How to Sell your writing Online as an eBook and in Print

Please, the time has come when I need your help SERIOUSLY. I just want to find out some things and knowing your wealth of experience, I am sure you can help me. As you know, the book I am working on is almost ready and I intend to sell some e-copies before going to print. It is about selling my books online.
This was an email I received recently and I have reproduced the questions and my suggestions below.


1. How can I upload my ebook on Amazon to sell and what do I require to be elligible for this?

You simply go to kdp.amazon.com and register. If you already shop from Amazon you can use the same sign in. It is free but I think you need a credit card or bank account so they can pay you when you make sales. You can find more information on their help site  https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/help

2. Do I need to do anything extra for people to be able to buy my book on kindle? or does uploading it on Amazon qualify the book to be bought on kindle?

Uploading it at the link above will make it automatically available on Amazon and people who have the Kindle will be able to download it wherever they are.

3. Apart from Amazon, what other sites can I sell the e-copies of my books?

Apart from Amazon, Smashwords.com will distribute your eBook to several retailers including Apple, Diesel, Kobo, Sony, and on their own website. I greatly recommend Smashwords since their sign-up requirements are less tasking for international authors, and you can get paid through Paypal. They will also distribute to Amazon and Barnes and Noble, but I suggest doing these sites yourself since the option is there, and you get more up to date reports on uploading you book and after that, on sales. To self publish on B&N, go to pubit.barnesandnoble.com. Register with the relevant details and you can upload your book. You may require to provide some tax details and/or a credit card.

4. I heard from a fellow writer that there are sites where when people order for my books, the site will print it into hard copy (Paper back or hard cover) and deliver to those people. Do you have an idea what these sites are?

Yes indeed, there are several sites where you can get print on demand services. The foremost providers, and they're virtually free are Createspace.com and Lulu.com. For Createspace, you upload all the necessary files and once the final look is approved by you, your book becomes available on Amazon.com. The book will also be given expanded distribution for a nominal fee.

Lulu first makes the book available on their site, and later on other online retailers including Amazon. My tip is that you use only one of them. I forgot to mention earlier that you can also publish your eBook on Lulu.com for free and it would be sold on their site.

For assisted and paid for Print on Demand, the biggest player is Author Solutions - they are the ones behind AuthorHouse, xLibris, iUniverse, Trafford, Westbow, Balboa and Abbott, among others. I used them for my first book but found them a bit costly for someone just starting out. However, their services are topnotch and I may go back to them with time.


Let me know in the comments if the above throws up any further questions and I'll try my best to give a fitting answer.

MWP - Mama Efon's Last One by Gboyega Otolorin

This is the second in the series of short stories that were submitted for the recently concluded Naija Stories Christmas Nostalgia Contest. The Contest Judge, Ikhide Ikheloa, rated this entry by Gboyega Otolorin 3rd out of ten shortlisted stories, and it was one I found quite evocative. What do you think?
This is how I remember it. This is the image of my grandmother that sticks; that Christmas of 2005, the Christmas before she died.

She is sitting at the dining table, in her customary chair. She has a bowl of Bournvita in front of her. Yes. A bowl. Apparently, this is how she likes to drink her Bournvita. Lots and lots of it in a large blue plastic bowl, a souvenir from somebody’s wedding. So-and-so weds so-and-so courtesy so-and-so’s family. I am surprised at the Bournvita because this is the first time I have seen Mama drink it. Cocoa beverages weren’t her thing. My grandfather? Yes. Definitely. But not her.

My grandma, Mama Efon, is at the dining table with a bowl of Bournvita. She also has a big packet of cream crackers and she is eating the crackers with the Bournvita. There is a method to her eating. She takes a cracker, stabs the milky surface of the Bournvita with it about two or three times, swirls the beverage around with it till the cracker is soaked, and then she takes it out and eats it.

I am watching her intently. She doesn’t know but I am. There is such a beautiful domestic simplicity to what she is doing. She is eating her little meal quietly, but with fierceness. Cracker in hand, stabbing, stabbing, swirling, swirling, and the Bournvita-drenched cracker is devoured.

I am surprised. I have never seen her eat this sort of thing before. Bournvita and cream crackers? My grandma? No. Mama that doesn’t even eat rice, I’m thinking. She thinks rice is bird-food. Mama is a cold eba with hot okro woman. She’s an iyan with efo elegusi and eran igbe woman. She’s an amala with ewedu and goat-meat woman. Or at the very least an ewa woman. Spicy ewa-riro with boiled corn in it. Sweet and crunchy. Heavy food. Hard-working food. Not rice. Not biscuits and tea. No. Not Mama Efon.

I am delighted by the novelty of my grandmother consuming crackers and Bournvita. I am delighted because I just ate jollof rice and dodo and two very large pieces of chicken and my tummy is tight and taut like the surface of a drum. I am delighted because my mother and her sisters and my cousins are all around, walking about, running around, talking, laughing and noisily being a family. I am delighted.

And all the while Mama Efon is dying. All the while her lungs are filling up with mucus and her blood pressure is shooting up and I am so blissfully unaware. No idea.

Mama Efon. My mother’s mother. Growing up in the 90s, Christmases were always Efon. For me and all the cousins on my mother’s side, Christmas was always in Efon-Alaaye, Ekiti State, at the home of our maternal grandparents. Every December, we were there. Foregone conclusion.

It is a pristine place. Efon-Alaaye, small picturesque town, surrounded by beautiful, rolling green hills. One vegetation-covered hill runs after another all over Efon. Because of these hills and the trees all over them, the town seems to be constantly cloaked in light white mist. The effect is especially pronounced in the mornings. To see Efon on a cold morning, to breathe the clean, clean air and look down at all the old houses from the top of a hill is to be very close to heaven.

This is where we spent our Christmases.

However, if Efon provided the serene physical body for our Christmas holidays, Mama Efon, our grandmother provided its joyful soul. It was her cooking that characterized Christmas. Christmas was all about Mama.

She was an early riser. When we were younger, she’d wake us up every morning, at about 7am. In the dreadfully cold harmattan, she would line us up, naked, in the backyard. She would bathe each person, very thoroughly, not minding your conspicuous shivering. When she was done bathing you, she would take your toothbrush, grip your head with the force of a clamp and scrub your teeth with superhuman vigour. After a Mama Efon bath, your skin was clean but raw, and your teeth were gleaming but aching. And during the day, all the meals were spectacular. Mama could go to the market five times a day, just to make sure the food came out right.

But Mama Efon of that 2005 Christmas was a tired old grandma. We had all grown up and a lot was happening. There were many issues. Mama’s worry piled up. She was only 72, but her body could not take the pressure. She began to get sick.

Death was there, that 2005 Christmas Day, as I watched her eat the crackers and Bournvita. It was there, waiting for 2006.

On March 22, 2006, during the census, my grandma died. She’d had a stroke a few weeks before and she was getting better, but she died. I saw her body in the mortuary in Efon a few days after and I couldn’t, didn’t, refused to believe that it was her. She had always been timeless in my mind. Unkillable. Unable to die.

My mother had not shed a tear when she was given the news. And as she told family, friends, acquaintances, she’d been quite composed. But at the mortuary that day, her tears were copious, and her wailing was loud and desperate. I had never seen my mother cry like that.

I looked at Mama Efon’s body and it felt wrong, to see her, naked on a slab. I remembered all the baths, all the teeth brushings, all the hugs and compliments and ‘o kare omo mi’s, all the meals she’d cooked. I remembered the crackers and Bournvita, how pleasantly surprised I’d been to watch her eat ‘bird-food’.

This is the image I held on to. I never looked at the body again. Not even at the lying-in-state. No.

I remember Mama at the dining table, devouring cream crackers and Bournvita, on Christmas Day 2005.
You can read the discussion on Mama Efon's Last One on Naija Stories.

For a lot of us, the last memory we have of our loved ones is of a Christmas spent together. Mine was in 2010 when I spent some time with my family in Nigeria. Christmas back in naija is so strongly linked to travels to visit parents, grandparents and the extended family. It is probably the only time we see them for the whole year, or more.

What has been your own experience?

Love or Marriage - What are you Settling for?


A blog I usually frequent published a story recently which seems to have gone viral. In recounting a fictional tale of heartbreak and new beginnings titled If you call it ‘settling’, then yes, I have settled, a lady explains how even though her new boyfriend, now fiance does not 'get' her or give her butterflies, she was happy to be marrying him. Please read the excerpt below and let's discuss.


I’ll be getting married to Tayo. Tayo is born again. He doesn’t have the ready sweet words to speak. He doesn’t dress so nicely. He doesn’t get me or keep me excited. But in him, I’ve found peace and joy. Tayo would leave whatever he is doing if I need his help. He would ALWAYS drive down to the airport to pick me up when I come visiting him in Abuja. It would have been more convenient for him to have me take a cab. The day he offered to do that, I was surprised. Bode would NEVER do that. At his kindest, he’ll ask his driver to come get me. He’ll probably simply ask me to get a cab and he’ll pay. Tayo would never sleep until he has spoken with me, prayed with me and wished me a good night. With Bode, I’d be the one calling and calling.

Tayo has showed me that it is possible to have a good guy, a guy who cherishes and respects you and most importantly, loves God and puts Him first. His level of consideration towards me still baffles me. I never knew such was possible and this is why I shied away from a relationship with him initially.  It all seemed too good to be true. But it has been 11 months of courtship and he has remained the same steadfast, loving, caring man I first met.

As I walk down the aisle, I am sure my belly will not have butterflies in them but I’d walk down confident of the fact that I am placing my life in the hands of a good man. A man who takes instructions from God and passes them on to the home with love. A man who values family and togetherness and would put me before anything and anyone else. A man with whom I am sure I play second fiddle to no one but God. A man who would be a good role model to our children. A man who would stand by me no matter what happens in the home.

My mom has assured me that the sweeping love will come once the sex begins. Apparently, once you start sleeping with a man, the love grows. I look forward to it. But right now, I’m in a happy, content place.

I replied in the comments and said "settling into love is not a bad thing, but I think the attraction and compatibility has to be there too. If she’s already listing things the guy sucks at, believe me, those things will multiply after marriage due to the proximity." I also stated on HoneyDame's Let's settle this issue, that my view is that there's settling and there's settling. No one is perfect obviously but it is better to enter marriage caring deeply for the other person rather than being happy they treat you well.

This situation in the story sounds to me like someone on the rebound. She is settling for marriage instead of love and that is playing dice with one's future. And it seems like there's some pressure from the mother to get married. But if your husband doesn't "get" you, who will? You'll likely be spending majority of your time with this person, and you'll be taking major decisions with this person. If you're both not on the same page, how will your relationship work?

Sure, butterflies are not everything but physical attraction is very important. Indeed love grows as a couple has sex and more sex, but there needs to be a bedrock for you to want to do it in the first place and enjoy it.What a lot of young people who practice abstinence (full disclosure - my advocacy for abstinence is conditional on age and circumstance) don't want to think about is that sex the first few times can be clumsy and uncomfortable. What then? Where is the love going to come from?

I don't know but a marriage certificate does not love make.

My Bouari Weight Loss Experience - Day 4

If you haven't, please read my Day 1 post for starters.

What's my report? It's been good so far. I started the first two days, known as the fat load days, with slightly larger portions of what I would usually eat. For breakfast, I had a couple of slices of toast and omelette (2 egss). I had jam on the toast, with some grapes and oranges and a cup of hot chocolate. BTW, forgive my food photography skills, I will try to improve. So why did I have to eat so much, you ask?

 

It is part of the Bouari Protocol where binge eating the first two days works with the advantage spray to enable my body access abnormal fat deposits once I enter the low calorie days. The spray is the bedrock of the diet and has enzymes that make the body use fats stored for the rainy day in day to day metabolism. This combines with the intake after the first two days to ensure the dieter is getting enough energy all the time. So for lunch, I had potatoes boiled in their skin with stir-fried mushroom topped by alfredo spinach sauce. The chicken was the extra.

After a similar meal plan the next day, I felt charged to go into my diet. Surprisingly, the two days binge did not increase my weight, instead I was down to 150lbs by Day 3. It's been two days of my low calorie routine and I'm still feeling fine. My breakfast is usually some fruit and a cup of 2% low fat milk. The meal plan allows me three main meals and three snacks, however, I was used to my regular two main meals and two snacks and thought I would be able to stick to it.


What I discovered on Day 3 was that I was hungry by the time lunch rolled around. So I had my main meal around 4.30pm and then had a snack of crackers and juice by dinner time. That meant I could not have dinner together with Atala as is our way and I missed that. It was only later at night as I was filling in my planner that I realized I had forgotten to take the Energy and Appetite support.

So there are three supplements that come with the diet, the Advantage spray, Vitamin B12 drops and what I think are regular diet pills to support energy and suppress appetite. I took them on Day 4 and I was able to follow my usual meal pattern, breakfast - snack - dinner - snack. There has been no headaches, dizziness or any other adverse effects I can see. My weight at the end of the day was 148 pounds. I have to say I'm happy with that. I've never really done a "diet" diet so I have nothing to compare it with, but I do feel lighter and have also lost one inch around my waist, yippee :)

Well, the diet continues. I will update you again on Wednesday.

90% of what Nigerians learn in School is Useless


This article was written by Atala some years ago when he was still a blogger, but he revived it in response to the indictment of Lazy Intellectual African Scum. If you don't know what I'm talking about, click on the link to read the tongue lashing given to us over-degreed Africans by a fictional Bwana Walter as transcribed by Zambian author, Field Ruwe. Well, after I received my share of the reproach, I sent a link to Atala at work and from emails, we continued the discussion when he came back.

Because his article is on the longish side, I won't go into our discussion except to say that while Ruwe made some valid points, as is the case with such tirades, the strength of the argument was lost in over generalization. Read Atala below and let's discuss in the comments. Are African intellectuals lazy, or are they indifferent and satiated by personal comfort? Do you consider yourself an intellectual, do you see yourself in Ruwe's article? What of Atala's, of how much use has been your schooling to your life goals so far?


On examining the ‘knowledge’ I gained while at school in Nigeria, I am forced to realise an unpleasant truth: 90% of my formal education is useless to me in my present day life. For instance, how many times has the knowledge that zinc reacts with sulphuric acid to produce hydrogen enabled me comfort a friend in distress? Of what use is the knowledge that the Benguela current flows off the coast of Namibia if it cannot clinch me a business deal? And that’s just the stuff I can remember - like some others I learned while I was still in secondary school.

There was this history lesson where our teacher was talking to us about the ancient empire of Ghana. Now history isn't really my cup of tea, but for some strange reason I vividly recall this particular lesson being about a man called Abdullah ibn-Yasin who founded a group called the Almoravids which later went on to invade Ghana in 1076. I don’t know why, but this particular fact has stuck in my head ever since. Perhaps at the time, my subconscious felt that this was a highly significant piece of information that would prove useful in my later life, and so it had decided to keep it safe in my memory.

However, looking back on this incident, I have to wonder what the whole point was. Not once - no, not even for a tangential reason - have I ever found it necessary to employ this knowledge of ibn-Yasin and his Almoravid movement. The sad thing is, I’m sure most people realize this point themselves - educators and students alike. But everyone persists in the same old follies in the name of - you guessed it - tradition. I’m sure they have all sorts of excuses to justify this relentless pursuit of tradition like “Well, having all this knowledge makes you a well rounded person” or “You never know whether it will be useful in the future”.

My response to the first claim is you can make someone well rounded without subjecting them to hour after hour of of formal education. I personally think that presenting information via formal education makes people view that information as ‘boring’ and ‘uninteresting’ and creates a lifelong antipathy towards such information. I have personal experience of this - I hated economics in secondary school because I couldn’t relate it to the real world, but my interest was only sparked off when I started coming across economic terms in news bulletins and I had the opportunity to talk to a very down-to-earth but knowledgeable person about what these terms meant.

To the second claim, I simply say that it is better to concentrate on determining what information is likely to be useful to students and giving them that information instead of adopting a scattergun approach and hoping that of the thousands of facts being blasted out into the educational arena, perhaps one or two “will be useful in the future”.

One very interesting aside to all this is that we could certainly learn a thing or two by looking back on our own cultural histories in evaluating how appropriate the kind of education we receive today is. I’m never one to rush to the forefront when it comes to championing pride in our local cultures since I believe in sampling the produce of all the world’s cultures, but I believe our forefathers had it right when educating their children for the life they were going to lead in society. If your father was going to be a farmer, then the chances were that you were going to be one too, and you would accompany him to the farm to gain ‘hands on’ experience. He didn’t sit you in front of a blackboard and draw a picture of a millet plant and write notes saying that kunu could be made from millet corn - you actually saw, heard, smelt, felt, tasted it happen. And I believe that the knowledge gained from this education was wholly useful to the recipients.

So if there’s something wrong with the mode of formal education today, what should it be replaced with? What would I suggest? Well, I’m sure most of you have heard the saying “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day - teach him to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime”. I feel that the crucial failing of the  educational system is that there is much giving of fishes - the students learn about all sorts of wonderful things in geography, history, chemistry and literature - but they do not learn how to learn. I’m at a loss as to how so little time can be spent on formally imparting such valuable knowledge, especially because all our lives we will have to continue gaining knowledge in order to help us reach our goals, and it is very much to our advantage that we sharpen our skills in doing so.

Another complaint I have mentioned already is that the knowledge that is gained in the classrooms has little relevance to the student’s life after education. Again, I find this unacceptable, especially as there’s no shortage of more useful and relevant knowledge that the student could be gaining instead.

So with these two points in mind, I will have our curriculum developed along the lines of the subjects below:

Mathematics. Apart from the fact that the science of numbers pervades our entire life, Mathematics is simply the essence of truth and objectivity. You can present arguments to show that Nkrumah was a good or bad leader or that Okonkwo in ‘Things Fall Apart’ was a hero or villain. You even have theories of physics and chemistry changing over time. But Mathematics is faithful and constant to her followers. One Plus One will always equal Two, no matter whether which lawyer or politician is arguing to the contrary.

Aside from that, there is a certain beauty in the various sub-disciplines of Mathematics. It is obvious to all who care to see - all you have to do is to consider the subtle mysteries of Algebra, the intricacies of Trigonometry, or the sheer beauty of Geometry. In fact, whenever I hear someone say they don’t “get mathematics”, I shake my head in sorrow and wonder how someone can be content to live a such life in the shadows.

Research methods. Research is something that we do practically every day of our lives to find out new information. So it makes sense to give specialist training to hone this skill so that it can be even more profitable to us. In this subject, there will be training on the identifying sources of information - people, Nature, printed matter, the web, e-mail, Usenet - and effectively obtaining information from these sources. There will also be training on how to the student can design his own methods of extracting information, especially via experimentation on people and Nature.

While learning this subject, students will choose various topics (for example, the History of West Africa between 1600 and 1800) and use that as means to practice their research methods, by finding out as much as they can about the topic using what they have learnt in the subject.

Presentation. This is another skill which we use throughout the rest of our lives, and as such it is another skill that students deserve to have special training in. The training here will include training in oral, written and graphic presentation; understanding your audience, and designing your presentation so that you can effectively communicate your ideas to them. Again, various topics will be chosen for the students to practice this skill on.

Learning skills. When we have got whatever information that we may have got during research, the next stage is to make sense of it. Again, this is something we have to do all the time, but again, there’s no time spent on formal training in this method. The training here will consist of techniques in memorisation; focus and concentration; analysing complex data by formulating the right questions to organise the data into a collection of coherent concepts; building up a ‘mental’ picture of the concept in the student’s head; logical deduction so that the student can draw conclusions from the data. Again, a topic will be chosen for the student to practice on.

Elementary psychology. We spend most of our lives interacting with other people, yet we have little formal training on how to do this. This subject will train students on how to understand how other people behave and react in different scenarios, taking into account the effect of local culture. The subject will also train students on the skill of emotional control - how to moderate their emotional reaction to various situations, so that they can keep their heads while others are losing theirs.

Basic Law. One of the saddest things to observe is how people are taken advantage of because they don’t know their rights in law. This subject will focus on educating students the more static and important aspects of current law, and provide pointers for future changes. In addition, this subject will touch on informal law, such as the customs and practices of the community in which the student is lives. This will, of course, include answers to questions like “How much do policemen expect to receive as egunje at checkpoints?”

Ethics. Here, real world scenarios will be shown and role-played so that students can see the positive and negative effect of certain types of behaviour. This doesn't guarantee that they will change their behaviour to seek longer-term happiness - but at least, they will have a better idea of what to do if they want it.

Creative Thinking. I admit that this is a bit of a wildcard. It’s true that you can't 'create to order', but I do think there are ways of thinking that make you more likely to come up with more creative solutions. This course will explore these ways of thinking and give students the opportunity to express their creativity through different means (not just in the area of art, but also in the area of invention and innovation).

Entrepreneurship Studies. This will give the students an idea of what is involved in setting up and running a business - spotting a demand in the market, creating a viable solution to satisfy the demand, creating a business plan, marketing the solution, building up the brand, administering the company, etc.

In addition, students may study any six ordinary subjects of their choice.

So that’s what my curriculum would look like. Of course it’s not going to happen in my lifetime - ‘mad’ ideas like this are often too scary to adopt right away. But I’m not really bothered anyway - I’m not overly concerned about the formal education my children (when I have them) will be getting, since I plan to be the main educator of my children, instead of leaving it to a bunch of teachers who are nowhere near as motivated as me to ensure that they get a good education.

In the meantime, I continue my search for someone who I can have an intelligent discussion about those events in Ghana in 1076 - no point in wasting ‘good’ education now, is there?

______

PS - So anyone ever heard of the Almoravids?

PSS - If Atala has got you thinking, you may like this Guernica article by Chimamanda Adichie on branding, charity, and class in Nigeria’s schools.

PSSS - Please feel free to email, FB and Tweet, who knows who may read it? We definitely need a revolution, and not just in our politics. Education and Health are the biggest indicators of socio-economical development.

Thandie Newton in Half of a Yellow Sun - I see Oscars not Race


Things are definitely looking up for Nigerian Literature in Film with the recent news about the adaptation of Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Adichie into a movie. It is heartening that the financing is majorly from Nigeria (private equity), though the British Film Institute is also providing some funding.

Film Bloggers are reporting that the movie will be a directorial debut for another Nigerian talent, Biyi Bandele, playwright, stage director and author of Burma Boys. (If you have not read Burma Boys, you should look for it, I also hope that would be made into a movie someday.) While these roles have not been confirmed, Thandie Newton is billed as Olanna, with Chiwetel Ejiofor and Dominic Cooper for the roles of Odimegwu and Richard respectively. I wonder who will act Ugwu, he was one of my favorites in the story, and of course Kainene, Olanna's twin.

Now, the producers of the movie are the same as those behind The Last King of Scotland (Forrest Whitaker won an Oscar for his role as Idi Amin of Uganda), and The Constant Gardener (Rachel Weisz won an Oscar for her role as an activist working in Kenya against Big Pharma). Actually, the main storyline of the Constant Gardener was based on true events in Kano - Pfizer was testing Trovan, an experimental meningitis drug, on children from poor homes without proper approvals from government.

Back to Half of a Yellow Sun, some commenters on the Shadow and Act Blog are not happy with the casting of Thandie Newton as Olanna. If you had asked me before now, I would have said that it should be an All-Nigerian cast. But that could've only been possible if it were Nollywood produced. Since it's not, I can understand the thought behind choosing the named actors. Thandie Newton is half-African, and more than that, she's a great actress and highly recognizable by both UK and the US movie goers. She has also been nominated for several awards, maybe this will be her first Oscar nod, and win?

Anyway, I'm too excited to worry about the politics of race at this stage. I wish them the best, and look forward to the movie. If you haven't read the book, now is the time to do so. I loved it, I laughed, I cried, I learnt a lot, and I highly recommend it.

From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. When the Igbo people of eastern Nigeria seceded in 1967 to form the independent nation of Biafra, a bloody, crippling three-year civil war followed. That period in African history is captured with haunting intimacy in this artful page-turner from Nigerian novelist Adichie (Purple Hibiscus). Adichie tells her profoundly gripping story primarily through the eyes and lives of Ugwu, a 13-year-old peasant houseboy who survives conscription into the raggedy Biafran army, and twin sisters Olanna and Kainene, who are from a wealthy and well-connected family. Tumultuous politics power the plot, and several sections are harrowing, particularly passages depicting the savage butchering of Olanna and Kainene's relatives. But this dramatic, intelligent epic has its lush and sultry side as well: rebellious Olanna is the mistress of Odenigbo, a university professor brimming with anticolonial zeal; business-minded Kainene takes as her lover fair-haired, blue-eyed Richard, a British expatriate come to Nigeria to write a book about Igbo-Ukwu art—and whose relationship with Kainene nearly ruptures when he spends one drunken night with Olanna. This is a transcendent novel of many descriptive triumphs, most notably its depiction of the impact of war's brutalities on peasants and intellectuals alike. It's a searing history lesson in fictional form, intensely evocative and immensely absorbing. (Sept. 15)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Lessons I learnt from my Mother - Bamidele Kehinde (Guest Author)


I met Bamidele Kehinde on Facebook and decide to conduct this interview after I found out about her first book titled, Lessons I learnt from my Mother. I loved the idea of wanting to honor one's parents through a book and had Bamidele answer the following questions for me. Bamidele describes herself as a full blooded Nigerian, and from Ekiti state – one of the states in the south-western part of Nigeria. After primary and secondary education in Oyo state, she later moved on to the prestigious Obafemi Awolowo University in Osun state where she bagged a degree in History and International Relations and a Masters degree in Public Administration.


When did you start writing?
I started my writing career not very early enough but I must say at this point that my educational background in History really helped me when I later decided to start writing. My writing started as a favourite pastime when in 2008, I did not have a job after completing the voluntary service in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). I sent in articles to the Life magazine in the Sunday edition of the Guardian newspaper as frequently as I could. This was how my writing came into limelight. Presently, I work in Lagos as an Administrative Officer. I hope to still move onto (work in) the other sectors of the economy, travel out of Nigeria to other countries of choice and take my writing career to higher heights in life.

Why did you write this book?
This book came as an inspiration to me on a particular day when I was coming back home from work. I thought of how my mother had deposited so much in our family despite all odds. She died in March 2011 and it was a big shock on all of us. I then thought to myself that her life, the lessons that she taught us and her person must be put to writing. I then decided to go ahead to write about her because I wanted to honour her and at thesame time, I wanted the whole world to know about her. The book is an avenue for me to give people (especially mothers), the chance to emulate her good lifestyle.

Describe the special qualities of your mother.
Initially, before writing this book, I thought to myself that would this title catch attention at all as everyone can almost boast about his or her mother but on the other hand, I decided to go ahead with the book because of these reasons.
First, so many people poured in so much encomium before and during the burial ceremony. The people she worked with and even the church members of the church she attended could not but tell of how friendly she was to everyone. They also made mention of how she was mature in settling issues that could have torn people apart.
Another special quality she had was putting in her best in the upkeep of her family. This is not to say that my father was not the breadwinner but she knew very well how to turn the house into a home. This endeared her to many people as they wanted to learn from her.
She had this habit of giving so much so that she gave whether the person was richer than her or not. This is a special quality because not many people could do this and she also made sure that we learnt this too.
The other qualities are the lessons I mentioned in the book. And most of all, the fact that she helped my siblings and I to be the best we could be is one special quality of hers that I will never stop being proud of.
This is why people should go for this book especially, mothers.

What was your publishing journey like from thinking of the book idea to holding it in your hands?
The whole idea of the book as I said earlier came when I was going home from work on a particular day in 2011 (some months) after losing my mother in March 2011. More so, I wanted to put my writing skills to use as I have never authored a book before. So, first of all, I jotted down the lessons and then made an outline of what I wanted the chapters to look like.
As a result of this, I checked the internet for publishing companies both within Nigeria and outside. It was in the process that I came across iUniverse publishing company in the United States of America (USA). At first, I was sceptical about any company I came across online due to the various fraudulent activities that abound on internet but after making the necessary research/findings, I became convinced about going for one of the publishing packages in iUniverse. I decided to go for the self publishing package. This is an experience of a lifetime as I never expected that the company could give me so much autonomy on my manuscript.
All the staff that were assigned to me were very patient, cordial and efficient. They even helped me to make the payment of the publishing package easy even though I had to pay ‘through my nose’ as I put in all my savings. The publishing processes were not too tedious and I got the value for my money. Finally after about a month, my book was ready. The publishing was finished in September 2011 and I got my complimentary/sample copy on the 3rd of October, 2011.

Is the book divided into chapters, what are some of them?
Yes, the book is divided into chapters. ‘Lessons I learnt from my mother’ is a 72-page book divided into 9 chapters. Chapters 1 and 2 are a brief introduction and her biography respectively. Chapter 3 is the first lesson which is ‘Always put your family first’. Moving further into the book is the chapter 7 which is about ‘Sex Education – A lesson to be learnt early in life’. I think people should get this book in order to get the best of the book in the other chapters. Readers will surely get the value for their money.

What books have influenced your life the most?
I have come across many books in life. I can remember reading Mills & Boon as a teenager. I can also remember reading Silhouette, Shakespeare books, James Hadley Chase books e.t.c. But the books that have influenced me the most are the books written by Bishop T.D. Jakes(God’s Leading Lady), John C. Maxwell, Late Pastor Bimbo Odukoya, Heartsong Presents (various titles/authors), Jackie Mize (Supernatural Childbirth) and Joyce Meyer.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
If I had to choose, I would go for John C. Maxwell as a mentor because his writings/books are very down to earth and everyone can relate to them very easily. He is not ashamed to mention his flaws and how he has tried to work them out. Also, I have noticed that he makes much effort in learning from other people too, he never sees himself as an island of knowledge. I hope to learn more from him for as long as he’s still in the business of writing.

What books are you reading now?
Presently, I am reading ATTITUDE 101. This is a book written by John C. Maxwell, the American expert on leadership. This is sequel to his books on the topics like Relationship, Leadership, and Success e.t.c and how they influence the way people make it through in life. I hope to read more of the books from Francine Rivers, Myles Munroe and other Christian novelists.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
In a bid to learn more about writing especially from Nigerian authors, I came across Abimbola Nelson (Diary of a desperate Naija woman) in the Laterna bookshop at Victoria Island in Lagos, Nigeria. The book caught my attention as I briefly went through its pages. Other authors include Myne Whitman and Lara Daniels. These two have grasped my interest because they are females who have carved a niche for themselves in the industry and their works are very good reads.

What did you find particularly challenging when writing this book?
What I found most challenging about this book was making the outline of the whole book. I knew quite alright that I wanted to write a book in memory of my mother but it wasn’t easy arranging the chapters of the book. Also, another thing I found challenging was paying for the publishing package. The conversion rate of the Nigerian naira as opposed to the dollars was another challenge for me because the naira that I had to convert for payment seemed almost of very little value. This did not make me happy about my country’s currency.

Who is your favourite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I do not have any favourite author. I am more interested in many authors than having a favourite one because I believe that there are peculiar things that I can learn from each one of them. For instance, I would go for John C. Maxwell books on topics that relate to motivation and leadership. On books related to relationship and marriage, I would rather go for the books of Dr James Dobson. Wole Oguntokun is a columnist who writes for the Life magazine in the Sunday edition of the Guardian Newspaper – he is also one person I’ll love to meet. It is my belief that since there are many authors that their works strike my interest, then I can say that I do not have a favourite author.

What do you think of the Nigerian publishing industry?
The Nigerian publishing industry is an industry that has evolved over the years. By this I mean that so many things have taken place. Before, there weren’t many publishing companies but now, there are quite a number of indigenous companies. Also, awareness is being raised and seminars are being organised for budding authors by various publishing companies. This was not the case some 10 years ago. I think the industry is also producing more authors now unlike before when there were few authors who could only afford the exorbitant prices of the long established companies. The industry can only get better by the day.

What comments do you have about the reading culture in the country?
The reading culture has experienced a downward turn in Nigeria. It has gone so bad that there are but a few who really appreciate authors, their works and book reading generally. Many concerned bodies, civil societies and organisations have tried to raise the awareness of people towards reading but to no avail. For instance, it is very hard to come across a Nigerian reading newspapers or dailies in the bus/traffic on his way home from work unlike what we have in some foreign countries. Although it is not a strange sight to see men at newspaper stands discussing various topics of national interest, many of them hardly get to buy and take away the newspapers after perusing them at the news stand.
It is another sorry sight when one visits the libraries or book stores. You do not find buyers in the bookstores like you would find in the cloth boutiques or fashion stores. The presence of the internet has made matters worse in the sense that people would prefer to dub (copy and paste) the works of authors online rather than make their own purchases of such books. It is my hope that things will turn around for the better in this generation of ours. Wonders they say shall never end!

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to those who buy your book?
I am using this opportunity to tell those who will buy my book that they will get a run for their money. Infact, the monetary value is of little importance compared to the intangible value that they are sure to get by reading the book. I know that a larger percentage of people who will buy my book are closer to their mothers so, this gives them a room to see their mums and what they have done in a new light. By reading this book, those who have not been good mothers will see motherhood as a blessing and will be willing to do things right. Those who have been good mothers will have evidence in the book and be able to use it to convince others. Even young girls can learn a whole lot from the book.
In summary, this book is a treasure that everyone who values motherhood and its attendant blessings must have because loving our parents especially our mothers, is something that is done the world over. Lay hold on this book and you’ll never regret you did!

Do you have an online presence e.g. facebook, blog, twitter or a website?
On facebook, you can get to my page and get more information about me by typing in ‘Kehinde Bamidele’. Or preferably, you can email me at chatwithbammy@yahoo.com. You can also find me on the LinkedIn network as ‘Kehinde Bamidele’. I welcome text messages and calls on my cell phone – +2348068903585.

Where can we buy the book, both in stores and online?
The book ‘Lessons I Learnt from my Mother’ is available on Amazon.com, eBay, Google and on  www.iuniverse.com. Very soon, the book will be available for sale in bookstores. Thank you!

Thank you Bamidele. :)

My Bouari Weight Loss Experience - Day 1


Yesterday, I went to the newly opened Bouari Clinic in my area to meet with a health consultant and my contact on the corporate side. You see, I had been accepted to blog about their weight loss programme in exchange for taking part in it. The program normally costs $599 per month, but in exchange for blogging about my experience with it, I will receive all the supplements and unlimited support for free. I have done some research myself and I don't think these supplements are harmful in any way. There are mixed reviews online but in this case, I want to find out myself. This is the official blurb;

Bouari Clinic offers a diet program that is based on endocrine system support through FDA registered supplements (vitamins, minerals and homeopathic preparations) that make your system very receptive to weight loss. The supplements also support energy and depress hunger. The dieter then eats a carefully prescribed program of low glycemic proteins, vegetables and fruits that are low in fat.
After speaking with the consultant yesterday, I am sure I took the right step. As some of you may know from my post on the Relationship 15 and Now that we're in 2012, I have been wanting to lose some weight. My current weight is 154 pounds, up from 135 just before my marriage. It was hovering around 150 most of last year but now all that rest and enjoyment over Christmas have added their bit. My problem is that though I exercise regularly and eat moderately, I don't seem to lose weight. All that seems to achieve is that I only add weight sloooowly, #notwhatIwant.

My goal is to lose that 15-20 pounds in this 30-days programme and then I can use the tips I learn to keep them off. I'm very impressed at the support that is being offered through Bouari, the clinic incidentally is just 10mins away from my house, and I believe it will make a lot of difference for me. For many people, losing weight is about looking good, for me I think I look OK at my weight. However, my BMI is not so good, and I also have a family history of type 2 diabetes, which means I have to be extra careful.

I understand that a lot of hard work will be required from me, but Atala is very encouraging. I'm excited and looking forward to positive changes in my weight and health. Come with me on this journey, as I'll be sharing my progress with you twice a week. If you have any questions, please ask in the comments. If you're losing weight too and want to share tips, please email myne@mynewhitman.com.

New Beauty Secret Revealed - Fotoshop by Adobé


This is the perfect option for people like me who don't want to watch all those make-up tutorials on youtube. And much more, not stick to that exercise and diet plan, LOL...Perfect!

Seriously though, look at these recent pictures of Beyonce, do they even look like she's the one? Hmmmff!






What Causes Couples to Grow Apart?

Last week when I first heard the initial reports of the impending separation of Heidi Klum and Seal, I was so surprised that I had to tweet about it. It wasn't as if they had been married that long, six years plus, but they had always been open about their relationship, renewing their vows regularly, doing stuff together, and popping out children every other year. So it seemed they had been a fixture for a longer time. Their official statement read in part;

"We have had the deepest respect for one another throughout our relationship and continue to love each other very much, but we have grown apart."

And this got me thinking. What does growing apart mean? We usually hear the term "grown apart" among people who married young, in their late teens and early twenties, when they're still learning who they really are. In my experience, most people build their permanent personalities in their late twenties and early thirties and if you get married earlier than this, you have a harder road ahead in the early years. But in the context of two older people like Heidu Klum 39 and Seal 48, what really happened?

Love is supposed to be forever as is marriage but if we take the statement by Heidi and Seal at face value, love simply wasn't enough. Talk about deja vu, do you remember my post about personalities in relationships? I discussed the whole growing apart issue with Atala and we agreed on some reasons that may contribute;

1. Changed priorities - this may be in terms of goals and needs. So one thinks working 9 - 5 is enough for their job satisfaction, but find out along the way they need the creativity of their own business. This will definitely put a strain on the relationship in terms of time spent together, getting the other party on board if their own goal is tied to the 9 - 5, etc

2. Not knowing each other well before marriage - Say, a man falls in love with a bubbly soul of the party, and after marriage, she turns out to be a homebody who wears hairnet and sweatpants all hours that God made. The dashing bobo becomes a couch potato, satisfied by the news and sports channels. You get the idea. Sometimes this is as a result of a short courtship, pretense by the people involved, or simply the effects of marriage and possibly parenthood.

3. A marriage of convenience - Both people got married for whatever reason that did not include mutual love and respect. Could be that family pressure, societal expectation or the almighty biological clock made them do it. And then, they get the title, gain the responsibility, have the 2.5 children and the shine of the wedding ring wears off.

4. Physical attractiveness changes - this is clear enough. If the woman for example prefers a man with a six-pack, a potbelly that doesn't go away could be the basis for growing apart.

5. One of them does something the other cannot live with - This is where the big guns fall in - Domestic violence, infidelity, abuse of the children, crime, etc. and some smaller ones like loss of income, identity crisis, failing health, and so on.

Okeoghene asked, Is Divorce trending? And I had to answer that maybe it is. If you ask me though, most of the marital issues listed above can be healed through discussion, spending time together/apart and possibly therapy. Still, I accept that if a marriage  is not working for the couple, and they have tried all other options to revive the love to no avail, it is better they amicably divorce themselves.

To forestall getting to that stage, I have this theory of "The Love Bank" where a couple both keep depositing affection, understanding, time,  attention, good communication, support, compromise, respect, and cheerleading. The bank will serve as a buffer and comforter when misunderstandings, differences and down times come, as they sure will. So love is like the plant that keeps growing, it needs to be continuously nurtured or it will wither.

Please share other ways and tips to keep a relationship fresh and strong. What is your view on divorce?

MWP - Cowards and Christmas Chickens by Seun Odukoya

I mentioned in the post about what to expect here in 2012 that I will be featuring some writers from Naija Stories. So starting this Monday, I will be posting some of the short stories that were submitted for the recently concluded Christmas Nostalgia Contest. The Contest Judge, Ikhide Ikheloa, rated this entry by Seun Odukoya 4th out of ten shortlisted stories, and it was one I really enjoyed. Hope you like it too.
The first time I killed a chicken by myself was in 1993 December, in my parents house in Lagos. I nearly kill myself join.

Thanks to my early love for horror movies the sight of blood did not scare me, but I was appalled by the idea of killing something that actually lived and breathed. Besides, I hated the shrieking of the chickens and would not have volunteered that year had it not been for Peju.

She was the daughter of a neighbor; a single mother who lived directly opposite my parents’ house. Absolutely gorgeous; petite complete with blue eyes and yellow hair (more like black eyes/hair; blame romance novels), and she liked me. I did not know events in the cosmos had conspired to help me make a fool of myself that year.

What happened was this: my immediate elder brother who usually did the slaughtering was away in the university; his first year in there and so, probably feeling like a ‘big boy’ refused to come home. The first three, all boys and older than him were out of the country. It was just me, my kid sister who was too young to hold anything bigger than a Barbie doll, our parents and Peju who was in my house because her whole family was away on a spiritual retreat and did not want her along. I was too excited to wonder why.

So Christmas morning dawned, and with it came the question who would do the honors of killing the innocent chicken. Truthfully, I was scared witless and would have stayed hidden in my room had Peju not come to tell me my mum was about to do it herself and then added that she; Peju, was scared like I was which is why she came in my room.

I was angry. Here I was with my ‘dream girl’, and she believed me a coward. I had to redeem myself so – jumping up and speaking in what I thought was a Barry White baritone but was actually a teenage squeak, I asked why mother would bother herself when I was in the house. As I walked towards the kitchen, Peju ran after me and held my hand. I was in heaven.

When I got there, my mum was about to do the deed and I drew back, hoping it would be done before I was noticed. I had forgotten that Peju was with me.

“Seun is here, mummy. He’s here to kill the chicken,” she said (or words to that effect). All the love I had for her evaporated that instant and I snatched my hand from hers, hating her with all of me. I walked on leaden feet towards the sink where mum was, also hating her for forgetting how young I was.

“I’m your baby!” I must have screamed at her telepathically, but she did not hear me, a small smile playing around her lips as she handed me the knife. My hand was shaking so bad I nearly dropped it, but I gripped it harder and climbed on the stool mum placed against the sink for me.

The chicken was bigger than I remembered.

Suddenly its eyes and beak looked really big, reminiscent of the ones I saw on the pterodactyls in the movie Jurassic Park; looking ready to pluck my eyes out. I was afraid, and only the thought that Peju was behind me stopped me from running out of there.

I gripped the chicken’s head as I had seen my brothers do countless times and started sawing the knife back and forth around the neck area, standing in such a way that my body blocked their (mum and Peju’s) view of what I was doing. Within moments I had the chicken’s throat open to the bone and it had stopped struggling, blood spurting sluggishly. Without checking properly, I grabbed it and, moving quickly, dunked it in the pot of boiling water prepared for shedding its feathers.

I dimly recall my mom shouting ‘duro!!!!’, which is ‘wait’ in Yoruba but it was drowned in a loud ‘SQUAARKKK!!!!!!!’ as the chicken, which was only half-dead reacted violently, spraying everyone in the kitchen with boiling water. As I was standing in front of the pot, I got the worst of it. I don’t remember what happened clearly but mum says I screamed, hurled the knife one way and myself the other. All I remember is I never entered the kitchen again that year.

Somehow mum caught me and applied honey on the burns on my arms and most of my chest area, clucking and shaking her head. Fortunately she and Peju had only been lightly touched by the spray. I was so ashamed.

When it was time to eat, I stared at my piece of chicken, half-expecting it to jump out of the plate and attack me. And Peju? She just held my hand through dinner, feeling sorry for me and making me hate myself more. But she never told a soul; which is partly why I carried a torch for her for a long time.

When my brothers came back and heard the story, they laughed and laughed after which they christened me ‘Mr. Hot Chicken’. For the first few months the name annoyed me, but after a while either I outgrew the offense or they moved on, I don’t remember.

Peju’s married now but I still run into her every now and then when I visit, during which she winks, smiles and whispers ‘Mr. Hot Chicken’.

I know.

Check out the discussion about Cowards and Christmas Chickens on Naija Stories

So what do you think of the story?  I have to confess at this stage that at least two chickens have lost their lives by my hand. While I trembled the first time, subsequently, I was as steady as a trained assassin.

Have you ever killed a Chicken? If you have, how did it go? If not, do you think you can?

Picture Weekend - For those who like my Braids


As you can see, I can never be a Fashion Blogger so be gentle with me. I already know there's no sense of style or color coordination. As for the postures, I'm shaking my head at myself this time. What of the Poncho and Sneakers combination? My only excuse is that I'm still looking for a stylist, lol. All credits for any nice shots go to the photographer, Atala. The setting is the Redmond Town Center sometime last year. Continue for more pictures, and do have a great weekend, mwah!







I'm really scared for Nigeria - Multiple Bomb Blasts in Kano?


What is really going on in Nigeria? Somebody said on my TL that Boko Haram {alleged to be responsible for the blasts} is certainly not working for Islam. And I totally agree. This is more like political terrorism. It's unfortunate that the Government wasted 2 weeks on an ill-thought out reform on the oil sector that had the masses up in arms. Not only were the government ministers and the police distracted, the president equally channeled military resources unnecessarily to Lagos, a perfectly peaceful city. All these while several northern states were still in a state of emergency.

Now Kano, the biggest state in the north, and whose capital city is the economic center has been overtaken. And what a manner of declaring their stand. 20 bomb blasts going off simultaneously in different parts of the city, with security agencies being the main target. The Inspector General's residence and that of the Assistant IG are reported bombed as are several Police stations and an Immigration office. In some places, the attacks are by suicide bombing, while in a few places, the assailants engaged the police in gun battles.

This sounds like a movie, right? But it's not! It's not Hollywood or Nollywood, and that's why it's so scary. Innocent people are dieing for nothing! Because if indeed Boko Haram is behind this, what are they asking for? Sharia? Most Northern states already use that law. Surely they do not want to force it down the throat of the rest of us? That is why I believe this is political. Some people want to make the country ungovernable, some actually threatened it after the last elections. But I ask, at what cost?

President Jonathan mentioned recently that terrorists had infiltrated several aspects of government and recent events seem to bear him out. A suspected Boko Haram member was arrested, but escaped due to the supposed negligence of a Commissioner of Police. With a 24hours ultimatum of a job sack over his head, the IG started playing Kalo Kalo with the media. He has been found, no he has not, catch him and get a N50Million reward. Has the IG been sacked yet? Your guess is as good as  mine. What a joke!

I've always suspected that the security agencies in Nigeria are all a joke, there to massage the ego of some top brass. And of course, the SSS is good to round up those who speak out against the government or any of its policies. SMH. How can 20 explosions be planned and no one knew anything? I hear BH is circulating pamphlets in Kano of more blasts to come. Is this a retaliation for their arrested members? What intelligence does the SSS and Police have on what is currently going on?

My final question is, What is the government doing?

Naija4life Launches the "Give a Book" Campaign

The Give a Book campaign aims to collect educational books which will be sent to Nigeria. The chief driver is Naija4life, the blogger behind A Pen and a Heart, a teacher and someone with a deep passion for education. Education has made a huge difference in his life and he says he will regard his life’s journey as unfulfilled if he fails to give back to society in any way he can. According to him, "we can be quite critical about the many wrongs in our society and most times rightly so. But I also believe we can take action by making small contributions that can only help improve our society. I’m a firm believer that whatever change we seek will only happen if we take action to accomplish them."

What is the purpose of this campaign?
Education remainss the key that will unlock Nigeria’s future. Good education can only be possible with access to books, something that many Nigerian children are denied.

How will this campaign work?
This campaign will involve awareness and invite people to donate old or used books they no longer need or are quite happy to give which are in fairly good condition. They can range from academic books, for primary and secondary school age, fiction, non-fiction etc.

Who can get involved?
This campaign is open to all. You can kindly donate a book or several books.

How can you get involved?
You can get involved by help spreading the word via your blogs, websites, through friends, family etc. This campaign is about the ordinary Nigerian children who have limited access to books and whom this campaign will benefit eventually. You can also get involved by choosing to become a co-facilitator of this campaign and be actively involved in its operations.

How long will this campaign last?
It will last for at least 6 months, up to the summer to enable the initial target of 1000 books.

Who will benefit from this campaign?
The plan is to partner with at least 3 schools especially in deprived areas in Nigeria in the first instance. The intention is to ensure that the books are donated for use in each school’s library for use by all students. Where a school library doesn’t exist then we can encourage them to set up one to enable students borrow or use these books for study. Do you know of any school that could benefit from this campaign? If so please get in touch and let me know how you can be of help in making the necessary contacts needed to get things started.

How will this campaign be funded?
This will be a 100% charitable campaign. They are not asking for money, only for publicity, and donations of old or used books for primary and secondary age or any book that will benefit young people. They'll also be soliciting for logistic support to send these books to Nigeria at the appropriate time. All books collected will be accounted for. At the end of the campaign, details of the schools where these books have been donated to will be made available. Regular updates will be made available on http://www.apenandaheart.blogspot.com/.

How can I send my book donations?
If you live in the UK or Ireland, please email me at: nnaija4life@yahoo.com or giveabooksaveourfuture@yahoo.com and you’ll be provided with the address where donations can be sent to. If you live in the US, Canada, or other parts of Europe, perhaps you may want to lead this campaign where you are which will be quite awesome if you can. Those in Nigeria, we would even rely on your massive support in recommending schools and mobilising where you are.

At the present, they've already collected about 100 ICT books which will be of immense benefit to Nigerian young people whose access to books is somewhat limited.

How can I get updates about the work of this campaign?
Naija4life will provide regular updates to show how much books have been donated and by who. Pseudo names can be used for those who don’t want their real identities revealed. He has contacted a media outlet in the UK (BenTv) and is currently in discussion to see how they may help get the word out to the Nigerian community and even others. He's also in the process of contacting VoxAfrica, another UK based media outlet for Diaspora people.

In whatever way you want to support, please feel free to send an email to nnaija4life@yahoo.com. Also please feel free to ask any questions you may have here as Naija4life will be coming over to answer them. He welcomes advice and constructive criticisms too.

Bald and Beautiful Barbie in 2012 - What do you think?


I saw this on the news over the holidays and when Facebook sent a notification that a friend joined the Bald Barbie page, I visited and decided to post on it. The campaign was started by a group of women who have either battled with cancer or Alopecia or they have children who are going through chemotherapy and have therefore lost their hair. The women want there to be a doll the affected children can relate with, and since I have come to realize that Barbie is a role model for a lot of American girls, this makes perfect sense.

A lot of us, girls and women, are so closely tied to our hair as a big part of our identity and esteem that loosing it is usually traumatic. And in the case of cancer, there is also the pain from the disease and the treatment. So, though cancer is not a disease I'm familiar with - it is not very common in Nigeria and the treatment options are almost non-existent - I can see where the women are coming from. It's often heartbreaking the level of cancer here in the United States, especially among children, and anything that will make the situation easier for them is welcome.

I also remember a blogger (I think she has stopped blogging now) who sometimes posted about her Alopecia, and how it affected her social life and self esteem. The final reason I think this campaign makes sense is that even when you remove the cancer and Alopecia angle, there are people who choose to be bald. Now, if there's Barbie of various ethnicities, Career barbie, driving barbie, etc, surely there should be an option for bald barbie too?

Seattle Whiteout as Major Websites Blackout against SOPA


This picture should give you a good idea of what I mean by whiteout. Yeah, it's been snowing and snowing and snowing some more in this part of Washington, and it has been the same since Sunday. On Monday, we got about 4 inches of snow and it was enough to go out on our decking and throw snowballs at each other.
More snow is expected today, up to 10 inches in some places, and it has been labelled the no-school Wednesday in majority of the School Districts. That wouldn't usually have concerned me, except it also means that Atala will be working from home. Hehehe...



Now, add to that the fact that major websites have decided to blackout in protest of the Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA) and you'll agree with me there's a conspiracy somewhere. Anyway, SOPA is a Bill that may drastically change the way we interact with the web and which the American Congress is thinking of passing. Major websites like Google, Wikipedia, Wordpress, among others that believe it will be a cog in the democracy and freedom of the internet and are leading the campaign against it. It was fun seeing what the sites looked like. Enjoy and click the links for more info. Let me go and disturb somebody...





Knowing your Partner's Personality Type in a Relationship


I'm the laid back one, chill and relaxed. With age, I've learnt to accord things and situations the necessary seriousness, but most times, I'm happy to go with the flow. Atala on the other hand is more 'do-things-according-to-plan-and-schedule type. I do not see our personality types as opposites, but as complimentary to each other. Still, we've had some adjustments to make. February will be our third marriage anniversary, and Atala and I keep discovering each other and working on a balanced relationship.

This was echoed in an interview by author Dicey Grenor in Woman's Essence Magazine. When asked what attributes she thought a lady should look for in a husband, she replied,

... it depends on the woman. She needs to look for attributes that complement her own. If she’s the passive, laid-back type that needs a take-charge Alpha male, she should look for that. If she’s a Type A, in-your-face, no-nonsense woman, she probably should look for someone who is not. That’s not to say you shouldn’t have commonalities. If she hates sports, she probably shouldn’t pair up with an athlete. Two movie lovers would probably be in heaven together. Complementary attributes bring balance to one’s life. Commonalities bring fulfillment. 
I believe her answer is totally on point. During the last episode of Private Practice, one of the major themes was that love isn't always enough, and that sometimes, life deals love a TKO. Pete and Violet are separating, Addison and Sam's relationship is on shaky grounds. Sheldon cares for Amelia but it's not reciprocal, and so on. You just have to look around to see several relationships where love comes out the loser because the two people involved are not on the same page.

As much of a romantic as I am, I do agree that love needs some work if a couple is to match themselves as partners and teammates. For instance, Atala's organizational skills help us to remain on point with our finances and various schedules, and my more chilled outlook keeps up the fun and spontaneity. But there's something else I like which I think is also necessary, we can switch it up. Like when he gave me the birthday surprise, or when I'm the one driving some of our responsibilities.

I don't put much stock in talk of gender differences or roles, I'm more about knowing who you are as an individual. And then as a couple with your SO, you find out what works for you, with mutual respect. This makes you appreciate that a different perspective from the other person in a relationship is not a gender war, or a call to battle, it could be just another aspect of their personality to discover.

As always, I'll appreciate comments. What has been your own experience?

Blogger now supports Nested or Threaded Comments

According to Blogger Buzz, this "means that it is now much easier to differentiate between whether someone is making a general comment on the thread, or responding to another comment on the thread." Who said Blogger was not a listening platform? As you can see, I've changed my template to take advantage of this development. I can now respond to individual comments without doing the whole omnibus thing with @this or @that. And what do you know, you can too! I mean, you can respond to me, or ask someone else to explain their comments. LOL...I look forward to interesting roundtable discussions going forward.

What do you have to do to enable this on your blog? Maybe nothing. Simply check your comments system and you may already be set. If the reply function is still not available, do the following;

1. Check that you have Blogger’s commenting feature enabled,
2. Change “Blog Feed” setting to “Full”, To check, or change your feed settings, select: “Settings, and then “Full” from the “Allow Blog Feed” dropdown:

3. Ensure you are using “Embedded” comments. To check your current comment form setting, select: “Settings, Posts and Comments, and select “Embedded” from the “Comment Location” dropdown:

Once you've done this, you’re all set to start a discussion with your readers. By the way, what do you think of my new template and colors?

See more details on Blogger Buzz

Picture Weekend - Christmas Eve at the Seattle Center

Like I said last week, we didn't really get snow in our area last Christmas. However, there are some ways to experience a white Christmas without real snow. On Christmas Eve, we decided to wander into town for a  movie and some sightseeing. I wanted to see the City Center xmas decorations at the Pacific Science Center, and Atala also wanted us to catch Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol at the IMAX Cinema there.


First stop was the Fisher Pavilion for some skating. I had worked as a skating attendant for a couple of winters while I was in Edinburgh and had got on the ice a few times. I was hoping to get Atala to give it a go but he bluntly refused to fall,  which is what you mostly do when you first try to skate. So we'll fall another day :)







There was a cozy display of a miniature town within the Seattle Center House and it was so cute. Everything was covered in white snow like substance and there were a few miniature figures to watch.








After that, we went over to the Fountain area to watch the children play in the water. I later joined them but those kids are sure stronger than I am. Or more carefree sha, I didn't want to get wet. 




On our way back to where the car was parked, we detoured to the EMP (Experience Music Project) Museum which was on the way. Since we didn't have much time, we only browsed the public areas. There are a couple of showings I intend to go back for, including one of AVATAR - The movie.





Oh yeah, we both enjoyed Tom Cruise in Ghost Protocol on the IMAX. He was amazing, even if the movie was just there.

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