THE CONNECTION YOU NEED

Photo source: Comfort Eke

"To survive in this Nigeria you need connection", I hear that almost everywhere I go, people have a way of chipping it in every advice. Have we ever stopped to wonder "who are these people", "where do I meet these people", "How can I get connected and have this connection that people keep talking about?". There is this popular saying:people differ, no two persons can ever be the same. Well that's the beauty of life. In fact, life will be so boring without the differences in my own opinion. So get used to the fact that Nobody can ever be like you and No one can be you. Anyway, these differences are as a result of different backgrounds, different upbringings, the environment different people find themselves from childhood to adulthood.

Talking of these differences; There are people who are cheerful and fun to be with, there are people who are shy and quiet, there are also very noisy people, there are very aggressive and arrogant set of people, some people are even a mixture of several characteristics and personalities. These are the different kinds of people we tend to meet everyday. People also have different taste in music, different taste in food, different styles of fashion, different traditions and cultures, different habits and addictions and very interestingly different values and interests.

However, everyone of us have encounters with different kinds of people and that’s the same way people look at you and wonder “what kind of person are you” as well. This brings me back to the question ” How can I get connected and have these connection that people keep talking about?” Whether you like it or not, the connection you need is within the circle of people you meet each and everyday. We don’t understand the importance of communication and getting to know people that’s why it looks as if we don’t have this connection. All you need to survive in this life is around you but you have to open your eyes and take up the responsibility of getting to know people and stop cutting people off. The person that could help you tomorrow might be that truant in class, it could be the girl that sleeps around or the guy that womanizes, it can even be that ‘low class girl’ that you keep looking down on.

Regardless of who you are, you need to really get to know people, communicate with people, hang out with people. No one asked you to be close to anyone, you just need to be friendly and be nice to them. That way, the connection you have been yearning for will come your way. Sometimes, all we have been looking for have been right in front of our faces but we just didn’t acknowledge it.
In conclusion, I understand we have made some awesome decisions for the year 2020. Just remember; the person you keep downgrading can be your ticket to an important position tomorrow, the person you can’t talk to, can be the key to a door of opportunities. Everyone is not bad and not everyone is trying to take advantage of you. Everyone deserves a chance and you need that connection so never neglect anyone you meet this year.

Eke comfort

Eke Comfort Chidinma is a native of Abia state, Nigeria from a family of three. She is based in Port Harcourt, Rivers state and a student at the Department of Anatomy in the University of Port Harcourt. She is a writer, an entrepreneur and volunteer.

She is one of the awesome writers that have been hosted on the blog so far, when asked what mused her to pen this piece, she replied…

“Well, I was learning alot about communication skills and I encountered some challenges with people that were a bit up tight. I felt I should write about it. More so, in the midst of meeting people, I met a lot of people that helped me in a short of period of time.
That’s so amazing and I learnt the wonders of connection”.

THE WONDERS OF CONNECTION! A book everyone must read (winks), if you want to write more on it. It was a great time having you over! Trust you’d dazzle us with more of this.

WHEN IS IT SAFE TO GIVE UP?

Image of a man trying to divide wood using a hand axe. Photo source: Paul Kay

I trust you’re having a good day wherever you are my awesome readers. I told you I’ll be taking a course on photography, well this is the first image I took by myself that I’ll be hosting on the blog.

For the people here that I spent the Christmas holidays with, the holidays are never over till the first Monday of the year. Most of them can even extend it to the second Monday. I was inside my house when I kept on hearing this constant sound. I came out and saw this huge log of wood that a man was trying to chop into smaller pieces. I actually doubted if the wood could be chopped at that particular moment. I wanted to play my guitar; but I stopped to watch him intently as he looked like he was never getting tired. At some point, he stopped to take a call. I looked at him, he was tired; More so, this wasn’t his wood nor was he chopping it for his use. He merely saw a lady chopping the wood and offered to help, this was the point where he could have quit.

After the call, I thought he would walk away or probably move while on his call. He didn’t, He rather put his phone back in his pocket, and then continued chopping the wood. He turned it round, laid it on the side; all looking for suitable means to chop the wood. He raised his hand higher, hit the wood with more precision, more accuracy, more strength. All this he did, in a bid to chop the wood to pieces and finally, he did.

The chopped log of wood after much effort.
Photo Source: Paul Kay

Now, last year in Nigeria; it seemed depression was making the waves and it was deadly because it wasn’t just stopping at people being depressed, it progressed to suicides. Many persons lost their lives. A girl killed herself over her boyfriend, a final year student of Civil Engineering committed suicide too, presumably over financial issue.

In this year, you are to likely come against challenges. Most persons are actually going through hiccups now; and are feeling like giving up. But, just like the wood cutter who persisted…. So should you.

Add a few glitches, a few tweaks …… could be what would get you there. Never be like a man who dug a mine for ninety nine days and gave up, that there’s no gold….only for another to pick up from where he stopped, and dug for only a day and all the gold became his.

Never ever give up!

Giving up is never a safe option!

I SMILE

Many times, people go through a lot; which are usually sad, and these are all covered in make up, smiles, jokes, jibes.
ESTHER GEORGE, a Nigerian young writer; embodies the suffering of humans (maybe women especially) in the quest to always be happy and ready for the camera in her poetic piece titled: I SMILE🌝.

Poetry is usually therapeutic, and ESTHER GEORGE leaves no stone unturned in her quest to let emotions loose. Just sit back and enjoy this! (Smiles)

I SMILE

Another day to go to work.
All dressed up looking decent.
A perfect perfume for a pleasant scent.
A little make up on to look glamorous.
Finally, a big smile to look perfect;
But am I happy?

Everyday I have the perfect look.
Everyday I carry a heavy burden.
Yet no one knows why?
I always have the perfect look.
I smile!

I leave the world puzzled;
Leaving them to dazzle.
Not letting them know my pain.
To see the tears;
To see the agony!
Oh! Countless times I stand under the rain.
Waiting for lightening to strike me down.
The howling wind to shove me off to the gutters.
Yet, it never happens.
I head home smiling!

I believe the pain to be a mirage.
A perfect illusion;
Caused by the world spinning round.
Surely, the suffering will end.
The tears will seize;
This involuntary happiness will end.

Another day to go to work;
Dressed up looking decent.
Make up on to look glamorous.
Perfume, for a pleasant scent.
A big smile to look perfect.
Soon, I will be happy!

Esther George is an indigene of Akwa Ibom state, Nigeria. Born December 17, 2000 in Benin city, Edo state, Nigeria. She is an African poet, writer, spoken word performer, motivational speaker and a student of Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Edo state currently studying History and International Studies. She’d also accept constructive criticism and comments of satisfaction too.

Just do well to let her know how she made you feel, so her pen never stops!

Compliments of the season!

WHAT IF SHE SAYS NO?

An image of two friends of the opposite sex with faces of bliss.
Photo Credit: Port Harcourt Literary Society

Smiles, smiles so fabulous; the silent wishes. I pray I don’t sound patriarchal, cos it seems its only the males that have this feeling. Its only the males that actually make the move.

Most times, we end up with awesome friends we wish we were dating. They’re so good that we’re even scared of losing them and rather choose to wait till the coast is super clear. Question is: Is it ever super clear? While in college (or university), I had an awesome friend of the opposite sex. A wonderful one, she was a sister, a mom, a wife, think of anything a female can be to a male, that she was; aside my lover. I was never sure if all the lights were green. Though, there were times when she was jealous of me communicating with other females; and she usually found a way to truncate whatever it is I was building with any other girl. Now, not that I wasn’t brave at some point. For starters, my compliments were never duplicated but were always shrugged off by her. Whenever she got “Love texts” from me; she’d ask me “what was the meaning of that? ” Whenever she visited me, she walked like she owned my house. My friends thought there was something on; many persons did think so, but we both knew it wasn’t concrete. After college, a friend of mine asked why nothing concrete came out of us two. She replied, “He wasn’t so serious?”. When he told me, I was really shocked. I dropped many subtle lines by which she could lead me on, I believed she did see them and never led me.

When it comes to love, I might be indifferent. So are many people out there; due to one or two past events. I remembered joining a friend of mine to attend the wedding of an ex. He really was distraught and felt maybe it was because he doesn’t have money yet. He never danced, at some point I regretted convincing him to come. When we left the place, his complaints never dried up. From saying the groom isn’t even handsome, to his academic qualification, to his gait, to how he laughs (chuckles).

In order not to be gender biased. Let me delve onto the feminine scene. I am friends to a lot of females and many of them confide in me. You get shocked when you see the amount of love they have for a guy. The ladies are actually the gurus on this. A guy can’t be onto a lady and you won’t know. But the ladies, they can be super discreet. They are super super into him, yet he has no idea! A lady on a previous post on this blog did say, “Love doesn’t exist”. What would I know? My dad once told me, ” Son, if you’d be having female friends; make sure they have the qualities you’d need in a bride”. Most times you have this perfect friend of the opposite sex, he or she embodies all you’d want in life partner and yet he or she isn’t that partner and many times, oblivious of that piece of knowledge.

Should we be braver? Is that not putting yourself out there? Could it not result in ridicule. I could remember when I was in high school. I remember visiting www.askmen.com and wikihow to learn how to turn your best friend to your lover. I know how you seem to have that electric connection, perfect synergy, great understanding; and you begin to feel maybe you’re being a coward. You start thinking of crossing the line. (Chuckles) I can’t actually be the one to give an advice on this. I had a friend who I was wooing last year, already married before the end of this year.

But if there’s any piece of knowledge to come from my box is this:

LOVE is more than just a rush feeling. Its something that should not be rushed. If its love, it would be spontaneous. If it isn’t, then it isn’t love. There’s no rulebook to love.

But if you do have a friend that you’ve had the hots for. Go for it, it might be mutual for all you know. And if it doesn’t work out, you’ve been friends, you can always get back to being friends.

But fear shouldn’t stop you. Its better to be an old man with smiles than an old man with regrets and thoughts of what could have been?

A TÊTE A TÊTE WITH THE MAN OF CORPORATE WATER

A picture of Michael Iloduba, the man of corporate table water in his official work attire; hawking sachet water on the streets of Lagos, Nigeria.

So, as promised; I am here to deliver. This is supposed to have been done earlier ago but then, as the saying goes, “better late than never”. Talks on recession of Nigeria’s economy are being spread everywhere but only a few actually feel the sting of the nation’s recession. The sale of sachet water is a business that is reported to yield a good profit; as it thrives in the sun burnt environment that leaves you constantly thirsty. One of the shock waves of this year is the picture of a young man corporately dressed in suit, tie and shoe; to hawk sachet water. It was a news that was received with mixed feelings. How be it, it is a very laudable feat to me as it showed strong will, and bravery in the face of daunting financial lions. The Nigerian youths are widely renowned for internet fraud; and it really doesn’t take a lot to learn; Why did he not ply his trade in fraud? Or why did he not take the now common path of suicide? How did he do this not withstanding the thoughts of friends?

Previously featured by the PUNCH NEWSPAPERS of Nigeria as well as other blogs and vlogs; and was recently picked by the ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL CRIMES COMMISSION of Nigeria as their #YoungNLegit pick of the week on 16th December, 2019. PAUL KAY’S BLOG (smiles) decided to call him in for not just an interview, but a tête a tête with the man behind the man.

Before I proceed, I’d give a short bio of our interviewee…

BIO OF INTERVIEWEE: My name is Michael Iloduba. I’m from a family of six (parents,three siblings and myself). I hail from Anambra state, Nigeria. But, I was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria.

I: Thank you so much, so for the sake of this interview; can I call you Mr. Mike?

MR. MIKE: Okay, Sir.

I: So, Mr Mike…. From my gatherings, you’re the face of Corporate Table Water. What mused you into it?

MR. MIKE: Frustration, joblessness, and strandedness

A picture of Mr. Mike on another day, with his attire on his business; selling his corporate water.

I: (Laughs) I know typing can be strenuous at times. But your replies should be explicit.

MR. MIKE: Okay, I meant frustration, joblessness and strandedness; lured me into selling corporate water.

I: So Mr. Mike, as much as I’m moved to ask you to tell me about yourself; I actually won’t. My focus is on your life as an entrepreneur. Something must have struck this idea initially. What is that? I need you to think to the initial time you birthed this idea. I am sure the large number of readers out there waiting on you are equally curious.

MR MIKE: Okay,

It all started February 2019. I went in search of a menial job to feed and to assist my parents because I come from a poor family (my dad is a driver and my mom is a petty trader and I have got 3 siblings). I was wearing suit. That very day, I left my house by 5:30am with five hundred naira (#500) and that was the only money I had in this world, so I managed N300 from where I live down to CMS. On getting to CMS I started trekking from CMS to silverbird, from silverbird to eko hotel, from eko hotel to lekki toll gate then from tollgate back to CMS by that time it was already 4pm and I was very hungry because I had not taken anything edible that day.
Meanwhile, I still had the remaining N200 change on me, so while I was seated at that CMS bus-stop thinking of how to go about my transport fare and feeding because I knew that N200 could not do anything. I was thinking of how to multiply that N200 and I just said to myself that I can just sell pure water and raise some money. I was putting on complete suit (mind you, I have never hawked before then) I just decided to give it a try,

because I needed to complete my transport fare and I needed to eat something because I was really hungry. So I was lucky to meet one of those people that sell pure water (sachet water commonly referred pure water) at CMS after persuading him; he gave me 1bag of water for N130 and rented his bucket for N10 to me.
Not minding that I was wearing suits, I just carried the water on my head and started shouting corporate water here! People started buying because I was wearing suits, the interesting part of it was that people that were also hawking water bought from me, and everybody was like, “I want to buy corporate water, I want to buy corporate water”, because they had never seen anything like that before. To cut the long story short, I sold more than 50bags of pure water from that 4pm-6pm and calculating my money that day I made about N3500. And since then I have been selling corporate water till date because I now see it as my business.

I: Wow! Just wow is the word I have. To say I am really enthralled is an understatement. I actually did pause. Now after the first day and the proceeds you made from the first day; why did you not stop?

MR MIKE: Because I was tired of looking for a job or probably working for someone.

An image of Mr. Mike’s bucket with his logo largely placed on it.

I: Mr. Mike; from your bio; you were born and raised in Lagos. Did you also school in Lagos?

MR MIKE: Yes sir, I attended my elementary and secondary School here in Lagos.

I: You must have had pals; I know the Igbos in Nigeria are usually known for their financial doggedness, focus and determination. Were you never shy of what your classmates or friends would say?

MR. MIKE: I don’t care about what people say not even friends.

I: Wow! (really surprised) this means you must have really thought about this, to have gotten to this point. Currently, cybercrime is on the rise and people (youths) are seriously delving into it. Did you never had anyone to actually teach you? was there no lure to cybercrime for you at the time of this hardship?

MIKE: The truth is right from time hate to cheat people, I prefer to play the mumu(fool) than to dupe people of their hard earned resource and I have always promised my mom never to disappoint her, because she always tell me that a good name is better than bad name.

I: I wish I could place you on a louder platform to speak to every single Nigerian youth. Even those who’ve never had access to the internet. Have you at any point whilst doing this business felt inferior or low self-esteem?

MIKE: The fact that I’m the only person selling corporate water in Nigeria makes me proud of myself for being unique.

I: (Applauds). You know you’ve been trending on social media. Initially when I saw you earlier this year. I honestly thought it was a joke. I had no idea that this was actually a business. Looking further while making my research; I discovered you were previously featured by THE PUNCH NEWSPAPERS on 26th May, earlier this year. What was your reaction to it?

MIKE: Punch newspapers was not the first to feature me, I had features on several blogs and vlogs even before I came across punch newspaper, I initially saw corporate water as just a mere means of survival and way to sort out some little bills not until I was featured on punch newspaper in March but was posted in May, that was when I took my business very serious then I had to brand the bucket and get an I.D. card.

A picture of Michael Iloduba at an event

I: Wow! you mean you even branded the bucket. This is awesome. At what point did you get the inspiration to get registered at corporate affairs commission (CAC)?

MIKE: When I was being featured on blogs and vlogs, so the idea of getting registered hit me, so I started saving till I was able to raise money to register my business name and trademark.

I: And I must say the name ‘CORPORATE WATER’ alone is a seller. Your water sales moved from hawking to producing your own table water and not just sachet water but plastic bottled water. How did you? In just few months time. What is your secret ingredient?

MIKE: No, don’t get it wrong. I’m yet to start producing my own water, hopefully by the grace of God, early 2020 I will kick off production, stay tuned!

I: Oh! My bad, you definitely have to. You were mentioned by EFCC sometime on 16th December, 2019; as the #YoungNLegit PICK OF THE WEEK. I saw the huge lashing you got on social media. You hardly responded; what did you think of them? How were you able to keep your cool?

MIKE: Firstly I felt EFCC was trying to pass message message but it wasn’t in a well written caption, that was what brought about the trolling and lashing. I think if only EFCC had posted the video of the interview we had, they wouldn’t have been more trolling and lashing out. Secondly, I felt it wasn’t necessary for me to reply any one, it’s called self control.

I: Brilliant👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼! If you do have the link to the interview you had with EFCC. You could also share so readers can view too.

MIKE: They asked me to not to post or share with no one that it’s for future purpose.

I: Oh! Okay then. I recently saw that you donated water to muslim praying centers for their Friday prayers. As a man from Igbo; I’m almost sure you’re a Christian. How come you never felt any restraint in giving even to those of another religion?

An image of him giving out water on the streets.

MIKE: Yes I’m a proud Christian, but I try as much as possible to impact on my community no matter how little it is. Irrespective of religion, ethnics or culture, and I also try as much as possible to feed at least 100 kids on the street once in a month, but Glory to God I have been able to do it twice this month.

I: Wow! How you managed to achieve this feat in so little a time, is really a wonder. In these trying times when suicide is an easy way out for the youths. Did you never contemplate about it?

MIKE: Trust me every day before I leave my house I always go down on my knees and talk to God in prayers and he has never failed me. God’s grace just keep me going, day in day out.

I: You’re a role model to a lot out there. I also believe in the power of small beginnings. Any piece of advice for the young entrepreneurs; who might be facing the time you faced at February!

MIKE: I will say, get something legit doing; no matter how little it may look, be consistent and above all, always commit your activities to God. Be you Muslim or Christian because God answers prayers.

I: Thank you so so much for your time. It was really awesome having you here.

MIKE: 🙏🏼.

WHERE DO YOU DRAW THE LINE BETWEEN SPIRITUALITY AND MEDICAL HEALTH?

So, this morning I quit my rastafarian ambition (chuckles). My hair had been growing for a while; I let it fallow. But, I couldn’t keep up with combing it regularly. Though I enjoyed feeling its mass, but the strength to take care of it wasn’t there. Most times, after bathing I just put on a cap on it and that’s it. But today, I had a change of heart; So I visited a barbing saloon.

I enjoy this particular saloon; because they take intricate care of their customers. Most times, you think you just finished having your bath after using the saloon. Also, I’ve been having my hair cuts from here mostly for the past one year. So, most times; I don’t utter a word to the barber. He barbs like he thinks, just as I would. Its like he has my choice in his head.

Today, as he was barbing my hair; his colleague was also doing same to another customer. So, his colleague finished barbing his client and then moved to unwrap the food that they have bought. Turned out they were both hungry and had bought cooked food packaged in a take away plate, coupled with a soft drink. He feigned as though he didn’t know his own, which gave me the impression that his was smaller as he attempted to take my barber’s food; well , naturally my barber had to stop and go claim his right (chuckles). So after pointing out clearly the different foods; he came back to barbing my hair.

I noticed the other barber already opening his food; I was startled. I know he might be dead hungry, I also admit a hungry man most times know only a few rules. But, opening his food where hair is being barbed, coupled with the fan in the building, was really alarming. I called his attention and told him that he should close the food or at least move outside to eat the food. My barber then said, “Guy, leave o; its God that protects. A man that will die will eventually die”. The barber in question closed his food and was moving outside, whilst leaving he told my barber, ” All these things usually catch up with you in your old age”. My barber rejected the advice with reference to an old man who still pushes trucks.

I wanted to add my opinion, but I decided to stay put. After the other barber left with his food, my barber didn’t stop….he kept on talking and even gave reference to a man who was sick and coughing blood. As they were taking him to the hospital, their pastor called and they took him to the church and there he was delivered! He also made reference to another man who was in church for over three weeks yet there was no improvement and then he requested to be moved to a hospital, and he didn’t last a week in the hospital. Now, I do not doubt spirituality.

But then, where do you draw the line between spirituality and medical health?

Where do you draw the line between calling a religious leader or a medical doctor?

I WISH I WAS HIM!

You know the motivational talk that, “you don’t just need talent alone, but you also need hard work”. Well, it doesn’t just apply to footballers alone; but also to every sphere of the world, including writers. I had this idea since on Friday 30th August, 2019. I do apologize and from tomorrow the posts would be consistent! So over to our talk (grins), I WISH I WERE HIM.

Today’s talk is actually quite revealing of me. But, I’d share!

Growing up, despite being flogged to school from home; despite being left at ‘fat auntie’s house’ after school; I knew I was loved. If you are wondering, ‘fat auntie’ was the nickname given to our head teacher back then in my first primary school (or basic school as you might like to call it). Fat auntie, though a very caring woman was really stern. At the time, I would have picked any other place to stay, but no; my parents wanted me to stay with ‘fat auntie’.

With the burgeoning compliments on my intelligence, I knew I was intelligent. You could say it got worse when I discovered I was third on the junior secondary honour roll, after a first year of junior secondary education. You could call it pride; or self love. But I was sure proud of myself. I remember the first time I came 7th; the drama at the result centre. Now, all these had been a preamble; attending a boarding school was like attending a university because you get to take care of yourself by yourself most of the time. I had a good sense of humor; but I wished for more. I had started having rooms for emotions for members of the opposite sex. it appeared the only reason I was loved by a female was ‘intelligence’. It made me had this weird feeling of being ‘used’. I had some classmates who were liked for who they were. They weren’t intelligent; they were liked because they were handsome, they were liked because they had money; they were liked for them. Well, so I felt!

Now, I didn’t spend much years on the sidelines after secondary school; so I got into the university with some kind of ‘naivety’.

Going into the university, I had some established theorems in my head, that I never would have believed would have changed. I had seen love; but just one, that got separated by distance and a long distance relationship turned a distant memory. I had wanted it again but I had a dream girl in my head; and when I saw samples of my dream girl, I always knew them. But, most of the time; I either got tongue-tied or got too jovial and normal with her. At the time, I felt “Oh, if only I was as handsome as this other guy she just hugged. Oh, if I was as rich as this other guy, maybe I’d have a look in”. There was even a time I felt if I had clothes and shoes like this guy, my chances of getting her would have been higher. Now, these were really sad times. You could call it growth, but it was really not a good time. I always had this feeling of insufficiency. Of course, I did try to shield it; and trust me you’d never find out or so I thought. Most times, I was really not happy. But then what would we know?

Confidence is like a lamp in a dark room; it exudes! Its not something you can hide. It just fills the ambience. Now, I read some books and also had some experience. I found out the girl I imagined to be a ‘Beyonce’ and only a certain ‘Jay Z’ would she acquiesce her heart to; was in love with a boy most could term a village boy. I pondered on it; and it wasn’t just one or two. So, I wondered what it could be about this ‘village boy’ that must have won her over. Now skip that; what about the girl that could be misread as Bill Gates Daughter, is she with a certain Bill Gates Son? No! She even foots everything for the guy. I’m not stopping here, I also got to interact with some persons; and I found out that one’s awesomeness lies not in the beauty, lies not in their ‘wallet size’. No, but in their whole awesome energy.

I discovered the only person’s lane I got to focus on, is my lane. I discovered that when I look at others, I delay. The only person you’ve got to drop the focus on—-is YOU. Yourself! Be you! Never feel you’re insufficient. If someone rejects you, don’t see it as you’re not enough. See it that the person can’t handle your level of awesomeness. Work on you. Shift the paradigm from worrying to working more on you. Be your best hype man! Sell yourself. Sell your strengths and if your weakness can’t be improved, avoid bringing them to the lime lights. Take on the world as if you’re the landlord; and stop wishing you were someone else. Be you!

You’d do better being a first version of You! than being a second version of another person; cos then, you’d never be able to do it well. And let your confidence always come from within and not from out of you. Not from clothes, cars, houses, etc. Let your confidence flow from within you. Else, you’d keep on wanting to be him or her.

Aaaaaannnnnnd if you’ve had a similar experience; you could actually just drop comments on how you battled it; so readers can also learn. What do you know? (chuckle) So, I can learn too; like Einstein said, the day I stop learning is the day I start to die! Good morning, people!