Q4IS 5- KKB’s 1st live blog- The Liminal Generation

Q4IS Part 5- The tale of a father, a son and two passports 

I was given the privilege of performing my first live blog at a spoken word event last week called “The Liminal Generation”. I must admit, I didn’t know what “liminal meant, I actually thought that it was a made up word until someone looked it up and explained it to me. The event is the first in a series from the Open Conversations collective. http://openconversations.co/

This spoken word event brought together a range of individuals to share their views on the liminal generation, through poetry, readings, and music. The event provided a platform for an “open an conversation” about a topic that is seldom talked about in this multigenerational quest for identity. I was immensely impressed with the all the performers, majority of whom were 2nd generation migrants, as they shared through their various mediums about their quest to define themselves within the land of their birth and their ancestral lands. It raised a number of important questions such: Where is home? I could relate as performers discussed how they felt when they returned home and felt rejected. It also highlighted the role that parents played in enabling their kids to assimilate into different cultural societies. In their desire to maintain their own cultural identities, they inadvertently create a sense of fear amongst their children. The video of the event will be released shortly; I will keep you informed.

Luckily for you, you can watch the video of my performance right here. It was my first live blog post in front of an audience and I went pretty well. It’s titled Quest for Identity Series Part 5: The tale of a father, a son and two passports.

Lastly I want to give say a big thank you to the organizers of the Liminal Generation event; Arazi Kadir; Avesta Kadir, Freya Espie; Dayo Moshood; and Sara Amin. The Open Conversation series is the start of something huge; kudos.

 

Till next time

KKB Out

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KKB with Dayo, Sara, Arazoo, and Avesta

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KKB on Stage

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Beyond Labels……..in a world of Heros and Villians

I humbly request you put your emotions in a state of moratorium while reading this post. My intent is not to cause offence to any groups of people, nor express affection or disaffection for the individuals mentioned in the post.

“Gandhi was a racist, he hated black people,” a friend said this me a couple of years ago. The statement was conclusively definitive and I was too shocked to respond. Although I knew very little about Mahatma Gandhi; I had always heard good things. I mean he was one of history’s great heroes and an inspiration to millions across the globe, including me. A few weeks ago, I read similar rhetoric about Gandhi on social media but my thoughts were very different: “So what if he was racist”! This may shock you, so I will try to explain my reasoning.

My knowledge of Gandhi does not go beyond the movie and the bits of accolades I have heard over the years, so I cannot testify for or against this accusation. I believe the source of these allegations could be based on comments attributed to him when he was a young lawyer in South Africa in which he referred to the black Africans as “Kaffirs”. Labeling Gandhi a racist without acknowledging his actions and the role he played in the fight for Indian independence would be grossly unfair. It could also rob the current and future generation of the opportunity to learn and understand how he took on the mighty British Empire. Similarly, Malcolm X was labeled a racist but he was and still is an inspiration to millions across the world. He considered white people devils while he was with the Nation of Islam. Again, if judged based solely on some his views early on during his struggle for black civil rights in America, one would be deprived of understanding the impact the Pilgrimage to Mecca had on changing his views before he was assassinated. He also had the courage to challenge the American government.

On the flip side, millions eulogize figures from history (and present) without fully understanding why. We label heroes and heroines based on what we have been told made or makes them great. It’s easy to admire one’s “greatness”; it’s harder to emulate the actions, which made them “great or admirable”. Continuing with the example of Mahatma Gandhi and Malcolm X, it is also very easy to label these two men (and others like them) hero’s of the liberation struggles without taking the time reflect or understand the reasons and results of their actions. I vaguely remember the period when wearing Malcolm X memorabilia was all the rage.   He was the ‘poster child/icon’ for the hardline struggle for equality and fight against injustice: “By Any Means Necessary”. Nowadays, people admire Gandhi based on his quotes on social media, “likes and #” are all the rage. He is considered the “poster child” for the pacifist approach for the struggle for equality and fight against injustice. Looking at these two men from these singular/binary perspectives robs us of the ability to understand history of the liberations struggles and what they fought for and against.

To approach this from another perspective, history will remember Adolf Hitler as the man responsible for World War 2; a catastrophic event that claimed the lives of millions and caused utter devastation across Europe. Not many would disagree if I labeled him as “evil”. The consequences of his actions were abhorrent; but again simply “labeling” him runs the risks of overlooking the roots of his actions. WW2 and the genocide was the result his actions years before the first gun were fired. For many years, Hitler and the Nazi party demonized and vilified the Jews in Germany while the rest of Europe watched. (Maybe because they were busy practicing intolerance on their colonies in other parts of the world) I am afraid that if we don’t look beyond the labels, in the present and future we run the risk of creating similar levels of intolerance and atmosphere of fear, which preceded the   2nd world war. In this case we must look beyond the label, understand the actions with the objective of preventing similar events happening again. I fear that the world has not learned from consequences of Hitler’s actions. The genocides of Cambodia, Bosnia and Rwanda were all consequences of man’s intolerance against his fellow man. Based on current world events, its does not look like abating any time soon.

Now to approach this from a personal perspective; only a few will know the name Chief Obafemi Awolowo; except maybe Nigerians born before 1980. He was one of Nigeria’s most prominent politicians pre and post independence. I remember the day Awo died, I was only six but I felt the impact because it felt like the nation went into mourning. Although I did not know the man, his status as a great leader and hero to the Yoruba people was instantly imprinted onto me. There were two days of National mourning and he was laid in state. I carried the image of this heroic figure into adulthood. This image was cruelly chattered upon reading extracts of the book “There Was a Country” by Chinau Achibe a few years ago. It gave a totally different account of the man revered by so many Yoruba’s. Based solely on what I read, Awo was a power hungry tyrant. What I read shook me to my bones until I realized that I had no reasons to shocked or disappointed. Like those who eulogize Malcolm X and Gandhi without understanding their fully understanding what they stood for, I admired Awo because that was what it was expected of a 6 year old Yoruba boy. Further reflection elevated my thoughts on the importance of seeing the “bigger picture” and the dangers of the “singular perspective”. For many Nigerian, he was a national hero who had the visions and ability to make Nigeria great. He pioneered free primary education and free health care in the Western Region of Nigeria. For others he was one of the architects who contributed to the starvation millions of civilians during the Nigeria civil war. The following comment is attributed to Awo “I don’t see why we should feed our enemies far in order for them to fight harder.” Although I have limited knowledge about Awo and the history of the Biafra war, I believe that it is be possible to admire the man for his accomplishments while recognizing and disagreeing with some of his actions or comments.

I propose that we should look beyond labels and acknowledge actions; and beyond the periphery of our emotions. I humbly request you look beyond the names of individuals mentioned in this article. I hope the premise of my thoughts can be applied across all spheres, religion, race, ideology, politics, nationalities, culture, etc etc etc. In doing so, please reflect on the following quote by ANON- “I absolutely refuse to deal in absolutes unless its absolutely necessary”.

In conclusion, I will allow you to come draw your conclusions.

PS: In your quest to looking beyond labels; be careful not to fall into the trap of judging ACTIONS.

 

Till next time  20150623_220402 Out

Credit to a Generation…Meet Andrew Osayemi

 

andrew headshot

Kilonshele Everybody

I met Andrew Osayemi over a decade ago when he was doing his A-levels and I was at University. I can’t tell you that he made an impression on me back then to be honest with you; but I could tell that he was highly intelligent and confident guy. Andrew is probably best known as one of the executive producers of the Nigerian-British comedy series Meet the Adebanjo’s and the Managing Director of the television production company-MTA Productions. Along with fellow producer and Creative Director Deborah Odutuyo, Andrew dared to pursue a dream, to tell a story and provide a visual representation of a new generation- The British Nigerian Family. There are plenty of stories of how they overcame numerous challenges to make their dream a reality; I would like to tell some these stories from a different angle.

The reason I have chosen to write about Andrew is simple, he is a man who has inspired me and I believe has the ability to inspire many more. He can be described as “Young, Black, and Nigerian-British”. In a society where perception matters; being put in these three categories has been (and can still be) an anchor on one’s quest for success. Andrew had the courage and self-belief to break down the proverbial barriers in order to pursue his ambitions and achieve his goals. He broke the mold early on when he took a gap year after college before going to University. Nigerians will understand this action required courage because at that time this was not the norm. There was no such thing as taking a gap year to travel or “find yourself”. The average Nigerian’s child’s educational journey is mapped out from birth. From Primary, Secondary, College, University (maybe 2nd degree) Masters and then the PhD. That year away from study made Andrew realize the value of having a degree, hence he chose to study for a degree in Economics. I believe this decision would provide him with the resolution need to overcome the many challenges he would go on to face as he and his partners struggled to turn their ideas into a visual reality.

Andrew worked as banker in New York for a while before being made redundant in 2010. He could have got another job in New York but instead he returned to London. The difficulties (this was at the height of the global financial crisis) he experienced during the first six months as he searched for a job upon his return made him realize life can’t be taken for granted and he could not rest on his laurels. One of the things I must commend Andrew for is his ability to turn challenges into opportunities. I don’t believe the word impossible is in his vocabulary. I have turned to him for advice on different projects I am working on; after a few minutes conversing with him, I always feel like everything is possible.

The reason I say that Andrew is a credit to a generation is what he represents; honesty, integrity, and perseverance. Meet the Adebanjos has been deemed a success because of its multiple awards, the number of countries it’s been shown in, the legions of fans around the world etc. For me personally, the numerous challenges that had to be overcome are the greatest success story and Andrew is one of the strategic architects. Andrew and Deborah experienced numerous rejections from major UK broadcasters and television production companies as they pitched their idea for an African sitcom, the first of its kind. Andrew could have given up on his objectives and returned to work in the banking industry, but he persevered and he set out to find private investors to fund the project. As mentioned previously, his race and background could have been a barrier in his search to attract investors. But attract investors he did due to his infectiously positive attitude and ability to make people believe in him. Additionally, his reputation preceded him; he had already established himself as a trustworthy and industrious individual who never gives up when faced with adversity. There were no guarantees that the show was going to be success, but self-belief and determination enabled him to persevere and overcome challenges that arose- and there were many.

The first season of the show was produced on an extremely small budget for a TV show that would go on to be watched on three continents. Even more remarkable Andrew chose not to receive remuneration for approximately three years as he built up the profile of the show and the company. He ensured that all investors got a return on their investment and staffs were paid before he took a stipend. I only fully appreciated the magnitude of what Andrew and his partners had accomplished when I was invited to make a cameo appearance on Season 2 of the show. Getting investors was only the beginning, they built a studio set, hired a full staff, conducted the marketing and promotions, put on a theatre show and sold the show to multiple countries around the world.

Andrew worked tirelessly crisscrossing the globe in his quest to make “Meet the Adebanjos” a global success. Qualities such as patience, courage and self-belief were required in order to achieve this objective. He quickly understood and adapted to the rigors of doing business in Nigeria, which he likened to playing chess. In order to avoid the ignominy being told to coming back tomorrow after waiting 8 hours for a meeting with a “big man”, Andrew quickly made himself desirable to the key players in the game in the Nigerian and African entertainment industry, no easy feat for a man in his mid 20’s. He also built key relationships with some the biggest companies in Africa as he developed his company brand. He recently told me that “if you can make it in Lagos make it anywhere in the world”. I am sure that one of the greatest moments of his many journeys was when he gave a speech at the African Business Conference at Harvard Business School in 2013.

Andrew credits the foundations of his success to the belief and support his parents showed in him throughout his life. They saw his abilities and surrounded him with an aura of positivity, this instilled him the drive to pursue his objectives and the belief that nothing is impossible. I would be doing my friend a disservice if I did not acknowledge his wife, friends, partners and team who supported him and helped to make the show a success. Surrounding oneself with the right people is not an easy thing to do, Andrew’s positive attitude attracted positive people.

Two inspirational people- Andrew Osayemi and Deborah Odutuyo

Two inspirational people- Andrew Osayemi and Deborah Odutuyo

I do not bestow the title ‘Credit to Generation’ to Andrew because he is young black and Nigerian. His experiences, qualities and accomplishments should inspire all beyond race, nationalities, sex, age, etc etc; it goes beyond labels or perceptions. Industry experts said the show would not work because there would not be a sufficient audience for it in the UK; Andrew went beyond these shores and sold the show to a worldwide audience. Today, black British actors are campaigning for more diversity on British television. Two young aspiring individuals set up Television Company called MTA Productions with the objective of telling their own stories on their own terms to the world. They broke the mold. I believe Meet the Adebanjos will do for Black British television industry what The Cosby show did for Black American television- break down barriers and create opportunities.

Each one us faces different challenges in our daily lives, we all have hopes and dreams. I hope I have demonstrated through Andrew’s story, that courage, self-belief, positivity and perseverance will enable you to overcome those challenges and achieve your objectives. If you believe in yourself, the right people will believe in you.

Mark my words ladies and gentlemen; Andrew Osayemi and MTA Productions  will have a significant role to play in expansion of African-British Entertainment on the global stage in the very near future.

Andrew Osayemi KKB salutes you.

Credit to a Generation- Andrew Osayemi

Credit to a Generation- Andrew Osayemi

Till next time-KKB Out.

KKB goes to Edinburgh… Land of Castles, Cafes, Rhythm and Rhymes

Kilonshele Everybody

Edinburgh University African Caribbean Society invited me to give a reading of Memoirs of a Young African at the Rhythm and Rhymes event last week- I HAD A BLAST!!!!! Edinburgh is a wonderful city that is built to enable its inhabitants and visitors to move at a measured pace with eloquent efficiency. I arrived at Edinburg Airport early on Wednesday morning and took a bus into the city centre to my humble abode for the night. I got off at the Walfdorf Astoria, admired this magnificent hotel for a few moments before taking another bus to the guesthouse my hosts had graciously booked for me. My perception about Scotland didn’t go beyond the usual, Tartan Kilt, bagpipes, haggis, and William Wallace. I was so excited when upon reaching the guest house I was greeted by a man wearing a kilt, alas he was not an indigene; he was from Lithuania. I was tempted to buy haggis from the local chip shop but I decided that my first taste of this delicacy should be in more authentic environment.

My first visit was to a local café; it was cosy and beautifully decorated. The number of independent café’s in the city added to its sense of tranquillity. I hope they continue to resist the soulless multinational coffee shops on every street corner in London. I had planned to visit Edinburgh Castle but I was advised to take the sightseeing open top bus to tour the city instead. I went to the nearest bus stop, approximately 20 minute walk from the café. After waiting impatiently for about 25 minutes, I decided to visit the castle instead which was at the top of a hill behind the bus stop. I made my way towards the castle, and was confronted by approximately 100+ vertical steps. I began to make my way up these steps reluctantly. When I reached the last step at the top, I looked back down and was shocked to see the bus approaching the bus stop. I ran back down the stairs but could only watch helplessly as it drove off when just as I reached the last bottom step. I was angry and exhausted; I couldn’t face going back up the stairs again so I decided to wait for the next tour bus. You can only imagine my chagrin when the very next stop on the tour was by the top the steps by the castle. I thoroughly enjoyed the tour; Edinburgh is a city, which has majestically kept up with modernity whilst keeping its historical buildings and parks.

I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge a bright and lovely young lady by the name of Shuwanna Arron. She is the African Caribbean Society president and made this reading possible. I was one of the guest perfumers at an event called Rhythm and Rhymes. The last time I was on a University Campus was 12 years ago and this night I felt like an elder statesman amongst these young students. I read a few extracts from MOAYA which was well received by the audience, laughter and applause filled the room. I was overwhelmed when a few of the students approached me afterwards not only to congratulate for the reading but

they commended me for writing such an important book. One student said that based on the extracts I had read, it was a mirror into his own life.

Public speaking is one of my greatest fears, thanks to Shuwanna, Edinburgh University, The African Caribbean Society and all those who gave me words of encouragement- I have just taken the first of many steps to conquering this challenge. This is the first of many public events by KKB… stay tuned

Reading extracts from MOAYA

Reading extracts from MOAYA

writing in the cafe

writing in the cafe

THOSE DAMN STAIRS

  THOSE DAMN STAIRS

Me and the wonderful Shuwanna A

Me and the wonderful Shuwanna

Sight seeing in The Burgh

Sight seeing in The Burgh

 

Reading MOAYA....

Reading MOAYA….

 

Till next time-

KKB Out

50th Blog Post—The Journey so Far!!!!

“The purpose of challenges in life is to overcome them. You can climb over, dig deep or smash through, but never retreat; because when greater challenges arise in the future, you will have in your possession the tools attained in conquering the smaller challenges from the past”. Kabir Kareem-Bello

KILONSHELE MY PEOPLE…….Warmest greeting and salutations……. KKB HAIL YOU ALL O……

The Journey Begins

The Journey Begins

When I posted my first blog on the on the 18th September 2013, I was on the personal quest for meaning and I did not know the destination. This is now the 50th post, what a journey it has been. Firstly, I must thank the most important contributors to KILONSHELE-KKB, YOU MY READERS. If you have been following from the 1st post or just joined recently, I hope you have had a fruitful and enjoyable journey. Without your support, I would not have made the giant strides I have made over the past couple of years. I must acknowledge and thank my Chairman Tega (KKB VS THE CHAIRMAN) and my dear sister Alahaja Moshood (Change is Inevitable) for their enlightening contributions.

I have thoroughly enjoyed writing this blog, which has contributed enormously to my intellectual growth. The earliest posts were the most enjoyable to write. They were the most intimate and funny because it was the beginning of a personal journey of finding myself. I was at a Crossroads in my life and this blog gave me a sense of purpose and direction. I was able to write about inspirational characters I met like Mathew the Rewirer; the Motor boys of Lagos and the guys for “The People You Meet” posts. Although I didn’t know it when I began, some of these early posts were the start of the Quest 4 Identity series.

I would say that my best pieces of writing were:

  • Google is God
  • I will not Apologise; and
  • Quest for Identity Series Part 2: Black History Month: Is it still relevant?

There were extremely important topics and I felt a sense of responsibility to share my thoughts.

The most difficult posts to write were those from the KKB in 9iaja part 2 blocs, in December 2014. The Poor Education vs. No Education piece was especially challenging. Although I still regret not sharing the experiences which prompted the “Freedom without Discipline=Chaos” post; I have learnt and grown from those experiences which itself requires a great deal of courage. My favourite character has to be the taxi driver from the “Fight at the pump” post; I still cannot believe that man’s audaciousness.

My greatest joy is making people laugh, I will be forever grateful that some of my posts has brought smiles to many faces. I hope that other posts have inspired you and enabled some critical thinking in this new age of populism and zombies. Writing these posts has given me the courage to face and overcome many challenges in my life. It has provided me with the opportunity to meet wide a range of individuals who have contributed to its success without even knowing. Kilonshele-KKB.COM has enabled me to evaluate and re-evaluate my viewpoints on many of life’s issues and has inspired me to continue my pursuit to change the world for the better.

Thank you again for being on this journey with me, I truly appreciate it and I hope we can continue together. Please share your thoughts on your favourite or most inspiring post(s) in the comments section below.

KKB SALUTES YOU ALL………..

Till next time, KKB OUT.

 

The journey continues...destination unknown....

The journey continues…destination unknown….

Mathew the rewirer

Mathew the rewirer

The people you meet!!

The people you meet!!

Diaspora or Citizen?

Kilonshele ladies and gentlemen

Things will be a little different for this week’s post, I would like to ask you a question in order to open up a discussion.  I recently described myself to someone as “A product of the diaspora with my roots in Nigeria”. After a couple of minutes of reflection I thought to myself “What the f*ck are you talking about”? I still don’t know, so I would like to ask:

Can one consider oneself a Member of the Diaspora Community and also a Full Citizen of the resident country? Is this a paradox or compatible?

Feel free share your thoughts in the comments box below and share this post/question with others.

Till next time

KKB Out

In defence of Nelson Mandela…the last freedom fighter!!!

Charges by the Prosecution-

“The white people bought and sold him like that…”

“He betrayed the blacks of South Africa; he was a Western Stooge…..”

“He should have done more for South Africa…..”

“They broke him when he was in prison….”

 

Kabir Kareem-Bello for the Defence

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury, these charges have been laid against my client over the past few years by various factions. The defence contends that these accusations are based on unfounded postulation and emotional reasoning. I will not eulogise the man; world leaders, celebrities and better orators than me have already done so extensively. Instead I will attempt defend him against the baseless charges listed above.

The prosecution have not been able to provide a single cogent motive for the actions my client has been charged with. The main crux of these charges is based on the notion that my client gave black South Africans a raw deal at the end of Apartheid era. The prosecution alleges that my client failed to adhere to content of the ANC Freedom Charter. Most crucially, the vast social and economic disparity in South Africa since the end of Apartheid is the prosecutions “smoking gun” against my client. It has even been suggested by some that life was better in South Africa when the whites were in charge. The defence deem these charges fallacious and a travesty not only against my client but the Thousands who fought and died to bring an end to one of the darkest periods of the 20th century, Apartheid. These unsung heroes and heroines of all races must not be forgotten.

The defence accuses the prosecution of trivialising the horrors and effects of Apartheid by bringing these accusations against my client. Additionally, they lack knowledge and understanding of history. He is accused of being a traitor because the “equality, freedom, riches etc.” that was expected after the end of Apartheid has not materialised at the speed that some expected. You, members of the jury must acknowledge that the current situation in South Africa is a residue of hundreds of years of colonialism and over 50 years of the systematic and absolute application of Apartheid. There are multiple generations of South Africans who did not receive adequate education; do you know what this does to the fabric of a nation. Four years as President of Nation is insufficient time to heal years of physical, and mental torment and anguish.

Before Mr. Mandela was the hero to millions around the world, he was fighting for justice for thousands of people as lawyer in the townships of South Africa. Before he was the face of hope and personification of fight for freedom and equality, he had fought and won many battles against a system which stripped human beings of their dignity, curtailed their freedom and abused their human rights. The defence does not suggest that people should not be angry at the current situation in South Africa. Poverty is rife amongst the black majority; whilst the vast majority of the country’s natural wealth still belongs to the white minority. To lay the cause at my client’s feet is as disingenuous as suggesting that he brought down Apartheid single handedly.

There are those who say that my client was broken in prison, which is why he gave up the armed struggle, and bowed to the demands of the white minority government. This argument lacks intelligence and is logically flawed. My client took up the armed struggle as a last resort because the oppressors used violence against them and the world was not listening. During the 27 years in prison, his freedom was offered in exchange for giving up the armed struggle which- he had the courage to refuse. It makes no logical sense that he would “sell out” his people and the struggle, which had fought so hard and sacrificed so much for when the world was watching and listening. It would have been illogical to continue the armed struggle when the tide was turning in their favor. Mr. Mandela was the face of “the struggle” faced by millions. He was the hope of a better tomorrow that wouldn’t die; his courage gave people the strength to face the barrel of machine guns to fight for their freedom. A number tragically lost their lives; so to suggest that my client would tarnish their memories is a charge that we should all fight against.

The defence acknowledges that Mr. Mandela and the ANC leadership made a number of concessions during the negations to end Apartheid namely failure to nationalise the country’s vast mineral resources and repatriation of land. The long and hard fought battle against Apartheid was on the cusp of being won; it would be unfair to expect my client to begin the fight against capitalism. The economic powers belonged to a few in South Africa similar to the vast majority of countries in the world. The political battle had been won with the end of Apartheid and the foundations for the economic battles had been laid. My client and the ANC leadership expected this battle to be continued by the next generation of freedom fighters. As a leader of the fight against racial inequality and struggle for freedom & equality; and then the leader of a nation, Mr. Mandela understood that it was a lot harder to sue for peace than to start a war. He had the courage and foresight to put aside his own bitterness and anger in order to unite and heal a nation.

There can be no peace in the world without freedom from inequality. Poverty is a form of Apartheid for millions across the world; the difference is that it does not care about race or creed. The fight for justice, equality and freedom did not end when my client walked out prison on the 11th of February 1990; in fact it was just the beginning. My client knew this, after his tenure as president; he continued the fight for freedom for his people through educating the nation about the scourge of HIV in South Africa.

In this age of # activists; we should not project the limits of our comprehension on Mr. Nelson Mandela. Do not trivialise the sacrifices made by him and thousands of others who fought for the rights of the basic freedoms that you take for granted. Based on the arguments above, my client has no case to answer.

The defence for Nelson Mandela, the last freedom fighter rests.

 

Till next time next week-KKB Out

Education is the right for all….but is University for everybody?

“Going to University is akin to having a passport, its up to you to decide where you want to go with it” #Rappy Random

 

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How many of us are actually in careers related to the degrees we studied. Doctors, Lawyers and the likes excluded. I mean, if your lawyer tells you “I got my degree from the streets of hard knocks”, you are in some serious shit. I have a degree in Business and Marketing but my career is in Quality Assurance Mgt. (The writing is a side hustle till I reach those J.K Rawlings numbers)

Readers of Memoirs of a Young African will understand the significance of my degree, but I have on many occasions’ questioned the tangible benefits of me going to Uni. I was seriously disillusioned in the months after my graduation because a few weeks into applying for “graduate jobs” the realities of life hit my like a donkey kick. All my life, I had believed that Degree=Job; alas each Marketing job I wanted to apply for required “marketing experience”. I hit my lowest ebb when I saw a vacancy, which stated “NO GRADUATES”. I felt like I had been deceived all my life “this is not how it is supposed to be” I thought to myself. I mean I have a Bachelor’s of Arts (We Nigerians and our titles abi?) I spend another 18 miserable months working in retail before I got a job as an Admin officer. Don’t get me wrong; I am not in any way shape or form devaluing my degree. I worked damn hard for it and my parents worked and sacrificed for me to get it. It will forever be one of my greatest achievements.

Proud Parent on my Graduation Day

Proud Parents on my Graduation Day

“Kabir, I want you to study Medicine at University”

“But Dad, I studied Business Studies at College”

“It doesn’t matter son, its not hard, your uncles have done it”

Sound familiar! I had this conversation with Alhaji when applying for university 2000. I have had numerous conversations with people who have shared the same experience “You are going to study Medicine”!! “You are going to be an accountant”. The consensus is, Nigerian parents always want their children to study Medicine, Law, Engineering, and Accounting etc. The situation may be changing now, but in my time, there was pressure on my peers to study subjects, which our parents thought were significant/prestigious and would lead to a successful career. Art, Drama or Theatre was not subjects one dared presented to one’s parents as a degree option.

At the other end of the spectrum, the value I attach to receiving my degree and the time I spent at Uni increases every time I visit Nigeria. I have heard too many stories of 3 year degree programs taking 6-7 years to complete because of strikes, violence on campuses, financial difficulties etc. What is even more difficult to digest is the bleak job prospects facing graduates upon receiving their degrees. I will not put the experiences of graduates in Nigeria who have been unemployed for 5-6 years on par with difficulties faced by graduates’ in UK.  Too many harrowing stories to share!! A prevalent trend is for graduates to study for their MA or 2nd degrees, sadly this will probably only increases of gaining employment by a slim margin. Even more worrying, is the prevailing perception or reality that a BA Degree from a University abroad is worth more than a Master’s from a Nigerian Public University? This is testament to the dire state of my/our nation. My parent’s generation left Nigeria to study abroad with the intention of returning to help build their nation. Now for many, obtaining a student visa is an opportunity to escape the country; sometimes for good. How many of us know somebody who keeps on studying just to get a visa extension.

Nigeria has within it the great minds needed to build a great nation, but they lack the tools to build with and the foundations for which to build upon!!!! KKB

I propose we that we need a “Philosophical Revolution “and/or a “Paradigm Shift” when it comes to education-in Nigeria and the Diaspora.*(My Oga at the top)  I believe that each individual  has a unique talents and abilities which isn’t necessarily academic or fits into the subjects I have alluded to above. The opportunities for vocational training and education should be considered for the development of the individual, the community and the nation. There are numerous examples of people who have been extremely successful in their fields without a University Degree- e.g. Richard Branson. Then there is ample evidence that a University Degree doesn’t necessarily equate to competence- Nigeria’s “Incumbent” being a prime example.

My time at University has helped to elevate and shape my outlook of the world and significantly contributed to the successes I have experienced in my life so far. Following on from the quote by #Rappy Random, i believe that education does not stop at University or begin in the classroom. It begins in the home and should continue until we choose to stop. Ultimately, it about what one does with the level of education he or she is able to attain that should determine success.

Looking back now, while I was in secondary school, my favourite subjects were English and History. I should have studied something along those lines at Uni, it took me 30 years to apply my natural talents. To show that its not too late to pursue one’s dreams, I have decided to go back to University to study for my degree in Creative Writing and get my MA in Migration and Diaspora studies. Does anybody have £12k they can lend me? 🙂

I would like to acknowledge two wonderful people whose tremendous support and friendship at University helped me to attain my BA Degree: Mary Iseghohi and John Odutuyo- THANK YOU!!!

*Debate coming soon

Till next time KKB Out

9th February 2015

Next blog post will be published on 23/02/2015- In Defense of Nelson Mandela…

Change is Inevitable…. Sometimes all we have is our Memories…..

Q4IS Series: Part 4- Guest Writer Ajoke Moshood

KKB and 1st Guest Writer for Kilonshele-KKB.com

KKB and 1st Guest Writer for Kilonshele-KKB.com

My name is Ajoke, I was born in Ogun State, Nigeria. My childhood years were formed in Ijebuland; my teenage and early adult years in Lagos; and have spent most of my adult life in Great Britain. I have decided to share my story with you, with the hope that some of you some will be able to connect with my experiences.

During many conversations with my fellow Nigerian’s in diaspora over the past 20 year years, I observed that most of us reminiscence about life in Nigeria. We like to believe or (hope) that most things (people and places) would remain as we left it. We reminisce about our childhood years with fondness, the environment and community that we had lived, and would like to think that we are still part of these communities. I nurtured this same belief albeit subconsciously, that is until I went home and was faced with reality.

I have always remembered the Islamic Eid –el Adha celebrations with fondness during my childhood. I loved the way it brought families and neighbours together, it was a time for sharing and togetherness. As children we would engage in play such as Ram (cattle) racing and fighting within the neighbourhood in the days leading up the Eid el Adha. The day before Eid, the ram would be washed and groomed; its coat will be spotless, ready for the next day. All these activities added to the fun.

It was a day when all the family members came home from far and wide, an opportunity reunite with distant relatives and meet new additions to the family. After assembling at my father’s house (the Imam), the whole local Muslim community would all walk together to the praying ground at the edge of town. The procession would be led by horse riders with pomp and pageantry followed by the faith leaders and the worshippers chanting and praising Allah in solemn mood. After Eid prayers, we would greet friends and families, and old acquaintances. It is tradition to take another route on the return journey home, everyone would be dancing to music and the air is generally filled with so much joy and laughter. On arrival at my father’s house, breakfast was served and we will all gather round to eat together as a family at the balcony. The ram(s) was then slaughtered after a small prayer. The whole family would gather round where the meat is being carved up and divided. The atmosphere would be electric as every one is fighting for space and competing for pieces of meat. We as children ran errands distributing meat to friends and families around town. The more errands you ran the more gifts of money you received.

The first time I spent Eid in Nigeria after I arrived in the UK was in 2003, after 14 years. After I got married, tradition dictated that I remained with my husband family during the Eid celebration. The only opportunity to visit my father’s house was after the Eid day itself. I have visited at other times before then, it was not possible at Eid times due to children school holidays. I didn’t go to my father’s house because my parents had already passed away. I had the opportunity to spend my 2nd Eid in my own town 20 years after I got married. Over the years, I had visualised my community and have always wondered how much had changed. I wanted to re- live the nostalgia of my child hood. I took it for granted that my siblings living in Nigeria would still pay the traditional homage during the festival, I wanted to surprise them, so did not inform them of my pending visit. The chance to see what is left of my extended family, old friends and neighbours filled me with exhilaration. I was so much looking forward to a joyful re-union- with my childhood memories.

Alas, I was very disappointed to say the least. My siblings did not travel back to the family home anymore since all our parents passed away. Their families have grown bigger and they all remained in their normal abodes in the other parts of the country. There was no more gathering at my father’s house either. The Eid procession from my neighbourhood had stopped, no more horse rides. Individual families now drove to the praying ground; only a small number went on foot, instead of going collectively as a community like we did during my childhood. Furthermore, when I got to the praying ground I did not recognise anyone and no one recognised me apart from two of my brother’s friends. I guess like me, most of my friends were now married and they had gone to seek greener pastures.

I noticed that the size of the families had grown larger, modern cars, buildings and bigger rams and cows were slaughtered for Eid. There were fewer bikes on the roads, and children spent their time indoors watching T.V. and playing games. There were less interactions as most of the houses are now fenced with gates. The town had now expanded and changed beyond my recognition. Most of the houses were deserted, with few older generations living in them. The new ones were now occupied by non indigenes. All my friends and school mates either lives abroad or had relocated to new areas in town.

I felt completely lost, deflated and now felt like a total stranger in my place of birth.

My sense of happiness at home was now hollow, I could hear all the voices and echoes from past years, but there were neither old jokes nor memories to share. I became bored quickly and there was a big hole of emptiness in my heart.

I went to my aunt’s house where I spent most of my time as a child, after her passing, the house was now occupied by tenants. I stood outside the house looking in from across the road; I did not see any face one that I recognised in that neighbourhood. I was asked by one of the tenants if I required assistance. She had the impression that I was lost- lost it in the town of my birth. She asked me if I was new in the town, I told her that I used to live in that house, she murmured her sympathy and left me alone.

I drove round the town, I was not able to locate my old school on my own; the farm lands and empty grounds where we played were now built up; I could barely recognise the local stream when I got there, there is now a small bridge over it.

I had always thought t that my community would remain the same even though in reality I expected some changes. Our child hood is our first love and experience of live. Every other experience that comes afterwards is usually mirrored on out first love.

This experience showed me that ”home is where the heart is” may not necessarily mean our ancestral home. It may also means familiarity of people and places and where we are most comfortable. Living in a foreign land has also taught me that when we migrate for greener pastures in another land, our homestead looses its fabrics and all that we associate with it.

As we contribute to our new communities in diaspora, I ask you the question “Are you getting more or less?

By Alhaja Ajoke Moshood

Guest Writer- A.Moshood

Guest Writer- A.Moshood

I beg comot jo…

What’s really good all..

After the immensity of the content of last week’s post, I thought I should go with something lighter this week.

I was at making my way home last night and I went to catch train from Kenington tube underground station. This station is equipped with lifts instead of elevators and there are three barriers, one for entry and the two for exiting. When I got to the barriers, one of the lifts had arrived and their was a woman standing in front of the one entry barrier. She touched her oyster card to the reader, it beeped and read, “seek assistance”, she touched it a second time “it beeped and read “seek assistance”. I am by a nature a patient person, but I was eager to get home to watch the highlights of Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Manchester City. My patience was wearing thin after the third failed attempt and I expected her to take heed of the message and seek assistance, No? I was conscious that the lift doors would close any second. She touched the card for a fourth time, and it was unsuccessful. This woman had the audacity to go for a 5th attempt….those who know me best probably wont be surprised by what happened next.

I said, “excuse me”; as soon as she turned around I touched my own card and went through the barrier. I entered the lift and a few seconds later, she followed me in, suffice to say she was not best pleased. If looks could kill, I would be in a mortuary right now instead of writing this post.

The incident has played on my mind since it happened, i don’t think I did anything wrong but what do you think?

Was I right or was I incredibly rude?

 

Till next time- KKB Out