Monday, June 21, 2010

06 16 76

6 year-old Monsura
It was on this day in 1976 that a crowd of 3,000 to 10,000 young students and teachers set out on what was supposed to be a peaceful march along the streets of Soweto, South Africa. They were headed towards Orlando stadium to protest against making Afrikaans the language of instruction in all schools across the entire country. It was regarded as the ‘language of the oppressor’.  They sang and held up placards that read, ‘Down with Afrikaans…If we must do Afrikaans, Vorster must do Zulu.’ Vorster, the then Prime Minister of South Africa and Zulu, their home language. All they wanted was to break free from strongholds and preserve what is theirs. The right to choose.
Soweto Protest
However, what engraved this day on many hearts was the killing of 12 year-old, Hector Pieterson.
Hector Pieterson1
17-year old Antoinette Sithole, Hector's sister and Mbuyisa Makhubo, schoolboy.
He wasn’t the only person to be shot at that day. But he was the first pronounced dead.
The  students marched with pride across town. They were happy to be standing up for something. But they were met with a fate they hadn’t bargained for.

 “There were younger children there, who shouldn’t have been there…”, says Antoinette Sithole, Hector’s sister. “I was hiding when I saw Hector in the crowd…I called him to me, wondering what he was doing out there. Soon after, we heard a gunshot, I ran back into hiding…I looked behind me and Hector was not behind me…I couldn’t find him.”

“I saw a child fall down. Under a shower of bullets, I rushed forward and went for the picture. It had been a peaceful march, the children were told to disperse, they started singing Nkosi Sikelele. The police were ordered to shoot.” Sam Nzima, the photographer, who took six sequence shots of 12-year old Hector Pieterson in those brief moments.

This photograph of  lifeless Hector was circulated across the world and both Sam Nzima (photographer), Mbuyisa Makhubo (the schoolboy who picked Hector’s lifeless body) went into exile for many years later. Today, Sam Nzima has now returned to Soweto where the Hector Pieterson Museum now stands but Mbuyisa’s mother says after she received one letter from him  from Nigeria in 1978, she never heard from him again.

This day sparked what was called the Soweto Uprising, which all changed the course of South African history for good.

In remembrance of all those who lost their lives for education to become a right. So that we could preserve our mother tongue…so that we could stand up for what we believe in…so that our voices could resonate and be heard. So, that we would be free. Today, June 16th remains ‘Youth day’…’The African Child day’.

06 16 2010  Asaya-Lokooji Village, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria.

We visited the Asaya-Lokooji Community to share in the plight of the children and locals.
DSCN1872    A community with over a thousand youths has only one school, two classrooms and a teacher, Miss Bolanle. When she told me everything about how manages to teach every subject to all these children of different ages, she earned my respect even more.
School teacher, Miss Bolanle

We came here so that the people might know that what they lack, some have died for them to have. (“The tenacious taketh the Kingdom by force…”)We came to immerse ourselves in their plight. We came so we might encourage them. We came so they might feel like a part of the rest of their world. We came so they might keep believing.  DSCN1869
DSCN1881  DSCN1879DSCN1889
We sought out every single person in that community. All the elders, mothers, fathers, grandpas, grandmas…as long as you could get on your feet, we brought you out. We wanted the children to show their parents what education has made them so far. And no one could tell that these children of different ages and personalities were tutored by only one young lady. She is very meticulous in her dealings with them and anyone could see how much they’ve learned from her.  They entertained their fellow mates with debates, acting, singing and so much more. 
A play to demonstrate the importance of education
DSCN1893 DSCN1905  DSCN1908 DSCN1909 DSCN1901
It was a blessing and privilege to celebrate such a historical day with these children. They absolutely blew us away. Everything we saw, we couldn’t believe. One would think that learning under such circumstances would hinder them or intimidate them, but no. They were excited to show us that they are no different. DSCN1870
Save The African Child (STAC) is an NGO formed by Opeyemi Olowookere to liberate African children from the strongholds of oppression, abuse and any form of deprivation….
Opeyemi Olowookere

“We might not be able to do it all…but we can do something”

Friday, May 21, 2010

Pause...Play, Pray.

Life has literally been pushing the ‘pause’ button on me lately.
It’s been one thing after the other; I want to blog, I stop even before I start; I want to read a book, it’s over before I get past the first page. At first I thought it was just lethargy, but I realized that it was much more than that. I do know there’s such a thing as a ‘bad day’, but for me I haven’t had any of that in a really long time. I’d gotten so used to contentment and joy that I believed nothing could ever sap me of it. But not these past days. It’s been decisions after decisions. And now I don’t just mean a decision to go someplace, or go after something…I mean a decision to keep the right attitude even though things weren’t particularly going the way I planned. That can be hard.

So after a long time of just letting my day take whatever direction it chooses; I called for a meeting. Well, a meeting with God ;) No…I prayed. Like never before. I needed to hear (feel) Him say, “Go or No!” But silence…

From the beginning of this month (May), I’d been so excited about this week. It’s the 7th week after Easter. The week of Pentecost- Acts 2:1-2. This week, I had all planned out with my little happy self. But I didn’t plan the extras that have now come along. Now I had more to think about. More to pray about. I now had a suddenly, I hadn’t bargained for. But one must keep pressing on... And so I chose 

And so I kept on learning… to stay still, to be quiet, to watch, to pray, to recognize my limits and never surpass them; to follow my heart, not my mind. I was quick to learn what the scripture says about God not being the author of confusion; where He leads, He leads in peace. His Yoke is easy. Never condemning, only convicting and leading always with our hand in His.

So, today I am blogging. I am reading. I am living. Because He has answered in His silence. Hence, I have accepted that not everything must I know. Things happen that tip us off a little, but for me now, I really don’t care. My God is Big enough to make every decision, and when He hasn’t…or no when it seems like He hasn’t, then He really has.

I love the rain…because it’s Him saying, “I’m still here…”

Be still...And Know, That I am God.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

In Love… we Live



In love we are free… truly free.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Makoko…A View From Below

“It sure looks different from down here…”

You know that place you look down at when you are riding in your car or in a bus across the mainland bridge…Yes, that cluster. Like you, I spent many years wondering what life really is like down there. Who these people are…what they do; where they are from, what they are like. Well, one Friday morning, I took a nervous trip down there with my friend, Yemisi. And what we found…I’d say, put us on a rollercoaster of emotions.
As we made our way into a most unfamiliar territory, we realized that the community is divided in two parts…one is where the Ilajes reside and the other is for the Eguns…okay, at this point we didn’t know where to turn. Suddenly, we were met by a nice lady who led us into the market where they all trade and the riverbank they keep their boats till nightfall. DSCN1610
So, we stood at the riverbank for less than 5 minutes before another woman popped out of what I assumed was a wall covered with cloth. “Good afternoon”, she says. Okay, I also didn’t think I’d be speaking English down here…but I was very pleased that finally someone did. She excitedly led us to sit in front of her home, which is where we were standing already. Her name is Victoria Ojuri. She sells fish (main trade) and clothing out of her home. Her parents were from Ondo state but she was born right here in Makoko. She spoke proudly of her six children all born in Makoko as well; two youngest ones in school, four others employed, married and living with their families…all here in Makoko.

DSCN1608 Here's her son, Oye, who took us on our canoe ride

What struck me most about our conversation with Victoria was her declaration, “This is our home…our community. It is all that we know. We never want to leave here…all we want is better homes, clean water, security…all here in Makoko”. Yemisi and I couldn’t hide our thoughts…we were wondering why anyone would want to stay here. Standard of living is below appalling. But she made us understand that she was born here, like many others, and to take them away from here would be stealing their own identity. While we spoke with her, we noticed a group of little children chuckling to each other and yelling… “Foto…mo fe ya foto.” They wanted to take pictures…so we did ;)
We also caught up with Bukky and Martha as they returned from school

After our chat, Oye informs us that a canoe had arrived to take us across their town.
As we rode on, I started to feel a bit uneasy…the water was (to say the very least) filthy. I struggled to hide my fright…but somehow Yemisi remained disturbingly calm (or maybe she could hide hers better;) Oye was extremely aloof while we sailed. We tried to speak with him severally, but his answers were curt. I later realized it wasn’t just him. Most of the adults we met along the way were even more.

We greeted. And if we got an answer, it was in the look they shot us. Oye’s friend who rode with us, explained that most of them don’t understand English nor Yoruba… but I knew it was beyond that. They must have seen many like us come in the past…and to them we were just another charade. Somehow, the cold shoulders gave my nervousness the boot… I started to wave more intensely. Any canoe that passed us, Yemisi and I would wave or reach out, just so they knew that we were here to be part. However, it wasn’t hard reaching the children… their chatter and playfulness, we found very comforting.
DSCN1626DSCN1613 Yes, even in that water…they swam

Many times Yemisi and I would forewarn each other, ‘duck!’. They had ‘roads’ leading to different areas and homes in the water. At a point, we got stuck…there was some kind of ‘traffic’. We couldn’t move…we had to wait for something to be moved out of the water. “Let’s just go back”, Yemisi says. But for some reason, Oye was determined to get us to where we could view the 3rd mainland bridge. So, we waited and rode on...
Here's a view from below...

Finally, Oye spoke…well, a little. “I always come here to watch the cars pass on the bridge…”, he admits. Before he could say another word… we heard, “I go break that camera oh!”… Oh oh, Yemisi and I turn around to see 4 disgruntled men shining wood behind us. Quickly, Yemisi urges that we return. But Oye and his friend reassures that its just a bluff. However, we turned our canoe around….and I still took a quick shot ;)

This is how they get around to their wood shops

When we got back to shore, we met Victoria’s youngest son, who’d just arrived from school. He’s so cute ;) She reminded us, “All we want is a better life here…here oh”.She was willing to talk to us even longer…though she wasn’t prepared to be photographed.
Yemisi and our other 'chauffeur', Kehinde

We met Bukky again as we prepared to this
time she had resumed at her mother's shop to
sell till nightfall...
Yemisi and I
After we said our ‘goodbyes’, we stood outside and stared back at everything we were just coming from…It felt like we couldn’t tell what was real anymore. Through our ride back home we kept ranting to each other..."I wonder what would be a typical bad day for these people?"..."Truth is everyday has a potential to be one". Through every conversation we had in that community, we saw a people simply existing… but do not feel alive. For the children, it was like we brought with us a new excitement that they do not see very often... and now we have taken it back with us. At least, so they feel.

Till this very minute, Yemisi and I are still talking about Makoko…it just won’t go away.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

While We Waited...We Praised

Gogo Majin
You see, I know what it feels like when you don’t know what you are waiting for…when you are not sure of anything. And in the silence of your heart, you just want to see His face…you want to hear Him speak, you want to walk with Him and talk with Him about all your pain and joy at the same time…You want to touch Him and feel Him near, but you realize that… He’s not there. Not the way you expect.
So, while we search, while we wait...we praise.

Gogo prepares us...

{Now, the body of Christ was gone...Mary Magdalene wept-she wanted to see her Lord again-, Peter dragged around his baggage of guilt, not sure he could ever seek his Lord's face again. John raced with passion and love. And in panic they all went in search of their Master, Teacher and Lord. But He found them, instead. Suddenly, hope replaced despair, peace replaced fear, love replaced shame, light replaced darkness…and they fell at His feet, crying out of their joy and belief. Then it became clear what they'd been waiting for; restoration, resurrection, rebirth… a fresh discipleship. Ultimately, now they had the gospel that had come full circle…and they knew that the world will one day hear their account and believe}

{Christ said to Thomas… “You have seen and now you believe, but blessed are those who have not seen, yet believe}

It is for this we worshipped tonight like never before.
In place of the uncertainty of His resurrection 2,000 years ago, today we know for a fact that joy cometh in the morning. While we wait, we know our King is preparing to reveal Himself in the morning.

Bj Bj...The Saxophonist

Gogo…I love love her. For me, she is the best voice out of Nigeria. She praises with her voice and soul like not many do. She performed the song that made us all fall in love with her in the beginning… ‘Almighty God’. There were other great performances by…yes yes, BJ Sax…Oh my God!!! As Dan said, “Mike Aremu who?” This guy on the saxophone must have been like David, the Psalmist on his harp. Talk about bringing down all the Heavenly glory…He sent chills down my spine. Hear a little bit of him…
Holy Mallam

So, we worship…
Gbolahan, Gogo's guitarist for the night

The Jazz praise concert tonight was worship right in the presence of God.
Music that brought down the glory, tears that showed gratitude, shouts from the heart that revealed the intensity of our love for our Lord… And we worshipped.

Show opened with an incredible performer called Frank Edwards…I wonder where Dan found him. He is amaaaaaazing, mind-blowing, beautiful, goosebumps-sender, worshipper…fantastic!! I just loved him. But blogger won't let me put up his video ;-( Right after him, came Pure&Simple; two guys who had the most magical hands on the guitar. I was blown away. Dan wouldn’t let them get off stage until they spilled their entire talent right before us in worship.

Most Incredible (MI)
And for those videos I couldn’t post on here {blogger limits;} I apologize.
Nonso’s performance…“I go always pray for you”, was so soothing. He was great. Mfon also blew us away with her beautiful band and performance. At this point in the show, everyone was on their feet, dancing and praising…then MI walked in, and we got even more revved up. For the first time, he performed a song he wrote years ago, ‘Jehovah’.
Peace Anthony of Hefzibah{God's Delight}
Hefzibah ended the great night on her guitar with beautiful praise

Dan and I
Gogo ;)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Where The Voice First Came A-Calling...

Those who know me well know how much I love(d) radio. In fact, I would say there was a time I was addicted to my radio. I couldn’t go to sleep without it. … I had to know it would sing or talk me to sleep. And I know they say, ‘It’s loners that watch too much TV or listen to too much radio…’ Well, all I know is that my radio is always there for me ;-)

‘My sheep knoweth my Voice'…

In all my years of ‘radio-addiction’, it was for the great music, gossip, news and so forth.However, in 2003 a new journey began….

I was in the University, spending a lot of my days trying to ‘find myself’. Even though at the time, I didn’t really understand what that meant. But…I soon knew.

Typically, I wouldn’t turn on my radio in the mornings…life was too busy to have that luxury. But once upon a quiet and lackluster Sunday morning, I did. I heard this man’s voice…he was describing how he felt whenever he listened to a particular Yolanda Adams’ song that had just finished playing. What struck me the most wasn’t what he was talking about; there was just a depth about his voice…which he would later describe as his ‘strongest point’.

Sunday after Sunday, month after month, year after year, I would tune my radio to 96.9. There I would always hear something that would in some way store itself in my heart. This ‘voice’ moved to a new radio frequency; 92.3, I followed. At this point, I was listening to more than radio…I was hearing a ‘voice’ that I soon recognized.

In 2008, I met Dan Foster for the first time. It was by chance…so it seemed.
One day, I was at my desk at work when I was called by my editor. When I met with her, she told me she was scheduled to do an interview with Dan, but she had an emergency she had to attend to. I stared at her thinking, ‘Oh oh…I am not about to do an impromptu interview with Dan Foster…not happening. ’ Without giving me much time to arrange my thoughts, she grabbed her purse and left the office. I stood there confused.

As I returned to my office, I ran into my editor-In-chief who immediately asked me who was doing the interview with Dan, as he had just arrived. (I sighed and accepted what it means to be a journalist.) I followed her in tow as she led me to the boardroom where Dan waited…

So, I am sitting here alone with Dan Foster. A man; the voice I had listened to for many years…a man who-in my opinion- is undoubtedly anointed by God. I had no questions scribbled down (never done that before)...But somehow, my mind drifted back to that first Sunday morning; and the entire interview evolved from there.

Fast forward two years later…we have remained what he describes as ‘friends for life, Mo’!’

This past Sunday I decided to visit him at the studio. I watched him take every phone call, switch CDs out of his unprecedented selection of beautiful and heavenly music, talk about his son and little daughter all at the same time.

He spoke of the first time he came to Lagos. It was in 2000.
I still can’t wrap my head around how he made that decision; leaving everything familiar behind to step into complete and absolute unknown… with nothing but hope. He walked away from everything he knew.

He reminded me of a message from Bishop TD Jakes he played a while back; ‘Traditional or Transitional’. It’s a test that God gives us all…when he wants to know if we are so stuck up with tradition and conformity that we cannot see when he’s trying to move us into our destiny. And as the Bishop would say, ‘whether we like it right away, is not the issue...God keeps moving.’

When we started talking about this, it was almost like we both wanted to talk at the same time. I guess that’s what happens when one’s heart is filled with a story that always wants to find its way out… chatter!!

Dan moved to Nigeria and has become the greatest radio personality yet. I like to think of his show as an ‘altar-call’. He puts you right in the presence of God. Plays the right songs, the right messages… like a minister who knows whatever comes out of his mouth must be for somebody out there.
That’s who Dan Foster is to Nigeria.

For me, Dan was the voice I heard…but God’s was the voice I followed. He knew what I couldn’t live without; radio. Hence, He reached out through it.

So, here I am sitting before the microphone…definitely the same position Dan assumed 8 years ago, when he unknowingly touched a life.

My life.

'The Day Before Jesus Rose...'
An amazing gospel jazz concert holds at the Muson Centre, April 3rd.
By Dan Foster Enterprises.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Looking Too Far...

I apologize for the vacuum…

From the time I wrote my last post till now, it seemed like I was waiting for another big story until my next post. I guess that’s just the journalist in me; believing that until I had something great to share I didn’t need to bore anyone with any triviality. But, recently I heard a voice in my head say…“You are looking too far off…look around you.”

So I picked up a book, I recently bought myself… ‘Come Thirsty’…by Max Lucado.

The title struck me because of its similarity with 'Come As You Are'...

The first line that jumps right out of the book is ‘If you are thirsty, come! If you want life-giving water, come and take it…It’s free!’

As I read each page…I remembered years ago when my soul thirsted, and how I found my way to the well.