Tag Archives: family

Christians Need Therapy Too!

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A few months back, I shared my experience about visiting a counselor and how it almost didn’t happen. Two reasons why it almost didn’t happen: my cultural background (Cameroonian/African) and my faith. In that post, I shared why many Africans look down on counseling/therapy because our culture doesn’t support sharing your worries or concerns with ‘strangers’ and so do Christians.

Christians believe that anyone who calls themselves Christ’s-follower, should not have need for a counselor or therapist because Christ is all you need. As a Christian, I agree that Christ is all you need to get you through life in good and bad times. But there are times when the soul is so bogged down that it needs a place of release.

I know some would argue that there are christian counseling centers, which I agree but how well are they being used. The idea of counseling is still somewhat new in Christian circles and although these counseling services exist, how many churches actually encourage their members to use them? Some churches would actually make the individual feel guilt about their intent to use counseling because to them, you should speak to one person only who is Jesus.

The teaching of seeking God’s face and going to him in prayers no matter the season in your life is a very good one that all Christians should practice. But there are times when you want to speak to another person who would provide some kind of feedback and  that’s where counseling comes in. James 5:6 says “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working”.

For those who are not catholic and do not believe in confessing to a priest, what then is the best alternative of speaking to someone with a better understanding and even a calling to guide you as you navigate Christianity? I would think that would be counselor, but in this case let’s make it a Christian counselor. I think maybe that’s one of the meanings of that verse, to seek out a Christian counselor who would guide you.

I think at some points in our lives, we all find the need to have that one person we can confide in; that one person who would listen to us unequivocally, provide sound advice or feedback, and wouldn’t judge us for the things we share with them and who can assure discreetness with the information shared. Some are fortunate to have friends who play this role and some not very much. Sometimes, even with the presence of friends who we can trust, you just need a stranger who is completely neutral.

Counseling does not take away from your time with God or does not negate your relationship with Him. If anything, it should strengthen it because after speaking with a counselor, they often times advice, motivate and encourage the ‘counselee’. In the case that it is a Christian counselor, they seek out Christian methods to help you deal with that situation. It might just be recommending biblical passages that were unknown to you, or a biblical based group where you get support from each other or better still, provide ways to better live as a Christian with regards to that particular concern.

Our families and friends each have roles they play in our lives; some are fortunate to have those they can turn to when seeking for counsel and guidance, others not so much. For those ones I suggest trying counseling or therapy. Seek out a Christian-focused counselor or therapist who is credible and who has testimonials. Because sometimes, we need physical interaction, communication, reassurance that no matter the turmoil that is brewing within, God would calm it all down. So don’t be afraid to see one or seek one and feel no guilt for doing so. The important thing is that you get the help you need before it is too late.  Sometimes, it takes a counselor to reassure us of that TRUTH.

 

How Soon Is Too Soon When Grieving?

How soon is too soon when it comes to moving on after a loss? Is there a designated time frame for grief? what is considered “moving on too soon?” How long is the grieving period and who determines it? Do you ever stop grieving?

So it’s been a little over a month since God called my older sister but I couldn’t make it home (home is in Cameroon – Central Africa) for the burial because of a few reasons, some which I could have controlled and others not so much. I tried to be a part of the event as much as I could and my parents did their best etching the ceremony with every detail for me to grasps.

Everyone who attended agreed as I had mentioned in my tribute post for her that she was indeed an angel. The sign for them was the fact that, rain which had been pouring nonstop for a month ceased for three days straight, allowing for a smooth flow of affairs including her return into the soil from which she was made.

A part of me refused to accept her death when I just found out, which is the reason why some of my friends still don’t know I lost my sister. After talking with my parents at length, reminiscing on her beautiful existence albeit troubled, we all agreed that she was finally resting. She had suffered enough and God had decided it was time she rested from the struggle. With that new understanding, we acceded to see it as a celebration of her life instead of a life lost.

Acknowledging this did not negate her absence from us, neither did it mean we didn’t grieve her because the fact remains that she is no longer here with us. So in the days since her passing, I have had to pause in the midst of “happenings” to remind myself that I am grieving.Sometimes I fear that people will think I moved on too quickly or that I don’t look like someone who lost a loved one barely 5 weeks ago.

I had planned a mini-vacation with my best friend before the tragedy struck two weeks prior. We ended up going for the trip anyways at the scheduled time but I couldn’t stop feeling guilty while we were away. My aunt and uncle looked at me askew when I mentioned the trip but I made nothing of it until now. I have been trying to get back to the blog too and have had few topics to write on but It never felt right for me to just come here and continue writing on random topics without addressing the issue.

It seems I put these pressures on myself right? But they are not unfounded given the society we live in now. Too often, people are quick to pass judgements on how people should live their lives including how one should grieve but do not realize that people grieve differently. While some do better constantly reflecting and withdrawing from society after such a loss, others immerse themselves in and get lost in it. It is all about a finding the coping mechanism that works best for you and that something worked for you, doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for someone else.

Until you wear the shoes, you will never know exactly where it pinches most. So before you ask me to come down from my horse as no one has made me the spokesperson for the aggrieved, you should know I was one of the outsiders who criticized people about either their method of grieving or “moving on” too quickly.

Two truths prevail here which are; life continues whether we accept it or not and secondly; in my view, we never really stop grieving. The best way to honor my sister I have found, is to live a better life that she would be proud of and that means carrying on with life. Also, I don’t think I will ever stop missing her because she was a huge part of my life. I will just learn to deal with the void better. Whereas crying was instantaneous when I thought of her; now, pangs of pain, of longing, of sadness rip me inside and it is at such times I have to remind myself that she is resting with God, with her maker and creator.

When next you see a picture of that woman/man on social media smiling or simply living their life after a loss, do not be quick to judge because that might just be their way of dealing with the loss. There is no set period for grieving and there is definitely nothing as moving on too quickly. We never stop grieving either, we get use to it but the void remains.

To all those grieving the loss of a dear loved one, may God console you and yours in only the way that He can and may you find understanding, solace and comfort in His arms, believing that your dearly departed has returned to the Creator. Be blessed.

For My Sister Merline – I Will Always Love You

Dear Big Sister

I was heartbroken when Dad told me you had finally gone to meet our Creator and Maker; that after 33 years of torment, you finally went to rest. I felt hurt and sad but now that I have fully accepted that you are not here anymore, I am relieved, knowing that you will not suffer any further.

I will miss you my dearest Merline,though I was already missing you while you were still here. You were the big sister that I always wanted and somehow didn’t have because your illness stole your mind, your very self from us. We all grew up watching you struggle, suffer through countless seizures having lost your mind. Mom and Dad told us painfully how you became like that from a ghastly motor accident at a very tender age of 6.

You had to learn to walk again, talk, eat and then the seizures started. That wasn’t the bad part of it, what made it worse was that from that day, Mom and Dad lost a daughter and we would never truly know how wonderful a big sister you could be to us because you lost your mind and sense of self in that accident.

I saw Dad and Mom cry countless times, most times after an incident or when you’d occasionally wander away, asking God to restore you. I couldn’t stand the hurt in their eyes and because of that I learned how to pray. I prayed that God would heal you, that the seizures would stop, that you would get your mind again so that Dad and Mom would have their first daughter again and we can finally have our big sister whole.

When that didn’t happen, I changed my prayer and asked God to relieve you of your sufferings because it was getting harder by the day watching you helplessly. We could never fully tell how much pain you were in because you never complained but it was heart-wrenching seeing you like that day-in day-out. More than we knew it, you were strong and resilient, bouncing back after every episode but never fully recovering or healing.

So I figured if you survived all those years, surely God was up to something.So I went back to Him and asked, begged and cried that he restores you wholly again. Instead I got a call of your death.

I had the picture in my head, of the fun we would have when you finally received your healing. The places I would show you, the things we would do, the adventures we would go, I would finally have my big sister again but most importantly, watching you bond with our parents. My dream never came true. I want you to know a few things though:

You would have loved Mom and Dad for sure. They are not perfect but they are the best parents we could have ever asked for and they have loved you every single step of the way. They never gave up on you, always seeking new treatments and solutions to your ailment. In your short life, you saw more doctors than anyone human being should in their lifetime. That is how loving and resilient our parents were towards you. They never gave up and loved you just as much they love us if not more, because you were their special child.

Know that I miss you. I have been missing you since I was born; missing the older sister who should have been if the accident didn’t happen. Know that I am sorry for the times that I wasn’t a good sister; for the times when I didn’t care for you as I should have because I was always away at boarding school, for the times when I was ashamed of you and failed to mention that I had a sick sister at home, for the times when I stole your birthrights and introduced myself as the first while you were still clearly with us, for not loving you as I should have loved you, Merline I am so sorry.

I was initially angry with God for letting the devil win,for letting the devil have access to you and hurt you  the way he did, for abandoning you. Now I know better, though I will never understand why He let the devil have access to you, I know for a fact that the devil did not win. I know that God did not abandon you, He was always there protecting you from harm even in the seizures. I know that God won because you died a very peaceful death,in your sleep.

You might have not lived the life that was meant for you but even in your sickness, you have left us a legacy. A legacy of how to love someone when they don’t know they are being loved, how to care for someone who is unaware, how to be strong and look to God in the midst of adversity. Apart from being born in a world with original sin, you were blameless, spotless and if there is anyone close in perfection, it would be you. We have lost you on earth but we have gained an angel in heaven. I know you are next to Jesus in God’s kingdom, watching even as I type this.

This is not the healing I was praying God for recently but I know it is not about me but you, and because of that I know you finally got your healing, you are finally free. Fly Angel. We would never forget you Merline, you will live in our hearts forever.Together with God and Jesus, I know you will be watching over us and guiding us. We will do our best to live our lives in your honor.

Indeed, God knows best.

No,We Are Not Pregnant.

Last week I wrote a poetic article of gratitude for my mom in honor of her 50th birthday. I was privileged to have the article featured on a popular African blog and had a few people comment on it. Everyone expressed their well wishes for my mom but there was one comment though that got me thinking.

The commenter wished my mom well and said she hopes the upcoming generation can raise children while multitasking as “our” moms did. In this context, “our” moms refers to African mothers/women. For those who are not Africans and might not know about the culture, an African mother is basically EVERYTHING in the home. (This is true for 95% of African households.)

For many of those households, the woman’s place is believed to be in the kitchen but in examining it, it stretches far beyond the kitchen. The African woman/mother is considered the primary domestic; tending the laundry, doing all the household chores, she is expected to bear children and raise them properly while the man is regarded as the king of the household because he goes out to work, he brings home the bacon.  There would have been nothing wrong with this scenario if many African mothers willingly chose to be home-makers, but that is rarely the case in most homes. (topic for another day, I digress).

The comment struck a nerve because it left me wondering if many women in my generation can be an all encompassing woman like “our” mothers; willing to be the brunt of the household and if they honestly “want” kids. Don’t get me wrong, personally heaven knows I love babies and kids. I was a nanny/babysitter for about five years, I grew up in a big family and I “practically” raised our last born. I am surrounded by nephews and nieces every where in my family and I have been on Godmother duties for about 3 years now. So you see, I am constantly being hedged by kids.

I am positive there are women who feel a certain nag in the gut about whether or not they want to procreate kids themselves either biologically or otherwise. From where I stand, the world we live in today is becoming very peculiar and the results from the lens with which I am observing that world looks very gloomy. If many of these women are looking at the world the way I am, I think a lot will be leaning towards the nay side of that argument and here is why:

  • Will Your Partner Be Committed?

A few days back, there was an article published on this same popular site which struck a nerve with a lot of people and everyone was agreeing with it, yours truly inclusive (this post is partly inspired by the article). The article discussed the nature of the African man, his pride and ill manners and the little or almost non-existent help they offer to their partners in marriage because of the way they were raised.I am very open when it comes to dating, not limited to my African brothers alone( I am generous like that…lol) which I am sure many women are. But just in case you end up the African brother (or any man) whose thinking faculties still reside in 1980, do you really want to start a family with him? With a man who believes it is a woman’s duty to do everything in the house and raise the kids properly without any form of contribution from him except financially? A man who would be afraid to express his emotions before his kids because according to him, it makes him look weak? A man who thinks bringing home the bacon is all there is to keeping a happy home? A man who would not change diapers because he grew up knowing that it was a woman’s duty and not his? God forbids that any one ends up with such a man but if that were to be the case, I am sure you would be leaning towards the negative side of the equation about not having kids.

  • Peer Pressure

We all know there is no handbook for raising kids out there and especially none on how to be the “best” parent or ” perfect” parent to your kids. (Trust me, those books out there claiming to be expert advice are only guess work). Every parent who made the conscious decision to have kids do the very best that they can to raise their children in the very best way that they know how to. Being a nanny for that many years, I know first hand that you only have that much time to shape your child’s thought process and empower them. It is those early years between the ages of 0-10. After that, you have to rely on prayers because your child would be fair game to whoever has a more convincing voice when they are not around you. You want to teach your child independence and protect them at the same time, so it becomes a bit of dilemma. I am sure if many parents had their way, they would follow their kids every step of their life and choose their friends. But we live in a realistic world where that is just not possible. If you are unfortunate to have a child who can be easily swayed, can you imagine what influence their peers would have on them? It can go either way, bad influence or good influence.? So there is that fear sometimes because God – willing, we would all do our darnedest to raise the best kids, but what about those times when they are not around us, when we cannot control what they consume emotionally, physically, and spiritually? God help us because  this is a legitimate concern.

  • Does he/she really want kids.

No one and I dare say no one African person (except me of course..lol)  wants to believe that not everyone is cut out for having kids and that not everyone is fit to have them or that not everyone wants them in the first place. I know this is not just relegated to Africans as I stumbled on an article some months back on Yahoo about a Caucasian lady who tied her tubes at 26 because she was convinced she never wanted to have anything to do with children. The amount of backlash she received on that article was enough to send her reeling into a hole never to peep out again. The only comment I might have agreed with on the article was someone who said she should have given herself until her 30s to do that because as humans, we change our minds all the time. I don’t even want to imagine what people would have said if that same article found it’s way on this popular African site.( My African people would have helped her parents curse the day she was born albeit unsolicited). We have already established that there is no guide to parenting set in stone, but I am sure most of us have witnessed some parents in action and shook our heads in denial of those actions. There are those whom after careful observation, you can deduce that they unfit to parent? So why would all these people go ahead to have kids if they were honest with themselves in the first place? In most cases, the woman falls culprit the most and the men get off pretty easy. No one questions the man when he gets a vasectomy young or when he decides to not be a father, but it is another ball game when it comes to women. Also, the man can just become a deadbeat dad and whilst that is not acceptable, he will get away with it. But it is hard for a woman with conscience to walk away like that, which leaves us with many disgruntled parents who had kids not because they wanted them but because they were trying to conform to society.

  • The World Is No Longer Safe

If you are looking to be depressed, you need not look any further than the nightly news and the local news is the worst offender. Almost every minute there is something atrocious happening somewhere in the world and it is scary. I am sure many people who consider starting a family think about these things. If you are not in the 1% of the world, then you are living every day looking over your shoulder because there is no telling where the next ill is coming from. The natural disasters have multiplied by a zillion with earthquakes, mudslides and tornadoes threatening from all angles. Air travel which used to be considered one of the safest is slowly becoming one of the worst; who would have thought that sending your kid to be an exchange student would result in them becoming a casualty on a plane ? Just staying in your house these days doesn’t seem to be a good preventive mechanism anymore as stray bullets are constantly flying in the air. There is a saying that ” it takes a village to raise a child”, well, these days, it takes the same village to kill a child. So many people taking this into consideration will decide to just ride solo.

  • Freedom

Whether you agree with me or not, having children takes away some level of your freedom which many people are not just ready to give up yet. Even for those who can afford to employ nannies, it is not easy to just get up and go. You can’t do that anymore,not with children who depend on you. Your every move and activity revolves around those children. Even when you are able to have the night off and go on date with hubby, your mind is never off your children.I know because I was a nanny for those many years. Now imagine what it must be like for those who can’t afford a nanny/babysitter. There are people who want to earn just enough to look after themselves and having kids means working extra hard, double hours and forgoing so many things like clubbing and all which they are not ready to. For these people, having kids is not part of the equation.

These are just some of the reasons why some people may decide to not have kids and it is entirely their prerogative. I don’t think anyone should judge them for it or hold them in contempt because those who have kids also made a decision to have them. Everyone is free to live their life in the way that they see fit and I don’t think they owe anyone any explanations for those decisions or be looked down on because of them. Life is full of choices and not having kids is one of them. We have just one life to live and we deserve to live the very best version of it even if that version doesn’t include kids. Live and let live.

I’d like to know, what is your take? Hope you have a nice start to the weekend.

 

To My Mom – On Her 50th Birthday

Happy Birthday to my adviser, my mentor, my counselor, my inspiration,my confidant, my anchor, my partner in crime, my love, my best friend and MY MOTHER. I cannot believe that my sweet young mother is 50 today. The big 5-0.

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Every one  always says their mom is the best mother in the world but my mom, she takes the crown of the best mother in the world ever. I don’t remember a moment in my life when my mom wasn’t there for either one of us.

She was only 19 when she met and married my dad and they both started a family. When her dream of going back to school to get her degree didn’t pan out, she graciously became a stay-at-home. It wasn’t that she didn’t have something to fallback on (she had learned every trade and handwork she could) but she decided she was going to spend her day and time caring for her children.

My mom was always there for us because my dad was mostly away at work (he was in the military and came as often as his job allowed him to) and because of that, she was both our mom and our dad. My mom understood early on (unlike most African parents of her generation) that spanking/beating wasn’t what got kids to listen and obey.

So she developed this system with us where she gave a warning the first three times we committed an offense before resulting to stringent discipline like spanking. For my sisters and I, we always adjusted by the second warning but not my brother, he got the most spanking from my mother.

We sometimes described her as having “split-personality” because one minute, she is laughing with us, telling us funny stories from her childhood or being our friend and the next, she is this stern, strict and no nonsense disciplinarian.

When I was first going away to dormitory school, my mom sat me down and tearfully pleaded that I do nothing else but study.She recanted how much she loved school and longed to finish her own education but didn’t have the opportunity and admitted how proud she was that I excelled in school, stating that she was fulfilling her educational goals through me. We both cried so hard when she dropped me off at school and she had to be escorted out of the “girls’ camp” because she wasn’t ready to leave me just yet.

She lovingly explained to me one Sunday morning when I wouldn’t stop panicking about how I had now transitioned from a “girl” to a “woman”. It was a beautiful sunny day and we both sat at the back of the house and she gave me the “lecture” about sex (very uncommon for African parents). I could tell even then, she felt very awkward discussing the topic with me but kept going.It was from mom I first knew that the fear of boys, was the beginning of wisdom (basically, a boy grazing me meant I was pregnant…lol).

She is our biggest critic and yet our biggest cheerer. She would always correct us when we faltered, always doing so lovingly; pushing us to be our best and assuring us at the same time that we were better than we gave ourselves credit for. We gave her many nicknames relating to different things and one of them was “report card”. It was an unwritten rule in our house that if you didn’t want dad knowing your business, then mom was better off not knowing either because once she knew, our dad automatically knew too.

My mom is down-to-earth, easy-going and the life of the party every where she goes. Just as we have nicknames for her at home, so do her friends.(Some call her “amstel”, don’t ask me how they came about the moniker)  She has an amazing sense of humor (I often wonder why I didn’t inherit that side of her) and incredulous one liners;she enters any room and a party ensues. My mom is so friendly that we sometimes get “jealous” of her friendship with our friends. Some fondly call her “Ma Caro”

My mom is always the first person I run to when something exciting happens to me and when things are not going well. She was reluctant to discuss my love-life when I first started dating (again, very typical of African parents) but gradually she came around and wanted to know every detail (I know, TMI to be discussing with my mom) and I obliged. Sometimes, she would offer tips “about how to treat a man”.

Everyone says I am a carbon-copy of my dad but my mom says I am totally and completely her in character. She tells me to tone down my aggressiveness towards my wants and dreams sometimes because as she says “I am going to drive men away”. She never fails to tell me how proud she is of me even when I don’t feel good about myself and never misses an opportunity to tell me she loves me.

She would fast for days and go on retreats praying for us and every time we talk on the phone, she always ends the conversation with prayers in the form of blessings. She never missed any opportunity to introduce us to her friends who mostly didn’t believe her, stating she was too young to have kids as grown as us; to which she would just laugh it off saying “if only the world had let my Merline be Merline”.

Merline is my older sister, the first born who as my mom tells us had an accident on the same day I was born. She became mentally challenged and epileptic following the accident. Many of my mom’s friends were always shocked when they came home and found she had a disabled daughter at home because she was always jovial, like everything was alright in her world.

We have watched her provide unwavering care and unconditional love to my sister and together with my dad, they have never stopped seeking help for her.

I haven’t seen my family in 7 years and I miss them all so much, but of all the things I miss, what I miss most is mom’s food. Anyone who has ever tasted my mom’s food will testify that she is “Da best cook”. My sister calls her “Master” because that is what she is, a master at her craft and once someone taste her food, they keep coming back for more.

It is hard even for me to grasp that my mom, my “sweet little mother” as I refer to her sometimes is turning 50, that she has been on this earth for half-a-century already. I called her this morning to wish her happy birthday and we spoke for over an hour and when I asked her what her wish was for her 50th, she said for God to bless her children that they live their full potential and for God to grant both her and my dad long life so they live to see our success.

My mom is a special woman, she is the pillar on which our family rests on and the glue that has kept and continues keeping us together. She is the woman behind the successful man my father is, she is the one we run to for support and protection when dad is mad at us, she is the first one to yell at us when we are wrong and the first one always encouraging and pushing us to be better.

I know that she lives her dreams vicariously through me and I am honored to be the medium that fulfills those dreams. She is not just my mother, she is my inspiration, my motivation, the reason I strive to be better and literally the reason why I am here. She chose to give me and my siblings life and even if for no other reason, we are indeed grateful and thankful.

I am proud to call you my Mother and on this day, I wish you a mighty Happy Birthday and pray that your wishes do come true. I love you mom and Happy 50th birthday.

A Star Has Fallen

“It is not the length of life, but the depth of life” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
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I sat still, shock electrifying my whole body and hairs rising on my skin as I tried to process the news my mom had just told me. I should have suspected as I did at other times that a call from my mom in the middle of the week was no good. The tone of her voice and her unusual questions gave her away but I would have never guessed what she was about to tell me. How could Elvis Mbene be dead? He was only 33 years old with a brand new wife. So how could he be dead?
As I sat there frozen, trying to process the horrifying information; memories began flooding me all at once and I started to reminisce on his beautiful soul.
Anyone who knew Elvis would attest to his charm, his ability to warm everyone’s heart with his contagious smile, his kind nature and the dexterity with which he pulled a crowd. Elvis was a special being; determined at a young age to charter his own course in life, leaving impressions on multitudes everywhere he went.
I met Elvis when I was 11 shortly after we relocated to Limbe and became neighbors. Through our parents’ friendship, we became acquaintances which quickly translated to attraction towards each other. I remember when I got my first kiss very vividly because it was the Christmas of 2001 and it was from Elvis. It was also the first and last time I got the beating of my life from my dad because he saw him kissing me. I had never regretted that day though, at least not the kiss and I remember it now like it was just last week. Over the years, the “crush” and “attraction” towards each other gradually turned to mutual admiration.
Elvis wasn’t just the son to Chief and Mrs Mbene, he was a son to every parent in Alpha club. He wasn’t just the brother to his sisters but a brother to many in Alpha club and a friend to all. It is very easy to see how and why Elvis was so likeable. He was the first person in our neighborhood who made something out his life. He had joined the Cameroon army as a sub-lieutenant after graduating from military school young. He was the envy of some but an inspiration to many and kids were aplenty who looked up to him for mentorship and friends abounded from every corner.
Gradually he climbed the ranks through dedication to his work. The army uniform never looked so good on anyone before and he wore it with so much charisma. As beloved as he was, so he was revered. His presence commanded a room but his personality, his smile shown through and drew people in. Every one, old and young, family and friends. He was “notre Capitaine”.
Dying at 33, some may say he lived a short life but everyone who knew him would agree that Elvis lived his purpose on earth. He loved his country so much he did all he could to serve it in the army. A look through his work archive shows a man who had so much tenacity, courage, determination and love for his job. The very thing he loved doing, ironically is the very thing that claimed him unexpectedly.
Elvis had just been recently deployed to Northern Cameroon to assist the fight against the terrorist insurgent group known as Boko Haram. His vehicle was on tour of the area when it ran over a bomb, believed to have been planted by the sect, killing him and the driver, another officer too instantly.  http://news.yahoo.com/two-cameroon-soldiers-killed-suspected-boko-haram-bomb-141758514.html

Boko Haram has always been real to me. I stood with Nigeria and the rest of the world when the Chibok girls were taken and still pray for their safe return. I mistakenly watched a video of them slaying a human like it was goat they were slaughtering for soup and my mind has never been able to unsee that horror again. Almost every week, I hear of a new video released by their leader threatening the peace of their targets. What might have started as a cruel joke has gradually spun out of control into the beast now known as Boko Haram. Boko Haram has always been real, I have never doubted their existence or taken lightly the images of pain and suffering inflicted on the masses by them.
They have always been real, but on Tuesday they got realer when they hit so close to home. They got realer when they snatched at a very young age, one of the promising leaders of tomorrow’s Cameroon. They got realer when they took Captain Elvis M Mbene from his parents, sisters, wife, friends, neighborhood, city, province and country. Boko Haram got realer than I could have ever imagined in my wildest dreams.
Boko Haram needs to be stopped before they cause further harm to innocent families. Whoever stumbles on this tribute, please keep the #stopbokoharam alive on social media platforms; maybe when it is seen enough times, we would have adequate help to combat them and/or maybe, just maybe our leaders will decide to take them seriously and find a solution to this madness once and for all. Surely, their lives and that of thousands already lost in this battle are not in vain.
His colleague’s family is in mourning too, for they too have lost a son, brother, friend perhaps a husband. Like us, they are trying to make sense of this senseless tragedy. One thing is sure, that though they died in the line of duty, they died heroes. They died defending the motherland from the thugs who call themselves boko haram. Cameroon didn’t just loose soldiers, the South West province, the town of Limbe and the neighborhood of Alpha Club lost a son, a brother, a husband, a friend and a hero.
The nation of Cameroon and anyone who knew Elvis personally is aggrieved, for we didn’t just loose a great compatriot, we lost a wonderful human being. In death as in life, he continues to draw people in but this time is different; because there is a huge void, emptiness that we would never be able to fill except in our hearts. I am grateful for the time I had with him and I will forever treasure those memories. He may be dead but his star shines bright forever, in our hearts.
RIP to all the soldiers who have lost their lives fighting Boko Haram in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

The Switch

“When are you graduating?”

“When are we celebrating you?”

“When are you finishing school?”

These are the questions I get now when I visit my aunt and uncle and happen on some of their friends. These are friends with whom I have no ties or relations to, but they however find the need to ask about my educational prowess, despite the fact that they have no stake in it. Some of them, might have come to get used to my graduation date shifting further with each year.

My uncle stopped asking me questions along those lines two years ago. We now have this silence agreement of ” ask me no questions about my education and I shall tell you no lies”. If he noticed whenever he asked me such questions, then he must be wondering why my school load tends to increase with the years instead of reducing.

It is not that I don’t like talking about my education or tell my inquirers proudly and confidently about when I will finally graduate. The problem is whenever I delve into answering all those questions, the conversation almost always takes a life all its own. In the past, people have not been very understanding and the fear of been judged nudges me to embellish the truth instead of full disclosure.

If any of you are Africans reading this or have African friends who share their experiences, then you will realize that in most of our cultures, it is the norm for our parents to dictate what we study in school and what career path we follow. We simply obey and do as they say because after all, they are in charge of the tuition.

Back in secondary school, I was a well balanced student. I did well in both the arts and sciences but excelled particularly in the sciences. My parents noticed and pushed me towards science more,never stopping to ask what I would have wanted to do. They wanted to have a doctor in the family, if that didn’t pan out, an engineer would do and if all else failed, then a pilot.

And so it was that I found myself studying Microbiology my first semester in the states. My uncle convinced me to switch to nursing, citing my families financial situation to which I obliged the following semester. Still at the advice of my uncle, I moved from pre-nursing to pre-LPN. Subsequently, I kept shuffling back and forth between micro, pre-nursing and pre-med and back to micro. You can imagine what this back and forth movement would do to one’s psyche.

It took me moving out of my uncle’s house before finding my voice (as long as I wasn’t under his roof anymore, he couldn’t dictate my life) and deciding what it was I actually wanted to do as a career path.

Why did it take me so long to admit to myself that this was not the career path I wanted? Or that I was never really cut out for the sciences , considering how I have been dabbling in writing for a long time and honing my skills for God-knows how long. Well, there is the fear of my parents (reason why I have still not told my dad I am not pursuing a nursing degree anymore, he would find out like everybody else on graduation day) , the fear of disappointing them or dashing their hopes and there is the ballast factor. The guarantee of a stable income and better life that a career in one of those fields promises.

What these unlicensed and unauthorized journalists fail to realize is that no one is more perturbed about my education than I am. It would feel really good to be able to say I am a graduate but the simple fact is I am not. But I am working towards that every day and giving it my best shot.

I have come to the conclusion that I am a late bloomer. By my culture’s standards, I should have been working on my PHD or a second masters now (no pressure) but I am not. I always have my epiphanies when they are long overdue and my hindsight is always 20/20.

If you are like me, know that is totally allowed for you to feel frustrated but what is not ok is accepting defeat, accepting the statusquo. You are not in competition with anybody and even if you were, what matters is that you make it to the finish line. It is not how about how fast you get there but how far you make it, and that finish line is the goal.

Have a blessed rest of the week y’all.