Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Lenses360: Lenses360 Reality series: My Lagos Diary

Lenses360: Lenses360 Reality series: My Lagos Diary: EPISODE 2: Agege Without Bread By Koko Wanjiru Ekpo-Davids This is a rather hilarious story of an experience my husband and ...

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Lenses360: My Lagos Diary Series (Episode One)

Lenses360: My Lagos Diary Series (Episode One): A Tale of Two Traffic Jams by Koko Wanjiru Ekpo-Davids Two nights ago as I was headed home from work, we ran into a terrib...

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

ABUSE IS NOT LOVE




 
ABUSE...I experienced it in the past. First as a child, barely 12 years old at the hands of a relative who lived with us for a few years…a person we called “uncle.” A man in his late thirties (maybe older) as at then. I was in boarding school, but my nights at home during the holidays were dreadful…waking up so many nights to find him lying in my bed. That experience had a serious effect on me psychologically. I hardly like to talk about it in detail because it gets me very emotional.
 
Years later, I found myself in an abusive relationship…and at a young age too. I used the phrase “found myself” because the abuse didn’t start immediately. He was nice, kind and very caring at the onset. We were really good friends. But as time progressed, I started to see another side of him…he was controlling and got a kick out of belittling me. We were both in school then and yes! he was loaded with intelligence…but a dangerous kind of intelligence. I developed serious low self-esteem issues in the midst of this. I actually started to accept as true, most of the nonsense he was telling me about myself. He told me I wasn’t smart enough, I believed it. There was a lot of verbal and emotional abuse…but there were several instances of physical abuse (This is the first time I’ve talked about this openly). Like I said, I was quite young…so I wasn’t ready for a committed relationship or marriage. This was supposed to be about friendship…having someone to hang out with, study together, talk to etc. But it was far from what I’d expected. The relationship ended on a very sour note. I was left an emotionally and psychologically damaged person.
 
Yet, it wasn’t until my early adulthood years that I realized just how gravely scarred I was from my past experiences of abuse. I became afraid of confrontation…I bottled up emotions…never spoke up when anyone offended me. I learned to cry in secret and smile in public.
 
About men? Well…I didn’t believe there were any good ones out there, and I had this messed-up ideology that if a man treated me badly, it was because I deserved it. I allowed this mindset govern my future relationships.I didn't understand jack about love.
 
Another side of the coin was that I tried to create a persona that was so far removed from who I really was. I felt that nobody would accept me with all my issues and scars…so I tried to be who I was not...for years. I didn’t talk about my past. I repressed the bad memories. I would tell myself “None of that ever happened.” I'm not proud of that.
 
Being in an abusive relationship is dangerous. It will mess up your self-esteem, bruise your identity alongside the physical and emotional pain. I could have walked away from that toxic relationship as soon as things started to unravel…but I CHOSE not to, for reasons that seemed reasonable to me at that time: “He’s a nice guy,” “I can help him change,” “He’s just stressed because of school pressures,” all kinds of reasons. But I kept this person in my life far too long and I paid a price for it.
 
I’m always grateful to God He pulled me out of that dark place I dwelled in years after all of this had happened. I’m thankful for the Grace that healed my heart and taught me the true meaning of love.
 
I've learned that there's no justification in remaining where you're being maltreated, abused and beaten. No matter how much or how hard you love someone, they must recognize their bad habits/character traits that need to be done away with. You shouldn’t lose your soul, worse still your life, in attempt to save someone else.
 
If you’re in a relationship where warning signs of abuse are glaring…walk away! Don’t wait till the first push comes. A push today may become a punch tomorrow and the next week, you may be lowered six-feet under.
 
And no! Marriage will not make those warning signs disappear. What you see in a person before marriage is what you will get in marriage.
You shouldn't marry that man or woman who treats you like an inanimate object.

 
ABUSE is not LOVE.  WALK AWAY!

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

I WASTED MY TIME IN THE UNIVERSITY!



When I graduated from the University with a degree in Biological Sciences, my plan was to proceed to medical school to become a doctor. I remember specifically telling my parents that I would specialize in cardiology. I seemed to have a thing for the human heart...lol. I wrote the prerequisite MCAT examination as is required in the U.S.A and even applied to a ...couple of Medical schools.

But then one day, my heart asked my head: "Is this really your life's dream?" As I couldn't answer a definitive "Yes" to that question, I lay that plan aside accepting that this wasn't my life's path. My wanting to study medicine was linked to the fact that I was good in sciences in high school so I just assumed medicine was an appropriate career choice. It's funny how in life we often think we know what is best for us, but usually what we think is best isn't what we need.

I have no doubt I would have been a good doctor...I had the intellectual capability, and the sight of blood and needles didn't freak me out. Phew! However, I know for a fact that I wouldn't have been a fulfilled person. You see, fulfillment has nothing to do with what degree you hold or the job you have. Most of the people whose names have gone down in history for their ingenuity and accomplishments in different walks life never sat within the four walls of any University, some don't have a degree to their name. Probably because they didn't find a course of study that ignited passion in them.

That's where PURPOSE comes in. Fulfillment, true lasting fulfillment, comes from discovering and working your life's purpose. You see, everyone on earth was born for a specific reason, in fact the psalmist captured this so aptly in Psalm 139:16. Our days were fashioned, written out, before we came into existence. We were created on purpose for a purpose and until we discover what that purpose is, we'll just keep chasing shadows.

I strongly believe that a University degree or certificate is of no use if it doesn't help you fulfill your purpose. I hold a Bachelor's degree in Biological Sciences, but I believe my University years were a waste because I didn't study what I was really passionate about. I'm not even using the knowledge of the human body I gained, in fulfilling my own purpose. I love coaching and counseling people, mentoring them as they journey through life, and helping them work their relationships. A couple of years ago, I realized that I should have studied Psychology, not Biology. I took quite a few psychology courses in school and boy did they fascinate me! Sure its not too late for me to get a second degree or so, but imagine how much I would have already achieved if I had done so when I enrolled in University. Also, I can't get back those years nor the money that was spent on my education, right? LOL.

Why am I making all this noise?

Well, I wouldn't want any of you to walk the same path I did. I wouldn't want you to spend four, five or more years in school doing something that will not be beneficial to you in your life's journey. I wouldn't want you to waste precious years...time is money.

I want you to discover your passion so you know how and where to channel your education goals. Your goal shouldn't be just to have a degree because everyone else does. Your goal should be to develop what natural ability is in you.

The Nigerian society has been lagging behind because we place value on people based on their educational background. We fail to understand that some people are born to be farmers, artists, singers, models, fashion designers, bakers, beauticians, barbers, hair dressers, photographers, interior designers, event planners, speakers etc and to be excellent at what they're doing. Not everyone must be an engineer, a doctor, a lawyer, an accountant etc. Some are even born to create a path that never existed, to carve a niche for themselves...enter Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg.

I wouldn't want you to fit yourself into a box.
I want you to live a fulfilled, purposeful life.
I want you to spend it doing what you love, what you were born to do.

You only live once, you only have one chance on this earth before you exit. Make it count.

Break the mold. And believe that God will bless what He has put in you.

But start by asking yourself: "What do I love doing?"
© Koko Wanjiru Davids 2016

Monday, 22 February 2016

5 Ways To Make Your Marriage Thrive



Many couples find the marriage journey tougher than expected; some, barely a few months into their relationship. For others, just sharing the same personal space with another adult is tasking. More so when we're talking about two people with different behaviors, lifestyles and habits.
It can be grueling, no doubt.

But I believe that if we dig deeper, past the idiosyncrasies and character differences, we'll find that making marriage work does not have to be as tough or complex as we think.

So how do you thrive in your marriage? How do you build a strong healthy relationship with your spouse? How do you enjoy and not endure being with the same person day in, day out without losing interest in the relationship?

Here are five principles that can make your marriage work.


1. Sustain Friendship.  Be your spouse's best friend and confidante, the first person he/she turns to when in need...whether it is an emotional or physical need. And don't just be friends...be open, honest friends...there should be no lies or secrets between you. Be best friends. Make your spouse's business your business and vice-versa.  Friendship is the deepest most secure type of love. Friendship helps build and nurture trust and intimacy.

2. Respect each other. Respect the things that concern your spouse; whether its his/her career achievements, business plans, life goals etc. Respect the fact that you both are different people and are entitled to different interests. Don't ridicule things about your spouse just because you don't like or understand them. Respect your spouse's opinions and beliefs: that he/she is married to you does not mean they should reason like you.

3. Take intimacy seriously.  Spend quality time together. Never get too busy with the home front, kids or work that you neglect your relationship. Intimacy with your spouse is very important. It helps strengthen the marital bond. Remember that intimacy isn't just about sex.Be sure to have a date night (or day) at least every other week; if you have kids, you can make arrangements for a nanny or a sleepover with other close family or friends. Family time should never replace husband-wife time. Your marriage cannot wait for your kids to grow.

4. Communicate without ceasing. Talk to each other everyday.  And don’t limit your conversations to what's happened at work or what expenses are needed for the home and/or kids. You should be able to talk about everything...even your greatest fears, with your spouse. Speak words that empower, build up and motivate your mate. And remember to listen to each other. Listening is a very essential component of effective communication.

5. Keep doing the things you did before you got married.  Continue to do those things you did to capture your spouse's attention and keep him/her interested in you when you were dating. If you paid attention to how you dressed when you went out together then, keep doing that now. If you were expressly romantic towards him, don't cool it off now.  If you opened doors for her, keep doing so. Being married doesn't mean you should stop dating.

Marriage is not a magic show...you have to nourish and nurture it to make it grow and blossom.

Copyright © 2016
Koko Ekpo Davids

Friday, 5 February 2016

While you wait...Love yourself.



While browsing through your Facebook news feed, you find out that your old classmate from high school is getting married. Later in the day three of your friends call to tell you about their upcoming weddings.

By nightfall, you're feeling bitter-sweet. Happy for your friends but sad that another night meets you in bed alone. You're tired of your "single" relationship status. You dread family get-togethers because you can't run away from questions like "When are we coming to eat rice?" "When are you quitting bachelorhood?" "You mean you still don't have a man in your life?"

By morning, you start to wonder if marriage was meant for you. Relationships come your way, but they usually end before you even think of a long term commitment.

It's easy to feel frustrated when your love life isn't how you had hoped it would. Every human being has an innate desire for companionship and love...it's natural to want to share your life with someone. However, you don't have to sit around and sulk...You don't have to think yourself into depression because all your friends are getting hitched and you're  still single.

Being single can be very productive if you see it as opportunity to ready yourself for marriage.
What do I mean?

While you're single and searching:
Fall in love with yourself. Afterall, you can't love someone else if you don't  love yourself first...you can't give what you don't have. Loving yourself involves treating yourself right, appreciating who you are and being comfortable in your own skin. It's not about being self-involved or self-centered.

Develop self-worth. The value anyone has on you is a reflection of the value you place on yourself. When you value yourself, you make less room for abuse. When you know your worth, you won't settle for less.

Lastly, get to know yourself. If you don't know yourself, you won't know what you can/can't deal with in a relationship. When you know yourself, you will know what qualities you truly need in a mate.

Truth is that marriage isn't something you jump into "just because." It is serious business and you should be amply prepared for the journey beforehand.

While you wait, love yourself.

Copyright © 2016
Wanjiru Ekpo Davids

Monday, 1 February 2016

TOXIC (A Short Story)

My short story series continues. This one is titled Toxic.
Happy reading!



TOXIC





Tom lay on the dusty, raggedy mattress in his stale prison cell staring at the ceiling. He barely got any sleep the night before. How he wished that his confinement to this horrendous place was just a horrible nightmare.

But it wasn't so.

This was his new reality. He had to spend the next four years of his life behind these rusty steel bars. He lay there, not knowing whether to scream or cry or both. This wasn't the turn his life was supposed to take...not at 34 years of age, not ever! Tears welled-up in his eyes.

As he lay there soliloquizing, the prison warden's voice startled him. "Number 35, up!" Tom obeyed and stood up from the bed, drying his eyes before the warden noticed the tears. 35 was his cell number and would be his moniker for the entirety of his time here, as was the prison's tradition. "Come with me," the warden said unlocking the cell gate for Tom to step out. Another warden approached and handcuffed him. As the trio headed towards the staircase area...some prisoners peeped and yelled mumbo-jumbo at them from their cells.

Tom was taken to the visitors area.

Seated at one of the tables was a journalist with whom he had agreed to do an exclusive tell-all interview about his life. Tom's incarceration had made headline news all over the state.

The session began.

He recounted his childhood years, specifically living through his parents tumultuous marriage, the many tears his mother cried in secret; unknown to her, he always heard her sobs from his room. "It was tough to listen to my mother cry" he said holding back tears as he reminisced.

From the moment Tom began exploring the dating scene, he resolved to be everything his father wasn't. He vowed to love wholeheartedly, totally and completely the woman who would be his wife; to protect and care for her. "I swore that I'll never ever leave her side."

He met Anne in the University. Their relationship began as a very deep, close friendship, then blossomed into a beautiful almost fairytale-like romance. They both graduated on the same day and a year later, were married. He was 28, Anne was two years younger.

Three years and two kids later, Anne was terribly unhappy in her marriage. She had confided in her sister about her marital woes, how Tom had changed from a sweet, loving, doting husband to an extremely possessive, obsessive, jealous control-freak. She decided to tell her sister because Tom's jealousy had reached toxic level. He now monitored her every move, listened in on her phone calls, and would even get up at night to go through her text messages, emails and social media profiles. If he spotted any communication from any male person, he'd accuse her of cheating. Many times, he had cursed-out her boss over the phone believing him to be her lover. He never let her go anywhere (besides the office) alone, whether it was to the grocery store or running errands. His change of behaviour began after their first child was born. Anne told her sister she didn't feel safe with Tom any longer; that as much as she loved him, she wasn't sure she could remain with him. Her sister tried to talk some sense into Tom but to no avail. Even his brothers couldn't get through to him.

Anne had tried to leave Tom twice but he begged her to stay, promising to change his ways.

A few weeks after the second near break-up, some respite came Anne's way; Tom had to travel for work. Alas! She'd have a little breathing space...it was sweet relief for her. Being around her husband had become suffocating. A week after Tom left, her cousin flew into town and Anne insisted he stay over at their house rather than a hotel since he would be in town for 3weeks. She could use some company but what she didn't know was that this act would nearly cost her cousin his life. And hers too!

Two days later, Tom's trip gets cut abruptly and he heads back home, anxious to know what his wife had been up to. He didn't inform her he was returning, wanting instead to surprise her. He gets home and finds the front door open, goes in and starts calling Anne's name. He doesn't see any sign of his wife or kids downstairs and heads upstairs to their room. Anne's cousin Matt was resting in the guest bedroom. He hears a voice and quickly gets up to go see who had entered the house. The two men had never met before. Matt walks toward the direction of the staircase. Just then Tom comes out of his room and is miffed at the sight of his wife's cousin. "Who on earth are you?!!" Tom yells and Matt turns round. But before he could respond, Tom's fist was in his face. He staggers slightly but doesn't fall. "Oh wait! wait! Tom, i'm Matt, Anne's cou..." Tom lands another punch this time to his nose and it starts to bleed. He pushes Matt to the floor and starts raining blows all over him. They're now both at the edge of the stairs in a tussle. Anne enters the house at this instance and is appalled to see her husband beating the life out of her cousin. "Tom! Tom! Please let him go, please!" It all happened in about a minute. Matt manages to wrestle Tom off his body but another punch came flying, this time to his forehead sending him down the stairs. Anne watches in shock as her cousin rolls down the stairs; he lands just at her feet, unconscious. Tom heads towards his wife but she runs right out of the house, frightened to the bone. A neighbor passing by sees Tom running after his wife and instinctively goes into their house where he spots Matt on the floor. He goes in search of help.

                                                              ***

Two weeks later, Matt is in hospital recuperating from the fall. He suffered severe injuries to his head, neck and had two broken ribs. Doctors said it was a miracle he was in stable condition after falling down two flights of marble stairs.

On the day of Matt's fall, when Anne ran out of the house, she didn't get very far before her husband caught up with her, dragged her to a wooded area in the neighborhood and beat her almost lifeless. He got back home to find the police waiting for him. The neighbor who had made the distress call explained how he had seen Tom chasing after his wife. Tom was arrested. Anne was found an hour after her ordeal, alive but in critical condition.

In the proceeding weeks, Tom was charged with two counts of aggravated assault and one count of attempted murder. Anne had maintained that her husband deliberately pushed her cousin down the stairs with the intention of killing him.

Tom's trial lasted about six months. He was found guilty of the assault charges. For attempted murder, he was found not guilty. His stuck to his story that he and Matt were fighting and Matt tripped in the process. He was sentenced to 4 years in prison. A sentence Anne wasn't totally satisfied with but was relieved that the trial was over.

"She hasn't visited me in prison even once. She can't bring herself to look me in the eye,... my brother told me when he last visited. I wonder if she'd ever be able to do so," Tom said shaking his head sadly.

Within his first few months of incarceration, Tom had been approached by several journalists for an interview.

During the trial, he alluded that he truly did love Anne and was only being protective over her. "My father was possessive, that's not me." He had also thought Matt was Anne's lover, hence the rage and attack on him. Several people testified about his maltreatment of his wife.

                                                                          ***

Tom resolved to do this interview because being imprisoned has broken him completely; he now realizes his mistakes, and is sorry for the pain, both emotional and physical his wife went through because of him. He also regrets what he did to Matt.

He ended by telling the reporter that he is sharing his story so someone can learn from his mistake. The fact that neither Matt nor Anne died was God giving him a second chance to start life afresh. "If they had died, I'd be locked up forever."

He wants people to know that negative past experiences and/events don't have to affect your life negatively. I really did want to be so different from my father who didn't love my mother...but I took it to the extreme and ended up becoming just like him.

He also warns on the dangers of extreme jealously in relationships." The more you try to own someone, the more you push them away. When you love someone, you don't cage them but you allow them freedom to be who they are. I'm on the path to being a changed man. I hope Anne forgives me, even if she and I may never be together again. It's going to be a rough four years ahead, but knowing I have a chance to start over when I'm released is all the motivation I need to maintain my sanity in here," he said in conclusion.

By Koko Wanjiru Ekpo Davids
Copyright 2016