Instead of chastising ourselves, we should practice self-compassion. That is, we should give greater forgiveness for our mistakes, and make a deliberate effort to take care of ourselves throughout times of disappointment or embarrassment.
“Self-esteem is contingent on success and people liking you, so it is not very stable. You could have it on a good day but lose it on a bad day.”
Measure how much you are cultivating self-compassion. On a scale of 1 (almost never) to 5 (almost always), rate yourself on the statements below:
I try to be loving toward myself when I’m feeling emotional pain
I try to see my failings as part of the human condition
When something painful happens, I try to take a balanced view of the situation
I’m disapproving and judgmental about my own flaws and inadequacies
When I think about my inadequacies, it tends to make me feel more separate and cut off from the rest of the world
When I’m feeling down, I tend to obsess and fixate on everything that’s wrong
The more you agree with the first set of statements, and the less you agree with the second set of statements, the higher your self-compassion.
For many of us, the struggles of isolation, remote working and caring for the people we love have provided the perfect breeding ground for self-criticism and doubt. While we cannot eliminate those stresses, we can at least change the ways we view ourselves, giving us the resilience to face the challenges head on.
Extract: Both Millennials and Gen Z grew up in a landscape that was increasingly obsessed with living online. This then continued into adulthood. “We took jobs that were increasingly online, and expected instant gratification from apps on our phones: dating, takeaways, cabs, handymen – everything could be gleaned swiftly.”
And the antidote to that fast and furious digital life? Tending houseplants and gardening. “With gardening, nothing is instant. Nothing is guaranteed. Nothing can be tapped on a phone. It is a slow, physical, and patience-testing activity. All of which I personally find hugely relaxing when the rest of my life is so rapidly paced.”
“In a sense, having plants is like having pets – they bring you joy, but they also need love and attention. And having this living thing in your home, makes you focus on the daily caring for something that you’re now bonded to. There’s something in the caring process that’s therapeutic. You can use it to meditate or escape. And for two hours once a week, completely zone out.”
“Plants are like people, they need your help. Without you they don’t live.”
For younger generations, the lack of gardens and high-rise living in cities has led to a “disconnection” with nature. Houseplants are a way to re-connect with nature, and emotionally, they are helpful to mental wellbeing.
Being in the presence of indoor plants – or looking at scenes of nature – have prompted people to make decisions that showed higher levels of generosity and trust, and had a sociability effect.
Some think it is time to stop pursuing happiness, and I wonder why? I would not concede that it is because happiness cannot be described or because it is unattainable. Even if it is a Utopian pursuit, it might just be possible that the cost of trying to get it, might be paid off by any benefit that may be inherent in the exercise.
Like many teenagers, I was once plagued with angst and dissatisfaction. These were feelings that my parents often met with bemusement rather than sympathy. They were already in their 50s. And, having grown up in postwar Britain, they struggled to understand the sources of my discontentment at the turn of the 21st century.
“The problem with your generation is that you always expect to be happy,” my mother once said. I was baffled. Surely happiness was the purpose of living, and we should strive to achieve it at every opportunity. I simply wasn’t prepared to accept my melancholy as something that was beyond my control.
The above last two paragraphs were by David Robson, in “Why it’s time to stop pursuing happiness,” Act 1, Scene 1.
“The constant desire to feel happier can make people feel more lonely. This can make us become so absorbed in our own wellbeing, we forget the people around us.”
Opening The Blockade to Happiness
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt imposed a diplomatic, trade, and travel boycott on Qatar in June 2017. The group accused Doha of supporting “terrorism” and having what they deemed, a too close a tie with Iran.
The Saudi-led coalition had alleged that Qatar violated a 2014 agreement with the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), of which Qatar is a member.
Qatar repeatedly denied the allegations and said there was “no legitimate justification” for the severance of relations.
However, in the week of 5th January 2021, all of that changed. The “blockade to happiness” – the borders – were opened. And for the first time in more than 3 years, Qataris drove across the land border into Saudi Arabia on 9th Saturday. At least 70 vehicles passed through the crossing into the Kingdom on the first day and 20 travel in the other direction.
While the “de-escalation” of the crisis may not have addressed the core disagreements between Riyadh and Doha, it provides some useful lessons. Psychologists analyzing those who crossed the border between Saudi Arabia and Doha may still insist that happiness cannot be described. But those who had the “happy” experience, knew what they felt.
Don’t have such a high standard for achieving happiness, that you do not appreciate the small and simple things that are really meaningful in your life.
If you really want to succeed, you’d do far better to engage in “mental contrasting.” This involves combining your fantasies of success with a deliberate analysis of the obstacles in your path, and the frustrations you are likely to face.
Keep a “gratitude journal” to regularly count your blessings and increase your overall wellbeing. But not like a chore, or in overdose quantity. Rather, it should be something you actually enjoy doing.
Frequently re-assess and reset your expectations. Accept that no matter how hard you try, feelings of frustration and unhappiness will appear from time to time. And actually, in reality, certain negative feelings can serve a useful purpose.
If happiness cannot be described because the outcome is always personal, the acts to getting there can be described. Ultimately, you might adopt the old adage “Prepare for the worst, hope for the best, and be unsurprised by everything in between”. Ease the pressure off yourself, and you may just find that contentment arrives when you’re least expecting it.
Extract: What do you want from life? You’ve probably had the opportunity and the cause to ask yourself that question recently. Perhaps you want to spend more time with your family, or get a more fulfilling and secure job, or improve your health. But why do you want those things?
Chances are that your answer will come down to one thing: happiness.
“Happiness is not an emotional state so much as it is the excellence of the relations we cultivate with other people.”
“A life with loving attachments has been shown to be linked to happiness but it can also cause us great pain.”
Like the two quotes above, is life too a bed of contradictions?
Extract: When the pandemic shuttered city centres, he says, it showed how important social links are – but through a different prism. “Many people never visited shops close to their homes before because they were busy. They didn’t know their neighbours or the parks nearby. The pandemic made us discover this. We have rediscovered locality, and this has improved quality of life.”
The two-month lockdown that began confined her to a 1km radius of her home gave her a nuanced, enriching view of her neighbourhood. “I discovered it’s possible to feel like you’re in a small village in Paris,” she says.
“To get to know your neighbours, to maintain good links with shopkeepers, to favour local craftsmen and shops over large supermarkets. I even joined a citizens’ movement where people prepare food baskets for homeless people. I thought I would have a hard time living the lockdown, but I was perfectly at home, in a quiet place.”
“We know sometimes large cities can be tiring and can create a sense of anonymity,”
“Unexpectedly, this experience strengthened the bonds I had with some people. It led me to criss-cross the small streets of my district more than usual and thus to discover magnificent places just a stone’s throw from my home.”
The ‘15-minute city. The concept is to improve the quality of life by creating cities where everything a resident needs can be reached within a quarter of an hour by foot or bike. The 15-minute city requires minimal travel among housing, offices, restaurants, parks, hospitals, and cultural venues. Each neighbourhood should fulfil six social functions: living, working, supplying, caring, learning, and enjoying.
Extract: In Japan, you can pay private agents called ‘wakaresaseya’ to seduce your spouse or their partner.
Hiring a wakaresaseya helps you avoid confrontation. It’s a way in the short term of resolving a difficult situation without conflict. There’s a market for everything in Japan. This includes a variety of relationship-based services like renting faux family members. There are additional services offered by wakaresaseya firms, such as assistance with romantic reconciliation, separating a child from an unsuitable girlfriend or boyfriend, or preventing revenge porn.
The continuing existence of the wakaresaseya industry suggests that money and deception may be uncomfortably threaded into relationships more often than people recognise.
Once in a while, I get called to make contributions to LinkedIn conversations around work-life balance. And there was this LinkedIn post that goes like this, “I don’t believe in work-life balance. The word, balance, seems binary and implies taking from one in favor of another. I think of life as a puzzle. Time is limited, so I carefully choose the most important pieces to craft the kind of life I want to live, and everything else stays on the table.” Guess what jumped at me, worklife crafting!
“You have the option of carefully choosing the most important pieces to craft the kind of life you want to live.”
The post was by Irina Gerry. But it is what Ariel wrote that touched me further. It practically summed up for me, what it means to be doing worklife crafting because work-life cannot be balanced.
The Most Important Pieces To Craft
“I love the way you think Irina Gerry“, Ariel started. “For a while now, I’ve felt the term “work-life balance” is outdated because it implies that there is a standard that applies equally to everyone. Before I had kids, I was shamed for investing so much time in passionately pursuing and giving everything to a career I loved. But I felt balanced, because I was inspired, and motivated by a sense of purpose,” she said.
“Years later,” she continued, “I realized that pace was weighing on me and I needed to reassess my priorities for the season I was in and pivot. I refocused my time on being a better leader and building a legacy I could be proud of. Once I had kids, I realized I couldn’t do it all. And that I needed to make tough choices about how I invested my time. I said no more. I set boundaries. My friendships changed.”
At this point, I could feel the pain, re-echoed so quite often. The echo and tough choices that women always have to make.
Ariel thereafter took a six-month break to just BE with her newborn and she also volunteered at her church. Along the way, she learned that work-life balance is not as simple to achieve as the term may suggest. She concluded that “ultimately, achieving true “balance” was up to me to own.”
Hopefully, someone will learn from her through this post. Ariel did not hide the pain she went through during the journey. “It’s hard,” she said, “and I’m still figuring it out.” And for the rainbow after the thunderous heavy downpour, she concludes that she, “love the mindset of carefully choosing the most important pieces to craft the kind of life you want to live.”
The Hardest Is Deciding What Not To Be Involved In
Sunny also so much love the shared perspective. For her, she has learned that having the courage to say “no” to things and deciding what not to be involved in or spend time on has been the hardest. “There is a feeling of being judged or not feeling like you’re doing enough. But, at the end of the day, I’m learning to focus on the things that truly matter to me and my family, and how we can all help contribute to a better society,” she wrote.
“So dear friends, find the elements of your own worklife puzzle, and fix the jigsaw.”
Whatever we want to do, it is up to us as individuals to act. But not to go on naive, we need to know that there is going to be pain and joy to face. For example, some have chosen not to have children because they are afraid, not knowing how to reconcile parenting with professional life. This possibly is not a fantastic choice for some others, since “family” is a great part of life for them.
We all, therefore, have a great challenge, as those charting the narrative of this generation, to find a way to reconcile all the pieces of the puzzle in our lives. So that despite the odds loaded up so high against us, we can still ensure we have a prosperous and healthy life.
Find Your Own Life Puzzle
So dear friends, find the elements of your own worklife puzzle, and fix the jigsaw. Time is a very unique resource. It is the one and the only resource that is divided equally between rich and poor, young and old. And we are all given enough for each person’s worklife crafting to be done. So, from now on, your whole life living, the rest of your worklife puzzle is up to you!
“I carefully choose the most important pieces to craft the kind of life I want to live, and everything else stays on the table.“
Priority is key. Be thoughtful about what matters most, and be ruthless about everything else. You do not need to make trade-offs. But you have to make choices. And after you have made your choices, live in peace with them until the time comes to make new choices. Happy worklife crafting!
Arab-focused pop and contemporary art gifts are a growing trend in the Arab world, especially in Saudi Arabia. Many new brands have emerged in recent years. However, surviving competition is not always easy. The Saudi startup, Sadah is an online gift store. It grabbed the attention of a wide range of customers in the Kingdom in its first year of business.
Founded in August 2019, Sadah offers a variety of products with unique cheery designs, that are inspired by contemporary Arab music and culture.
“Sadah means something of a plain color or patternless shape or print. This is the opposite of what we offer at our store. But that is exactly what I liked, because it always brings questions from followers,” Sadah founder Nasser Al-Jazwa told Arab News.
How It All Started
Al-Jazwa, 22, is a graphic designer who previously worked on projects and products for different companies. But he was not happy that the product outputs did not match his vision for what he wants to do. He decided to put an end to working for others and created his own product line, Sadah.
He started his online store from his house in Al-Qassim. But soon found himself in need of an office and employees. This he soon acquired.
Sadah now has over 30,000 followers on Instagram. It ships its products to Gulf Cooperation Council countries and is expanding to an international market. According to customer reviews, Sadah has a reputation for distinguished designs and attention to the tiniest details. “What makes us different is that most of our products are uniquely designed by us. And they beautifully represent an Arab and Khaliji flavor,” said Al-Jazwa.
He believes that products can be manufactured anywhere. And that the most important part of introducing a product to a community is making sure that it relates to their culture.
He said: “The product that carries your thoughts, ideas, and culture is closer to you. And you can easily relate to it, regardless of where it came from. For example, no one would appreciate our oud instrument pin, which is made in China. Except those who appreciate what the product is representing.”
Sadah’s Products Are Designed to Inject Fun Into People’s Lives
Sadah’s products are designed to inject fun into people’s lives through a variety of socks, stickers, pins, mugs, pillows, cards, and more. The store targets young adults and teenagers by investing in their memories as well as modern trends. Some designs are inspired by songs, TV series, movies, as well as memes, And others by sweets and candies from past and present.
“Our biggest goal is to please our beloved customers, who we call ‘Sadah friends.’ Therefore we want to expand our reach, and diversify and increase our products further,” Al-Jazwa said.
However, he added that the current business climate caused by the coronavirus pandemic is posing challenges for newer startups like Sadah. “We are finding it difficult with logistics even as manufacturing and shipping prices are also increasing. However, the positive side of the crisis is that demand has suddenly become higher. More people are shopping online, but the current issues are slowing down the work,” he said.
Like any commercial enterprise, Sadah evaluates its success through sales numbers. However, Al-Jazwa noted that “producing distinctive products is a success in itself.” He added: “Though I am the founder, everyone who encouraged me to start the idea and those who supported me are contributors to its success.”
When the world sink into a rage and go down into nuclear wars. That is, before the survivors start to eat the dead, and the warriors no longer have a commander. Will you escape up, down or get vaccinated?
At a time when a little unseen virus hunts down mankind; and panic strikes every heart. When Kings and Nobles respects themselves, maintaining simple protocol you order a child around to do. Wash your hands before you eat. Don’t swipe your mouth and face with your dirty fingers after playing all day out side.
Just when countries are competing to announce the immediate deployment of vaccines against COVID-19. Notwithstanding the death toll, there is the usual self defeating race of champions over corpses.
“Covid-19: Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine judged safe for use in UK from next week,” the BBC announces. “The scientists have done it,” says Boris Johnson as he hails vaccine approval. Britain therefore became the first Western country to allow mass inoculations against the coronavirus, granting emergency approval to Pfizer’s vaccine.
The Economic Times headline screams, “Putin asks his govt to start mass COVID-19 vaccinations in Russia next week.”
And when you think the “world policeman” will let this moment pass by without a show of presence, the New York Times reported that the US Center for Disease Control (C.D.C.) has recommended that nursing homes and health workers should get the vaccines first. That is coming few days after drugmaker Moderna said it is seeking emergency authorization in the United States and Europe to distribute its coronavirus vaccine. According to VOANews, the latest tests results showed it is 94% effective.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX’s And The Journey To Mass
SpaceX’s CEO Elon Musk says humans will land on Mars in four to six years.
“Perhaps a Nobel peace prize is a single ‘vaccine’ shot to address world conflicts. But it is definitely not enough. Multiple shots are required. Especially since the world problems mutate like a coronavirus.”
Robert Vicino’s Vivos And The Journey To Super-safe Underground Bunkers
You should have heard of the existence of underground cities. And interconnecting tunnels like underground train links, that takes the powerful to safety far away from calamity. And if your neighbor doesn’t have a backyard bunker, you must have heard of at least a president or military personnel that have taken refuge in one. But Robert Vicino is preparing a city of bunkers so that some people can survive a nuclear rage to rebuild the world, perhaps a year after the wars.
Hooray! Now We Can Focus On Other Problems
Now that we have found vaccines to deal with the world’s current and most troubling problem, the COVID-19 pandemic, perhaps we should not fear that the world may sink again.
Practically, the whole world went into a lock down. And global effort went into finding a solution in earnest. Therefore, just as fast and focused as the world have fought against this pandemic, in the same way, a vaccination (sorry, solution) should be found against climate change; then malaria, world hunger, inequalities, conflicts and wars. Perhaps a Nobel peace prize is a single ‘vaccine’ shot to address world conflicts. But it is definitely not enough. Multiple shots are required. Especially since the world problems mutate like a coronavirus.
But what of the logistics challenge in delivering such potent solution to the worlds myriad of problems? And the enormous cost that poor nations will have to bear. Who will get the first shots – and enjoy peace, good health and begin to overcome aging?
COVID-19 Vaccines, Conflicts And The Great Reset
Sorry, breaking news. War just broke out in the Strait of Hormuz. Special ships carrying vaccines through one of the world’s most important shipping routes have been attacked. It is suspected that the ships are not carrying vaccines but suspicious cargoes meant to be used to destabilize the region. This is a drill. I repeat. This is a drill!
But just then, Elon Musk’s SpaceX blast off to Mars, carrying a few privileged aristocrats.
Robert Vicino’s Vivos company was having a hard time pushing back the wealthy who are flashing their Black American Express card. “Any amount in gold bars, cryptocurrency or raw cash, just to have a safe passage while the world sink,” they plead. Yes, even when the world burns daily, while the poor go to bed hungry, and the middle class work their life out, the few privileged ones are in the world’s safe cocoons. Secure and profiting from the worlds stress and daily calamities. Whaoh, what a great bet, the stock exchange just had a bull run. Wine filled glass cups clings, cheers.
Life and all it’s confusion, trappings and allure! Worklife, and it’s dangerous offerings, surreptitiously used to hold workers captive, with the goodies of work, all of their life. Work-Life balance, a legitimate desire, a pursuit in hope! It is time to reset and find, or possibly rediscover the purpose of this journey of life.
Thanks McKinsey, before the world sink, there is a COVID-19 and the great reset! Thanks.
Snippet: We were working with our largest client at the time. And we were giving everything to service an account worth £1m. Sadly, we found out that our team members were being destroyed by the negative values that this client held. Also by the way he was treating our team. Unfortunately, some of our team members were already living with mental health challenges. And I had also had a mini-stroke and heart surgery since starting the company.
Consequently when we were deciding on what action to take, we chose to put our employees first. We walked away from the account.
Just because we showed where our company’s values were, we gave our employees a better work-life balance and a healthier mindset. This simple action also meant that clients will receive a much higher standard of service from the team.
When people are supported, they enjoy coming to work. This ultimately leads to increased productivity. And that is why I co-founded “Corporate Kindness,” an initiative to encourage companies to lead with kindness.
A great example of “Corporate Kindness” was the open letter by Brian Chesky, chief executive of Airbnb. In the letter, he explained how the company arrived at its decision to downsize and who to let go. He also talked about how the company was supporting those it could no longer employ by helping them to find other jobs.
Corporate kindness can help employees know when to make the call and start walking away from a bullying client. Studies have shown that kindness improves productivity. It also lowers employee recruitment and training costs.
Kelly Allison is chief executive of digital and brand experience agency KVA. Also co-founder of #CorporateKindness
In “There’s No Such Thing as an Easy Job,” author Kikuko Tsumura details the everyday struggles of modern life, focusing on our complicated relationships with work.
Taking her place among a growing number of exceptional female writers in Japan, Tsumura deftly handles work habits and relationships, stereotypes and expectations for success. She sets all of these against a repetitious, unending search for what is valuable and valued. The novel unfolds as a profound meditation on contemporary society and what makes work meaningful.
The novel’s unnamed narrator is 36 years old and single. She has no choice but to move in with her parents after quitting her 14-year career due to burnout syndrome. When her unemployment insurance runs out, she prepares to reenter the workforce with a dry matter-of-factness. Saying, “I’d sat down one day in front of my recruiter and informed her that I wanted a job as close as possible to my house. Ideally, something along the lines of sitting all day in a chair, overseeing the extraction of collagen for use in skincare products.”
There’s No Such Thing as an Easy Job
In her attempts to find work that is meaningless and undemanding, the narrator goes through five jobs over the course of a year.
In one role, she checks surveillance footage of a novelist who has unknowingly received priceless gems in a covert smuggling scheme. She then works as an assistant to an enigmatic Ms. Eriguchi in another job, writing pre-recorded advertisements. Taking on a ‘leadership’ role, she fills in for Mr. Kiyota. His life work is creating enlightening content to go on rice cracker packages. But at a point, he had to take a mental health break after failing to find a wife.
Whereas putting up posters in a neighborhood as a job may seem nothing glamorous, that is until it gets competitive. She inadvertently gains a mysterious adversary who posts competing signage. Finally in her last of five jobs rounds, she joins a national park’s maintenance crew. Her job is to monitor the forest from a small hut, surrounded by peculiarities such as a local soccer team’s lost apparel, missing breadfruit and a book from her pre-burnout life.
“I’d like it if this would help readers to know that even if they encounter feelings of despair in their working lives, it doesn’t have to be the end. Something else will come around.”
The narrator navigates each workplace’s demands and relationships with various coworkers. Gradually she becomes aware of a meaning underlying all endeavors in life, even those that seem bizarre. Each of the jobs, despite the increasingly absurd series of events, validates the interconnectedness of all actions.
It’s the kind of novel that presents a swathe of tangled threads, trusting the reader to weave together the connections on their own.
How Hard Is It To Find Meaning In The Modern Workplace?
“I was first drawn to the boldness of the concept. I remember reading a summary before reading the text itself and just thinking, ‘There’s no way that something like that can work,’” says translator Barton in an interview with The Japan Times. “And then I found myself as a reader so drawn in, just wanting to immerse in that world forever. It seemed like such a coup. Given that it was a book entirely about work. And we find out really nothing about the private life of the narrator,” says Barton.
The novel finishes with a dose of wisdom about karma, extolling trust in the “ups and downs” of the universe. The narrator solves the jewel smuggling caper. She observes the mysterious power of spoken words. And then creates meaning in the mundane, and subverts the activities of a cult.
Finally, she helps another victim of burnout syndrome to reenter society. All while taking steps in her own recovery toward essential work.
For Tsumura, who sets many of her stories within the realm of working life, the English publication of her book is well-timed. The ongoing pandemic and an increase in remote work has forced many people to reevaluate their working lives and how it affects their search for a fulfilling life.
Hope For The World Of Jobs, Work, Life, Satisfaction And Despair
Tsumura recently told Barton that, “The narrator changes jobs many times, experiencing both satisfaction and frustration. But ultimately, she keeps on moving forward. Sometimes voluntarily, and sometimes pushed on by her situation. I’d like it if this would help readers to know that even if they encounter feelings of despair in their working lives, it doesn’t have to be the end. Something else will come around.”
There’s No Such Thing as an Easy Job, by Kikuko Tsumura has 416 pages and is translated by Polly Barton.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever. By subscribing to Japan Times (the first place where the original of this write up was first featured), you can help them get more story right.
There is a lot of power and developmental transformation that you can mine from your personal profile if you can just give it the right attention and focus.
Your personal profile is beyond what is written. It is beyond the personal descriptive statement that you put on your social media ‘DP’ or on your resume. It is what characterize who you are, your accomplishments, strength and skills. This is about your future riding on your past.
Personal profile can be one of the most powerful elements in your business armoury, but you have to know what tools and techniques will help you build it, protect it and drive your success. Culturally, many of us are brought up not to “toot our own horns” or “shout about our successes.” But in today’s highly competitive world, if you don’t stand out, you’re likely to watch those with a higher profile pass you by on their way to the top.
Throughout this interactive and practical session, Vanessa will share stories from her career; starting in Banking in the City at 16 and her rise to the C-suite.
Vanessa will provide the top tips she’s picked up in corporates, as an entrepreneur and as a network leader, and encourage you to become comfortable with raising your profile.
The Power of Profile – Toot Your Horns
How to stop feeling like an imposter
How to focus on your personal brand and exhibit leadership behaviours
The importance of networking and building relationships for the future
Speed networking – Getting to know your fellow guests
Optimising your digital footprint
Coach, Mentor, Sponsor – who can help you drive your career
The importance of giving back.
Vanessa will provide guidance on a wide array of profile -raising opportunities that are easy to implement straight away.
She’ll help you take the next steps towards raising your profile and attracting opportunities to progress in your career and help others too.
The Power of Personal Profile: Event Date: 25 November 2020
image: The Guardian UK/Mo Abudu/Premium Times/Hidden Camera Naked Shots of Òlòtūré
On Mo Abudu’s Instagram page, luciandos2 wrote, “as a lady from Edo state, Nigeria, watching Òlòtūré ring bells in my head. You left no stone un-turned on this one.”
Few years ago, we got a good glimpse into modern slavery through CNN’s hidden camera naked shots. It was the CNN Freedom Project to ending modern-day slavery. Good that came up before Òlòtūré (“Endurance”) came on stage.
From the CNN Freedom Project documentary, Nima Elbair started out by telling us that we are watching the auction of human beings in the 21st century. This is as she went underground as a prospective candidate, to be trafficked to Europe. She is dark in complexion!
Kristie Lu Stout says, “it is when your freedom is denied, that is when you really feel it.” This and many other reports came in as the CNN Freedom Project shines light on stories of modern-day slavery all over the world.
It is a global problem, an age long trade, that leaves no country or group of people as saints.
Tobore Ovuorie And Her Investigative Journalistic Work
Tobore Ovuorie of Premium Times was motivated by years of research into the plight of trafficked women in the country. The loss of a friend also pushed her to go undercover in a multi-billion dollar criminal enterprise. She emerged bruised and beaten, but thankfully alive. This was after witnessing orgies, big money deals in jute bags, police-supervised pick-pocketing, beatings and even murder. This is her story.
Help From The Wrong Quarters
Tabore wanted to break through the hypocrisy and official propaganda. She was determined to show how, every day, criminals in Nigeria are helped by the powerful, to enslave fellow young citizens.
She gave herself a new name, ‘Oghogho.’ This helped her to connect with another Oghogho I., who is an accomplished, and wealthy human trafficker.
Oghogho I. told Tabore, “don’t worry about crossing borders and getting caught. Immigration, customs, police, army and even foreign embassies are part of our network. You only run into trouble with them if you fail to be obedient to us.”
Tabore said two of the trafficked sex workers she interviewed had tried to find help at Nigerian embassies in Madrid and Moscow. It was a wrong step. They soon realized that the very embassy officials from whom they had sought deportation, had immediately informed their pimps.
Merriam-webster dictionary defines work in different ways. We will focus on the first three definitions. The first is, work is to perform or fulfill duties regularly for wages or salary. The second is, work is to perform or carry through a task requiring sustained effort or continuous repeated operations. And the third definition is, work is to exert oneself physically or mentally especially in sustained effort, for a purpose or under compulsion or necessity.
From the three definitions, every task, duties or action undertaken during slavery and by compulsion is work. And it has its own industry.
The slave trade of the 16th to 19th century that took away West Africans as slaves to the rest of the world was profitable “work” to both locals and foreigners. The foreigners did not go into the inter land. Local chiefs coordinated the attack (evil “work”) on innocent people. They were the ones who held them as captives before sending them over to the foreigners once their ships arrived. The foreigners took away the human cargo, just as they took away raw farm produce. Both, were simply goods for commercial business transactions.
Hidden Work, Naked Profits
Today, Oghogho I. too is profiting from her business.
Tabore reported that Oghogho I. owned four luxury cars, and two houses in Edo State. And that she was busy completing the building of a third house near the Warri airport in Delta State. Others she had met through her initial ‘call girl’ exploits were also clearly on their way to “riches” too.
Priye was set to go back to the Netherlands, where she worked before, to become a ‘madam’. Ivie and Precious were quite happy to go back to Italy. She narrated that, “Precious had already made enough money to start building her own house in Enugu, a city that is located halfway in between Abuja and Port Harcourt.”
Hidden Camera Naked Shots: Òlòtūré Official Trailer
Through Òlòtūré’s hidden camera and naked shots, the difficult realities of these women, particularly those who were sexually exploited, comes to light. It shows how they are recruited and trafficked overseas for commercial gain.
She reported that human trafficking is a $150 billion global industry. And that according to a 2014 report by the International Labor Organization, two-thirds of this figure is generated from sexual exploitation.
The film Òlòtūré is also doing well in countries like Switzerland, Brazil, and South Africa because it is authentic and “deals with the truth,” Abudu said.
“EbonyLife has done seven movies. But this is the most impactful one we have ever done. And the most important.”
Nigerian Filmmaker Kenneth Gyang Brought The Stories To Life
The film Òlòtūré, was directed by award-winning Nigerian filmmaker, Kenneth Gyang. It features Nollywood stars like Sharon Ooja, Omoni Oboli and Blossom Chukwujekwu.
According to Indiewire, Gyang was already working on a trafficking project when he was approached by EbonyLife in 2019 about Òlòturé.
EbonyLife is Mo Abudu’s production company.
In an interview, Gyang said he was inspired to make the movie after absorbing the experiences of Nigerians suffering in exile around the world.
The Search For ‘Next Level’, Never Always Have A Happy Ending
“I travel a lot, especially in Europe and I see Nigerian sisters, West African sisters in dark corners of countries like Luxembourg,” Gyang said. “But I was especially outraged by a BBC documentary series a few years ago. It was about a Nigerian girl who left to go to Europe because she was promised work. But she ended up in Agadez [Niger]. She was then sold to different men everyday to make enough money that could get her to Libya.”
Getting enough money was never certain, and same with the dangerous desert trip to Libya.
The film concludes on a very bleak note, with Òlòtūré’s fate uncertain.
Though it’s not quite the happy ending that audiences might be hoping for. For the filmmaker, that’s the point.
“I didn’t want a ‘Hollywood ending’ for this film because I want people to talk about the film. And the only way you can really talk about it is to show the reality of these women’s lives,” Gyang said. “Because very few of them are actually saved in real life.
While Òlòturé is brutal to watch, it however explores a world that only a few know anything about in unflinching detail. Even though those who take the “Òlòturé adventure” brings lots of negative publicity to Africa. This is therefore one other effort to change the African narrative overseas. A change away from stories about poverty, famine, war, disease and despair – what novelist Chimamanda Adichie calls, the danger of the single story. Gyang also wants to tell stories that have social impact and reveal truths that could lead to change.
Past Pains That Stirred The Desire For Change
Gyang referenced a 2019 report that said as many as 20,000 Nigerian girls were sold to prostitution rings in the west African nation of Mali alone.
“I watched the report on Al Jazeera and it made me so mad,” he said.
“I didn’t want all that stuff about them being saved because it’s just not the reality of most of these women. And it would not make sense to represent this fantasy that people will watch, and maybe believe that that’s how it ends for most of them, because it’s not the case.”
He’s hopeful that the film could inspire the Nigerian government to act more aggressively on the issue of human trafficking, although that has yet to happen. “I’ve seen a lot of important personalities talking about the film in Nigeria and I think that should get the government’s attention,” he said.
Mosunmola Abudu (Mo Abudu) is an accomplished woman and she has been described as “Africa’s most successful woman” by Forbes. Abudu is a talk show hostess, TV producer, and human resource management consultant. She is also a media personality, entrepreneur, venture capitalist and a philanthropist.
In her own little way, Mo is contributing to a project that is hopefully, trans-generational in its impact. History records the works of Mary Mitchell Slessor, a Scottish Presbyterian missionary to Nigeria. She was able to stop the killings or abandonment of twins in Cross River State.
Why Is West Africa The Hot Bed Of Slavery?
Think again. 12 million Africans were brought to the Americas as slaves in the 16th to 19th centuries. But today, as at 2012, there are a conservative 21 million fresh human beings who are living in slavery worldwide.
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