Dancing in the Dark by Muyiwa Joseph

It is said, “When you know your enemy, you will know how to outwit him.” For most of us, we have been dancing our entire life in the dark. Thinking that everything is just a product of chance.

Dancing in the Dark is a story with several characters with a common link: Lyop and Nimfa Miri, parents to the twins who altered the future: Nanre and Nana. Isaac Ameh: an indie journalist who made the greatest sacrifice twice and helped in the discovery of the mystery. Michael Morgan, a symbolist and an atheist. Becky, the pastor’s daughter living double lives.

The story began in Mambele, a village in Langtang North, where a man sacrificed himself and became the “author of magic”. The aim was to have fertility and prosperity in the land. He gives out a portion of magic to families but at a price. For the Miris, Lyop would not conceive. Nimfa goes all out to see that his wife conceives. Eventually, he succeeds some how. The villagers soon realised that he practised dark magic. The Miris were exiled from the land.

In about a hundred years later, girls in Baruwa hostel in Lateef University will be found in a pool of their blood, between every four to seven days. Commotion sets in and questions asked. The story from a century past may have been the cause. The “author of magic” told Nimfa that his second daughter will die by age 23. In a bid to change the bespoke misfortune, Nimfa and Lyop died, as sacrifice. Their daughters were 12-year-olds at the time. In the quest for something better, Nanre leaves the forest with a promise to return. Nana learns of the dealings of her Dad and attempts to right his wrongs: to save herself from being the sacrifice by 23. She learns to communicate with the “author of magic”. She was offered an “impossible” option: to kill her sister, who got married and is a believer, far from the forest, to replace her. Nana’s sacrifice in appeasement of the “author of magic” are the lives of girls in Baruwa hostel perpetuated by the person of her reincarnation. Nanre’s reincarnate is her grand-daughter who has six fingers on one hand just as Nanre. What was done years ago must be altered. The willingness of a few to solve a problem becomes the only saving Grace.

This book is a beautiful piece of art! It is composed of separate plots; yet not disjointed. The suspense gripped me based on the quest to know what happens next while hoping the story doesn’t end just immediately.

Anyone interested in the discuss of faith in the African context, Nigeria in particular, should try this book.

This is Joseph’s second book. I have read his first, Akudaaya. I consider him as “African Ted Dekker”.

ALCOHOL: The New Poison.

Oftentimes, I find writing about certain topics, probably more complex and undesirable. Reason is, they are a little not clear, and I feel like writing them, rather than having a podcast over them, will not just be enough to paint my view.

Some few weeks back, I joined this writer’s group, to learn and hopefully earn afterward. It has been an amazing journey and my Tutor (Eno) is such an amazing human. The thing, is in one of the classes, we were asked to write about our Niche in line of the “why, who and what”. I feel like, my niche is all about writing on what I believe in. Many might disagree with what I think, but if it makes a man’s life better, I will be fulfilled.

Working at the hospital, will reveal all kind of humans to you: The good, the bad and the Ugly. I haven’t stayed long in the profession, but I have had my fair share of them all. Lately, the ones more common and spirit breaking, are the ones who bring a patient to the hospital, and they themselves are all drunk and are of no help at all. People, who can not do the hospital running, neither can they be donors if there is need for blood donation, nor do they have any cash on them to help get drugs and all.

This has me wondering, and revisiting the damages “alcohol,” has done. I have a lot of childhood friends and Childhood classmates, I even find it difficult to see. Maybe it’s just me, but I get scared of what has happened to them. Dreams crushed, many are junkies, some unplanned mothers, others with scars from fighting, and others the cause of their parents sicknesses or deaths as a result of alcoholic influence. Many men, have become wife beaters, fathers who do not care about their kids wellbeing, other than their own thirst to be drunk. Husbands who don’t work, but rather steal the little the wife tries to bring home to take care of the kids, Persons who have ruin their family finances as a result of Alcoholic liver Disease.

If a debate where to be held, I probably will support the motion stating that “alcohol has more damaging effect than good.” In most regions, it is the leading cause of crimes; Arm robbery, rape, Abused, gang wars, poverty and a whole lot of things. Somehow, many will say that all these are as result of uncontrolled Alcohol consumption. I have however been forced to asked myself, if such substances that alter ones perception of life and happiness can be controlled. Somehow, Alcohol has become acceptable and a part of our life, but I have asked myself, to what end?

“A Revolution from the ground up” by Envoi Vates

I will not write another sad poem about this country.

No more. There’s one too many. I’ll write a hopeful one instead but it will not be on a page. It’ll be on the minds and tongues of young boys. Whatever corruption and decadence we see in this country didn’t start overnight. It took years to thicken. To lock horns with a rotten system that has matured over time will be hard. One will have to do more than chant for a reformation. I’ll have to be active in bringing about this reformation. To take a step back and consciously build another system, a good one. But then we must be reminded that nothing good comes easy or quickly for that matter. Whatever fine apple fruit you’re eating today was planted 5-8 years ago. And so we must start planting, right away. Let each man/woman play their part in bringing about this desired change and let us do so consciously and together. I am particular about boys because it has weighed heavy on my mind and because I used to be one. A very confused one who felt the sting of being clueless.

The boy child needs mentorship, guidance, healthy philosophy on how to be a man. The boy that hasn’t been rooted in virtue or mentored well will become the tyrant, partisan, extremist and cultist that we mourn about today. At the risk of sounding sexist (but not being my intention), men actually do run the world. I say this to bring to your attention the potential of the boy, whether he is groomed right or left to wander off on his own. … Imagine if these tyrants and extremists (most of them being men) were put on a better path from boyhood. I understand that people will ultimately choose for themselves and there will be instances when some will deviate from right to wrong but may it not be because we folded our hands and did nothing. So as a man, I must collect them [boys] like a hen collects her chicks and teach them. To simultaneously teach them how and what to think. To guide them without controlling them or manipulating. To let them see that I have not come to present myself as ‘godfather’ nor will I allow for any unhealthy allegiance to myself. Their allegiance must be to the TRUTH.

I often take into account the analogy presented in Orwell’s political satire – Animal farm. Carefully Consider 2 excerpts. The first – “Napoleon…said that the education of the young was more important than anything that could be done for those who were already grown up. It happened that Jessie and Bluebell had both whelped soon after the hay harvest, giving birth between them to nine sturdy puppies. As soon as they were weaned, Napoleon took them away from their mothers, saying that he would make himself responsible for their education. He took them up into a loft which could only be reached by a ladder from the harness-room room, and there kept them in such seclusion…”

The second excerpt- (after a period of time had gone by in the story’s plot) “Silent and terrified, the animals crept back into the barn. In a moment the dogs came bounding back. At first no one had been able to imagine where these creatures came from, but the problem was soon solved: they were the puppies whom Napoleon had taken away from their mothers and reared privately. Though not yet full−grown, they were huge dogs, and as fierce−looking as wolves. They kept close to Napoleon, It was noticed that they wagged their tails to him…”

Notice the progression?

Good mentors or bad ones will make a lot of difference in the life of a boy and society at large. The boy must not be left to himself. He is the mustard seed and the small beginning we can’t afford to take for granted. If he isn’t presented with good philosophy, bad philosophy will find him. He must be taught what and how to think. He must be exposed to resourcefulness , resolution, confidence, integrity, compassion, accountability among other virtues. This is the path to being a man….and a man that society so desperately needs. This is one way to start a revolution. This is my way. And I’m assuming I’m not the only one sold to this dream.

DOES RELIGION FUEL VIOLENCE? By Lengdung Tungchama

Each time people say that they have abandoned religion because of religious violence, and embrace atheism, I assume two things.

  1. They do not mean it.
  2. They’ve not looked up the evidence.

I do not want to assume ignorance, that’s too low for anyone bold enough to say they are atheist.

While there has been violence perpetrated in the name of religion, the 20th Century was the first time in history that atheist took over states and had the chance to show the difference. What happened?

The 20th Century was the bloodiest century in all of human history. The cause of death was led primarily by atheistic governments.

Hitler’s Germany that want to purge religion from all the lives of the people led to the death of estimated 85 Million people. In the Soviet Union, where Stalin wanted to make sure there was practice of any form of religion, it is estimated that 15 million people died. In China, Chairman Mao’s regime of terror against religion is responsible for an estimated 35 million deaths.

It is no wonder that as the 21st Century dawned, many states abandoned the policies of purging religion from the lives of the people. The lesson was clear. Mankind will kill in the name of anything. But what, ideas persist even in the face of evidence.

The irony is that it was only in the 20th Century that non violence became mainstream and an important tenet.

Who led such movements? Almost always, it was religious people. From Gandhi to MLK, to fall of communism, to the end of apartheid, to end colonialism, to end slavery, religious people were in the front lines. Far in the front lines. When Gandhi insisted that India will be changed through non violence, he said he was simply living the teachings of Jesus Christ. When MLK advocated for the Civil Rights, he said he was doing God’s will. When William Wilberforce fought against slavery, he said he was following the teachings of the Bible. When Desmond Tutu and Father Trevor Huddleston stood against apartheid, he said he was doing it in the name of God.

There are several ways to look at history, but truth is always one. And in this case, the truth is that violence is a human tendency, not a religious one. Surprisingly, that’s exactly what Christianity says; that mankind left on its own will be like Cain and Abel.

A PROJECT FOR THE GOOD OF THE COMMON MAN

One of the most dangerous things poverty does to a person is that it takes away your options. I hated the reality that poverty imposes on one. I remember watching how one wrong financial decision could affect our family’s feeding habits for a month or even more. Even in my life, I’ve seen the same thing. Just one financial emergency made me crawl through April. As I was going through that experience one thing kept going through my mind: I don’t want to ever be in this position again. It is the same feeling I have whenever I see anyone struggling financially.

For poor people, that is their daily reality. Their monthly reality. Every day is an emergency. Every naira is an emergency. A family’s welfare could be determined by how the next 1,000 Naira is used. There is nothing admirable about this state of living.

That’s what we hope to change. We want people to have more options. Wealth gives people the option to choose what they want to do. With wealth, they can choose the school they want to attend. With wealth, they can choose the food they want to eat. With wealth, they can choose to build more wealth. With wealth, they can choose what to wear, where to live, and what to do. Wealth is simply more options. We want people to have this option. There is nothing glorious in living a life of poverty all through our earthly sojourn.

It is my firm belief that I have a duty to my neighbor, and at this present time, it is to look for him and her and to help them rise out of poverty. When Jesus said “Love your neighbor as yourself”, it tells me that, make sure your neighbor doesn’t live in poverty just like you don’t want to live in one.

Love your neighbor as yourself. That’s all we are trying to do!

You can donate in Naira by clicking on this link: https://cutt.ly/nv1Lw7Z

To donate in USD, use this link: https://cutt.ly/8v1LigU

THE VULTURE AND THE GIRL

The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The vulture and the girl,” is the title to a photograph I believe many of us have seen, but probably have not had an idea on the story behind it. It was published in March 1993 and further went ahead to win the “Pulitzer award for featured photography.” The picture was taken by Kevin Carter a photo journalist during the unrest and Civil war in Sudan. There was high level of starvation and deaths. The Child whose name was “Kong Nyong” was said to be walking towards a UN refugee camp, when Carter took the picture. He chased the vulture away and got treatment for the child. Later the child father will reveal that the child was a boy. About 3 month after Carter was given the award for the picture, he killed him self, because the sight still haunted him.

Source: YouTube

I cannot fathom the trauma and hell he will have been through. The haunting and gruesome image of how evil man have become.

For once, one will think that with the level of civilization and enlightenment, war and man inhumanity to man, might be a thing of the past. Unfortunately, that is wishful thinking. It seems we are now more savage than those before us.

Source:Quora

It is shocking to realize that Carter didn’t really go to Sudan for the “Gram and tweet,” rather to show how devastating and traumatizing life was in Sudan. I believe he might have had the image of finding peace. Yet, just that single image, traumatized him forever. It’s funny however, to see that in our own present day and time, we can see things like that and the first thing we do, is take pictures and videos, then go about our normal activities. It is always about the likes and retweets, rather than the help we can offer. There is nothing heartbreaking to realize that some of us even get pictures of those suffering and then use it to generate income for ourselves.

We have been made vultures by our machines and gadget. Slowly, our humanity has faded into oblivion. We are not compassionate, neither are we honorable and useful.

THIS THING CALLED PASSION

Overtime now, we have had motivational speakers and a whole lot of people around, tell us to find what we are passionate about and then look for a way to make money out of it. Somehow, it didn’t really align or make sense to me.

Later on, I will come to a different opinion from “The minimalist.” They will talk about how non of us is really giving birth to with a specific thing he is passionate about. To them, you find something that can generate you a source of income, and then find a way to be passionate about it.

Passion has been defined as “any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling; as love or hate.” No doubt, that defines everything. We can often times, control or work on our emotions.

From the animation “Soul,” we can see the story of a man who throughout his life, has thought he is chasing only one thing and it is what he believed to be his purpose and passion. Eventually after getting his big deal and gig, he felt no difference at all.

Passion is the constant desire to fight for something better. To keep finding home; however this home is eternity and there is no exact end to it, because it isn’t a place, career, family, friends or wealth. Passion is you and finding joy in you.

THE DOUBLE LIFE SYNDROME

Have you for one reason or the other, ever thought just maybe you are living a “hypocritical life?” I have had that feeling for long. Having to be in-between two different worlds and somehow you have to keep switching. The sad thing about this, is that at the point you realize it, you might have lost yourself already.

For me, this has been a battle for a number of years, and I felt like both lives were mine, but I couldn’t just find a balance for them. Recently I sat down to ask myself why? And I came to the realization that it is because I often want to fit in or please people.

But no, not anymore. People are one creature so difficult to please, and you must realize that your purpose isn’t about acting to please people but for the greater good of humanity. For me, I find balance where God is and hence there isn’t much need for any double life. Wherever I find myself, the standard for my life is first about glorifying God and humanity second.

The only switch I have now, is about knowing the difference between work, a place for family and those I love and a place for my own self. It’s all about our own healing and perfection.

We weren’t made to keep switching forms. I mean that will be deception. The motto, is to be known with the same character by all. It will be impossible when you have no standard to measure what is right in your life. For me, it is God

A TOUCH OF PROFESSIONALISM

I have been writing for while, but never really called myself a writer. I had limited myself to just writing poems and referring to myself as a poet. Subsequently, most of my writings, began to earn recognition and hence exposing me to more people and more friends.

Apart from the fact that we attended the same Church back then in school, I and Evelyn were members of the same group and she has always fascinated me.

She will later come to me with her idea of building a website and wanted me to work with her on it. At first, I thought it will be something not serious and hopefully a hobby.

Shame on me. I was shocked when on our first meeting to discuss the whole idea, She showed up with Partnership Laws of Plateau State and how we all can play our part. It scared the heavens out of me at first, but also showed me that I needed to find myself and see myself in the light of how others saw me.

I have been one, who somehow believe and love imperfection. However, I have come to learn that being all serious and expecting a level of perfection from whatever we plant our energy into, also build us.

Knowing what was online, pushed me into a more deeper level of self development and growth. To gain perfection, I have grown and have also developed. Last time I was writing and using Gram-marly, I came to the revelation of how I can actually write without it now.

For Evelyn herself, I believe she has always been in doubt about herself and because of that, she thought about the importance of others view. Along the line of things, I have come to the revelation of her love for perfection, not neglecting the fact that she can be an emotional writer and self engrossed.

I have however, been open to the fact that we really can’t be perfect at first, but as we advance and grow, we must strife for a level of perfection. Perfect imperfection should kind of be a thing I think.

SOMEONE IS WATCHING

It is very easy for us to see ourselves as insignificant and incapable of influencing change, no wonder we do things without even considering if it will have a down side upon the lives of others.

I somehow was in this category and with that mindset. I had the belief that there are many people up there doing great and amazing things that will captivate people’s attention and so I am oblivious and invisible.

However, all this was proven wrong, when at a gathering a number of persons came up to me and spoke about how I have influenced them in one way or the other. A lot still look up to me and are grateful for each encounter.

Being the change and influencing the world isn’t about where we are, who we are or how perfect we are. There is always someone who sees us as a source of encouragement. This puts responsibility on us to be better and great. No matter how insignificant you think you are, there is always someone watching and looking up to you.

An African proverb has this to say; “if you think you are to small to make a difference, you have never been in a room with a mosquito.”