Tag Archive: relationships


Nigeria is a country made of many ethnic groups with divergent views, beliefs and cultural practices. The complexity of the Nigerian people has made coexisting together sometimes nearly impossible as issues of mistrust and favouritism along ethnic and religious lines continues to spring up. Hence, the tension among ethnic groups remains; ticking like a time bomb and waiting for a stimulus for it to explode. It is not uncommon to hear parents tell their children to be wary of members of other ethnic groups because of certain characteristics which have been attributed to these groups from time immemorial. Some are regarded as been violent, others are seen as been too materialistic, some are said to have higher powers and special skill in witchcraft and others are concerned only about money while we are reminded that some groups cannot be trusted no matter the circumstances. The myths are endless. We erroneously generalise and label groups differently probably because of what we were told by friends and family or what we read in newspapers, journals or magazines even if we have never really had any direct contact with these people.
The quest for education and improved economic conditions has made it necessary for individuals to migrate from their places of origin. This has offered them the opportunity to relate and deal more closely with people from other ethnic groups. It is not uncommon to see an Igbo man residing in the North or a Yoruba in the North and people from other ethnic groups moving to “foreign” places. New friends are made, new cultures learnt and accepted and sometimes it goes even deeper than that. People find love in places they probably were told they should be careful of. This sometimes offers some serious and difficult challenges.
The problems usually faced could make the weak give up. It is not uncommon to have serious and fierce opposition from both parents and if the couples involved are not willing to put up a fight, the love usually dies even before it begins to blossom. The adaptation period is also an issue. Many have never been able to understand why they would have to lie down or kneel, as a sign of respect, before their father-in-law and other elders because they were not trained that way. And while we learn new customs and traditions, we realize that it may not be a walk in the park to adapt. We could get easily offended when we discover how a certain people live their lives. For many, because they were not brought up that way, it is usually a reality shock. Children born into such homes may not learn the languages anyway. These homes usually are “English homes”. This is understandable especially if the man doesn’t understand the woman’s language and vice versa.
However, the benefits of intertribal marriages and relationships cannot be overemphasized. With the growing level of mistrust and violence in the country, such marriages have helped to foster unity amongst families and tribes. And in successful cases, it helps in changing our erroneous views on others. It teaches us not to generalise and label a group simply because of an old encounter we had with a random person or stories we were told by our bitter parents, friends or relatives. The chance to discover a new way of life is also important. We learn to see things from a different point of view. We learn about new foods, places and traditions. These are things we ordinarily would not have learnt if we married that lady or man whose house is less than one kilometre from my home.
Finally, in every relationship, the most important factor is to have two individuals who understand and love each other truthfully. Issues like ethnic or religious difference should never be the most important factor. After all, what is the point in marrying someone from your village if that will translate to a lifetime of unhappiness? So we must learn to love without restrictions. We should not have a list of places we cannot marry from. People find love in places they never thought was possible. We may just be the turning our backs on people who sincerely care for us. There is no guarantee that the so called “safe option” of an intra-tribal marriage will have a happy ending. The single most important thing is to find someone we love, the one whose heart and ours will be in perfect synchrony. By limiting our choices, we may have turned our back on that one person who will love us in ways we never imagined.
Have a nice day.

Advertisements

Hear All Evil But Say Nothing

Life is full of choices and secrets. The life of a doctor is unique. Having the knowledge, skill and expertise to keep an individual alive or prolong that life is a blessing. In the course of practicing, you learn that certain information about your patient must be kept a secret, regardless of how unpalatable they may be. Many of the things a patient tells you must never leave the consulting room. It is common knowledge that many happy families have secrets littered around which if exposed changes and affects how relatives relate to one another. Many family ties are broken beyond repair because when these secrets come out in the open, there are elements of doubts, disappointments and distrust. Depending on the content, there may be no way back. Questions are asked and we wonder what else is being hidden from us?

Few years ago, I got out of medical school. During the induction ceremony, we were excited to join a group of men and women who could affect lives. It finally became clear to us that our actions or inactions could determine the outcome of a disease and go a long way in determining whether an individual got worse or better.  In the midst of all that euphoria and excitement, right in front of our families, relatives, friends and teachers, we were asked to read the Physician’s Oath. With our hands raised and broad smiles on our faces, we recited with pride in our voice:

·         I solemnly pledge to consecrate my life to the service of humanity;

·         I will give to my teachers the respect and gratitude that is their due;

·         I will practice my profession with conscience and dignity;

·         The health of my patient will be my first consideration;

·         I will respect the secrets that are confided in me, even after the patient has died;

·         I will maintain by all means in my power, the honour and the noble traditions of the medical profession;

·         My colleagues will be my sisters and brothers;

·         I will not permit consideration of age, disease or disability, creed, ethnic origin, gender, nationality, political affiliation, race, sexual orientation, social standing or any other factor to intervene between my duty and my patient;

·         I will maintain the utmost respect for human life;

·         I will not use my medical knowledge to violate human rights and civil liberties, even under threat;

·         I make these promises solemnly, freely and upon my honour.

It was quite possible that many of us never really understood the implication of every word and sentence of the oath. We were just too happy to receive the provisional license to practice medicine; our reward for all the physical, mental and emotional stress we had endured while in medical school. I sat down a few days later and thought about that line “I will respect the secrets that are confided in me, even after the patient has died”. The details were clear and precise. The implication was a patient had the right to confide in a doctor and also add that he or she didn’t want anyone, regardless of how close he or she was to that person, to become aware of what had just been discussed in the course of the consultation. I will offer two imaginary scenarios.

Amanda is getting set for her wedding to Dave. The arrangement for the wedding was in full swing and everyone was looking forward to the big day. Dave had insisted there was going to be no sexual relationship until after they had been joined in holy matrimony. He wanted it to be special. However, for almost a year, Amanda had been feeling ill. Symptoms included a recurrent and stubborn cough, fever and unexplained weight loss amongst other symptoms that had become untreatable. He advised Amanda to see his cousin, Amanda, in clinic. Then she walks into the clinic, not as family but as a patient. Then all necessary laboratory investigations are carried out and there seems to be some problems, which luckily can be solved. HIV screening is also done and then there is an even bigger problem. She is HIV POSITIVE. She is told of the result and she is in shock and weeps uncontrollably. When she becomes relatively calm, she looks at her doctor and says, “You must not tell him. If you do, he will leave me. I can’t let that happen”. It must be pointed out that this conversation isn’t an informal chat. She is speaking with a doctor in a hospital. As the Physician’s Oath clearly states, she is entitled to a right to confidentiality. The doctor is in a fix. It is a difficult choice, his patient or his cousin? The oath is quite clear. He can say absolutely nothing unless she wants him to. In countries where litigations are strong and common, he can lose his license if he discloses without the consent of his patient. Later that day, his cousin wants to know how his fiancée is doing and the outcome of the laboratory investigations. The doctor offers him solutions to other minor problems, leaving the HIV aspect, and reassured him that all was well. Unfortunately, he can only advise Amanda to try to disclose to Dave. It’s difficult; he lives with the guilt, knowing that he has kept such vital information away from his poor cousin. Would he have reacted or acted differently if he was his sibling? And would you?

Jennifer has been married for about three years now. However, she has been unable to get pregnant following this union. What her husband is unaware of is that the last time his sweet Jenny saw had her menstrual flow was two years before the wedding (about five years ago). She has somehow managed to deceive him for three years and he actually thinks his wife always has a normal cycle. Five years ago, Jenny had an induced abortion after she got pregnant for a guy she had met at a club. Attempts to find the mystery man when she found out about the pregnancy proved abortive. She had the pregnancy terminated by an auxiliary nurse at a local pharmacy store close to the university she attended then. She had an incomplete abortion with other complications. This was finally taken care of in a proper health facility. But, not everything returned to normal. The damage had been done. While her husband keeps the faith, believing that God’s time is the best, believing in the infinite mercy of God, there is a problem he may never find out. Jennifer is at the Obstetrics and gynaecology clinic to see a doctor because she is under enormous pressure from her mother-in-law and her husband’s siblings to deliver a child. She needs a solution to this dilemma. She tells the doctor the truth and accepts that the problem would certainly be from her. She is however scared of her husband’s reaction if he finds out and insists that this conversation doesn’t get out of the room. She is instead focused on looking for solutions.

The consequences of revealing a patient’s secrets to a relative or friend could be devastating. Families could be broken and friendships lost in the process. This could be ties and bond which have been built over many years. Don’t forget, those we reveal secrets to may be incapable of keeping these sacred details to themselves. They are never settled until they tell a friend who in turn tells another friend. And a chain of communication with connections at different levels is started. Many patients could become victims of stigmatization due to their health status. That should never happen. But you live with the guilt. You know that by keeping these secrets to yourself, you expose innocent people to even greater danger in the future. Unfortunately, they may remain oblivious of the health details of their loved ones for the rest of their lives.

Finally, the job entails you say nothing. Patient can only be advised to disclose such details to their loved ones so that they too can seek help where necessary. They however cannot be forced to reveal these sensitive details if they do not wish to do so. The final decision ultimately rest with the patient. If they vehemently refuse, then for the doctor it’s a case of ‘’hear all evil but most importantly say nothing’’.    

 

Have a good day.

Uche H. Okafor.

While many of us may have diverse views on sex education, it is a known fact that it is an important topic which has been repeatedly and intentionally swept under the carpet by our parents, experienced relatives and even our teachers. Many young individuals in our environment learnt about sex education from friends in beer parlours when the guys were too drunk to even locate their houses, in our rooms when the girls were engaging in their routine gossips and chats of how their guys swept them off their feet and in those moments when guys and girls sit and chat about the opposite sex. Our friends, who may be even more ignorant than us, are the experts and we assume that they have all the right answers simply because they tell us things we want to hear.

Our parents feel very uncomfortable talking about sex education. It should never be mentioned. It is a common but erroneous belief by our elders that such talks could lead to individuals having knowledge of topics they should ordinarily have no idea about. They feel it should be delayed until maybe when the girl is about to get married. Sometimes, they never mention it. One day, I thought to myself quietly. In about twenty years, I will have a son or daughter. I will need to teach him or her stuffs like this. Telling my children about their sexual anatomy and the various changes that will occur over time may not a problem. But, how do I balance telling them that sex is not necessary before marriage and also educate them on the use of a condom if they cannot resist the temptation? How do I tell my little boy that at some point he will have a girlfriend, that he may have the urge to touch her and she may even want him to because their hormones are constantly fluctuating? How do I teach him that you can love someone without having sex with her? How do I teach her that sex with her boyfriend will not prove that she loves him; that the pressure may be intense but is actually surmountable?

So what is Sex education? There are many definitions. But to put it simply, Sex Education is a broad term used to describe education about human sexual anatomy, sexual reproduction, sexual intercourse and other aspects of human sexual behavior. From that definition, it is clear to see why parents don’t like discussing these issues. They erroneously feel that teaching their children about matters concerning their bodies and sex may lead to these children engaging in sex before marriage and hence, silence is the solution. Many mothers also fail to discuss matters concerning a daughter’s menstrual cycle when she reaches menarche. At this point, the young innocent girl is confused. Due to lack of knowledge, she may have no clue as regards this new development. They also do not want to discuss the fact that at some point in their children’s lives, there will be dramatic emotional changes, when one is attracted emotionally and possibly sexually to another person.

And because our parents are so scared to mention sex, we listen to that our friend who is a serial womanizer; we listen to that our friend who feels there is nothing wrong with having two or three boyfriends (calling them Mugu I and II depending on the number of men involved) and even having sexual relations with all of them. Information on sexual matters is gotten from friends and much of them are of doubtful value filled with falsehood. Even our teachers have become agents of deception and incomplete teachings focusing only on anatomy and biology while concealing the excitement and arousal aspect, which are the areas young individuals are bothered about. Consequently, we live in our confused world; we make false starts, errors and take numerous wrong steps many with varying degrees of adverse effects. A fundamental part of sex education is to reduce the risk of potentially negative outcomes from sexual behavior, such as unwanted pregnancies and infection with sexually transmitted diseases including HIV. The general religious teaching is to avoid sex before marriage. On no account should you have sex with anyone. It is an abomination. Many people who share this view keep out information pertaining to prevention of unwanted pregnancies and STDs away from any discussion about sexual education. They vehemently oppose talks that encourage use of condoms and birth pills. They are fervent disciples of the “abstinence bandwagon”. I may not be too religious. I may not read the bible as frequently as many of you do but I believe it is wrong to keep vital information concerning these two important issues away from these young individuals. Telling people to abstain will not stop them from having sexual intercourse. It has been shown that human beings are curious animals. We always want to do those things people say we shouldn’t do. We always want to feel the pulsation of our boyfriends or girlfriends next to ours. We put ourselves in positions where we can be tempted. The rate of premarital and teenage sexual intercourse is increasing daily and it has no plans of dropping regardless of what our pastors, imams or parents say. A girl may have numerous friends who are all sexually active and the temptation and pressure may be too much to resist. She jumps in and can even get pregnant at the first time of trying. She could also have the added “luxury” of a sexually transmitted disease simply because she did not have enough information.

Furthermore, we must remember that talking in a balanced manner regardless of your personal belief and opinion does not promote one set of views over another or mean that you agree with a particular view. It is therefore important that even if our parents feel that it is morally right not to have sex before marriage, this does not imply they should withhold important information about sex and contraception. Individuals should have adequate information so that they can choose whether or not to have a sexual relationship after making considerations regarding the potential risks of engaging in sexual activity. It is therefore unfair to deny young people such knowledge. They should be made to understand why people have sex, how it affects their emotions and feelings, to think about respect for one self and other people and how their decisions will affect their bodies. This will even help to correct mistaken beliefs. Knowledge on birth control will help to prevent the increasing rate of unwanted pregnancies and even abortion. A few months ago, I met a beautiful lady who was looking very sad. I was about to walk up to her when my friend broke the news. She was married and had a daughter. This girl was not even up to 19 years. She had gotten pregnant quite early. Her parents told her that her only option was to get married to the person responsible for the pregnancy. She is married now to a man who cannot even fend for himself. She got pregnant probably because she had been convinced that nothing would happen after having unprotected sex. She is currently on maintenance dose of a drug called poverty. There is no chance of her completing her secondary school education. Her life will never be the same and you never know what will become of her little girl. She needs help but her future is painfully bleak. It is not limited to her. I have been surprised by some of the things I have seen lately. Girls now get pregnant at very young ages and end up marrying whoever is responsible regardless of the hardship they will face.

However, we must understand that there are two sides to a coin. It has been so easy for me to blame our parents and teachers for all our mistakes and woes. They taught us nothing. Why on earth didn’t they tell me how to prevent unwanted pregnancies, STDs and even HIV/AIDS? Blah blah blah blah blah. But, we must also take part of the blame. We have learnt a lot about sex education either directly or indirectly from formal school programmes, seminars and public health campaigns. Many agencies now provide free tools for birth control to young individuals and even go further to teach them on how to use each of them. Come to think of it. What happened to self-control; what happened to choosing common sense over just few minutes of ecstasy, madness and irrationality? Many of us get carried away easily. We want to do those things our parents do behind closed doors regardless of the risk involved even though we are not ready to take responsibilities for our actions. We want to enjoy sex optimally without utilizing the available methods of keeping ourselves safe. And a friend of mine rightly pointed out earlier in the week, “We do not have any pride in ourselves anymore”. We have let ourselves down most times. Peer pressure has played a part as well. It is a known fact that we pick things easily from friends. Young people learn to consume alcohol, cigarettes and other illegal substances from their friends. A young individual is likely to engage in sexual activity if his or her friends are also doing same. The common sentences if you are not part of the group is “You no sabi wassup”, “you no dey tidy” and “you just dey there dey wash car wey another person go dey drive”.

Finally, our parents and teachers have a job to do. Proper sex education may help individuals delay intercourse until they are ready. They need to help us get the right and proper information on matters concerning sex education. Children are likely to tell their parents about their sexual challenges if their parents are open to discussion on such matters. There is no point being an Adolf Hitler or Margaret Thatcher. We should also be careful on the kind of advice we get from our friends.  Regardless of how experienced we may be, no one is an island. We must be willing to listen and learn and so that we can become knowledgeable enough to separate ridiculously wrong information from the correct ones. When you become a parent, talk to your child regardless of what your religious beliefs are.

Have a nice weekend.

 

A lot of ladies go through what I am about to talk about. It is a bad and very sad experience, one which no one should ever go through. It is made particularly worse by the fact that so many ladies are victims and are painfully dying in silence. I am also extremely perplexed when the woman decides to cope with it.

 

I grow up in a family where love was and is in abundance. My dad NEVER beat me. His relationship with my mother is one every woman dreams about. For over two decades of my existence, I had never seen my dad hit my mum. Like every relationship, they had little misunderstandings which were always settled pretty quickly. Perhaps, due to the small age difference between them, they were more like best friends. To put it differently, they complement each other in every way. I was raised in an environment where we learnt that beating up a woman did not show strength. It only exposed and highlighted your cowardice. I soon began to understand that anyone who had to beat up a lady to prove to the world that he was the boss was pathetically weak.

 

Hence, when I grew older and realized that this horrible act actually occurred in some homes, it was a rude shock. I even found it more difficult to explain why a lady would choose to cope in a relationship in which she was a readily available punching bag for the man. The dangers of physical abuse in a relationship are numerous. I will highlight a few. Many pregnant mothers will lose or have lost their babies because a man was too weak to keep his tempers in check and also walk away rather than get into a fist fight. Ladies could have their faces and bodies badly disfigured sometimes permanently during such abuses. Sometimes, they are not so lucky. They could even lose their lives. When the woman feels that she has had enough of the battering, she decides to retaliate and may mistakenly kill the man out of self-defense. Women who leave such relationships to start another one may have serious trust issues. Little boys born into such homes soon begin to erroneously believe that beating the opposite sex is an important factor in showing that you are in complete control of the relationship. Even the young girls soon begin to have doubts over relationship because of the environment they were raised in.

 

Therefore, the ladies must realize that they are too precious to be beaten up by anyone who feels that having the XY chromosome makes him superior. Anyone who beats you up simply because he is your boyfriend or husband does not deserve you. For those who understand what positive feedback means, he will continue beating you the moment he starts. Such people hardly change. Never forget that you are too valuable to have to go through such experiences. The ladies should never be afraid to walk away when it happens. There are thousands of reasonable men out there who will accept, love, pamper, protect and cherish you like never before; Men, who are tolerant and will not punch, kick or slap you at the slightest provocation.

 

Any guy who beats you has lost the plot and does not deserve you. He also does not deserve a second chance because the chance of him turning a new leaf is so slim. The girls should never be afraid about what the future hold for them. Uncertainty has never killed anyone. After all, it is better to be single and happy than to be in a relationship that is a constant source of frustration, fear and unhappiness. If you are going through this, take a good look at the mirror. Be sincere to yourself and ask yourself if you are better off remaining in a violent relationship. It is not too late to get your life back. Act swiftly. The time is now. Everyone deserves a shot at happiness. It is not the sole right of few or certain people.

 

Finally, if you are a guy doing this to any lady, you have lost the plot.

 

 

Uche Okafor