2016: Taking stock

Tuesday, December 27, 2016


If there was one word to describe 2016, it would be “drama”.

Global drama. National drama. Professional drama. Personal drama. 

(Even Salsa drama)

If the year 2016 was an (American) actor, it would be riding into the sunset with its own specially created Oscar.

For starters, this year started on a crazy note. (And I do not mean it in a figurative sense)

Do you remember my sister in activism, who in order to prove a point, placed herself smack in between the solid-hard body of a male homo-sapien - in a shower -  and turned around to scream ‘rape’? (You can refresh your memory here)

And then, there was Olajumoke. Our very own Cinderella.

(Wistful sigh)

She left her house with bread to sell, and came back a model, a God-changed-my-life-around-story, and a “Motivational speaker”; the last, as touted by her handlers.

(Where is she now though?)

But the biggest drama of 2016, which a lot of us have still not wrapped our heads around, was the very unexpected results of the American Presidential elections. Even prophets got it wrong.

That Donald J. emerged as the President-elect of the United States was rather shocking to the world, in a race keenly contested with a candidate, who many considered more than qualified for the job.

Maybe folks are not ready to make a woman the most powerful person on earth. Not just yet.

****

In 2016, we learnt new words in Nigeria.

Words like “Recession”.

(Which, by the way, we had always experienced. But this government gave a new label)

And “MMM”.

(I am going to take the “high road”. I am going to exhibit restraint, and not make any comments that would be interpreted as gloating. Especially after my earlier warning)

Then, there was the “#MannequinChallenge”. Where grown-ups would freeze for minutes, shooting a ‘still’ video.

(I should criticize the childishness of it. Except…I enjoyed this myself; partaking in at least five different challenges. What is life, without a little childishness??)

We even got an entire new phrase: “the Other Room”. Gifted to Nigerians by our Commander General, as the expected pre-occupation of his better half.

Maybe it is the years of being traumatized by Nollywood; with the likes of “Living in Bondage” and “Circle of Doom”. But is it just me, or does “the Other Room” sound like that room where the unfortunate wife used for money in Nigerian home videos is locked up, to spit out the currencies every time her name is called (usually three times), with the evil husband grinning ear to ear at his diabolical wealth machine?

***

This year, we stopped blaming the devil as our usual culprit for everything. The new scape-goat became the “Dollar”.

“Dollar” was the reason your kuli-kuli which onye-barrow used to sell for N50 per nylon was increased to N150. “Dollar became everyone’s excuse for not being able to meet up with pledges and promises alike.

Add to that the increase in the pump-price of fuel. We reduced our communal display of affection in random visits to one another. Petrol became the new gold in Nigeria, in 2016.

Almost on a daily basis, news made rounds of some high-profile arrests tied to “corruption”. We are about four days shy of the close of the year. Yet, no conviction has been made.

The raw disenchantment with the voted ‘change’ is visible on the faces of the people; on the streets and behind wooden desks. “Things are bad” has almost become a mantra.

But… it has not been bad news all round.           

Remember, in a cinderella-ish turn of events, the Nigerian male football team barely straggled to the Olympics in Brazil, and still carted away the bronze prize for the tournament?

Similarly, the Nigerian female team (the Super Falcons) emerged victorious in the recently concluded African Women Cup of Nations. Although, the not-so-comical comical comment of the sports Minister that no provision for settlement of their allowances was made for them, as they were not expected to win was received with part shock, part amusement.

(Nigerians have still not agreed which was more baffling: That a Federal Minister of what is touted as the ‘Giant of Africa’ would actually utter the words, or that funding for the football teams is tied to their ‘winning’ tournament, irrespective of the efforts they had put in)

And like most other things foreign, oyinbo  rice became unfathomably expensive. Attempts to suppress importation turned rice to smuggled commodities, thereby further inflating its cost. “Plastic Rice” also became a phenomenon, making the purchase of good imported Rice more difficult.

Thankfully, we are turning to Benue, Nasarawa, Kogi, Abakaliki, Anambra and Lagos Rice.

(Who says no good can come out of difficult times?)

Personal lessons

I think the biggest lesson as a whole this year was to learn to turn your disadvantage into an advantage, or seek other ways of excelling, if ‘the usual’ stops working.

Our re-discovery of our local rice is reminiscent of my ankle sprain, and how I had to change my eating lifestyle when I discovered I would not be able to do any exercise for a minimum of two months. I have now come to learn that the weight battle is more about eating healthy, than jumping upandan in the gym for 10 hours per day.

(Lawd.)

***
This year, ‘rock-bottom’ stopped being a figurative piece of literature to me, and became a personal experience.

I learnt that you can do two things with rock-bottom:

You can either choose to build your tent there … build an impenetrable fortress if you may. Wake up with a glass of Baileys, mixed with coconut-water and palm-wine every morning there. Fry akara, eat ugba, lick agbalumo; perpetually host a party where misery, self-pity, the witches from your village and suffering are the distinguished guests.

Day in-day out. Rocking rock-bottom. And (eventually), die there.

Or…

You can hit rock-bottom, steady yourself after the bump, shake the dust gathered on the ride down, stitch up whatever scars you may have incurred, do a Voltron spin spin spin-around… and shoot right back up. To beyond where you fell from.

I discovered in 2016 that rock-bottom is not a place. It is a decision. And while you may want to cave into the thought that your circumstances are purely already pre-determined by higher beings, or entirely a contraption of fellow mortals, you will never make headway until you come to terms that you are the deciding factor in the equation: the willing tool to kick-start your journey down, and the sole solution to getting you out.

I also learnt that sometimes, it is totally alright to not have it all figured out. Take things in their stride, one day after the next. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Shake things off. Move on. If you get too confused, stop, and do a #MannequinChallenge if need be, to remind you of your inner child.

And just when you do not expect, beautiful things will happen to you.

In 2016, #the Conversation happened to me. #TedX happened to me.

You, reading this post, happened (and will keep happening) to me.


2017?

I hate making New Year resolutions. It is as though the temptation to break them becomes… ‘temptier’.

But I’m  going to put out some goals for 2017. So that I can have expectations to look forward to.

For example, my book. Maybe I will (finally) write the book.

Not that other one, that I started writing eons ago. That one is a love story, which I will finish when the hustle of daily life has eased up some more.

(Maybe I should wait to see how it ends in real life first?)

This book, the 2017 book, will not be a romance book. You will have to buy it to know what it’s about.

I should also begin flirting with the idea of a PhD program, in the New Year. I know…it gives one a certain feel of intelligence saying it. Except… you can keep passing off as ‘intelligent’ for 10 years, and never actually do it.

I hope to (finally!) revamp this blog, so that you enjoy it more, and find it easier to navigate. (In case the middle of the year is approaching, and I have done nothing yet, please remind me. Abeg.)

Beyond these, 2017 should be a good year. I will live believing the next day will be better. I will have expectations, but I will not be hard on me. Taking each day with its own surprises. Enjoying fresh adventure…where I encounter them.

I will laugh more, breathe easier, write better, and eat less (I hope)

I will not let the economy, or rumours of the economy, weigh me down. Rather, I should position myself to soar notwithstanding the ‘Recession’.

You too should. Soar irrespective of the economy. Let us waltz into the New Year with great expectations, like the bosses that we are. 

Recession will come and go. We will remain.

2016 is a wrap. And as Arnold Schwarzenegger will say … “Hasta la vista baby!”


Paz (and kisses)


Meg.
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P.s. If there was to be prize for the colours of Christmas on Christmas day, I would have won it. You do not see it, but I also had a white fan. 

It is not every day that Jesus is born.
.


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5 comments

  1. The "This year, we stopped blaming the devil as our usual culprit for everything. The new scape-goat became the 'Dollar'” part killed me������

    ReplyDelete
  2. The "This year, we stopped blaming the devil as our usual culprit for everything. The new scape-goat became the 'Dollar'” part killed me������

    ReplyDelete