Thursday, April 24, 2014

SMART WOMEN SECURE THEIR FUTURE



Hello all, been a while. I’ve been caught up in so many things happening in my personal life and work life, so blogging wasn’t part of my immediate plan.

I’ve gotten better and these past few weeks have been quite a learning curve for me in so many respects; one of which I will share right away.

A few weeks ago, my bestie and I, over dinner at Yellow Chilli, were discussing a number of issues and we got talking about money matter and our financials and how bad things seem to be even though we are working so hard in our various endeavours. One of the issues that came out strongly was the fact that financial issues are a major cause of marital friction. This no doubt comes with the bit that women expect and rightly so, that the man in their lives will take care of them.  We are raised to grow up and not work so hard because “it is still a man’s house you will end up in”. This in turn has made a few women careless about their finances and their future and in that same length, their children’s future.

I left that place and since then been thinking about women and money. My first thought was to remember what I read somewhere.  Someone had asked a question: “What makes the world go round – money or love?” and the answer was: “Love is what makes life special……. But without money, you are in deep trouble!!”

That women should take control of their finances from a tender age is something we need to begin to talk about.  Painfully we are not teaching our daughters any of these, mainly because we do not know it. Many women are materially well off – have a husband ‘doing well’; in some cases ‘doing very well’; picks the household bills – pays school fees, mortgage or outright purchase of home, takes care of major events, etc.  They have a good job and can do a little business on the side but no investments or any major savings.  The belief is that ‘my husband will always be there to sort the rest out’.

The fact still remain that planning ahead is so crucial for women.  I have been privileged to have friends who lost their husbands just like that (not that anyone plans to lose a husband); and their lives were turned upside down because there was no financial planning.  I like the whole christianese about God having our back but God expects us to plan and He can have something to support.

Most women have had to go through a divorce and the typical African man will ensure you leave with nothing – in turn these women end up absolutely nothing but the bags and shoes and clothes and jewellery they acquired during the marriage. When it comes to divorce, women still end up with the shorter end of the stick.

Fair or not, women need to do more financial planning than men.  I learnt this lesson very early in life perhaps due to my background. I had to plan for everything. Even when I didn’t know Christ, I planned and becoming a Christian, I planned even more.

Typically, women still earn about 25% less than men. Only about one out of five women over 65 receive a pension. Most women live in the lie that the more money you make or earn, the richer and comfortable you will be. This is so not true because it is not your income but what you spend.  Most of us have gotten caught up in living a ‘designer life’ with so much noise – drive the latest car, carry the latest designer bag, live in the latest neighborhood – and nothing to keep you going in the next 20 years.  In fact we don’t see the next 20 years – because as you know – Jesus is coming soon.

Thinking through all these and what I’ve been through in the last couple of years, it is obvious that most women spend more than they make – in the real sense of the word and this is a serious problem. Our spending habits kill us faster than anything else. I have had to do a lot of checkups on my spending lately.  I found I was carrying too many people on my ‘spending list’ because I felt a need to ‘take care of the whole world’.  I have had to shed quite a lot, because truth be told – some of them don’t care how you do it and if you can no longer really do it, they fizzle out of your life.

Another area I noted that 98% of women fall prey to – the Cinderella myth – “My husband will take care of me and the children” or “find and marry a wealthy man and everything will be fine”. Please note that it is neither safe nor practical to assume that the man in your life can be counted on to take care of your finances.

I recently encountered someone whose husband had lots of properties and some in her name.  This woman had no idea where some of the properties were located.  In fact to make matters worse, she had no idea what kind of property they were, what their values were, etc.  I was awed.  What a wonderful woman.  I sometimes wish I could be this brain dead. If this man were to drop dead with no will (most Nigerian men don’t have) or he even willed it to another person, she will expect me to be compassionate and commiserate when she can no longer pay her children’s fees or is booted out of the home. The average age of widowhood today is just 56!!!!

Marriage is not a kind of insurance policy that frees you from the realities of life. Because no matter how good a man in your life is , sooner or later, he will die (sounds morbid) and likely before you because truth is the average woman lives seven years longer than the man. I know some of you will be wondering what is wrong with Ini but I’m just typing as I think. This is bitter truth o. Because of our unwillingness to accept this unpleasant reality, we tend to be woefully unprepared to cope with it when it comes to pass.  That is why for women, losing a husband (in whichever way) is generally as devastating economically as it is emotionally.  In fact 80% of widows living in poverty were not poor before their husbands died or disappeared!.

How many women know their husband’s debts? His entire networth? What he earns? What his investments or shares are?  Have you asked?  Did he tell you or glossed over it ( I know someone who is good at glossing over issues like this). We teach our girls to be dependent because of an entrenched social belief that women can’t or shouldn’t do it all alone. Well some girls (including this one) were taught differently. And I constantly teach my daughters that too – SMART WOMEN SECURE THEIR FUTURE BY KEEPING A TIGHT REIN ON THEIR FINANCES and they work hard too.

One of the things I have done in the past one year is to set my house in order. I just want to know I can do what I want to do when I want to do it – that is my financial state of mind. Money is not an end on itself.  It is merely a tool to achieve some particular goal and if my values don’t meet up with my financial plans, then there is a problem.

Fact is a new dress, a fancy car and all the jewelry are not worth the sleepless nights and traveling and head bursting work I have put into my work. Smart women do more than nice clothes and cars and all that trying to outdress each other.

Do you own a home?  How much is the current value of your home? What is the size of the mortgage? Is oga paying the mortgage regularly? Do you have insurance on it? Learnt a lady just lost the husband and the bank is kicking her out of the home because oga was not paying mortgage regularly and no insurance.  Meanwhile they just moved into the home 11 months earlier and come and see the house warming party and her batting her false eye lashes as everyone ooh’d and aah’d at such beautiful home. Meanwhile as is, she cannot afford to even rent an apartment of 800k on the mainland (which is actually lifestyle downgrade for her); her friends are struggling to raise the money – na so me I take hear.  I no fit shout.

Do you have a life insurance? Does Oga have? How much are the policies?  Where are the documents? What other policies exist in the family name? Where are the investments? Cash in savings? Money market accounts? Savings bonds? Stocks? Real estate investments? Collectibles?

In fact, do you know what is going on with your family money since na all of una get the money? Of course I know - Money isn't everything - yes I know. In fact I agree.  Free me abeg - just read this in the light of the need to have some investments - call it egg nest, call it savings, call it anything but please just plan.

Make I rest small.  I will come back on this matter later. Remember this – Success leaves clues and smart women leave successful clues for their daughters and sons.



Tuesday, January 21, 2014

'TICK' SAYS THE CLOCK, WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO, DO QUICK

I've been down with malaria for a couple of days.  The stress of driving and working in Lagos coupled with being a life long student seems to take it toll daily on my body. This morning was one of those mornings where getting out of bed seemed like the whole world hates me for making me do this. Anyways, finally got myself out of the house and driving down Third Mainland when my sista Audrey calls me. I get on the hands-free and she says: 'Sis, do you know Funke Babatola?', I answered - 'Yes I do.  What's up?'.

My first thought was that she wanted me to share FBI's ( as we call Funke) details with her. Next thing she said was - 'Just learnt she passed on yesterday'.  I almost stopped the car in mid-drive.  "No, which Funke Babatola? No she can't be dead naw.  Just last week she joked about my being ill with Emilia, so how can she be dead.  No Audrey, she is not dead.  I will call her once I get to the office now and call you back".

I'm driving in a confused state and wondering - this is not possible. Immediately I called Emilia, who was with her on Friday to ask and alas, this sad, depressing bit of news was true. All day, I've been in and out of shock, fear, sadness, confusion, etc. Today, Funke Babatola is gone, like a candle in the wind. She was hardworking, never relenting on ensuring she was doing something. An excellent and complete mum to Gbolahan. But she's gone now. Just a few days ago, Audrey lost her sister in law; just yesterday evening, Nneka lost a friend's husband to cancer, a young man so full of life; just few days ago, we learnt of Komla's death at 41. And I asked - what is going on this January?

All day I have reflected and reflected and over-reflected.  I went back and read Audrey's blogpost of a few days ago and again I ask - are we living? am I living or just passing through each day?  am I living as i should or living so I can be called a living being? Am I living for people?  Am I happy? Am I doing the things I ought to do and happy doing them,  knowing that the clock ticks away? If I dropped dead today, will my life have made any sense?  Will it leave any mark? Who will be shocked and who will be happy? With people so full of life just slipping away without any fight - is any stress worth it? Are the people around me killing me or keeping me alive?So many of us spend the better part of their lives living for others - for family, for friends, for children, for their parents, for husbands, for wives, but hardly for themselves, hardly for their Maker.

At the beginning of the year, I took time to pray and as always, ask God for direction as to how to work and walk this year.  I got a very clear distinct message - 'Do all things in haste'. I didn't understand and kept praying  and my mind was directed to Exodus 12:11. I was afraid as so many fearful things began going through my mind. I began researching on what the word 'haste' meant in this regard and in relation to me. The Hebrew word chippazon or kaphaz does not mean haste, but apprehension, trepidation, or fear. The only thing standing between the ancient Israelites and death was the blood placed on the doorpost. The lamb was to be completely consumed that evening and the remains completely burned, necessitating their staying in the house, soberly reflecting on the somber events around them, until the morning of the fourteenth. This entire event lasted more than ten hours. Consequently, the proper sense of "in haste" is more correctly rendered "soberly," "with apprehension," or "with serious reflection."

I then understood clearly and I shared it with my staff on the first day of work. We need to be sober and reflect more on our lives on a day to day basis.  The era of taking things and people for granted and behaving as if we had all the time in the world is over. You have to do what you have to do and do it on TIME.

I am not preaching but 'Haste' means your deliverance from where you are that is not allowing you fulfill purpose. It means time to take that painful decision.  It means time to go adopt a baby or do IVF instead of waiting and waiting after 10 years of marriage - because faith without works is dead. It is time to take that course; do that thing you have pushed aside; live in your happiness not in tears. Be who you were meant to be. Live, breathe, dance, laugh, eat, cry, jump, travel - do whatever you want to do.   Time waits for no one, they say but truth is life waits for no one.

Tick says the clock, tick tick, what you have to do, do quick. Goodnight Funke Babatola.


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

CLASSLESS PEOPLE & CLASSLESS THINGS

Hello everyone, happy new year and God's many blessings.  It's back to work week and me and my waka waka.  As usual, I sit quietly on these trips and observe.  I think one of my new year resolution is siddon and look quietly.  Lol.

Very interesting things sha. I boarded a flight to Abuja this early morning and sat next to a well dressed gentleman who looked every inch the part of a top gun CEO and while we waited for boarding formalities to be completed, he received a phone call and while speaking said to the person on the other end of the line that he is somewhere around Mile Two.

It took the whole of my veins to hold my neck from turning to look at him.  I was in shock but kept my neck straight.  I began wondering what it is that make these villageous, lying "classy " people do "classless things". I kept wondering till we took off.  Kuku ma, he is going to mile Two and me I was flying to Abuja. Thank God for journey mercies, we landed safely.

Somehow, my day of classless and badly behaved people was not over.  Finished my waka in Abuja, going up and down staircases ( seriously, no elevator in some of these government agencies - remind me to tell you that story another day) and smiling at some annoying lazy civil servants; and got back to the airport early and sat in the lounge so I could get some work done.

Act one Scene two: another seemingly serious minded "Oga", well dressed, even had a PA who was also well dressed, carrying the briefcase and looking very serious. Ok, was happy, I was in the "class" of big people in the lounge ( I too like good things na). Five minutes into sitting down, "Oga" received a phone call.  My people, the only thing I didn't get before they called boarding was Oga's full name.

I learnt in 15 mins of speaking at the top of his voice punctuated with raccoon-like bursts of laughter, that he is chairman of two blue chip companies and cannot imagine how he could be kept for three days in Abuja just to see a minister.  I also pitied in advance, the CEO of one of the companies who didn't make the meeting happen as "Oga" promised to fry his bum bum. I learnt his two sons left for London yesterday.  I learnt he was returning the Mercedes E class and taking a Cayenne (didn't know there was a car by that name till today, lol, I learnt na); I learnt he didn't accept the payment (I no know which one) because the money was short 21 million Naira (sai!).

I learnt his wife had told him not to come for the meeting but he hadn't listened to her and now he has to manage how she will rub in the "I told you so"( I just imagined what she was like with a trout like this). His loud conversation also made me realise, because of the urgency, he had to fly commercial - what an insult - because the "keke napep" of his friend was not in Nigeria!!!!

When the conversation first began, I was super upset.  I kept "eye-ing" the  ignoramus until it seems I was giving him a come-on sign so I calmed my eyeballs and minded my business.  Then as I listened, it became hilarious. I just kept chuckling and at some point laughing.  my people no go kill me. At some point, I began seeing the second series of my third book - Things I have Learnt  - forming in my head. I learnt about "Oga" tire. I can tell you for free that 80% of his stories were embellished poop.

It all just reiterated the fact that the clothes or the garb or the seeming "class" does not make a man or woman.  We are so obsessed with the outward presentation of people around us that we have lost the ability to see what is inside of them and comes out of their mouths and their corresponding actions.  If we did, we will take a lot of people less seriously, treat them like the goats they are and honestly, we will get less and less of this 'carrying up' of empty heads and shoulders. Time and time again, I see well dressed, in fact designer- bag carrying ladies with nicely coiffed hair, well manicured fingers speak haughtily, rudely and almost utterly condescendingly to others.  They talk noisily at restaurants with this notice- me-and-my-bag-or-I-die attitude. I see nicely put together men, young and old, with absolutely no manners. None at all.  They disrespect women, walk like tin gods and no decorum.

You can buy yourself some "class" ( inverted comma class) but you still remain classless and a nobody when you treat others badly; disrespect public nuances, talking loudly and stupidly in a public place and we know all your life history in twenty minutes; chew gum like a cricket and then stick it under a seat; when you use a bathroom and spill your urine on the seat and are tactless enough not to clean up after yourself; when you sit on an airport seat and your bag sits on the other and an elderly man looks at you and you look away and he remains standing; when you see people you know and act as if you don't know them so they can greet you first  ( like seriously); when you try to live like the joneses, forgetting they were actually farmers and you do not know what a cutlass looks like.......

Money can add you to a class of people but it cannot buy taste and good breeding. It's got nothing to do with pedigree as I hear some people say because I have seen some "pedigrious" people act like the behind of a baboon. Good breeding is proper behaviour; appropriate and befitting for wherever you are.

Na wa!!! I tire. Now I'm sitting in this airline class to Lagos with another "classless" somebody snoring us to death. ROTPL, mbok, story plenty for this Nigeria.

I dey look oooo......

Saturday, December 28, 2013

As 2013 rolls by.........

I'm sitting here, watching the almost still street below from my window and amazed at how quiet some parts of Calabar can be and thanking God for such peace and quiet in the midst of the hustle and bustle of this world. 

As usual, my mind wanders and I begin to take stock of 2013 ( actually began doing that since I got in here); I am amazed at how quickly this year passed by.  I am reminded of the very many things that happened this year, in my life, in the nation, in the lives of friends, of families, at work, in my business, etc.

I am reminded of the very difficult and almost mind bending, painful decision I took at the beginning of the year (the strain and emotional anguish was inexplicable) and how God has practically held my heart in his hands and cradled it slowly but surely back to some form of normalcy. He's still cradling it, and healing it and He has provided all I need to get back to normal.

I am reminded of how many times I travelled this year both locally and internationally and how God kept me through it all and always brought me back home to my loved ones safely.  

I am reminded of God's grace with ThistlePraxis Consulting.  I couldn't even pay my staff full salary in January and I cannot say we did so many projects this year, but God has brought us to a fantastic close of year.  It could only have been by grace. I cannot but chuckle at the new amazing supernatural opportunities that opened before our very eyes - ThistlePraxis in 17 countries and 4 continents.  Only grace. 

I am reminded of the possibilities and joys and laughters.  The new babies I blessed in church and in families dear to my heart; even a royal baby; the new marriages full of hope and life; the new homes and cars; the new opportunities beyond my imagination; I can only just shake my head and look up and say - thank you God.

I am reminded that I am not perfect; I still wrestle with: anxiety, control, Perfectionism. Anger. so many many things. But as this year rolls to an end, I will continue to work on them as God helps me.


I am reminded of the knives in my back and the arrows close friends have shot into my heart. The side glances ad the mocking smiles. I have been through a tough time, and have a bleeding heart to show for it.  But I am dealing with it.

I am in the same vein reminded of the times I have knowingly and unknowingly offended close friends and loved ones and I have made a mental note to call up everyone before the 31st and make peace.

I am reminded of people who lost loved ones and can't seem to find or feel any form of joy as the year rolls to an end and I just mentally reach out and cradle my loved ones around me and hold them tight. 

I am reminded of the love I have been privileged to receive this year. From many whose names I will not mention.  Standing by me, for me - in the place of prayers, taking unplanned flights to check on me and ensure I have not disappeared, calling, loving, blessing and encouraging me. I am reminded and I am grateful. 

As I sit here at this window, typing away, I am reminded of so many things.  The joy and undiluted bliss on my father's face as he walks into his house in Calabar. The prayers and thanks my parents have offered on my behalf. 

I am reminded of how blessed I am beyond measure. I look around my home.  I walk into every space, every space in this house, touching the walls and the furnitures. Thanking God for a home, a place to call home. I'm looking at my extra large green garden and the trees. I recall just yesterday afternoon, the fresh coconut in my garden was plucked and my parents and big sisters drinking and eating and I am watching them and smiling.  I am a very loved woman, very very. and the song in my heart just went: 

Father, to you Lord, be all the glory
To you, my Father, be all the honor
To you Daddy, be all the glory,
Power, adoration for evermore

Because verily, verily you are good,
Verily you are God
Jesus you are good.

Onye nje'mo onu
Na ra ekene, mgbenine


I am reminded of my love, my children - my tonnes of pure joy and happiness -;  I am reminded that this year is passing by and it has been an eventful year for me.  Very eventful. And I can only bow my head and say THANK YOU LORD.

As the year rolls by.................


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

SOMH

My third book - Things I've Learnt - is a small coffee table, a kind of read-while-you-wait, type of book. It is dedicated to Love, Friendship, Wisdom and Intuition. And then it is dedicated to the SOMH. After it's release, I have gotten quite a few text messages and bb messages from some 'amebos', asking who the SOMH is.  I always laughed it off and wondered why people let their curiosity get the better of them.  However, I have gotten so many of the questions, so I decide to answer. Curiosity they say kills the cat o. Anyways, I will tell them who the SOMH is.

The SOMH is my best friend, my sweet, my honey bunch, my bestie, my sugar pom pom, my darling, my sunshine, my moonlight, my crying partner (SOMH doesn't cry, just hugs me tight), my prayer partner, my tea and spice, my gist provider and coordinator, my time machine, my angel, my listening ear, my ever dependable shoulder to lean on, my music box. I can ride the rough bus of life because the SOMH is my support beam.

The SOMH stole my heart and helped me start all over again. The SOMH taught me to trust again. Always available to hear my complaints - never tired, never waning. When night fell upon me even when it was still daytime, the SOMH made me see it was just a veil and with one finger, shifted it away and I saw the sunlight again. The SOMH is the only movie I can watch, the only song I can sing because I learnt to see and sing again.

The SOMH helped me get to 'the place' - that place of loving love and not being afraid to love again. That place where doing good and being good is not for buying acceptance. That place where my happiness is sacrosanct and my joy is a pleasure. That place where I'm comforted of all the rivers that ran dry. That place where my laughter is not curtailed but released.

SOMH, You bless me, you saved me from myself, you love me like no other love I've known.  You said I didn't need to be perfect. By your side, I learnt to forgive myself and make better use of my gifts and self. You remind me that I do enough.

I love you SOMH.  I love you so much my heart sings. You are the song in my head when I wake up, the smile on my face as I kneel to ask for direction for each new day. You are the reason why I walk as if I dance and I wriggle my waist as if oil wells dwelt between the meeting of my thighs. You are my love and my desire. You satisfy my soul's lasting encounter with the inexplicable. You are my toxin and my antidote. You are my love and my romance. You are my love and you are my desire.

What more can I say? Let me end with the words of Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861):

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, --- I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! --- and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

The SOMH, let me love you now and forever more...........

When people make you lose respect for them

Ok, Finally on Saturday December 14, I launched my second book Break The Alabaster and released a third one - Things I've Learnt.

Fantastic event though my some of my reviewers didn't show up and didn't have the courtesy to call me and explain why or even give me reasons why they chickened out.  It was to be an all male panel to review the book. Only one man - Usen Udoh - out of the four showed up.  Then I got three ladies to sit in the review panel and it was awesome.  Usen did a fantastic job being the only man in the panel. The Moderator - Sister Bisi was super! Audrey, Ireayo and Jeniffer made the difference.

I sat down there while the book review was going on and somehow my mind wandered back and forth and I began to write another book in my head.  I just wondered why some people do the things they do. What goes through their mind when they do those things and how they truly feel when they have done those things.

Things like being disrespectful.  Things like being late to an event.  Things like not showing up when they have promised to.  Things like leaving your work undone and expecting you to understand. Things like speaking ill behind your back. Things like snickering behind your back and smiling when you turn. Things like hiding, hoarding and coding information even when it is unnecessary. Things like lying. Things like half truths.  Things like competitive behaviour.  Things like acting all more holy and spiritual than Christ.  Things like ....... I don't even know sef.

Sometimes, we do not realise - and this has nothing to do with age - that it is easy for us to make others lose the tiny bit of respect they have for us when we behave in a certain way. I deliberately treat people with respect no matter who they are because my motto always is - no one knows tomorrow. I painfully admit that because people don't have respect as adults, they also bring up badly behaved and very disrespectful children.  Children who see you and look at you and wait for you to say - Hi dear, how are you? before they greet you.

I sat there thinking and as I stood up to speak my closing remarks, and I got to make some comments about not caring what anyone thought of me - I could see some people snickering and making faces at one another.  I smiled because they only did what I expected of them to do - be small minded as usual.

I stood there and though I was speaking, I concluded in my mind that I only require people to respect me and not love me. Love without respect can be fleeting but respect brings love that is lofty and lasting.

So I will keep my respect. I will be true to myself.  I will be true to my word. I will truly support the people I have said I will support.  I will treat people with respect even whe they do not deserve it and teach them to respect me. I will insist on being respected rather than loved because I will earn it. I will cut off people who disrepect me especially if they are just incapable of having respect for me or anyone.

I will not allow people to lose their respect for me. That I concluded as I finished speaking.


Monday, December 9, 2013

Make I do marry jare. Really?


Our souls are not hungry for fame, comfort, wealth or power. Those rewards create almost as many problems as they solve. Our souls are hungry for meaning, for the sense that we have figured out how to live so that our lives matter, so that the world will be at least a little bit different for our having passed through it. - Rabbi Harold Kushner

I'm sitting here this morning at the airport lounge waiting for the boarding call. I'm trying to read the day's newspaper and I notice two young ladies walk in and sit down.  They looked like ladies in their mid twenties. As they sat down close by, I couldn't help but over hear their conversations.  One of the ladies was saying, "I can't wait o. I really can't.  I've finished youth service, what am I waiting for?" When I heard that, I could almost say out loud what her next sentence was going to be. True to my thinking she blurted out - " if he is not ready, I just have to move on with my life.  I have to marry next year, 2014 must not pass me by".

The second lady concurred and said, "Yes o, after school, wetin remain?" At that point, a deep sense of sadness enveloped me.  My mind drifted to many places all at once.  Is this what we teach our daughters? Is marriage the heights of all achievements? To aim less and less for themselves? Where is the place of dreaming? Where is fulfilling purpose? 



Should marriage the ultimate for our daughters? Do we pay school fees up to tertiary institutions so that their only ambition in life is to marry and 'settle down'? 

As I ruminated on this, the quote above flashed in my mind. Life in general, without recourse to being male or female, is meaningless without purpose.  One of the things that have always driven me has been the realization and delivery of my God ordained purpose.  However, I realise that many people do not even understand purpose. And because we do not understand purpose, we cannot teach our children how to understand, realise and deliver their purpose in life.

I have six daughters - biological and adopted - and everyday, I have promised myself to push them to understand purpose. To understand that the world has to be a better place because we passed through it. I will embrace their choices to marry when they please but I will not make marriage the ultimate of their lives. I love being married, absolutely.  So please do not get me wrong - I am a HUGE fan and ardent supporter of the institution. However, I do not see it as the height of achievement.  Nah.

I think we bring up our girls knowing so much yet so little about marriage.  We teach them to cook, clean and be proper women in preparation for marriage but we forget to teach them the basics of life and living and wholeness and self love and self worth and awareness.  We forget to teach them about growth and meaningful contributions to life. We forget to teach that a status such as "married" is not a measurement of your being but that passion is important.

We forget to teach them about finances in marriage or that they should work and have their won money to support the marriage and not be a loose limb. We forget to teach them that marriage is the most intense relationship you will ever have in your life because it brings out the real you. It exposes your selfishness or selflessness and shows how unloving or loving you really are eyond the 'I love yous'.  I could go on and on.

Maybe I'm just being radical.  Maybe I'm not being realistic. Just maybe.  Dem don call boarding.  Make I go.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Ini, the African Feminist?

Two days ago, I learnt I was listed on the 2013 AWP Network Power List (http://awpnetwork.com/2013/12/02/the-2013-awp-network-power-list).  Shocked and flattered as I was, I found it was linked to my Twitter account and someone now sent me an email asking me to explain why I call myself an African feminist.

So I began thinking of it – How am I an African feminist? Then I recalled Rebecca Mae West’s take on the subject: whenever I do anything that differentiates me from a doormat, people call me a feminist.

I am a feminist because I stand tall and high on women issues.  I like the word because it identifies me with a community of confident and radical women, many of whom I respect, both as individuals and for what they have contributed to the development of the world as we know it. These ancestors include many African, Asian, Latin American, Middle Eastern, European and American women of all colours and creeds, past and present. 

 

I am an African feminist because, in the words of Minna Salami - ‘The truth is that feminism is an absolute necessity for African societies. We rank lowest in the global gender equality index; have some of the highest numbers of domestic violence, the highest number of female circumcision and other harmful traditions.’

I am a feminist because I believe that is nothing wrong in being ambitious and successful as a woman and also be a good wife and mother.  Women are good balancers and we have much more capacity than we can ever imagine.

I am an African feminist because I am committed to fighting the very many injustices that face African women.  Patriarchy and culture relegates women’s work and abilities to common vestiges and this I disagree with.

I am an African feminist because women are still seen as having half brain and not created as equal beings.  The churches preach it, our fathers carry it out and our mothers train their girls to only attain to marriage    after everything else.  Marriage has become what defines a successful woman. I disagree because God made marriage so the man should not be alone as God knew the man cannot be alone. He needs a woman!!!!

Being a feminist doesn’t mean I hate men. Nah, I love men, I do men, and I’m married to a man. It just means I do not want to be treated as a second class citizen or a half human.

I am an African feminist because I believe that it is a man’s job to respect a woman but it is a woman’s job to give him something to respect.

I am a feminist because I know the higher my standards, the higher the quality of life I live.





Rebranding Yourself



There’s been a lot of talk about re-branding our country.  So many schools and universities of thought have come forward with their take on if what we need is a re-branding or a values re-orientation. Others think the re-branding would come if we had electricity as our main source of power supply and not the generators; if the roads were not patched but really resurfaced; if our political system was better organized and if we understood how our national image affects our economy.

As women – corporate executives or entrepreneurs, there may be need for your personal re-branding. Many of us are doing excellent work in our offices; our businesses are doing well but with today’s technology and the fast paced business world we live in, a multifaceted personal brand is important.

Re-branding is all about perception. How do people perceive you, your work or your business?  What comes to mind when they see you; when your name is called or your business is mentioned? I am not a brand strategist but I know that having a strong personal brand is not negotiable if you must so well in whatever industry you find yourself.

What does your work say about you if you are in the corporate world?  Marshawn Evans, author of SKIRTS in the Boardroom notes “For women, it is especially important to define and redefine ourselves in the workplace, the boardroom, or even the corner office – for the lucky ones.”

It is essential to “cement” your presence based on the value that you or your business brings.  There should be something compelling about you that a prospective employer would headhunt you for; there should be something enchanting about your business for customers to buy from you rather than your competitors.

Louise Mowbray, a personal brand strategist gives the followings tricks of the trade:

Personal brands need to be four things: compelling to their market; authentic; consistent; and known.

1. Find out how you are actually perceived or what your reputation is. Ask a variety of people.

2. Spend time exploring what it is about you that is compelling to your target market.

3. Ask yourself if what you are offering is authentic. If not, it will breed only mistrust.

4. Make sure that your message or what you deliver is consistent. If it is erratic, it will undermine your efforts. 

5. Create a personal brand statement outlining who you are, what you do, how you do it and why it is compelling . . . and use abridged versions of it consistently wherever appropriate.

6. Explore how you can make your personal brand known to your market or audience and then act on it.

I have met quite a number of women and of course men, who cannot tell you in five minutes who they are, what they do and why you should meet or know them.  This in itself can make or mar your job or business potential.

As Mowbray puts it, “the desire to build a personal brand must come from: a strong intention, drive or greater purpose to be and to build something beyond the norm and of course you need a powerful impact to do this.”

For me, so many things can actually speak about your personal brand than you stop to think of. Your email address is one. kokolet@yahoo.com won’t get you a second or s serious first look. The ringtone on your phone can actually be personal brand plus or minus. Your call (business) card is an important in the personal branding business.

Facebook is now in our consciousness and so many of us are getting on Facebook for social networking purposes.  I have found it to be a key business tool if used properly but what kind of messages, pictures and updates go on your Facebook wall and profile? This speaks about your person.  I learnt prospective employers now learn much more about an incoming employee on their Facebook wall than they do on their CVs. Remember, personal branding or re-branding is all about perception.


My question now is – What is your take on Personal Branding versus Company/Business Branding? How does a personal brand impact on a business or an organization?