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





Wednesday, 29 May 2019

How To Stop Craving Your Man's Attention


Hey girl! Do you feel like you miss your man too much? You think you give him a lot of attention but it is not reciprocated. You want to spend more time with him but he is too busy at his work. You have no doubt that he really loves you, but you wish he could be more expressive and spend more time with you. This may be more evident during the early stages of your relationship. 

You may ask. Is it bad to crave my partner's attention? According to Collins dictionary, to crave is to desire intensely, to need greatly or urgently, or to beg or plead for. Sounds to me like wanting something badly. So yes. It can be unhealthy especially when you are not getting it. It can leave you frustrated and could take a toll on your self esteem. 

So here are some tips on how to stop craving his attention.

How to stop craving his attention

1. Fill up your time
To be honest with you, boredom may be the reason you miss him too much. You may not have much to do so you expect him to help you spend your free time. After ruling out sheer lack of respect for you as a reason for his inattention, try becoming more occupied. Get a job, learn a new skill, go to school, find a new hobby, read a book, hit the gym, just find something to occupy your mind. Not only will it help you displace the constant intrusive thoughts of him, but this will help you gain back your self esteem in case you've lost it and may even get his attention as you are more attractive when you have a value to add.

2. Give him some space
People become more edgy when they are on each other's faces. An old adage says distance makes the heart fonder and this is sometimes true. Consider if you are all over him and he just wants some breathing space. Maybe he wants to hang out with his friends, concentrate at work to meet his targets, or he is in a tough place which you haven't noticed because you've been too focused on yourself. Psychologists say men aren't very good at talking about their problems. They prefer to brood through solutions in a private space. You may need to give him that space.

3. Spend time with other friends
Visit your friends, group travel, go to the cinema, go shopping with friends. Your life does not have to revolve around him. However, don't do this as a payback or to try to retaliate because you will feel worse if he does not as much as notice your effort. The purpose of this is to help you find happiness apart from him. It is easy to ignore friends once you are in an exclusive relationship, but friends have an important place in our lives. 

4. Go on a spiritual retreat
Sometimes the void you feel is a symptom of spiritual hunger. Check your relationship with God. You may need to go on a spiritual retreat. 

The cure for excessively craving your man's attention may not always be spending more time with him. Trying to get him to spend more time with you may even hurt you more because he may not understand what you're stressing about. To him, he is giving you just enough attention. If you find yourself in that situation, then try some of the above tips and see your man running back to you.

Are you in a relationship? How do you cope with your partner's apparent negligence? Let's talk in the comment section.

Radiant ~ May 2019

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Nigerian Doctor: 8 things you should know before coming to practise inthe UK


In my previous post, we talked about certain benefits a Nigerian Doctor could gain from coming to practise in the UK. As doctors continue to leave Nigeria in droves, it is important they get some information lest while building castles in the air, they're shocked by the reality of life in the UK. Dear Nigerian doctor and any intending migrant, here are some facts you must know before coming to the UK.

1.    The salary advertised, though quite attractive is your gross salary. Meaning, it includes your portion and the Government's portion. There will be tax, national insurance and pension deductions before you get your net pay. Also, NHS usually advertises a range. You are more likely to be started on the lowest scale except you have proof of extra relevant qualification and/or experience which you must bargain for.

2.    You cannot run away from tax. The higher you earn, the more income tax you pay. Apart from tax on your income, you also pay tax when you buy a car, buy or rent a house. Don’t worry, you will see what your tax is being used for e.g National Health Service, unemployment benefits, disability benefits, housing benefits, mental health services, drug and alcohol services, etc... just that you may not jump for joy. Take it that you are contributing to a better society.

3.    Nothing is free. You don't enjoy 24-hour power supply at no cost. You pay for electricity, gas, WiFi, phone, TV, water, parking, etc. When you are invited to hang out with your friends, please go with your wallet. This is not Nigeria where the host buys all the drinks. Here you take care of yourself. 

4.    It is a serious offence to drive without a driver's licence or beyond the specified speed limit even if you're the Lewis Hamilton of Nigeria. You will need to unlearn some of your driving habits (e.g the unnecessary use of car horn) and take on new ones to be considered fit for the road. You could drive with an international driving licence but it has a one year validity. In the end, you still have to go through a driving school, get used to the road rules and right-hand drive and pass your driving tests.

5.   Car insurance is compulsory. You must have at least a third party cover. Your car insurance quote could be costlier than the price of your car. You cannot drive someone's car unless you are listed as an additional driver in their insurance policy. Similarly, if someone else were to drive your car, they must be covered by your insurance.

6.    You thought Nigeria’s weather was too hot? Wait till you detest the opposite so much you start longing for home. It is here you understand what it means to say that the basic needs of man are food, shelter and clothing. I never understood how clothing made the list until I came to the UK.

7.    Be prepared for a culture shock. You don’t address a man and a woman automatically as man and wife, it’s them and their partner as it is very common for couples to dwell together unmarried. Do not be surprised to see two adults kissing in public. There may be lifestyles that are in conflict with your beliefs - the kind you didn’t have to deal with back home. 

8.    Complaints and litigation are more common here than in Nigeria. Make sure you have a professional indemnity cover wherever you practise. Protect yourself. Use chaperones for private examinations. Document properly. You will be taught all about empathy and interpersonal skills during your PLAB 2 course. Learn it and stick with it. 


Here are some myths to debunk from your brain:

WiFi is not free. It is just widely accessible. Having access to WiFi might not make you smarter. You are more likely to spend it on Netflix. Having 24-hr power might not make you more productive. After the first day, you get used to it.


So while you might be making plans to leave your country, think about what you are going to encounter at the other end of the river.

Are you in the UK, please share in the comment section, your greatest shock or what you wish you had known before coming.



Radiant ~ April 2019

Sunday, 31 March 2019

Happy Mothers’ Day



She is my mother
My one and only
Hands that held my bum
Lips that licked my face
Breasts that filled my gut

Crying to God
‘Bout my future
Leading the way
Lest I mistep 

Sacrifice 
Tolerance
Mothers’ heart

Happy 
Mothers’


Day

Radiant ~ March 2019

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Nigerian Doctor: Why you might want to practise in the United Kingdom


The exodus of Nigerian doctors to the UK and other developed countries has become a matter of international concern. Last year, it was estimated that an average of 12 doctors emigrate from Nigeria to practise in the UK every week. Worse still, according to the General Medical Council, UK, 750 doctors in Nigeria enrolled to take the PLAB 1 exam which held on 14th March 2019. PLAB is the 2-part entrance exam into UK medical practice for international medical graduates. Among the many reasons doctors leave for the UK, here are a few statements I've heard from doctors.

I needed to feed my family.
Who no like better tin? (here for the goodies)
I wasn't getting into Residency.
Everything is wrong with Nigeria.

People have different motivations in life. Some want to be rich. Some want to be influential. Some are driven by passion. Some want to serve. Some pursue happiness. Some are driven by a sense of purpose or calling. Still some have no drive - they will take whatever life offers. From the statements above you can guess each person’s motivation.

While I am not advocating for doctors to leave Nigeria, here are some arguable benefits to consider the option of practising medicine in the UK.

1.  Better practice

Here in UK, you get to practise Medicine as you read in your textbook. Besides there are national guidelines for every condition. The practice of Medicine is easier here in the UK because of technology. Money is not a hindering factor as most people have access to universal healthcare by the tax-funded national health service. If someone needs a CT scan, you go ahead and organise one without checking their pocket. We do proper investigations to identify the root cause of ailments. Also regular research and audits mean that recommendations get updated based on best evidence. Better practice leads to better results which leads to more fulfilment and less frustration.

2.  Proper training

In Nigeria, a post-NYSC (one year compulsory national youth service) doctor working in a private hospital is expected to function as a general practitioner (GP) without any further training aside from medical school and housemanship or probably, his trial and error exploits during NYSC. Here a GP  trainee goes through at least 3 years of post-housemanship training rotating between hospital departments and the health centre, being supervised by seniors, taking 2 exams before emerging as a GP. Roles are clearly spelt out. Even those not in training posts know their limits. You are not allowed to attempt procedures you have not been properly trained for. And you are never alone. There is always a more experienced person to call on. If not physically available, their advice can be sought over the phone. Proper training leads to more confidence and less guilty conscience from causing harm. 

3. Comfortable remuneration

This is one of the major reasons many Nigerian doctors leave. We were promised a comfortable lifestyle when signing up for this career or so society made us assume. However, reality shows that there are many struggling doctors living in Nigeria who work very long tedious hours to keep body and soul together.  While the UK is not the most lucrative country for doctors to work in, it still affords you a fairly comfortable lifestyle. There is a high demand for doctors in the UK. I have not seen anyone who failed to find a job after passing PLAB.

Let’s talk about my experience

When I was in Nigeria I hated Medicine. I felt we inflicted more pain on people in attempt to alleviate suffering. The practice was crude. We lacked quality control. To get blood for 5 tests, I would poke my patient at least twice. Many illnesses were treated blindly. No wonder many diagnoses came down to malaria or typhoid, the latter mainly patient-driven. Patients were either too poor to afford treatment or/and unwilling to pay for them. Finance for healthcare was and still is mainly out of patients' pockets. Even health insurance, for the few that had it, was a scam. I was always haunted by fear from my ignorance and lack of confidence. I applied for 4 training jobs, took their exams but never got listed. There was not much support or training opportunity in the private sector where I worked. I wasn’t complaining about my pay. It was just enough for a single girl's basic needs. I didn't need a car as I lived in the hospital. But I was frustrated as a doctor because I wasn't improving my knowledge or skills.

Frustrated, I sought a way out of clinical medicine. By God's grace, I got a full tuition scholarship into a Masters programme in Public Health at the University of Nottingham in 2016. During my study I applied for Public Health jobs in Nigeria but got no response from any. I saw an opportunity here to face my fears and build my confidence as a doctor while reforming my thinking about clinical medicine. So I jumped on it.

For me, my biggest motivation to practise in the UK was the opportunity to learn the proper way of doing things and build my confidence as a doctor. How can we improve the system when we are so used to improvising that at times we forget things could be done better. Also, I considered that I would stand a greater chance in future of making a change in the Nigerian Public Health sector having gone through both systems. Since I started working in the UK, I have become much more confident because I have more knowledge and experience. I love what I do now which is training to be a general practitioner.

I am by no means calling on Nigerian doctors to evacuate Nigeria. I am only pointing out some reasons you might want to consider when weighing your pros. At the end of the day it boils down to what drives you as an individual. It is unfortunate that Nigeria is haemorrhaging on doctors at a critical rate. But I cannot blame people seeking more knowledge and experience of Medicine. The questions needing answers are: What are the people in power doing to improve the health service, retain doctors and attract those abroad? And how many overseas Nigerian doctors are willing to return to make impact after gaining superior knowledge and skills from developed countries?  

Have you left or are considering leaving Nigeria or have rejected the idea, please tell us your experience in the comment section below. Thanks.

Radiant ~ March 2019