied to look at secondary, they also now go into tertiary; and federal government which is supposed to do tertiary is trying to do that but at the same time, it can see that primary health care is not functioning and is constantly under threat by some Governors; they say give us more money, it is our money because when you look at the movement of money divided in Nigeria, Nigeria should have about 10 states that look like Texas in terms of facilities, but there is no single state in Nigeria that has developed to where it should be. So what you are seeing in health is what you are seeing in the country, but it is worse because the slice of the cake that is for health is smaller than WHO recommended. We are not allocating enough percentage to health than has been al-
The no. 1 cause of infertility in problem women is: Tubal blockage. And this tubin blockage has three main causes: One - al sexually transmitted diseases, Gono Chlamydia; Two - abortion that is rrhoea, complicated by infection and Three - giv ing birth in an unhygienic environment. located for us; so we have a smaller cake and that cake is being dismantled anyhow. So let’s move from policy now to practice. We do have a high incidence of young women finding it challenging to conceive and the next option is, let’s go and see the specialist who will provide us with the solution so that these challenges can be met. But ordinarily, there should be a practice which everyone should cultivate, so that at the end of the road, they will be able to meet these challenges. What should a woman in her early 20s do to be able to say “okay I am priming myself for the task of child-bearing, such that I can conceive normally without having to wait till the time that is very challenging for me to conceive?” What should she do? For infertility, the number one solution is public education and public health. So you see we are coming back again to primary care. We can work out what causes infertility, know what we should do or what we should not. The no. 1 cause of infertility in problem in women is: Tubal blockage. And this tubal blockage has three main causes: One - sexually transmitted diseases, Gonorrhoea, Chlamydia; Two abortion that is complicated by infection and Three - giving birth in an unhygienic environment. So you can see that if you avoid unprotected sexual intercourse; if
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If unprotected sexual intercourse, having babies in unhygienic environment, prevention of unplanned pregnancy and therefore abortion are tackled, two-thirds of tube blockage is removed; and these are messages that (we are trying) to give to young people.
for instance, you cannot abstain, the man uses condom, or a woman can use cervical cap or vault cap that prevents the semen from going into her cervix or the uterus, and you will prevent the spreading of sexually transmitted diseases including HIV; and you would have removed the main cause of tubal disease in women. Secondly, if you don’t have intercourse or if you abstain, you cannot have unplanned pregnancy; so all the pregnancies that occur will be because you want them. If you don’t have unplanned pregnancy, you don’t have a need for abortion, and then you don’t have exposure to complications of abortion which also cause blockage of the tube and damage to the womb. So you can see that abstinence, using barrier method of contraception, can prevent like two-thirds of tubal blockage, which is the main cause of infertility in women. Thirdly, having a baby in an unhygienic environment; the so-called home delivery. Let’s not think we are talking about deliveries in an apartment in Ikoyi or Victoria Garden City, only a small percentage of Nigerians live in such places. We are talking of delivery in the mud hut of the villages of Nigeria, supervised by a traditional birth attendant or a grandmother, who succeeds in delivering babies because 80 per cent of pregnancies end up in normal delivery, but it is the 20 per cent that have complications which they cannot predict, that leads to the disaster. Again, the hygiene practices of using bare hands without washing the hands with antiseptics; no gloves, using old blades, knife or bamboo to cut the cord of the baby; these are all avenues of introducing infection; allowing the woman to be in labour for more than 24 hours with her waters broken; avenues for infection. Having too many examinations; she is saying she is in pains and every four hours someone puts an ungloved finger into her vagina to see whether the baby is due; these are all the things that induce infection; plus the general atmosphere the person had the baby. So if these things are tackled, unprotected sexual intercourse, having babies in unhygienic environment, prevention of unplanned pregnancy and therefore abortion; two-thirds of tube blockage is removed; and these are messages that (we are trying) to give to young people. I know some organisations, and I myself have been involved in some. We go to secondary school students and invite them to symposia, inform them of some of these health issues to make them aware. When we talk of Public Health Care messages and initiatives; the wom-
an who is pregnant must get some messages that you must be looked after during pregnancy. She should not assume that because her grandmother had eight children in the jungle of Anambra State or Edo State and they lived, so that is how she too must live. For a start, she is bigger than her grandmother, her babies are bigger, so she is more likely to have problems of delivery. Modern women have had years of eating unnatural foods than she had. Modern women have been eating rubbish food and the likes that are sold in the cities and she does not have her mother’s natural strength. So every woman must be looked after by a trained nurse, or a medical officer. You don’t need a professor to look after a pregnancy. It does means that when you see a professor in the labour room, it then means there is a problem, because there is no reason for a professor to come for a normal delivery. You get people that deceive patients by saying they take all deliveries themselves. I tell them they don’t have enough work yet, for if they do; by the time you are a consultant of 10 years standing, you will not be there delivering every baby in your hospital. And eventually even, people have seen that that is correct; they will get tired of waking up at 2.00am to deliver a normal delivery. So what is required is that every pregnant woman should be registered for antenatal care somewhere run by a trained nurse, medical officer, youth corps member, or run by a specialist. It doesn’t matter. Because once they go to such places, certain messages are given to them. You must take your iron and folic acid; you must take your anti-malarial drugs. If you have any bleeding or loss of water, you must come to the clinic, if you are having contractions, if your leg is swelling up, if you have headache, if you are seeing light in your eyes, you must come to the clinic. About 10 messages you have to teach them and from there the system takes over. Again, the practitioners must be told that if patients are having contractions and 24 hours nothing has happened, they must go to a referral centre. And it is better to refer them sooner than later, even if they are to be carried on a bicycle or carried in a wheel-barrow they will have time to get to the nearest health centre or hospital. These are very simple messages that can save lives. So if you are examining them you must wear sterile gloves so that you don’t introduce infection. So you can see that a number of things are quite clear. This is not rocket science. It is well known. It has been shown that when the percentage of women in the country that are being looked after by nurses and doctors increases, the percentage of women and babies that die reduces. It’s a very clear message. We have a lot of cosmopolitan ladies out there, some of them do some harmony
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high energy jobs, and most of these jobs are stressful. They get married, first, second, third year no delivery. Would these issues you have raised be a contributory factor to why that young city lady is not conceiving? If anybody is under stress, they produce abnormal levels of stress hormones, cortisone, adrenalin, and prolactin. In women, high level of prolactin causes infertility. Secondly, when your brain is busy calculating where you are going to get that 30 million that your general manager said you must bring by next week; that brain is not focused on ‘I want to get pregnant.’ So undue stress put on young women can contribute to delay in their getting pregnant. One way is by allowing abnormal chemistry to be occurring in their body; that is quite clear. But if they can manage crisis, because the society has been busy for over 25 years, saying that what a man can do, a woman can do better. So we have female airline captains, helicopter captains, and female generals in armies, female air marshals in air forces. So the women have shown that intellectually, and to a certain extent in terms of strength because they were not built for strength; they can get to where the man can get to, not in the same number. But there is a price, because in a normal woman’s role in Africa, she has to be herself in the first place; whatever she’s working, whether a farmer or teacher, she has to be a wife to somebody and a parent; and she is also in charge of the home. A normal man in Africa goes to work, makes the money and gives to the wife. He doesn’t want to be disturbed by, there’s shortage of gas or something. He feels that that’s not his territory; so the woman is doing about four jobs. So when she is getting to a certain position where she becomes about the branch manager of a bank, the tremendous pressure on her is so much. In fact, I feel sorry when I hear a woman is AGM, is ED, GM, because you know the amount of stress they are under, their biology and physiology alone, that is one. Secondly, the social stresses they are under. You send a 25-year-old female corps member to go and raise five million in one week. She goes around marketing to the offices of middle aged men who only try to seduce her as a condition of giving her that deposit that the GM needs to earn his own promotion. That is what is happening in the banking sector in Nigeria, we all know it. And that is why many youth corps members after service don’t want to work in banks, even if they are there; they say they don’t want to work in marketing department. So that kind of pressure is not good for the person and it affects her fertility. Some people because they have stress, they start eating too much or they are not eating enough. So such people either become obese or they become too thin, so either way it affects their fertility. Now one of the rare causes of mortality amongst mothers who are been delivered of their babies is preeclampsia, where for some strange reason, if in post delivery, the doctor is not checking or the post delivery nurse is not checking, the woman slips into a fit then we have a case of mortality. What do you suggest should be the ideal procedure for delivery and post-natal care such that will prevent this occurrence? First of all, I have mentioned, part of a way to prevent preeclampsia is being registered for ante-natal somewhere because during this they will be able to tell you what to do and not do, and be able to detect early signs and prevent you from getting into preeclampsia. The second thing is the patient herself has to be aware of those risks. Then in terms of the provider,
the clinic or the doctor; that’s why we check blood pressure, test urine and examine whether there is oedema (retention of fluid), anytime where any doctor has a contact with a pregnant woman, they always check those; so those are signs that can lead to preeclampsia. Thirdly, when the signs are indicating that it is severe, before they actually go into eclampsia, you admit them, give them some sedative to prevent fits, and what is now almost universally used is magnesium sulphate, they give it as injection or drip and it has been shown to be very effective in preventing fits and stopping fits, and that has saved a lot of women and babies. So when that is controlled, you deliver the patient as quickly as possible, whether it is mature or almost mature; so that is how we approach it now. But the foundation is in prevention by antenatal care. Now let us move into your social life. The reason why am here is Ikoyi Club 1938. Obviously that means that apart from the busy schedule of working in the hospital, you can have time to loosen up. How much time do you give to your social life? Well, I am like anybody that is serious about their job - you don’t socialise during office hours. You can hardly ever find me at any club. So basically, if am going to any club or social visiting is after 6 O’clock, except on Saturday or Sunday afternoon. So you have to compartmentalise your life. I am ruthless in compartmentalising how I spend my time. For example, from about 8.30am to 6pm, I am at work. Of course, work includes going to meetings and stuff like that. I tend not to eat proper lunch for I tend to get sleepy if I do. So when you see me drinking or socialising on weekdays that will be after six in the evening. What I do after 6pm is varied. When I first came to Nigeria in 1976 I lived at LUTH compound, and I was a member of the Lagos Country Club in Ikeja and I went there on Friday evenings from 6 –10pm, in the squash racket section. People would buy beer for one another, one
Well, I am like anybody that is serious ab their job - you don’t socialise during offi out hours. You can hardly ever find me at ance club. So basically, if am going to any cluby social visiting is after 6 O’clock, except on or Saturday or Sunday afternoon. So you ha ve to compartmentalise
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My children go to Ikoyi Club to swim, gym ; but there is only one in Nigeria now. Bu t when they are around they do go there. we are trying to see how they can becomSo members in their own right, so that they e can go anytime they like. person will buy goat and prepare it for suya. The next week, somebody else will do the same. Saturdays are really devoted to weddings and Sundays religious activity and visiting. If on Sundays also, cricket is going on at TBS, I pop in to see what is going on; I am very much interested in sports. I was a sports man at Kings College and Cambridge, but unfortunately when you are a busy specialist, you don’t have time to be involved anymore. I follow sports a lot; athletics, soccer and cricket in particular. No golf? Actually, I’m a member of the Ikoyi Club Golf section but I haven’t started playing yet, even though I have the equipment, but when I left LUTH compound for Lagos, I joined Ikoyi Club. In 1991. Before then I used to come as a child, because we lived in Ikoyi. My father was the head of the prison service. We lived at what was then called Bank Road, but now they call it Murtala Mohammed Road, which is very close to Ikoyi Club. So I grew up near Ikoyi Club. I used to come to Christmas parties at the Ikoyi Club, as a child. Then, of course, I grew up and went to Kings College, left Nigeria and came back. Then I started coming to Ikoyi Club as a guest; then in 1991 I joined. In addition, I am a member of the Yoruba Tennis Club, member of Island Club and a club in Obalende called Moderates Club which most people don’t know about. So I am a sociable person, this derives from the fact that in my schooling in Kings College, those who do well are those who are involved in sports. So I was one of those who won the prize donated by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe in 1965, for the students that best excelled in study and sports at Kings College. So that is the kind of person I am; I mix hard work with relaxation. At the Ikoyi Club I use to go to the squash section. With time, some of my friends died, so I found that going there reminded me of them. I hardly go there now. I tend to remain in the main bar, Snooker section, occasionally go to the Golf and Lawn Tennis sections. When
you are going to clubs - if I was to go back 15 years - my typical week was on Mondays and Fridays we will be at the Police Officers Mess. Myself and those who are older than me, most of them are dead, who were in their seventies. We would meet at the Squash section of Island Club, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On Wednesdays, we would be at Squash section of Ikoyi Club. So Monday to Friday I am busy in the evening and drinking beer. So by the time you get home you had drank four bottles per day. So I added weight, my abdomen extended. By the time I got to 55 years, I realised I had to control beer taking, because it affects your health. Nowadays, when I go to Ikoyi Club, I don’t take more than two bottles of beer per visit. Also there is a lot of generosity because at times you may not have a penny so they keep buying you beer, chicken, guinea fowl, and suya; you eat till you go home, you won’t spend a kobo. Clubs are very bad if you want to control your weight. Ikoyi Club is the same; some are offering you because you have done something for them. Some Ikoyi Club members, when they see me, they offer me a bottle of Heineken, because of our previous encounter in life. When you say no, they get upset that they gave you a N190 drink you say no, after what you have done for them. So those are the temptations of going to clubs. There is a misapprehension about clubs and as I said I belong to Yoruba Tennis Club, Island, Ikoyi and Police Officers Mess Club. I don’t go to Police Officers Mess Club because most of my friends are old and using walking sticks now. Island Club I hardly go to; I never really got used to Island Club, but I pay my subscription as a member. Yoruba Tennis which is very close to my private clinic, I go occasionally and I tend to have some social activities there. If I am having a reception I use the facilities and I know most of them. I go to Ikoyi Club mostly now. What about your children, do they go to the club with you too? My children go to Ikoyi Club to swim, gym; but there is only one in Nigeria now. But when they are around they do go there. So we are trying to see how they can become members in their own right, so that they can go anytime they like. So none of them is a member now? Not yet. For the records, can we talk about your children and family? Yes, I have four children, a daughter who is married and three sons who are not married. What about your wife? My wife is a dental surgeon and originally from Jamaica, her clinic is next door; so that is my family. One of my sons and my daughter are in Nigeria, and the other two are abroad. One thing members of the club say about you is that you practice what you preach; you bring boxes of condoms that you share; is that in line with keeping up with this thing you are telling me about prevention that men and women face. Yes, I have been distributing condoms to people for about 20 years; when I used to go to Island Club Squash Section and Police Officers Mess some 18 to 20 years ago. And then I extended it to Ikoyi Club and Moderate Club. So you see, what happens is that Nigerians don’t like harmony
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good news. Nigeria has made major advances in the prevention of HIV and AIDs. Twenty years ago in this same Lagos; a lot of people did not believe that HIV existed; they say “take this away, when it catches me I will be dead anyway, let me enjoy myself.” They didn’t really believe; but as a scientist, I know it existed but at that time there was really no accessible treatment; they were very expensive. There was a time when a month’s cost of retroviral in Lagos was about N40, 000. So very few could afford it. But I had patients who could afford it though crippling. So it was quite clear that you take the public health solution, education and prevention. This is why I said the messages of Prof. Ransome-Kuti, even though I don’t agree with him on secondary and tertiary care, were sound, and that is why he is the best minister of health Nigeria ever had. So then I said to myself, you see a pretty girl, you do her test and she is positive, you say Oh! My God! Suppose I was a younger man chasing this girl, I won’t know. So that is why I purchase these condoms myself. I buy it by the carton and every Friday at the Ikoyi Club, I distribute it. When I first started distributing it, people were shy, “no I don’t want it,” “I don’t need it,” but now when I take it, within an hour it is exhausted. People from security, messenger, to the highest people in the club, they take it. Some will take it in secret, some openly, and many even take it when their wives are seating there. Some will take it in the presence of their wives to show that it is Giwa- Osagie that is giving it free. So when I bring it, they will say; have you seen, it is Giwa- Osagie that is giving it free, so don’t be mad when you see it with me. So I go to the wife and say yeah! I give it out as my own contribution to preventing HIV/AIDs in Nigeria and we have succeeded. If you look at the graph of HIV prevalence, it has flattened in Nigeria, but nobody likes to talk about it. They love to talk about bad things in Nigeria; but Nigeria has succeeded in controlling HIV/AIDS, succeeded by publicity and condom dissemination. Before HIV came, when we were talking condom for family planning, we couldn’t talk about it. It was not allowed on radio or television because it was seen to be immoral; but when people realised that it can prevent death, abortion, everybody started allowing it to be said in public. So that is how I do it as my own contribution to prevent the spread of HIV AIDS in the nation. You are also involved in areas of philanthropy. I know you are one of the members of the governing council of New Era Foundation, which is focused on the youth. Is there any other philanthropic activity you are involved in? I have always had a tendency to be generous to people. That is just my nature. And when Her Excellency, Mrs. Oluremi Tinubu, invited me to be a board member of the New Era Foundation, who are going to focus on the empowerment of the youths and women, I happily accepted and the foundation has been very successful – building a centre on the way to Eleko Beach that will be a multi-skill centre and youth camp, so to speak. And we started the “Spelling Bee” competition in Lagos State. It has been very successful and a well-run NGO. I am the chairman of an organisation called C.O.P.E, which is involved with breast cancer awareness. It spreads information on how to detect lumps, examine the breast, what to do when you have lumps, and also helps people who cannot afford their treatment, to pay at recognised centres. It is called C.O.P.E. It is basically the baby of a lady called Mrs. Anozie
Ebun. It has been very successful. She started it on shoe-string finance, and since then she has won awards from the Ashoka Foundation, an international organisation. She has been recognised by Ford Foundation; big companies like UBA, Cadbury, LTV, and Radio Lagos. They all work and assist her and she goes all over the place doing breast cancer awareness and management. So I am the chairman of that organisation I am the chairman of the Howzat Foundation for Cricket; I was a very active cricketer when I was at Kings College, London. But training in medicine, left me with no time to continue; so some of us got together and formed this Foundation of which I’m the chairman. Dr. John Abebe, is the vice-chairman, and we have other Trustees like the Estate Surveyor, Chief Kole Ojutola Ayo, Engr. Basayi Onabole, Dr. Michael Ayi and others. Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour of the Supreme Court, used to be a Trustee, but resigned when he was made Judge of the Court of Appeal. So we teach cricket and its values. Traditional cricket values don’t allow some of the things that are happening internationally, the cheating by members of the Pakistani team, for which they have been jailed, quite rightly. Cricketers don’t argue with umpires, spit or shout. These are what we teach the young ones; cricket values. You train, take instructions from captain and obey the umpire; values that if practised in Nigeria, the country would avoid a lot of problems. So we are doing it as a method of character building. We are doing it right from primary school, women cricket, men cricket, right up to secondary school. In fact, out of the current Nigerian senior team, nine come from the Howzat Foundation programme. So our cricket development has worked. We don’t have much money; Nigerians don’t like things that don’t allow them steal money. So when we go to billionaires and they don’t give us anything, we say let them keep their money. We keep doing what we are doing because we want to do it. One day we will see somebody who will say ‘You people
Cricketers don’t argue with umpires, spi or shout. These are what we teach the t young ones; cricket values. You tra tak e instructions from captain and obeyin, the umpire; values that if practised in Nigeria the country would avoid a lot of problems, .
p ersona l i ty ma k i n g b a b i es an d other matters
have tried enough; have this, so that you can do it even better.” Recently I became chairman of an organisation which is looking into maternal mortality, the Save Lives Foundation, which was started by a lady called Mrs. Meiro Bashir, who was formerly an Executive Director of UBA PLC. So am involved in a number of things. Am a chief in Benin City; St Matthew’s Cathedral Benin is my church, and in Lagos, Christ Church Cathedral and Our Saviours church, because am an Anglican. But half of the time now, my wife and I go to Ikoyi Baptist because it is close to us. And we are very impressed by the preaching they spread at the Ikoyi Baptist Church. Something just went through my mind. When you were playing cricket, were you a wicket keeper or a third leg...? No, I was a fast bowler, who could also bat. I used to be a bowler in those days with people like Gabriel Egbunike, who became a professor in Ibadan, but he is retired now. We used to open the bowling for Kings College, Lagos. And then we played with people like Michael Ayivor. He was a wicket keeper, and then people from other schools, like Garen Siekpe, the late Karienren, Amr Tabiowo, who is very much alive, and late Mr. Toni Egbe. These are people we played cricket with in those days; also, late Kwame Sagoe, the father of Kwesi Sagoe, who is the current Chairman of Nigeria Cricket Federation. We played cricket within Race Course, but I was a fast bowler. My career was a bit truncated because I went to England. Those who stayed around played for Nigeria and West Africa. In England, cricket season is examination season. My father was paying my school fees, so I couldn’t risk it because I had to make at least second class honours. So I did athletics instead and won full colours in triple jump. I was not a very successful goal keeper in football, so I gave it up. I kept for the second eleven at Kings College. But if you were a good fielder then you should be able to do well as a keeper. I wasn’t very good, so I became a hockey goal keeper, of which I was very successful. But then I gave it up, in lower six, and became an inside right for Kings College. And I won full colours for hockey at Kings College Lagos. So I won full colours for cricket, hockey and athletics in Lagos; and I won full colours in athletics in Cambridge University in 1968. As a parting question what advice would you give to that young man who is very ambitious, who despite all the challenges, prevails and wants to make it in life? When I came back to Nigeria, very soon after, many Nigerian specialists were leaving Nigeria and going to Saudi Arabia. I started working on In-vitro Fertilisation with Prof. Ashiru and we were made offers. In those days we were offered US $72,000, tax free, to come to Saudi Arabia; because they were just starting IVF then, we didn’t go because I had been out of Nigeria for over 13 years after Kings College. I didn’t want to go and stay in another person’s country again; so I stayed here and was determined not to lose courage. So the young man must be determined to work hard, and must not be extravagant. If you are just 30, 32 years and you want to ride the best BMW and Benz in town, wear expensive shirts and fly first class; you are not likely to be able to sustain that kind of life without compromising your vision. So you should do things within your reach. I told you I didn’t go to Saudi Arabia, I have been here; and last year the University recognised it. They have a unique title called Distinguished Professor which they conferred on me in January last year. You have to have worked and retired at the correct time. You must have been a professor for 15 years or more. I have been full professor of University of Lagos since 1987 that is, going to 25 years now. I have never been out of University of Lagos for more than two months during that time. I have been serving continu-
If you are just 30, 32 years and you want to ride the best BMW and Benz in town, wear expensive shirts and fly first class; you are not likely to be able to sustain that kind of life without compromising your vision. So you should do things within your reach. ously. And of course you must have been productive, which I have. And you must have lifted up the name of the university, nationally and internationally, which I have, because of the organisations I belong to; expert committees, like I am a consultant in the W.H.O. etc. I became President of the West African College of Surgeons, after I had been secretary general for six years. So all those things put together made them confer that title on me. So I should really be addressed as ‘Distinguished Professor Giwa Osagie’. Yoruba say “Surulere” meaning “patient pays.” In Nigeria, everything conspires to tell you that patience doesn’t pay, but it does in the end. You may not be a billionaire like those who have been ripping off in the oil sector do, but you will be comfortable as far as God gives you good health and long life, you will enjoy. So that is the first thing. There is a saying that somebody was at crossroads and didn’t know where he was going, so he asked somebody where he should go. That one asked, “Where do you want to go?” If your life plan for you, maybe, you are very poor, or over pampered, is that by the time you are 30 years, you must have long wheel Benz, good luck to you. Then don’t waste your time in government jobs or universities because there is no way you can compete with those who are going after long wheel Benz, but doing their normal work. You will only be a disruptive influence there. You must know where you are going for there are many things that conspire to make you feel your time is wasting. When I was working for very highly placed people, I could have gotten plots of land paid for, by then in Park View, V.I, annex, in Osborne Road, but I didn’t get any. And when I asked one of those people after they had moved to Abuja, he said but you didn’t tell me you wanted. Like a typical doctor, I was too busy doing my job and didn’t have time to get a plot of land for myself. Another story is that when I was living in LUTH, my friends use to visit me but immediately I moved to Ikoyi, they never came to visit. So I said to myself, were they coming to say thank God I am not Osato and Angela, or were they feeling sorry for us. So Nigeria is a very rough place to get on, but if you have your head screwed down well, you will just have a little luck and not want to live anywhere else. No matter how wealthy you are in America, you are still a black man, and they will do things that will remind you that this is not your original country, so let’s not deceive ourselves. I lived in Britain for over 13 years and I am a resident officially. So those who think the best thing is to run away from Nigeria have not started life yet; I don’t wish them evil, but that when things go rough, they should have the courage to come back to their country. Thank you so much sir. You are welcome. harmony
HAHAHA! Wonderful English language from around the world.
• In a Bangkok Temple : IT IS FORBIDDEN TO ENTER A WOMAN, EVEN A FOREIGNER, IF DRESSED AS A MAN. yy Cocktail lounge, Norway: LADIES ARE REQUESTED NOT TO HAVE CHILDREN IN THE BAR. yy Doctor’s office, Rome: SPECIALIST IN WOMEN AND OTHER DISEASES. yy Dry cleaners, Bangkok: DROP YOUR TROUSERS HERE FOR THE BEST RESULTS.
READ? IF SO WE CAN HELP. yy In a City restaurant: OPEN SEVEN DAYS A WEEK AND WEEKENDS.
yy In a Nairobi restaurant: CUSTOMERS WHO FIND OUR WAITRESSES RUDE, OUGHT TO SEE THE MANAGER. yy On the main road to Mombasa, leaving Nairobi: TAKE NOTICE: WHEN THIS SIGN IS UNDER WATER, THIS ROAD IS IMPASSABLE. yy On a poster at Kencom: ARE YOU AN ADULT THAT CANNOT
yy In a Cemetery: PERSONS ARE PROHIBITED FROM PICKING FLOWERS, FROM ANY BUT THEIR OWN GRAVES. yy Tokyo hotel’s rules and regulations: GUESTS ARE REQUESTED NOT TO SMOKE, OR DO OTHER DISGUSTING BEHAVIOURS IN BED. yy On the menu of a Swiss Restaurant: OUR WINES LEAVE YOU NOTHING TO HOPE FOR. yy In a Tokyo Bar: SPECIAL COCKTAILS FOR THE LADIES WITH NUTS. yy Hotel, Yugoslavia: THE FLATTENING OF UNDERWEAR WITH PLEASURE, IS THE JOB OF THE CHAMBERMAID. yy Hotel, Japan: YOU ARE INVITED TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE CHAMBERMAID. yy In the lobby of a Moscow Hotel, across from a Russian Orthodox Monastery: YOU ARE WELCOME TO VISIT THE CEMETERY, WHERE FAMOUS RUSSIAN AND SOVIET COMPOSERS, ARTISTS AND WRITERS ARE BURIED DAILY, EXCEPT THURSDAY. yy A sign posted in Germany’s Black Forest: IT IS STRICTLY FORBIDDEN ON OUR BLACK FOREST CAMPING SITE, THAT PEOPLE OF DIFFERENT SEX, FOR INSTANCE, MEN AND WOMEN, LIVE TOGETHER IN ONE TENT, UNLESS THEY ARE MARRIED WITH EACH OTHER FOR THIS PURPOSE. yy Hotel, Zurich: BECAUSE OF THE IMPROPRIETY OF ENTERTAINING GUESTS OF THE OPPOSITE SEX IN THE BEDROOM, IT IS SUGGESTED THAT THE LOBBY BE USED FOR THIS PURPOSE. yy Advertisement for donkey rides, Thailand: WOULD YOU LIKE TO RIDE ON YOUR OWN ASS? yy Airline ticket office, Copenhagen: WE TAKE YOUR BAGS AND SEND THEM IN ALL DIRECTIONS. yy A laundry in Rome: LADIES, LEAVE YOUR CLOTHES HERE AND THEN SPEND THE AFTERNOON HAVING A GOOD TIME. harmony