By Adaobi Oniwinde
I feel compelled to share the following profound experience in the hope that this experience will be shared and maybe even save a few lives–if not from death, from ignorance.
Friday, January 16th: Approximately 8:30 AM–Lagos, Nigeria
I’m running late to work because my 4 month old decides he wants to play and my nursing schedule gets thrown off. I call my trusted nanny whose sole job is taking care of Tobi to come and get him so I can leave for work. No answer. I call her again, no answer. In utter frustration, I make my way to my daughters’ room to look for her. No sign of her. I call her again and she answers in a muffled voice, “Ma I’m here.” Where? I ask. “In Kemi’s room,” she muffles, sounding drunk or high.
Furious now, I yell, “You are NOT in Kemi’s room. I AM!” I make my way downstairs with the baby and there she was. She had a deep, fleshy gash on her forehead, scratches on her arms, clinging to my Christmas tree reindeer (yes, my Christmas tree was still up in mid January!). More horrifying is that there was blood on my walls and vomit at the base of the stairs. My nanny was cold and staring at me extremely calm. She was oblivious to the fact that she was bleeding. I also notice that her movements were jerky, and she seemed confused.
Scared, I go back upstairs to put Tobi down and away from any potential drama! I immediately go back to attend to the nanny. By this time my second nanny has arrived at the bloody scene and screaming. She takes a look at the injured nanny and is yelling at her, asking her what she has done to herself. My injured nanny is still conscious but non-responsive. Then came the bombshell–this is a spiritual attack! My second nanny– I’m confusing myself with nanny 1 and nanny 2. This is not fiction–Bunmi and Kachi are their names. Kachi declares, hand on head, “Aunty this is spiritual attack!” My entire staff of drivers, gateman and nanny are scared at this point and have declared Bunmi a freak, possessed and evil using various names in local tongues I will not attempt to spell.
I take her outside and very calmly tell her that I am not angry, but am very afraid and need to know what happened to her. Again, very calmly, “nothing ma.” I ask her why she is bleeding. Her response? “Where ma?” I tell her to touch her forehead and look at her arms and all she says is “Nothing ma.” At this point I ask her if she understands what I’m asking her and she says yes. Progress–she can communicate. I tell her to go and take a bath and instruct Kachi to stay with her.
In the meantime, I am making frantic phone calls –to my sibblings, her family and doctors I knew. I see blood and a fleshy wound and I’m thinking–medical attention. I also call everyone I can on her phone and can’t reach anybody. I finally reach her brother and ask him if she is sick or has any illnesses I need to know about and if such a thing has occurred before. Of course the answer is, “No ma.” Luckily, I instruct her brother to inform the parents that something has happened and that I am taking Bunmi to the hospital…
Bunmi takes a shower and comes back to my view. Meanwhile paranoid drama is playing out on my compound. Ogbanje! Spiritual attack! She is possessed! Ekwe-nsu! Hew! Tufiakwa! And no one will go near her. I calmly try to reach her again and ask her if is she hungry, “No ma.” Are you hurt? “No ma.” Silly me–did you wound yourself? You dey fight with somebody? “No ma.” At this point I am crying and just want her away from my home. Then came my Eureka moment. In a whisper, she says, “I just know I fall down ma.”
In a second, it all came together. I remember a loud thud while I was nursing Tobi and I remember thinking, “Oh Gawwd! What have these jokers broken now?!” But I thought nothing of it. It all made sense to my educated non-spiritual attack believing self. I wanted to hug her! Bunmi fell face down about 10 steps and hit her head on a stone floor and passed out! The poor girl had a concussion and must have come out of it when I was yelling her name. I cried out of guilt. This poor girl was obviously in pain and confused and there she was being condemned by people standing over her. Everything made sense now. Like an investigator, I put all the evidence together–the cracked stone at the base of the stairs. The loud thump. The bloody finger marks on the walls that led to a guest bedroom. She had obviously been wandering in her confusion. The vomit. The muffled response that sounded like she had stuffed her mouth with food. The foaming around her mouth (to be explained later).
It all made sense and I felt so bad. My guilt turned to anger and then fear. Anger, that someone’s child lived in my house and could have died as a result of a lack of compassion from the same people who care for my children. Fear at our collective ignorance as a people and our instinct to always turn to the para-normal to explain what we don’t immediately understand. The girl had a concussion, people! There was no spiritual attack whatever the heck that means!
Half relieved, I call an unclce who runs a hospital. I brief him and he confirmed my theory. She had to get to a hospital right away for observation. Scans had to be done to rule out any internal bleeding or injuries as a result of the fall. Meanwhile, in my frantic search for an explanation, I had called everyone in her address book looking for parents. “Broda Femi “was the only one I could reach who understood English. He was later instructed by their mother to get her out of my house and bring her home. Fine with me. Thank you Lord, I didn’t have to tell her she couldn’t work here anymore–the fall was still not explained and I was just freaked out by the whole thing.
Bunmi comes out to a waiting car with bags packed. I tell her family she will leave quite alright, but not from my house–from a hospital after she had been seen and discharged to a family member. My Nigerian peeps understand this very well! Before they say….
Mind you, it is now about 11 and not a day in which working from home is an option. I have to send Bunmi to the hospital and I have to get Tobi to my sister’s as Kachi couldn’t handle 4 kids alone, plus school runs–the baby being in the car without me was not an option anyway! So one driver takes Bunmi to the hospital with strict instructions not to leave her until Broda Femi arrives and they call me to confirm.
I sit in the car finally en route to Freeman House and the mind games began. What if she had been carrying the baby? That player was soon banished from my thoughts (and I now understand how people use the mind to erase ugliness!) Then there was what if she died? What if I wasn’t there? What if she had been left to suffer or worse still the warriors against spiritual attacks caused her more harm? Or killed her.
There was no spiritual attack!
Finally get to work and settle in to work around 1 PM (NOT!). Told the story to a few colleagues, who jumped the gun with the “spiritual attack” theory! Educated people o! Then came the phone call from the hospital. She had to be admitted and observed for a minimun of 48 hours. Worse still, I had to put down a whopping deposit of N XX, XXX before she was seen. Two things were wrong with that–A) Can we respect life first? and B) I had never spent that much on medical for myself or my kids!!! So I call uncle. He explains that they need to do scans, tests, observe her for two days, the works! The good news was that I would ONLY have to pay the deposit and cost of drugs for the whole treatment! My head said, “you’re effing kidding me right?” But my mouth misunderstood the message and I heard my self say, “Thank you sooo much uncle.”
THEN, came the real shocker (did I say that already?). Bunmi has Epilepsy and had suffered two major seizures in the space of about 4 hours. The foaming of the mouth, the shaking (which thank God I didn’t witness). The collapsing and confusion after she came out of the fit! There was no spiritual attack!
Bunmi was discharged on Sunday night with strict instructions from the doctor, translated by Broda Femi, (she understood English, but this extra insurance) to take her drugs and that this is not a shameful thing. Turns out there’s even a word for the condition in Yoruba. The family of course denied any knowledge of such a thing or Bunmi having it. I could actually believe that ( I hear you all screaming “come on!!”) because in the three months she worked for me, it had never happened to the best of my knowledge. Its possible that she had a mild case (as my eight year old always says, “Bunmi is so clumsy!”) I’m willing to believe it was a mild case aggravated by the fall.
There was NO spiritual attack!
My nanny/aunty relationship with Bunmi ended on Sunday night after hanging up with her mother (and Broda Femi as translator). She’s a great kid–has genuine love for Tobi (less patience for the older ones, but they did like her and even begged to go to the hospital) but her job was solely the baby and I couldn’t keep her trusting she would never skip a pill or not carry the baby she had grown to love (I think!). Most importantly, I don’t want to ever have 3 nannies again (been there and no fun feeding my family of 6 and 3 women each of whom eats more than my husband and I put together!)
Monday morning en route to work and the “what if “games begin again. What if she had been carrying him when this thing happened–I actually completed the thought and this time there was no banishing the player. She wouldn’t leave. I cried and then called my sister and brother who admitted they thought it but couldn’t say it. Everyone had the same scary thought but wouldn’t even utter it, understandably.
There was NO spiritual attack. But there was an attack–a severe, brutal and potentially fatal attack. It was an Epilectic seizure. Not fatal for the most part, if controlled by medication. Yet this girl could have died. She could have been left there to bleed to death while everyone took cover from satan! Worse still, the warriors against spiritual attacks could have waged a just war and killed her to protect madam’s family!
How sad. How very sad. I now find myself praying that God not only deliver us from evil, but deliver us from ignorance.
Hmm maybe we should add that line to the Catholic “Prayer for Nigeria in Distress!”
Epilepsy is a common chronic neurological disorder characterized by recurrent unprovoked seizures. These seizures are transient signs and/or symptoms of abnormal, excessive or synchronous neuronal activity in the brain. About 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy, with almost 90% of these people being in developing countries. Epilepsy is more likely to occur in young children, or people over the age of 65 years; however, it can occur at any time. As a consequence of brain surgery, epileptic seizures may occur in recovering patients.
Culled from wikipedia
“Epilepsy is usually controlled, but cannot be cured with medication, although surgery may be considered in difficult cases. However, over 30% of people with epilepsy do not have seizure control even with the best available medications. Not all epilepsy syndromes are lifelong – some forms are confined to particular stages of childhood. Epilepsy should not be understood as a single disorder, but rather as syndromic with vastly divergent symptoms but all involving episodic abnormal electrical activity in the brain.”
BOWLING FOR BOOBS
Abuja set to host the first ever Bowling For Boobs Competition in Africa to benefit Breast Cancer Awareness.
Stand Up To Cancer Naija is happy to announce it’s signature fundraising event for breast cancer awareness tagged “Bowling for Boobs 9ja”. The national tour event will kick off with the median edition holding at the dome entertainment centre central Area, Abuja on the 29th of January, 2011. The event which will be a bowling competition, with six teams, of eight players in each team, all competing against each other. The objective is to have fun while raising awareness and money for breast cancer project in the grassroot; prior bowling experience is not required. The event will be hosted subsequently in Lagos, Port Harcourt, and other cities in Africa.
Each bowler is to register with N20,000, after registration they will get a t-shirt and a socks complimentary. The funds generated from this event will be used to support the ongoing grassroot breast cancer projects under Stand Up To Cancer Naija. “Like a Bra our event aims to uplift and support women battling breast cancer!” said Caleb Egwuenu, Project Director of Stand Up To Cancer Naija. We are calling on everyone to take up teams or join in a team, in this incredibly colourful and outrageous social event. Raffle tickets and prizes will also be available. The Line of confirmed celebrities featuring in the event are; UTI, Waje and Uche Jumbo, many more are to be confirmed soon.
For more information on this event, please contact Caleb Egwuenu, Project Director, Stand Up To Cancer Naija on 08033626680 or the Event Publicist Bode- 07032521755
By Tolu Aiyela
Firstly, You are not a Social Pariah! Just because you’re watching your weight/health does not make you a leaper! You CAN still go out and you CAN still EAT! Here are some tips on how to eat out without regretting it later…
1. Bring pre-packaged low fat dressing with you, so you’re not at the mercy of the restaurant’s selection.
2. If you’re not familiar with the restaurant, try to call ahead or look up their menu online before going out.
3. Keep a bag of small apples or some other healthy snack in your car at all times, and eat one before you go into a restaurant with friends. This will not only satisfy your hunger, but will remind you to eat wisely.
4. Bring a small container of low fat spread for bread or baked potatoes.
5. Before you leave home, make an educated choice about which dishes fit best within your ‘budget’ for the day. Then, at the restaurant, if the daily special sounds just too good to miss, do some last-minute computations to be sure you really want to change your choice.
START OFF ON THE RIGHT FOOT
6. Order a bowl of soup before your meal — not a creamy soup, but a stock-based vegetable or French onion. It’s very satisfying and can keep you from overeating.
7. Start with a side salad (minus bacon, cheese and croutons). Ask for low fat or fat free dressing on the side; and be sure to dip your fork into the dressing, then into the salad.
8. Try to drink water with your meal. If you decide to order a juice, fizzy drink or alcohol, always order water with it, too. If you want a second beverage, ask for a refill of the water.
9. Don’t even open the menu! Simply know what you want to eat before you get there.
10. Avoid anything fried.
11. Ask for dressings, sauces, butter and sour cream on the side, instead of on the dish itself.
12. Choose lighter fare like marinara sauce rather than Alfredo. Keep it simple.
13. Whatever you order, make sure that it has loads of vegetables. “Even if it’s pizza, make it a slice loaded up with veggies,” says one Community User. “Or a grilled vegetable sandwich instead of a mile-high sandwich shop creation, or a vegetable omelette instead of a cheese one, or fruit salad instead of pastry.”
14. Don’t be afraid to ask for substitutions. Most restaurants will accommodate your requests. “My favourite salad at a fast food place comes with fried chicken,” says another Community User. “But I always request it with grilled chicken. I think it tastes better and it cuts out fat and calories.”
MANAGE YOUR PORTIONS
15. When eating at a buffet, survey the food items before you put anything on your plate. The key is to remind yourself that you’re eating to be satisfied, not to get your money’s worth.
16. If the portions are large, why not ask if you can get a smaller portion of the item you order. If not, have the waiter bring a takeaway box with the meal. Before you start to eat, put half the meal in the box.
17. Split your entrée with the person you’re with. If you have the impulse to finish everything on your plate, it’s better to not have all that food in front of you.
18. Have a Good Attitude
19. Do your best and practice the art of BAM: Breathe, Accept, Move On.
20. The celebration is about being out with your family and friends, not about food being served. Enjoy yourself and remember that the meal does not need to be your enemy.
Definitely go out! As going out makes you feel like you’re a normal person, and like you’re not losing out on anything. Its important to “incorporate” healthy eating as part of a normal , healthy and active social life!
Tolu acts as a Healthy Living counsellor. Educating and advising people on how to manage a healthy lifestyle whatever the environment. Most of the people she mentors and counsels are Africans either living at home or in places where healthy products are not that easily accessible. She also owns the company Goodness, promoting healthy living, most recently she had a sale in Lagos with wonderful products to promote healthy living.
By Lola Adesioye
Whose life are you living?
This is probably one of the most important questions you can ask yourself. Are you doing what makes you happy, what fulfills and satisfies you?
OR are you living according to what your parents want, what you think you should be doing, or what you were conditioned by education/movies/peer group to believe that someone of your gender/race/social class/background/education should be doing?
What motivates you?
There are two types of motivation: extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. Those who are extrinsically motivated tend to be driven by grades, external markers of success such as job titles/names of good colleges and so on. Those who are intrinsically motivated tend to be motivated by their own value systems, intuition, and inner drive.
I would theorize – totally unscientifically and purely from my own observations – that the vast majority of people are motivated by extrinsic rewards. Those who are intrinsically motivated are a rare breed. You can spot them a mile off because they are the ones living full out, going for it, taking risks, enjoying life and who are without the shackles of other people’s opinions. You can probably count them on one hand.
The desire for extrinsic reward, validation, acknowledgement and acceptance is deep rooted and ingrained into us from an early age. Through conditioning (at home, at school, through peer groups, and in society at large), where we are taught to respond to other people like the way dogs would to a bone, we come to learn that doing certain things may get us approval while doing others may not. To our ego, our identity, which needs constant stroking and strengthening, approval is safe and disapproval is risky.
As children and adolescents, you may learn that dressing a certain way may make people laugh at you. Therefore, you stop dressing that way. Saying certain things may make your parents angry at you, so you stop saying them. Expressing your true point of view may cause you to lose friends, so we stay quiet. Telling a man or woman what you really want in a relationship may lead them say they don’t want to be with you anymore, so we don’t reveal our true selves in a relationship – instead we put up with what we get even if we don’t want it.
I know because I’ve done these things myself.
Little by little we start to mould ourselves into what we think will help us gain approval and avoid disapproval. As adults, then (because it is rare to take the time to pick apart the things from the past that no longer work for us), you find that we are still searching for that approval while the one thing we are most afraid of is disapproval.
Going along with the agreement of whatever group(s) you belong to tends to get you approval. As an adult it looks like this: if your family thinks that you should be a lawyer/doctor/accountant/funeral home director, you know that they will look favourably on you if you are one. Your real wish may be to join the circus or to be a singer, yet you don’t do that for fear of alienating your family. So you go to law school and spend your life daydreaming about your passion, perhaps even doing it in secret.
Perhaps in your peer group, everyone wears high end designer clothes and eats at the fanciest restaurants, yet you desire a life of simplicity and frugality. Rather than telling your friends that, you just go along with them, spending money that you don’t want to or even can’t afford just to fit in.
Look at the advertising around us. Apparently you are not ok if you don’t own X or Y item. Everyone else has one. You need one, the ads scream! You don’t really care for them deep down, but you don’t want to risk being criticized, so you go and buy it anyway. Ipads. Ugg boots. The latest phone. Whatever it is that you need to look cool, like you belong.
This is INSANITY.
And it is the easiest way to end up sad, unfulfilled and despondent. But why do we care about approval so much? Well, the most amazing form of brainwashing we have gone through is the one that says that who you are is based on what others think of you. So if you are approved of, you are good, and if you are not, you are bad. Many of us have such a poor sense of self, from the inside, that we do not know who we are or how to feel about ourselves unless that comes from someone else.
This is not only totally false, it is also antithetical to living a fruitful and fulfilled life. You are fulfilled when you are doing what it is in your heart to do. The world cannot possibly know what that is, so going by what the world says you should do means that you are most likely not doing what it is really in you to do. To be honest, even your parents cannot know what it is in your heart to do. That is something that only each person can know for themselves.
When you start to pick apart the idea of being motivated by what happens externally, you soon start to see how empty it is.
For a start, none of us can actually control how another person thinks. What they think is what they think (coming from their own judgements, opinions, past, perceptions etc) and quite frankly, what they think is their business. Why would you hurt your own life – the one that you have to live every day – to apparently please someone else who does not live your life?
Secondly, you cannot create another person’s state of being, nor can they create yours. In our society, there is this bizarre idea that we can make someone feel something. You cant. You can’t make anyone feel anything and neither do they make you feel anything. This is linked in to the point above: you are not responsible for another’s state of being, nor are they for yours. So, really, the issue here isn’t even what anyone else thinks – it is what YOU think about what they think!
Thirdly, if you are extrinsically motivated, it is very hard – infact, impossible – to find peace. People are notoriously fickle. One minute being a banker is cool. Next minute, being a banker is the worst thing ever. One minute, ipads are in. The next minute, we’re on to the next craze. One minute we love Britney Spears. The next she is the butt of all jokes.
If you want to ensure a life of inner turmoil, follow the crowd, follow the herd and spend your life trying to be secure in a constantly changing sea of infinite opinions. The only people who truly benefit from catching you in this trap is advertisers who prey on the fact that people are motivated by what others think of them.
It’s YOUR life.
Fourth, and most importantly, this is YOUR life. We are all going to die. Every day you are alive is one day closer to your death. It’s not morbid, it’s just reality. Ask yourself what purpose there is to living a life that you think someone else wants you to live? It does not matter what anyone else thinks about what you are doing. It is just what they think. So what?! The only thing that matters is being true to what’s inside you.
What would you be doing today if you didn’t care about what anyone else thought?
Exercise for the day: Do one thing every day that you would do if you didn’t care about anyone else’s opinion. I’m taking this on! Let me know how it goes for you!!
Lola Adesioye has featured in a variety of major international publications from the UK newspaper The Guardian (where she had a regular online column), The Economist, Washington Post’s TheRoot.com, CNN, BBC, BET, Channel 4, MSNBC, The Huffington Post, the award-winning international Arise Magazine. Lola is a former deputy editor of NBC’s TheGrio.com, as well as a former contributing editor to AOL Black Voices.
By Yemisi Sawyer
*Singing* “Keep smiling, keep shining, know that you can always count on me… For sure… that’s what friends are for….Through good times, and bad times, I’ll be on yr siiiiiide forever moooorrreee….That’s what friends are forrrr…..”
I always hated that song.
I thought it was cheesy. And irritating. And Dionne Warwick’s nasal twang made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, and gave me gooseflesh. And not in a good way…
But I’ve been thinking a lot about friends. I’ve met some spontaneously, had some thrust upon me, stumbled upon some accidentally and made some consciously. I have a good number of them, and the truth is they are all kind of awesome.
Its so great that you can choose your friends, and that you can de/dis/un-friend them when you are no longer on the same page, when your interests or values or ethics become divergent, or they show themselves to be untrustworthy custodians of your secrets or dreams. (Now, If only one could do that with family members then life would be pretty much near perfect!!)
In the last two years, I have been through some harrowing stuff. And I have to say this… I discovered that I chose wisely. And the ones I did not choose, God chose for me… Planted them so firmly in my life that they have grown roots… so you guys know now, you are not going anywhere…
I have homies who are ready to break bottles and fight for me – some liiterally, lol, and some figuratively, and friends who spend so much time in prayer for me that they have dents in their knees and sore throats from crying out to God on my behalf…
Friends who are clearly psychic, or possess some kind of extra sensory perception because they always seem to call me up just when there is a crisis, and those who listen to me on the phone for hours and hours when I need to vent (Trust me, this is no mean feat…I really do go on a bit!!)
I have friends who will bring out the box of tissues when it all gets too much and sit with me, silently passing me one after another as I sit blubbering incoherently; and friends that will wire me cash they don’t really have to help me out of a fix…
My non-blood brothers and sisters who just sense when I need a hug, and give them freely; who I confide in when I fall, or fail to live up to my own and Gods very high standards –which by the way I often do- and they may berate me, but they never judge me, and they listen when I have things to say.
Kindred spirits, who are not afraid to tell me the truth even if it is painful to hear; who will force much needed advice down my throat like bitter medicine when I act like I don’t need it; and kick me up the bum every once in a while with a steel toed boot, to shake me out of melancholy, or complacency, or anger, or bitterness….
My ride or die peeps who will tell me when something, or someone, is beneath me or not deserving of me; in whose houses I have parking spaces and a designated room, and a free 24 hour pass to the fridge and the stove…
Friends whose children call me Aunty Yemisi, and whose pictures I carry in my wallet; and friends in whose family albums I feature heavily… Who are quick to forgive my numerous offences, and who are quick to not be offended when I forget to stay in touch…
My people, who I may not always see, and maybe who I havent seen or spoken to for months or years, but feel the same love whenever we do talk or get together…
And, thanks to the advent of the Social Network, friends I havent physically met. But who enrich my life in unimaginable ways through their words…
I thank you and I cherish you.
You are a valuable and irreplaceable piece of my big picture.
Nneka* was worried. Her husband Mike* had recently returned from a trip abroad and he seemed so stressed out, he had barked at her earlier for not having dinner ready on time. He had actually lost quite a bit of weight so she was concerned that he hadn’t been eating well. She had talked to him about the need to make sure he always ate regardless of how busy he was, and he had started a fight because according to him, she was insulting his intelligence by insinuating that he was unable to take care of himself.
She lay in the bed wondering why he was so irritable. His company had recently promoted him and his workload had increased and she thought perhaps this was the reason for his change in behavior and even physical appearance. She couldn’t sleep, for two reasons; one was her discomfiture about her husband and the other was because he kept getting up from the bed to use the bathroom. By the time he got up the fifth time, she knew something must be very wrong, for a man of under fifty to be up and down in the bathroom all night.
When she woke up in the morning, tired and weary, she was suddenly energized by a thought. She had educated a diabetes education seminar with a friend and she realized that her husband had a family history of diabetes, coupled with his weight loss, irritability and frequent urination that perhaps he may have developed it himself.
She asked him to go to the doctor. She was right, his blood sugar was off the charts, the doctor said that if it had continued unchecked, he may have ended up in a diabetic coma. At that very moment, Nneka realized that knowledge is indeed power.
Signs of diabetes
• Increased thirst
• Increase in appetite or excessive hunger
• Increased urination, especially at night
• Unexplained weight loss or gain
• Blurry vision
• Sores and wounds that heal slowly or not at all
• Dry itchy skin
Common complications of diabetes are:
• Kidney failure
• Nerve damage
• Macro vascular diseases are related to arteries i.e. hardening of arteries and narrowing them and leading to strokes, heart attacks.
Diabetes is classified into two types i.e. type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is mainly due to lack of production of insulin. Type 1 diabetes is also known as insulin dependent diabetes mellitus because insulin is necessary for treatment. It is also more common among young adults and children.
The good news about diabetes is that it can be controlled or maintained naturally by taking well balanced diet, doing regular exercise.
*Names have been changed for privacy*