Paula reaches out to her childhood friend and “besto” Mami and leaves a voice note“ Hi Mami, I know it’s been a while since we caught up, can we do lunch at 1 pm at the mall on Saturday? Sis, I need your wise counsel as always and indeed, right now, I need it more than ever before. See you on Saturday…Love Paula”. She is torn by indecision and needs to share her confusion but first, some background about Paula.

Paula is a Medical Practitioner with a thriving practice in the metropolis. At 54, she is the proud mother of two young adults the second of whom graduated recently. She is in an unhealthy marriage with Chuma who persists in abusing her emotionally. Paula considered exiting the marriage a couple of times but resisted the urge to do so on the basis of societal opinion and pressure.

On Saturday, Paula meets up with Mami at their favorite spot in the mall and settles down to tell her story.

“ Hey, Sis, maybe if you had accompanied me to Nonso’s grad six months ago, I wouldn’t be in the predicament I find myself in now”. She continues “On that day, I had parked in the parking lot of the University and headed toward the auditorium when I remembered that Nonso’s congratulatory card and gift were in the car, so I turned back abruptly only to bump into a stately-looking gentleman who was also hurrying towards the auditorium. After a quick exchange of apologies, we introduced ourselves and he volunteered to accompany me to the car to retrieve the forgotten items. Needless to say, we returned to the auditorium in each other’s company and sat out the entire ceremony in engrossing conversation.  Our conversation revealed that my new acquaintance- Bernard, is a widowed Endocrinologist with three children, the last of whom was graduating in the same set as Nonso. We share mutual interests and by the end of the ceremony, it was clear to us both, that we enjoyed each other’s company. We exchanged complimentary cards and I made a mental note to limit the level of our interaction because I felt some attraction to him which I intuitively knew was mutual. Afterall. I am a married woman now.

However, two months on, while attending to a patient who requires an Endocrinologist, Bernard readily came to mind since, during that period, we had exchanged short telephone conversations. I referred the patient and agreed to meet to discuss the patient’s treatment regimen in Bernard’s office at his instance. Since then, I have spoken to him almost on a daily basis and had a few lunch dates. Mami, Bernard is such a gentleman, I look forward to our conversations and honestly, he treats me like a queen, and makes me feel special. I feel completely at peace with him and loved. The best thing about it is he professes his love for me and he is so transparent. What we feel is mature love and understanding”.

Mami interjects saying “Slow down Paula. I have a couple of questions –

  1. It is clear to me you have been swept off your feet but are you certain he feels the same about you?
  2. Does Chuma know about this …friend?
  3. What do you think the boys will say or feel?
  4. What are Buba’s expectations regarding the relationship?
  5. Have you truly evaluated your feelings for Chuma and have you given your relationship your all”?

Paula responds with a deep sigh and says ”Trust me, sis, I am caught in a web because my relationship with Chuma is routine. He is recalcitrant and my life with him is bland and void of emotions. My feelings for him are dead and I live a dreary life. Bernard on the other hand excites me and I have tested him and believe his love to be true. However, my upbringing prevents me from getting more involved with Bernard unless I am divorced. The question is should I follow my heart and leave the known for the unknown? Will such a move negatively impact the children? I hope not because they had over the years, criticized their father’s treatment of me. Don’t I deserve some happiness”?

Mami responds by letting out a deep breath…” Whoa, Paula, this sure was unexpected and I am short of words. I will pray for God’s wisdom to guide my utterance and hope to advise by our next meeting on Saturday. Now, smile and let’s order our lunch. God makes everything right in his own time”.

If you were Mami, what would you advise Paula to do in the circumstances? Please send your responses in to assist Mami with her advice.




Most young families from Africa and more especially from Nigeria are experiencing anxiety about the future well-being of their kids which has resulted in an unprecedented rush to relocate their families abroad. While this “unfortunate “ development cannot be helped, it is important for the couple to consider likely challenges as it relates to raising these kids to assist them in making well-informed decisions. In other words, LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP.

Fatu a recently migrated mother of three, shares her memoirs with us on this all-important topic. Please read.

“Dubi and I suddenly realized that our combined income as graduate employees barely “took us home” and we needed to consider the lives of the three young children we had and evaluate the chances of giving them a good education and opportunities for a brighter future. We then decided that the key to our future lay in our relocating abroad. We channeled all our efforts and resources towards achieving the goal and within six months we were headed to the United States of America with our three children in tow – Benibo (aged 4), Soba (aged 8) and Tare (aged 11). Much as we did not expect the transition to be easy, we were blindsided by some of the challenges involved, particularly those of raising children in a novel environment.

The most daunting challenges, in no particular order, were :

  1. The difficulty in covering our expenses from our combined paychecks. To enable us improved wages, there was a need to go back to school and earn local diplomas/certificates. Covering basic costs like accommodation, feeding, heating in the winter, etc. were not considered within the context.
  2. The absence of a support system for the care of children. Home assistance and child care support were very expensive and beyond our reach. Unfortunately, there was no family structure to fall back on unlike the situation back home where our parents, siblings and extended family members acted as fallback options.
  3. Security and Safety of the children if left alone at home. In addition to this, the law makes it illegal to leave a child alone unsupervised at home as this could even result in incarceration.
  4. Discrimination at school and public places.
  5. Cultural differences relating to discipline, courtesy, food, mode of dressing, and perception among others.
  6. Impact of the residential district on the quality of education for public schools. Private schools are expensive therefore reliance is placed on public schools. However, in most cities, residential zoning is done and most residents’ children are restricted to their school zone.

It was indeed a struggle navigating the challenges and overcoming them but God came through for us. I decided to spend more time at home to inculcate the right values in the children and allow Dubi to do more of work and school. It was indeed tough times as every cent was needed but we needed to strike a balance between inculcating the right values in the children and pursuing the funds. It was a rude awakening for me after returning home, tired from work one night and having Benibo (our youngest) extend his hand to me and say “Hi Fatu”. I wondered…what happened to welcome back mum? I knew immediately that if I didn’t want to lose these children to a strange culture, we needed to deny ourselves some luxuries while I train them.

Shortly after, I observed that Tare’s grades were slipping southward and he appeared disinterested in school. When I raised it with him, his response was “Hey mom, I don’t have to go to school to make a living. Why must I go to school”? After lots of digging, I found out that 2 things were responsible for this new stand:

a) He was constantly discriminated against and teased in school and

b) the dropout rate from his school was high. I was then advised to change the school district to a better one by changing residence. This we did, and this improved his outlook while I worked on his self-esteem.

I installed security cameras within and around the house to assist me to monitor what the children were up to from my phone at any time.

I also discovered that contrary to the common belief that spanking (corporal punishment) is banned, it is still allowed in some states for the purpose of correction provided it is not excessive or does not inflict serious injury. This gave me some comfort as I was able to discipline them by interspersing spanking with the reward and withdrawal approach. I reward good behavior and performance while I withdraw privileges for bad behavior and underperformance”.

It, therefore, behooves couples intending to migrate to consider extensively and research the laws, circumstances and environment that could impact raising kids in their host country of choice prior to moving.  




Abortion Rights are a world topical issue with increasing concerns, particularly in the Western world and more especially in the United States of America where it serves as a fundamental determinant of the results of their current Senate/ House of Representatives and Gubernatorial elections. Seeing that this impacts a lot of women regardless of age, status, creed or race, Havilah went out to seek the opinion of a few professionals on the topic.

Dr Titi Bakolori kick-starts the discussion with a definition of abortion. She explains “Abortion is the termination of an ongoing pregnancy usually within the first twenty-eight weeks of pregnancy. It may be as a result of natural causes (spontaneous abortion) or induced (medical and or surgical abortion). When a woman suffers the loss of her foetus before the 20th week of pregnancy without any inducement, it is referred to as a Spontaneous abortion. The woman has absolutely no control over this. On the other hand, induced abortions are carried out either at the instance of the woman or with her consent. Most often, induced abortions are viewed negatively with the notion that it promotes promiscuity and irresponsibility by women but there are certain occasions when abortions are required to save the lives of the mother and/or child or to prevent very undesirable conditions for them. I will give the example of two of my patients, whose real names are withheld –

  1. Pelumi travelled to the Caribbean on official training during the first trimester of her pregnancy. While there she experienced feverish conditions which she thought to be malaria but upon a visit to the health facilities, she was diagnosed with and treated for the Zika virus. On her return, she visited me for follow-up treatment and when I enumerated the types of birth defects that could result from having contracted the virus, she opted to terminate the pregnancy.
  2. In the case of Anitie, her husband travelled on official duty and the very next day, armed robbers attacked their flat and she was raped. On his return, she reported the robbery but concealed the rape from him, because she was unsure about the effect of such information on their marriage. Unfortunately, she later discovered she was pregnant and being uncertain about the paternity (whether her husband or the rapist) she decided to terminate the pregnancy”.

Kulu, a Women’s Rights activist expressed the following view. “Every woman reserves the right to determine what to do with her body. The pregnancy is hers to carry and she should determine whether the circumstances are conducive for her as well as whether to carry the baby to term. The responsibility of carrying the baby in her womb rests squarely on her shoulders, so the decision to do so or otherwise should be hers. Take the instance of a certain lady who had three children and was struggling with giving them a good education. She was the breadwinner since her husband lost his job and was unable to secure another one. In spite of using contraceptives, she got pregnant and could not imagine coping with another mouth to feed. It was foolhardy to expect her to keep the pregnancy in that situation. It was her call to deal with the situation in the way she considered most appropriate and she opted for an abortion.

Or can you imagine a pregnancy resulting from incest between a father-daughter, uncle-niece or cousins? How on earth would the victim want to keep such a pregnancy? Imagine the odium, shame and mental trauma she will be forced to deal with on an ongoing basis. My take on the subject is that if Abortion remains unacceptable in the public eye, what will inevitably happen is that illegal abortions will continue to thrive and place more women at risk of complications or even death”.

Cynthia, a psychologist, on her part approached the topic from both a spiritual perspective as well as the consequential perspective. She expressed herself as follows – ”Both the Bible and the Quran clearly instruct that life is sacred and bloodshed by taking life is unacceptable. If one takes the position that life comes from the Creator and not from the woman who is merely a vessel of passage for the life, then she has no right to terminate a life she did not create. Although it is often arguable as to what stage or age the foetus can be referred to as life, abortion becomes increasingly less acceptable, the later the age of the foetus. Abortion becomes even less desirable when one considers some of the undesirable effects it sometimes has on the woman. Women have been known to suffer complications in pregnancy subsequent to abortions as well as secondary infertility. Also of concern is the feeling of guilt and the consequent impact on mental health suffered by some women who have undergone the procedure. I am therefore of the opinion that abortions should not be legalised.”

While the debate remains heated, it is obvious that as is common to most topics for debate, there are arguments for and against legalising abortion. If the merits of the arguments are to be considered, legislation should be drafted with due consideration of the positions held by qualifying the unacceptable conditions and the age of the foetus involved.

Your views on this topic will be most welcome.




Marcia, while working on her documentary on – SINGLE MOTHERHOOD, CAUSES, PAINS, GAINS AND EFFECTS – happened on the realisation that outside of widowhood and divorce, an appreciable number of single mothers exist as a  matter of choice. The choice is often a result of experiences and with the kind permission of three such successful ladies, she shares their stories.

Nadu grew up in a middle-class home where her father was the typical Alpha male, Lording it over the family and more specifically, his wife. The emotional and sometimes physical abuse was palpable and Nadu grew up believing, she would never be found near an Alpha male. When she was thirteen, a pretty girl who looked more mature than her age was sexually assaulted and raped at a school friend’s house. As is typical with most rape victims, she was too ashamed to report the incident. Besides, who would she tell and to what intent? Her father whom she feared and expected would blame her and increase the trauma, or her mother who was already battling with her own trauma from her marriage? Why increase her pain? She decided to bottle up the pain and deepen her resolve to sideline the masculine gender. She had formed an undesirable opinion about that. However, fresh out of the University at age 22, she came across Benji who swept her off her feet. Her resolve to keep away from men was cast aside and she fell in love building the sentimental fairy tale of getting married and living happily ever after. Benji continued to goad her and lead her on in that dream but the dream was rudely shattered when she learnt, two years down the road, that he was getting married to her friend – Kas. The shock was the final stab that severed all thought of marriage but she desired a child. She then decided she would use a sperm bank as she did not want anything to do with men anymore and would rather not have physical contact with the father of her child.  She ends her story with “what you do not know does not hurt you”.

Eli on the other hand was at the point of marriage when disaster struck. A life-changing disaster that shaped her future. It was her wedding day and Quashie had called her to reassure her of his undying love and that he would be waiting for her at the Cathedral. Knowing her penchant for lateness, he pleaded with her to be on time and ended the conversation with his usual “I love you die”. She hurried up with her dress and arrived at the church on time. After a one-hour uncomfortable wait in which she constantly chimed “something must have happened to Quashie” she was taken into an anteroom and sedated. When she woke up, she was informed that Quashie’s car had been involved in an accident and he was in critical condition in the Emergency room of the teaching hospital. Without changing her clothes, she hurried to the hospital in her wedding gown and managed to express her undying love to him before he closed his eyes in death. Shortly after, she realised she was pregnant and vowed to take care of their love child without any interference. She decided to raise Kobina alone.

Efe on her part was from a financially disadvantaged background and struggled to see herself through school. While in the University, she came across Chief, a married businessman who helped sponsor her education. In the course of their relationship, she fell in love with him but Chief had told her that his marriage was sacrosanct and could not be disturbed. She agreed to honour his wishes by remaining in the background. That has worked out for her.

It is important to note that the reasons for single parenting are as varied as the experiences and circumstances in which individuals find themselves and no single cap fits all. Regardless of the reason or cause for becoming a single parent the reality is that society has a significant number of single mothers and their roles, concerns, challenges and contributions should be acknowledged and accepted. The status of single mothers should not be viewed in a derogatory light but rather, appreciated especially as a number of them have distinguished themselves and continue to play a laudable role in both society and the lives of the children they raise. It is important to note that we are shaped by and are products of our environment, our experiences and our values.




“Much as Africans think it is morbid to prepare the family for life after a loved one’s departure from earth, the reality is that death is a necessary end which will come when it will come. We cannot shy away from death. What happens to our loved ones after our passing is therefore of utmost importance and requires careful planning and execution”. These were the opening remarks of the coordinator at a symposium for intending retirees, held recently to sensitise them on various options of provision for members of one’s family after their departure. The discussants comprised a young widower and three widows at different stages of their lives.

Ikechukwu is a widower whose wife, Miranda, worked as a Personal Assistant to the Managing Director of a Construction firm and lost her life in a car accident while on an official trip. The office invited him to the office to collect her benefits after her demise and in his own words, ”You could imagine the shock combined with a sense of shame and disappointment when I arrived at the office to collect the entitlements, hoping it would help with the first term fees of our two children then in Secondary school, but was informed that I was not the named next-of-kin in her official records. Upon enquiry, I discovered the named next-of-kin to be her immediate older brother. Apparently, she had completed that information when she started work as a spinster and had failed/neglected to update it after marriage. The office had no right to do anything contrary to what was documented”.

Ebhaide was the next to speak and she set out her experience thus: “My dear Brume was a meticulous man who though in his early fifties when he passed, had a properly executed Will. His Lawyer was one of the executors and it was only on sighting the Will I realised the extent of his assets which were properly documented and identified in the Will. The beneficiaries which included me, my children, the children of his estranged wife and his siblings were clearly identified and bequeathed according to his wishes. However, the process of obtaining the probate of the court to enable execution of the Will was both expensive as a result of payment of Estate taxes/death duty and other legal fees as well as time-consuming especially as the Will had to be “resealed” in all the other states in which he had properties. An otherwise simple process of devolution was further compounded by the authenticity of the Will being contested in court by his estranged wife and her children. It took the decision of the court after a protracted legal battle, to enable the administration of the Will”.

An amused Foluke exclaimed “Ah…at least there was a Will to help you ascertain his property. My husband, Layi died intestate (without leaving a Will) and neither myself nor Laide (his second wife) had a clear picture of his assets and /or liabilities. It, therefore, took a while for us to unravel most of his assets in the form of stocks, bank accounts and one partly developed property in the Federal Capital Territory. He was more of a weekend husband as he worked in Abuja and his family is based in Abeokuta. The process of obtaining Letters of Administration from the Probate Registry to enable us access to the identified assets was both cumbersome and expensive. We were however eventually able to have both me and Laide named as Administrators to his Estate and I sometimes wonder if there are any unidentified properties of his”.

Rekiya, on the other hand, was full of praises for Yahaya who despite having four wives and a large number of children had adequately provided for his family even after his death. She explained “Yahaya was blessed with real estate, stock, various investments and a thriving business which was wisely and equitably shared and maximised by largely circumventing the payment of death duty on his assets.

  1. He had done deeds of gifts to all four wives in his lifetime transferring ownership of their residences to them.
  2. His privately owned business was a going concern which had the eldest children from each wife as shareholders and Directors on the Board. All stock, rental income, money market and other investments were held in the name of the Company and paid into a dedicated account in the name of the company.
  3. He set up an Education Trust Fund with a Trustee firm for each of the children that were still in school to sponsor their education up to the Postgraduate level”.

The coordinator then summarised the take-aways as follows:

  1. Spouses and particularly breadwinners with dependants should be mindful in effecting changes in documentation when their circumstances change e.g., marriage, divorce, acquisitions, forfeitures etc.
  2. It is important to have at least one trusted person identify all one’s assets and liabilities during their lifetime. The trusted person may be a spouse, child, friend etc.
  3. One must be intentional about the legacy to be passed to family members by weighing the options and considering cost, the complexity of execution etc.
  4. It is never too early to prepare. As soon as the acquisition of assets starts, one’s mind should be prepared.