Stories from my childhood: Growing up in an unsafe neighborhood 

We lived in a neighborhood of growing families. Every house that flanked ours and stretched around the perimeter had the necessary constituent of a nuclear family. Mummy Tobi on our near left, Mr Okoro’s house on the right that led to the outside, Late Caleb and his family, opposite our house, Uncle Tony’s house(my earliest, biggest, Igbo hypeman) just after Tobi’s, Aunty Monica’s house, Tega and Efe’s house opposite Uncle Tony’s, the landlord’s daughter’s house just after and the circle was complete. Words like, absentee fatherhoods was strange to me. We all had our dads and those that didn’t, had lost theirs to the cold hands of death but still had a male figure in their lives. I would not classify my first neighborhood as safe, but this conclusion wasn’t attained in a day. I remember my mum, a stellar storyteller that she is, narrated her first encounter with crime in that area. She was a young, igbo mum of a child of about one year old and rarely mixed with our neighbors. On that particularly day, she decided to honor the invite of one of our neighbors, a young mum like herself. It was just before dusk and my Dad was away for work. Her child, my older brother, played with the yard kids so all seemed okay to accept the invite. A few hours flew by and there was a loud commotion in the area. Just outside our house, the big Fenco Supermarket was being attacked by armed robbers and they were shooting periodically to scare people away. This supermarket isn’t even up to a five minutes’ walk from our window and if you were brave enough to observe things yourself, you would probably see the masked robbers. My mum said everyone scurried to secure their houses in fear that the robbers may shift base to residential areas. She ran to our flat, locked the door and peeped through the window to watch as things unfolded. She said they were there for good two hours and left with a lot of money and priced items but no one was hurt. Just when the tensions began to wane, it suddenly hit her that she was a mum and her son wasn’t with her. Tension level shot up to level 200 and stayed there the entire night. She went into frenzy and called dad, Haha no, calling dad was the last thing. She went to the neighbors asking if my brother stayed home with any of them, they all shook their heads and began panicking too. What ran through her mind was that my brother, in his curiosity could have walked over there and that scared her to death. When Dad came home, they searched and searched, and she cried and cried and blamed herself for even socializing that day, if she stayed home, she would have kept an eye on him. That thought tortured her. The men in the compound concluded that, they would continue the search the next day, I mean how far could a toddler go?
Morning after the heist (I’M stuck on money heist right now guys, any opportunity to use the word, I would), she woke up and began cleaning and praying (this woman prays). It was decided that a police report would be filed that day and it filled her with such sadness. Dad, was the optimistic, man of faith (still is, he inspires me till date), he knew strongly that his son was okay. Mom cleaned. I’ve learned that this could be therapeutic for stay home mothers; it lets them focus on something else. That day, she did the deep, not routine cleaning of moving sofas around to clean. She desperately needed it. Other mothers came around to give support “mama Dele, Dele is a smart boy, he will be found eh”. Smart boy that did not know to come home…….Lol. I judge you bro

Remember that window I talked about? The one through which you can see the supermarket? There was a sofa aligned to it and as she pulled it out, coiled behind it like a little cat was her one year old toddler, sleeping. Guys, this story still cracks my entire family up till date. She woke him up and hugged him so tight; with so much shout for joy that our neighbors came. So here’s what happened.

He had run home when he heard the loud shootings and didn’t find mummy home yet.  He peeped through that window, got scared and thought they would come to his house, so he hid himself and slept off in hiding. Wow!! He became the hero of the story, everyone considered that a rather smart move for a child so young. Kudos Bro! 🙄 Of course that became a conditioned reflex. We all, somehow learned to be responsible for our own safety because for a long time, crime prevailed. I wasn’t even born at the time the incident happened but I too, had reasons to both believe the stories and act accordingly.  I remember taking a look at the gate to our own flat and wonder if the space under it could take an adult human male if he decided to crawl under or if the padlocks could hold a violent shake. As if we stayed in each others’ minds,  I remember my dad kept a heavy rod in the sitting room, a reminder and evidence that the same thoughts ran through his mind. After the robberies, came rape stories and I ultimately had an all-day curfew. Only advantage was I didn’t have to run errands (I was the 8, 10 year old daughter other mothers wanted their daughter to be, because I learned to do market errands that young), my brothers did all of that. Looking back, I’m grateful for the protection in a lot of ways. Growing up in our area and seeing how I can now tell a gunshot sound from that of the knock-out bang kids play with during the Christmas holidays has become a life skill. Maybe I also had to deal with the jumpiness of always looking over my shoulders but it gave me some unusual boldness to walk past a mob without fear… 

 How was your childhood neighborhood? Any fun memories? Can you relate with mine? 

“Toyin, what sparked in your mind to think this way today after such a long time, seeing that we have missed you? ”

My answer: The police sirens going off before I sleep every night, the insecurities in our country and the realization that it didn’t start now or ten years ago, but even before I was born. Safe to say, we were born into it. I don’t think I want that type of world for my kids too. I’ve missed being here, I can’t lie. 

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Time’s Tyranny: My truth

When I was a lot younger, I carried a sense of Time. It was my love for fancy wrist-watches that inspired me to learn to tell the Time in the first place. Sadly, I gave up wrist watches or let’s say wrist-watches gave me up. 

I would develop inflammatory reactions that led to papules on my skin anytime I wore them, so, it was an easy choice. Regardless, I carried my sense of Time. I knew when I was late for school and I knew when we arrived way before the janitors, especially on the days when my “Fast and furious” Uncle drove us to school. This is termed “early” in Time language. In High School, I slaved for Time. I broke it down into pieces. 24 hours a day 1440 minutes a day, 86400 secs in my day.


 Every second counted. And like when I discover a really pricey item in a window shopping and mutter to myself “I can’t afford this”, I just couldn’t afford frivolities in school. I was books, books, books and books. Relationships didn’t matter in whatever broad categories they came packaged in; both with supreme beings and mere mortals. I didn’t have friends because I had a tight schedule(How does a high school student even speak of a tight schedule? I deen know waas going on). I was even the Bell ringer at some point, so I rang bells for Time. I had become a slave to Time. In university, I felt the guilt of not being the girl that wore Time on her sleeves. I felt I was underachieving because my sense of Time took leave of me. I crammed a lot into my space because a full schedule became the adrenaline rush I needed to feel good about how I used my Time. It was to me, like most of us, busy meant progress and progress we saw. Then Times began to change. I started getting conflicted. I was getting more to do, feeding on the applause of people and burning out. I discovered I could not say no when demand was placed on my Time. “The more, the better”, I chided my own thoughts. I lived in this false sense of accomplishment with every overload I overcame. Ever been there? 

Then the question of potential plagued me….

If you don’t do this, Toyin, would you be living up to your potential/abilities/capabilities? Trick question! Beware of these thoughts so they do not mature. Sometimes they are seeds sown by “voices of reasoning”. People who have no business having an opinion about your life. Do you ever fall victim to these people? See eh, identify those people and do away with them. It does not make you a recluse.

I have struggled. I have burned out and I have learnt lessons. 

I’ve had to tell myself countless times in my adult years these things and I pray one day It would stick with me:

  • Know yourself enough to know what you can handle.
  • Choose the meaningful over the urgent.
  • It is ok to say No.  You mustn’t always say Yes. IT IS NOT MEDIOCRITY 
  • You’re amazingly gifted. You’re strong and strength lies in deciding to channel your useful energy to those things that are meaningfully important.
  • Your sanity and peace of mind is invaluable.

In this era of information overload, it’s important as young people that will ascert ourselves and guard against time wasters. Not every opportunity is for you. Not every relationship is right for you. Not every project is yours to handle. REMEMBER!!!

So yes I still carry my time sense, but now,  I do it a lot wiser. You should too. 

Love, 

Tee❤

P. S I’ve missed you all, leave comments. Let me know how this helped. 

Catified!!!

Believe it or not I had a cat epiphany this morning. I know I was dreaming real good before I realized what was up. Now, I can’t even remember what I dreamt about. So here I am, sitting in the corner the cat spent ten minutes of its life in and just imagining if I was able to sit here 30mins ago.

 It all began this morning when your astute writer here was having her beauty sleep. It was a cold morning and I was enjoying it. All of a sudden, I heard my roommate grab a broom and start moving it around. So in my thoughts, I willed her to postpone her morning cleaning duties for when my beauty sleep was over, but I left it. After a broom, came a stick with which she hit my bed so hard that I woke up. Then she went…

“Toyin, Toyin just stay like that, there’s a cat in the room and its under your bed” with a half-hearted smile. She was obviously scared but tried to conceal her fear with a smile, but I saw through it but didn’t process it. This one would run from cockroaches so??

Me: A cat? Are you sure it’s not a rat? I said, annoyed that my beauty sleep was brought to an abrupt end.

Roomie: it’s a cat, a small cat

Me: Sha get it out… I went back to sleep. For the life of me, I couldn’t just process it. Fix your mess sis.

But this girl kept prying under my bed and at some point I suddenly heard some movement under my bed, just where my head was. Again, I thought it was her, utilizing the weapons of mass destruction and death in her hands. But then, famm!!!!…. She paused, stood still, me too; I laid still and listened to the silence. Something was definitely under this bed. I jumped up.

You know when you are trying to act both bold and cautious but not out rightly afraid. You feign anger and disgust when in real time you were scared. I did it all. But then again, “whaa kind of sombothy lets a cat in”, I inquired. Then she went on about how the door was slightly opened and it came in. And it is under my bed it came directly?. The devil is a liar!

So like I said, I jumped up and moved away from danger, yet,  looked to see if I could even sight the danger and size it up. My course mate walks in and we try to deploy her as a mercenary to combat the enemy. That one came and joked about how I should keep the cat and raise it. Is it my child? Am I its mother? I haven’t even seen it yet to even form an opinion about it. My disposition to cats has always been to stay away. So…..(I’m writing this and a walk gecko just moved and I moved with it. God safe me)
My roommate was just so sure there was something, she crouched by the door and pointed light in its direction and she saw it. 

“Toyin come and see it o” she exclaimed, thoroughly afraid this time. Dearly beloved, I crouched three times and didn’t see anything. Then she goes “Abi it’s spiritual ni, that only me can see it”. The way I rolled my eyes and dismissed her claim eh, because that claim was not going to help my heart palpitation. But as someone with sense, I cleared my bed and moved it back. At least be able to see your enemy, you don’t want to be fighting in the dark.

Behold, the cute cat sat on my box, quiet as a mouse, no meow, no teeth flashing, nothing, just cute big eyes staring in my direction. I almost went “Awwwwwwwww”. “Awww ke, please leave my room, I chided myself. I borrowed one of the weapons of mass destruction and poked at it. It ran, but stayed in the room. Temi bami! Waaz all deez?🤦🤦🤦🤦

Bet I was determined. Somebody shout hallelujah! I went to the area I saw it enter and pushed it out, it ran out, looked around and then out the door. And the day was saved, thanks to the power puff Toyin and her scared friends… Please don’t laugh too much.😂😂😂😂

I couldn’t help but reflect to 15years ago, when my uncle stayed with us and found a white cat in the kitchen. He not only chased it out of the house, but pursued it and killed it. With the myth and superstition around cats, I wouldn’t blame him. Me I cannot sha pursue cat, let alone kill it. So I hoped and prayed there was nothing spiritual about it. 

Guess what happened next? 

I cleaned out my corner. The God that delivered me probably wants me to start closing my box too. So I folded my clothes and closed the box. My roommate still had the mind to tease me that I wanted to be sure there was no cat inside my box. Like aunty, I worked with your testimony of saying only one got in, plix don’t put ideas into my head. Plix dear.

The end.

 I love dogs more than cats. If there was an option to keep dogs in the hostel, I will have five in my room alone.

If you have funny animal stories, please comment 👇  below

Track and field 

I once spoke about loving sports from a distance. Thing is, I’ve had to engage in sports from either a forced will or from just pure admiration of the art. I’ve been a goal keeper, footballer, basketballer, a tug of war champ with no medals but a very efficient cheerleader. 

I was hype before the word hype was anchored in the dictionary of milennials. I also ran relay races a couple of times(I can count. Frequency lies between 1 and 3). The dynamics of relay races require that you understand what leg the runner’s speed must not be compromised. The first leg and the last leg were the determinants of destiny. I ran the second or third sometimes. I never pushed for first or last leg. Self awareness teaches you to know your limits. And limits I knew. But when I wasn’t running, I was cheering. Ever so loudly. If I didn’t lose my voice then that cheer-leading was not platinum. I was in the yellow house(grace- Toje HOUSE). 

We weren’t conventional, name wise, but we were cliché in other wise. We won beauty pageants but we were firsts from behind in the inter-house sports competition. But I always cheered. Being an arsenal fan, circumcised into an arsenal family thought me to tolerate failure all the way till success arrives. 

So one time it looked like we were going to win a race. I still remember it vividly. I was a junior and seniors had to run the race. We couldn’t take any chances. We saw the finish line and we knew what jolt it would give our confidence if we did. Our line up was mad ooo(say it “mad ooo”).. At first leg, we led the race. Second leg, we recorded distance. Third leg was almost in completion when it happened.

 I remember our runner dashing across that track wearing our golden yellow sports wear with her black unending mane in the wind(we called her Nigerian rapunzel, her skin was golden tan. Her hair was the darkest black you would ever see). So she was very visible to the seeing eye and as she raced through the track, we all noticed when the error occurred. An opponent had derailed into her track, braking her speed abruptly and causing her to almost trip. Remember how I said our reputation depended on this race? Our runner was furious, she wanted to easily step on this opponent and finish her race like this offender was a stone you could leap over. Ofcourse, the race didn’t end as we planned it. We came in as fourth position out of five. It was like a blanket of gloom over our mood. But we finished our race. Guess who was fifth?? 
In track and field, as in life, there are rules. Whatever you do, stay on your lane the games master would shout. It was always particularly tricky when negotiating a bend in the race. But no matter how fast or equipped you are, you would ultimately be disqualified if you leave the lane assigned to you.

We had this star athlete in orange house that never lost a race. In fact, she would lead a maranthon from start to finish. Guess what? She also never switched lanes. In this whole pursuit of purpose and meaningfulness in life, know yourself enough to know what leg you can comfortably run and as you do so, stay in your own path. Wherever that path takes you, accept it. If it twists and turns, stay on it. As with a race, your gaze should always be on the goal(destination), if you shift focus to consider how fast your opponent is running, you lose time and balance..
Find your interpretation guys

It was pertinent to me that I shared these thoughts I’ve been brooding on.

Tell me what interpretation you got in the comment section.

Love Tee💝 

Connecting The Dots 

In every young Nigerian, is embedded the determination to succeed. Everyone is a salesman! Success comes to the prepared mind! Progress over perfection! Networking builds strategic relationships you can almost not do without! Your emotional intelligence will take you farther in your career than IQ would. Look to solve problems, don’t be problem-discussant. Ideas equals problems. Start where you are, start small. 

I sat in this room full of great human resources for seven days, five hours a day and I was starstruck. Not because they were celebrities per say, but because of the immense potentials I saw. The facilitators were authorities in their fields and everyone was unique in their diversity. I’m a believer in technology now! I promise I won’t be bored when I find myself in discussions on cutting edge tech. I promise. Why? For seven days, I built capacity to see technology with new lenses. I had learned that technology is an amplifier that every field of endeavour requires.

The key to sustainable success in life is self awareness. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses with clarity(Fidelis Uzoma) . This then serves as an ultimate filter and standard to what you decide on in your life. Whether it be technology or finance or medicine. Self awareness involves understanding what works for you as a person, your limitations and strengths, your potential and talents.

So I coined this, after Miss Sophia Reese spoke on discovery of talents “Hi, my name is Toyin and I have been working out. Have you seen my literary and speaking muscles?” I could say this with no shadow of doubt because I had done what she asked. I had looked back on my childhood(this is a period of no worries. So we believe talent discovery at this point isn’t choked by environmental factors. Well, yet 😀) and recalled to memory those activities I loved doing so much that I lost track of time. Talking, writing, public speaking came quickly to mind. I accepted them and resolved to be proactive with them and stay kind to myself while gaining mastery.

In personal strategies to personal development, I understood life is like a butterfly and you must go through changes before you become something really beautiful(Mrs Ogunsola Olufunke). I was able to resonate with the importance of being emotionally intelligent as an aspect of personal development. This is because I was at the stage of my life where it mattered to know how to understand and manage my emotions as well as that of others(empathy). As a leader, as an individual, as a person emotional intelligence is a compulsory skill for life. Think about how far you want to go in life. Think about all the skills you need to get there. Now think about getting there, feels good right? Now think about not getting to your desired destination because of a temper or because you didn’t know you should still apologize to a superior who was wrong. Devastating right?? You see why EI is a necessity? But how? By being emotionally aware, hold yourself accountable(I behaved badly, I shouldn’t have. I should make amends), be empathetic and please Nigerians don’t take things personal!!!!!!!!  All the time! (Mrs Ibiyemi Ifaturoti)

Another level to this is effective communication. Communicating effectively, having a goal to your communication, making desired sense(I can go on). While this is hinged on critical thinking, clarity of purpose, it also involves drawing sound conclusions based on facts and observations. By universal intellectual standards, effective communication must feature clarity, accuracy, precision, logic, depth, breadth. So you must ask yourself

  • Does this really make sense
  • Does this follow through 
  • Does this contradict the initial point

So even in communicating our emotions in the workplace, this applies.(Chiamaka Ndika)  

In understanding interviews, effective communication teaches you to not say “you smell nice”. You may mean no harm, but dearly beloved, it’s better to be safe.

Do not spoil all the effort you have put into researching the company and your role in that company with unnecessary niceties. Keep it professional. Be confident, watch your non-verbal communication. Do not let your carriage downplay your intellect. Say enough, not little, not too much. 
Let’s say you get this job

Or you don’t

You can be your own boss… An entrepreneur, a problem solver, a value adder. An entrepreneur creates marketable, sustainable  value, he is not problem discussant but resources solutions to problems. He is innovative and a risk taker. It all starts with a problem. Problems equals ideas. Our facilitators Mr Ayo Alex-Alao, Ife Olatayo, Kayode Oyewoke, Eugene Nwoke, Kayode Adebayo, Ayo Oluleye, Oluwaseun David Adepoju and Mobolaji Sokunbi agreed on this. Your idea must be a problem you want to solve. Once you develop the entrepreneurial mindset of looking for problems to solve, make sure to deeply research the problem. Then build a solution bank, bring in a team to help you solve this problem. Build. Measure. Learn. Repeat. One point that struck me was that an entrepreneurial mindset outlives a 9-5 job. You could be on a 9-5 and still create value. You could easily switch industries to fulfil this goal and your degree in school does not/ cannot box your potential to explore other industries. 

Stay informed about technology in your field. Now, I look out for technology on the internet. I command my focus to technology in fields that don’t even resonate with mine. Why? Technology is a global language, staying relevant requires that I have grounded tech knowledge. So while I enjoy instagram videos, I follow tech pages and visualize the tech being explained. Be like me, develop interest. 

So now we have become business tycoons and global problem solvers, Mr Mobolaji explained that, there exists a fine line between gaining experience and getting rusty.  Yes, it’s easy to slip into mediocrity when you become good at something because of repetition. Opt otherwise. Chose to stay away from the warmth of the comfort zone. Keep researching new ways to do what you do. Remember, the entrepreneurial mindset is innovative. 
I do believe this was as helpful to you as it was to me. Do leave your thoughts below 💪

Here’s why I chose “connecting the dots”. Steve Jobs gave a speech on this topic. He recounted his story on how he dropped out of college and was not taking normal classes. He dropped in on calligraphy class and loved it, so when he created the first Macintosh computer years later, it was that same beautiful font that featured. The dots connected. He explained that it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when he was in college but it was very clear looking backwards. You have to trust that the dots will connect somehow in your future. You have to believe in something, because this belief fuels your confidence to follow your heart even though it leads you off the well-worn path and that will make all the difference.

https://youtu.be/UF8uR6Z6KLc

My dots connected at this training. Life long questions were answered. I understood parts of myself better. The experiences that snowballed to my decision to attend were clearer. More dots will connect in the future.

Thank you campuslabsng. Thank you Mr Emeka Ossai. Thank you Mr Mobolaji Sokunbi. 

TBT: I wanted a broken arm too😥😥

P. S I didn’t get one

It was harder than I thought.
I was never built for sports. The little I did back in high school and primary school were just an extended limit. I played handball, did sprints, played basketball, played football, ventured out to eat 1500m race(just once though, and I ran to let everyone know I wasn’t in for the prize), I was an egg race champ, maybe filling in the baskets wasn’t so bad too and of course daaaancccceeee(this, I was constituted for). Lol. But this isn’t the story. 

So I wanted a broken arm too. I was in primary school with my brothers at the same time, being that our age difference isn’t so far apart. When school ended each day, I would go and pick up my brothers from their classes so we can play till mum or dad comes for us. This particular day, however, I got to my younger brother’s class and he wasn’t there. 

Toyin at 6, Tolu 5
It was usual for his classmates to chant “Tolu’s sister! Tolu your sister is here” but what I got was “Tolu’s sister, Tolu is in the sick bay” I panicked a little, a little, because I laughed. My own brother(P.s I love you), for all I knew maybe faked something to get Vit C from the sick bay.

To the sick bay I went with mum by my side, she had arrived by then, this meant no play for us. When we got to the office, we were told to wait. Then, my pretty proprietress gestured to my mum to come into her office. 

Me to me: What has this boy done now?

While she was still there, Tolu was wheeled out on a wheelchair with a big cast on his right arm(I remember because he had to learn to write with the left) . Now, the wheelchair deceived me, for I thought his legs were affected too.  The principal and my mum both came out of her office and I got the gist. 

So this brother of mine, during P. E was asked to do carry his partner and do a race. He did. His partner carried him too, but when it was time to alight from the human vehicle, he fell on his arm. 

Wawu, I felt sorry for him and myself almost immediately. Why? This dude now had the perfect excuse to boycott house chores, I had finally got my mum to make him wash plates and not me alone all the time and now that!!! This fracture came way too early I fumed! I felt sad. To top it off, this uncle would still threaten to hit you on the head with the cast if you disturbed him. Have you been hit on the head with P. O. P before? It’s not funny. Trust me, I disturbed him. He was balling. Receiving all the care, getting served food on the couch, doing no work!  

All my guys are ballers😥
So I wanted a broken arm too, at least he didn’t look like he was in so much pain. I could live with that. But, I was not built for such extreme sport, I couldn’t be backed and dropped anyhow and I was just too careful. 

Guess who was the happiest when the cast was removed

Me!!!!! 

Be careful what you wish for! Childhood was filled with weird wishes, what were yours? 

Chapter 23

I’ve read this book for a long time now, truth is, I have predicted some pages and other times, the pages predicted me. The good thing is, it is a good story. A God story. Most of you joined in chapter 22 and well we can discuss major themes and lessons that we both experienced. I like the feeling of connecting with people on a book that we both have read, it’s a merger of our thoughts tied by this one experience. It’s exciting to know I can momentarily have a glimpse into  your mind. 

And if you joined in from chapter 18, you would remember the time I took the escalator and thoroughly embarassed  myself. Or that chapter where I met all the celebrities in one year. Oh I hope you can recall the times I failed and felt dejected and the times I succeeded, I’m sure you didn’t see that “Phoenix” act. Remember when I succeeded in finally accepting my genetic make up and actually behave like a custodian of the xx chromosomes, that was a funny one. The chapters of growth, of love, commitment, striving to be better….  

There are other chapters in this book and well, time would tell
Yes, it will tell only what God has so divinely designed and punctuated.

Book Title?? Fam I don’t know. But guess what, it will gingerly usher in a happy ending. We’ve been planting seeds, I can predict the end will be a basket full of fruits. But then that’s one prediction. Lol
Happy birthday Toyin ❤

Chapter 23:1

Your life is beyond the length of it, build width

Say a prayer for me guyss