Because you are supposed to be strong

You feel the tears well at the back of your eyes,

You feel the knots in your throat,

Knots that mean one thing only,

The tears are coming and they are coming enmasse.

But you can’t afford to let the dam burst open,

Because you are supposed to be strong.


You want to yell and scream at the world,

You want to lash out and find that closure,

You want to be able to curl up and just let go,

You want to be able to cry without holding back,

But you can’t afford to fall apart,

Because you are supposed to be strong.


So you keep it locked up inside you.

The hurt, the pain, the sadness,

It gets worse but it doesn’t matter,

You hold it all inside you because,

There are a million people watching, and

Because you are supposed to be strong.


You hold it all in cos that is what is expected.

You can’t admit you are on the path to depression,

You can’t tell anyone about it,

Because depression is an oyinbo disease,

Because Africans, Nigerians don’t get depressed,

Because they are supposed to be strong.


Until that faithful day when those barriers

Cannot hold back the dam and the dam bursts open,

And you take your last breath

Because you decide to end it all,

End this hurt and pain and sadness,

Because you can only be so strong for so long.


The concept of active citizenship

Jci_LogoJunior Chamber International (JCI) is a non-profit international non-governmental organization of young people between 18 and 40 years old. Activities in the organization are based, more or less, on active citizenship.  I wrote this article  sometime back and I thought to share.

…So they went on. The two young people who liked to think themselves active citizens. The two Jaycees*. As they walked on they talked about the world and all they wanted to change about it. They talked about their Local Organization’s just concluded Waste Bin Project. One of them decided to stop and get a sachet water. It had after all been a very hot day and the walk back to the hostel seemed to be getting longer. He got a sachet for his friend too. Between gulps of the water and walking back home, they continued their conversation about the change they would bring. They both finished drinking at the same time and discarded the wraps by the roadside. What lofty dreams these young active citizen had! What beautiful goals they spoke about! Only they forgot that Active Citizenship is not limited to huge projects and that it starts from the smallest of things as disposing waste properly.

One phrase is synonymous to Junior Chamber International- Active Citizenship. Right from the second you pick up the form to join the organization to the days (or years that follow) the concept of active citizenship keeps coming up. From the vision to the creed down to our actions, we are faced everyday as a Jaycee with the endless possibilities of the things we can do by taking a stand and not just sitting around waiting for the change to happen.

The concept of active citizenship is not far-fetched. There is no standard definition or model for an active citizen. The term is used to refer to people or rather citizens who become actively involved in tackling problems facing the community or bringing about change.  Active citizens take action in order to improve their community to make a difference. It is a philosophy that advocates that citizens have certain roles and responsibilities to society and environment although they do not have specific governing roles.

Many a time we complain about things going wrong in our society. From the smallest thing as the untidy state of our environment to bigger things like leadership of the community. Over time, we have developed the ‘Siddon-look’ attitude (waiting for things to change all by itself). It is believed that the government should do any and everything and that they have little responsibilities to the community. This, however, is a wrong notion. The growth or downfall of your community rests on your shoulders as a member of that community. While it is true the government has a huge part to play, your responsibilities to that community is limitless.

From disposing waste properly (no matter how silly it sounds, yes you owe your environment that much and yes, it is a part of being active), to organising small empowerment training sessions for those ‘Area Aburos’ to deciding to vote during elections because you feel your vote counts for something (not because some persons decide to distribute odourless fufu or branded rice/bread or “poundless iyan”), these things go a long way in building the community.

I like to use this analogy I picked up somewhere a lot. So here goes…Picture a dark neighbourhood with ditches at almost every turn. For every one that passes through that route without light, there is a possibility of falling into one of the ditches. Now picture one “good Samaritan” who decides to put on a light bulb just in front of his house. That one bulb lights up a little part of this area and He probably would succeed in saving one person from that one ditch in the illuminated area. Now imagine every single person puts on the light bulb in front of his house. The actions of these individuals have transformed that dark neighbourhood into a lit one. Those good Samaritans are active citizens who have made an impact small as it seems.

This illustration can be related to our every community. Your actions as a Jaycee should be to favour your community. Think of ways your community can benefit from your existence. Incorporate the values of the organization into every area of your life. The world cannot be better if we decide to wait for the other person to do something. The fate of your community rests on your shoulders. Be that Active Citizen and do something about that problem you see.



*Members of Junior Chamber International are called Jaycees.

Just in case you want to learn more about JCI, here is a link. You could also do well to search for Junior Chamber on google.

Dear mum.

Dear Mum,

I ought to have written this fifteen days ago. Scratch that… I ought to have done this forty-four days ago (I had to consult the calendar…you see I’m not so good with maths and dates anymore). I ought to have done this that long ago. I just couldn’t bring myself to. I still am struggling to do this.

You see, it’s really difficult. Has been difficult. And will continue to be difficult. I am not being a pessimist or anything. I just know and I’m just saying. What’s the point of false hopes and what not?

I’m sorry this is not starting on the good note most letters start with. There’s so much to say but not the time or the person to say it to. We should be having a proper conversation and not the method of writing a note I know you most definitely can’t read or reply. But then again, here I am still stuck in front of my laptop writing you. So here goes…brace yourself cos its going to be a really long one.

Where do I start from? I really don’t know to be very honest.

I guess the first thing is that I miss you. More now than ever. It’s like it gets worse with the passing of each day. Shouldn’t it get easier as each day passes? Shouldn’t it get easier to move through the motions because I have succeeded in numbing the pain? Shouldn’t it be easier because I’ve gotten so good at pushing hurt far back into my mind that I am beginning to forget even things that happened just seconds ago? Shouldn’t I have gotten over it by now?

Maybe I never would be able to. Maybe it’d remain there, an open wound. You and I know why it maybe would be that way….or maybe it is only I that knows. To be very honest, I’m tired of being so strong.

You know how it gets so hard to be so strong because you have been so strong for so long? You probably don’t know that feeling. You’re the strongest person I know. I mean, who else could go through all you went through and still come out smiling? Come out like you? I’ve not come close yet I have fallen apart already.

This is beginning to get depressing. But that’s the point no? This is supposed to be some sort of therapy.

These three years and forty-four days haven’t all been sad. Some good came out of it.

Abdul Fattah got into school for law. Ganiyat is such a big girl now too. Talking of which, she just did wonderfully in her GCE. Just one subject wan mess up but God dey.

Remember those days when I used to tear paper around and buy note books to write? Well they are paying off now. I get paid to write now. It all happened all of a sudden but with the passing of each day, I get better. I hope to write my book someday soon too. I got my sewing machine too.

I still don’t have a boyfriend. Lol. That’s funny cos I’ve been hearing a lot of “if your mum was alive, you would have brought a man” talk. Honest truth is, I probably might not have. But then again I do have to admit it wouldn’t have gotten this bad.

The thing is, I don’t know if I can bring myself to commit. I don’t know if I can bring myself to open up to somebody like that. I don’t know if I can bear the hurt if shit hits the fan. I don’t know if I can stand knowing that just like that, just like you, that person would leave when we hit it off eventually.

See, I have a problem moving on. Everybody else might not. Everybody else might find it easier to move on, to live life like nothing happened, everybody else might be able to say ‘I love you’ again to another person even as they say they are hurting by the departure of the first person, everybody else might be able to take up another as a replacement for the lost one; but I cant. I don’t know how to. I hold on to little things like this. It might seem like I’m being overly sentimental but that’s how it is.  You probably think I am messed up. I guess I am.

I am fixated on little things some people think is not important and tag as “over sentimentality” (if there is such a word). Little things count to me. Little big things.

Remember that one time at Abdul Fattah’s Valedictory service when you prayed you never got replaced when you kids started doing great things? I do.  I had my convocation earlier this month and I cried every day before and after. I cried for a lot of reasons. But the main thing that caused the tears was the fact that you were not there. To be honest, a lot of the reasons I cried would not have even existed if you were still around. But what can I do? I have resigned myself to the fact that I would always cry those tears when I do great things. It’s inevitable. That’s how loss works.

Argh! I really wanted to talk about a lot more good things that happened. I guess its better this way. Letting out the bad because hiding it in hurts so much. I should stop now.

This is the part where I read through and I just delete everything because it is too much of a revelation of the mess I call my mind. But no. I chose to turn the tables this time. This time I choose to totally liberate myself and post. It’s long overdue. Even the strongest of us all deserve a break from being so strong.

I love you.

I miss you.

I wish there was another way.