A LOVE TO FIGHT FOR

Dear son,

There are two posts that have been circulating on social media lately. The posts touch on the subject of paternity and as the learner that I am, I tried to distill the nuggets from the posts. One of the posts listed songs composed over the years to eulogise mothers. It seems pretty hard to lay hold on songs in honour of fathers, if they exist, they are scarce. Appalling, however, is the fact that majority of the composers of those songs were men, so, it wasn’t a case of ojoro!

The second post, not written in the hilarious manner the other was done, dived straight to the point. It chronicled the relationships between parents and their children as they grow and explained why at later years, children seem to be more interested in taking care of their mothers than their fathers.

The two posts were eye openers for me, they show an area where fathers, over the ages, have been failing – connecting with their children. I know that it’s easier for women to show their love side to their children, men are the ones who mask that side with macho. No doubt, fathers love their kids just as much as the mothers, the problem, however, lies in the expression of that love. 

And while thinking on the topic of paternity, here is what I found out – that today’s dads, more than those before them, are fully aware that being a father is more that just donating DNA, nevertheless, they fail to clearly express their love to their child(ren). I also found out that many men in their bid to show love to their kids bury themselves in work and career to make ends meet and give their children a better life than they had growing up, failing to realize that this doesn’t count much in children’s love meter. The only other aspect many dads get involved in their kids’ upbringing is in instilling discipline, something that makes them seem like the scary bogeyman.

Son, I have always desired to be your first best friend. I know with time, you’d choose one of your peers as a best friend, but I hope to always give that person a run for the title. I know that won’t come easy, as one of the songs in vogue puts it – enu o se. But I am determined. It’s why I do what I do – deliberately making sure I’m involved in your total upbringing.

And it’s amazing that you have begun to acknowledge my little efforts. I love that your first word was da da; I love that you got around to not just calling daddy before you clocked one, but that you also made a song out of it; I love that you sometimes cry when I’m leaving the house; I love how you reject to be carried by others when I’m carrying you; I love the smiles you give me when you see me; I love that you encourage me to be the kind of dad I always wanted to be; and I love that you urge me on.

Your mum knows that I desire a blissful relationship with you, I have never hidden it. I love a sweet father-son relationship, it is one to fight for, not as a competition with your mum though. I know you love her too and I am not jealous, just as I also love her dearly. There is so much love to share without competing. My desire is to epitomise the love God has for his children – being our provider, our guardian, yet our chastiser. I hope, that I provide a good mirror for you to see God and that I make it easy for you to find Him.

Your one year birthday is many celebrations rolled into one, one of which is celebrating my one year of fatherhood, which has been dope. Your mum says the work just began, and I perfectly agree with her. I am not resting on my oars, I will build on the good thing we got going.

My father says one’s first child is like a sibling. So, here’s wishing a happy birthday to my son, brother and friend, Obafunto Samuel, God’s favorite son.

I am ‘Seun Alade

Posted in LETTER TO MY SON, Uncategorized | 7 Comments

THE LAW OF SEED AND HARVEST

Some years ago, I took my younger siblings to their school and while I was waiting in the school lounge, my eyes caught a frame on the wall – it was Abraham Lincoln’s letter to his son’s teacher. That was my first time of seeing it, and somehow I knew within me that I wanted to write many letters, not to my son’s teacher though, but, to my son (kids, really).

Recently, it became clearer what form the letters would take, and what I wanted to achieve with them. I wanted to share my life experiences with my son (and the rest of humanity), I wanted to share life lessons, things I had learnt on the way, or that I was learning from. More recently, it became obvious that I should start writing the letters. But I didn’t start, until today. So, on this blog, I begin a new series which would appear under the category – Letter to my son.



While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest… shall not cease.  Genesis 8:22 

Son, our world is governed by principles. These are universal laws not limited to a geographical space, race or creed. They are natural laws that cannot be broken. The law of gravity, for example is not a respecter of person or place. If I throw up a stone in my native Ikogosi, the stone would find its way back to the earth. If your mother decides to do the same thing in the place of her birth, Ibadan, the result will be the same. Even across the globe, in God’s own country, the United States of America, the stone will not hang in space.

There is nothing we can do for, or against these principles/laws. As Cecil B. deMille said, ‘It is impossible for us to break the law, we can only break ourselves against the law.’ Our lives, however, will be the better if we live guided by these principles. In recent times, I began to study principles, pay closer attention to them, and learn how to live by them. 

Today, I want to write to you about the law I think I am most conscious of – the law of seed and harvest. I am not talking about it in just the microscopic way in which many see it – sowing money and reaping money in thousands fold. But rather in a broader sense, and a sense in which many are not even aware of it, that deeds, our actions, are also seeds. 

As you would get to know of me, I greatly eschew evil and I can’t really say it is because of my faith. Even if I were to be one of no faith, I would still dread evil as much as I do now. I am constantly aware of the fact that if I sow evil, I will reap evil! I do not mean to say that I am perfect, to be candid, I am way too far from being perfect. 

The law of seed and harvest is also referred to as the law of cause and effect, law of retribution, law of Karma. My people, the philosophical Yorubas of southwest Nigeria call retribution Esan. This is close in meaning to what Ralph Waldo Emerson calls it, the law of compensation, which he also refers to as the law of laws.

Simply put, the law says that you reap what you sow. Commenting on this law, a wise man said once you choose a cause of action, the power to change the effect had been taken off you. No amount of strategy or brainstorming sessions can alter the effect, except one re-visits the action. This, I believe, is why the Yorubas say esan o gb’ogun, roughly translated, that means effect cannot be altered. If you decide to plant yam, prayers or strategies can’t change your harvest to cocoa.

While many are aware of this law, as it relates to agriculture, and also to finances, a lot of people still forget to realise that it also applies to our actions in life. Our political space is replete with real life stories to show you this law in action. There was once a man who scuttled the presidential ambition of another, only for his own presidential ambition to be scuttled, much later, and in a more gruesome manner. There was also the young politician who ridiculed a much older statesman, only for him to suffer ridicule at the very peak of his career. 

Son, deeds are seeds, sow good deeds!

Your dad,

 ‘Seun Alade

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THEY ARE COMING FOR US

*B’oni ti ri, ola o ri be, ni ng mu babalawo d’ifa oroorun.

I was at an official retreat recently, and one word has refused to leave me since then – change. And I do not mean the hypocritical change being mouthed by our politicians at the moment.

The buzzword today in the industry I work in is disruptive technology. Disruptive technology is a subset of disruptive innovation, which Wikipedia defined as an innovation that creates a new market and value network and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network, displacing established market leading firms, products and alliances.

In our industry, new entrants are leveraging on technology, new products are riding the waves of technology and the boundary between our traditional business and businesses in other industries is being thinned out by technology. Technology is doing us strong thing, we could whine all we wanted but that wouldn’t change a thing. We are smart, so we know we have just two options – evolve or go into extinction. We therefore focus on how technology was redefining our business and how we can leverage on that. 

Late last year, I had the privilege of being in a meeting with someone I would call a veteran, he retired from the industry having reached the peak of his career and I couldn’t help but notice how he referred to the different era in which he operated – same industry, different times, vast difference. In his time, when they opened books of records, they meant it, now, when we open books, it could just be an excel sheet.

Some few years back, if someone wanted to discuss companies and how they responded to change, you would list RIM (makers of blackberry smartphone) as one of the game changers who rode on the back of innovations to become a force to watch and the toast of investors. Today, things have further changed, the game changers are the likes of Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp, while RIM is now a struggling brand, in the same list as Nokia and Yahoo. 

Change is a dynamic constant force, that almost read like an oxymoron. Statistics show that only 71 companies from the original Fortune 500 list, compiled in 1955, are still in operation. The other 429 have either been bought out or gone under, classical example of – nothing stays the same for ever. In our country, as with many countries of the world, telecommunication companies (telcos) are money-spinners, so much so that job applicants see them as the next viable option after IOCs (International Oil Companies) but today, the going is not as sweet as it used to be. 

Recently, we woke up to the news that telcos in Nigeria were considering shutting out Over-The-Top (OTT) services like Whatsapp, Skype etc as they realised those OTT services were running them out of business. As OTT services are giving telcos a run for their money, Financial Technology (FinTech) companies are giving financial service providers a run. I don’t know what industry you operate in but I assure you things are changing there as well, disruptive innovations are coming for us all. 

In all of these, it might be easy to assume that corporates are the ones who need to brace up against the coming revolution of disruptive technologies, not so. We forget that as it affects corporates, so it affects nations and individuals. Evolutionists say man has had to adapt over the ages and that’s why we are still here. The creatures that didn’t adapt, like dinosaurs, are extinct. It means we must always think of newer and better ways of doing whatever it is that we do. 

As it stands, someone somewhere is thinking of how to change how you work or take your job altogether. You, therefore, can’t afford to be rigid, you must be ready to evolve. Think of the so many job functions of the past century that are no longer relevant. Forget how the books say it must be done, pay attention to Alvin Toffler’s words that – the illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. You’ve got to constantly reinvent yourself to stay relevant.

In my opinion, our approach should be like those of the lion and the gazelle in Christopher McDougall’s book, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen – every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the lion or a gazelle-when the sun comes up, you’d better be running. Proactivity is the key – always stay ahead of the game.

PS: *The priest consults Ifa daily because he knows that each new day would be different from the last.

I am ‘Seun Alade

Posted in 1001 TALKS, ENTREPRENEURSHIP CLASS, INSPIRATION | Tagged , | 3 Comments

WELCOME 2017

Those who have followed this blog for a while would have noticed that I write New Year notes. And you guessed right, here is the one for this year. You may then ask – what sort of a New Year note gets published this late? As this won’t be my first time of being late posting my New Year note, my answer still is – whatever time a man wakes up, that is his morning. It is, always, better late than never. So, from me to you, on this blog, this is Happy New Year.

You would agree that a year without a game plan may end up wasted. Time flies, and it also waits for no one. Time has a way of casting deceptive spells on us, something that makes us feel we have some time on our hands before the future gets here. Wake up and smell the coffee! Today was yesterday’s tomorrow, and see how it hopped on us already. Today is the future we saw some twenty years ago. You could almost bet we skipped some years in between. 

This is the reason why we can’t afford foot-dragging. We must be deliberate about what we do today, as our actions today are the seeds of what we will harvest when that future comes. Decisions birth actions, and sometimes one decision can alter a life journey all together. And talking about decisions, that leads me to something I want to share with you today.

I spent the last Christmas holiday with my parents. And one night during that holiday, I joined my dad at the balcony, taking in fresh air before the generator came up. I had been with him for some minutes and we had touched some short topics. And then after a brief silence he mentioned that his colleagues in the teaching service retired that year. True, he joined the teaching service of the then Ondo state government in 1981, and had he stayed, all things being equal, he would have retired last year, probably as the headmaster of a primary school in Ekiti state. But one decision changed that and altered the course of his life.

Growing up, I had heard the stories, I always knew he was a primary school teacher until 1984 when he decided to get a university education. I knew he was a bit comfortable as a teacher, then a bachelor and able to afford some of the things he always desired, one of them, a brand new Suzuki motorcycle. But I didn’t know what led him to leave. That night, I asked him why he left. He said he left because he was never satisfied with his Grade 2 teaching certificate, and he had to do something about it. Don’t get it wrong, my dad has nothing against teaching or teachers, he just wasn’t satisfied with his educational qualifications. 

You know how many of us are not satisfied with where we are, and all we do is whine. Whining doesn’t do it. What we need to do is take a decision and follow it up with action. I know it is not a walk in the park. My dad’s story inspires me because I know that he, literally, took a leap in the dark. What he did may seem like an easy thing to do, but let me tell you why it wasn’t as easy as you might think. In 1984, Nigeria was in deep economic crisis, the figures weren’t encouraging and the rate of unemployment was rising. Nigeria in 1984 was in many ways similar to Nigeria in 2016, maybe that helps to drum the point home. It was not a good time for the son of poor farmers to decide to leave a job. It didn’t look like the best of decisions for a young man who was then self reliant and helping his mother with stipends to go back to school and require the financial assistance of that poor mother. 

As he told me that night, many only saw his decision as the folly of young age. He said, one early morning, after he had informed his colleagues that he already got admission into the university and would be resigning his appointment, a more elderly friend of his came visiting. The man told him what he already knew – that it wasn’t a good time to resign. He couldn’t leave his job for school when the government just increased their pay, when the economy was bleeding and when university graduates were no longer sure of employment. It was an advice from a caring heart. But, is there anything like a perfect time? As the Bible says in Ecclesiastes 11:4a, farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant (NLT).

That singular decision altered the course of my dad’s life, and we are all the better for it. I have shared this story for just one reason – to encourage someone take that bold step. You are in a good place, but you know it is not your place. The reason why you are still there is because you feel safe there, some sort of a comfort zone. As they say, the comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing grows there. This year, make that decision that your generations will be proud you made. It could be hard, but you know your life depends on it. My dad was (and still is) full of gratitude to God for the decision he made that year. Make this year count for you. Once again, happy new year.

I am ‘Seun Alade

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30 GRATEFUL STEPS!!!

I have been writing birthday notes since 2011 when I turned 25. However, this is only the 4th in the series (didn’t get to write some). My birthday notes seek to share glimpses from the years past. This year, I will be sharing two of the principles that have helped guide my life in these past 30 years and hoping that it benefits someone.

1. No regret

If you know me, then you will realize that the word regret doesn’t feature in my dictionary. Thinking back on the 30 years of my sojourn on planet earth, I honestly can’t think of a single regret in my life. It’s not that I have had the best of life, or that I have lived in the best way possible. Rather, it is that I realized that having regrets over what is past is a pure waste of time. As someone rightly put it, regret is the past crippling you in the present.

Regret and worry are two children of the same mother. While worry has been said to be the interest on a loan you never take, I say regret is interest you’re paying on a loan you’ve long paid off. Both are fraud on your asset – time. Absolutely worthless and unnecessary!

I practise what you may call conscious living – careful with my words, thoughts and actions so that they don’t wreck havoc. But mistakes do happen and when that occurs, I make effort to correct it today. I am an ardent believer in ‘today.’ I believe that today provides me with an opportunity to correct my error, rewrite my story and re-live my past. I don’t dwell on things that are in the past because mistakes made in the past are meant to stay there and they can’t be changed – except by correcting them through my deeds today.

One of the great lessons I learnt from the life of Alfred Nobel is that I can make my past irrelevant by what I do today, and going forward. And that’s the consciousness with which I live. Regrets don’t fix nothing, but today can fix everything – hurt, pain, loss etc.

2. No competition

It’s possible that like me you’ve come across one of those rickety buses with an inscription at the back screen – no competition in destiny. Some hard truth you have there.

Another thing I learnt early in my journey in life is that success can not be measured in absolute terms. Put in familiar language, success is a journey not a destination. Contrary to popular belief in this part of the world where people thought to be successful are said to have arrived, when it comes to success you don’t ever arrive.

Let me share a personal story to buttress this. In 2003, in between writing WAEC and NECO I sat for the UME. I obtained a high score that qualified me for admission to the university. Sitting for JAMB and hitting it once, now that is some success and it could have gotten to my head but it didn’t. I told myself that getting admission ahead of many of my classmates didn’t mean I was more successful than them – and true, OAU didn’t resume until 2014, I was in school for a 5-year course, and still had to go to law school. You see, some of my friends who still had JAMB as prayer point 1 when I had crossed that mark had started working before I went for NYSC.

One of the means used to mount pressure on people in this part of the world is by comparing you with your mates. Sounds familiar, right? Your mates have finished school, your mates have started working, your mates are married, your mates have built their own houses blah blah blah. You know what I tell myself? I don’t have mates! Mine is a unique life and I won’t run my race with another person’s stop watch.

Don’t get me wrong. I review my life periodically. I have goals and targets for my life. I am a big dreamer. As a nine year old boy I began having dreams of what I wanted to be in life. Upon reaching milestones, such as clocking 30 today, I call up that nine year old boy who dreamed without restraints and show him my life report. I ask him if I have lived up to his expectation or if I have failed him. That nine year old boy may not be too impressed but he isn’t disappointed. I am on the right track, maybe just some few steps behind but I’m sure I will catch up. Like I say, the best life wasn’t handed down to me, but this one life that I have got, I will make the best out of it.

I’m absolutely grateful for the last 30 years, and immensely hopeful about the days ahead. Truth is, I don’t know what tomorrow holds but I know who holds tomorrow and in this I am confident that my tomorrow is secured, insured and guaranteed.

I am ‘Seun Alade

Posted in BIRTHDAY NOTE | 2 Comments

AN INDIVISIBLE AND INDISSOLUBLE NATION 2

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“… for the purpose of promoting the good government and welfare of all persons in our country, on the principles of freedom, equality and justice, and for the purpose of consolidating the unity of our people…”

This is the concluding portion of a 2-part article. To be able to make sense out of this, you need to read the first part.

Way forward.
Secessionists blame Lord Frederick Lugard, the man who amalgamated the British protectorates of Northern Nigeria and Southern Nigeria in 1914 for forcing Nigeria down our throats. They say the Nigerian nation is a marriage that cannot work. I don’t want to sound like an Imperial apologist but many forget that Lugard did not place the many tribes that make up Nigeria side by side. If the present peoples that make up this country were spread around Africa, say, the Yorubas being in West Africa, while the Hausa/Fulani were in North Africa, the Igbos in East Africa and the Niger-Deltans in South Africa, it would have been impossible for Lugard to join us together into one country. This, I think, is a point secessionists overlook. Our fathers lived side by side for years long before the colonialists came to Africa, maybe, just maybe God orchestrated this.

One other thing secessionists fail to realise is this – that you don’t choose your family! Family is imposed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not preaching imposition here but truth remains that we were all born into families we didn’t choose. The power of choice doesn’t come in to play in all facets of life, so secessionists should not base their fight on the sole basis that they never chose to be Nigerians. While the Igbo people may claim that the other segments of the Nigerian nation has consistently failed to treat them as family, I tend to agree and this is where our Reconciliation, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation must take root. We must consolidate the unity of our people, indeed. Beheading someone is not the cure for his headache. We agree that there is a problem but secession is not the answer.

The Nigerian project may seem like a forced marriage but truth remains that not all forced marriages hit the rock. The responsibility for the success of this marriage lies with the partners – the people that make up Nigeria. It is shameful that we still indulge in the blame game, over one hundred years after the amalgamation. It is an act of irresponsibility and we need to become responsible – accept the realities of our situation and work around it. Let’s go back to the forced marriage analogy, if after years of cohabiting in a forced marriage, the partners who were forced into it at tender ages, and upon attaining majority would take responsibility and start a process of dialogue, the marriage can be saved.

I have always believed that we have all it takes to be a great country but first things first – we have to have a round table discussion. Our unity can no longer be by cohesion, threat, involuntary or just because the constitution commands it, it has to be out of freewill. That is the only way we can put off the smoke of secession, once and for all.

Even though we have failed at optimising every great opportunity provided to us at several times – at independence, after the Biafran war and even recently during the Jonathan administration, we can still recreate this opportunity. I had thought that President Jonathan’s Sovereign National Conference would have been bold enough to take the bull by the horn and allow a discussion on whether we should remain a country or not. But Jonathan missed that opportunity. That nonetheless, we cannot continue as one nation if we never had a time in our past when we agreed to be one. The time to take that step is now, it would allow all parties air their grievances and rather than make us split, as many fear, it would be a unifying moment. In sober moments, no tribe really wants to leave Nigeria because we are better off together.

The Chinese have a proverb that I have come to love – the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is now. Now is the best time for us to act and consolidate the unity of our people.

I am @seunalade

Posted in 1001 TALKS | 1 Comment

AN INDIVISIBLE AND INDISSOLUBLE NATION

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“We the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, having firmly and solemnly resolved, to live in unity and harmony as one indivisible and indissoluble sovereign nation under God…”

The above is the preamble to the Nigerian constitution. It is one part of our constitution that has come under heavy attacks by constitutional jurists but its correctness or otherwise is not the subject of this discourse.

And before I go on, it is important I set the records straight. My name is Oluwaseun Alade and I come from a long line of Ekiti descent. There is no Igbo blood in me. I’m not here to speak for Igbos or to speak against them. I’m here to speak for Nigeria. I believe that Nigeria can work but we need to be sincere and put in the work.

Where we are.
More than ever before in our recent history, the drumbeat of Igbo secession is getting louder. While some might be fast to discard the call for secession as the wailings of a people who are not happy with the outcome of the last general elections, the wise would deep further. As all structural engineers know, a crack on a wall is not the real problem, rather it is the sign of a problem. You might decide to take a short cut approach to dealing with the crack by plastering the wall or you could take the arduous but reasonable approach of looking for the root cause and fixing it.

It’s true I wasn’t around during the Biafran war. I came sixteen years after it ended but my interest made me read all the books I could find about that period of our nationhood. I read stories from both sides of the war. As a Yoruba, I grew up hearing about how the Igbo people made a huge mistake by taking arms against the mighty Federal side and how our father, Awolowo played a great role in quashing the rebellion. I believe in the Latin maxim of fair hearing- audi alterem partem, so, I read more narratives from the Igbo sides to balance what I grew up hearing. Amongst many others, I read Chinua Achebe, who was Biafra’s minister of communications. I also read Chimamanda Adichie, who like me was absent from the party but who came to know about the war so well she wrote about it like she witnessed it.

One fact is incontrovertible, Nigeria failed as a nation to fully integrate the Igbo people after the war. The much mouthed 3R’s of Reconciliation, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation were not carried out to the letter. The Nigerian civil war, as opposed to the popular catchphrase, ended with one side being victorious while another was vanquished. While we may say all is fair in war, we should not be quick to forget that this was a war for unity and it therefore means that steps should have been taken after the war to entrench unity, but the reverse is the case!

One unhealthy sign of this false sense of unity that got me digging deep into our history was when I realised that an Igbo man would almost always build his first house in his village before buying a bag of cement in the city where he lives. It was not always like that, the civil war taught them that, because after the war, Igbos who had all their investments outside of Igboland lost everything! Once bitten, ever shy.

Almost fifty years after the war, we still resort to name-calling, side-taking and all such divisive tactics. As it seems, Nigeria is like the bus in the opening chapter of Ayi Kwei Armah’s ‘The Beautyful ones are not yet born‘ which was held together by rust. Truth is, if care is not taken, this bus will fall apart. The Yorubas say a house built by spit will be crushed by dew. It is high time we stopped playing lip service to our unity and we start working it out. It might seem belated but I believe in the mantra – better late than never.

NB: This is the first of a two-part piece. You can read the concluding part here.

I am @seunalade

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