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!




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!




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.




Uyi and Esosa had been married for five years during which a lot had changed. When the lovebirds married, they were Security Guard and Receptionist respectively, at a small sole proprietorship business with no education beyond their Secondary School Certificate. Uyi however craved a higher education and strove to attend a part-time course at the University while Esosa seemed content to remain the doting wife and mother with no intentions of furthering her education or acquiring a skill. Recently, she observed that she was outside Uyi’s new circle of friends as she felt out of place and awkward with them. Uyi was also becoming more critical of her, causing her discomfiture which gave her reason to seek out advice from Aunty Pauline.

After she explained the reason for her visit, Aunty Pauline berated her for her lethargy. “Come on Esosa, you have to step up! You are an intelligent lady. Polish yourself up, go back to school or learn a skill and excel at it. Make him proud of you. It can only engender respect. I think I need to share MY STORY with you”. Aunty Pauline continued:

“Anda and I are from underprivileged backgrounds and barely finished Secondary School back in our village. We both decided to move to the city to search for jobs and settle down in marriage. Anda had always been very ambitious with a zeal for higher education but his parents could least afford that. However, after our marriage, he retook the SSCE and JAMB exams and came out with excellent results. This spurred the church we attend to offer him a scholarship to pursue a course in Sociology at the Federal University of his choice. He graduated top of his class and went on to do a Master’s degree in International Relations as a Graduate Assistant at the University. In all that time, it was I who sustained the family on my meagre salary as an Office Assistant – holding up the family and supporting my husband. On completing his Post Graduate course, he obtained employment with the Ministry of External Affairs and was shortly posted out as an Ambassador to Botswana. This gave the family the opportunity to travel out but I soon discovered that Anda started avoiding being seen with me or presenting me as his wife. I appeared to be an embarrassment to him as I had nothing to contribute to conversations at official events and barely understood the topics of discussion. Soon enough, I got dropped out of these events and it placed a strain on our relationship.

One day, after some deep introspection, I decided I would surprise him – step up and match him or maybe…outdo him. I was equally intelligent but had put all my energies into raising and sustaining the family, believing that the education and enlightenment should be left to the children. I had felt I was past learning. Ignorance had appeared to be bliss but I realised my safe world was crumbling. Without hesitation, I investigated the learning opportunities in Botswana and enrolled in school.  At the age of 37 and after birthing three children, I was back in school with a hunger that propelled me into the Merit list of the school. I graduated with honours which earned me respect not only from my husband but from his peers and other members of our family. With education came enlightenment and technological advancement. I became a relevant source of reference and assistance – a sounding board for my husband who now respected me more than ever before and began to rely on my advice and in-depth analysis of situations and events. Needless to say, that was the tonic my marriage needed. Rather than lose to ignorance and lethargy, I “stepped up” and it paid off”.

Havilah sounds a note of advice here – In any marriage, both parties must build mutual respect. Unfortunately, this may sometimes be affected by a mismatch in education, exposure, interests, values and the like. When either party considers the partner as an embarrassment for any reason, respect usually gets kicked out the door and causes the basis for friction in an otherwise healthy relationship. Communication is key to every marriage and effective communication can only take place where both parties are operating at similar levels of communication. Both parties must be able to clearly understand what is communicated.




It’s another Friday evening and the three musketeers as they are fondly called, meet as usual, to relax with their spouses. The Friday Rendezvous is usually rotated among them and today, it is Manfred and Nini’s turn to host. They are always excited when Nini is hosting because her cuisine is always “Finger licking good”.

After finishing a sumptuous meal, Gbenga exclaims patting his protruding stomach – “Mani bobo…hmm, Nini’s cooking skills are extraordinary and coming from me, you know that the comment is a fact. It beats everything I have eaten throughout the length and breadth of Africa and beyond. As a connoisseur of good food, it beats me how she consistently churns out these sumptuous meals, year in and year out. It is the consistency in quality that boosts my admiration”.

Fola picks it from there with “Mani, you are a lucky man o. No wonder you are never interested in offers to eat out. Nothing you find out there can beat what your woman serves. She is gifted jo, KILODE”!

The main meal served, the “boys” settle down to watch the finals of the soccer world cup on the large TV screen in the living room while the “sisfrens”, as they refer to themselves, retreat into the kitchen to help Nini serve the dessert. The following banter ensues.

Betty taps Nini on the shoulder with “Nini, na wa o. Where did you learn the culinary wonders, you churn out each time we are here? They are not dishes that are strange to us but they always taste intrinsically better. You have a way of tantalising the palate. Sisfren…pray, what is the secret ingredient? She concludes with a laugh”.

Nini replies with a smile “Truly sis, there is no secret ingredient, there is nothing to it. After all, you have sometimes assisted with the preparations, did you notice or see anything different or unusual?”

Rolayo continues by insisting “Haba, Nini, there must be something. Maybe you add it to the stock or some other ingredient before we are present. Referring to your cooking as finger-licking good is indeed an understatement”.

Nini heaves a deep sigh and replies “actually sisfrens, there is a secret ingredient and it is really very simple if only you can believe it works. For me, it works over and over again”.

Betty and Rolayo exchange glances and chorus in unison “We knew it. Come on sis, out with it”!

Nini continues” The secret ingredient is committing the entire process into God’s hand. As I embark on the preparations, I ask God to take control by making it wholesome for all who will eat of it and importantly, to not only nourish their bodies but make it excellent to their palates”.

Rolayo continues “You’ve got to be kidding me Nini. Who would have thought that to be the answer? However, on a second thought, the holy book enjoins us to entrust all our ways and endeavours into the hands of the Almighty and he will actualise it. What a practical application of that instruction. It is just that cooking seems so mundane, I would never have thought to involve God in the manner which you just explained”.

Hmm…Betty exhales slowly and responds “It is worth giving a try sis. It’s uncanny how God takes over and perfects things when we let him”.

With that, the “sisfrens” return to the living room with trays of delectable dessert and serve their husbands – each of them, determined to put into practice what they had just learned.

Havilah’s view? God is concerned in everything that pertains to us and if we let him in, he perfects us. Nothing is too mundane which is why he instructs that we commit everything into his hands.




Relationships are always a slippery terrain often fraught with challenges. Such challenges are usually shared with third parties usually with the intent to resolve conflict or disagreements or simply have some sense of relief from unburdening. Four ladies share their experiences regarding sharing their challenges with third parties outside of their “significant other”. The results are subject to your evaluation. Please read and learn.

Amy, gained admission to study a Master’s course in a city away from her fiancé, Kenny and proceeded, cautious of any entanglement that could jeopardise her relationship with Kenny. She knew herself to be friendly and engaging but she often placed a lid on platonic friendships especially with members of the opposite sex as she recognised that her fiancé was severely possessive and jealous. She, however, forged a platonic friendship with Michael who was a course mate and very helpful is assisting her to settle down in the new city. She did not hesitate to inform Kenny and keep him in the loop regarding her interactions with Michael, purely to keep his mind at rest. In that vein, she shared some of the pictures her tutorial class had taken at a picnic event with Kenny who was rather sullen and upset about it. Amy was devastated at Kenny’s reaction and blurted the surrounding incident to Michael who lent her a listening ear. Shortly after, Michael became her confidant and sounding board on issues relating to Kenny. Gradually, the bond grew and by graduation, a previously resolute Amy, was now confused as to whether to ditch Kenny for Michael or stick to her earlier promise.

Oluta on the other hand was married to Sokari until the marriage was shattered as a result of bad advice from her closest friend and confidant – her mom. Her incessant squabbles and quarrels with Sokari had formed the bedrock of her daily conversations with her mother who constantly urged her to stand up to her husband and even her scores whenever there was an argument. She constantly reminded her of the raw deal she had in the hands of Oluta’s father because she was the obedient submissive wife who never challenged anything he did. Even then, he had cheated on her with her best friend and married her friend as a second wife.

Ori on her part applauds the intervention of her mother in her marriage. She sees it as the saving grace her marriage needed. She explains…” I thought I couldn’t go on with all of Medu’s shenanigans. He was manipulative, dishonest and overbearing but each time I complained to my mother’s ever-listening ear, she gave me advice that would always calm the storm. Today, I enjoy a very happy relationship with my spouse who sees me as the “best thing” that could have happened to him. Thanks to my mom. Incidentally, before I turned to my mother for counsel, I had approached a Deaconess in our church whom I saw as a mother figure but things only worsened as Medu would always react negatively to being chastised by the Deaconess”.

Felicia places on record that she has had one consistent, constant, unchanging and unfailing confidant in her 15 years of marriage and the marriage has been blissful. She starts by stating “Right from the inception of our marriage, Felix insisted that whatever happens in it must stay between us. No third-party intervention would be entertained as any such intervention would form the basis of things falling apart. Initially, this seemed like a Herculean task until I found the answer…I would invite the Triune God into the marriage. I developed a habit of taking all challenges, disagreements, and issues to God in prayer. His ears are ever open to hear me and after pouring out my heart I always encounter peace, good counsel and the strength to carry on. Burdens and cares are lifted and nothing weighs me down. This also positively impacts my husband and our relationship. My motto, therefore, is that there is only one party worth inviting into your relationship and he is the only one that can stabilise it. That party is God”.

The challenges associated with marriage sometimes make it attractive to pour out one’s heart and receive both some level of relief and counsel while doing so. However, is it a prudent thing to do? While spilling out your heart to anyone you can never discern what that party is likely to do with the information and to what purpose his/her counsel is targeted. Will the information be spread to mock you, to engender sympathy on your behalf, to exploit the exposed cracks in your relationship, etc? The heart of man is deep, who can fathom it? Havilah advises that the much-needed relief, release and counsel can come from God alone because he knows all things and the personalities of the couples are exposed to him. Always cast your cares and burdens upon him.




Philo (an experienced Therapist) was astounded when she attended the 50th birthday bash of her bosom friend, Mina. The party was well organised and gave all invitees a time to remember. The crème de la crème was all present and the guest list sported dignitaries from all walks of life. Philo felt honoured to be part of the occasion. However, the shocker that tugged at her senses and emotions came when Mina rose up to respond to a well-delivered toast. After extolling the virtues displayed by her father, his love and dedication in nurturing and caring for her, he went on to state that he acted the role of both mother and father… not because her mother was dead, but rather in her words “my mother starved me of love and care. Right after delivery, she behaved as if I did not exist and failed to carry out any maternal responsibility towards me. For her, it was I did not exist but I thank God for my dear father who took on the role of a doting mother”. The silence was palpable and it took a while before invitees responded with any form of applause. Philo was shocked to the bone but made a mental note to seek out her friend and elicit further details about what she blurted out.

A week later, Philo was opportune to be in Mina’s neighborhood and stopped by on a visit. After the usual small talk, she approached the topic of her intent…” Babe, what was all that talk about your late mum shirking her responsibilities regarding you, especially at such a public forum? That was a mean thing to say and importantly, we shouldn’t speak evil of the dead”.

Mina responded with “Philo, you can’t imagine how I have felt about it through the years. I felt like an abandoned child and seeing her every day turned my insides. I finally got it off my chest and got some release but I assure you, I still wonder what my birth meant to her, for her to behave that way toward me”.

Philo exhaled slowly and explained “I can only imagine how you felt but have you thought of how she felt knowing she was not acting right yet unable to help herself? Given your explanations about her behavior I believe she suffered from undiagnosed postpartum depression which resulted in psychosis. She was grossly misunderstood and deserves your empathy. Unfortunately, most persons are uninformed regarding postpartum ailments that may affect a mother post-delivery and postpartum depression is not often understood”.

She explained further “Postpartum depression can be described as a severe form of depression occurring after childbirth and sometimes during pregnancy. It typically occurs within the first three weeks of delivery although it may present later. The symptoms range from severe mood swings, excessive crying, change in appetite, intense irritability and anger to insomnia, fatigue and apathy. In severe or extreme cases, it leads to psychosis whereby the mother neglects or refuses to bond with the baby, suffers anxiety disorders and panic attacks and may even seek to harm the baby or contemplate suicide”.

Mina was immediately remorseful and exclaimed “May the Lord forgive me? You know, I can relate with a number of the symptoms you described. I guess mummy actually needed help and not condemnation. If only we knew what you have just explained”, she broke down weeping. After Philo succeeded in calming her friend down, the two friends spoke at length about the ailment and determined to set up an NGO for the purpose of enlightening women specifically and the public in general on Postpartum depression and to assist those diagnosed with it as well as their family members to better enable them to cope with the challenges it presents.

Havilah is of the opinion that antenatal visits to the hospital should better prepare would-be mothers for some of the postpartum challenges they could be faced with and how to recognise and handle them. Undoubtedly, birthing children is a joyous thing, however, occasionally, one may be faced with daunting challenges, post-delivery.




Phew…as I wipe the sweat off my brows I cannot help but wonder – how fast the year 2022 has gone. Since February this year, Havilah’s laptop has clattered incessantly to bring to our readers’ consciousness one topical issue after another. I want to appreciate all our readers and contributors from far and near who have served as sources of encouragement throughout the year, without whom the exercise would have been worthless. Thank you so very much.

The holiday season is indeed a time for relaxation and bonding with family. It is a busy time of various family engagements with loved ones and Havilah recognizes that need. Catching up with the various family engagements, shopping, cooking, family bonding time, weddings, birthdays, picnics, etc. is indeed energy consuming and Havilah will not belabour you with making time out to read as well.

I just want to wish you Happy Holidays as I take time out to enjoy the holiday season as well. See you in 2023, as I pray that we all cross over successfully into the year and that the advent year will portend much greater and more beautiful things in our lives.

Once again, happy holidays and let’s clink glasses to a Happy New Year!