Inside Soala’s Head (Part One)

I’m back.

steph

(I hope. I’ve started writing at least a hundred times and stopped and I really hope this time I see this through.)

To everyone who has asked me to write again, this is for you.

I’m currently writing this very part at 1:30am, when I said I would be doing my research work, but ehn, tomorrow is another day.

For as long as I remember, writing has been my escape, it’s truly the only way I know how to sort out the issues in my head. And since I love to write, it seems like I hit the jackpot right? However, I’ve written less and less as the years have gone on. I’ve tried to pinpoint exactly why and I think I figured it out now. My resistance to doing this thing I love started at ALA because of one thing, reflection. Everyone that has passed through those gates at 1050 Printech Ave is all too familiar with reflecting. We reflected before class, after class, in between class, before seminal readings… you get the point. Well, I started to hate reflecting, honestly just because at the core, I’m a contrarian. My natural instinct is to reject (what I guess should be) the natural order. I don’t like accepting things that just are. My immediate reaction to something that everyone does is to ask why. So slowly, I started hating reflecting. As time went on at ALA, I wrote shorter, less honest reflections. By the time I graduated, I only reflected when it was absolutely mandatory. The worst part of all this is that reflecting is actually healthy and in my case, is actually necessary to survive. Some of my friends and family know I’ve been dealing with some… er…things, and instead of writing to release, I kept things bottled up. I spend all my time inside my own head. No more. I’m hoping this is the beginning of me starting to cope with life in a healthy way. So welcome to Inside Soala’s Head Part One.

So where to start.

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about privilege. I think I’ve lived quite a privileged life. I’ve spent almost half my life on some sort of scholarship that has seen me through really good boarding schools in Nigeria, South Africa and now college in America. I’m currently getting paid to do a research internship at MIT, in spaces where few others I grew up with could probably picture. However, one question has been plaguing my mind for about a year. What would other Nigerians accomplish if they were given the opportunities I’ve had the privilege of enjoying. Or even half of it. And this isn’t about me playing down the role I’ve played. I’ve worked. I do believe I deserve to be where I am. But I know I’m not the most hard-working. I’m not the smartest. My journey started because my mother saw an ad for Day Waterman College in the newspaper. My path completely changed because of that, even though my innate ability has probably been the same level it has always been. People get on stages, give Ted Talks and preach about how their success is because of their hard work. I don’t think they’re lying. I just think it’s a small part of the truth. No one wants to acknowledge the role luck has to play. We all know poor, unsuccessful people that are incredibly hard working. They just haven’t landed that opportunity. I think successful societies rise from the pool of opportunities that exist in that society. Being in America, I’ve seen how people piss away opportunity after opportunity, and still have another opportunity that they ride to success. I did the same recently, if you know, you know (adlib: yeugh), and almost lost everything. It humbled me. Thankfully, I have the privilege of being able to make mistakes. The rules are different for many Nigerians. One mistake might be the end of the road for some. The vast majority of the country might never have that one opportunity in the first place. Nigeria is now officially the poverty capital. We have the most people living in absolute poverty, taking over this ‘prestigious honour’ from India. India has over a billion people. We have just under 200 million. So instead of advancing, we’re taking multiple steps back. Fewer and fewer people are going to have access to opportunities so that they can succeed. It’s a sobering thought.

For about four/five years now, I’ve known that my biggest passion is development in Nigeria. It has informed every educational and career decision I’ve made. It has pushed me towards research. It’s the reason I want to get a PhD. It’s my only motivation to get into politics in Nigeria. And every step I take towards that goal, it’s really overwhelming how huge the task is. And I don’t mean that in some saviour kind of way. I don’t think I’m going to ‘save’ Nigeria. Even if I do everything I want to do in this life, Nigeria will probably not be close to where it should can be by the time I die. And if I don’t do anything, Nigeria won’t miss me. I just mean… Nigeria’s problems affect lives, real lives, not numbers. It’s easy to read the news and see “181 people killed in attacks” and say, damn, that’s sad. But that’s 181 different lives, just as unique and as precious as your own. An estimated 87 million Nigerians live in absolute poverty. That’s 87 million people that will probably never reach the potential they have because of the lack of opportunity around them. That’s probably why I’m so passionate about development, no one should be cursed to a life of poverty because of something as random as birth.

Well that’s it for Inside Soala’s Head: Part One.

life update: i pulled a muscle on the treadmill this morning. in my honest opinion, this confirms what i’ve always known that running is of the devil and of course has nothing to do with my ridiculous habit of never stretching.

 

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Why I Believe in Love

Hello

To the people who have wondered (and in some cases asked me directly) why i haven’t written anything on my blog, I’m sorry. E ma bi nu. Take this small post (even though this really isn’t for you).

I was on a train back to school post spring break when I got the inspiration to write this post. Hopefully I finish it and actually post it. I’ve gone through the process of writing a lot of times but stopped myself every time because of one reason or the other. When people ask me why I haven’t posted on my blog I always say it’s because I haven’t been inspired. Usually I get inspired when I get angry (read my blog and you’ll quickly realize my posts are just me ranting) and recently things don’t make me angry anymore. Okay they do. But it’s not an active anger. It’s more like disappointment rather than passionate, “let’s-do-something-about-it” anger. So I haven’t really written anything. But this time, (as you might have guessed from the title of this post) I’m inspired by love. So let’s go.

Today is the 1st of April. Happy Easter everyone. It’s also April’s Fools Day. People are going to play the same old pranks they play every year. “Mummy I got someone pregnant” “Daddy I’m dropping out of school”. I’m not big on pranks. Partly because I’m the kind of person that likes to take people at their word all the time so I don’t really see the point. Also, if I tell my mother that I got someone pregnant, as soon as you can see the two ticks on WhatsApp I’m 100% sure my mother will be beside me pulling my ear and knocking my head, even though I’m in America and she’s in Nigeria. Don’t ask me how. It will happen.

April 1 is important to me (and my family) because it’s my parents’ anniversary. Many many years ago, when I first found out my parents’ anniversary fell on April Fools, I had a funny idea/thought. I’ve never told anyone in my family. I’ll tell you now (they all read my blog so it’s cool). Imagine if my dad really courted my mum, proposed to her, planned a marriage, and then when the pastor asked him to say I do, he said “April Fools” and walked out of the church. Well thank God that didn’t happen because I wouldn’t be here writing any of this.

A lot of my friends know my thoughts on relationships/love. It’s not something I’m going to get into details and my reasoning because 1) that’s not the point of this. 2) it’s a lot. So let’s save that for another time. However, the main reason I believe in love is because of my parents. If God blesses me with a marriage half as loving as the one my parents have I will die a happy man. The love they have for each other and for my brothers and I inspires me. The sacrifices they constantly make for me renders me speechless. The support I’ve seen them give each other for decades is incredible. It’s not that their marriage is perfect, nothing is. But through everything it’s clear that there is true love at the foundation of it all. I wish I could go into detail but family business is family business. I believe in love because I look at my parents and know it is real and it is possible.

Alright the rest of you close your eyes, the next little bit is for my parents:

I love you more than you’ll ever know. Thinking about it right now brings tears to my eyes. There are no English words that capture the ferocity and depth of my love. I wish I could speak Yoruba or Kalabari because even though I don’t know those languages, I know in my heart that there’s something pure about our languages that would allow me to convey what I mean. I guess there’s only so much one can do with a borrowed language. You’re the best parents anyone could ever wish for and you make me want to be the best version of myself I could be. I want to ‘blow’ so you never have to stress over anything ever again. I want to be worthy of being your son. TWENTY NINE YEARS OF MARRIAGE. Ko easy. Happy Anniversary.

 

life updates: i wrote a short story in my fiction writing class. my professor liked it. a lot. I think I’m going to take a leap of faith and try submit it to some magazines or wherever people submit short stories. obviously after i edit it a little.

The case for colonialism

The case for colonialism

Hello, I’m back. Just for a little while. Just to vent real quick.

So I saw this abstract floating around on the internet, Facebook to my exact. Honestly I’m pretty convinced nothing good comes from Facebook, that is why I don’t go scrolling down my Facebook news feed. However, I haven’t been able to bring myself to delete the app, after all it’s kinda useful to figure out people’s birthdays and such. My current issue with Facebook is that I have to clear the notifications (Why are people still sending Candy Crush requests on Facebook in 2017? At your big age?). So that was what I was trying to do today, clearing my notifications. But even before I could get there, the first thing I saw was this title in bold letters, “The case for colonialism”.

I know it seems like the new trendy thing to do is to dispute commonly held beliefs, especially in this America place. “The world is flat”. “Oh that isn’t racism, it’s just economic anxiety”. “The real racists are the people always crying race”. “Kevin Durant is the best player in the NBA”. You know, stupid stuff. But what you’re NOT going to do, Dr. Bruce Gilley, thou of a Princeton Ph.D. (yes I googled him), is open your big fat mouth to say “Western colonialism was, as a general rule, both objectively beneficial and subjectively legitimate”. No, you don’t get to do that. Not today boy, not today.

The first thing I wanted to do when I saw the abstract was read the paper, and so I searched the Internet and my school’s library, but a paywall lay between Bruce Gilley’s words and my waiting eyes. And no, I’m not going to pay to read a trash paper just so I can call it trash. I’ll just skip the inbetween and jump right to the trash calling.

I sincerely marvel at the audacity, the brash, stupid audacity, it takes to say that countries that embraced the forceful takeover of their homes, societies and resources were better off than countries that resisted the hostile crimes committed against them. I really thought it was an Onion article. This is an educated opinion oh.

You know what Bruce Gilley, what I want you do is gather all the African leaders and preach your beliefs to them. You don’t need to add the ways in which the West has continued to hamper the development of the countries they lead and how they’ve grown on the backs of their countries. After all many of them were your partners in these endeavours. Instead let them know that Western countries enriching themselves with the resources stolen from their land was beneficial for the countries made up from thin air and left behind to suddenly figure out nation building. Then go to the African people, and tell them about the extractive institutions their colonial masters implemented so that they could get as much as they could out of the land before handing the manual over to the elites they trained in their universities who replaced a British or French pocket with their own. Tell them it was all for their good. Suggest that they submit themselves to British control again. Maybe this time, you can meet in New York instead of Berlin to determine how the West creates new Western colonies.

Make your case for colonialism, I dare you.

 

Life update: Oh GREs, you think I don’t recognize you because you changed your name? I can smell ridiculous examination methods regardless of the form you choose to take, SAT. You can’t fool me SAT. I beat you once, I’ll beat you again.

 

Thoughts While Running

Over the last several months, I have opened this page to start writing at least four times. Each time, I deleted everything I wrote and closed the tab. Let’s hope this one is different. I’ve been telling myself (and everyone that asks) that I’m not inspired by anything to write. That’s true. But it’s also true that I’ve missed writing more than I can really express. So what I’m deciding to do is to start writing about the very ordinary things that happen in my life. So I’m starting with something that has become very ordinary in my life: Running.

Sidenote: One of the times I opened this page to write was sometime last month about this very topic I am writing about now. The title I had in mind was “Thoughts of a Runner while Running”. I scrapped it because I thought to myself, Soala you can not be intellectually dishonest with these people. How can you call yourself a runner? I am not a runner, in fact, I believe I am the opposite of a runner. You might think the opposite of a runner is someone who doesn’t run at all. Wrong. The opposite of a runner is someone who runs, but runs very wrong. I’m pretty sure my running form is wrong, my arms swing wrong, how I breathe while running is wrong, how I manage drinking water so I don’t get dehydrated is wrong… You get the idea.

Running. Oh Running. How did we get here? For the record, I hate running. Hateeeeeee it. So how has running become regular in my life? Before summer started, I decided that I was going to be really serious about working out this summer and so I created a workout program for myself and it included running about three times a week. So since the end of May, I have been running regularly three times a week. It’s trash. It feels terrible. But I’m committed. Even though it’s been a few hours since I actually went on my run, I’m going to try chronicle what was running through my mind while my body was running.

0.2 miles – Oh woah, Soala. Are you sure you can do this today? This is going to be brutal oh no. Oh no. Oh no.

0.5 miles – What route should you take? If you go around school, mentally it’s easier because you know exactly when you’ll need to stop. But it’s sunny out and if you take the back road and go off campus you can run in the shade. (My school is in Smithfield, right outside my school is suburban America, which, as everyone knows, is overflowing with hella trees).

0.7 miles – Alright left or right. Going right means going uphill but going left means all those racist dogs.

Sidenote: I love dogs. Absolutely love dogs. However, the dogs in this Smithfield area, they’re a bit racist not gonna lie. Let me explain. When I take the back road on my routes, I run past a lot of houses. I’ve never run past a house that has a dog without the dog raising hell that I’m daring to be in its vicinity. And I’m on the road oo. I used to think it was because when I would run, I would have my speaker in a knapsack and run with that on my back. I thought it was the music that was bringing out the unfriendliness from the dogs. But I started using earphones and taking new roads and still dogs everywhere would run to their fences and bark at me. Now I don’t blame the dogs. I just think they haven’t seen black people before and thus, don’t know how to react to one that’s simply running on the road in front of them. But anyways, it’s not important.

1 mile – oh woah you’re really sweating. Did you even check how hot it is. What if you get dehydrated?

1.2 miles – WHOSE IDEA WAS IT TO HAVE ROADS THAT GO UPHILL? HAVE YOU NO SOUL?!?!

1.4 miles – Okay your earphones keep slipping out, just go without it for a while. It’s not like you actually listen to the music when you’re running…. Okayyyy, you can hear everything now. Including your own breathing. Kai, are you sure this your running is normal? This one that you’re breathing like someone is dying.

1.45 miles – KAKLDIEFEMDJN DJFNEEJIFE ICEJMINDIENND alright you’re thinking too much about everything put your earphones back in.

2 miles – Oh woah. This feels good. This might be one of your good run days Soala. This really feels good.

2.3 miles – HONESTLY THE PERSON THAT MADE THIS ROAD GO UPHILL, GOD WILL REWARD YOU. DON’T WORRY.

2.7 miles – Don’t worry Soala, no matter what it feels like, your calves won’t explode. Neither will your lungs. Just finish.

2.8 miles – Who begged you to run oo? WHO ACTUALLY ASKED YOU?

you’ve reached your goal. congratulations.

3 miles – Good run Soala. That wasn’t so bad. Another one tomorrow.

 

Life update: You know how people luck their way into getting lifetime supplies of whatever it is from the company? Yeah I need that in my life, for granola bars. I tried to get sponsored by Skittles before. I sent them a nice funny email. It didn’t work out. So I’m all out of ideas on how to get sponsored by food companies. But if by any chance a Nature Valley representative is reading this, message me, let’s build.

I Swear I’m Not Depressed

 

I wrote two versions of this. The first was me just typing for about 15 mins to get things out of my mind. Then I deleted it all. Now I’m hoping to be coherent and not delete it this time.

First of all, Mummy and Daddy (they read my blog), I’m not depressed. Don’t worry at all. It’s not that. I know it’s scary to read depression and see it’s something your son wrote. We good? Okay cool.

I do think that in Nigeria we need to take mental issues way more seriously. We don’t address things till people run away and live on the streets for the rest of their lives. We think things like, “Depression is oyinbo wahala”, “we don’t have these things here” (also, I think it’s the funniest thing when Nigerians lie to themselves that things they see in the West aren’t present in Nigeria. Nah g, you just close your eyes). We don’t realize that these issues should be taken serious and treated. It’s not only pray (I’m not saying prayer isn’t important), sometimes go to the hospital.

Now, again, I’m not depressed. I just have depressing thoughts sometimes. You get me? It’s only recently that I actually realized what it was. I call myself a realist a lot. People that know me call me a pessimist. I will like to officially come out as a pessimistic realist. Because I do think of myself as a realist, it’s just that realistically, a lot of things are negative. You underdig? (Underdig is a slang I have recently fallen in love with. It’s you dig and you understand together. I just love it.)

There are two main groups of things that lead me to have depressing thoughts sometimes. The first is the news. Everything going on in the world today. Syria. Sudan. The Palestine-Israel conflict. Somalia. Congo. Nigeria. Terrorism. Racism. Sexism. All the isms. It’s the realization that we have so much wrong with the world, and we always have. People have a tendency to romanticize the past, nah g, the past was trash too. It’s all so…sad. I don’t like happy movies as much anymore. It’s not even anything wrong with the movies. I just don’t see it as a reflection of actual life. I connect with complicated and  conflicted characters and story lines that swim in the pool between black and white. Maybe that’s why i like Fences so much. (If you haven’t watched that movie it’s so good, you have to watch it.)

I’m passionate about the development of Nigeria. So some of my research interests are Nigerian history and development economics as I try to understand why we are where we are. And just realizing all that has happened and continues to happen is so depressing. And I’m not even that knowledgeable about that stuff! But starting to see the issues with globalization and the present iteration of capitalism makes me wonder if this thing I’m so passionate about can ever be realized. Sometimes I just think, “What’s the point to all this?” And on those days, I’m sad.

But it’s okay. Because those days are few, and they are not everyday. I am happy often. There’s so much great entertainment out there in terms of movies and music that I can barely enjoy it all. I have wonderful friends who always make my day. I am lucky enough to have a loving family. My life has meaning and purpose. This might be the best NBA season to have followed. Arsenal is trash but I’m at peace with it. When I think “What’s the point of it all?” I remember all the problems that have already been solved in the world, or are getting closer to being solved. Solutions to complicated problems take time, but that does not mean we stop trying. Yes there’s wrong in the world, but there is also a lot of right and good. Life is balanced that way.

 

Life update: I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about if presidents have time to go to the gym. From what I’ve read all these presidents barely get time to sleep, so I wonder if any of them lift weights. I’m just curious.

The Economics Behind Turning Twenty (and Gift-Giving in General)

 

Hello,

On the 19th of February, I will be turning 20. I’m not one for celebrations. (I was going to treat myself to a spa day. After some quick looking around on the internet, I found out that my wallet is not looking to treat me to a spa day. Why is taking care of yourself so expensive? Biko why?) I’m not going to do anything for my birthday. I was considering making this a Facebook post, but realizing how I wanted to explain this, I thought it might be too long for a Facebook post but it’s not really something I want on my blog. I’ll decide later (I guess by reading this you know what I decided). Since I already said I’m not one for celebrations, you might be wondering, then why am I writing anything at all about it? Let me explain.

A very small minority of you might be thinking of getting me a birthday present. About half of that minority will actually agree in their heads that they’ll get me something and about seventy five percent of that group will end up giving me a gift. Please do not feel any pressure to get me a present, like at all. That isn’t what this is about. This is for the last group of people that will, pay attention (the rest of you can read on for entertainment and whatnot). Thinking about gift-giving, I realized that market failure was a big problem. Think about it, all of you, of all the gifts you get, how many of those gifts were things you wanted, liked or ended up using? Now I’m not saying you didn’t appreciate the gifts, because Lord knows you should appreciate any sort of present. However, wouldn’t it be better if the utility of whoever is receiving the gifts was maximized? I’m reading this book called “Who Gets What and Why” and it’s all about market failure and market design. I’m trying to get rid of the market failure of your gifts being forgotten and so this is my first attempt at market design. A wish list. Specifically my Amazon wish list. Now you can see what exactly Soala wants. This is the link here: http://a.co/1FiaFyD . One is not more important than the other. Most of the items on there are books (in fact everything bar one is a book). The books are all different genres and on different subjects, if you want to have a conversation on certain books I want to read, message me. Now, I’m not saying you have to get me something off my wish list (if you are getting me something at all). I just feel that this is a logical solution to a problem with gift giving. Now, you might feel like you know me well enough, and that you can think of a present that I would appreciate and actually use, go for it. But think about it, are you sure? Like really really sure? Personally when I give presents I like to think hard about it and give a thoughtful present. I wouldn’t use someone else’s wish list to be honest. Sha, oh well, do as you will.

One gift not on my wish list that is more than welcome is money. Woo, money is a wonderful gift. In fact, if you’re in doubt, just give me money. I promise to use (most of) the money for the things on my wish list. You can put the money in an envelope and send it to my address (which I would be more than happy to provide). You can venmo it to me. I also have paypal. You can do mobile transfer for Bank of America. Any way you can send money is the right way to send money.

 

Life update: I’m committed to replacing “What’s good?” in my personal vocabulary with “What’s gucci?” Take all complaints to management (Baba God).

I SOLVED AMERICA’S GUN PROBLEM

I think America has a big gun problem. I’m just going to start off and say that. It’s a huge issue that has polarized the nation. And I have the solution. Yes, me, a 19 year old teenager on a smelling F1 visa, has solved one of America’s biggest social problems. Don’t start clapping yet, hold the applause. Well, if you must insist, thank you. President Obama, if you’re reading this, for my reward – I would like to visit the White House. It would also be nice if I got a tour led by you, but I know you’re a busy man and all that. I wouldn’t ask, but I kinda just solved one of your country’s biggest issues so I would appreciate it. If you really really can’t give the tour, then I guess Malia’s hand in marriage would do make a pretty cool tour guide. I know you’ll come through clutch, thanks BroPOTUS (can I call you BroPOTUS, it just came to me right now and I think it’ll catch on.)

Now, on to the actual solution. It’s quite simple really.

Give everyone guns.

When I say everyone, I mean EVERYONE. Now you might think, that doesn’t make sense Soala – what about kids? Yes, I know we hear stories about how kids mistakenly kill their gun instructors, their neighbours, their siblings, their parents… But the problem can’t be that these kids could access guns in the first place, less guns can’t be the answer, then it must be because they aren’t being trained early enough! As soon as they pop out of the womb, their parents should hand them miniature guns (I’m sure the gun manufacturers would be more than happy to make those) then let them pull the trigger once so that they get used to it. Also, I’m sure when they hear the sound of the gun firing there wouldn’t be any newborn crying (which takes care of another problem, man I’m really cranking out these solutions).Who’s going to be crying at the sight of glorious, magnificent guns? Maybe tears of joy. Birthdays would be easier to shop for, ammunition would make a great present. You could buy an AR15 for your child’s 6th birthday. You could register them at your local gun range and even get a special little kid’s discount! Once everyone has decades of training under their belts, I’m sure no one would ever make any mistakes with their guns. I mean, clearly, people who have gone through rigorous training for decades would never ever kill innocent people right, even with their hands up? Nah that never happens.

We’ve all heard that argument, that if you make it harder for people to get guns legally, then only the criminals will have guns. That’s why everyone should have guns. Imagine this, a group of criminals tries robbing a bank. Everyone pulls out their guns and starts shooting. In the midst of the chaos, I’m pretty sure all the robbers would be hit, eventually. It might take a couple hundred bullets and some innocent civilians being hit because of all the bullets flying around the entire place, but hey, what’s a measly handful of innocents to justice? What’s a couple of people losing fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters to taking down the bad guys and the adrenaline rush that comes from saving everyone that’s still alive? When the police come, pronounce that you’ve made their work easier for them, that together, you civilians stopped the robbers. If they try to arrest you for murder, explain that they were in the way, or that you missed slightly while you were shooting at the bad guys. Oh wait what was that? One of the people that you were sure was a robber had nothing to do with the crime? There must have been a mistake. He looked like a big bad guy. You could just tell. Don’t worry, you did the right thing guys.

My friend (shout out to the boy Ukairo) goes to school in Texas and if I’m not wrong, students are allowed to carry weapons. At first I was concerned, but now, I think that’s a beautiful idea. Imagine a college campus, complete young adults having to deal with the stress of deadlines, add the overindulgence in alcohol, and throw guns in the mix. That’s a recipe for success if you ask me. Nothing could possibly go wrong. Imagine if there was a school shooting at a college, now instead of one person shooting at everyone, it would everyone shooting at everyone! Wouldn’t that be fun?

I’m honestly surprised no one’s thought about this before. Since less guns can’t solve the problem, more will definitely do the job. Since I’ve successfully conquered this problem, I think I’ll solve the next big American problem: Fix the political climate. What about this? No regulation on Super PACs, let’s just pour money into the system. The new less is more!

 

 

 

Life update: I’m a sophomore now. The biggest difference is that I no longer disrespect my trim. When I was a freshman, I used to go to Sportclips for my haircut. Nothing wrong with Sportclips, great place, nice people, and there is always a bowl of Skittles at the waiting area. But the haircut was just average. Just there. Nothing special. This year, I decided I had had enough. If I cannot respect my trim, how can I expect people to respect me? The trim is important, it is a key part of life. I can tell so much about a man from his trim. So now, fresh trims only! Here’s to more revelations this year.