The Small Redemptions of Lagos

Problem and Solution 9

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The Pastor in my friend Nneka’s church is always talking about tithes. He uses the Old Testament to tell people why they should give a percentage of their salary to the church. Many pastors in this country do that. They always tell us to go and read Deuteronomy.

But what did Jesus think of money? Remember that the teachings of Jesus are more important than the laws of the Old Testament. Otherwise there would be no point in being Christian. Christianity is about Jesus Christ.

If we read the story of Jesus Christ, he didn’t really approve of wealth or money. In fact, he seemed to prefer poverty.

Please read these verses:

Mark 10:25 “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”

Matthew 19:21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

Mark 12:41-44 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts.  But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.  Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.”

Solution: Those pastors who keep telling us that wealth and God are linked should stop it. Just stop it. They should preach about honesty and kindness and forgiveness and being good to your neighbor and working for the wellbeing of your community. They should leave money out of it. They should tell government officials to stop stealing. They should stop acting as if the people who give more money are somehow more blessed and will get more blessings. And instead of always talking about Old Testament verses that tell us to give our money to the pastor, they should preach about the New Testament verses.

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Zemaye’s Take: Vaginal Douche

I went to the supermarket yesterday to buy sanitary pads. And I noticed something.

If you go into any major supermarket in Nigeria, you will see a shelf full of ‘feminine products.’ One of those ‘feminine products’ is the vaginal douche (the most popular brand has the name EVE)

It is a liquid that you put inside your vagina and it is supposed to make you feel ‘clean’ and ‘fresh.’

Women, please stop buying vaginal douche. Stop using vaginal douche.

It is bad for you. It can give you an infection in your vagina. It can give you a very bad infection in your uterus. It can give you an infection in your fallopian tubes. It can increase your chance of cervical cancer. It can make it difficult for you to get pregnant (dear husband-hunters, please take note)

Ask any doctor and they will tell you that vaginal douches are NOT good for you.

All you need to keep it clean is the same thing you need for the rest of your body: water and soap.

Stop thinking that your vagina is a smelly place that you need to attack with scented chemicals aka vaginal douche.

If you have an unusual discharge or smell from your vagina, then you need to see a doctor, because it might be an infection. You do NOT need to use vaginal douche.

And while we are at it, please let us learn to say that word VAGINA. All together now…!

Problem and Solution 8

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Professor Ali Mazrui was a Kenyan scholar. Ceiling has read some of his writing, I haven’t. Ceiling isn’t too hot on him, especially because he said the man and Big Uncle Wole Soyinka used to seriously disagree. And Ceiling does not joke at all with Big Uncle Wole Soyinka.

Anyway, Prof. Mazrui was an important African scholar. He died recently and this is the heading of the obituary in The New York Times of October 20 2014 : “Ali Mazrui, Scholar of Africa Who Divided U.S. Audiences, Dies at 81”

Surely he did more than ‘divide US audiences?’ Surely dividing US audiences was not the most noteworthy—and therefore headline-worthy thing about his life? Headlines, as we know, give the reader the eyes with which to read a story.

Solution:

How about ‘Ali Mazrui – Controversial/Iconoclastic/Much-discussed/wide-ranging etc – Scholar of Africa, Dies at 81’

That would give him a bit more dignity. He deserves a bit more dignity.

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Zemaye’s Take: For those of you who told me that salicylic acid doesn’t do anything for your breakouts, here are two new things to try: sulphur and charcoal.

Charcoal absorbs excess oil. Masks and scrubs that contain charcoal are good for oily skin that easily gets pimples.

If you can’t find a mask or scrub with charcoal, then make one.

Please where are all those people who studied biochemistry and chemistry and nutrition in university? Why are they not making things? Charcoal is easy to get. Charcoal works as a skin treatment. They should make products with charcoal abeg.

Also buy sulphur ointment from the pharmacy. Wash your face gently. Don’t over-wash or over-do anything because you will just annoy your skin and make it produce more pimples. Use charcoal mask. Wash off after thirty minutes. Rub a bit of sulphur ointment on the pimple. Be patient. A pimple treatment needs at least two days to work.

Ifem & Ceiling 8

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Alphonsus made vegetable soup. Ceiling and I were hanging out at the dining table after eating.

“What a stupid idea to announce a ceasefire with Boko Haram, who came up with that? Is it that these people don’t think?” I asked.

“They are eager to announce good news. Elections are coming fast.”

“Announce good news and then make a fool of yourself. Haba. The most stupid part was suggesting a day for the release of the girls.”

“Beyond stupid. You know you are dealing with mad people in Boko Haram. You also know the average Nigerian does not trust you and your stories. Best thing is to shut up and say nothing and let the action speak for itself.”

“In short, they should be like Sullivan Chime. The man doesn’t talk at all but look how he has transformed Enugu.”

“Exactly. And also like Peter Obi.”

“The problem is that Obi’s achievements are not as easy to see.”

“Yes, because they are not visual. They are not roads. And remember he started with nothing. Anambra was a mess after all the rubbish that went on there. Awka was just a village that became a capital. But Enugu has a long history of infrastructure and development. It will take Awka a long time to get to Enugu’s level.”

“Nneoma was telling me how Obi changed education in Anambra. She said Anambra is the best performing state in WAEC in Nigeria. I didn’t know that.”

“He also invested Anambra’s money well. No more stories about the state not paying salaries and pensions. The man had a real vision. He just doesn’t do public relations.”

“And it doesn’t help that Igbo people are so detached from politics. Nobody in Nigeria knows how well Obi did in Anambra because Anambra people are not telling the story. Instead they are busy unloading their containers in Nnewi and Onitsha. And Enugu people are not telling the story of how well Sullivan has done because they are busy eating abacha.”

“Anambra chauvinism!”

Ifem & Ceiling 7

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I hope the Doctor Without Borders Ebola patient in New York makes it. American politicians are like Nigerian politicians – they will use anything to score political points. So, some New York politicians who have upcoming elections are trying to scare people with Ebola, and then position themselves as Ebola saviors. Even if the so called saving doesn’t make sense. Shame. And the governor of New York has no business scolding that Doctors Without Borders doctor. The doctor followed the protocol that he was supposed to. And he bloody donated his time to fight Ebola at the source – something that the politicians in America might want to focus on. Ebola is about ALL humans, not just about African humans.

Anyway, Ceiling and I were talking about this and I told him I have always admired Doctors Without Borders.

He told me he has, too.

He said he loves what they stand for and what they have done and did I know the organization itself started as a response to the massive human suffering in Biafra?

I told him I knew. I told him it was part of the reason I donate to them. I donate to them every month. Automatic deductions from my credit card.

He said – me too.

I said – are you serious?

He said – yes. I started a long time ago. For the past five years.

I said – me too!

So, we support the same Charity. We started supporting the same Charity at about the same time without, of course, knowing what the other was doing. #Lovenwantiti #truecompatibility #mostromanticcoincidenceever

Problem and Solution 7

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Nigeria has been declared Ebola-free.

On October 20, 2014, The Washington Post wrote this:

According to WHO, the success of Nigeria — Africa’s most populous nation — was attributable to ample funding, quick action and assistance from the WHO, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the non-profit Doctors Without Borders.”

This is a lie.

Below is a direct quote from the WHO report (in case you are wondering who WHO is: World Health Organization)

“What accounts for this great news?
To a large extent, the answer is straightforward: the country’s strong leadership and effective coordination of the response. The Nigerian response to the outbreak was greatly aided by the rapid utilization of a national public institution (NCDC) and the prompt establishment of an Emergency Operations Centre, supported by the Disease Prevention and Control Cluster within the WHO country office.
Another key asset was the country’s first-rate virology laboratory affiliated with the Lagos University Teaching Hospital. That laboratory was staffed and equipped to quickly and reliably diagnose a case of Ebola virus disease, which ensured that containment measures could begin with the shortest possible delay.
In addition, high-quality contact tracing by experienced epidemiologists expedited the early detection of cases and their rapid movement to an isolation ward, thereby greatly diminishing opportunities for further transmission.”

Also, WHO writes about the investigation into the possible spread of Ebola in Port Harcourt here:

“An investigation undertaken by a team of epidemiologists from the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the Nigeria Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programme and the State Ministry of Health, assisted by WHO, revealed an alarming number of high-risk and very high-risk exposures for hundreds of people.”

WHO certainly does not dismiss the impact and importance of foreign help (and this being a WHO report, WHO always seems to be in the middle of the action but hey.)

WHO however is clear about this: the success in Nigeria was mostly as a result of NIGERIAN action.

Why then does the Washington Post not credit a single Nigerian body?

This is very poor journalism.

This is the kind of journalism that is not about informing the reader but about making sure that the readers’ real and imagined petty prejudices remain undisturbed.

In the mind of the Washington Post, the American reader thinks that all the problems in the world are solved because of American action. And the American reader expects that Africa is a continent of people who cannot act, who are limp dolls, who have no agency.

And so the American reader has not been informed about this simple truth: it is mostly local Nigerian action that helped contain Ebola in Nigeria.

And while we are at it, here’s the New York Times of September 30 2014, writing about the containment of Ebola in Nigeria:

“The success was in part the result of an emergency command center financed in 2012 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to fight polio…Also, the C.D.C. had 10 experts in Nigeria working on polio and H.I.V., who had already trained 100 local doctors in epidemiology; 40 of them were immediately reassigned to Ebola and oversaw the contact tracing.”

All well and good. America The Beautiful.

But if you are going to have that level of detail in a newspaper piece, why not start with the most significant details? First Consultants Hospital in Lagos and Dr. Ameyo Adadevoh.

Nigeria is a country that has no history with Ebola. We Nigerians think Ebola happens to other Africans. So in comes a man with symptoms. If he had not gone to a good hospital and if he had not been diagnosed by an excellent and conscientious doctor (who I am assuming had never had to diagnose Ebola in the past) and if the staff of First Consultants Hospital had not resisted the intense political pressure to release the Ebola patient and if hundreds of Nigerians had not volunteered in the Ebola effort and if federal and state governments had not acted quickly and if religious and community leaders had not educated their members, then Nigeria would have ended up with a big Ebola outbreak like Sierra Leone. Even with a thousand American CDC experts.

And if Doctors Without Borders and the American CDC are solely responsible for the success in Nigeria, why have they not succeeded in other countries? Are we to assume that they are not helping our brothers and sisters in Liberia and Guinea and Sierra Leone?

This is not to discredit the wonderful work of so many dedicated foreigners (more on Doctors Without Borders, tomorrow) but the story of Ebola in Nigeria must be told with honesty, and without the small-minded arrogance that comes with power.

If a doctor like Ameyo Adadevoh had been in that Dallas Hospital the first time the Liberian Ebola patient arrived with symptoms, perhaps the United States would not be in the Ebola panic that it is in now.

Sometimes it takes a small, local effort to prevent a catastrophe.

Those small, local efforts must be acknowledged – and encouraged.