Of Etisalat Nigeria, Books, and the Next Generation

Stopping Etisalat Nigeria’s Misleading Advert on DSTv… #BooksStillRock

I do not know how many of you have seen or come across Etisalat Nigeria’s (@Etisalat_9ja) #CliqLite advert on DSTv Nigeria, and I do not know what you think about it. If you have not paid attention to it, I would recommend that you do the next time it comes on.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I have always been an early adopter of technology. I love tech and use tech, but something about this advert just niggles me. I have caught the advert a few times on DSTv (which for some reason appears to be the only place it is currently aired – I stand to be corrected), and every time, it just leaves a sour taste in my mouth.

Maybe because of the way the advert starts. The advert has a female child talking about how books are this and that and mentions that books are heavy and complicated, and then here comes #CliqLite to the rescue to solve the issues of heavy and complicated books…

Like Seriously??? While the advert is a generally nice one, it is sad that that is what Etisalat’s PR strategy people could come up with!!! Come on guys!!!

While I admit that technology and the CliqLite platform have a lot of fun features to help kids learn and have fun, I think it is criminally insensitive to disparage books in a bid to sell/market a product.

I have children and frankly, I think today’s children have too much screen time. Years down the line, I believe our societies will begin to see a few health and behavioral issues associated with too much screen time (i.e. if they haven’t begun to manifest already). Enough said.

I think every child should read, and read books, real books. Call me a traditionalist, but turning pages to explore and learn is still a veritable way of learning and having fun. I have a bookshelf full of books that it is my hope that one day my children would all read, and then even read more than I have (especially the good stuff)…

What Etisalat Nigeria is promoting with this message is misleading and dangerous to say the least, especially to young and impressionable minds. Throw that message into a mix of children who are generally lazier than their forebears were at those ages. Throw that message into a society where you also wonder how many children have access to those nice gadgets and gizmos you see in the advert. How many of these children can pay you the N48,000 to get a #CliqLite Tablet with all the fun in the whole universe. To tell some of these children that books are complicated will only increase their aversion for reading and even when they have these resources available, will spend most of the time playing just the games.

We need our children to read books (real books and not just the digital ones). We need to show them how to turn those pages and then watch them do it of their own volition. We may get to eradicate the physical books one day, but in Nigeria, we are not there yet and need to pass the right messages across.

As a product of all the books I have read and I am still reading, I would like to raise a campaign to stop that advert on TV. I would like as many people as who have seen this advert and feel same, to raise their voices against such misconceptions promulgated because of marketing strategies. #BooksStillRock

#CliqLite may offer a world of fun and stuff for children but DO NOT create wrong impressions in their young minds because you want to sell a product (just in case you are wondering, it is not a free service).

So, will you join me in this campaign?? As a responsible company, Etisalat Nigeria needs to pull that advert and replace it with one that is more responsible to our children and teaches the right concepts. Somebody in their PR department did not do their jobs properly.

If you will, then either spread this message or create one of your own and let folks around you know.

 You may however choose to disparage this write-up and pass it off as one who is not in touch with the current trends… I can assure you that you will be very very far from the truth.

God bless…

From A Concerned Parent Who Loves Books

#BooksStillRock

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Uncompromising!

oktionz

Several weeks ago while at work I called on a colleague . I was fed up. Our exchange went something like this

ME: I don’t care anymore. I’m tired. I’m just going to let them do whatever they want to!
Colleague: No, you can’t do that. You can’t compromise. You’re doing some good even though it doesn’t seem so to you.
ME: (pause for a while)… I didn’t see it that way but I guess you are right. I would be compromising my standards.
Colleague: Yes you would be and all the work you’ve put in so far would have been for nothing. You have to hang in there. Things won’t be like this forever. You’ll see.
We both work in healthcare, alongside a team and taking care of patients . I was about to quit. I was about  to compromise  and give in to office dynamics and pressures but…

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Goodness and Mercy

Goodness and Mercy
©Brenda Mangalore/Sashé Studio

“A man of faith does not live in anticipation of evil”… Dr. Okey Onuzo

When we pray (especially at meetings or gatherings or maybe even personally), we would usually conclude by saying the Grace and the last verse of Psalm 23.

It opens with, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life…”

Been thinking upon this for some time now.

It is amazing how people say this so much and yet have a fear of evil/or bad things befalling them.

It says “Surely…” Surely speaks of certainty. It leaves no room for contest.

Our disposition to daily life should be rooted in this confession.

Expecting everyday that good things will happen to us.

Expecting goodness always, and mercy where we do not measure up

It is way way better to expect good to happen than live perpetually in fear of evil.

So, here is my own paraphrase of this wonderful verse of scripture:

“Surely, goodness (good things, people, news, circumstances, favours, tidings, opportunities, blessings and God’s inexhaustible supply) and mercy (covered by the blood of Jesus that speaks better things on my behalf) shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD (sheltered, fed and nourished, clothed, shielded and protected, rested, with absolute peace of mind) forever.” Praise God!

Feel free to add to the list.

God bless.

Cuddled in Heaven…

Jay2

On the 10th of June, 2016, my second son, Jeremy Chikasi Chinedum, went to be with the Lord after a rather brief illness. He was only 19 months old. I stood there and watched his transition. Never have I felt so helpless, so unable to do anything, so… As he struggled to breathe in those final moments, especially in the face of the gross inadequacies in our healthcare system, God knows I would have done anything to keep him here.

Pain!!! Soul-searing, heart-wrenching, mind-curdling pain!!! The tears flowed freely. It was not just my eyes crying, it was every part of me – spirit, soul, and body! So difficult to comprehend…

I said to myself in that moment, that this is not an experience that anybody should ever have.

Jay, as we fondly called you. You are sorely missed! It has been a month now but it all still seems like yesterday.

I was saying to your mum a few days ago that it was though you knew you were not long for this world and so your zeal and zest was to explore as much of it as you could in the time you were given.

You climbed everything. As long as it could be climbed, it had to be, and possibly sat on.

Jay4

All our barricades, even the ones that worked for your elder brother, did not work for you. You somehow found a way to get around them. For you, the television was one giant iPad, and I used to look on in amusement at the confusion on your face, when the screen did not respond to your little touches. The bookshelf was a wonder maze for you. You had learned quite early the art of moving side-stools to whatever was out of reach in order to reach them.

Here are the things I so miss…

The scream of ‘Daddyyyyyyy…’, when I get back from anywhere

The successive world wars that were each episode of trying to feed you cooked food, especially when you knew mum and dad were in the house.

The ‘Jay’ Dance. Ah, your feet were meant to dance, and dance you did. With little provocation and at the slightest opportunity, you were off in all sorts of jiggles, twists and turns, as far your little legs could carry you. You danced with glee and with the cutest giggles.

All your expressions: kikar (when you wanted water); caryi (when you wanted to be carried), yight (when PHCN decided to grace us with it), AC (the generic term for all switches), tanku (thank you), iPar (to indicate when you wanted the iPad) and then there is your favorite song, ‘I love you, you love me…’.

Ah, Jay!!!

You were the quintessential ‘gum body’. For you, body contact was everything; whether it was me, your mum, and especially your brother, once you were with any of us, you just had to sit on, lie on, or sit by the person. You also did not care whether your brother complained or not, as far as you were concerned, that was the way to stay.

The AC switch will definitely miss you. It was like a magnet for you, and the best of toys. Off on, off on, off on … you went with it at the slightest opportunity.

Like your elder brother when he was the same age, putting off the TV while we were all watching it, was a favorite sport. Picking up the remote control was essentially to change whatever channel anyone was watching. It was as though your little mind felt that staying on one channel for prolonged periods was bad for health.

Your brother is still trying to get to grips with it and misses you sorely. Sometimes, he inadvertently makes it difficult for us when he starts asking about you and wanting to see you. He and I were going out once, and it was about to rain. He said, ‘Daddy, it’s about to rain’. When I asked why, he said, ‘I do not want the rain to fall on Jesus’ head when he is bringing Jeremy back’.

You were everyone’s darling. Jerry Okoye was a popular appellation in Church. I still see you running around the whole place and being carried by everyone.

Jay, we miss you so. The last five words are a pitiful expression of the current reality.

I have never had to pray for your brother as much as I have had to pray about you. Some of the revelations concerning you were quite scary. There was just something about you that made the enemy so afraid, and he had tried to hurt you several times. It would appear that he has succeeded, but as usual, he cannot comprehend the big picture. Just like it was said concerning our Lord, if the princes of this world had known (fully understood God’s plan), they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory. If only he knew… for I know there is always a plan. God does not do arbitrary things.

God has helped us tremendously through this time. He has surrounded us with love and people, and the comfort of the Holy Spirit. It has not been easy. My heart still bleeds, the occasional tear still escapes, but I know it is gradually mending. More times now than in the past few weeks, I remember you and a smile comes to my face instead of tears to my eyes. I choose to focus on God’s grace to us this period, rather than focus on the pain.

I draw comfort from sensing that the Lord Himself personally supervised your passing. Your brother said a few hours after you had passed that he was happy that you are happy (how on earth he knew and sensed that, beats me). Jesus is taking care of you now. I sometimes imagine you playing with the angels and having fun exploring the reaches of heaven, frolicking on the streets of gold, having the time of your life and eternity.

A part of me is in heaven. I have one more reason to make sure I get there. A part of me wonders what you would look like when I eventually see you, if you would still be a little boy or a man fully grown, if you would still call me Daddy or (do not know what else), if…

You have joined the cloud of witnesses cheering us from the grandstands of heaven. Seeing you once again is a great impetus to run this race even better.

This is my tribute to the 19 months we had you. Left to us, we would not have let you go but this is the reality we now have to live with. If we did not have you, we would not have such pleasant memories.

Jehovah…, You are God and Father. I bow to you now and always. Though my heart and emotions feel like they are in shreds, yet I submit to You. Everything that You do is good (may be painful in the interim) and always works out for good. My trust is in this and that You are constantly with us.

For all who have stood with us during this period (family, friends (close and distant), colleagues, and  church members), may God be with you and I pray you never experience such pain. Your love and care is most appreciated. The title of this piece was taken from the title of the poem written by the Junior Church of The Stone Church, Abuja (which I must confess, I have not had the courage to read).

At the graveside, I said I will see you again… We may have buried you, but God has not buried you. How that will work out, only time and eternity will tell.

Adieu son. Sleep well. Have fun with Jesus and I am sure He is as excited to have you as we were when we had you.

Praise God.

Loved forever,

Dad

More Than Your Local Issues…

Many Christians know that we are engaged in spiritual warfare, but for most of us, the perception of that warfare is not really as it is. We think of it in the sense that the enemy, the devil, is out to stop our progress, to stop our prosperity, to stop us from being rich… This kind of thinking is so local to ourselves and our issues, that it fails in every way to represent what God wants to do in, and through us.

We forget that the primary reason the enemy resists us, is to try to stop the purpose of God from being fulfilled on the earth, from being fulfilled in our lives.

We need to understand that the first aspect of the purpose of God is that Christ be formed in our hearts and lives. Without this purpose being accomplished, every other one is moot. God’s primary purpose for us is to be like Christ, to be conformed to the image of His Son (Rom. 8: 29, Gal. 4:19). The enemy understands this also, so keeps us distracted with all sorts of pursuits, wrong teaching, wrongly focused spiritual exercises, essentially frustrating the grace and the purpose of God. In a sense, we have become like soldiers armed with sophisticated and deadly weaponry but shooting in all sorts of directions, with no coordinated fire, and making absolutely no impact.

We then spend our lives running in circles, not really making much spiritual progress, and essentially hitting our heads against the ‘wall’. Endless pursuits that offer no real spiritual advantage. Pursuing ‘enemies’ both real, contrived, and imagined, instead of chasing after God.

Till we realize that our most important pursuit is to be like Christ in all that we are and do, then we will never make the impact on our world that God expects from us. We will never be able to, like the early church, ‘turn the world upside down’ for Christ. We will always be the pursued not the pursuer. The victim, not the victor. The oppressed not the oppressor. At the mercy of the devil and his cohorts. Our ‘Christianity’ will never find the true fulfillment that God intended.

When this primary purpose of God is established in our lives, then all the things we seek and so strongly desire, become ours. They come into our lives with the ease and grace that God promised that they would. They come as a blessing that adds no sorrow. They come with much grace in a manner that preserves our lives rather than decimates it.

We need to clearly know and understand that as long as our purposes are not aligned with God’s, they fail to matter in the general scheme of things. God’s purposes have far-reaching intentions, way beyond our own ‘local’ issues.

So, focus on God. He will show you what to pray, how to pray, and what to do. This strengthens you to resist the enemy’s attempts to frustrate God’s purpose in and for your life. Focus on Christ. Everyday of your life is supposed to see something about Him birthed in your life. The Apostle Paul put it very clearly in Ephesians 4:13 as the purpose for God putting ministry gifts in the Church.

…Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God,
unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:… (KJV)

This is God’s main purpose for us. This is the basis on which our Christianity will be judged. This is the pathway to continuous victory in life.

God bless…

 

Tribute to Friendship – 20 Years and Onward

One Family Under God
One Family Under God – Reunion 2013

I cannot say exactly how it all started, but when I count some of the good things that have happened to me, being part of this great circle of friendship ranks among one of the best.

Our origins date back to 1994, to those days in Prelim Science, our first year in the University of Ibadan. I cannot now say what triggered it all, but in retrospect I think a passionate love for God was key to our coming together.

That first year in Ibadan was particularly interesting. Lectures at the Faculty Lecture Theatre (FLT) and New Lecture Theatre (NLT) and particularly, rushing from the one to the other in a bid to get good seats due to the huge number of students in the class. 7am lectures. Some of us keeping seats for some of us… tsk tsk tsk.

From that first year, some our ‘traditions’ were set. We met every Friday evening to pray. We prayed almost every Friday from that point onwards (as long as school was in session) till we graduated in 2001. Ah! We prayed. Those prayer meetings were one of the major highlights of the week for me. From pre-clinical to clinical school, from beside FLT to the University College Hospital (UCH) football field, we prayed. We realized that Medical School was a daunting challenge and survival required strength greater than any we could muster. Writing this, I am a bit overwhelmed with nostalgia. I recall some of those meetings, the singing, the prophecies, the intercession, the worship…

We dined. We had gourmet cooks amongst us and generally, we had no lack of culinary skills. Many of us (mostly the guys) could hold their very comfortable owns in that department. So, from room to room, we shared alimentary fellowship. Saturdays were devoted to these events. I cannot now recall the frequency, but it was another thing to had looked forward to from time to time. I also recall that somewhere along the line in clinical school, this particular aspect of our social lives fell by the wayside…

We studied together. We had some serious ‘eficos’ (bookworms) among us. We had regular discussion group meetings which tended to increase in intensity as the different MBBS exams reared their ugly heads.

If you are reading this, I guess you have basically realized that the majority of us are doctors.

We are Ibo, Yoruba, Itsekiri, and some we cannot directly classify. Yet, despite our cultural diversity and sometimes very obvious and strongly held differences, we have remained as one. Our diversity and level of intellect also mean we do not always agree, especially considering that it easily gets quite hot under the collar for a few of us; however, we have weathered the literal storms and are still together.

We are Nigeria and an example of how its people should live; where cultural identity does not matter, love and acceptance rules the day, looking out for one another is vital, and praying for each other is critical for survival.

We are Christian. We believe in the Lordship of Jesus Christ and hold Him so dear to our lives.

We believe in the sanctity of marriage; that the family is the bedrock of society; and that having homes built on the foundation of love and faith in God is vital to bringing about much desired change in society.

We are not all here though and I would like to use this opportunity to pay tribute to Dr. Samuel Adejumo. Your passing was a great pain and loss to us, but we know that you are in a much better place, and we all look forward to seeing you someday at the feet of the Master.

So many stories to tell, some experiences that may sound stranger than fiction to some people. There have been joys and there has been pain and there have also been nights under the almond tree… wink!

So, before this begins to get very boring, this is my celebration of over 20 years of dear friendship and my being thankful to God for bringing all of us together. I love you guys and you are simply the best.

As I end this, I say to us all that there is always a reason. God brought us together for a purpose, both for our collective benefit but majorly to bring glory to His name through something much bigger than us all. Selah!

God bless…

PS: Funny that it took over one year to write such a short piece…. Hmmmm….

Triggers of a Generational Blessing (Part II)

Welcome to the concluding part of the series Triggers of a Generational Blessing. My prayer is that as you read, the Spirit of God will breathe upon your heart and guide your feet towards triggering a general blessing for your lineage. Be blessed as you read.

“… For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” – Apostle Peter

Triggers

The scriptures tell us that the things that were written were written for our learning, that through them, hope would be instilled in us (Rom. 15 vs. 4), and that they also happened as examples especially for us who live in these present times (1 Cor. 10 vs. 11).

So then, what do we learn from the stories in the previous post?

  • Obedience to God

From Abraham’s encounter we see how his obedience to God triggered a blessing that was well beyond anything he could have imagined in his heart and mind. God blessed Abraham for his obedience in spite of the extremely difficult (in natural terms) instructions he had been given. When the Lord God saw that Abraham was ready to obey to the letter without any hesitation, He quickly called to him to stop, and then swore by Himself to bless Abraham.

It is pertinent to point out, that this was not some random event or occurrence of obedience. Reading Abraham’s story, his obedience to instructions by God is chronicled through each page of his life; the sacrifice of Isaac was like the tipping point which brought with it the blessing.

  • Obedience to Parental Authority

The Rechabites were blessed with perpetuity in their lineage because they honoured the word of their father Jonadab more than that of Jeremiah, who was acting on instructions from God. In today’s world, that would probably create a conundrum for the average Christian. God knew that their father had issued them a number of instructions, one of which was that they were not to drink wine. Yet, He commanded Jeremiah to take them into the house of God and give them wine to drink. This was a test of their obedience, not to God, but to the instruction of their father. It was also supposed to serve as a lesson in obedience to the rather rebellious house of Israel. The Rechabites honored the word of their father and till today as sure as God’s Word stands, the descendants of Jonadab are still on the face of the earth.

  • Initiative

King David did not receive any instruction from God to build Him a house. He also made no sacrifice or pass through a test of obedience in his case. In actual fact, the price of David’s blessing was the price of an idea or even more accurately, the price of a perceived need. David felt it was wrong for him to dwell in a house of cedar while the Ark of God remained in a tent. His immediate resolve to do something about the situation caught God’s attention in a wonderful way. David unwittingly connected to something that was in the plan of God for all of humanity. God’s plan was for the Messiah to be a legitimate heir to the throne of Israel. David’s initiative and God’s blessing for it set him up to be the father of a dynasty of kings from which the King of kings would eventually physically descend.

Exhortation

The work that was done at Calvary was complete. The Lord Jesus said “It is finished” and indeed it is. The Bible clearly tells us that we are new creations in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 5 vs. 17), ALL THINGS are become new. He blotted out the handwriting of ordinances that were against us and that were contrary to us; He took them out of the way, nailing EVERYTHING to His cross (Col. 2 vs. 14). Rom. 6 vs. 4 tells us that in the same manner Christ was raised from the dead, we should walk in newness of life.

Take a step back for a moment and study the lineage of Abraham, David, and the Rechabites. God asked Abraham to leave his country, kindred, and father’s house to go to a place He would show him. Abraham’s ancestors were most likely involved in idol worship. His ancestry did not have any effect on his obedience to God and did not count one bit when God pronounced the blessing. Abraham had developed a lifestyle of continued obedience to God (e.g. leave your father’s household; circumcise all the males in your household; send Ishmael away; sacrifice Isaac etc.). In Isaiah 1 vs. 19, the bible says that if we were willing and obedient, we would eat the fruit of the land, as Abraham proved. This kind of blessing could care less if one’s ancestral antecedents were rooted in all kinds of maleficence.

For King David, it is worthy of note that his ancestral lineage included Rahab the harlot, who was his great great grandmother. Now, that did not stop God from anointing him king or from blessing him with an eternal dynasty of kings.

Based on the principle of First Mention, it is likely that the Rechab mentioned in 2 Samuel 4 was the ancestor of the Rechabites. You would see from that scripture that he was not a good man. He was a murdering opportunist who in a bid to curry favor from King David, along with his brother Baanah, slew King Ish-bosheth while he was in bed having a siesta. Somewhere along his lineage, Jonadab came along (2 Kings 10 vs. 15 & 23). Jonadab was allied with King Jehu in ridding Israel of the idolatrous mess Ahab had created. You would think that the evil deeds of their father would prompt them to change their name and probably be known as the Jonadabites (because of his good deeds) instead of the Rechabites. They kept the name but heeded the righteous instruction of Jonadab, and God blessed them for it. Also note that Jonadab became the reference point for this blessing, as it applied to his own lineage.

Salvation through the precious blood of Jesus Christ wipes the slate clean for any person who comes to gives his or her life over to Him. It takes care of whatever the past may have been. It provides the opportunity for a future that is beyond comprehension; as the scripture puts it, ‘Christ in us, the hope of glory’ (Col. 1 vs. 25 – 27). It puts us under the lineage of Abraham and makes us heirs according to the promise. It gives us opportunities to trigger our own heritage of blessings that would span generations yet unborn rather than struggle under burdens or curses we had no part in. Moreover, Christ has been made every curse in the whole wide world for us (Gal. 3 vs. 13 – 14). This knowledge, this truth, gives us power and the freedom we need to embrace the blessings.

In conclusion, triggering generational blessings is not restricted to the Old Testament Bible characters alone. The things were written for us to learn from them and to know what we can accomplish as well as the things we cannot. We live in a much greater dispensation than they did, and we are thus empowered to do so much more than they ever did. I strongly believe that through a lifestyle of continued obedience to God and to parental authority (physical and spiritual); through taking spiritual initiatives aimed at pleasing God and being led by the Spirit of God (an unparalleled advantage), we have opportunity to trigger blessings that would run through our entire generations for years and years to come.

Remain Blessed…