The Fragrance of Memories: Yinka@50

From the rising sun on a wet Wednesday morning of May 10 in the year 1972, a baby girl was delivered into the Gansallo family house, at the famous Island Maternity Hospital on Lagos Island. Indeed, a wide-eyed cry announced my landing which foretold a bewildering future. 

The astonishing resemblance of my late paternal Great-Grandmother, Lady Sophia Mori-Lewa DaSilva was so noticeable, I was instantly nicknamed “Atupa Parlor” after her (meaning the bright lantern that brightens a room) or sometimes “Emi Mama l’oke” (grandma’s breath) usually indicating the strong enduring personality of her industrious nature and philanthropy.

Today as I turn 50, I am beyond words on how many descriptive adjectives I have left in me from Professor Alo’s semantics class at Uniport, which is so unlike me. But deep inside, I can feel this colossal triumphant jubilation going on, it’s like there’s a non-stop praise gig happening! And am being invited to celebrate.

So, sometimes in life we get the chance to start again, we breathe deep to stand tall. We are offered a choice to either deal with the hiccups life throws at us, live with it or leave it behind.

We prepare to make our way without knowing whether the future will wait for us to catch up on missed opportunities… or we just brave it, with our faith, with love by relying on our reflective light. 

For me, this is the morning that I’ve dreamed of. The anniversary of all the enchanting and whimsical events I have encountered! Jubilee of unbelievable but jaw dropping testimonies! Reminiscing on all the principled life skills and platform for spirituality my Mother has instilled in me, the importance of education and values of setting goals mentoring from the most astute man I know, my late father.

I am who You say I am. I am chosen. I am Loved.

My Gratitude Runs Deep.

And my journey begins, with steps so few, that a child could count them. 

A new dawn… forged by the force of life itself.

And if I have spent a lot of my life trying to understand why and how absurd things happen, trying to have boundaries, and then trying to enforce them. Well, I’m finally understanding that I don’t need to be loud or demanding to have healthy boundaries. I don’t need to determine how other people behave around me. I just need to pre-decide how I will react when other people behave otherwise.

Setting healthy boundaries means being clear about asserting one’s mental health capability, especially when you clock an important milestone.

And with my ongoing Project 50 and beyond to mark this milestone ( I pray for wisdom and ask God to determine my thoughts, words and actions.

As this is just the beginning of a potpourri of untold stories in my memoir. . . ‘The Fragrance of Memories’

Yours in HOPE, as I share one of my favorite songs “Dependable God” by Victor Thompson.


My 20-Year-Wedding-Anniversary Reflection.

20 5

As crawling gives way to toddling and then striding, so does every relationship that would stand the test of time! It is like a child moving more steadily through the physical world, un-perturbed by the unknown rough pathway ahead, but determined to thrive.

Our relationship with others should always crave for improvements and ability to reject being the ultimate mentalist! Or self-appointed mind-readers we think we are. Only if we make room for acceptance.

How often have we erringly misjudged the mental states of others, such as their background upbringing, sexual orientation, feelings, thoughts, intentions, baggages and deceptions because we feel there just isn’t enough vacancy in our hearts, anymore?

Should we allow our minds to navigate deeper into the cross-currents of the broader social world while we struggle with our differences? Is there really a perfect mate? And for people who have given up on searching or loving, should there exist a fundamental difficulty in trusting again? ‘Fear of series of strong headwinds, uncertain tacks, and treacherous eddies?


So, here I am today, August 14th 2017, exactly 20 years ago my ever so-loving-Father walked me down the hallway of The Marriage registry at City Hall Lagos, into the arms of the one true love I would ever encounter! The same bespectacled-guy I met 3.5 years earlier who couldn’t keep his eyes off my one-nation orange halter-neck romper and wouldn’t get off the wall of the newly opened Club Towers night club to dance, who’d pledged the same night jokingly ‘He would marry me someday’ on the dance floor at The Whyte’s party on Glover road and then, Oh-my-word! ‘eventually showed up at my home church, Holy Cross Cathedral by making himself comfortable in my family pew, singing Agnus Dei, like he took Latin classes in college, showing off in his brand new well ironed patterned shirt, brown suede penny loafers while driving the smallest blue car ever driven in Lagos! … #Daewoo Tico

#WE DO…then in 1997, and 20 years later…#WE STILL DO

20 3Phew! It wasn’t easy…trust me, but was worth the fight to keep on keeping on!

From the misconception of what the romantic novels we read say about marriages, to the soap operas and knowledge based books or audio we tune to! From the no-experience marriage counselors or confused life coaches sprawled all over, to the perception social media breeds about what marriage should be…that’s just 1% of the back-slap advice compared to what your destiny has to offer you…’there is no manual or directory to the quick fix we all want to know.

After decades of seeking internal peace…I’d realize Oh my goodness! I don’t know it all, He doesn’t know it all either, we are actually both still learning, and our ultimate wisdom should come from God. Alone. Period.

Isn’t it like someone giving you a relationship advice and it just doesn’t work? Their wisdom, your wisdom and my own wisdom are limited. It’s subjective and faulty. And while the implementation of earthly wisdom can and often does bring some benefit, it will not always lead us to the safety and ease we long for deep inside. Some marriages must surely pass through the burning funnel for a couple to become certified companions, while others would fall along the way if their hopes of survival is based on other people’s manual and perceptions.

20 6Let’s face it. Relationships can be cruel, Life can be scary and marriages that have refused to hit the rock after series of extended-third-party-family-or-friends-interrupters-involvement-busy-bodies melodramatic episodes have finally shut-the-front-door after them…’what’s next?

If you are reading this and wondering, How-in-the-world-did-THEY-do-it? I know right? I usually ask myself too (lol). But, God’s wisdom is perfect. It leads my heart, mind, and soul to safety and rest in a world that is filled with scary realities and uncertainties. You just have to name the challenges… We have both walked through it together…24 years and counting.

I am hoping someone reading this, at any point of their relationship would also tune in to God’s wisdom – when we hear it, yield to it, apply it and obey it – we will live in peace. Not the world’s peace – God’s peace. We will be at ease with all imperfections. Not with perfect lives, but with lives that are led and not controlled by fear and anxiousness of what tomorrow would bring in their marriages, relationships, courtship or friendship. We can and will experience peace in spite of the chaos in our relationships. Be encouraged!

Yours in HOPE as I share our wedding dance/favorite song “FOR YOU” by Kenny Lattimore.



Oh Snap! I have a TEENAGER in my house!

house-2When you are alone, in privacy, during the most intense period of your day, are you always calm? composed or just tolerant?

When you are in the shower or sitting on the comfort of your toilet bowl at home, does your mind begin to play a crossword reality check game with you? Do you drift or wonder into oblivion? Or you focus on some relaxing memories as you try to ignore images and flashes of the next chapter of your life?


I-do-a-lot! In fact, that is one craving routine for me! My bathroom is my go-to solitary hide-out!

As a kid, anytime I need to escape the piercing words or the back-hand slaps from my mother after I have really crossed the lines, I would go hide inside the toilet with a novel, preferably Penny Jordan’s M & B tucked inside my Brighter Grammar book, a pack of bazooka bubblegum, can of waterboy spray, drummer-boy air-freshener;  and a short prayer hoping that by the time I come out much later, my mom and her stop-over-to-visit-anytime siblings are not waiting for me in the dining room to dissect and analyze my “queer and mysterious apocalyptic ways”

house-10Hmmm, Aunty Virgie, ‘I told you she’s weird! I bet she talks to herself and her unseen pals, ‘We need to take her for charismatic deliverance! They would whisper among themselves as I sneak by and pretend not to understand their language and creep back into my room.

And today, It’s no secret in my household that, my bathroom is still my ‘thinking and hiding zone’ especially when I bolt the door behind me to keep my prying kids out! Phew!

“Open the door mommy, I need to tell you or show you something!

‘I-am-busy-now! I usually scream back as I return to my indulgence with a deep sigh of relief.

Ah! The serene sound and soothing effect of the running hot water on my skin, creating a tornado of misty steam, the aromatic lemon grass scented candle dropping its wax in unison to the beats of the water splashing….such bliss!

house-11So, my oldest daughter just became a teenager, a dainty one and not as dramatic or crazy or a firecracker as I was at her age!  #ThankGodForThat

And the more we grow together under the same roof, the more I become weak in the knees seeing how much she reminds me of me then in so many ways!

I stumbled upon her journal and there goes pages and pages of pure undocumented short stories she had written over the years, and a recent write up about her spiritual encounter at “Breathe girls only retreat” organized by  About One teenager ministry @ #BrightmoorChristianChurch and her joy at spending time alone too…in the BATHROOM!

My heart did a backflip two-miles away from my body until it dawned on me she-shares my-passion-for-writing! and for all I care, could be writing the story of my life!

And I thought about my own life … my own past … my own relationship with my mother!

And yet … there are many times when my life does not exude that joy, maybe when I was a teenager…house-12


Maybe I have forgotten what it was like to witness the wonder of His presence in my life. Those times when my life was too crowded for God, and I just needed to breathe again…

Today, whether you have a teenager under your roof, or you know a teenager who looks up to you as their roof, how much do you really know them? How are you fueling their lives for tomorrow’s story they intend to write about?

Isn’t it is so easy to relegate our spirituality to religious activity? When all they really want is to learn the path to follow? When we allow them to do more or all of the talking, while we wait on them?

house-6Oh Yes!!  There is a teenager in my house! and just like God longs for us to forever run into His arms, sharing every hurt and rejoicing in every victory, that’s exactly how every teenager yearns to wrap their emotional-arms around us, completing the peace we so desperately need!

Won’t you Join in today? and live a life that celebrates the amazing truth that opens the doors to a teenage-heart!

Happy 13th Birthday, Sophia!

Yours in HOPE as I share Jonny Diaz’s Breathe.



Friday Night Conversation With Yinka – collection of short stories: (Terms of Endearment Part Four)

Continued from Part Three, published on: Oct 25th 2014


termsPart 4.

But for the so-called village counselors or small chiefs who usually comes around, using their walking sticks to trot like they are next in line for a coronation! Proudly telling anyone who care to listen about the lands and farms they own and how they have managed to raise the foundation or have plastered the walls of an un-completed boy’s quarter. The self-acclaimed landlords who by the way, still cannot afford to buy his newspaper!

Eeeoo! What a pity!”Hmmm, he’s dead too? One of them would start, and the others will carry through with their usual pity party monologue – all still holding on to the newspaper, the obituary column-page spread wide open in front of them as one of them quickly writes down the address of the burial ceremony’s evening gathering. Pa Sammy calls them the “The Obituary crashers” and would quickly advance forward, snatch the newspaper from them and ask for payment first or just place the paper down and ignore their questioning looks.

He’d learn the hard way. When he first started the newspaper vendor business, he’d been so loyal to a point, allowing passer-by to engage him in distracted conversation while they quickly glance at the news headlines – without making them pay for the whole newspaper. Getting home, he’d informed his wife, Mama Ovie that sales was slow, she’d cursed him out for being a bad trader, regarded him hopeless and had compared him to all the other successful men doing well in their village. After all, he should have been a good school teacher, articulately adorned in khaki shorts, white starched shirt and a cane! not a vendor! Useless paper man!, she would say and begin to cower as she sulks. A usual trait of hers.

Pa Sammy’s mind was set today. He needed to resolve the issue of cooperative trade he had started with his partner. He had been saving up for a while and had almost gone into shock when he realized that his only son Osa had been taking money from the brown envelope he had kept secretly inside the empty tin of bournvita,  hidden inside Mama Ovie’s old wedding dress and accessories box – a place he figured no one will ever visit, after all, what will she be looking for in her forgotten portmanteau of over 20 years! Filled with about 2 dozens of camphor! He felt it was a safe place to hide his money. He was mistaken and broken-hearted.

But last night, the embarrassment he’d witnessed was too much for him. Disturbed and confused, Nengi, their landlord’s daughter had quickly rushed in to call for help as Osa was involved in another gang fight by the second gate entrance of the College of Education. He was under arrest again, the 9th time this year!

What was Osa doing there? Wasn’t he supposed to be out-of-town? In the seminary? Father Peter from their church had assured him that since Osa had no intention of pursing his education, it will benefit him to sign up for servitude at the seminary in Eleme junction, miles away from the city. Hopefully taking him away from distraction could help him settle down and focus on God. Pa Sammy was elated at the news of Osa in the seminary. Osa had caused him so much heart ache and disgrace. All he needed now was for him to leave and go somewhere for a while, well to a place where He could discover God and change his ways.

But the seminary could not hold Osa down either.

Just last month the corporative fee, He’d taken some loan to start another lucrative small business of paying his landlord’s son, Soki to help him in buying a bale of overseas used clothing. According to most of his newspaper customers and the stories from around the motor park, that was the best business to invest in now, especially around on campus.

They say campus students always have lots of pocket-money on them. They want to keep up with fashion and new trends and would spend their last money on a pair of new stoned washed jeans or a t-shirt that reads I LOVE NY! – Rather than buy a newspaper that tells of the horror happening within their country. His mind was made up and he was going to surprise his wife and also convince her that he’s getting prosperous in his choice of business. And she would be so impressed, will begin to dance, Oh! The native dance would melt his heart.

Mama Ovie is a very good dancer when she’s happy, and then she would rock his bald head in the cradle of her soft palm and sing some sweet songs of praises in their native dialect and then cook him his favorite dish. Yam pepper soup on the side and then later, bitter leaf soup with giant green periwinkle over steaming starch. And they will eat together from one bowl, feeding each other, laughing together and for one moment, forget about the troubles of Osa, and maybe even forget about Ovie and her so-many dramatic tale-telling and fake life…ah!

Where and how these students get their money from, is still a mystery to him. ‘Pa Sammy’, eh, listen very well…eh, you don’t need to bother yourself o, eh, on how they get the money, you just sell to them, and always say its first grade” Soki had coached him the first time he received his goods. “In fact, eh, you can even say, eh, your brother in overseas is the supplier, ok ” He’d ended that line with a very disturbing laughter that confused Pa Sammy.

Was he making the right decision? Should he use the money to bail Osa? Should he use the money for investment, in his new business? Or should he just catch the next bus going to the university to discuss it with Ovie? Would Ovie acknowledge him? In the midst of confusion within his mind, a sudden rush of crowd emerged towards him as he…To be continued

Written by Yinka.

Friday Night Conversation With Yinka – collection of short stories: (Terms of Endearment Part Three)

(Continued from SEPT. 20th – Part Two)

Or else… Or else… ‘heads will roll on campus!

It is Friday morning. The hustle and bustle at Onne Motor Park has never disturbed Pa Sammy until today. Traffic had started to build up. Crowds of pedestrians, market women with babies strapped on their back as they struggled with setting up their merchandise, shoppers are seen making fast strides along the pavements outside the shops or trying to cross the main road to get to the other side of the market, either looking left and right and then left again before suddenly taking off on their heel like they were being pursued by a possessed madman!

Inside Onne Motor Park, there are noises of buses and taxis hooting, the main attraction, varieties of “FOOD IS READY” shops, fabric stores, electrical goods shops, pavement stalls with small items like imitation costume jewelry sold by Mallam Bashir who hardly makes eye contact with his customers, but spends a lot of time grinning at his small portable radio that’s usually balanced on his shoulders with some strange music blasting away – whatever it is that’s booming from that radio of his, is certainly all the company he needs in a day.

Within the inner caucus of the village meeting, Pa Sammy heard that He usually carries a matchet with him, hidden secretly away under his flowing shirt. No one ever saw this, except the day Osa tried robbing him. The mark carved below Osa’s left ear had been a result of the ordeal with Mallam Bashir, even though Osa had boasted that he received the cut while defending his mother from a group of armed robbers and within days, even while the wound was still as fresh as can be, still oozing blood, stained with indigo iodine and trying to escape the cotton wool plastered on it, He’d told the same story, but changed the characters. This time, He’d boasted it was during his fraternity initiation. Again, no one witnessed this. No one ever bothered to ask Osa’s mother or his father or even his sister Ovie, or even as close as look into the blood-shot eyes of Osa’s notorious friends when they come visiting him either. But in all, the message was sent. No one ever dare mess with Mallam Bashir since that incident.

On the other end close to the luxurious bus passengers waiting area are petty goods vendors attracting customers to buy their wares. Amidst all the bewilderment, one can still relish the delicious aroma of fried cocoyam served with spicy dried fish gravy, crayfish yam porridge garnished with oziza leaves, hot deep-fried bean cake and other nice flavored delicacies floating in the air, tempting passers-by to stop for some morning refreshment.

And then, there’s the usual gathering of campus students rushing to get into the over-worked Datsun-cabs, still covered in their early morning splash-wash, dripping water as their drivers chew on sticks, adjust the rear view mirror while they also use it to view themselves as they apply Saturday Night powder on their face and under their armpits – a casual daily personal hygiene habit! While their conductors holler and bawl to get passengers in and quick. Aba road! Campus Junction! – 2 chances!!

By the entrance of the motor park on the left hand side is a giant sign, hanging above the food store, it reads: “I-J-E-O-M-A – travel well Food is Ready” owned by Madame Cecelia. And there she is, a heavy set light skinned woman, robust and cheerful, the thickness of her dark toned brown powder in contrast with the complexion of her neck, her high cheek bones, painted in cheap glossy pink, contesting with her full large lips smeared with Vaseline. Always the same look, Decorated and glamorous. Glossy and animated, but always clean. She’s married to Papso, a trader with a two-toned 504 Peugeot and a parked white V-boot he usually only drives to church during Christmas and Easter. He also has a spare part dealership store in Emenike shopping complex and also another one in Diobu, all in Port Harcourt.

She’s shouting orders across to her canteen helpers to hurry up with setting up for the day and the same time, waving away the agitated flies parading and in desperate search of a good will hunting spot. Customers were beginning to fill up the entrance of the canteen. A long line of anxious passengers waiting to grab a bite of the tantalizing oil soaked bean cake served with dough-infused bread and rush off to catch their ride.

Pa Sammy watches in bewilderment as life revolves so fast in front of him, still holding on tight to the brown envelope, as he remembered the contents of the envelope again, he quickly clutched it close to his chest, like his life depended on it. Well, today his life does depend on this envelope. He has been sitting patiently at the entrance of the lotto store, where he had managed to secure through the help of his daughter Ovie.

But as of recent, his vendor newspaper business wasn’t booming like expected.

These days, passengers usually engage him in local discussions, while they quickly and craftily glance through pages of the paper. Sometimes, he gets paid for the few pages viewed, and sometimes he has to remind them to drop something or keep moving.

His favorite customers are the campus students, who’d come, pick up “Grapevine” and any other gossip related magazine, drop off the money and tell him to keep the change. What they see in that magazine, He still doesn’t understand why anyone would derive so much joy in reading about latest gossips or about a personal issue discussed publicly. The headlines have been carefully designed to attract these college girls. “Scandal!! Ex-Senator Exposed!! Or “Trouble!! Ex-beauty queen caught in the middle of an affair” or “Lecturer in double mess” – hmm. Such humiliation!

He’d tried once to open the pages and feel their amusement as they would when they open up a gossip column and get so excited and animated. He just never understood the message behind it. All he saw were stories of rich spoilt people showing off their new houses, cars or another extravagant wedding celebrated with such annoyance and display of wealth that eventually ends up in one of the magazine he’s now selling. Thank God he wasn’t invited in the first place, how would he have managed to waste his one and only saved up green Guinea brocade for an event where he wouldn’t have been noticed anyway, but as God would have it, He gets to sell their stories afterwards. No stress for him at all.

That thought has always compensated Pa Sammy for missing out on little things of life. To think of it, headlines like the high cost of petrol, the current political issues in the country, mis-management of power and un-employment was the least of their problem. The campus students, Hmm! Why should he bother himself, so far as they keep buying it, that’s okay by him.

The usual customers that irritate him are either the group of students in Political science department or the underpaid Sociology lecturers. They usually come in fours or sevens. After greeting him, they will begin their debate on an outline displayed and begin to confuse and convince themselves with their point of view “The propaganda of the interim government policy…” and then another will chip in angrily “Nigeria’s government is facing rising religious violence in the north, a long-simmering separatist movement in the oil-rich south and now a nationwide strike fueled by widespread anger over the end of fuel subsidies seen by many as one of the few benefits of living in the largely impoverished state”

Pa Sammy will look at them, put his hands on his chest, and imagined it was his son, Osa discussing politics in a relevant way, and not conniving with gangs to cause trouble. He nods in acknowledgment with this youth whose passion and zeal for a better tomorrow was deep, contagious and rather alarming! As if they were already in the court of law or at a national assembly gathering addressing Mr. President himself – with no intent of buying the paper! In a way, He’d always enjoyed their company because they usually summarize the whole news message, makes him current and gives him a topic to discuss at his weekly town-hall meeting. But today he has a lot on his mind. If only… To be continued.