Domestic Helps: A necessary evil?

House helpA few weeks ago, I was chatting my neighbour who has two children, I noticed she was more frazzled than she normally was and when I asked her she told me she has had to take on more work since she sent her house help (domestic help) packing. I was not really surprised because sending a house help away for one reason or the other is fairly common in our part of the world. I have had my own fair share of them – from the one who steals, to the one who loves going to parties and leaving the house for long hours, to the one who got pregnant by my security guard (I’m actually still haunted by the thought of whether they “did it” on my bed while I was at work (cringe!)). However to add to my list of “the horrible things I know house helps can do”, I asked her what happened. She then told me that the girl had been putting Dettol (a disinfectant) in her child’s medicine and even in her husband’s wine! I was shocked at the wickedness of the innocent looking girl, who looks like she cannot swallow a ball of fufu. She actually conceived of the idea to poison, and was actually poisoning the poor woman’s sick child without her knowledge, if not for God’s intervention that made her to taste the medication on that day and she noticed the taste was totally off, I wonder what damage would have been done to the child. In law, all the ingredients necessary to prove a crime were complete – there is mens rea (thought), actus reus (action) and opportunity. Come to think of it, she may have been convicted and punished for a crime. However she was not reported to the police, arrested nor charged for the serious crime of attempted murder, but was simply sent away.

There are so many horror stories that we have heard about house helps from the north, south, east and west. In my opinion, I don’t think its peculiar to any part of the country or even our part of the world, but I can mostly speak for my region, others from other regions can talk about their experiences too. What about some female helps who end up snatching women’s husbands right under their noses, molest the little boys (a lot of adult males have confessed that their first sexual experience was with their house help), or even the male helps who tend to molest female children?

So here is a dilemma. Can we actually do without them because of their tendency to be bad? Or is their behavior a way of getting back at some of their employees who are cruel and would not hesitate to treat them badly and humiliate them at the slightest opportunity? That, by the way is a topic for another day because it goes both ways- just as there are evil house helps, there are also evil “slave masters” too. There are however the lucky few who have house helps that live with them for many years, helping to raise their kids from birth to adolescence, taking care of their homes right, showing respect to their employees and even end up becoming part of the family. I am still in a desperate search for those elusive few house helps who are like that!

With our jobs, careers, businesses and so many other activities that take up our time away from home and children, we need to invite that extra person, who by the way is always a stranger, into our home. We pay them to help us with some of these tasks to make our lives much easier. Sometimes these people have to come and live with us or just come in the mornings and leave at night, depending on which is more convenient for the persons involved. I really believe they are a necessary evil because some of us cannot function well without them, neither is it an easy road to live with them.

So I would like to know your own “house help” story if any and what your opinion is about why some of them are just outright mean, rude, obstinate… (You are free to add your own adjective ☺). Is it because of how some of them are treated or some of them just have inherent wickedness in them, or is it caused by the society in which we live?

10 words and phrases Nigerians love to Use, Misuse, and Abuse.

naija flagAbout two years ago around the period of Nigeria’s independence day, my friend Dooter Malu compiled a list of 10 words and phrases, Nigerians use, misuse and abuse. I only got to read his post recently on Facebook. I found his compilation and description of each word or phrase very hilarious but apt. So I decided that I would share them with my readers, with his permission and he has graciously allowed me to. No copyright infringements! :P. I believe most Nigerians would totally identify with these words and phrases and I can bet that a few of us have used at least one or two of them at some point or the other. It is just a few days to our Independence Day, so I am posting this in the spirit of preparing for our great country’s 53rd year. I hope you would enjoy reading as much as I did.

Here goes…

10. Opportuned
Example of how it is used: “I was opportuned to speak with the Governor last week”
This first word doesn’t actually exist, at least not in the English dictionary. It is in the category of words I consider to be IFBG (I Fit Blow Grammar). Speakers would normally use the word with the intention of evoking privilege. Ironically it evokes the opposite.

9. It goes without saying
Example of how it is used: “It goes without saying that the police take bribes”
This is not a disagreeable phrase, but as my friend Myani Bukar notes, if it goes without saying, then it probably doesn’t need to be said. If I could save a word from the list, it would probably be this one, because when I’m speaking, it provides a sort of four-word pause that enables me gather my thoughts. So it goes without saying, that when I use the phrase, I probably don’t know what I’m saying.

8. Go back to the drawing board
Example of how it is used: “In order to move forward with the economy, we have to go back to the drawing board”
This is a good phrase to fill in when you have a dearth of ideas. By saying nothing, it is really saying nothing. This phrase should ordinarily be used to indicate that an idea or scheme has been unsuccessful and that a new one should be devised. When it’s used by Nigerians however, the literal definition is employed, meaning that the bad ideas left on the ‘drawing board” are revisited. The next time you hear this phrase, please request to see the drawing board, because you probably won’t want to go back.

7. Fortitude to Bear the Loss
Example of how it is used: “We pray that God will grant you the fortitude to bear the loss”
This is one of those phrases like “Merry Christmas” that you hear over and over again in its season; in this case, it is the season of loss. The phrase is however quite appropriate as the word “fortitude” stands almost solo in the English language in expressing courage in pain or adversity. I don’t spite the phrase; I just mourn it because its overuse has removed the intimate commiseration that those in mourning deserve. 😦

6. Step up their game
Example of how it is used: “In other to score, the strikers need to step up their game”
This phrase is commonly used in sport commentaries. Compare the following commentaries at half-time of a soccer game:
Tommy Smith (ESPN Sport Commentator): “The 4-5-1 formation should allow some fluidity in the mid-field. The central mid-fielder should overlap more to give the lone striker more support without exposing his back, which can be covered by the wingers.
Tunde Tijani (Nigerian Sport Commentator): “The mid-fielders are not passing well, they have to step up their game; The striker is not going to get the ball, I think he has to… he has to, step up his game.”

5. All Protocols observed
Example of how it is used: “His Excellency the Governor, His Excellency the Deputy-Governor, The Right Honorable Speaker of the House, The Honorable Chief Judge, The Honorable Commissioners, the Honorable Senior Special Advisers, the Special Assistants to the Senior Special Advisers, blah blah blah, all Protocols observed”
Nigerian leaders love protocol. Scratch that. Nigerian leaders love recognition and events are organized to remind them of their names and offices. But that’s not my grouse with the phrase. “Protocol” is an official procedure or system of rules. The phrase “all protocols observed” is therefore the equivalent of entering a meeting and saying “all people greeted” or entering a questioning and saying “all suspects interrogated.”

4. He died of Old Age
Example of how it is used: “We regret to announce the death of our grand father who died of old age”
This is a phrase that I imagine should get Doctors reeling in laughter, but is however commonly used in Obituaries. My brother disagrees with this one as Coroners in the UK and some other countries accept Old age as a cause of death. Old age however, is not quite a disease as it is a state of being. Elderly people can die of Pneumonia, blood clots and heart attacks, but not old age. Saying someone died of old age is like saying a drunken youth died of youthful exuberance.

3. Yesteryears
Example of how it is used: “I remember in yesteryears we had unlimited electricity supply.”
The Nigerian penchant for invoking past memories is quite famed. Nothing is better in the present and this IFBG word is often used by Sages to remind us how pathetic our progress has been. There’s really nothing wrong with this word just that its overuse makes its ordinary usage seem stale.

2. Peradventure – Nigerian Pronunciation: Paraventure
Example of how it is used: “If peradventure we had unlimited electricity supply our economy will be growing by 9%” (This is actually true).
It’s not so much the meaning of this IFBG word as much as its pronunciation that stands out. The word should ordinarily mean “perhaps” or should be used as an expression of uncertainty or doubt as to whether something is the case. For its Nigerian usage however, the phrase that it is used in would have the same meaning as it would have if the word were omitted. (Consider the example above). In other words, if peradventure you omit the word “peradventure” there is peradventure a good chance you would be better understood.

1. My names are…
Example of how it is used: “My names are Dooter Daniel Malu”
The funny thing about this phrase is that it started out as a correction to the perceived grammatical error of introducing yourself in singular as “My name is…” and then calling more than one name. In its noun form as used in an introduction, the word “name” refers to the entire set of words by which a person is known, addressed or referred to. You can however use “names” when you are referring to insults (as in calling someone names) or making reference to people involved in illicit activity (naming names). So the proper expression of using “names” in an introduction would be, “My names are Dumb, Silly, and Tevez”

Have a wonderful weekend and be safe!

To give, or not to give?

Hello people! It’s great to be putting up my first post here (that is after the welcome post ☺), about an issue that even I sometimes find contentious.

While growing up, we were told about how giving was very important, especially giving to those who are not as blessed as we are. Our parents told us that it is good to share our toys, clothes and shoes we don’t need anymore, we were told by our Sunday school teachers to give to the less privileged. As adults we hear on the pulpits of our churches and I reckon those of other faiths also hear the same from their leaders, the importance of giving and giving cheerfully. I have known this verse of the bible for as long as I can remember: Luke 6:38, “Give and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over shall men give into your bosom.”

My husband loves to give, and sometimes to those who I think do not deserve it, he believes that life is all about giving and he probably can give his last kobo to a stranger who comes to him with one problem or the other, whether genuine or not. I on the other hand, I am a more cautious giver for two reasons: not every one genuinely has a need as they may just want to take advantage of your goodwill and would keep coming for more, thereby turning you into a cash cow. Also, for some people, the moment you don’t have any to give them, you become the worst person on earth for not giving, as all records of your previous acts of giving to them become wiped off their minds and you become a bad person. They forget that you may not have any to give on that day or you have other pressing issues to deal with. This has happened to me times without number, where someone I have been giving to for months refuses to even say hi, after I said I could not help them on a particular occasion when they asked. However this has not deterred me from giving when I have and I see a genuine need.

What about those who believe that nothing goes for nothing? People who think for the smallest favour they do for you, they deserve one form of gratification or another? Some expect payment for assisting you to pull out of a parking lot in your car, or showing you where to park your car. Some for giving directions to a place, or security guards who would greet you specially or open the door of your car for you or wash your car just because they want you to give them some cash for that special greeting or unrequested job they did for you? For example, yesterday, when I got back from work, one of the security guards in my estate while greeting me actually saluted and stomped his right leg on the ground like he was a soldier! I had to ask him if he thought I was in the army or if he was in the army. Then he said “madam na because things really hard for me today and I need your help, that’s why I greet you like this oh”. Then I responded “ Wow, so if you didn’t have need for my help, you wont have greeted me with so much enthusiasm, huh?”. Then he said “no, madam I dey always greet you na”. I just shook my head, told him I would see him later and went into my house. I did not want to wait to hear his story, because I may not be able to solve his problem. Its funny because this guy sometimes sees me and just turns his face to the other side, so I was really amused at his rather enthusiastic greeting which, he confessed was because he wanted my help.

Then there is another type of giving which to an extent should have some form of accountability attached to it, which is giving to a cause; either to an orphanage, or to a particular charity that deals with a particular issue that is dear to you or even giving to prisoners. I see a lot of celebrities whose pictures are splashed on the media and the Internet, giving to one charitable cause or the other. The morality of publicizing our giving is a topic for another day, because what happens to the biblical saying that we should not let our left hand know what the right hand is doing? Unfortunately, sometimes these gifts do not get to the poor people that they are meant for, neither are they accounted for. I was told about a group of youth who went to give some food items and provisions to an orphanage, they dropped these items with the proprietor of the orphanage and left. As fate would have it, they forgot something and had to go back to the orphanage a few minutes later. Lo and behold, when they got there, they saw the proprietor and other staff of the orphanage sharing the food items and provisions amongst themselves! The worst part was that they saw nothing wrong with what they were doing and told the youth that if they were not pleased, they should take their gifts back.

So readers I would like to know your thoughts about giving: what prompts you to give? Do you give to everyone who asks you or you are cautious when it comes to giving or you are one of those who do not believe in giving at all, or you wait until you have that excess amount of money before you give? . I am sure this applies to everyone no matter your financial status; I would like to know your stories of giving or not giving 😀 .

Have blessed day!

WELCOME TO TOSNE’S BLOG

Hello folks! Welcome to Tosne’s blog. This has actually been something that has been on my mind for a long time, more so since the advent of the “blog craze”, but I did not come around to doing. Since I was young, I have always loved to write down my experiences in a diary especially when they are things I regard as milestones like the first time I was “toasted” in secondary school, my first kiss, my first sexual experience (did I just say that? Yes): not that it is worth mentioning because it was awful, and so many other noteworthy events in my life. I remember I even developed a code for my diary that prevented unwanted prying eyes of my parents and siblings from being able to read my diary and know my “secret thoughts” :D. Now as an adult, I still have journals where I record events that I feel have some form of significance in my life, the good, the bad and the ugly. I see life both from the humorous perspective and from the not too humorous perspective and believe in sharing my experiences with other people. I wondered how to do that with a wider audience, but thank God for “blogism” (is there a word like that?), I have found a solution.

This is why I decided to start Tosne’s blog, an interactive blog where I would share with you some of my day-to-day experiences, other people’s experiences, and topical issues in our society, and around the world. I believe the world is a community of individuals who share similar kinds of issues and experiences, in spite of our cultural, religious, sexual and so many other differences. I would also want to get your own views on these topical issues in order for everyone of us to learn from them.

I am so excited to start this wonderful journey with all of you, so come along with me!

Tosne