Saturday, 9 November 2019

To Help or Not: My Dilemma on a Headless Being

I saw a headless person walking today at the King’s Cross Train station.

Like Moses attracted to the burning bush, this piqued my interest. So I looked more intently at the strange sight. Apparently it was an old woman who was bent over so much I couldn’t see her head from the back. I wondered how she coped with life.

As I observed, I saw that she struggled to look up to the destination board. She kept going to the back hoping it would be easier to see. I knew she needed help, so I walked towards her. She tried to signal for help from 2 girls that passed her but they looked at her and went their way. She was saying, ‘no I’m not begging you for money’ when I approached. 

"Where are you going to?", I asked.

"Oh thank you very much", she said, "I’m going to Stoke. Can I use my freedom bus pass here?"

"No. It works on buses", I answered though not knowing really what freedom bus pass meant, "You may have to buy a train ticket".

"How much is it?"

"I don’t know. We’ll have to ask the authorities".

"How long is it by bus?"

So I brought out my phone to ask google. But first I typed, ‘can I use my freedom bus pass on trains?’ and I was surprised to learn you could use it on buses, trams, trains and underground. It is a free travel pass for the disabled and elderly. 

I quickly chipped in, "you can actually use your pass on trains". 

"But I will rather take a bus for sight seeing". 

So I checked distance between King’s cross and Stoke-on-Trent (I assumed that was what she meant by Stoke) by bus. I also checked the distance by train. 


"It is 5hrs by bus and you have to change several buses. It is easier to go by train but you have to go from Euston station".

"5hrs?". She was surprised.
"I’ve gone there by night bus and it was 2 hrs. I’m going to see my grand daughter. She works in a hospital there. Please take me to the bus stop".

"Which one?"

"The one near McDonalds. I’ll take a bus to Whitechapel and from there I can get a bus to Stoke".

My train was about 12 mins away. I calculated leaving the station to guide her to a bus station and getting back on time to meet my train. 

"Ok. Give me that". I took her hand luggage and walked in front of her while she followed. Shortly after, I looked back and saw her almost going to hit the wall headlong. 

"No!" I shouted. "This way."

I needed to stay closer to her so she could see me to follow. 

I worried how she was going to take several buses to Stoke on Trent on her own. When we got close to the bus stop she asked me to give her her luggage. 

"Are you sure you know your way from here?"

"Yes, I will take bus 205". 

I couldn’t see 205 written anywhere on the stop. But I was running against time to catch my train. So I gave her her hand luggage and said good luck. 

On my way back I prayed to God to please help her. 

When I got into my train I worried if I shouldn’t have done more for her. She clearly was going to struggle. How would she cross the road? How would she get to Stoke on Trent on her own? She didn’t even have a map with her. I wonder if anyone would even help a black old hunched up woman. They might think she was a beggar. Did I just miss an opportunity to attend to angels as the Bible says?

Should I get off the train which was to leave in 1 min to go find her and make sure she gets on the Euston train going directly to Stoke on Trent? I will have to forfeit the appointment I’m running to meet in King’s Lynn. I might have to buy another train ticket. Will I find her there? Am I even sure it is Stoke on Trent she meant? Is there another place called Stoke? I googled to check and couldn’t find.

While pondering these, the train began to move. Opportunity lost.

I could only pray God sends her help.



Radiant ~ November 2019
Photo credit - IG @bencantini

Sunday, 3 November 2019

Spinach sauce

Ingredients




Ingredients

Spinach - 4 Tesco packs
Carrot - 2 medium-sized
Mixed bell peppers - red, yellow, green 
Scotch bonnet pepper - 2 or 3
Shrimps - 1 pack
Crayfish - 2 table spoons
Onions - 3 medium sized
Vegetable oil - 1 cup
Garlic - 3 cloves
Thyme
Knorr cubes
Knorr Aromat all purpose seasoning
Salt

Cut and wash your spinach and set aside in a drain to drain water. Spinach brings out a lot of water, so you might even want to perboil it and drain the water first.

1. Put some vegetable oil in the pan. 
2. Add a little salt.
3. Fry onions, scotch bonnet pepper, garlic cloves.
4. Add chopped carrots and fry till moderately tender.
5. Add raw shrimps and fry till pink.
6. Add diced mixed bell peppers.
7. Add spices - thyme/rosemary leaf, knorr cubes, all purpose seasoning, salt to taste.
8. Add spinach in stages and stir. It tends to shrink so don’t worry about the size of your pan/pot.
9. Taste for salt and adjust.
10. Sprinkle ground crayfish (optional).

Meal is ready. The above quantities can serve 7 adults.

Serve with boiled rice, yam or potatoes.



Radiant ~ November 2019
Do you like this recipe, I’d love to hear from you. Please leave comments below.



Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Boots On The School Ground


We woke up to terrifying gunshots. I made a beeline for the floor as my mum had once told me, "when there is a shooting, lie flat on the ground". My heart was racing. I could hear it beat. We weren't sure how close they were. What the hell is happening? The shelling went on for ages. Fear and dread were palpable. We quietly climbed back to our beds after some hours of silence and slept half awake till dawn. Everyone hurried out of dorm in the morning to find out what had happened. 

Armed robbers had visited the staff quarters. A teacher was shot in the eye. The military had exchanged fire with them, hence the numerous shots we heard over our heads. We were relieved but sad about our teacher. He had been taken to the hospital and we prayed desperately for him. What if the robbers had entered the dormitory? It wouldn't be the first time strangers appeared in our yard. Usually, it would be peepers who preferred real pornographic scenes to fiction. 

That would not be the last time we had boots on the school ground. Well, the next time it was not to defend us. We were being chased out of school with our half packed bags at mid day. The SS3 boys had led a riot the night before to Princi's house over their colleague who was suspended "unjustly". On their way back, probably having not gotten the audience they had hoped for, some decided to make a visual statement by vandalizing the offices in the administration block. That was not the original plan. 

The following day, we girls woke up as usual, went to school that morning and quickly found out this was not an ordinary day. First strange thing was that the dining hall was full of girls. Where were all the boys? Apparently, the riot was the beginning of the protest. The SS3 boys had called a lockdown. No male was allowed to leave the hostel. Somehow they still managed to smuggle food into their dorms. We went to our classes and saw the aftermath of the previous night's rampage. Even teachers did not have balls to come to class. One of my class girls decided to be heroic. She wrote on our board, "We are in solidarity with the boys". Little did we know that that simple act of recklessness would list us among the ringleaders of the riot with consequences.

At 12 o'clock an emergency school assembly was called. All students were expected to report to the multi-purpose hall. It was brief. SS3 students including me were handed out suspension letters bearing our names and given thirty minutes to leave the school premises indefinitely. We thought we were still dreaming until we saw military trucks (or so I thought. I later heard they were the mobile Police) in school. Wow! This Princi meant business. Panic mode activated. People were running helter-skelter. We packed the few things we could. Those with illegal phones started making calls. A few of us contacted our school guardian who helped us inform our parents and took us to the car park where five of us got into a bus going East. We split ourselves in two when we got to Enugu and slept in our friends' houses as it was already 10pm. I got home in Onitsha the following day.

We were suspended for two weeks and the school authority demanded a parent to accompany the child on return and for us to sign a memorandum of understanding. I was among the ringleaders given extra two weeks, just for being present in a class of girls deemed in solidarity with the boys' actions. I heard some blokes did not go home and that on the return day, they hired some local men who pretended to be their dads. 

For more of my high school posts, click here. Were you ever suspended, caught in the middle of a riot or wrongfully punished in secondary school? What were the circumstances? Please share your comments below.


Radiant ~ July 2019


Glossary:
Princi - Principal
SS3 - Senior secondary level 3

Thursday, 18 July 2019

Mandela Day 2019


Different words come to mind when you hear the name Nelson Mandela - Hero, Icon, Courage, Leader, Sacrifice, Freedom, Prison, President, South Africa and many more.
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Around the world, monuments, stadiums, bridges, roads, parks and gardens, restaurants and streets have been built or named after him. At least 8 movies that depict his story have been filmed. My best scene is always when he came out of prison holding his wife, Winnie, on the left, his right fist pumped in the air, with numerous freedom believers following behind. If you've not seen any, I'll recommend Winne Mandela or Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom.

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There are many positive lessons from the life of Madiba, as he is also called. He had his regrets as well. However, his life has been nothing short of inspirational and this is reflected in his words too. Here are my top 10+1 Nelson Mandela quotes:
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1. "There is no passion to be found playing small - in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living."
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2. "We must use time wisely and forever realise that the time is always ripe to do right."
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3. "I never lose. I either learn or win."
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4. "As we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give others the permission to do the same."
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5. "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."
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6. "Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again."
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7. "No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite."
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8. "May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears."
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9. "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frighten us."
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10. "Poverty is not an accident. Like slavery and apartheid, it is man-made and can be removed by the actions of human beings."
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11. "It always seems impossible until it's done."
Which is your favourite?
Picture: Mandela's statue@Parliament Square, London.

Thursday, 27 June 2019

How To Make Nigerian Egusi Soup (Fried method)



Hi guys. So this is the most common soup among Nigerian soups, eaten by most tribes in Nigeria. There are several ways to cook Egusi soup. Here is my most favourite method.

Ingredients
2 cups of ground Egusi
Meat
1/2 cup Palm oil
2 table spoons ground crayfish
2 Red bell peppers (optional, but makes a huge difference)
3 or 4 Red scotch bonnet peppers
Meat seasoning (mixed spice, garlic, ginger, etc)
Salt
Spinach or other leafy vegetable
1 ball of Onions

10 Steps to make Nigerian Egusi Soup

1. Boil your meat with your favourite meat seasoning and set aside. Mine would include Knorr seasoning cubes, garlic, ginger, ground mixed spice and salt. I used 500g of boneless beef in this recipe. You can use more or different types of meat like tripe and cow skin.

2. Add some palm oil to a dry non-stick pot. Allow to heat up slightly, then add some chopped onions. I like to season my onions. So I add some ginger, garlic and salt and stir. I also like to add crushed chilli.



3. Add your chopped peppers (red bell and scotch bonnet) and fry.



4. Add ground Egusi and fry lightly on medium-low heat for 5mins. Use a non-stick pot for this.

5. Pour in your meat stock and some water. Add extra seasoning if necessary. I add a little bit of pepper soup spice.



6. Add some ground crayfish (optional)

7. Cover and allow to simmer on low heat for 20 to 30 mins.

8. Add your meat and boil for another 5 mins.

9. Add salt to taste.

10. Add your chopped spinach and stir. Cook for one or two minutes and the food is done.



You can serve Egusi with molded Gari, Semolina or Wheat meal.


This is my measuring cup by the way.


Please leave a comment below telling me how you make yours.

Radiant ~ June 2019