Saturday, 31 December 2011

Here's to the rest of my life

This year I became the NSPCC's Ambassador for Minority Ethnic Communities. eeek.. so many journeys that I'm on it seems unreal.

The past 365 days was a bit of a whirlwind. I begun my final year, became ambassador to the UK's largest children's charity and worked for Siobhain McDonagh MP, I'm Head Delegate of my university's delegation to the Harvard World MUN and managed to get myself on the Google mentoring programme after winning the Marketing Challenge at their inaugural EMEA BOLD Immersion Programme in London. Having lived in Singapore and accelerated my 25 countries by 25 plan, 2011 probably couldn't have gone any better.

Every year, I claim, is the best year of my life and that can only show that my life is getting much better, I'm moving up!

I have know idea what 2012 or beyond has to offer but with 2011 as the launching pad, I'm pretty excited!

Wishing the same for all of you guys too. My mantra is positive thinking brings positive action. It's based on Philippians 4:8. Even if you aren't a Christian it's a very good value to live your life by.

An academic journey of sorts

I'm the Head Delegate of the University of Manchester's World Model United Nations Delegation.

These are our facebook profile & page.

This is our twitter profile.

This is our blog.

If you can, please just like and friend and tweet and RT and follow us where possible. Having the support will really help us get some bigger VIPs to help us out to.

And of course follow me on this blog too! It would be nice.

Friday, 30 December 2011

I love British Multiculturalism.

I half expected that coming home to the UK after Singapore would spell the end of the Journey. Learn. Speak. blog, simply because the first action "Journey" no longer happens. When British people go out into the world we are so overly receptive to the cultural differences it has to offer, but then when we return home and are hit with rhetoric of assimilation and homogenisation and counter-rhetoric claiming Britain has no culture to assimilate to.

I won't be as rude as to say that Britain has no culture, there are things the British did, or ate, that are largely unique to themselves. The fact that these British traits/dishes aren't seen as exotic, does not rule out the fact that they are cultural. One thing I love about modern British culture, however, is the fact that multiculturalism is the main thread. I love that as a black woman of African descent I can look out of the kitchen window of the flat I share with a Sri Lankan and two white English girls, and watch a procession of Middle Eastern/South Asian Muslims commemorating a 6th century war. When our Prime Minister slates things like this by saying multiculturalism isn't working, I sigh, because for me, with all our faults Britain is a beacon of multiculturalism, and if we were more tolerant rather than fearful of things that have been misrepresented to us, we would find such beauty in the event I watched earlier this month.

I thought I would share it with you:

The one thing I took from this experience, you don't need to journey 7000 miles to experience culture and speak about it, but it's fun if you do.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

We need a revival in this city.

This week I passed my first 1000 views mark. It's taken me about a year to get here so I was just going to write a celebratory post to mark this milestone but sadly, I don't think I can because instead I want you to know that we need a revival in this city. This week after the celebration of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, London was dealt with a shocking blow.

A young lad named Seydou was stabbed in Oxford Street, Central London, on Boxing Day. He happens to be the brother of my sister's friend. It saddens me tremendously that his family are without a son and brother. We don't think enough about the effect this type of thing has on victims' families. When their child's death is as publicised as much as this one, the media scavenge where they can to get his friends and family to say something on record. It gets disgusting that a family can't mourn in private. What's more when a person is killed, the murderer doesn't take away one life, they take 5,15, 20 lives with them.

I remember getting a phone call that my cousin was in hospital after being shot. The police thought it may have been gang related, they treated it as such. And then they later treated it as wrong place wrong time. When I initially heard, I cried violently for half an hour. This particular cousin is more than a brother, he's like a twin. I cried and then I prayed. I was so hurt by the incident, I felt it was my time to cry out to God, my time to come before the altar on my family's behalf, so I led the prayers in my house and we prayed longer than I think the three of us have ever prayed before. My cousin is fine but had he not been fine, I don't know how I would have coped.

And so I don't know how the Seydou's family is coping right now. They probably aren't. All I know is that in that moment when I heard about my cousin I could find comfort only in God, I could hear only Him and when I prayed a curtain of assurance fell on me, I knew that everything was in His hands. As such I pray for the family of the young man. I pray that God grants them peace, that he comforts them and gives them direction.

Rest in Eternal and Perfect Peace Seydou

London needs to turn to God. Christians and Muslims need to bring God to the streets. There is a video of the aftermath of the Seydou's stabbing. If you listen carefully enough there is a lady praying. We need more of this and not just in times of crisis. We as believers should not wait to be shocked into professing our belief in the Most High. This city is in need of a revival for God and when we make the Most High our most high, when we revere Him more than our politicians and monarch and material goods, we will see a change to our communities.

So if you believe in God, I pray that you consider this city in your prayers, and take pride in your faith - take that leap of faith - and evangelise. Change the lives of our city's youth. This country's future is determined by the spirituality of our capital city and WE NEED A REVIVAL IN THIS CITY.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Being a good person and succeeding anyway.

So I recently begun a project with my sister. I won't go into the details of the project because it's still teething and experiencing the problems which come along with the teething stage. 

At the moment it's the problem that I'm a bit of a glory hunter. I never thought I was before but after my ACS experience, I'm not one to see a good idea go by. Before then, my sister and I were the types to sit on a good idea and then when someone else somewhere else in the world develops it, we would sigh and sulk and question  why we sat on a goldmine of an idea. Like whats-her-face said: "Shouldda, Wouldda, Couldda are the last words of..." 

Either way, I kinda made this new project a 90/10 type thing, or even 100/0 type thing and that was wrong. One thing I can take from the whole thing, is that my attitude to action would have worked had it been coupled with communication and  fair representation and probably just a couple more brain cells - I've not been blessed with many of those I fear.

So here are a few tips to "sustainable personal development" or in layman's terms success without the bitchiness!

1. I have come to realise that God gives you divine life changing opportunities, and when you don't act on it in time or with fervour he will give it to someone else. Should someone else benefit from the blessings God gave you? You may not believe in God - that's your thing - but the sentiment applies regardless. If you come up with an idea, grasp it, map it out and if you are passionate enough about it chase it and chase it and chase it. One day you'll achieve it and it will feel great.Why sigh and sulk and question yourself in hindsight.

2. "The dream you help someone else achieve may put you well on your way to realising dreams of your own"- MoNique. Smart words from the lovely lady. 100% true.

3. Set a SMART agenda. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time Managed (Google told me that one). That means, don't just have the big vision in your head. Big visions are like walls. Walls are made of bricks which have to be made individually and layered individually. Equally a grand vision requires you to identify the smaller goals (e.g. call ABC about XYZ) and to attack those. A big vision as your final goal can be overwhelming just like a massive wall of many bricks and then you'll scare yourself into not doing anything.

4. GIVE CREDIT WHERE IT IS DUE! Always, Always, Always! They often say the people you climb over and step on on the way up, will be there to meet you on your way down. It is never a nice feeling when one is used or stabbed in the back. I know that. I've felt it. I hated it and it knocked my confidence, in my ability to trust people, in my ability to be a good judge of character. And now I've done it and I feel bad about making someone experience that type of disappointment and distrust of me. It's almost the Golden Rule. If you succeed or fail always be fair to everyone involved.

These tips don't come from me. They're what I've been taught by others. I'll be sure not to take credit as if I am a guru on being successful AND nice. Fact is, I haven't lived enough of life to pretend to know anything about it. These four rules are just what I take to be true. They've struck a cord with my heart more so than most other things I've heard (especially rule 4 - tonight that's really hit me). 

To my sister, I apologise for not engaging my brain. For thinking alone. For not realising that I was. For not accepting I was when you first said it. This project is much bigger than the both of us, but with the both of us it can be much bigger. ily.

Thursday, 22 December 2011


Bored of the pressure
of doing well this year
not that I cant do well
but that its going to be tough
and everyone's expecting much.
Bored of not knowing my destination
80mph in the fast lane
when the next junction could be mine.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Ghana shouldn't ban second-hand cars... yet.

There is a video for this post below the text but the volume of the sound may not be loud enough. The text of this post and the video are largely the same.

So the Minister for Environment, Science and Technology, Sherry Ayittey said that legislation will be coming into Ghana to ban the importation of second -hand cars. I totally agree with the sentiment but I think she's applied a good policy to a country that cannot cope with such a policy.

How are Ghanaians supposed to afford brand new cars? We don't have our own car manufacturing industry to drive costs down.

I have a different 3-Phase plan. I will take a long time to make it the norm but they say patience is a virtue.

Phase 1: Privately Owned Public Vehicles
These include Taxis, Trotros, and Trucks. These are vehicles that transport passenger and goods. They become proper contributors to the economy because as yet, a lot of them (Taxis and Trotros) fall into an informal economy, which really helps no one.
I would say that each of these vehicles are given a state assigned expiry date - based on car by car MOT servicing. Once a car is expired the owner must turn it into the government for recycling (the government should be nice enough to pay him), and buy him/herself a new vehicle.

This will bring in competition to the industry thus driving down passenger costs in the near future but raising the quality of transport in the long run. Taxi drivers with newer cars should be allowed to charge more for the fact that they are providing a nicer service. Taxi drivers of older cars will have to lower their charges to appeal to passengers who would otherwise choose the newer car. The newer cars, I believe, will always be patronised by the Ghanaian public because they are by far the safest option (no cracked windscreen and faulty seatbelts). Drivers of older cars will then want to emulate their colleagues and get new cars to earn more money, therefore the older cars are phased off of our streets.

An immediate ban on second-hand cars will only leave the public thinking the government doesn't understand their plight.

Phase 2: Wealthy Private Car Owners
When richer citizens buy a car 1st/2nd/3rd hand... they are taxed in accordance to its age. This system is used in Singapore up until a 15% cap on the value of the car. The older the car, the more work it would require and the more tax it is costing the owner, as such it gets to a point where it makes sense for him/her to buy a new car, save the hassle of constant up keep and pay the base rate of tax once again. the old car is bought by the government and recycled. Coupled with the tax, is an age limit for the cars (for all those owners too stingy oor sentimental to let go of an old carbon emitting vehicle), the car owner is warned of the upcoming expiry on his car and if he fails to make movements to renew his car, it is simply confiscated. ahhh welll!

Phase 3: Poorer Private Car Owners
This is the hardest one because of course the main concern is poorer car owners. I do think that a comprehensive and efficient public transport system  - hybrid of government owned and privately owned vehicles - will soften the blow of any harsh policy. The government, I would suggest would pay these car owners for their car and recycle it.

...And Recycle It?
The government can recycle all the cars they buy/confiscate from the public. Cars would be stripped down to various elements melted down and used for other things. Or our film industry could buy them as stunt cars and the like. Our artists could buy them for installations at exhibitions. Our schools could buy them for the 6th form common room. haha. Jobs will be created in the evaluating of each car, the policing of cars on the road (by transport police), at the car disassemble factories. I think this plan will do more good than evil and perhaps the Minister should try this rather than just banning second-hand cars which is extremely impractical.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Yoruba or no?

So one thing I enjoyed about travelling around South East Asia is picking up a few words here and there from each country, although I must admit I don't remember much of it since returning. I can only say "welcome" and "goodbye" in Malay and "thank you" in Thai. My sister is much more skilled in picking up new languages. When she went to Singapore 3 years before me she learnt Mandarin - she doesn't currently speak it but she's the type of person who could recapture it if she spent enough time in Chinatown.

She gets that from both my parents, they're both really good at picking up languages. My father is Yoruba (tribe in Nigeria) but upon meeting my mum and her family, he took up Twi (from the Akan people in Ghana) and because my father could understand and speak Twi we never really developed the need for Yoruba. Like Ga or Fanti is to my mother, Yoruba was my dad's special secret language, used solely for speaking to his family - my sister and I rarely took any notice, let alone an interest in learning it. We could guess largely what each conversation was about. On the phone each of my parents would get overly animated if a family member would share frustrating news/opinons. This would betray the mystery of a secret language. My sister and I, if I remember clearly, would always be able to decode the situation without one direct translation from any word in any of my parents' secret languages.

As we have grown up though, being able to read my parents' body language instead of translate their words has not been enough. How can our parents ask us to learn French and Mandarin when we can hardly communicate with our own grandmothers effectively? Queue going to university. SOAS - the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London - was my insurance choice to study African Studies and Politics. The undergraduate course would have enabled me to learn Yoruba, and decode once and for all with unquestioned authority all those family phone calls. My family (on my mum's side) couldn't see why I would make this my degree. They were less than impressed to say the least and my father didn't show the type of enthusiasm I would have expected from an immigrant man who's child had grown up to decide that she wanted to discover and claim ownership of her heritage for herself. In the end I chose Manchester, and I don't regret it.

But now I have the choice of a Master's programme and SOAS has reared it's head again. If I were to study there I would take an Africa related course, and if I were to do that then I think it's only right that I learn my father-tongue. But given that I'm down to one Nigerian grandparent who speaks alright English, given that I have no immediate intentions to go to Nigeria, and I'm not immersed in the Nigerian community any more so than DJ Abrantee from ChoiceFM, is it really worth taking the language as a significant portion of my Master's course? Perhaps, my father has liked having a secret language known only to him (and of course 85million other people but me and my sister). Perhaps I give my mother an unfair advantage in that she still has two secret languages to interchange at the flick of a tongue.

I've given you the context of my dilemma. Do tell me, in my shoes, would you learn Yoruba?