my face with the edge of my cardigan. He stood up from the chair and tames to sit beside me on the bed. He grabbed my hand and squeezed gently. ‘Are you okay now?” “Yes, I am…fine. I am fine, “I said and managed a smile. “Aliya, I want you to listen to me.
I had no idea this was happening, but I totally understand. I’m with you on this and I promise you, I’ll deal with it. Thank you for telling me.” I sniffed and looked at his face. Sitting so close to me, I was struck by the resemblance between us. It always came as a bit of a surprise. For a moment, I almost felt like I glimpsed my own face in a moving mirror. “Thank you, Daddy.” He drew back a little, so he could look directly at me.
“I remember another Gandhi quote: ‘Nobody can hurt me without my permission’:That’s what Gandhi said. ‘Nobody can hurt me without my permission’.” “Nobody can hurt me without my permission, “I repeated after him. “You see, my darling, no matter what you do, you would not be able to control how other people behave towards you. But you know what? You can control how they make you feel.” “I hear you, Daddy, but it’s so difficult when people just pick on you that way.” “I know.
But I want you to know something else; how you feel about yourself is more important than how other people make you feel. You need to develop confidence in how you look. For me, you are the most beautiful girl in the world, “he said with a big smile. “I know you said that just to make me feel good,”I said, shyly. “Well, I guess that’s miles better than saying something that makes you feels bad.
But seriously, when I said you are the most beautiful girl in the world that is in a manner of speaking. But there is no doubt that you are a very beautiful and exceptionally intelligent girl. Do not allow anybody to make you think any less of yourself.” “But sometimes, I think maybe they are right. How come all the beauty contestants and the models are always like that? As in, tall and stick-thin? I mean, I have never seen a model that looks like me.” He sighed and seemed to be thinking of what I just said.
“Well, Aliya, I want to assure you that what you see in the media is the media’s representation of beauty, which is also rooted in some people’s narrow idea of beauty. Reality often differs from what the media likes to present to us as standard. The only place I have seen everyone looking the same is in a can of sardines.” I actually found that funny.
“People come in all shapes and sizes,” he continued. “Fat, slim, tall, short, dark, fair, round, square. They are all beautiful. Everyone needs to embrace the way they look and should not allow anyone to define them. If you feel good about yourself, feel confident about yourself and carry yourself with pride, for me, that is beauty. You know what I’m thinking?” “What?”I asked. “I may be wrong. But I suspect that somehow, you have also accepted the standard definition of beauty as tall and skinny. You may not even be aware of this. That is what the media does to you.” I pushed further. “Hmm… maybe you’re right.
But that’s what everybody thinks. How come that on TV, for example, clowns and stupid people are always fat? Also, I’ve never heard anybody say ‘ugly slim girl’. It’s always ‘fat and ugly’ that go together.” “Aliya, listen to me. I have told you before, everybody can be wrong. Everybody.
Secondly, the examples you’ve given are just some of the ways the media promote stereotypes while presenting some people’s culture as the global culture or the standard that everybody should live by. This is just not true. I know some cultures where the norm is for women to put on weight in order to attract suitors for marriage.”
“No, Daddy that cannot be true!” “Yes, it is. Do you know that in Mauritania, they used to have what is called ‘fat-farms’, where girls were force-fed to fatten them up, because in that society, an attractive woman is the one that is plump? I guess it’s not that different from the ‘fattening rooms’ among our own Efik people of Calabar, where girls are held in seclusion and fattened up in preparation for marriage.” “Wow.
That’s quite interesting, “I said. “It is, isn’t it? The point here is that different cultures have different definitions of beauty. In some cultures, a beautiful woman has to be curvy. In some, a woman is not beautiful unless she has a long neck. In others, she must have full lips, sometimes referred to as ‘thick lips’. This even extends to skin color.
In some cultures, the beautiful woman is the one with pale white skin. In others, she has to be dark brown. Yet, in others, the most beautiful woman is the one that is ebony black.” “So, Daddy, which one do you like?”I asked mischievously. “You are a silly girl,” he said, and we both laughed. “if you want to know which one I like, just look at your mother.”
“But seriously, Daddy, why do some girls bleach their skin?”I asked. “I guess, it boils down to lack of self-confidence. Girls who bleach their skin are obviously trying to fit into some people’s definition of beauty as light skin. But it is a dangerous thing to do. The chemicals used in bleaching creams and other concoctions come with long term health risks, including skin cancer.They can even cause damage to internal organs.” “Don’t the users know this?” “Self-hatred can be an overwhelming thing. Some people just hate the way they look,”he said. “But the women who bleach their skin, I guess they do so because they want to make themselves more attractive to men.” ” Well, I have also seen men who bleach. So, what are we to say to that?”
“Yuck,”I grimaced. “I know. But the bottom line is, people have to accept who they are. You have to be comfortable in your own skin. If you accept who you are and you are proud of yourself; other people will love and accept you for who you are.”
“I would hate to change who I am because of a man,” I said, almost defiantly. “Well, I definitely would hate to see you change who you are because of anybody.
Whoever likes you must accept you the way you are. For me, the way you are is just so beautiful,”he said and we both laughed. “But on a more serious note, Aliya,” he said and sat up as if he just remembered something very important.
“Beauty is total. Physical beauty, however it is defined, is very important. But you see, a truly beautiful person is one who is beautiful in character and comportment.
If you speak kindly to people, you treat everyone with respect, you are not vulgar, you carry yourself with grace and self-confidence and you are generous. To me, these qualities are even more difficult to find in people than the physical beauty.”
“Is this is meant by ‘beauty is nothing, but character is needed’?”I asked. “I suppose so. I think the intention of that expression is not to say that physical beauty is not important. I mean, you have to like someone and find them attractive before you may even have the opportunity to see all these other qualities. But physical beauty alone is not enough.
A truly beautiful person is someone who is a real human being.” “Daddy, when you said ‘generous’, do you mean… like, giving people things?” “Yes, to a large extent. It means going out of your way to make other people happy without expecting anything in return.
Sometimes, this may not be more than just a smile, you know.” “A smile?” “Yes, a smile may be just what some people need to make their day.” “Well, I really don’t smile a lot. Maybe it’s something I need to improve on. Smile, smile, smile, I hummed to myself. “And he smiled.
“That reminds me, Daddy. You remember what you said in your letter, that I should expect to be treated with respect by everybody? I read somewhere that Muhammad Ali said the same thing to his daughter, even though he did not put it in exactly the same words.”
When I read what Ali told his daughter, I felt that was exactly the kind of thing my father would say to me. “How did Muhammad Ali put it?”Daddy asked.
“He told his daughter to always expect to be treated like a queen.” “Yes, Ali was right. Every girl should expect to be treated like a queen. But you know why a queen is treated like a queen?” “Because she is… powerful?”
JAMB speaks on UTME mock exam
The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) has said candidates who are yet to receive notification for its Mock Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) may not have indicated interest at the point of UTME registration.
The Head, Media and Information of the board, Dr Fabian Benjamin, made the clarification in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Lagos.
NAN reports that, of about 1.9 million candidates who registered for the 2019 UTME, which is computer-based, a total of 157,631 indicated interest for the mock as at the close of UTME registration on Feb. 21.
“We have concluded plans for the conduct of this Mock UTME scheduled to hold on April 1.
“Some candidates have been saying they are yet to receive and print their notification slips for this mock examination. I think that has nothing to do with the board because all those who indicated interest to participate have all been notified.
“Again, some of them might have registered late. However, the examination is optional, and I do not think there is any cause to worry,’’ he said.
Printing of notification slip of the main UTME will begin on April 2, while the examination will start from April 11.
SWEET SIXTEEN: FINAL EPISODE
“Not really. A queen is treated like a queen because a queen behaves like a queen. Respect can only be commanded by self-respect. If a queen behaves like a tramp, she would be treated like one.” “I guess you are right. I didn’t think of that,”I said.
“You see Aliya, if you bought a new dress and throw it on the floor, people would be justified to use it as a rag and mop the floor with it. But if you have a dress, even though it is not so new, but you keep it clean and hang it in your wardrobe, no one would treat it like a rag, or dare to clean the floor with it. That is why the Yoruba say, ‘Bi onigba ba se pe igba re, bee naa la maa ba pee’.” I was still thinking about this when he said, “That girl, the one that you said was picking on you, what’s her name again?” “Bunmi, that’s her name,”I replied. “Bunmi, yes.
That’s it. Why do you think Bunmi would be picking on you like that?” “I don’t know.We are not even in the same class. Yes, we are in the same hostel, but we are not in the same room. I can’t remember ever doing anything to offend her,”I said. I had also asked myself the question several times. Once, I even toyed with the idea of confronting her to tell me how I might have offended her. But I did not have the courage to follow through. The closest I came to understanding why she kept picking on me was when she said one day that I was rude because I thought I was better than everyone else.
True, I had finished almost every term with the best overall results. Everyone knew this because my picture was always on the notice board in front of the administration building. But I never thought I was better than anybody. Most of the time,I just kept to myself and did my thing. After a few minutes of silence, Daddy said, “You know, when people bully other people, its usually because they think those people are better than them in some ways or have something they cannot have. Come to think of it, can you pull down something that is beneath you? No. You can only pull down something that is above you.
Bullies are mostly driven by jealousy and a deep sense of unworthiness, an inferiority complex. They only feel better about themselves when they make you feel bad about yourself. So, back to where we started earlier, you must not give them that pleasure. Ultimately, what they do to you says more about them than about you.” “Well, thank God she is gone now,”I said, heaving a sigh of relief. “Gone? Where did she go?” Daddy asked as he stood up, stretching a little.
“She has graduated now.You forgot I told you she was in SS3.” “Oh, yes, I forgot that. But now that you are going to be a Senior yourself, you have to use your own experience to stand up for other children who may become victim to bullies.” “You know, Daddy, I am going to be a prefect.”
“Really? I didn’t know that? Which prefect?” he asked almost excitedly. “Head Girl,”I said. “Wow.that’ s good. Now, you would even be in a better position to help other students.” “Of course. Daddy, I even want to donate something to the school clinic.” “Like what?” “The Nebuliser.
We don’t have any in the clinic, and there are so many asthmatic students, many of them don’t have inhalers. One girl in our hostel nearly died last term because she suddenly had an attack and she didn’t have an inhaler. She was lucky that I had one to spare. But I think if we have the Nebuliser, it can be used for everyone when that kind of thing happens.” “That is very thoughtful of you, my darling.
Now, that’s what I call beauty— making a meaningful impact in the lives of others.” I laughed heartily, feeling very pleased with myself. “Daddy.” “Yes, my darling.” “I just want to thank you for everything you have taught me. I have learnt so much. You are the greatest father in the entire universe.” “Universe? Not even world?” He laughed. He walked towards me and gave me a big hug. Then, he gently pushed me back. “Sit down, I want to tell you another story,” he said as he also sat back on my reading chair. “Okay Daddy, I am ready. “Once upon a time…” “Time, time, time,”I chorused and we both laughed.
“Once upon a time, there was a hunter who lived in a remote village somewhere in Africa. One day, as it was his wont, he went on a hunting expedition, promising his family that he would come back with assorted game, so they could have a feast. However, after stalking the forest for several days and several nights, there was no game in sight. He thought that perhaps, if he went farther into the forest, he would get lucky. But the farther he went, the more tranquil the forest became, not a rumble or a stir.
He did not even glimpse a rodent. He ran out of food and water. He soon began to starve. But lack of food did not worry him as much as lack of water. Yet, he kept pushing on deeper into the forest. Hunting for game was no longer his priority; he was desperately in need of water, and, maybe food. But he met with no luck.
Soon he began to hallucinate and he feared that he might die. Well, given the circumstances he found himself in, dying would not be such a tragedy. however, if that was his fate, at least he should find a cave or somewhere a little concealed to lay his head and die so that wild animals would not I e a ,sit on his body. As he stood, swaying on one spot, drunk with thirst and suddenly saw a narrow path that he did not notice before. He thought perhaps he was still hallucinating. But he followed the path. Overhead, tree branches formed heavy canopies that shut out the sky.
He trudged on, still hoping to find a spot hidden enough to hold his body. He had not gone beyond a few metres when he came upon an open field that looked like the courtyard of somebody’s house. When he managed to look up, lo and behold, what did he see? A signboard that said, ‘Food is Ready.’ As if that was not exhilarating enough, underneath this advertisement was written, ‘All you can eat for free, your ancestors have paid for yourfood.’ With the last energy he could muster, he trudged towards the direction that the signboard pointed and he soon found himself in a big compound. Everyone he saw appeared busy, dedicated to the affairs of the stomach. Some were pounding yam, some were cooking the soup, some were fetching rice into a large pot, and some were busy skinning freshly killed game of different stripes.
As the famished hunter stood bewildered in the middle of all the frenetic activities of cooking and frying and cutting and pounding, he wondered what to make of the whole scene. Could it be that he had died and had ended up in heaven? He was still trying to make sense of everything when he saw two ladies walk towards him with two crystal jugs of what looked like milk. In all his entire life, he had never beheld such enchanting beauty. One of them handed him the jug she was carrying. He frantically grabbed and downed its entire content in a jiffy. He collected the second one and drained it as well.
He felt a new surge of energy and became even more aware of his environment. He had no doubt that this was the heaven he had heard so much about. The two ladies led him to a room and sat him on a cushion, so soft, softer than any he had ever sat on. They asked what he would like to eat. Even in his excitement, he had a major concern. He had no money.
How would he pay for the food and the drinks? He could not be sure now that he actually saw what he thought he read on the signboard outside, that the food was free because his ancestors had paid. He had no idea that his ancestors ever wandered that way. So, the signboard may be intended for a particular individual, rather than general guests. He summoned the courage to ask the ladies. ‘Is it true, what I saw outside, that food is free because my ancestors had paid?’ They confirmed that it was true. He could eat and drink as much as he could for free, because his parents and parents’ parents had paid for everything. All glory to his ancestors! He asked them to give him anything they had.
They soon returned with a mountain of pounded yam, assorted game meat and chilled juices of different fruits held in sweating crystal jugs.The hunter pounced on the food and the meat. It was the most delicious meal he ever had. He ate his fill. He drank the juices, the taste of which did not belong to this world. When he finished, a new wave of tranquility swept over him and he did not know when he slept off. He could not recollect for how long he slept. But when he woke up, the two angelic ladies were still waiting on him. He thanked them profusely and informed them that he would like to, be on his way. They asked if he enjoyed the food. He said he did and actually he wondered if he could take some with him for the road. They said he could take as much as he liked.
Whereupon, he proceeded to stuff his hunter’s bag with as much fried meat as it could carry. He also filled his water bottle with the juice. He thanked them once again, and set to be on his way. However, as he was about to exit the room, a voice, deep as it was omnipresent, flooded the room, jolting him back. ‘Gentleman, you have not paid.’ What was this? He wondered. ‘But, I was told that I could have anything for free because my parents had paid.’ ‘Yes,’ the voice answered. ‘And you have done just that. But the reason you were able to enjoy the free meal that you just had was that someone else had paid. You too must pay, so that your children coming after you, would also enjoy a free meal, someday, like you just did.'” I waited with bated breath to find out what became of the hunter, but Daddy got up and made for the door.
“Won’t you finish the story? What then happened to the hunter?” “The story is finished. if you think it is not finished, then you are free to finish it. How the story ended is not important. What is important, Aliya, is what the story is telling you. With the letter that I wrote to you on your sixteenth birthday, and the conversations that we have had over this weekend and even before now, I believe that I have paid my own dues to you, just like my parents did to me. You must pay yours too, by passing these teachings to your own children. When they learn from you, they must pass it on to their children, who must in turn pass it on to their own children.
Till the end of time. It is the price that every generation must pay, so that future generations would live better and more fulfilled lives.” After he left the room, I lay back on my bed and cried for a long time. After that, I said a long prayer for him, “God bless you, my father, my teacher, my prophet.”
JAMB reveals how 2019 UTME will be conducted
As the 2019 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME), draws near Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, Registrar, Joint Admission and Matriculations Board (JAMB), said the board has introduced new innovations for successful conduct of 2019 UTME.
Reports that Oloyede made this known in Abuja on Monday at the meeting of critical stakeholders on strategic planning and preparations for supervision and evaluation of administration of 2019 UTME slated to hold between April 11 and April 15.
He said a robust item backed with appropriate safeguard had been developed by moving toward open examination with one million questions per subject which would soon be effected.
A separate indicator had also been created for the deaf (mute) to differentiate them for special attention at the examination centre. Efforts are on to provide option of special centres or mainstreaming for the blind.
“We now have live report on centres that registered any candidate, the time the candidate was registered, who registered the candidate, computer system used, the location of registration.
“All these are done through our enhanced monitoring system. I want to warn candidates expected to sit for its examination to ensure their biometrics were taken and verified or risk sitting for the examination,’’ he said.
He called on candidates to comply with the rules of engagement governing the registration and examination of the UTME.
According to him, biometric verification will be the only mode for admittance of candidates into the examination centres.
He added that increasing threat of identity fraud during the UTME before the advent of BVM necessitated its introduction for capturing the biometrics of candidates to counter fraud.
Any candidate that cannot be verified by the Biometric Verification Mode (BVM) must not be allowed to take the examination under any guise.
“All candidates whose fingerprints could not be captured during registration from centres across the country were brought to JAMB Headquarters and were registered appropriately.
“In other words, exemption mode is not allowed for any candidate. Therefore, no biometric verification, no examination,” Oloyede warned.
The registrar added that the use of email/password would not be allowed by cyber cafe operators as it had now been classified as an offence for cyber cafe to ask for password before rendering services.
Oloyede said the board held an international round-table on cheating devices in December 2017 where various technology devices used for examination further said that Automated Teller Machine (ATM) was added to the list of prohibited items during its examinations.
He said other items prohibited are wristwatches, recorders, earpieces, mobile phones, Bluetooth devices, smart lenses, erasers, smart buttons and spy reading glasses, among others.
The registrar said the board had approved the use of 708 Computer Based Test (CBT) centres across the country for the conduct of the examination.
He noted that the names of impersonators in the last 10 years would soon be published to serve as deterrent to others, adding added that about 1.99 million candidates had registered for the examination.
He called on the candidates to ensure they comply with the rules and regulations of the examinations.