What a woman can do: Nigerian woman fabricates motorcycles parts

1 10 2020

It is hard to find good things to write about Nigeria that is why I never let an opportunity pass if one ever presents itself. Scrolling through twitter this morning, I came across a clip from Reuters about Ukamaka Okoye, a Nigerian woman who fabricates parts for motorcycles using smelted aluminum vehicle parts from the scrap yard.

According to her, she used to work as someone’s secretary in computer firm, but one day, an opportunity came for training as an auto part fabricator at Nnewi and she volunteered to attend and instantly fell in love with auto fabrication technique. Wasting no time, she set up a small factory run entirely by hand and together with her husband they began manufacturing and today they have employed some more women to help them churn out about 1000 motorcycle clutch pads and disks a day.

Her office is no air-conditioned rose smelling upscale flat, but a rented shack, hot and smoky, with blasting furnace adding to the sweltering heat of the sun blazing down her back as she works, yet she is working and working very hard, bearing witness to the truth contained the time worn refrain that when the going gets tough only the tough gets going.

In a time when countless young people are falling into hopeless despondency, Ukamaka Okoye shines the light of hope, and providing an example that if you are ready to work hard, there is no obstacle you cannot overcome and nobody has any reason to give up hope or worse fall into the temptation of engaging in crime like many young people are doing. Here is the spirit of initiative and industriousness that Nigeria and indeed the rest of Africa need to lift her from the putrid gutters of poverty.

Ukamaka and her husband have triumphed over lack of electricity Power, pipe borne water and every possible amenity that any one can imagine, and built a manufacturing firm, creating wealth and contributing their fair share in developing their country. I hope that this exposure and recognition she received from Reuters and the rest of the world would encourage investor to come forward and give her help to expand her business into a modern industry, as I know would be the case where she living in any other country other than Africa.

Yes, what a man can do, a woman can do even better. Ukamaka is a good model to many indigent young girls often tempted into prostitution and selling their bodies to survive. Ukamaka story shows that there is another way, a better way. Honest and dignified work is always available to those willing to find them, and who courageously embark on their dreams no matter the odds. Lastly the Nigerian government would do well to recognize and support Ukamaka, and more importantly study her method of enterprise so that they can guide the teaming mass unemployed young people roaming streets without direction, to emulate Ukamaka’s enterprise in other to carve a better future for themselves and the Nation.

Ukamaka Okoye and her female workers

https://reut.rs/36lZaHU

 

by Chinwuba Iyizoba





Do you know what it means to forgive? What the movie “A beautiful life in the Neighborhood” teaches us about forgiveness

31 08 2020
Susan Kelechi Watson(Lloyd’s wife), Tom Hanks(Roger), Marielle Heller(Director), Matthew Rhys(Lloyd) and Chris Cooper(Dad) attend the Photo Call for “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” at Four Seasons Hotel in New York City.

To err is human; to forgive is divine is perhaps the central message of the movie, A beautiful day in the Neighborhood, based on a true-life story of a famous TV icon, Fred Rogers, who inspired and comforted many people with his marvelous stories in his acclaimed children’s TV series which ran from 1968 till 2002 . In the opening lines of the movie, Mr. Rogers (Hanks) asks, “Do you know what it means to forgive? It is a conscious decision we make to release someone from the feeling of anger we have against them,” and he goes on to narrate the story of his encounter with a troubled journalist, Lloyd Vogel who was having a hard time forgiving his father who had abandoned his mother for another woman while she was dying of cancer. One night, at a party, Lloyd anger boils over and he punched his dad in the face and things turned ugly. Luckily, Lloyd meets Rogers when his editor sent him to Rogers’s studio to interview him for an article.

As he enters, Rogers walks off the stage, camera rolling and all, and greets him, introducing him to the rest of the crew. After the shooting, they sit down and talk and Lloyd discovers that Rogers had a great love for people, and the genuine concern he saw in Rogers eyes when he told him about his fights with his father profoundly affects him and perhaps for the first time, Lloyd gets insight into Rogers’s pleasant personality.

 When he asks Rogers if he had burdens and how he deals with them. Rogers admitted that like every one, he too has burdens but that he tries deal with them without taking it out on others. For instance, if he was having a bad day,  he would swim as hard as he can, or even bang out a single note on the piano keys, but more important he had learnt to accept people they way they are.

Rogers made Lloyd understand that these virtues were what made him attractive to many people because his message uplifts them and they felt understood and loved, and therefore many open their hearts to him.

“He is the nicest man I have ever met,” Lloyd announced to his wife, Andrea when he returned home.

When Lloyd met Rogers’s wife, he could not but blurt out the question that was topmost in his mind. “How does it feel to share the same house as a living saint,” he asked her. To which she replied with a sincere smile, “Roger is not perfect, he has his flaws, but he is always striving to overcome them.”  “Furthermore,” Roger wife adds, “he prays for people he meets by name every day.”

Her answer is similar to what saint Josemaria, the founder of Opus Dei, used to repeat so often, that a saint is not a person who has no defect but one who continually struggles to overcome them with the grace of God and by forgetting himself and concerning himself with the problems of other people.

Rogers’s affection finally helps Lloyd deal with his anger and make up with his father after a final row in his apartment precipitated his father’s heart attack and his father was rushed to the hospital. This marked the turning point for Lloyd who healed by Rogers’s words and examples returned repentant and apologized to his wife and firmly determined to patched things with his dad who was dying..

In the end the healing process was completed when dad and son shared a glass of sherry, his dad assured him that he had always loved him. “I love you too dad” he replied bringing tears to the old man’s eyes. This reconciliation reunites the entire family, and Lloyd sister comes in to share the moment. Lloyd’s dad died a few days later after meeting Rogers who helped him overcome death fears by asking for his prayers. Lloyd became a more caring person, even to his wife, offering to stay home and take care of baby so his wife could get back to work.

A beautiful day in the Neighborhood was a successful movie that made a stunning $42.8 million at the box office profit  and Times Magazines voted it the best film of 2019; in contrast, the sex themed Hologram for the King (2016), made a $23.2 million loss.

With its good humor, family, and children friendly entertainment, this movie proves to be timely in an industry fast normalizing hard core on-screen sex and foul language.  I hope that its success sends right message to Hollywood producers and encourage them to produce more movies like it, and thus contribute in making a better world.





Love sees what eyes cannot: Victoria & Abdul

7 01 2020
Victoria and Abdul

Those who say that love is blind ignore its power to see what naked eyes cannot. “Victoria and Abdul,” a film of rare artistry based on the true life story of queen Victoria’s blind love for a poor Indian servant, Abdul Karim who, in his turn, saw in her royal heart, a thirst for warmth and affection unquenched by the fawning, kowtowing mass of royal maids and servants.

It was a story of love at first sight. “I think the tall one is terribly handsome,” the queen quipped to a concierge the day after the tall and handsome Abdul and his shorter companion were ushered into her presence to present her with a gift of a gold coin from India.

Things moved quickly as the queen requested that he become her personal attendant much to the consternation of the uppity, scheming, gossipy and crafty royal household.

Consternation turned to anger when the queen made him part of the royal household, appointing him as her personal “munshi” or teacher, and took him in her travels, to banquets, to operas, and even allowed him assist her with the boxes of government papers.  

Anger turned apoplectic when the queen offered him the knighthood and palace gossip spindles furiously wove tapestries of rumors that the queen was unhinged and in love with the munshi.

But the tapestries were shredded into heaps of jumbled rags, when the queen excitedly ordered Abdul to bring his wife to England after learning that he was married. When she arrived, the queen took great pleasure meeting and entertaining her. She even sent her personal physician to assist Abdul and his wife with their difficulty in having children.

What could have drawn the most powerful woman in the world to this lowly Indian prison officer?

Love sees what the naked eyes cannot. Abdul enchanted the queen. While others treated her with great fear and difference, he on the other hand treated her like a person, unafraid; he looked at her, and talked to her like a son would talk to his mother.

Surprised, perhaps even relieved, Queen Victoria responded like a mother and loved him like a son and even more.

Abdul was devoted to Queen Victoria in life and even more in death. After her death, he returned to India and had a life-size stature of her erected at the precincts of the TajMahal, where he would go daily to pray and meditate on the life this great woman.  He wore on his breast a gold locket with her face on it, that she gave him with great devotion even though his Muslim religion forbade graven images.

Abdul actions should is hardly surprising, it is an action born out of gratitude to one who loved him more than a son, in spite of his low birth. The most powerful and feared woman in the world, revered by kings and princes yet stoops to his love and elevating him to her equal.

In many respects his actions repudiates those who disparage devotion to loved ones after their death. Catholics, for example have been knocked around for their devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus, whom they regard as their mother. Yet it is a most natural human reaction. Gratitude comes naturally to those favored by majesty.

When Abdul stooped down and kissed the foot of the queen Victoria at the garden party in one of the early scenes of the movie, he wasn’t in effect worshipping her as one would worship God. Rather, he was reacting in the expected way as anyone would, overwhelmed with gratitude, standing in the someone would react who feels that for some unknown reasons he is the chosen recipient of majestic benevolence despite his low status; a servant love by a queen; a lowly Indian prison officer adored by the Empress of India.

True, it might have been a desperate love between a scheming Indian taking advantage of a bored, desperate and tired old queen whose husband had died many years ago, yet there is no denying its beauty and charm.

Mary was a simple village girl, unaccustomed to the pump and pageantry,  wielded no earthly power while she was on earth–except of course the power of a loving mother whose son is Jesus, King of the universe and on this account, she is far superior to the queen of England.

And from this motherhood draws all her authority, power and grace Christians call her mother because her blessed womb gave them their savior.

Her powers are undiminished by death, but have everlasting potency now that she is heaven body and soul next to her son, Jesus Christ.

Queen Victoria on the other hand was aware that death would end all her powers and render her incapable of protecting Abdul. Thus at the twilight of her life, she implored Abdul to flee England, because “the vultures are already circling” Abdul insisted and remained with her till the end, and faced the spiteful fury of her son, Edward, who dealt mercilessly with him, even before the dust had settled over his mother’s grave. Yet he counted it all as gain, for having been loved by such a mighty one is greater than the suffering endured by the hatred of the world put together, and saw his life as defined by the short span spent by her side.

Many thanks to the casts and director of this movie, and the eagle eyed journalist who uncovered the delightful story, so nearly scrubbed off the annals history by those whose ox were gored by it. 

Chinwuba Iyizoba





Tears to Joy (Ekundayo)

4 04 2019

By Chinwuba Iyizoba

Tybello

Photo journalist, TY Bellow, who discovered the bread seller model also discovered an unsung hero, Ms Ekundayo, a woman who had single handedly cared for near 500 orphaned children without any public or private applause.

An economist graduate, who had a brief stint in Government, Bello is a passionate Christian who has an amazing eye out for underdogs. Transforming the life of an illiterate bread seller caught in her camera by accident to a supermodel. But she wasn’t done yet.

In 2003, on a whim of philanthropic spirit, she decided to go visiting orphanages round the country to see which was in dire straight and how she could help, to her great surprise, she discovered an unknown and unsung heroine, who had quietly fed and sheltered close to 500 children in the backwaters of Kogi state.

In 1959, Mama Ekundayo, a married woman with five biological children of her own, decided to take care of orphans and abandoned children as well. Without money or power, she set about her goal and by 2003, she had taken care of well nearly 500 children without any government or international aid.

mama ekundayo

Mama Ekundayo

“Ekundayo,” which translates, “(my) tears have turned to joy,” captured Bello’s sentiments the days she met this woman.

“After talking to her about 10 minutes, I just started to cry,” TY Bello said.

“I felt so empty, you know there is something about her that is very peaceful, very wholesome. You can tell that she was happy but I felt that my whole life was just about me and my project and the things that I wanted.”

Greatly edified by sheer munificence of the woman and the gloriousness of this hidden sacrifice and the contrast of her own life Bello wrote a song for her which she turned to a music video called “Ekundayo.”

ekunday ophanage

Just like many things in life, there are many unsung heroes, people who do good quietly while the world largely remains unaware. Men and women who spend their lives serving others selflessly, at the cost fortune and family. They are so noble, inspiring and out of the ordinary.

It is like catching a glimpse of that image of God we bear in our souls, so obscure and difficult to see in a world marked by unchecked greed and selfish ambition for power, lust and personal gratification.

Using one’s talents or money to serve the greatest number of people is obviously more rewarding and effective, yet it is strangely not common in Africa, and in Nigeria especially. The truth is that it requires degree of spiritual awareness rare and hard to acquire, and even more, it requires willpower and self mastery over the animal instincts of self preservation that only very few can achieve in society rife with insecurity and poverty.

Yet, the Ekundayos of this world aren’t superhuman. They are people with deep convictions who choose to live out the consequences no matter the odds.

ty bello with mama

TY Bello with Mama Ekundayo

But they are the truly free. Those who understand freedom as the radically arbitrary license to do just what they want and to have their own way are living in a lie, for by his very nature man is part of a shared existence and his freedom is shared freedom. His very nature contains direction and norm, and becoming inwardly one with this direction and norm is what freedom is all about.

It is this radical shift in thoughts and philosophy that distinguish Ms Ekundayo from many. Yet, all Nigerians retain the capacity to walk the footstep of this giant.

Admittedly this is no easy task from start to finish in Nigeria. From scarcity of adoption agency to fraudulent agencies that run orphanages with a mind of achieving a clandestine agenda, to lack of proper documentation, to legal challenges to bureaucratic bottle necks ensure that only the truly convinced can walk this course on scathe.

“Mama Ekundayo has shown us how you can do so much with so little. There are countless examples of people like her out there,” said Bello,   “I hope the videos inspire us to help make their work easier or at least spread the word as much as we can.”

EKUNDAYO – TY BELLO (video)

LYRICS: EKUNDAYO – TY BELLO

Ekundayo sugbon E mi ko

Ise Oluwa ni

Her words resound over and again

Undoubtedly I’ve been changed

Madam your life your heart touched mine

And finally I realized

Even I can give a life

Ekundayo sugbon emi ko oluwa lo fun mi se

Mo dele ever before open my door

Jojolo

 

Life was all about me

My life was all about me

Did not see nothing wrong

The life that I lived

Was far from her reality

Don’t know how empty I was

Madam your life your heart touched mine

I was struck by the purity of your smile

Now I know

Realize the change I can bring (Change I can be)

To suffering children who’ve got no home

Pray for me so I can see

Through your eyes

Repeat Do you know beautiful you become

When you make way

For the all little ones

Who otherwise would not have made it through their day

You become a part of their tale

Oh how beautiful are the feet of every man

Who brings tidings of hope to children broken

Blessings from heaven gate

Will shower you every day

Everytime you open the door to link a child

Open my door

Eje ko mode ko wa

Eje kan wa oh oh

 

Open up my door (Say yeah)

Open my door

Eje ko mode ko wa

Ki won wa oh oh

 

By Chinwuba Iyizoba








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