Sunday, August 4, 2013


So, it’s been awhile. I actually was not going to continue these updates, but people have asked me to keep updating or just explain what’s going on. I guess I just fell down and lost my way. I’m still finding my way but I’ve decided to incorporate updates into the journey . . . for you (well, not for you but the people that asked).

I’ve spent a lot of good time out in nature. In April I was sent to work in the Bay Area. I was able for the first time to sail and to do geocaching. It was a lot of fun. In May I went to the States for a graduation tour. Some of my students still keep in touch with me and it was amazing to see them graduate and see what they are doing with their lives. It was even more amazing to experience spring (my city is quite cold).

In June, I had to go the Bay Area again for a week for a workshop and then to Switzerland for another workshop week. Switzerland was amazing because I was able to go hiking and paragliding in the Alps. In July I was back in the Bay Area again to do some collaborative work with a dear friend whom I miss and to present two papers at a conference in Lake Tahoe. It was pretty nice because I happened to be in the States during their Independence celebrations so it was only a 3-day, working week in the Bay Area. Additionally I was able to go hiking again in the Cascades/Sierra Nevada, swim, and attempt to parasail (it was too windy). Not bad for a conference. People really liked the presentation and said that the style was helpful (I think a lot of the other presentations were a bit . . . drier). I was invited to join a working group throughout the year and everyone was pretty friendly to me. On my way back I stopped in Rotterdam to catch the North Sea Jazz Festival with my blessing of a friend, Maeve. Two of my schoolmates were performing and I was able to hear one of them perform.

In general, I’ve taken to taking walks each day through parks and somehow take a brief respite from the concrete cage I live in. If I’m able to simulate nature (the woods, the plains, the jungle, the mountains, the sea) in some way then I’m happy. Someone once told me that it is really good for people but another friend said it’s not a great therapeutic method. However, a professional told me it is a good method, that any thing you can do to release tension and lower your emotional levels is great. So I’m doing that now each day.

Other than that, there’s not much new going on. I’m taking a few classes, messing around on a few instruments, still working with ex-offenders. I still write and compose. I still work with non-profits around the world and especially in London. I still counsel at night. In fact, I’m currently doing post-abortion counseling. The centre with which I volunteer is quite happy because it’s the first male client for post-abortion counseling they have ever had. I don’t think it makes me happy (counseling rarely does) but I’m happy to be there for people. I’ve decided to take a break from things and go watch the migration across the Serengetti and Maasai Mara. I’ll let you know how it is.

In addition to some other exercise I do, I went to boxercising class this week and was sore for 4 days. I’m not sure what happened. The friend who invited me told me the class isn’t for old men. I said “Yeah, but I’m no----“   “Shhhhhh,” she said.


This is my favourite part of every update. Ha! I’m not sure why anyone would get upset with what I write. Honestly, in questions of right or wrong, most of what I write is wrong and just ruminations. In questions that are a matter of opinion, I hold a minority opinion at best, so no worries. Also if a remark resembles you, remember that I deal and interact with a whole host of people. It probably is not you especially if you are receiving or reading this.

That said, I was told that I angered someone with my comments on regret before. Let me say, that in my (biased) experience, it is still true that 99.9% of people justify past mistakes because of the present. It’s strange to me because it’s arbitrary. No matter who you dated, no matter what school you attended or didn’t attend, no matter what job you refused, you will say “I wouldn’t change a thing” or “it was worth it all.” And definitely, the vast majority of my girl friends has said and will probably say the same thing when they (my friends) wed their husbands especially if they had a chances to be with other people and decided to pursue the husband. There’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just what people do. In fact, what I’ve learned is that it can be a coping mechanism. Imagine the internal dissonance you experience if you’re with your spouse and you think “I wish I had made it work with the previous person.” Very few do that. Very few can even say “I regret how it went in the past or the decision I made.” I was simply saying I lack the internal or moral dissonance. And to me it says nothing negative about the person to whom I’m married. In the same way, saying “If I could do it over again, I would have not had the teenage pregnancy” does not saying anything bad about the beautiful daughter that I had who has grown up into a beautiful young adult. But for many people it does cause a dissonance. I can only speak for myself.

I, however, understand the need to cope, and I’ve decided I’m going to try saying things like that “I wouldn’t change a thing.” After all, we all need to cope including me. J

My one friend, Maeve (singer and businesswoman extraordinaire) told me that her personal framework is such that she only regrets past decisions if she knowingly chose the wrong thing. So for her, if she made the best decision she could make with all the information she had at the time, then it’s not regrettable. She only regrets when she knowingly makes a bad choice. So everyone has a framework.


People always ask me about my job. I've been denied the transfer-after-6-to-8-months I was promised when interviewed. Outside of that, my job is the same with 3 changes. First my sub-team of 4 people who do global education work has dwindled down to just me. So out of my entire larger team of 20 people around the world, I am the only education person now. This has opened up a few things. In short it means I have to act like a programme manager. I really don’t like being a programme manager. But there is no one else in my sub-team. So I now have to represent the programme and meet with people to explain the programme or give success metrics on the programme to people or talk to people in general. It’s really interesting but not the on-the-ground implementation and educational work I like. The nice thing is that my manager believes I have some kind of educational expertise so he actually tells people they can work on a particular project as long as they consult with me or follow my guidance. That is completely new here and feels strange.

Secondly, I’m working on my own fun 20%-time project in which I’m designing a curriculum on how to use ICT in post-disaster emergency response situations. And I’m going to do a workshop with the Philippines government. Next in line are Thailand and Indonesia. And I’ve received a request to help out in India as well. It’s a fun project but wish I could make it the full-time work.

Lastly, with everyone gone and the programme in disarray (trust me, it is) I’ve been asked to help out on various other projects. In one of them I was asked to produce a weekly live-streaming show for businesses and single entrepreneurs in emerging countries. This is kinda cool and it was amazing that the person who asked me had faith in me to do such a thing. So I’m in production mode. We were about to start but my director dislocated her kneecap so I’m in a holding mode until I can find a replacement.

While my programme is directionless, I have some smaller projects on which I help other people (I’m the only instructional designer and training development specialist in my org who works where I work), but in the meantime my main project is floating around somewhere while my manager decides what he wants to do with it. I have no idea what will happen but I try to give out the curriculum to schools and NGOs and governments in the mean time to use.


Different people have emailed me because they have heard of various deaths that have happened. Please excuse me for not writing back to people who emailed. A few of my friends lost their fathers, fathers who were family friends, fathers who taught me, fathers who influenced me through their children. One of them was Tim Bricker. I really liked him. He was my Sunday School teacher for many years. He was a medical doctor, a cardiologist by day, but on Sunday’s he was a walking encyclopedia of church history. I mean he really could have been a Biblical scholar, professor of the New Testament, or a religious historian. But more than that, I learned a huge amount from him as a person.

He had an open door policy. And he always opened up his home, not just for me to visit and stop by and hang out with his kids, but for all the community kids to stop by and hang out. He had a pool and used it to host us as often as he could. And I always remember that he was one of those parents who didn’t just scuttle me off to hang out with his son and daughter, but that he was actually interested in me as a person separate from his kids. He’s one of those guys who allowed me to feel that I have many mothers and many fathers. And he was one of them.

Finally, he was the first person outside of my (Nigerian) culture who taught me that you can actually give without requiring anything in return, without a debt being incurred by the receiver. He would just take us randomly to hold class in a coffee shop (he looooved coffee) and buy it for people. And he did this even when there was not a class. He’s taken me before alone and bought me a drink and or a pastry. And he never expected me to pay nor to pay back. I liked that. I think it rubbed off on me a bit.

Here’s to you, Tim.

And yes, besides multiple fathers of friends, I did have another peer pass away. Again, please excuse me for not getting back but I’ll answer que
stions here. In short, what was strange about the passing of this friend was that it was new for me. Every death is new and unique because it is a different person. In the past, I’ve had friends who have died due to illness, some, sadly while I was away. I’ve had friends who have committed suicide. I have never had a friend who was murdered, yet that happened to my classmate, Greer.

Greer was in a different department and art area than me, but we were the same class in school, so we definitely knew each other. Greer was playful, fun, real, spontaneous, and beautiful. I think I always ended up laughing when talking with her and another classmate of ours. She ended up going to Louisiana for school while I went to Massachusetts. We lost touch during that time.

However, I was super-lucky that in the process of organizing our first high school reunion I got back in touch with her. And my, she really blossomed. She had joined a sorority and, though she was the same Greer (stilly silly and funny) she was even more beautiful as she was forging ahead in life.

Greer and I used to double date. I don’t know if people know that, but in addition to seeing each other without people we were dating, we have double dated before. I think those relationships were/are painful for both of us. Whether by force or choice, we both got out of sub-optimal situations and were working through it (or still working through it). Often times, it’s like a restart and sometimes people can help you along. Other times people can set you back. In the end though, she was doing it and making it and moving on. Anyway, I could identify with that. We would have double dated more but I ended up moving away and so Greer and I kept in touch intermittently via email or Skype. And that’s how we checked in with each other.

 I last tried to contact her at the end of last year and beginning of this year but could not reach her for some reason. So I’m sorry she didn’t even get my last messages or we didn’t talk again. So to the most wonderfully trusty being I know, the girl with the crazy laugh, the one who loves the 80’s (more than me-ha!), the woman who always made me feel short (she would say it’s not hard), and the woman who is able to see beauty in all peoples, I miss you, Greer!

I’ve been lucky to have students keep in touch with me over the years. I have a number of students fall out of contact simply because I don’t use Facebook much or we’re not connected yet on Facebook. But to the ones who keep in touch, I’m grateful.

I was invited to a number of graduations so back in May, I visited the States for a graduation tour from Iowa to Maryland to California. It’s a really beautiful thing to live in a cold country with dark skies most days wondering where spring is, and then to find yourself in the middle of Spring in Iowa. Even if your eyes don’t realise your sinuses and allergies certainly do. But it was so beautiful to see
the campus of Grinnell College in Iowa and southern California in general. After all, “it never rains in Southern California.”

Beyond the beautiful backdrop of colourfully shed leaves, manicured grass, and swaying trees, I was most amazed to be invited. Imagine seeing people you know as little children graduating from university. And they introduce you not just as “my teacher,” but as “my mentor.” That “mentor” word floored me, I had to take a moment. Some people actually think of me as their mentor. In fact a few of my students are becoming teachers because of me. One of my students is becoming a math teacher because of me even though she was an Anthropology major. It was pretty incredible. I was really honoured.

 I was also really cynical. There was such a strong sense of mission and purpose in all the graduates. Every graduation event, whether it was a concert or Class Day, commencement exercises or a tribute for family—everything was filled with the sentiment that Grinnellians were going to go out and change the world. Even though Grinnell is known for its strong service ethos and the incredibly high percentage of graduates that join groups like Peace Corps, I was just unimpressed.

Most of the time, I sat there wondering, “Do they know? Do they even realise that 10 years from now, they will not have changed the world? Do they realise that that is a big, tall order? Do they know you can have the best laid plans and the biggest dreams and do everything right to get there and love everyone along the way, but that it doesn’t only depend on you? Do they know that people will fail them, disappoint them, give up on them, let them down? Do they know the most committed among them won’t go the distance?” Do they know.

I guess I was a bit jaded, somewhat. I’m so mission-driven I’m happy to sacrifice other comforts for the cause. I remember asking someone to help me on a project that I thought he (Ben-changing his name) was super-passionate about. The only difficult is that circumstances didn’t allow us to work optimally, so Ben and I would have to work through (and with) other people. I was completely gutted when Ben declined. It was the way Ben wanted it to work or not at all. I suppose that and other situations were just ringing really strongly in my head when these kids who were graduating were telling me how they were going to change the world. I knew they could change a person or a family or a community but to change the world really depends on a bunch of other people outside of their control. I was over it and was waiting for them to get over it.

Then something happened that week. I don’t know if it was good to take walks in nature and reflect. I don’t know if I was inspired by their commencement speaker. I don’t know if it was just simply talking with parents and seeing how much farther their children have gone. But I started believing it again. I started drinking the Kool-aid, if you know the phrase. Maybe you can do it.

Maybe you can change the world. But along the way, you may have to get with the right people who can overlook creature comforts and sacrifice a few things to do that. You may have to deal with setback and people falling off from the vision because they are not as committed to it (commitment always shows up in the end), or not as inspired by it. But maybe you can do it. Still, maybe it has to be one person at a time. And maybe, just maybe, if other people are changing other single persons at a time, maybe then it can change.