Using art as a tool against Domestic violence

Thanks to Hem Matsi of Victim 2 Survivors, and some talented artists in Namibia, these artworks and some other ones not in this post have been touring some countries, in a bid to fight Gender-based violence, what we call domestic violence in Nigeria. It all started from the National Art Gallery of Namibia, and from there, people were seeing the pictures, and were requesting for it to be exhibited in their countries.

This exhibition had just been concluded, just before the conference I attended at Geneva, but these gigantic artwork was still hanging on the walls of the UNAIDS building, so I took pictures with my iPad. Trust me, they are more breath-taking in real life. The brain behind the initiative gave me the brochure, and permission to share pics of my choice. She should be in Washington now, exhibiting the artworks. Enjoy them below.

Stand Together Against GBV (1998/99)
by Tity Tshilumba

Young Bride (2013)
by Hem Matsi

Against Men (2013)
by Findano Shikonda

A Mother's Sorrow (2013)
by Findano Shikonda

Dialogue In, Violence Out (1998/99)
by Tity Tshilumba

Set Me Free and Let Me Be (2013)
by Sigi Kolbe

The Beating Goes On (2013)
by Sigi Kolbe

Not Free (2013)
by Hem Matsi

My Bruised Art (2013)
by Jaimee-Lee Eugene Diergaardt

Six spoken word artists in Nigeria, including me, gathered together to shoot a Spoken Word video, to mark the International Day of Violence against women last year. In fact this was the first video UNAIDS saw me in before they requested for my profile and more videos, and thereby culminating in my trip to Geneva, Switzerland. It is called Stop the Violence.

The Anatomy of Awoof (Free things)

"It is very annoying to see women who buy N50,000 Aso Ebi fighting for N100 souvenirs at parties." - Me
The Experience is the largest music concert in Africa, and the largest gospel concert in the world. Every year, they give out thick magazines. In these magazines, the profiles of the musicians are documented, along with pictures of the previous Experience concerts. During the distribution of these magazines, the way people struggle to get this magazine is just a sight to behold. You can imagine crowds in sections struggling for magazines. It is appalling. People push one another, trip over other people, and get into physical fights for this magazine.The irony is that the more people struggle, the more others think what they are giving out is worth more than gold, and the more intense the struggle gets. All for a magazine that would not satisfy for more than 30 minutes.

I went for a friend’s wedding in December 2012. I sat on the same table with the sister-in-law of the groom. During the party, we were talking well, and all. Towards the end of the party, she brought in her souvenirs, and she just pretended like she didn’t know me. she had sacks of plasteramic bowls, and sacks of umbrellas. This girl ignored me, and was giving people bowls and umbrellas, despite the fact that I was just by her side, and she was sharing this souvenirs right in my presence. I was pained. To be honest, I am not greedy. I don’t even go for parties, and really don’t care for souvenirs like that, but it felt pained to be treated like non-existent. After a while, she gave me and my cousin a bowl each, and did not bother giving us umbrella.

The irony of it all was that I had two umbrellas with me in the venue, like I always do. I always have one big umbrella in my car, and a portable umbrella in my bag. It doesn’t matter whether it is rainy season or dry season, or which country I am. I always have an umbrella. I had to ask myself why I felt bad despite the fact that I had two umbrellas, and uncountable number of umbrellas in my mum’s room. I had to tell myself over and over again not to be pissed cos I did not need the umbrella. I was definitely not suffering for poverty of umbrellas. So why had I being pained?

Why do we like free things? Why does everyone like free things? Why is it that hardly anyone is exempt from the love of free things? Do you know that most of the useless junks we have in our house are actually things we obtained for free?

So why do we like free things? Well, it is because it is free. “Duuuh,” you might say. “Of course, we know that is why people like it. Tell us something we don't know.”

You see when you see human beings fight over free things, it is not really the thing they are fighting for. They are fighting for the ‘free’. They are fighting for the fact that they will get something they did not work for, something they did not pay for, something that came so easy, something that came on a platter of gold. This here is the justification behind the statement I started this blog post with.

Many people work daily, buy stuffs to care for themselves, and have to hustle for most things that they want to get. So anything that can come free, they would grab at any opportunity, be it 40 naira indomie at a party, a pen, or even crayon. Even though they can conveniently buy hundreds of these things, they would rather struggle to have one for free.

But you see, nothing is really free. This mentality that some things in life can be gotten for free is what many companies use to attract customers.  They coin you into believing they are giving you a ‘free’ gift, but if you do the analysis well, you are actually paying for it. You think that telecoms company is giving you free credit? Believe me, you have already paid for that free credit the moment you qualified for it.

Girls are psyched into believing they are getting free stuffs from magas, sugar daddies, and aristos, but they end up paying for it in other ways. In parties, you get souvenirs that people fight so much for, but trust me, it is not free. After all, you transported yourself to the event, you spent time sitting at the event. This means that you have spent time and money in being able to get that souvenir that might not even be worth more than 200 naira. Some people also use mentality this to create classes at parties i.e. only a certain class of people would get certain souvenirs, thereby ascribing more value to the souvenir than it is really worth.

The truth is that if we do not deliberately condition our minds, we will all fall for this love of free things that are not really free. If we do not want to join the wolf pack, whenever we find ourselves in such situations, we have to continually tell ourselves that we do not really need the souvenirs or whatever is being peddled for 'free'. If we get it, it is fine. If we don’t, life will go on, and in the next hour, it won’t matter again. The battle is in the mind, and that is where it must be won.

Let's give way for the Man of God

I was rushing to Aloted's super working mum program last Saturday. I was already running late, and I was one of the people selling there, only for me to get to one part of Harvey road, and realise the road could only take one car at at time, because people had double parked on the street.

The first time I got myself into the jam, I and the guy driving in front of me were asked to reverse, so the cars in front of us could pass. We did. After then, we kept driving forward only for us to reach a standstill,

I really did not know what was happening in front, but I suspected it was man-made, and I was so late. I decided to come down from the car, and check what was happening, and I realised it was another dead lock. This time, it was just one car in front of us. The annoying thing was that even if it was just one car, the man refused to reverse. He was expecting us to all reverse for just him. How wise? I looked at him, he was an elderly man, like in his sixties. His face was resolute, and it communicated the statement "I will rather die here than reverse for you guys." So I knew there was no use begging the man.

After thinking of a solution and not being able to come up with one, I talked to the guy in front of me, and asked that if we at the back reverse, would he reverse, and just let the man go? The guy reminded me that we had reversed for some set of people before, and we had to go all the way down. He said what is the probability that if we reverse again, we won't have to reverse a third time. I felt the guy made sense, and for heaven's sake, there was no car at this man's back.

Before I knew it, one lady came from one of the houses on the street, and was like we must reverse. At this point, about two or three people were walking by. I asked her why all of us must be the one to reverse for a single car. She said we must reverse because he is a pastor. Therefore all of us must reverse for him.

People, any time people succeed in shocking me like that, I end up bursting into laughter. The people walking by heard the woman's statement, and one of them looked at me, and we just laughed. I looked at the man again, and behold he has a Bishop's collar on. He was really a pastor. The lady that was talking was one of the church members, and she was just coming out of the church.

I said "So pastors don't reverse." At this point, I was so irritated by her statement, that I determined that we will all sleep here. I went to give my assistant the update. She was like the fact that he is a pastor should be the main reason why he should reverse. This my assistant is one of my teenage students in teens church in my church o. Even she knew that the mentality was not right at all.

Please, am I missing something here. You blocked all oncoming vehicles with your car, and you refused to reverse despite the fact that there is no car at your back. You kept quiet all through, and couldn't be bothered. And your congregation came and said we must all reverse for you because you are a pastor.

If there is something I am missing, please, feel free to set me right. Abeg.

What Nigerian Bloggers should do in 2014

Happy new year to you all. I pray 2014 is a far better year for all of us, not matter how 2013 was. I read 34 books in 2013. If I stuck to my 1 hour reading per day rule, I would have done better. Sometimes, I was too busy, and many times, I was lazy. Hopefully, this year will be better

I am actually writing this post as a result of a comment I gave in the wrap up of the guess the blogger series a month ago, and MsJB's post.

I feel I sound like a broken record any time I say I love Blogsville. I really do. Nigerian Blogsville has turned my life around 360 degrees. My life would not be what it is now if not for it, and that is not an exxageration. Every single business I run now (4 of them) is actually as actally as a result of Blogsville, so it is not like I am just trying to be sentimental here. I am very grateful for everyone I have met here. I was with Cherrywine some nights ago, and she was like all these Blogsville people, even though one has never met them, they are sooo real, a real part of your world.

This is why sometime in the middle of this year, when about 80% of the bloggers were not blogging, I was really bothered. It was like a ripple effect. Some bloggers paused on blogging, and then some, and the some more, and before we knew it, Blogsville was so dry. At first, I just felt people were going through stuffs in their personal life, and blogging just had to take a back seat. What now pained me most was that, when some bloggers finally came after weeks or months to blog, they only blogged about how people were no more blogging, and how Blogsville was not fun, and now dry. And then, they disappeared again.

Let me just confess, I was pissed. How can somebody complain that people are no more blogging and blogsville is dry when they are the number 1 culprits of what they were complaining about. I remember I always commenting that 'if we don't make it fun, who will make it fun for us?' Some people said they were just not blogging cos of the blog trolls that were up and about then, but I said we have to take our community back from them. Abi, where are they now? Gone with the wind! Dem no dey last. 

I know I was blogging all through the season of blog drought, but the truth is that no matter how much I blog,  or how fun and refreshing my posts were, I was just a drop in the ocean. I alone could never make blogsville fun. Mehn, if blogs could haemorrhage, this blog would have bled to death then. So that is why when the Guess the Blogger series idea came to me, I was really excited. I felt it would make people come alive again, and if they come alive, then they can be more motivated to start blogging again. Well, I feel the series made people come alive sha.

So what will we do? In my own opinion, I think let's just try to blog at least once a month in 2014. 12 times a year is not too tasking o, if we really think about it. Let's not leave blogging to the commercial bloggers alone. Abeg people of Blogsville, let's just try. We can do this. You can join MsJB's challenge to make it easier for you to achieve this. Let's make 2014 fun, and let's uplift one another. By God's grace, it will be a good year for us all.