Whitney walked into the Management Canteen of her company, a subsidiary division of a giant conglomerate, of which she was recently announced as the new Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer. She was accompanied by Suku, a friend and fellow contestant for the position. A sudden hush fell on the crowded canteen at the unanticipated presence of the subject matter of their discussion making it difficult to continue their erstwhile conversation. Whitney had worked in various capacities with the group over the past 20 years and had proven her mettle. It was therefore no surprise that she emerged as the new Managing Director of the Food and Beverages Division after a keenly contested race for the coveted post. Suku, her closest ally had also been her stiffest competitor but Suku readily acceded to her superior abilities. After loading her tray with her preferred meal, she walked up to her favorite table and pulled up a chair. One of her colleagues at the table, Ifejika, bantered…” Madam M.D., you have left our league remember? You should join the table for the CEOs now o.” Whitney settled herself firmly in the seat and responded “Aren’t you guys forgetting something? You haven’t sent me forth yet o so till then, I remain a distinguished member of this table” she replied laughingly. With this, the edgy silence thawed and the usual camaraderie resumed.

Whitney could barely withhold her excitement as the official letter confirming her new status was handed to her after lunch and she rushed home to share the good news with her husband – Pedro. Pedro, a successful businessman with a chain of boutiques to his name, often operated from his home office and Whitney was sure he would be in the office. As she barged in through the door of his office, she did a rumba style dance and she handed him the letter with the words “Guess what dear?”. To her chagrin his response hit her like a slap in the face as he said in an off-handed manner “Congratulations, I hope you realise that the C.E.O position does not extend to our home.” Whitney beat a speedy retreat to the kitchen, served him his lunch and retreated to her study to ruminate. She quickly surmises that mounting the saddle of corporate leadership poses its own challenges, especially for a woman. These challenges must be carefully navigated to be successful. She acknowledges that she possesses both the capabilities and capacity to function successfully but realises that she must maintain a balance with relationships that could also impact negatively or positively on her performance. She broke this into 4.

  1. Her relationship with her spouse. This she considers to be of paramount influence on her performance at work because she needs to have peace of mind for optimal performance. That can only happen if the home front works and she receives the necessary support from Pedro. She senses that she needs to work on this relationship, stemming from his initial reaction to the promotion, by making him comfortable with it. After all, he will be expected to accompany her on official social events and invitations. If she however fails to receive his support, she may need to steel herself and focus on getting the job done regardless. She has never failed in any assigned role or responsibility hitherto and believes she knows how to engender Pedro’s cooperation and support.
  2. Her relationship with her two children. Both Tina and Peter are in the university and have an awesome relationship with their parents. They are doing well and making their parents proud. She expects the situation to continue and that they would not be a cause for concern at work.
  3. Her relationship with her peers. She had always experienced cordial relationships and support from her peers as she always exhibited team spirit. No man is an island and she realises the importance of teamwork in achieving desired results. In spite of competition, her excellent interpersonal skills place her in good standing with her peers and she intends to maintain it that way.
  4. Her relationship with subordinates further down the corporate ladder. Being a proponent of the strength in Human resources, she realises that this cadre of personnel can make or mar her results so they require careful handling. She determines to be an empathetic strong leader who is able to communicate a clearly defined vision and have it cascade down the ladder. She knows that consistent achievement of results will build employee confidence in her abilities but it should not be to the detriment of the people.

She concludes that as a woman, she should expect greater obstacles to success than her male counterparts because she must carefully balance home and work while gaining the confidence of her employees in a male-dominated environment. She however determines that it is achievable and sets her mind to it.

Two years later, Whitney is celebrated as the best performing C.E.O in the group and she is proudly accompanied by Pedro and the children, to the celebration event.

Havilah notes here that new opportunities are often fraught with challenges, but if properly analysed and thought through, success is achieved.




Keji was a happy, bright, pretty and intelligent young lady in her final year at the university. She was loved by her parents Peju and Raheem and seemed to have everything flowing beautifully for her, that is until she was involved in a motor accident while traveling back to school via public means of transportation.

Peju, a teacher in a government-run secondary school was busy invigilating promotion exams when her mobile phone rang and she was given the news that Keji had been involved in an accident. She was petrified but was more concerned about the effect of the news on Dauda. He absolutely worshipped his “little princess” as he often referred to her. She hurriedly called him to inform him and they agreed to go together to the hospital.

At the hospital, both of them were requested to donate blood as Keji needed to be transfused. The hospital had checked her blood group and found it to be B+, a slightly rare type so they concluded that either of the parents would probably be compatible. To everyone’s consternation, both parents were found to be A+. How could parents with blood group A produce a child with blood group B? As the realisation of the situation dawned on Raheem, he quickly got into his car and left the hospital to have a drink and clear his thoughts before taking a decision on his next steps.

Peju, on her part, knew she could not face Raheem with the truth. How do you disclose to a man who is in his early sixties that his only child is not his biological child, especially one he loves so deeply? She decides to visit Brother Muri, Raheem’s eldest brother, to explain the unfolding scene. When she arrives at Muri’s in tears, she goes on her knees and informs him about what had transpired at the hospital and then she went on to reel out the explanation behind the scene. “Brother Muri, you will recall that for over ten years after marriage, we searched for the fruit of the womb and despite several prodding, Raheem refused to do any medical test. His excuse was that prior to marriage he had impregnated some ladies who had terminated such pregnancies. This put tremendous pressure on me and so I heeded the advice of an elderly friend of the family to have an extra-marital affair with the sole purpose of having a child to secure the marriage.

The opportunity came when Raheem was on Sabbatical leave to Burundi where I joined him. I had a brief relationship there and after I took in, I returned home to have Keji shortly before Raheem’s return. Subsequent attempts to have children with him failed but I remained faithful since we had one to call our own and his world revolved around her. The biological father never knew of the pregnancy as I cut off all links immediately after I got pregnant. You know Raheem is not someone I could have discussed this with and I thought my secret was secure until this… “the tears come cascading down again.

She blows her nose and continues “I really don’t know what to do, I am so confused brother, help me. If Keji gets to know I don’t know what to expect. My life is shattered and Raheem is devastated. Our hitherto happy home cannot be the same. Can he have the heart to forgive me as at the time, we couldn’t afford to attend fertility clinics and Raheem was uncooperative about medical intervention in any case”?

After berating Peju for what had transpired, Muri promises to convince Raheem to first get tested and then subsequently ask for God’s wisdom in dealing with the situation.  The next day, he accompanies Raheem for testing whereat it is confirmed that he is suffering from secondary infertility – chronic azoospermia – which having been left untreated had resulted in the inability to bear children.

If you are Muri, what would you advise given the ages of the persons involved and their close-knit relationship? Should Raheem cut his losses, go for treatment and try to start a new family or should he be encouraged to mend the cracks that have evolved in the marriage? How should he treat Keji? Should Keji be informed about the whole debacle when she recovers?

Havilah looks forward to reading your comments and possible advice on this situation. She is of the view that lots of counseling will be required from their religious leader and forgiveness will play a major part in the healing process.




It was the first day of the Semester and Hussain and Fatimata took adjoining seats for their first class in the Department of Sociology where they were freshers. Instantly, a bond of friendship was created as they smiled and exchanged pleasantries. This bond strengthened over their four-year sojourn in the University as they kept adjoining seats and enjoyed their lunch break in each other’s company, throughout the period. Course mates often wondered at the length and depth of their conversations which often spanned a variety of topics. On Fatimata’s part, she often briefed Hussain about all who indicated an interest in her and when she started dating Dapo, she solicited his advice on issues relating to their relationship which he willingly gave. After graduation, Hussain was posted to serve his National Youth Service in Cross River State while Fatimata headed to Zamfara with a promise to keep in touch. However, attempts to keep in touch by Fatimata were unreciprocated by Hussain and the relationship fizzled out.

Some ten years post graduation, fate threw Hussain and Fatimata together and they found themselves seated beside each other at a meeting in Hussain’s firm where Fatimata had been asked to represent her director. Imagine the shock on their faces coming face to face with each other again. After the business of the day, Fatimata retired to Hussain’s office and the following conversation ensued.

Hussain: “Just look at you girl. You could have been my wife you know? You just friendzoned me and toyed around with my emotions for four good years.”

 Fatimata gasped and responded saying “Come off it Hussain, you know we were nothing more than good friends. In fact, I saw you as an older brother in whom I could confide and seek advice. If you really felt differently, how come you never voiced it?”

Hussain’s calm response was “How could I when you were always confiding in me, especially about Dapo. I wanted your happiness and I am sincerely happy you sorted out your issues with Dapo and eventually got married. When we were posted to different states of the country for the National Youth Service Corps Scheme, I saw it as the perfect opportunity to break the cord after all, I had been friendzoned and couldn’t bear to continue to be strung along. Anyway, all that is history and I am genuinely glad to see you again”.

Fatimata ended the discourse with “That is an unfair statement Hussain. How was I to read your mind when you never voiced out your intentions? Don’t forget I was a naïve young girl in her late teens when we met in school. You know, I always wondered what I did wrong for you to end our friendship that way especially since my calls and messages to you in the early part of our service year were never acknowledged. Now I understand better. It certainly has been great catching up with you.”

The Cambridge dictionary defines Friendzone as “The state of being friends with someone when you would prefer a romantic or sexual relationship with them.” You know you are in the friendzone when she asks you for relationship advice.

Havilah is of the opinion that quite often a lack of declaration of one’s interest may end up putting such a person in the friendzone.  People must learn to communicate their intentions either verbally or through actions and not leave the discernment of their motives to conjecture.




Elder Ibinabo Perry was taking her usual preparatory class for intending couples when in her characteristic manner, she threw them this poser: “Allan and Grace had recently arrived in Canada having received visas to enable them residency there. They relocated with their three children who were between the ages of one and five years, only to go through the initial settling-in challenges. Grace had to stay home to take care of the children as they were not yet eligible for school and caregivers came expensive. Allan was therefore forced to singlehandedly fund the living expenses of the family in addition to taking classes to enable him access to better employment opportunities. He was stretched as he juggled two jobs with his studies and often had to do the grocery shopping for the family. It was their first winter and he had to contend with clearing the snow around the house and his car as well. This day, Allan rushes in to catch a meal and some two hours of sleep before heading out to his second job. He had promised to pick up some milk and cereal from the store, on his way home but he was so tired that he was already parked in his driveway when he remembered. As soon as he walks in through the door, he gives his children a kiss and hugs his wife asking for his food prior to catching some sleep. Grace glares at him angrily with “Where are the grocery you promised to pick up? The plan was to give the children cereal tomorrow and as usual, you have messed things up”. She kept on nagging and berating him in a loud voice in the presence of the children. All attempts by Allan to placate her proved abortive as Allan apologised that his state of fatigue was responsible for him forgetting to stop at the store and that he had only remembered after parking the car. He requested to eat promising to head back out immediately after his meal to purchase the items. However, Grace would not let up but continued to complain and nag, referring to him as irresponsible and unthinking, while plonking his food in front of him in an angry manner. At this point, the dam burst for Allan and he yelled back at her saying “Will you shut up and accord me some respect? You keep berating me in front of the children and I never knew you could be this disrespectful, else I would never have married you. Keep your food, I don’t need it!” with that he picked up his car keys and left, to clear his head and pick up the items in the process. Grace on her part broke down in tears as she settled the children to bed with the following thought reverberating in her brain “Allan no longer loves me. He doesn’t care that I am alone all day, I am unhappy and unfulfilled yet he doesn’t show tenderness. He doesn’t care.” Given what we have learnt regarding the instruction for wives to respect and submit to the leadership of their husbands and for husbands to love their wives, can you analyse the situation and how you would advise the couple to redress their situation?

John is the first to take a go at the poser. After clearing his throat, he says “I will address this from two angles:

  1. The Instructions to respect/submit and the one to Love are mutually exclusive. In other words, the responsibility of wives to submit to their husbands is not dependent on receiving love from their husbands and vice versa. Husbands should love their wives regardless while the wives submit to their husbands regardless.
  2. The instruction to submit precedes the one to love. That presupposes that wives should first respect their husbands.

I would therefore point Grace to the reality that she has a duty to respect her husband regardless of whatever he may have done wrong. Most especially, berating him in the presence of a third party, (in this case his children) is unacceptable and would be counterproductive. Even where she felt he erred, her actions and words could have been delivered in a loving manner that would spur him to act without raking up rancour. It is not easy to be fully responsible for the finances of the family and combine that with the school. Honestly, he should be appreciated not berated.”

Bodun on her part agreed with John but had this to add. “Although the husband’s love should be independent of the wife’s submissiveness, in practice, when a woman respects the husband, it usually elicits the man’s love. Grace should have been more understanding, given him his meal lovingly and then raised the issue in a loving non-confrontational manner at an appropriate time. That would have elicited a better resolution of the matter especially since there were possibly other things the children could eat. She could have given alternative suggestions regarding the procurement which would engender a peaceful resolution. However, it is important to note that Grace has her own frustrations which may have caused the reactions. Allan needs to be sensitive to his wife’s frustration and needs and find a way of calming and reassuring her pending when they can be adequately addressed.”

Elder Ibinabo ended the class with the following advice.’ In relationships, our speech must be guarded so that we don’t ignite situations. In practical terms, both respect and love must be mutual. If a man demands respect in an authoritative manner it will probably be met with resistance, But if he is gentle and caring, showing love and tenderness and attending to her needs, she will likely respect him. Similarly, when a woman respects her husband and submits to him, his love is likely to shine forth and he feels the commitment to love her. Note that there will be life’s trials and challenges in marriage but mutual Love and respect, will help you surmount them with the help of prayers asking God for the strength to overcome the temptation to be brash.”