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Best Tips for Staying Healthy During the Holidays/Christmas Time

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Holidays are filled with joy and excitement. Aside from the great festivities that make the holidays so special, you can plan – and eat – large, elaborate meals and desserts, mix with the crowds, and share time with friends and family.

In the same way that the holidays make life so enjoyable, they can also put an adverse impact on your health. In that case, what can you do to maintain good health during the holidays?

You don’t have to let your health slip away during the holiday season. Health pitfalls can be avoided with some planning and effort.

10 Tips to Stay Healthy this Holiday Season

  1. Drink plenty of water

You will stay hydrated and prevent mindless eating if you consume adequate amounts of water. This strategy has proven successful over the years. Drinking water keeps you full. You are likely to eat less of that meal if you drink two cups of water before eating.

During this holiday period, it is advisable to drink water first before eating anything else since there will be less space for anything else, resulting in a healthier you.

  1. Eat a lighter salad

There are lots of picnics and barbecues during Christmas, where pasta salads, creamy potato salads, and cheese dips are abundant. Bring a nutrient-rich bean salad, a potato salad laced with vinaigrette, and a green veggie-packed garden salad instead if you are attending somewhere that requires you to bring a salad.

  1. Maintain an active lifestyle

During the holidays, it’s easy to neglect exercise. It is cold outside, you need to decorate and plan a party, or you might have to visit with relatives. Still, physical activity is essential for staying healthy. Schedule time for exercise and prioritize it.

Overindulging in calories can be burned off by exercising a little more. Maintaining your health throughout the year by exercising is essential, especially during the holiday season.

It would be beneficial to exercise to burn off the extra calories consumed during the holiday season. Engage the whole family in fun family workouts. When you exercise during the holiday season and afterward, it makes you feel good overall, relieves stress, improves brain and heart function, and improves your overall mood.

It can be difficult for some people to stick to a strict workout routine during the holidays. As opposed to trying to go to the gym five days a week, focus on doing something to get you moving every day. Consider going for a walk with family or signing up for a fitness class with a friend (hello, holiday specials).

  1. Practise saying no

It is important to practice healthy nutrition during this festive season when you will be faced with so many different types of foods. Say no to unhealthy foods! Try to limit sodium intake, limit your intake of foods with added sugars, and reduce your intake of saturated fats if you have a history of hypertension.

Because most party food is sodium-laden, contains lots of sugar, is fried, and contains plenty of fat, you should limit what you eat. To avoid eating junk food while out, eat a healthy meal at home before going out. Don’t feel obligated to eat everything offered to you.

  1. Choose healthy foods

Fill your plate with healthy food and prepare a healthy holiday menu. Rather than green bean casserole, choose green beans or corn instead. Bring a salad or a tray of vegetables if you know healthy dishes won’t be available at your family dinner.

You should determine how much food you are comfortable eating before you start eating and stop when you are full if you’re prone to overeating over the holidays.

  1. Snacking in moderation

Snacks consumed throughout the holidays are often underestimated in terms of calories. Even if you eat a healthy meal, your snack choices can ruin it. Keep track of the amount you consume. Load up on vegetables and fruits instead, as these contain fewer calories, are more filling, and are healthier in the long run.

  1. Avoid skipping meals

With so many snacks and treats available, it’s easy to fill up on calorie-filled snacks and skip the more nutritious meals you’d usually have. It’s not surprising that this leads to weight gain. You can avoid a sugar crash by eating properly throughout the day and limiting your temptation to indulge in sweets.

  1. Consume alcohol in moderation

For women, one drink per day is recommended, while for men, two drinks per day are recommended. If you intend to have a glass of wine or a bottle of beer, prepare your mind for it.

When you have another drink, it’s hard to say ‘no’ to a third; so it’s better to have a plan and follow it. You can minimize alcohol consumption by sipping sparkling water in between drinks. You’ll feel better overall and your liver will have fewer stressors during the holidays.

  1. Trade your favorite dishes

Many of our favorite Christmas dishes aren’t the healthiest options, so why not try some of these healthier alternatives. Chili prawns are better than classic prawn cocktails, pesto is better than cheese dip, and bliss balls are more fun than truffles. Not only are these dishes delicious, but they also feel indulgent.

  1. Keep in mind that there will always be next year

It is important to schedule downtime during the holidays to stay healthy. You can easily fill your calendar with every Christmas invitation and event you can find. If your schedule is packed, you may feel burned out, tired, and less festive.

Instead, focus on a few meaningful activities. Maybe you enjoy watching holiday movies with your family, baking cookies, and attending work parties. Make sure you attend these events! The next time you are overwhelmed by the thought of a cookie exchange, choral concert, or another event, skip it! There is no need to participate in every event this year.

Bottom Line

You may find it hard to maintain a gym routine or eat a whole foods diet during the holidays, but remember, progress, not perfection, is what counts.

You’ll be ready when the clock strikes midnight on December 31st if you begin those healthy holiday habits and make good choices now. Throughout the year, you’ll already be building momentum for a healthier lifestyle.

Written By Senkat Nden

 

The death of the Queen

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The interconnectedness of the natural world has always been an ancient concept in virtually all cultures and all continents; the idea of life after death or some form of continuity of a person’s existence is strongly held by almost all, perhaps because it helps answer some questions or because it gives hope of meeting again; it could also be satisfying if the wicked that escaped human judgment could still answer at some other space, but whatever the case may be, death of all mortals is a certainty; so why not live well because it is inevitable, even the queen also died.

“When beggars die there are no comets seen but the heavens, but the heavens themselves blaze for the death of princes” was the word on marble, attributed to the British Great, William Shakespeare (1564 -1616). Only recently was it affirmed again the brevity of life, it may appear long but not so when you know how long history is. No doubt the Queen of England, so well-known and ever-present is simply being referred to as The Queen; everyone will know that Queen Elizabeth the second, is the person being referred to. Although other queens exist, there is only one “The Queen”. She passed on like all mortals, but with pomp and glory, once again confirming the words of Shakespeare

Death being so certain, the best way to live can be gleaned from ancient thoughts; examining ideas of living communicated through cultures by their practices will be a good point of take-off. Professor Lee Tzu Pheng (Singapore Cultural Medallion Winner), in the first two stanzas of her poem on life and death, seems to suggest that life is always short for individuals, so her advice is that you:

Sip your tea

Nice and Slow

No one ever knows

When it’s time to go

There’ll be no time

To enjoy the glow

So sip your tea

Nice and slow

Life is too short

Feels pretty long

There’s too much to do

So much going wrong

And much of the time you

Struggle to be strong

Before it’s too late

And it’s time to go

Sip your tea

Nice and Slow

Life could appear long, as that of the queen will be adjudged to be. After all, she was alive for more than nine decades – longevity that the majority will never experience. Is it not interesting that the length of time never seems long to the person concerned? However, to observers that benchmark lifetimes relative to others, evidently life is not easy to give up either, perhaps because it is valuable or because of the love of others, there is always a battle for life. It will be rare for relatives or society to neglect a sick person on account of age to quicken the person’s death; it will be considered inhuman, callous, and unacceptable.

Death is only acceptable in most societies when it comes as an act of God; in other words, the death that has occurred must be explainable or due to natural circumstances like accidents or old age, but there are societies that still have room for unnatural deaths like suicides, either as a form of self-redemption in the afterlife or in defense of that society and need not be military in nature. The western societies that had imbibed the Hellenistic culture now have room for death in the form of assisted suicide in certain circumstances.

Death is the end of all mortals – even kings, certainly, there is no controversy in that but what dictates how a person is buried and influences attitudes at funerals? Is it respect for the departed or finding some emotional release for the living? Are the practices in different cultures dictated by religion or practical conventions? Should the living bother about the dead or should the exit be just accepted as a matter of fact and get on with the grinds of daily living? It however would be important to know why we do what we do for example, why was the cost for the burial of The Queen in the neighborhood of $7.5M?

The ancient Egyptians believed in life after death and they thought it necessary to send the departed King off with items and money needed in His journey to immortality. So they were buried with gold and more but it seems that we have reversed the users of gold from the dead to the living because men no longer bury money in the casket, they simply spend it during the burial for food and social expenses. Interest in the dead is waning worldwide and greater attention is paid to the living, so it makes sense for individuals to pattern their lives in a way that gives them happiness, peace, health, and satisfaction.

Even if the dead are not all gone and the interrelationship continues, it is best that the living take care of the living by themselves because the dead will have no options but to care for the dead all by themselves as well where they are.

Written By

Pst. Amos Oladimeji.

Working From Home Tips for Success

In a world where social distancing has become the norm, you will probably find yourself working from home. So how do you remain productive and set yourself up for success despite all the distractions, such as pets and children?

It is natural to fantasize about lounging around in your pajamas, taking long lunch breaks, and having extended sleeping hours whenever the idea of working remotely comes to mind. But the reality of success when working from home is completely different.

You have to realize that although working from home is flexible, it is still a professional job and should be treated that way. There’s a fine line between work setting and home life when you work remotely. When this line gets blurred, you will become less productive when working from home.

Work from Home – Tips for Success

Working remotely is a privilege that needs more responsibilities. If you fail to do it properly, you could end up getting fired and have difficulty getting a job replacement. Below are some tips to successfully work from home.

  • Wake up early

Research shows that morning people could be more productive because getting up early gives them more time to prepare for the activities of the day. Additionally, if you have children at home, this will be a good time to squeeze in more work because it is free of distractions.

  • Don’t work in bed

One huge challenge when it comes to working remotely is the number of distractions. For example, if you work in your bedroom, a space normally meant for sleeping, you may see a reduction in productivity.

You need to set yourself up in a space where you can remain focused. Be in a space you feel comfortable and ergonomically sound. Do what you can to get rid of sources of distraction.

  • Have a morning routine

Deciding to sit down at your desk and begin work at a particular time is one thing, coming up with a routine that guides you into the chair is another.

You need to have something in your morning routine that shows that you are about to begin work. It could be preparing coffee and taking the time to savor it before you begin looking at your to-do list. It could be getting back home after a morning jog. It might be getting dressed.

  • Get dressed

Working from home indeed means you can work in your pajamas. But studies indicate that this can quickly get depressing. Putting on a nice pair of jeans and a clean t-shirt can put you in a different state of mind for working efficiently.

Always treat every day like it is ‘casual Friday’. This means you can relax a bit, but still hold yourself to a standard of dress that puts you in a productive state.

  • Organize and work efficiency

You might be successful in your field, but if you fail to organize your workday, you’ll be setting yourself up for failure when working remotely. Being organized means more duties and responsibilities coming your way. This will increase your work efficiency.

  • Set ground rules with family and friends

Set ground rules with people that are always in your workspace. If you have kids that come home from school while you’re still working, you need to set clear rules for them about things they can and cannot do during that period.

Also, just because you’re home and can perform other activities such as letting service people into the house or taking care of pets, does not mean other family members should assume you’ll always do those activities. If you simply take it all on by default because you are now working from home, you may feel taken advantage of, and your productivity decline.

  • Ask for the things you need

If you are working for an organization that expects you to work from home, ask for the equipment you need as soon as you begin work, or as soon as you realize you need something.

You need to set precedents early so that you will ask for what you need to comfortably get your job done. Things you could ask for include the proper chair, printer, mouse, monitor, keyboard, chair, software, and so on.

  • Socialize with co-workers

Some common problems faced by employees that work from home include loneliness, disconnection, and isolation. This is especially true for extroverts.

Organizations that have a remote work culture mostly offer methods of socializing. For instance, they may have chat channels for remote employees to speak about common interests, meet-ups, and retreats. You need to figure out how much interaction you need to feel connected and included.

  • Take breaks and relax

During workdays, all employees take breaks. Working from home should not be any different. Consider working in smaller spurts and creating relaxation times in between, which can be refreshing and help you both mentally and physically. Leaving your chair for some time at regular intervals can also help you relax your eyes and spine.

In Summary

Most places are now on lockdown, and, even in areas that are not, employees are encouraged to remain at home. Working from home is a great opportunity. You have more freedom with your time and can work in the comfort of your house.

But just because you work at home, doesn’t mean you can take it easy and do unproductive activities all day. You need to take your job seriously and improve your communication and organizational skills so you can be more successful.

Written By

Joshua Gyang

TRUST VS FEEDBACK

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It is said that building trust in the workplace comes down to one’s competence and character. More so, that one’s performance score is largely dependent on the perception of one’s stakeholder i.e. someone that one deals with and can comment on the quality of his or her work.

Now, what if such a stakeholder has a negative perception of the other? It may that he or she does not like their guts, style of dressing, car, height, or appearance. Is this person expected to pass a good judgment on the other? The fact remains that the chances of one getting a better score are higher if there is a good rapport between both parties so much so that certain areas of weakness may be overlooked. After all, we are humans; emotional beings who strive every day to suppress our feelings to stick to our respective professional ethics.

Now isn’t this one of the flaws of 360 degrees feedback? People are made to comment on your performance with no date to back up their claim? I had a case where someone noted ‘I don’t know her much yet commented ‘her response rate is poor’. Can you see the gap/missing link? How come such a person can pass such a comment? I had to question the commentator by asking ‘how did you arrive at this conclusion?’. I also had to draw the attention of others to be as objective as possible.

For me, I reckoned that in as much as it is said that one shouldn’t be defensive when receiving feedback, an avenue should be created where one can seek further clarification on the rationale behind the stakeholder’s comment. Not in a confrontational manner but rather, as a learning curve.

I once underwent a coaching program where 2 areas out of 10 were identified as my weak points. Surprisingly, I thought I was good at them. Nevertheless, I swallowed my pride and followed agreements made by my coach on how to improve.  In one of such sessions I asked my coach, ‘if my performance is dependent on the perception of my stakeholders, does that mean I should always agree with them? I should henceforth be a YES SIR/Ma person? Her response was ‘NO but …’ which didn’t drive home the point for me. I still need a more convincing answer to that. The repercussion is obvious, you tend to disagree despite being on the right path.

For instance, I had a stakeholder of mine who noted ‘poor response to disciplinary issues’ on his feedback about me (response was anonymous). I was informed of this and I could tell at once who the person was. Luckily, we’re on good terms so 3 months down the line, and in a bid to manage his ego and truly understand ourselves, I asked, ‘how can I serve better?’ what are your expectations of me’. He went on and on while I listened. Lastly, I jokingly and politely reminded him of the comment he’d given on my ‘poor response to disciplinary issues’ and he owned up. His response was ‘you don’t usually sack or fire when I ask you to?’.

I, however, took all his comments in strides and explained to him the reasons behind some of my decisions which he did understand.

My take is that these same stakeholders forget to remember that we are all employees and not shareholders, so we are on the same boat. More so, being HR, we have received several, similar requests to ‘sack’ them (him and others in his cadre) but as professionals blocked such moves by enlightening the BOSS that ‘things are not done this way’ + ‘we’ve got laid down rules and procedures that must be followed’. These policies are to provide a fair and consistent approach to all people’s issues.

In essence, ‘we’ can’t just sack a staff because he or she being a stakeholder has said so while neglecting laid down rules on disciplinary issues. Remember, what goes around comes around. More so, it’s not a case of gross misconduct where staff can be summarily dismissed, but rather, performance.  Now this same person has passed such comments on me and I don’t have the room to defend such. Where is justice?

In conclusion, I have decided to embark on a series of Knowledge Sharing sessions to re-enlighten these stakeholders on relevant day-to-day policies, so they could understand some of these basic things and more importantly, the rationale behind my decision as a HR professional with the hope that people would be fair when passing judgments on my work and others as well.

 

How to Stop Oversleeping

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It is common knowledge that staying up too late, waking up too early, and sleeping too little is dangerous. Another practice that may negatively impact your health is oversleeping, which is also known to lead to negative side effects.

Getting better sleep can impact your entire day – as well as your health. Understanding how to stop oversleeping (and implementing those strategies) can make a powerful difference.

Oversleeping – What does it mean?

Sleeping longer than one’s intended wake-up time on any given day is known as oversleeping. Their excessive sleep can affect their health negatively, leading to increased risks for diabetes, heart disease, and strokes. After recovering from oversleeping, many people feel fatigued throughout the rest of the day.

How do you know if you’re oversleeping?

Getting too much sleep can lead to weight gain, headaches, backaches, depression, and fatigue. Without making healthy lifestyle changes or seeking medical advice, these symptoms could become long-term. Infertility and cognitive decline may be long-term health consequences.

How Much Sleep Should You Get? 

Having a fixed amount of sleep that each person needs would be nice. It is ultimately determined by your lifestyle, health, and activity level, as well as your general health and health status. To make sure you’re getting enough sleep, you should follow the general recommendations based on your age.

  • Young kids (ages 3-5): 10 to 13 hours
  • School-age kids (ages 6-12): 9 to 12 hours
  • Teenagers (ages 13-18): 8 to 10 hours
  • Adults (ages 18-65+): 7 to 9 hours

Stop Oversleeping With These Tips

When you’ve done something for a long time, it can be hard to break the habit. But you can do specific things to stop oversleeping so you can start getting more sleep (and fewer sleep disturbances).

If you do not see results right away, don’t get discouraged. It takes more effort to change some habits than others. Instead, keep trying new things to see what helps you the most.

  1. Sleep on a regular schedule

Regular patterns are best for our bodies. In addition to meal timing, sleep habits and wakefulness habits should also be considered.

Getting sleepy around the same time every night is a result of going to bed at the same time every night. Make sure you get to bed at the right time after figuring out how much sleep you need and when you want to rise.

  1. Create the perfect sleeping atmosphere

As you’ll be getting the right amount of sleep for your body, falling asleep at your preferred bedtime can also help you wake up at your preferred time. When you create a relaxing environment, like having the right blanket or mattress, your body and mind can relax, allowing you to more easily fall asleep.

Consider wearing earplugs or using a sound system to filter out background noise if it’s noisy. The temperature in the room should also be taken into account. When it’s too cold or too hot, it’s unlikely that you’ll fall asleep (or stay asleep).

  1. Change your alarm habits and avoid snoozing

You could reduce if not take out your alarm clock altogether, or at least improve your relationship with it if you’re too sleepy. The best way to wake up in the morning is to wake naturally rather than forcing your body out of bed. Consider using an alarm clock that gradually wakes you up if you are one of those people who needs an alarm clock desperately.

  1. Have a consistent wake-up time

Ideally, you should wake up at around the same time every day to end your oversleeping problem. That includes weekends as well.

Sleeping well takes time, not a sprint. The best way to help your body is to go to sleep at around the same time every night, get at least seven hours of sleep, and then wake up at around the same time every morning.

  1. Try not to overthink it

Keep your day-to-day routine in check and check that you’re on track so that you can get a better night’s sleep. You will not sleep well if you worry and overthink. Change should be implemented gradually and you should allow yourself time to adjust.

Trying to solve a problem right away can be frustrating. Don’t get frustrated. If nothing works, a medical professional may be best able to assist you.

Bottom Line

Even though an alarm clock can be an indispensable part of waking up in the morning, using it wisely will eliminate the need for snoozing. To get the help you need from a sleep physician, you should speak with your doctor if you wake up feeling tired or unrested after enough sleep.

You can get on track to a healthier lifestyle if you know how to stop oversleeping. If you are struggling to find sleep, try different tactics such as those mentioned above.

 

Famous African Kingdoms

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Most African kingdoms left a great mark on the world with their construction methods, advanced irrigation and farming systems, their system of mathematics and medicine, and their famous leaders.

While Europe was going through its Dark Ages, a time of intellectual, cultural, and economic regression, from the 6th to the 13th centuries, Africans were going through an almost continent-wide renaissance after the decline of the Nile Valley civilizations of Egypt and Nubia.

There were various African kingdoms and empires spread out across the continent, and regional and political powerhouses like those found in our history books. Let’s take a look at some of Africa’s most notable kingdoms and civilizations.

  1. The Kingdom of Kush

Even though it is mostly overshadowed by its Egyptian neighbors to the north, the Kingdom of Kush stood as a regional power in Africa for more than a thousand years.

This ancient Nubian empire got to its peak in the second millennium B.C., when it ruled over a vast swath of territory along the Nile River in what is now Sudan.

  1. The Aksumite Empire

Also referred to as the Kingdom of Aksum (or Axum), this ancient society is one of the oldest of the African kingdoms and is spread across what is today Ethiopia and Eritrea in an area where evidence of farming dates back 10,000 years.

The Aksumites were important in the commercial trading routes which existed between the Romans and Ancient India, and they were seen as one of the four great powers of their time together with China, Rome, and Persia.

  1. The Kingdom of Ghana

Commonly referred to as Wagadu, this kingdom was a vital stop along the trans-Saharan trade route which connected African societies in the Sahel to the markets found along the coastlines of the Mediterranean Sea and the trans-Saharan gold trade.

They specialized in the trade of gold and kola nuts. The decline of the Kingdom of Ghana was cemented when it became part of the kingdom of Mali around the year 1240 CE.

  1. The Songhai Empire

For just their size, few states in African history can compare to the Songhai Empire. Created in the 15th century from some of the former regions of the Mali Empire, this West African kingdom was larger than Western Europe and comprised parts of a dozen modern-day nations.

It got to its peak in the early 16th century under the rule of the devout King Muhammad I Askia, who conquered new lands, forged an alliance with the Muslim Caliph of Egypt, and established hundreds of Islamic schools in Timbuktu.

  1. The Mali Empire

After the decline of the Kingdom of Wagadu, it was annexed by the Kingdom of Mali. While the Ghana Empire traded in gold, the Malian Empire mined gold from its mines which, by the end of the 1200s, was the source of approximately 50 percent of the gold supply of the Old World.

The most famous ruler of the Malian Empire, Mansa Musa, was the richest back then – even by the standards today. He is seen as one of the richest people in world history with records suggesting that Mali was the largest producer of gold on Earth during his reign.

  1. The Kingdom of Zimbabwe

Great Zimbabwe is one of the most impressive monuments in sub-Saharan Africa. It has an imposing collection of stacked boulders, stone towers, and defensive walls assembled from cut granite blocks.

This kingdom ruled over a large chunk of modern-day Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique. It was especially rich in cattle and precious metals and stood astride a trade route that connected the goldfields of the region with ports on the Indian Ocean coast.

  1. The Kingdom of Mutapa

The Mutapa Empire encompassed a large portion of Southern Africa, from the Limpopo and Zambezi Rivers to the Indian Ocean coastline. Its territory was so large that if it were around today, it would stretch across parts of six Southern African countries.

Legend has it that a warrior prince from the Kingdom of Zimbabwe created the Kingdom of Mutapa. Within a generation, Mutapa eclipsed the glory that was Great Zimbabwe and its surroundings.

  1. The Kingdom of Kongo

Before European powers shared the African continent during the Scramble for Africa, the modern-day countries of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo both formed part of the Kingdom of Kongo.

Even though the precise boundaries of the kingdom are uncertain today, this empire eventually stretched into both modern-day Congos and Angola under the leadership of a Kikongo warrior, Luken Lua Nimi, whose military and political prowess dominated central Africa for centuries.

  1. The Benin Empire

Found in modern-day Nigeria, the Benin Empire was seen as one of the oldest and most developed states in West Africa until its annexation by the British Empire.

Famous artisans crafted masterpieces from bronze, ivory, and iron. The Benin Empire had a strong trading relationship with the Portuguese, exchanging palm oil, pepper, and ivory for Manilla (a form of currency used in West Africa) and firearms.

Britain’s first expedition to Benin occurred in 1553 and a mutually beneficial trading relationship existed throughout the 16th and 17th centuries until Benin suspected Britain of making controlling advancements. Dutch, British, and Portuguese explorers brought numerous tales back to Europe of the beauty, wealth, and sophistication of Benin.

 

CULTURAL EVENTS, CELEBRATIONS, AND SOCIETIES

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Cultural practices and expressions showcase the understanding of a people, what life is all about, the way of communicating, and also a means of preserving and transmitting their received civilization. Culture is a broad subject with very wide and diverse exhibits in every place where people are; it can be said that the closer a practice is between people, the closer their ancestors are likely to be. So when looking at some regular activities of a society, such as the annual celebrations, an idea of what that society values will be decipherable.

Festivals, celebrations, or annual events are commonplace in virtually all societies of the world, and it has the value of bringing individuals together for bonding and to emphasize togetherness. Generally, the events are joyous occasions and full of fun, so people love them and look forward to them; it has aided businesses over the years in form of tourist spending. Without a doubt, there will be some festivals that are atrophied due to loss of interest, perhaps also because the values or subtle message being transmitted has lost currency and is possibly no longer needed.

Cultures are like living things because they can transform, absorb others, drop certain aspects as well as go extinct. The people themselves absorb new ideas, the values received through the festivals may no longer be of interest. The activities of the festival will show its origin which could be religious, tribal/ancestral, national, commercial, or hegemonic. There are critical works of art that get preserved as a result of certain festivals. A musical festival will lead to the introduction of new instruments or new musical styles and new ideas of manufacture.

A festival geared at the remembrance of past residents, for example, the African festival of masquerades which seems to promote the recognition of communing with the departed, or to say humans are not alone in the world involved certain costumes. The kinds of face masks, or even magical words to be said will require some initiation or training. Some festivals are quasi-religious because while the masquerade festivals brought people together to have fun, they can also be described as ancestor worship.

Cultural and religious practices of individual regions do not make the world agree on any one thing; for example, when is the turn of the year? Which day is the first day of the year, which comes first, night or day? What this shows, is that the societies placed values on certain days, for example, the Sabbath day or day of rest for a set of people is not valued by some others and they will rather do as they please by referencing the days of value to them.

Some festivals can be considered a variant of the same because it seems to be directed at the same thing in different cultures; for example, the day of the dead that is popular in the Latino community seems to correspond to Halloween in the western world and quite similar to masquerades of Africans. The Anglo-world or societies associated with Western Christianity somehow dominates the world in what they hold as some divine order to determine time; create the calendar, and determine the center of the world to use as a reference point for other things.

So dominant are western thoughts that they virtually got the world to adopt their New Year date, and celebrate with them their religious festival of Christmas and New Year. Other ones like Halloween, St Patrick’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and Father’s day have also become and gained worldwide acceptance, just that the way each of them is celebrated is different. Quite clearly, the religious festivals are the most intensely celebrated and most attended.

A new kind of festival is brewing worldwide, which is commercial; it began as business or product shows, but it is being backed up with adverts and commercial thoughts in a manner that they are becoming a source of societal income. Be it a farm show, Car show, music show, or fashion show, when the society accepts it, a large gathering ensues, which could become a yearly event. Once a show becomes yearly and massively attended with economic benefit to everyone, it is possible to sustain it, but nothing stands like the religious festivals because it seeks to re-enact an event in history that is divinely orchestrated.

10 Popular African Folktales for Children

Just like people in other parts of the world, Africans, have values that they consider worthwhile and vital for the preservation and wellbeing of their culture. Due to this, societal values are embodied and communicated by their system of education.

In most African societies, a necessary part of traditional education is concerned with teaching oral literature using riddles, proverbs, and folktales, which aim to mold character and provide moral values like honesty, integrity, courage, and solidarity to children.

Folktales are usually used as a tool for transmitting and preserving shared values and collective experience. Contemporary African folktales are imaginatively refined to inject new meanings, ideas, and values, based on society’s contemporary experiences and relations.

Characteristics of African Folktales

African folktales, also called myths, are believed to hold the community together – the ancestors, the living, and children unborn. They serve to communicate traditions, customs, lessons, and morals to the younger generation to prepare them for the obstacles life will throw at them.

Traditionally, parents passed these stories down by word-of-mouth to children while gathered around a village fire, under the moonlight. This practice is known as “Tales by Moonlight.”

In most instances, the storyline goes like this:

  • The main character is overzealous, jovial, and nice, but has a huge flaw, like greed, pride, and naivety.
  • These shortcomings soon become weaknesses and the adversary or antagonist soon exploits them, leading to the demise of the main character in most instances.

Now, let’s take a look at 10 popular African folktales for children.

  1. Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears

When a mosquito tells a tall tale to a lizard, he sets in action a chain of events that has tragic consequences. A stunningly illustrated story about the consequences of lying; originally published in 1975, this Caldecott award book should be enjoyed by every child.

  1. Who is in Rabbit’s House?

This story captures the attention of kids.  It is presented as a play, a conceit for which most readers have a particular fondness. Masai villagers gather together to perform the story of a group of animals who attempt to get a mysterious creature, the “long one”, out of the rabbit’s house. As happens in many folktales, it is the smallest creature that has the most success.

  1. Why the Sun and the Moon Live in the Sky

Water wonders why he is never invited to Sun’s house.  Sun replies that his house is not large enough and sets out building a new one to accommodate his friend. But when water comes to visit, he fills the entire house and there is no longer room enough for Sun and his spouse, Moon. Can you guess where they found a new home?

  1. A Story, a Story

Beautiful, vibrant woodcut illustrations accompany the legend of how Ananse, or the Spider-Man, is poised to get stories from the Sky-God. The Sky-God sends Ananse off on several quests, never believing that a weak and old man will fulfill the tasks. Only, he realizes too late that Ananse is rather clever.

  1. Why the Sky is Far Away

Long ago, anyone who was hungry could pluck what they needed from the sky but the sky got tired and angry at the people who are wasting his bounty. The story has a positive message about the importance of not taking things for granted and good stewardship of the planet. This gorgeous book was also a New York Times Best Illustrated Book of the Year.

  1. Head, Body, Legs

This is a tale of how the human body came to be in its form today and is also a story of the importance of cooperation and determination. Author Won-Lady Paye has several other books based folktales from the Dan people of Liberia.

  1. The Hat Seller and the Monkeys

This is a fun retelling of the same story that inspired the much-loved classic, “Caps for Sale.” The theme of monkeys tricking a hat seller appears in many cultures. This story is set in Mali. The hat seller is joyful is in this book and has a little lesson about the importance of breakfast. It also has some great background information about the style of hats in the book.

  1. The Woman with Two Skins

This is a tale about Eyamba I. of Calabar a very powerful king. He fought and conquered all the surrounding countries, killing all the old men and women, but the able-bodied men and girls he caught and brought back as slaves, and worked on the farms until they died.

This king had two hundred wives, but none of them had borne a son to him. His subjects, seeing that he was becoming an old man, begged him to marry one of the spider’s daughters, as they always had plenty of children.

  1. The Ape, the Snake, and the Lion

Long, long ago there lived, in a village called Keejee′jee, a woman whose husband died, leaving her with a baby boy. She worked hard all day to get food for herself and child, but they lived very poorly and were most of the time half-starved.

  1. Name of the Tree

There has been a drought and the animals are hungry. Without enough grass, they turn to a tree filled with fruit too high to reach. To obtain the fruit, they must learn the name of the tree, which only the lion knows. This book had a great storytelling tradition feel. It is the most patient and determined that wins in the end.

LEGENDS OF AFRICAN MUSIC Part 2

Music, a genre of the performing arts and a means of entertainment have evolved over the years, and it keeps evolving. From the percussion beats to the introduction of string instruments, music, the world over has traversed lands and climes and defined times and ages. In Africa, music is a social activity that brings people together. Music highlights African values and traditions when accompanied by a melody. Many events including birth, marriage, rite-of-passage, rituals, and liturgies are often spiced with music.

However, popular music in Africa has graduated from the drum, percussion, gong, flute, and xylophone beats to accommodate modern instruments like the guitar, trumpet, saxophone, piano, keyboard, electronic drum, etc. For instance, highlife music that swept through the West African coast in the 1960s through the early 70s was defined by the horn influence. Before late Fela Anikulapo Kuti popularised the saxophone through his afrobeat music, the likes of late Osibisa, Bobby Benson, Eddie Okonta, ET Mensah, and Victor Olaiya, were great trumpeters. Fela also started his career with the highlife clan before he was radicalized.

In South Africa, images of the late Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela, Brenda Fassie, Lucky Dube, Yvonne Chaka Chaka are huge. Salif Keita and Omar Sangare held sway in Mali and close by in Senegal, Yussou N’dor and Akon are valuable exports. The aforementioned have explored popular genres of Africa which include, highlife, juju, makossa, afrobeat, and kizomba to the glory of the continent. We’re doing a spotlight on some legends, living or dead who used their musical talents to put Africa on the world map. Quite some names are examples worthy of exploring:

Fela Anikulapo Kuti (15 October 1938–2nd August 1997).*

Born Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti, the man who is also known as Abami Eda (the weird one) was a Nigerian multi-instrumentalist, and bandleader, composer, political activist, and Pan-Africanist. He is regarded as the pioneer of afrobeat, a genre that combines traditional some West African percussion and vocal styles with American funk and jazz.

He’s considered one of the greatest from Africa, Fela started out as a highlife crooner on his return from the London School of Music in 1963. The musician first trained as a radio producer with the FRCN, Lagos had a stint with Victor Olaiya’s All-Stars Band before he formed Fela and the Koola Lobitos which was domiciled in Kakadu Nightclub in Yaba, Lagos. A 10-month trip and musical tour of the United States during the civil rights struggle of 1969-1970 brought him in contact with Sandra Izsadore, a Los Angeles-based member of the Black Panthers. Izsadore would influence his political radicalization by encouraging Fela to read books like The Autobiography of Malcolm X.

That relationship changed Fela’s worldview and his music. He dropped his English name Ransome and replaced it with Anikulapo. Fela also changed his music from the melodies of highlife to a jazz-laced ensemble which he called afrobeat.

Abami Eda the name he adopted thereafter, used his music to fight societal ills. He was not pretentious about his aversion to the military’s incursion into politics and everything it symbolized. For instance, his song “jeun k’oku” (gluttony) was satirical of the regime of the Nigeria Military leader of the time, General Yakubu Gowon in the early 1970s. Zombie was a lampoon of the invasion of his residence known as Kalakuta Republic by soldiers in 1978. Fela followed up with albums like “Teacher don’t teach me nonsense” and “Beast of no nation” which he mocked. alleged human rights abuses under another national leader, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, and Tunde Idiagbon’s regime and the hypocrisy of the world body, the United Nations.

Fela was so versatile, that he could not be boxed into a corner. Although a social crusader of some sort, he also sang about some societal malaise of the period. Some of the issues are addressed in his hit songs Shakara, lady, palava, water no get enemy, dead body, oju elegba, among others.

Fela was considered a deviant by successive military regimes in the 1970s an.80s. He was in and out of detention because he was always having brushes with the law. His last brush with the law was when he was arrested for being in possession of marijuana. He was detained and shortly after his release fell ill. He died on August 27, 1997. Fela narrowly missed being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last recently.

As a promoter of African culture and traditions, Fela was a polygamist. On a particular day, he married 27 women in one fell swoop. Nevertheless, Abami Eda bequeathed a legacy of music to his children, a legacy being spearheaded by his first son, Femi, followed by Seun, and Femi’s son, Made. There have been many artists who have gained a lot of success in the music industry, but none have possibly matched Fela Kuti’s legacy.

 

EUTHANASIA

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This word is remote to many, sounds like something that is known but not really encountered in common use, for many people the word conveys an idea of something that is not really done but they are wrong, Euthanasia is a process already being accessed by many. There are people that see it as their best option to approach life’s exit door. This word does not describe a service, nor does it convey a practice that is agreed to by many but once a thing is fully debated by the representative of the people and duly signed into law, it becomes our accepted norm.

Euthanasia means the killing of a patient suffering from an incurable and painful disease or an irreversible coma as approved by the law of that land. It is also known as ‘Mercy Killing’ or ‘Assisted Suicide’ or ‘Mercy Release’. Evidently, the word killing strikes the heart of the practitioner, hence the preference for a word that either may mean or sound harmless in the ear or some form of a proper noun that may be generally unknown to people, like Euthanasia, or to describe it with words that shift the responsibility to the ‘victim’ e.g. assisted suicide or rather, allow the dying person own the decision because life is so precious and its termination definitely remains in the domain of the Higher powers, but why are we doing it?

Societies generally abhor unnatural death, for which suicide is one of them; deaths are tolerated or acceptable when they came involuntarily or even through a contest of wills like wars. It is acceptable when it comes through sicknesses or age, accidents, or disaster; so that it is considered an act of God but when self-inflicted as a form of escape, the society groans; perhaps because it seems to distort the philosophy of their lives, it could challenge the notion that self-preservation is the first order of nature.

So why will parliaments authorize Euthanasia? Perhaps because people willed it, that means society has reached a point at which their caution of the supernatural has been overwhelmed. The more religious a country is, the less is the likelihood of approving Euthanasia because choosing to die clearly demonstrates an unwillingness to live any further, that the current existence is no longer tolerable and the consequence of the action of seeking death is an option that is explorable. Euthanasia came in because there are those who thought it is a way of creating room for a legal, dignifying, and less terrifying death.

It is difficult to live with continuous pains, but there could be other reasons that people may seek an exit, one of them the being failure of organs so that the sufferer becomes dependent permanently on the support and assistance of others. Those that are under the complete personal care of others may feel intruded upon as persons no longer having personal autonomy, it is devastating to personal pride and sense of self-worth not to be able to cater to one’s basic personal needs, when an adult nave needs as much as a baby, it can be a sad existence. Not only for the sufferer but for the family member that gives the care as well, this is helped by placing such persons in long-term care.

Physicians can recommend or approve treatment stoppages when certain conditions are met, the first being that the patient expressly requested it; usually when suffering from an incurable disease or condition; when hope is lost and feasibility of change is zero, sustaining the life may just be a waste of exercise leading to fatigue on everyone. The patient may seek stoppages of treatments or withdrawal of life-supporting items and pass on. This is considered passive euthanasia; when supports are taken off leading to the failure of the natural systems.

On the other hand, people in continuous pain may wish to end it all because the sufferings are no longer acceptable, and the patient looks eagerly and wishes for death as a relief. When the physicians are convinced of the inevitability of death and all efforts of pain relief are exhausted, it is possible to recommend life-ending drugs; this active euthanasia is a very difficult decision but many countries of the West have approved it, but are opposed by the religious group across the board in every country that has legislated it.

Euthanasia underlines one of the human struggles in living in dignity and dying peacefully because death has been part of life and no one will deny or refuse to die but that it comes simply with minimal pain is the desire of all. For those that believe in life after death, and fear the judgment of God, is Euthanasia a way to end it all? Is it not an affront to the creator for man to “take the law into their own hands” by ending life unnaturally? No matter where the answer lie, living and dying without a need to preference for taking one’s own life is the best way to be.