Tuesday, 18 June 2013

The Journey Has Just Begun

Starting off on a journey is not really an easy thing to do. More challenging is the ability to keep on travelling even when you are not so sure of the next turn to take. The past one year has been for me, a life changing experience as I have come to find fulfillment in blogging. 

 June 9th 2013 marked a year since I started blogging and I cannot begin to explain the intense joy I feel on the inside and for that, I am grateful to God.  Today is in gratitude to all those who in one way or the other has encouraged me to keep on blogging. Without you guys, I would have dropped the passion for blogging a long time ago. When an article written by me has over 840 read, I’m encouraged to want to write more.  Thank you! Thank you!! Thank you!!!

While BlogSpot has been a great platform for me over the past one year, I believe it is time to move on to something new and dynamic… By that, I mean this is going to be my last post on BlogSpot.  A new chapter has started on the Journey Begins and it’s on www.huntlya.com (Yeah! That’s our new website)

I want to specially thank the team of Powerline Solutions for the thousands of hours they’ve invested into the development of the Journey Begins website. I’m grateful to you guys. To the CEO of Slate7 Media, Cynthia Dieye, thank you for the well designed logo. I’m most appreciative. And to all my readers, who of course have been part of "the journey begins", I say THANK YOU. 

I really wish I could compose something more poignant, but words are failing me!

If I’m to leave with an advice, that advice would be: Start now no matter how small.

Now all traffic leads to our new website www.huntlya.com.  I really hope you love it. Please do check it out and leave a comment and YES! share with others. 

The Journey has actually just begun. See you at www.huntlya.com

Rebranding Minds

Huntly Anabs

Monday, 3 June 2013

The Lady Bitch

I wasn’t so sure if I was going to go back the same way I had left home. Done shopping, I decided to treat myself to a cup of ice cream and so, instead of exiting the building at once, I stopped by the ice cream section where I met this “hot” lady who had my head spinning like a wheel. I could see as she gazed at me that, perhaps, she was swept off her feet by my dapper appearance.

I thought I’d take a chance, so like most guys would, I bought my cup of ice cream, walked up to her table, and asked, “Can I join you please?” “Sure,” she retorted. Sitting there, I wasn’t going to pretend as though I was blinded to her seductiveness… I sure wasn’t. I’m human you know…Just like a photographer would capture a moment with his camera, my eyes/mind captured her every moves and so, just in an instant, I knew what kind of conversation would excite her. I guess blending in happens to be one of my many gifts.

So I kicked off, “Tell me about yourself…I mean… what excites you… what do you do?  Are you a student…? Bla blab la…” And she goes “I’m just a bitch who loves exploring life….. I’m sure you can tell by my looks. And yes, I love flirting with guys!”

“Wow!!!... So you call yourself a bitch?” I asked sarcastically. “Interesting… so… what makes you call yourself a bitch?” Her response went something like this: “I’m a bitch because I smoke; drink, party, and have sex with guys I admire not for money, but for the fun of it.”

I paused for a moment as I imagined how in the world a lady gets to the point where she sees or thinks of herself as a bitch. I had heard people use the pejorative term “bitch” but I didn’t know what it meant until that day I checked it in the dictionary.  A Bitch according to the Encarta Dictionary is, “A female dog, or the female of another related such as a fox, or of another carnivore such as a ferret.”

Maybe I’m missing something, and I stand to be corrected, but I tried to see if I could find the connection between a “bitch” and the ladies who call themselves bitches, but I couldn’t; A female dog and a lady? *Confused face* So why then do some ladies call themselves bitches and/or allow guys call them bitches? Could it be that they want to just fit in with the popular crowd or that they find pleasure in being “bad”?  It seems to me that the bad guy/girl swag is what’s in vogue.

And so, a lady sees herself as a bitch just because she has slept with every Tom, Dick and Harry or because she smokes and drink. But isn’t it usually her vulnerability or insecurity that brings her to the point where she condescends so low to accepting the name “BITCH?” I’m really curious.

Maybe I should digress a little. It has been said that, ‘Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing’. If that’s true, then one of these splendors should be directed inward. While we value and validate the worth of others, we must also take the time to affirm our own sense of personhood. It’s virtually impossible to get people to call us by a name we do not call ourselves. We actually train others on how to treat us by the way we treat ourselves. They need to hear us sing our song and hum to our own solo. They watch from a distance, our level of style and class, and our preferences. And it is what they see in us that determines how they relate to us.

Now, it’s easy for us to crucify people whose flaws and frailties are glaring, especially when we don’t know what got them into the mess they are in. I believe one of the ironies of life is that people will ignore your good traits and label you bad over something you didn’t get right. More unfortunate is when people dump their opinion of themselves and accept what others say they are; they measure themselves based on what they do and not on who they really are. And because the pressure keeps mounting and no one understands their pain…next thing you know: “I’m a bitch,”  “and that’s who I am because people call me one”.

I believe many ladies find it difficult to appreciate/value themselves not because they don’t want to but because society puts pressure on them to be perfect and completely selfless; any attempt at self nurturing and self love is condemned, eliciting accusations of being selfish and narcissistic. Thus, so many women comply, never valuing themselves, never recognizing the princess within them. And not knowing who they really are, they accept what others call them. Don’t you ever think it’s easy to overcome this pressure. Even the most liberated people are adversely affected by the pressure of public opinion. From experience, I can categorically argue that withstanding the opinion of others is at best stressful and at worst debilitating.

So…Many ladies, I believe, are crippled by the masses of people, particularly their close friends who do not allow them the freedom of their own opinions and the exploration of their own personhood. I used to think I don’t care what people think of me, but as I grew older, I discovered to some degree I was still vulnerable to their words and ideas. May be I didn’t just show it but in reality their opinions of me got to the very core of my soul. I just knew how to handle it better I guess. You know we all have the tendency to act like a superman- nothing gets to us. Ha-ha, that’s a joke.

Perhaps one of the most difficult things to achieve is for ladies, men as well, to strip themselves off the many garments society puts on them. Many are the ladies, who believe they are bitches because they smoke, party, drink, have sex with every guy and do openly, what others would prefer to do in the secret.  They accept the bitch label to conform to the masses. But may I present a slightly different message... While doing those things isn’t right, doing them doesn’t make one a bitch. And yes! If a lady keeps seeing or calling herself a bitch, then she should expect others, guys especially, to call her by the she name calls herself-BITCH.

Lastly, if I were to define a bitch, my definition would go something like: A bitch is someone who thinks she’s a bitch. (ooopps!!!!) Please don’t quote me.

 I would like to read your opinion on this subject matter. Please do leave a comment in the comment box below. And you can as well follow me on twitter: @huntlya


Rebranding Minds

Huntly Anabs

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Reflection Speech- The Me I'm Becoming By Shalom Otuene

"Many who were seated in the commencement hall during the ‘Seniors Award Dinner’ were lost in laughter as Shalom gave her “humorous speech.” From where I was seated, I could see as the founder, H.E. Atiku Abubakar shook his head in total amazement, perhaps, wondering to himself, “Who’s this lady? Why isn’t this girl an actress in Gollywood or better still, Bollywood?”

More than the humor of the text was the thought provoking question in Shalom’s speech, “What does tomorrow mean to you? Deep question I would say. Shalom Otuene is indeed a raw talent with a great sense of humor. 

Please check out her speech below and leave a comment if you so wish:

Today marks a great milestone for members of faculty and staff; all of whom are happy we are moving on with our lives. It is equally a moment of joy for our dear parents who have shouted their hearts out and footed the bills; and of cause the extra-ordinary class of 2013 - as we collectively celebrate our achievement of another landmark for our glorious future.

Your Excellencies, President Margee Ensign, members of faculty and staff, proud parents and well-wishers, I say a big thank you for being part of our commencement ceremony.

Coming to AUN is a fulfilled dream - the dream of our parents to give us the best and our own dream of having the best. Before I came to AUN, my favourite phrase was ‘I don’t know!’ With so much apathy and nonchalance I would quickly reply even before any sentence sounding like a question is completed… ‘I don’t know!’ One day immediately one of my elder sisters said ‘When are you…’, I immediately replied ‘I don’t know!’. With a deep sigh she continued ‘… going back to school.’ And just to prove that I really do not know, I said I would have to check the school’s website as resumption date wasn’t announced. I knew this attitude of mine wasn’t a good one. But I enjoyed the fact that it saved me from work.

Coming to AUN, I tried the ‘I don’t know’ pattern in my classes. Oh no! What a big mistake I had made!
From instructors like Prof Ajayi who would call you out to write on the board, to Prof Imade who would praise you with names I have never heard before like super jumbo fly student, just for answering a question, I knew I had to sit up.

To make matters worse, ICP my major wouldn’t just accept my ‘I don’t know’ attitude.

Prof Imade would make me imagine I’m a senator and so I should produce a resolution to an on-going national or international issue, Prof Lim would make me write reaction essays for in class readings; stating clearly what I agree with and where I felt the author was wrong, not forgetting my own conclusion, Prof Gbara, would make me discuss with details, breaking news I felt was of no importance to me, Prof Mayer who in trying to make me understand him would give a joke and still laugh all by himself, Prof Sims would make me produce a thesis and solutions including theories for problems I did not create, and of cause the fear of being in Prof Hansen’s class left me with no other choice than to do all these. From people who took his class, I hear he would give 50 pages of work to read and write on right from the first day of class. 

Out of class we had to think of community service projects to carry out. We had to belong to one club or the other; all into developing the university and the community, which justifies AUN’s unique development focus.
This meant I had to know! I just had to know at all times! And even when I sincerely did not know, I had to think and produce an answer quickly! There was no chance to be silly anymore.

Gradually from my first year to my last day in AUN, my favourite phrase became ‘What can I do to help?’ this question was anticipated even before my classes.

This has made me, or rather the ‘Me I’m becoming’: the me who would seize any opportunity to impact a life, the me who would no longer do things brashly  but would take a minute to critically think and provide empirical examples alongside.

Albert Einstein once defined insanity as “doing the same over and over and expecting different results”. And so ladies and gents, I am honoured to humbly introduce to you my new-found lifelong friend from AUN, which is called: ‘Improvement’. 

We must seek to improve our lives every day no matter the little progress we see. Improvement brings about change. However, “no man is an island”- John Donne. Therefore, if we seek to improve ourselves only, we would only be prolonging change. Selfishness amongst other egoistic characteristics has become the order of the day and so today strife and bitterness is inevitable.

Do not think only of your own good, think also of others and what is best for them. Helping improve others should move beyond the need for recognition or followership. It should be a necessity; needed for global change.

The change story has become redundant as I sometimes felt I had heard enough. I sometimes thought why it was so important anyway and why have we not seen it yet. Then I realized change is happening whether we like it or not. The world is not the same way it was yesterday, which path it turns to - negative or positive depends on us. With one person here, another there all effecting positive change, soon change would have evolved all round. Like Tola - another brilliant graduating student would say in Pidgin English, “that one no be today”. And yes I agree with him. “Tola, na tomorrow”. What does tomorrow mean to you? Our parents worked hard yesterday so that ‘the you’ they had not yet seen could have a better future. And so if we do not live to see the all-round change at least our children would, if they don’t our grandchildren would! Change must occur.

The moment you stop improving on yourself, you are no better than a dead man.

Just the same way our dream of having a good education and graduating has been fulfilled; we must also work towards achieving the dream of having a better world.

Live your life in such a way that tomorrow, somebody somewhere would thank God for creating you."

Shalom Otuene
Twitter: @huntlya

Monday, 13 May 2013

2013 Class Speech By Farida Ibrahim (American University Of Nigeria)

 Over the past week, I was in Yola where I attended the graduation ceremony of a few friends of mine who had become ripe enough to say good bye to AUN. It felt so good to be back to where I had spent four good years of my life. Reuniting with friends once again was a thing of joy for me. I sure had a wonderful time to say the least. Usually, every year, in the American University of Nigeria, hundreds of graduating seniors assemble together in the commencement hall as they await to receive their diploma.  
Like previous commencements, this one was no different as Farida Ibrahim, a graduating senior was selected to share with parents, students, faculty, staff and the entire world the collective stories of the graduating class of 2013. Her speech was not only intriguing such that it captivated everyone's attention but it’s depth left some persons who were present in the commencement hall crying and some shaking their heads in total amazement. undoubtedly, her speech was sophisticated enough to have impressed an intellectual like Prof Pat Utomi as he tweeted “As I tweet I am on the platform at the graduation of AUN in Yola and liking what I am hearing from the class Valedictorian, Farida Great kid”
Please find below the text of Farida Ibrahim’s speech:
Flying in a plane is not exactly a phenomenal event. I mean, there isn’t really much to look forward to when you’re hovering 6, 000 feet above sea level and your heart is pumping at a rate you didn’t think it could. Once in a while however, a plane full of people flies across the Nigerian sky, and during that hour, something phenomenal, almost magical, happens.
 Arik Air Flight W3905 was one such phenomenal one. As it took off from Abuja on the morning of Saturday 16th  January 2010, there was no indication that history was about to be made, until you realize that it was coming to Yola. You see, it wasn’t just any other usual flight to Yola, it was among many odd flights that week, during which a good number of the people who sit here today arrived in Yola to write our collective history. And so it is on a Boeing 737-800 that our story begins.
In the week during which that flight came, and in the 171 weeks following it, 280 people have thrived in Yola, in every sense of the word. We’ve eaten and slept here, we’ve laughed and cried here, we’ve been successful and failed here, we’ve loved and loathed here. 280 beating hearts, 280 brilliant minds and 280 fascinating stories converged here, and so it is an honor more than any I have ever received to stand before you today and tell a story of hope, courage, and the triumph of the human spirit. Our story is like none you have ever heard. This is the story of the class of 2013.
You see, our being here today is not a mere coincidence. The inevitable implication of our standing today is that we stand on the shoulders of giants and are shaded by the trees they spent their lives planting. We stand because Balewa and Awolowo, because Ahmadu bello and azikiwe stood. We stand because the Funmilayo kuti's the shehu yar'aduas, the Dele Giwas and Saro Wiwas stood. We stand on the tall and valiant shoulders of the Soyinkas and the Achebes, of the Adichie's and the Alkalis, we stand because many have made sacrifices and paid dearly for us to have what we have.
And so long before this moment, long before we ever came to AUN and our paths collided in beautiful disorder, the future started. As we sit here right now, at this very moment, we are already late. Therefore, the ability to waste any more time is no longer an option available for us.
Over the past few days, we have heard again and again from so many people about the wonderful and life-changing experiences we have had here, and so there is no need for me to reiterate that. It is in that spirit that I bring you a slightly different message today.
My fellow graduands, we leave our soon to be alma mater at an extremely crucial and troublesome time for our country. As I speak to you at this very moment, 70% of Nigerians live on less than 2 dollars every day. 2 dollars a day is about N300 naira. 2 dollars a day, ladies and gentlemen means that millions of children will go to bed hungry tonight. That hunger will prevent them from paying any attention in school tomorrow, thus preventing them from thinking as much as they should and can. That hunger will deny them a future long before they can even imagine one. More than one-third of Nigeria’s children who should be in primary school are not in school. For all of those children, it means that a future with limitless possibilities like ours has been violently snatched away from them, never to be recovered and restored. Nigeria remains one of the 3 countries in the world where polio is still endemic. More women die from childbirth here, than in some war zones. Millions of women are unable to improve their quality of life and those of their families because of structural and institutional sexism which manifests in so many different ways. I could go and on about Nigeria’s problems, but all of these are not new to our ears.
Every human being deserves to live with dignity and with hope and with possibilities available to them. Do most of the people in our country live like that? How many Nigerians can wake up every day and be sure that their rights and dignities will not be stripped away, or that their poverty will deny them all hope and possibility?
How many of us have a contextual and critical understanding of our history as a people. If we do not know where we are coming from, where we are will make no sense. If we do not understand where we are, we set off on the wrong path on the road to where we should be. If our priorities as a nation with regards to where we should be are wrong, then where we can be will forever be out of our vision and out of our reach.
How long will we keep making excuses for Nigeria’s relative lack of progress? Why do we continue to take one step forward as a people, and 3 million steps backward? Why do we punish and vilify good people and values, and reward and uphold mediocrity and evil? What are our obligations to the Nigerian project? Is it okay for some of us to see service and holistic citizenship as making money and just paying taxes and occasionally voting? What are our obligations to fellow citizens? What obligations arise out of our privilege?
 Make no mistake, we are privileged. In a country whereby everyone should and can have the opportunity to grow and prosper, yet only so very few do, we are unique products of the unfair and unjust nature of the postcolonial state in Africa. We represent a category of Nigerians with more power and privilege than we are willing to admit and take responsibility for. We are part of the problem, but like the strange paradox that Nigeria is, we are also a major part of the solutions.
Nigeria has come a very long way since 1960, but we have a far longer and more difficult journey ahead of us. We can no longer afford to kneel under the destructive spell of mediocrity and fear. In the wise words of Achebe, our elders say, that the sun will shine on those who stand before it shines on those who kneel under them. If the sun will shine on our generation and on the Nigeria we seek to create, then we must stand up for what we believe every step of the way.
We have everything that we need to build something far bigger than ourselves. Why then should we settle for anything less than excellence?
My fellow graduands, our time has come. Ours has been an education for peace, truth and progress, and for a truly unified country. Our education must bring justice to the unjust. It must fix our economy, tell our stories, find cleaner sources of energy, build ethical businesses to take over the forbes list, make academy award winning movies, develop technology for the next century, and bring hope and justice to those that shall come after us. And it is possible. In our day, in our time, with our work and through our hands, that Nigeria can move from a mere possibility, to a reality more powerful than we ever imagined. Ours will be the time when Nigeria’s children will hunger or thirst no more, where our brothers and sisters will not be cut down by violence in their prime, where our uncles and aunts will not burn in the attempt to clean out a fallen fuel tanker.
Ours shall be the generation to fulfill Fanon's prophecy of discovering our mission and fulfilling it, because there is no more opportunity for betrayal.
All of these are possible, but like all other solutions, they come at a price. In the words of Kaushik Basu, people say unfair societies are self-destructive. In truth, they can last for centuries & that is why we need vigilance & conscious action.
My question to us all is, are we willing to pay the price of action? If we assume that we have nothing to do with the fate of our country and our continent, we are greatly harming ourselves, the legacy of those before us, and the capacity of those after us.
We are all that we have. We have no one else, absolutely nothing else. If we refuse to believe in the Nigerian project, if we refuse to take on the Nigerian challenge, ours shall be a generation unforgiven for eons to come, carrying with us a mighty burden of failed promises. Because we have lost the privilege to be ignorant or to choose inaction, this is a promise we must fulfill. May we never forget that our choices matter.
It is in reflection of all of these realities and in celebration of the future of possibilities that lies ahead, that we gather here today.
However, make no mistake, today is not just our day. Today is in gratitude to our mothers, who have spent countless nights in prayer, on their mats, holding their rosaries, in mosques and churches, in our living rooms and in their bedrooms, praying tirelessly during the night and working ceaselessly during the day that we may have an education worth having. Their prayers will never be in vain.
This is in gratitude to our fathers, who continue to give everything and more so that we may fulfill our potential. This is in gratitude to our families, who have given up so much in order for us to be here, who are the true definition of sacrifice. This is in recognition of our teachers, who have dedicated their lives to bringing knowledge to us so that we may fulfill our purpose. Today is in gratitude for the American University of Nigeria, and all of its staff, its administrators, and its leadership, who continue to give everything they have without hesitation so that our tomorrow is better than our yesterday. Today is in gratitude to our founder, our board of trustees, and our president, who continue to provide strong and committed leadership to our development and growth as an institution. We are only because all of these people are, and to them our gratitude and thanks are eternal and boundless.
As I conclude, it is important for us to remember that in our quest for a greater future, we must never place perfection over progress.
Nelson Mandela said that sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. The only true way to let your greatness blossom is to dignify it via action. Dear class of 2013, how will we use the education we have been given to act for the greater good of us all?
Will we have the courage and dignity to act and to serve no matter the odds? Will we serve ourselves or will we serve our country? These are questions each person must answer in their own, and yet its answer will affect us all.
Dear class of 2013, a very very long journey ends today. You have crossed the finish line and the world awaits your contributions. As you go forth and conquer in strength and in faith, I wish you good luck and Godspeed. Congratulations!
Farida Ibrahim


Twitter: @huntlya