Tolu Fiz Akanee is a thinker, writer and speaker; the author of A-Z Life lessons

Friday, April 29, 2011

The house of mourning

 source: Google images

New births are recorded daily
Some received with joy, some with mixed feeling, others with regret.

People die daily
Someday you will die
Might be in a couple of hours, weeks, months, years or decades
But death is inevitable

All we possess are gifts from God and the Lord never requests for any of those things back from us. Nothing but the life He gives. He takes this one that we might enjoy life eternal.

I just got back into Lagos this evening after a short stay in the house of mourning.

It got to me a couple of weeks ago when I heard the news of his death as my mum broke down in tears on the phone, but the thought of his glorious exit did not spur up any feeling other than that of gratitude to God for a life well spent; It was easier to maintain that perspective while here in Lagos. But until I got to the centre of this all and his son rose up to the podium in church yesterday evening to give his eulogies, tears flowed freely from my eyes as he broke down in tears mid way into his speech; he held the tears back as he tried to exhaust what he had in writing but moments after that he burst into tears again as he was ushered back to his seat. Death is real.

I've never lost anyone that close to me before, and if he had not truly lived a righteous life, I wouldn't be discussing my deceased uncle on my blog. Very kind and humble man! As a kid he would always come around with his wife in their Peugeot station wagon and they would always come with sacks of this special "Garri saki" for momsy. He was a generous man, never will he visit without dropping something for the boys!
I remember the last days I spent with him, memories of the Saturday evening of his 62nd birthday in August 2009 is still fresh in my heart. For hours we sang hymnssssss. We started off singing songs we knew by heart, then we grabbed hymn books and we sang for hours after which he prayed for us and shared his thoughts on marriage and other things of life.
So I saw my uncle this morning and he looked the same. He was fast asleep and my mom kept on calling "Broda Tunde" but he wouldn't wake up. That's the closest I've been to a corpse and if not for the coffin one would think he was taking a nap while waiting for others to dress up too and join him in his outing. Death is real. It's an endless sleep!

I'm happy he died a righteous man, he knew he was going, he had ample time to give his parting words to his loved ones. To me, that's a golden opportunity. I know he is with the Lord right now.

So Solomon said
"(1) A good name is better than precious oil; and the day of death, than the day of one's birth. (2) It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart. (3) Sorrow is better than laughter; for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made glad."
- Ecclesiastes 7:1-3

And just like the pastor said in church this morning. So many of us go to the house of morning to sympathize and share memories of the departed while we fail to reflect on our own lives.

My Uncle is gone. Who's next?
How prepared are we for the inevitable?
How prepared are we for death?

The game, they say is the same but the players are different. On the stage of life, they say same stage different actors.
"Teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom"

What are you doing with what you've got today. Yesterday is gone and never to be replayed
Tomorrow is only a promise
Today is all you've got
What are you doing today?

It's so easy to say the cliché "live each day as though it were thy last" but is that truth reflected in our daily lives??

It is important that we all take some time out to go into the house of mourning (a place of sober reflection) to think things through. If you die today, what will be said of you? What legacy would you have left behind?

I spent a couple of days in the house of mourning and it has helped to place better relevance on time

Monday, April 18, 2011

Corporate slave trade

Word came to me on Friday that the start-up pay for graduates in NNPC is less than a hundred thousand naira and this stirred up great discomfort in me, I was sad as I couldn't contain the shock knowing what NNPC generates in financial returns on a monthly basis. To a large extent, I have a problem with the way things are done in this country, particularly how university graduates are treated, I earn a little above $300 every month and the goverment pays me additional $64 that I often feel insulted to withdraw from the bank; and once in a while when I get to discuss my pay with some people I get that "wow, you're lucky oh" and I always do a good job in containing my feelings.

I don't believe in operating based on local standards, after all our curriculum in the university was gotten from the western world, so your harvest for investing your time into getting educated should be somewhat comparable. Those that work the hardest earn the least in the country and it's disturbing.

If you were to be selling coffee at Starbucks or to be at the sales stand in McDonalds, are you telling me your monthly pay per month can be anything less than $1,000?
So we wear expensive clothes, work 8-5pm i.e. 9hrs per day, 5 days a week, which is 45hours a week and ultimately 180hours a month only to get $300 in your account (less than $2/hour) and no one is saying anything about this?

Agreed NYSC is service to nation, but what do you have to say about the average banker that gets #150,000 ($1,000) a month working 7am - 7pm (12hrs) daily, 60hrs a week, 240hrs a month
If you work 240hrs/month in McDonalds at $11/hr (google statistics) that's $2,640 = 400,000 in Naira. How many people earn up to that in this country? Some managers don't get two-thirds of that!

So well over 70% of those that I see waking up as early as 4:30am just so they can get to their office for 7:30am then end up getting back home around 9:00pm don't even earn up to $10/hour???!!
What/where then is the reward for their labour?

Things just have to change!

The vacancies are not there and the applicants are plenty, so the applicants that are offered the very few available jobs can't even negotiate their worth. They throw the offer letters on your laps and you either take it or any of the many other qualified candidates will take it. 
The people know that the jobs are not there but they don't understand that the jobs are not there, so they are brokenhearted after every unsuccessful attempt thinking that they are the problem. But the problem is most often not with the applicants, it is the system that is messed up. 

Oh African child
Where doth they hope lie

What happened to the days when employers were glad to recruit university graduates into their workforce. If I was well informed I heard the trend was: go to school, graduate, get the job that has been waiting for you all this while, get offered a car and comfortable housing. These benefits are no more! But wait a minute, I think the benefits are still there, but they are reserved for those without black skins. They treat the son of the soil like crap and offer the best of the best to foreigners, they are the ones enjoying the best of this land, they are the ones lodged in posh hotels eating the best dishes and living in the best suites. Agreed they are competent, but must they rub it in our faces? Can we not grow competent indigenes?

My heart goes out to mothers who borrowed money to send their children to universities with the hope that in a couple of years, there will be reasonable return on investment.  But our graduates are roaming all around the streets looking for the jobs that are not there. Those that are meant to create the jobs have left the world of works, to dwell with the 'powerful' so that they can get into political office and eat 'the good of the land' they've not worked for. If only those political gimmicks can be translated into business strategies, if only that greed can the translated into a thirst for economic growth.  Prices of crude oil has sky rocketed, which means there will be plenty of excess crude oil reserve cash for the nation at the end of the year, but we can't celebrate just yet because we know what selfish channels those funds will be directed into. 

The government is bad and the people are crying
But who/what is the government?
The people are the government 
The people are therefore bad and the people are crying 

Agreed most of the political office holders are not doing it right, but should the captain of industries join them?

If the educated earn that low then we should not be surprised when they tell us that millions of Nigerians live on less than a dollar per day. What are we doing to ourselves, why have we chosen to embrace this poor standard of living. 

My heart bleeds as I share these thoughts and I can't wait to put things in order, I crave for that moment in time when I will be a major employer of labour in this nation. I am too convinced I shall grow a model organisation, I am to convinced that the financial remuneration I will be offering my staff will be enviable worldwide. Reason being that I would be doing it out of love for humanity. We need love to get things right in this country!

Do these things bother you?
Share your opinion...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Would you call it Compromise?

People only dare what they dream. 
But I realise that the processing of daring these things could often be unpredictable, along your way you tread smooth paths, crooked ones, you come across cross roads and the likes; the underlying fact is that you are constantly faced with thousand more decisions moments after you make that one supposed 'big' decision.

So I thought to share these thoughts on Negotiation.

Negotiation always means Compromise and Creativity
In the words of George Ross (Donald Trump's legal assistant) from his book Trump Style Negotiation
A basic fact of life is that we never get anything we want. So in the course I teach at New York University I tell my students that negotiation is a process in which people learn to accept an available compromise as a satisfactory substitute for that which they really wanted.

Everybody goes into a transaction thinking that they know exactly what they want. But they usually can't get it, so they have to learn how to compromise along the way..
For example, if I go into a car dealership, I might start out by saying "I'm looking for a sports car with four-wheel drive and a sun roof." Then I see a new model and say, "I really love that one. That's what I want" 

The dealer tells me, "That has everything you said you wanted and it's only $36,000." I didnt intend to spend $36,000 for a car, so I tell the salesperson that's beyond my budget. The salesperson says, "I can show you two other models in the $25,000 range, but neither one has all the features you want. How important are those features to you?" 

Eventually I have to forego some of the frills I wanted... What I ended up with wasn't exactly what I originally had in mind but it was a satisfactory compromise for what I thought I really wanted. Every negotiation and everything you do in life has pluses or minuses - you have to weigh the pluses against the minuses - you have to weigh the pluses against the minuses - and a  decision is reached when the pluses outweigh the minuses. It's that simple, although getting there often involves a lot of frustration, aggravation, and arguments.

What do you want from life?
What has life offered you?
Did these words help relieve that funny after effect of "maybe things would have been perfect if I had gone with plan D" you get after making a decision?
Feel free to share your thoughts on Negotiation.

"Let us never negotiate out of fear. But, let us never fear to negotiate" 
- John F. Kennedy

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Dad died 3years ago. Today, I did something. Wanna know what I did?

I did it
Yes I did it.
U don't get it, do u?
I did it

It's done, let it be.
Why look at me with so much disgust if u truly get it? I try to make u understand, I try to appeal to your reason, but u keep cutting me short with "errr....u don't have to go into the details, I get it"

U don't get it, do u?
For all you care, I did it

If mom had done things differently 2years ago, I wouldn't have done it. But she did what was best for her and because she did it....

Today, I did it
Yes I did it
U don't get it, do u?
I did it
I did it with him

Even though I didn't mean to
The same man mummy did it with it
He did it to my sister
And I was filled with so much rage that I had to do it with him

Did I say I did it WITH him? Oops! I meant I did it TO him

With my sister Cuffed to the bed screaming helplessly as he.... Yes I did it.
Soon to be 6feet down the earth, yes I did it
Broken glass door,White sheets soiled with blood, lifeless body. I did it. I did it because it had to be done.

The knife in the pool of bed, I did it. In fact, the knife did it.

Yes the knife did it
I thought of killing that rapist of a step father
But I'm relieved I did not
I would have been soaked in guilt
I'm relieved I did not

It's feels great to be innocent
Glad I didn't do it afterall
The knife did it
Glad I'm innocent

Sent from my iPod

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Weekend thoughts

It's good to finally get some rest after a long week.

Funny how Monday ended up being my most favourite day of the week. Started with the regular two and a half hour journey to work, plenty to do at work, then I found my way to AAF for a time out with Adaora Mbelu after work.

Even though I got to the event late, I was in time for the question and answer session. Adaora is a very smart young lady, I must say and her CV is just too impressive for her age. She's just 24!

It served as another wake up call for me. Had plenty of small chops to eat and trust me when I say "plenty"! Don't blame me, I was too busy for lunch break and if people like me didn't eat plenty, plenty will waste. Lol
A couple of old faces were at the event, Bede Okoro (celebrity read), Onyeka Nwelue (Blue hills), Nwando (Author of Out of Curiousity), Prince Wale Oreshade (Author of Sad Nectar), Nnaji (Dear Mother) then this Unilag dude that is about to release his first book, a Christian fiction novel (cant remember his name) and a couple of Others.

I also made new friends, Adaora bought a copy of my book, Femi did same and later dropped us home.
Since it was Wale's birthday, we left AAF for the movies to see Battle Los Angeles - first sci-fi movie I was seeing in a very long while. All of the action made it a perfect cinema pick. U might want to see a movie in the company of Wale and Nwando!!! I leave u to find out what ur experience would be like, but I must add that Wale is just a naughty boy!

I've been doing loads of dream work in recent times and I think it's a good thing. I could just sit down for minutes putting things together in the invisible realm and I have loads of fun doing it. But often times when I tell people that, they see me as a joker; I leave time to judge anyways.
We are getting there!

Sent from my iPod

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The video you have been waiting for

I promised to upload a video of my studio session yesterday and the interesting thing about the video is that there is no video! The talk about wanting to be a 'cool kid' was all a joke!
Where do I start my apologies from?
I thought to myself that it would only make sense for my 1st post for the month of April to be an April fool so pardon me for exciting ur imagination in the wrong direction.
I still can't believe you guys took me for real, it goes a long way in showing how much u guys believe in me and I'm really touched by that.

But seriously, can u imagine Tolu Akanni rapping? hehehehe

I am no rapper, I'm a writer and a speaker. I've missed blogging and I think I'm back!

My 2nd book should be hitting the book stores late summer and I'm trusting God for the best.
It just occurred to me that I didn't get any official review for A-Z (Myne and Harry!!!!! take note :|)

In the coming weeks, I will be doing a review on the patterns of success. I read the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell in February and I'm yet to recover from the amazing discoveries and insights from the book. The book inspired me to do a shallow research and I can't wait to share  my findings!



"All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible."

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The post is titled...

Death of Autotune writing skills

Hi, I'm Tolu Akanni.

Contrary to your opinion, you don't know me!
As in you do not know me
I'm popularly known as a writer but that was in my past life. These days I don't write anymore.
I stopped writing for a simple reason, life as I have seen it in recent times has taught me that cool kids don't write. 'Cool kids' rap

I want to be a cool kid!

As in, being a cool kid is just coooooooooool!!

I'm gonna be 22 in 40 days and I want to be a cool kid by 22, so instead of doing non-cool stuffs like writing, these days I spend time in the studio spitting sick rap lines...trust me, I'm good!

The nice thing about this all is that I'm dropping a video of one of my studio sessions on this blog tomorrow....stay tuned!