A night of tributes had been arranged for sister Efua and the auditorium was filled to capacity and overflowing with grieving family members, friends and acquaintances. Sister Efua had touched lives. A lot had been said and it was now the turn of her only biological child – Yau (an oncologist) to give his tribute.

“I will start this tribute by saying that I owe all I am today to the courage and strength of my mother as exemplified by her strong faith in God who empowered her to be who she was. She was different things to different people but most importantly she was recognised by all as a praying woman. On her death bed, she slipped into my hands her testimony and requested that I read it to everyone at an appropriate time after her demise… I read:”


“I leapt out of bed as a result of the intensity of the sun’s rays. I must have overslept! I checked the clock on the mantlepiece – it was 9.30 in the morning and Kwesi (my husband) had already left for work. My teenage son, Yau was at home having been suspended from school for gross misconduct, he was still lazing in bed. I had been laid off from work in recent times because of the looming recession and the need to downsize at my office. My whole life was a mess. I fixed a quick meal for Yau and myself. After eating, I popped my anti-depressant pills all the time asking myself, where I got things wrong. A few years back, everything seemed to be going so well…a great job, Yau doing well in school, and Kwesi the perfect husband and doting father. What happened God, and why me? I decided to attend our church’s midweek service (after all I no longer had time constraints since I had no job). We had always been ceremonial Christians attending church service only on festive occasions, so this was novel.

That fateful Thursday, at the midweek service, I felt a certain release from the feeling of depression and waited behind to see the convener (a female member of the church’s praying band) after the service – Sister Dora. I poured out my heart, concerns, and challenges to her amid bouts of weeping, but sister Dora was patient, empathetic and consolatory. She then led me to pray and promised to partner with me in prayers and guide me through the process. She explained that I may not experience immediate miraculous changes but that if I developed my faith in God and focused on him, there would be subtle changes perfecting my situation.

As I returned home that night, under Sister Dora’s tutelage, I started praying constantly. The more time I spent in devotion, meditation on God’s word and prayer, the more I experienced a feeling of inner peace and calmness. I grew in faith and knew instinctively that the next step was to rebuild my relationship with Kwesi. In those days we lived like housemates – separate lives with monosyllable communication. My attempts at intimacy were rebuffed with a wave of the hand and he spent an increasing amount of time away from home. Yau on his part was largely locked up in his room left to his whims and caprices. The word of God taught me that a family that prays together stays together, and I yearned for that unity. It was not easy to whip up the interest of my husband and son, but I recalled that with God all things are possible and that propelled me to take my desires to God in prayer on my knees. I asked God for the right utterances and that he should teach me what to do and help me mend the broken fences of relationships. Gradually, things turned around and my husband was responsive, so we commenced praying together. The next project was Yau. As his parents, we prayed for and with him, showed interest in his well-being and activities, engaged him in conversation, came to terms with his concerns and confusion and gently steered him towards active participation in teenage church activities. This impacted his behavior and performance at school. His grades improved and he became a reference point to his peers by parents and teachers alike.

Just when things seemed to have taken a 360 degrees turnaround, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I underwent palliative treatment but now, things were different. I had an inner strength that comes from a firm conviction of knowing the God I serve. I knew he is able to deliver me because nothing is impossible for him to do. However, if he fails to do so, he has a reason, and it surely will glorify him. I can only encourage all mothers that there is power in being a praying woman, and it gives serenity and peace that passes all understanding. Even in the storm, you experience calm.”

Yau continued “my mother became an intercessor and encourager. She continued to pray and serve as a source of strength and encouragement for others who were going through some form of adversity or the other. Most never knew the pains she was going through as she was so effervescent and always smiling. Today, I stand as a living testimony to the efficacy of a praying woman. Her memory will always be blessed”.

His tribute received a standing ovation even as he descended the podium.




Muni Okoronkwo had always been focused, believing in her abilities, strengths and gifts as well as importantly, the grace of God to get her where she desired. Over the years, she boasted a number of successes. An A-lister from kindergarten, through to university, she had graduated Summa Cum Laude from one of the Ivy League universities in the United States of America, which she had attended on full scholarship. Muni believed in her country and felt she could impact positively on both its image and performance at an appropriate time.

Her sojourn in the Corporate world had prepared her for challenges and equipped her with the resilience, experience and knowledge she felt was needed to catapult her into public service at the highest levels. These together with her mantra “What is worth doing at all is worth doing well” propelled her to join a political party and vie for the Governorship ticket of her state of origin – Babula.

During her campaign for the primaries, her credentials were touted as follows:

  • A totally detribalized and liberal-minded individual who not only married outside her state of origin but also encouraged her children’s choices.
  • A champion for female emancipation who believes that the female population has numerous untapped resources that could be of benefit to the nation.
  • A consummate Technocrat having served in varying capacities in a thriving Multinational Corporation where until recently, she served as the Group Regional director for Africa and the Middle East Sub Region. Her experience gleaned at the Corporation honed her proficiency in the following areas:-
  • – Mediation and International strategic negotiations.
  • – Analytical skills resulting in fiscal policies aimed at profitability and sustainability.
  • – Astute assignment of human capital and attendant compensation/reward systems geared at achieving desired results.
  • – Deployment of technology as a veritable tool for advancement.
  • – An understanding of the Separation of powers as a guarantee for a properly run Government.

Today, Muni has just won the primaries of her party, Babula Democratic Congress (BDC) and has been declared the flag bearer for the Gubernatorial race. At the reception cocktail held in her honour, three of her closest persons are having an earnest conversation, cocktails in hand.

Mama Okoronwo, her mother-in-law takes a deep breath and expresses her concerns “Hmmm…I really don’t understand what more Muni wants. She has totally emasculated my son, Gregory. Being the Group Executive of that big multinational Corporation was not enough for her, now she wants to be described as “Her Excellency”, meanwhile, how would her husband be described – husband of her excellency? I wonder how they will relate at home…will she still prepare his meals and do the needful as his wife? Thank God the children are now grown and married.”

Princess (Muni’s childhood friend) interjects with a giggle and says “Not to worry mama, I trust my friend Muni. She has always been humble and good at multitasking. They have coped thus far and honestly, her role as Group Regional Director was very challenging. Greg is very supportive of her and they will cope just fine. I however think she should have limited her ambition to Deputy Governor or at the best, shoot for Vice president. Women are not meant to take the leadership role but act as a support or helper to a man who leads. Just my view though and I believe it is scriptural. After all, Adam was made the Head of the home in Eden.”

Mark – The Public Relations Secretary to the State wing of the party responds “With all due respect madam I disagree. Excellence does not bear a sexist toga. We should desire that the best man or in this case, the best woman lead for the collective good of the state. There is a saying that “If a man sees a snake and a woman kills it, the important thing is that the snake is dead and no longer a threat.” Unfortunately, most women have been conditioned to think they should take second place. I guess we will just have to wait and see. She has scaled the hurdle with the party, but it remains to be seen whether our polity is ripe for women holding the reins of power. Her competency and altruistic values cannot be faulted and frankly, she holds the best credentials among all the Gubernatorial candidates.”

Havilah is of the opinion that until objectivity rules our decisions, we will continue to have less-than-optimum public servants and mediocrity will prevail. Competence and ability do not have gender preferences. Our motto should always be “May the best man win.“ Did I just say that…I mean may the best man or woman win! Let us lower the flag of gender bias even from among us women.




Have you ever tried to have an escape room experience? I had the privilege about a year ago when I visited an Escape room in the company of my young adults and not only was it fun, but it also taught me the importance of teamwork, especially as a family. It made me realise that family bonding harnesses individual talents to arrive at solutions. Everyone has something to offer.  No one has all the answers and sometimes the most ridiculous suggestion may just be the solution to the challenge.

So, what exactly is an escape room? It is a game – a fallout from the famous 2019 movie titled “The Escape Room”. This game involves a group of persons – family and or friends locked into an enclosure and given a time frame to escape from the environment. There will be obstacles and challenges strewn along the way that can only be overcome by combined effort. Sometimes, you may not actually complete the task within the time frame allotted but you would have given it your best shot.

A recent chat with my friend Romoke prompted my recall of today’s topic. This is her story.

Romoke is a widowed mother of two children in Secondary (High) School. She has just completed the construction of her residential building to accommodate herself and the children. After congratulating her, I asked if there were notable challenges she experienced while building and she responded:  “Haa…Havilah, there were challenges of supervision, pilferage, and shortage of funds but there is one I will never forget, hmm, it is good to have good children o”. She continued –“It was a Friday afternoon and I had miscalculated my funding requirements for the week. I would not have access to funds until the next Tuesday and my workmen were threatening to leave the site if they were not paid on or before the next day – Saturday. I was at my wit’s end as to what to do. I was owing everyone I could borrow from and if the workers left the site, getting them back to work would cause delays and hardship to access the next tranche of mortgage borrowing. All my pleas to the workers fell on deaf ears and I returned home totally deflated. Mope, the older of my children observed my mood and prodded me as to the reason. I opened up to her and she asked, me “Mum, how much do you need?” Upon my response that N30,000.00 would solve the problem she said I should stop worrying. She then walked over to her brother’s room and called for his piggy bank. Together, they broke their piggy banks and, you better believe it, they came up with N35,000.00 in change. My dear, N200 and N100 notes never felt so good. They saved the day! Incredibly, these children understood the problem to be a collective one and teamed up to provide the solution.”

A number of things struck me from Romoke’s story:

  1. She had open communication with the children regardless of their ages. They knew about the project and were carried along.
  2. She had taught the children the essence of saving for the” Rainy day” and they recognised the situation for what it was – a rainy day. They correctly evaluated the situation and provided a solution timeously.
  3. The children understood the project as a collective one and saw the challenges as one that required collective input and participation in solving.

So, why did her story remind me of the Escape Room experience? These were my takeaways from that experience:

Anything that challenges one member of the family should be viewed as a collective challenge to which other members can proffer solutions. It enhances the bond.

Solutions should be offered in a timely manner in order to be effective. There are situations in which “Better late than never” is no good.

Empathy is a necessary emotion to be cultivated.

Everyone has unique talents and attributes which can be brought to the table to ensure solutions.

In summary, bonding experiences offer an opportunity to foster unity and understanding within a family. It enables you to observe the strengths, weaknesses, talents, etc. of the individual members and better coordinate them for the collective good. A bonding experience can range from the very simple like playing cards or other games to family vacations. There is always something to do together. Please do not undermine it!




“Mom…you had no right going through my stuff! If you hadn’t you would not have found the contraceptive pills you are making so much fuss about” was sixteen-year-old Adunni’s prompt response to her mother’s accusatory remarks. Pere’s (Adunni’s mom) stricken response was “How dare you Adunni. You are a disappointment, after all, me and your father have done to ensure you have a good education and are grounded as a child of God”!? This was one of several rows in the recent past between mother and daughter but this time, Adunni was ready to bare it all. She continued.

“Mom, you both were a large contributory factor to what you are seeing today. You and dad were never available to talk with. Yes, I was largely in my room on the internet or social media, but you never bothered to find out what I was doing there. Apart from you occasionally popping in your head through the door and muttering with a shake of the head “On your laptop again, when will you be socially interactive?” I was pretty much left on my own. I had questions mom but wouldn’t dare ask them for fear of your stereotype of response “Ah…you shouldn’t even be discussing such things” or “I could never have asked my mother such”. So – I had my answers online or from my peer group. I entered chat rooms where I was free to discuss anything and voice my opinions without fear of recrimination. I made interesting friends who filled in the gaps. That was how I came across my boyfriend, Bablo and after some online interaction, we met up on a date and I really grew to like him. He introduced me to sex, and it seemed like the natural next step in the relationship. Mind you mom, he never coerced me. Incidentally mom, the day before our first physical date, I asked what you felt about dating and at what age you felt comfortable for your daughter to start dating and your response was “Shut up child…you are too young to discuss dating” That put paid to the subject. Dad was even worse; I couldn’t even approach him at all”. Pere had heard enough. Tears welled up in her eyes as she wearily retired to her room to place a call to her sister – Tilly, (Reni’s mum) to discuss this worrisome development. Tilly calmed her with soothing words and agreed to come over the next day.

Tilly’s advice the next day is summarised below:

“Sis…the times are different from ours and so your training and mentoring must be in tandem with the times. Generation Zees (Genzees) are brought up in an age of high technological advancement with a huge internet presence and a preponderance of social media platforms. This requires that we as parents must up our game by being “Techy”. We cannot afford to be a fossil or a dinosaur in these times. I am on top of the feeds and get to see trending topics which give me an insight into what Reni and her brother are reading and discussing. This enables a basis for discussion and gentle guidance, especially where I think the general view in the chatroom is misplaced. Some of my views may be considered old school but it gives them some other perspective other than that which is paraded in social media. Remember also that no topic is barred, as everything can be learned from the Internet. It is therefore always better to discuss a topic to give them your preferred perspective and content rather than to parry the subject. You must make them your friends so that they feel comfortable having free discourse with you about anything and everything. That way you can guide them and fashion out prayer points on their behalf.”

“Pere, it is not easy, but it is necessary” she continued. “The wake-up call for me was when Reni was in her penultimate year in secondary (high) school and I walked into her room late one night. She had thought I was asleep but there I was bam, I caught her deep in conversation with a male classmate and they were using very suggestive language. Immediately she sensed my presence, she dropped the call, but I had heard what gave room for concern. The next morning, we had a mother and daughter heart-to-heart talk about dating, sex, etc. I didn’t chastise her but rather counseled her. To my pleasant surprise, she cut off all communication with the boy as she realised, he was a negative influence”.

Pere thanked her sister and set out to plan restorative measures to be taken with Adunni.

Havilah’s view is that in dealing with the Genzees, the usual threefold steps for mentoring children must be utilised but the fourth is critical for this generation. The steps are:

  1. Steep them in the ways of God.
  2. Be their” Go To” person by being their friend. Know their friends and discuss freely with them without downplaying fears and concerns.
  3. Pray for them AND with them.
  4. Do not be a Fossil or Dinosaur. Acquire technological skills and remain relevant. Speak their language and navigate their terrain so that they don’t see you as outdated with outmoded views.

P.S. “Genzees” are described as ranging from about age 13 to 26.




Someone said Anniversaries are a time for cheers, the clinking of glasses and celebration, be they birthday, wedding, inauguration, or the like…yes? But they are also a time for reflection on what has transpired in the intervening period between anniversaries. It, therefore, comes as an exhilarating experience that Havilahspeaks has turned full circle to make it a year today since it hit the waves. While reflecting on this milestone, I cannot but appreciate ALL my readers who have taken out time to follow my episodes and served as sources of encouragement throughout the year. Special recognition goes to those whose inputs by way of comments and suggestions have in no small measure contributed to improving the quality of the blogs.

In consideration for those of us who have a preference for audio versions, as part of our anniversary package, Havilah will be launching an audio version. Watch out for it soon! Now, to today’s episode-

It would be Boma and Boulos’s 25th wedding anniversary in a week and Boma was busy concluding with her childhood friends – Reni, Data and Penny on their proposed two-week vacation in Mauritius. This time around, Boma purposed to celebrate her wedding anniversary with her friends, away from Boulos.

Every year since their wedding, Boma had always craved celebration of their wedding anniversary but Boulos had always promised to celebrate landmark anniversaries. Boma quietly respected his resolve and would provide private candle-lit dinners with a bottle of wine every year. The landmark ones came and went without Boulos fulfilling his promise and it became routine for Boma to provide the usual candle-lit dinners. Boma repeatedly reminded him on the 5th, 10th and 20th anniversaries and had determined that she was done with reminding him. As she made her plans regarding the forthcoming trip, Boulos felt certain he was included in the arrangements, after all, Boma had never missed being around him for their wedding anniversary in ALL of the 25 years they had spent together. This could not be different.

That night, dinner done, Boma laid out her travel plans to Boulos and that she would be away for two weeks. She went on to inform him that she had made adequate arrangements for his feeding and care in her absence and hoped he would enjoy his “space”.

A shocked and crestfallen Boulos could barely stutter “Why would you be away for our anniversary – the 25th for that matter- don’t you think it is worth celebrating”? As Boma served his favorite dessert of pineapple upside down she replied “Oh really? I thought anniversaries are only meant to be celebrated with my special candle-lit dinners and wine. We can always do that when I am back but this time around, I need something memorable and my friends have promised to make it just that.”

Boulos replied “Babe…I am sorry, I took you for granted for so long, but I can’t imagine an anniversary without you. I will make it up to you just give me the chance”. To which Boma responded “I am sorry too Boulos but it’s too late to change my plans now. Everything is booked and paid for; besides, I will be letting my friends down. They have actually subsidised my expenses for the trip. Maybe we can celebrate the 30th Anniversary, God sparing our lives or any other one you choose to”.

That said, a very pensive Boulos retired to the living room in contemplative silence determined to right the wrong. It was true he had always taken Boma for granted. She had been a good wife, mother and friend. She did not ask for much and deserved to be celebrated. Whatever it would take, he would surprise her by joining her in Mauritius for the anniversary. He called up Penny and discreetly obtained all the details of the trip then surreptitiously concluded his plans to arrive in Mauritius the night preceding the anniversary. He booked a room for the night at her hotel and at 6 a.m the next morning, he knocked at her door pretending to be the hotel staff checking on some detail regarding her room service order. A sleepy-eyed Boma walked to the door only to experience a rush of emotions ranging from shock to joy then confusion at seeing Boulos at the door. He swept her off her feet, planted a kiss on her lips and whispered “Happy 25th Anniversary babe”. He later moved his things to her room and ensured that the special event he had arranged for her with her friends in attendance, took place. There he gave a speech extolling her virtues and ended it by kneeling on one knee and placing an Eternity ring on her finger. Was Boma THRILLED? Indeed, it was the 25th wedding anniversary to remember!