Monthly Archives: November 2012

[Spoken Word] AbdulGhaffar

AbdulGhaffar means Servant of the Most Forgiving.

Many followers of religions misunderstand the concept of repentance for a committed sin. Repentance for them is a calculated bonus; Some Muslims recite the confessional prayers, assume all their sins have been wiped out, and then get back to sinning. A similar concept for the Catholics is to make a confession to a priest and then get back to sinning. These people believe themselves smart enough to cheat in “God’s game”.

This poem is about such a person; a Muslim.

Produced by YGee

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Dancing Kids at Parties

Kid-parties. Once upon a time, the most dancing you did at party was “dancing round the chair” to innocent pop music. What happened to dancing your hammer-moves at parties? MC Hammer was the focus, not his background dancers. Kids today dance club-dances; it is like a miniature BET music video. I hate kid-parties because of this. I can only say about the situation in Nigeria.

Kid-parties leave a void in its participants; unless there is a dancing competition. This realization prompted me to write this post. I forgot the writing. Some (many) weeks ago I watched Lupe Fiasco’s new video Bad Bitch and Lupe captured some of what I wanted to say in a few minutes. I remembered the post but again forgot. I found it and I’m obliged to complete it. I can’t drag any longer so I will post it anyway.

Stories on Adulteration of Children

Have you heard about the 9 year old beauty pageant contestant who is tormented by hair waxing… Have your heard of the anorexics aged 3-12… Have you heard about the number of American kids on anti depressants… ?

There is a debate on kids’ beauty pageants; the negative (in my opinion) outweighs the positive. Taking a side is a moral issue. It suffice to say there is a lot of child abuse involved, dangers to child mental health, insecure parents and likelihood of child growing to be a pathological cosmetic surgery customer; among other things. Most insidious is that these children have been imposed an unhealthy worldview: a world where carnal beauty and competition make the world go round.

Childhood experiences indeed steer the direction of an adult’s life, significantly.

Adult Psychology

A lot of these experiences of children are influenced by their parent’s psychology and ethics; insecurities and morality. Childhood insecurities of parents could manifest as unhealthy competitiveness forced upon a child. To some extent, the pressure on a child can be excusable. That may be true for beauty pageants but what about dancing? Dancing is the issue of this post anyway.

The reason adults like to see their kids dancing (which is seldom motivated by competition as in Child Beauty Pageant) is because it’s cute, entertaining; thus “cuteness”. While in the case of competitiveness, the adult actively orchestrates (by extreme means) their child’s victory, in the case of “cuteness” the adult passively accepts an action after it happens. In the former instance, the adult is (too) active while passive in the latter.

In what may seem a simple everyday scene, there may lie a complex psychological dynamics/transactions. For instance,  a child does something “cute” and then the adult laughs at it and does the easiest thing: dismiss its importance by calling it “cute”. The adult may sincerely not know how to deal with it or may be looking for an easy way out in their reaction.  Insight into psychology is therefore important.

Whereas in competitive situations, adults could be seen as enforcers, in “cute” situations adults could be seen as enablers. Many adults enablers appear easy-going when it comes to denying kids doing something the kids already want to do (in this case, dancing). Well that is true only if we disregard child-psychology. The passivity of adults translates into activism from the perspective of child psychology.

Child Psychology

Humans as social creatures interact. Arguably, the most famous currency of this interaction is attention. We seek attention in subtle ways but when we don’t get it we resolve to dramas. That is why a baby cries LOUD to protest, given his/her limited vocabulary. As a child grows something interesting happens; the child learns to express themselves but nevertheless cries to attract attention. Similarly the well articulated spouse makes a scene rather than “articulate” the issues. This tells us two things: first such ways of seeking attention are effective; second such patterns of thinking become a habit.

They say black babies are born with rhythm. I would have like to use that to justify my inclination towards music but understanding the difference between Nature and Nurture provides a more reasonable version of this statement: Black parents love music, communicate this to their black kids (as cute), and black kids use this cuteness to purchase attention (starting with their parents).

Now back to dancing in parties. Let me propose what is actually happening. Child is born in a black family. Child learns to cry to get attention. Child is exposed to music (not lullaby) and dance. Child dances and Child receives attention from parents for being “cute”. Child loves to dance and parents think Child simply enjoys dancing. Parents allow/expose adult-club songs to child because someone is always watching at home. Parents see this picture is simply “cute” since it is a child. Child impresses parents with new moves learnt from the latest music videos. Child is summoned to demonstrate new moves to uncles and aunties; child becomes a family star. Child now has a habit and see’s the world against him/her when asked not to dance when older, indignant from being exploited for former glories of “cuteness”.

The Fascist or Liberal Parent

The logical question is which type of parenting should one adopt, strict or easy-going? Would one be a strict disciplinarian or a do-what-u-like parent… or something in between? Would you monitor your teenage children’s movement or would you let them have fun until they come to their senses (Assuming the parent actually wishes to have responsible children). Unfortunately the options between the two extremes are merely treating the symptom; symptom of an issue from childhood.

The solution is to understand child psychology and carefully select which habits/behaviors you would like to encourage/discourage using the currency of attention. If you want a child to be a dancer (among other things) then by all means “pay” the child positive attention whenever they dance; by cheering, smiling, or talking about how cute it was. What if you don’t want your baby to be hooked on dancing? Should you chastise them every time they do?

I think NO. Being a “fascist” is also treating the symptom. We are operating at psychology level here. I think the best solution is simply not to encourage it. Don’t cheer the child, don’t tell them how cute they are, don’t tell uncles and aunties how cute they were within their earshot (you gotta admit they can be quite cute in diapers).

Your Child Down the Slope

Am I saying that your child will become a whore/gangster simply by watching music videos and dancing club songs at parties? I am saying a child is much more likely to pursue any life path that has a worldview compatible with the worldview the parents instill, psychologically (by giving positive attention). And if they become a whore/gangster, they will surely enjoy the attention they get from their careers.

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How I Made My Little Sister Weep – Environment Matters

I had been very busy lately and hadn’t found the time to chat with my little siblings as often as I would prefer. But opportunities present themselves as blessings in disguise; in this case, the opportunity was the outage of electric power.

I had just finished dinner, while reading on my computer screen, when it went dark, and the alternative power source was faulty. I stayed in the dark for a while then I heard someone coming stealthily, as they always do (and as I always hear them). It was my younger brother (about 11yrs old). I surprised him instead, as I always do.

The screen was too bright for me anyway, given the surrounding darkness. And the TV was not on now, so he came for a little chat. His younger sister (about 8 yrs old) followed. We started talking about why there is no power in Nigeria but it’s ever-presence in other countries. We brushed the aspect of corruption and insincerity in administering power supply in Nigeria. Somehow we ended up with me explaining to him what a nuclear plant is and how it works with nuclear reaction.

As expected, when I mentioned the dangers of nuclear reaction, he could not imagine why anyone, in their right sense, would use it in the first place. Meanwhile the younger sister would walk in and out of the kitchen, where we were seated on a table. She wasn’t really interested in this technology talk any way.

Then I went on to explain to him that the sun, which sustains life on earth, is itself a nuclear reactor. My intention was for him to realize how energy could be beneficial and destructive but may depend on how we use it. Of course this is after I explained to him the destructive power of nuclear bombs. Somehow we were talking about the ozone layer and then the magic word “Global Warming”.

I realized he may not readily appreciate Global warming because the effect is almost negligible over short time period. So I told him that in a few years, the country Mauritius will exist under the sea (given the world’s trajectory). But they don’t know where Mauritius is. At this time she was in the kitchen but not really paying attention to us. So I explained. I said “Mauritius is just beside Madagascar”. At the sound of the word MADAGASCAR, she turned her attention to us. She loves the animated movie Madagascar and must have thought we were talking about it.

Then I repeated that Mauritius is soon to be under the sea. I couldn’t see her face in the dark but I knew she was puzzled because she took a seat and prepared to fire me questions, like she always does.

She asked: do you mean a whole country will sink?
I said: No, I mean water level of the seas and oceans will go up and as a result, drown the country

She was seriously worried now. Her brother too.

She asked: what about the people of the country?
I said: They will have to leave the country to another one and the poor among them may die or suffer the most if they can’t afford to move.

I knew concepts like heritage may not mean much to her so I focused on those she knows. They both became really worried and asked more questions; the answers of which disturbed them.

Looking for an optimistic escape, she said, at least it won’t affect us here. I retorted. Of course it will affect you here! States like Lagos (which is coastal) will soon follow and it will be just a matter of time before Abuja (where we are) and everywhere in Nigeria becomes drowned up. I am aware that may not be very accurate but hey, this is not a science TV show.

Her voice became high pitched. She continued asking questions. She started sobbing. She started weeping. I didn’t comfort her; in fact I kept on explaining. The best I did was to tell her Global Warming could be prevented (reduced). She was glad at my statement, but was still weeping. With her new-found energy and hope, she kept interrupting me with this question:

What can we do?!


Occasionally she brush me off impatiently saying “I hear Bilnigma, but I just want to know what we can do to help” (Of course Bilnigma is not what she calls me); impatient of me ranting about the problems and no solutions.

Then I got to the solutions. She was still sobbing. I mentioned many “solutions” from recycling to simply caring about nature (which I told them as Muslims, it is a priority) to caring about other people separated from you in time (future) and space.

It came up that one of their uncles has a plastic bag recycling plant in Kaduna State; that uncle became a hero tonight. We recalled those “recycling” scavengers they see around and their job seemed noble. She was still weeping.

The most difficult part, which I don’t think I explained satisfactorily, was that the kids wanted to understand why is Global Warming not such a big deal? How come they are just really hearing about it for the first time? And how come (as I mentioned earlier) leaders are not doing their part in all of this?

It was 8:35pm and almost time for bed. So I told them to get ready for bed. I had made them older tonight through information. The brother said good night and went off; not before warning me that I have made the sister a preacher now because all of her friends will hear about global warming tomorrow in school. I heard the sister convincing someone to borrow their phone so she could call her mummy to come back home; they have serious issues to discuss and this is no girl-talk.

As I write this, its 9:32pm and electric power is still not back.

Some Thoughts:

Is it time to start some advocacy on issues like Global Warming to children in Primary/Secondary Schools?

What other values could these kids be made to propel towards achieving?


Filed under Having a Chat