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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

To the Survivors..A revisit

As the year closes, I thought, I should share some of those things that have left an impact on me. One of the things I have learnt over time is books I review tend to stay with me and some of the authors tend to become my friends. One of such authors is Bobby Uttaro.
It could be in the style of writing or the contents, Bobby’s book, “To the Survivors” has stayed with me and in a way has become a kind of comfort book for me. I live in a country where rape and rape victims are on the peripheral vision of the country. I am sure there had been reports of rape before I read the book, but my senses became real sharpened enough to take particular notice and that became depressing.
How do I mean? I came across cases of rape, from infants to elderly women for different reasons. It appears women have been under siege in my country for longer that I imagined and we don’t seem to be doing anything concrete. I am not about to start another article on this but I want to thank Bobby for at least making me know about one of the dirty secrets of humanity.
Rape is not exclusive to a particular nation nor is it alien to any society, I guess rape has existed amongst us from the time of the cave men, but it is the oldest shame that man has on its collective soul.
I am thus repeating my interview with Bobby today, with the hope that somehow, we will be reminded of the road we still need to follow to achieve that which we are seeking. For as long as we deny the woman the right to refuse a sexual advance, I think we are diminished by that violence.
 How do I mean? I came across cases of rape, from infants to elderly women for different reasons. It appears women have been under siege in my country for longer that I imagined and we don’t seem to be doing anything concrete. I am not about to start another article on this but I want to thank Bobby for at least making me know about one of the dirty secrets of humanity.
Rape is not exclusive to a particular nation nor is it alien to any society, I guess rape has existed amongst us from the time of the cave men, but it is the oldest shame that man has on its collective soul.
I am thus repeating my interview with Bobby today, with the hope that somehow, we will be reminded of the road we still need to follow to achieve that which we are seeking. For as long as we deny the woman the right to refuse a sexual advance, I think we are diminished by that violence.
Please enjoy
 To the Survivors…..

I opened page one and was sucked in.I raged, cried, was angry and kicked but Bobby had me by the short hairs and dragged me through me, through the minds of every breathing human being making me look at a crime, issue that for us in my corner of the world we have been unable to define properly let alone classify and give it a name.
The innocent girl on her first wedding night to a man old enough to be her father as she is dragged to matrimonial bed and raped by her elderly husband . Her terrified screams and flailing arms applauded by all. She is welcomed into matrimony through the red mist of her violent entry. That was the story. In my corner of the universe, that is how you marry. In my time and age.,I learnt about this during my first visit to my hometown in the south west when I came to my family for the first time. I stood in shock as I heard the wild screams.  Rape.. a word that young bride never heard of but has been made to experience as a received standard response to sexual activity. The women watched the men, resentment in their heart, hate to the mate who is brought in and polygamy grows hand in hand with hate and resentment. People of my mother’s age and some of mine. This is a hard book for me and anyone who has ever empathized with rape, assault, and even molestation and I passionately ask you to pick up a copy for yourself. It is a must in libraries and schools. In fact any public place.
I am not telling you my story, but the subject of Bobby’s book and the very painful reactions he has made me go through. I want you to meet Bobby and I hope his answers will help us.
1.    Welcome Bobby to Ephesus.
Bobby Uttaro...Author

Thank you for having me. It’s a blessing and honor to speak with you.

2.    Can you define rape in all its ramifications as you understand it?
In my opinion, rape, especially child rape, is the worst crime human beings commit against each other as it causes the most damage to a person’s mind, heart, and soul over significant periods of time. People who are raped have their power and control taken from them. Some believe they will die during a rape and others want to die after. Think about how terrifying and sad this is. The pain and suffering that rape survivors experience can often last many years to a lifetime. But the damage caused does not just hurt the survivor; it hurts that person’s family and friends as well. Significant others are often devastated, sometimes more so than the survivor. I know of a man who was so broken after he learned that his girlfriend was raped years before. He didn't know what to do. He didn't know how to process it. It was as if nothing in life made sense anymore.
There are so many ramifications of rape, probably too many to list now. In my experiences, I have yet to see a crime that causes so much shame. If one feels shame, one will inevitably have serious health problems. Many, if not all rape survivors at one point in their lifetime, possibly even for years, have suffered deep shame. This is so incredibly sad because on top of being raped, a person most likely lives with shame for years. Shame is crippling and paralyzing. Think of the suffering people who have this undeserved shame live with and how it affects their lives and the lives of those around them.

The ramifications of rape are vast, but I will mention a few. Rape is linked to shame, anger/rage, depression, insecurity, anxiety, fear, suicidal thoughts and suicide, eating disorders, and other health issues. It causes low to no self-esteem. It can alter people's perceptions of themselves and the world around them. Many rape survivors live in fear. Many rape survivors are physically and spiritually shackled. Rape can shatter the soul. And on top of all of these horrific effects and sufferings, many rape survivors blame themselves. But I want everyone to know that it is not their fault and that they can regain control back. Their lives can be happier and healthier if they are unhappy and suffering. The soul can be strengthened and healed. 
Lastly, there are many societal and financial ramifications from rape. Rape can be linked to drug addiction, prostitution, organized crime, and our prison populations, to name a few. For example, I had a meeting at a women’s prison in hopes of getting the book To the Survivors to the inmates. At the time of my meeting there were approximately 100 women incarcerated inside. The Director of Women’s Programming told me roughly 75% of the women had been raped. Also, the Director of Mental Health Services told me 99% of the women had been raped. Why were they incarcerated? The majority were incarcerated due to drugs and prostitution. There is a clear correlation between our female prison population, prostitution, drug addiction and rape. This is also true for some of our male inmates as well.
Ultimately, rape causes more damaging ramifications than I can answer in your question, but hopefully this is a good starting point and answers some of it.

3.    Is Sexual assault, rape or sexual violence graded?

Some people grade different levels, but I don’t think that it is necessary to do. I don’t think we should. Every sexual assault, molestation, or rape, is a crime that causes suffering. We should help anyone affected and not grade their experiences.

4.    Rape is not gender sensitive and is prevalent in every society on the earth, what can be done to stop it?

The prevalence of rape can decrease if more people make changes within their own hearts. I believe that we can stop and prevent some acts of rape, but I do not believe we will stop rape entirely. I believe rape will exist as long as human beings live on this earth. This is not meant to sound hopeless. I am very hopeful of what can be done and I know more people can heal. I would not keep doing this work and be speaking with you if I did not see real human and spiritual growth within people. But I do believe it is important to be realistic about the world we live in and the evil atrocities that will continue to exist.

Rape is the most prevalent and least reported violent crime throughout the world. The majority of people do not even speak about it, let alone get active and help people affected. Minimal rape crisis centers exist worldwide and too many people don’t want to deal with the realities.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

A MARRIAGE OF THE GODS AWAITS - Rose of Numen

“A beautiful narrative of our world and the connections with the finer world. In my opinion, this work is a depiction of the imagery of events that shall(will) NOW usher in the New Age of all our cultures. Consciously we will welcome New leaders and kings amongst us. I raise my ancient spear in salute to the author - Biola Olatunde. We all need to read it, fiction or nonfiction - the imagery that makes the new must flow!!"  - Odjegberen  Oghenechovwen 'Keyan Ugen. Prince-Priest of the Ancient Ughievwen Kingdom.
 These words gave me a sense of doing something worthwhile.  Rose of Numen which is book two of the Numen series started something in me. It was meant as fiction but I had based quite a lot of what I wrote on the people around me. My village and her customs played a significant role in making me conscious of my roots. I had listened to my grandmother talk to me about gods and goddesses and they were not evil blood sucking leeches as my civilization had portrayed to me. Do I believe in this traditional form of worship? I am not sure but I find I was not willing to push things under the carpet as my friends and colleagues tend to do. I am Nigerian, specifically a Yoruba woman and was not prepared to call everything black magic. I am not into dark arts. Most of the practices puzzle me but I gradually learnt that by whatever name we call religion or even the lack of it, humanity needs to understand it. When we have an urgent need to feel that there is a purpose to our existence.
When I was writing the television series for the United Nations Population fund, I remember wanting to talk to traditional chiefs what they thought of female genital mutilation. I did not want to just dismiss it as evil but I wanted to learn why we started the practice in the first place and I asked myself where we missed the point even as I tried to rationalize the reasons for it. When I finally wrote against it, it was because I finally had a conviction of why it was wrong.
Couple of my friends are wondering if I had become a traditionalist after they had read Rose Of Numen. I sensed their restraint and was at first puzzled then as recognition dawned that they wondered about me, I felt pity for them. Our civilization has not done much for us. A large portion of our convictions is dependent on miracles, prosperity and the ability to weed out witches and wizards. We sometimes pay lip service to a religion because it is expected of us. I hate talking or writing about religion because it is divisive so don’t run away to another blog just yet will you?

My question has always been, if we recognize that Man lives at three levels of consciousness, what makes us accept that there were only particular races that had evolved on all three levels? Man acts, speaks and thinks on a very gross material level. In finer consciousness he is evolved enough to wonder about the cosmos, things beyond his ethereal consciousness and he wonders about a Creator.

My conversation is kind of heavy right? I guess it is, because the world right now is a puzzling place to be in. We are faced with the imminent realization to accept that humanity is at war with itself. An ideological war that brooks no compromises from the protagonists and antagonists whichever side you seem to find yourself. It is a question about a right to existence based on an idea, that goes to the very root of man’s concept of existence and the rationale for it.

Is there a meeting point? I remember Nostradamus warned that if humanity fails to resolve this, the next war will be fought with sticks and stones. A lot of things don’t make sense to me anymore so you could say I am a very confused old woman these days. I have tried to put all the killings into a perspective and I have failed to understand. There is a heavy sadness in me . I know I am not Atlas and it is a road that leads nowhere wondering how we have suddenly become a murderous bunch that kill without reason.

Where did we miss the point I ask myself. In my tradition, we would have gone to the gods and asked to know who had committed an abomination on the land and then we would look for ways to expiate it. Sadly we stopped listening to the cries of the gods that there is silence now in the market place just the rattle of the old bones is echoed by the eerie silence.


There is a dance in the forest of masquerades, who are afraid to come to the market because the drums they hear are the drums of war. We could fly a flag but only one flag will do, the flag of humanity and we do not even know what colour that should be.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Rose of Numen.. official review

I am continuing today with Rose of Numen but  actually want to share the official review of the book as rendered by the chairman Association of Nigerian Authors.

A REVIEW OF BIOLA OLATUNDE’S ROSE OF NUMEN
Rose of Numen is a 188 page fascinating novel published by IFNG Publishing Inc. Melbourne, Australia, 2015 by Biola Olatunde.
Rose of Numen is a sequel to Numen Yeye.  It therefore continues Ife’s tale.  Ife channels still the spirit of Numen Yeye, a princess from the kingdom of Light.  Her mission, her purpose in life is now crystal clear and the extra-ordinary in her is still intact.
Rose of Numen begins in the prologue.  The reader is afforded a glimpse into the past and into the metaphysical world of Rose of Numen, Ife herself. Princess Numen is prepared to embark once again on a journey to another world, the earth, which, however, is inextricably linked to hers.  Her purpose, her mission is enunciated, and then the reader is jolted into the present.
Ife gets a scholarship from her old principal to study medicine at the University teaching hospital in a Nigerian city, Ibadan, and her life becomes “professionally fulfilling” afterwards, to borrow a phrase from the blurb, but that is not the end point.  She must act out her predestined role on the planet earth.

Ife plunges headlong into her purpose, her mission, releasing the extra-ordinary locked up in her and effectively using the knowledge of her extra-terrestrial connection in the process.  She begins with a gathering of a mini festival held at certain periods of the year for women of childbearing age by Yeye, the priestess.  She focuses her lens on the culture and tradition of her people, wounding and healing at the same time.  But she is not the only one in Rose of Numen whose fate has been predetermined.  Babatunde her soul mate, has also been saddled with the responsibility of ruling and protecting his people, not as the chief medicine man nor as part of the inner circle of Ifa, but as a king.  Not until towards the end, both the reader and Babatunde remain obvious of this truth.  Just as Rose of Numen, Ife, immerses herself in her mission to humanity, stripping people of superstitious beliefs, pointing iconoclastic finger at the practice of human sacrifice, reuniting broken homes and restoring to them the cocoon of family love and care, opening the key to the riddle that dribbles many, with regards to whether reincarnation is a myth or fact, exhorting the woman to see themselves as carrying “a secret flame the man needs to grope his way through life, so also does Babatunde, the young lion preoccupies himself with the kinship issue.
Babatunde is a necessary part of the inner circle of Ifa priests.  Based on this knowledge, Adewumi, one of the princes, and whose status is in doubt, approaches Babatunde, with the intent of bribing his way onto the throne, but he is disappointed.  Following the latest in a spate of prince Adewumi’s futile efforts to bribe his way through; Ifa’s declaration of a missing prince and Babatunde’s firm refusal to be dissuaded, Babatunde is framed, accused of fraud and thereby suspended.  A lawyer and close friend of Ife, Yomi, however shows up like a knight in shining armor and consequently, Babatunde is rescued. 

Ifa, in the first attempt at selecting a king, declares that a prince is missing.  The tale of the missing prince and potential king resounds around the village, even rending its air.  Consequent upon this, prince Adejare, on the one hand, who had shown sign of promise decides and backs out of the kinship tussle.  Prince Adewumi, on the other hand, seeks redress in a law court.  The selection procedure is called to question.  Babatunde, the young lion and an upholder of tradition however becomes victorious in the long run, but that is also not the end.  The State Ministry of Chieftaincy Affairs requests for a fresh nomination and instructs that a representative of the ministry shall be asked to witness the selection process in order to give fairness a chance.  At this point, the reader sees tradition and sacred secrecy coming face to face, clashing with civilization and openness.  While still puzzled by the mystery of the missing prince, Babatunde dramatically encounters an old man through which he gains a fascinating insight into the tale of the first king and his missing son, and the two women who, before they could do anything were warded off by the roar of a lion.  The day comes.  The ceremony begins for the selection of the king.  The procedure is simple: each prince is to step forward, mention his lineage and the spirit of the king his forbear will be called forth.  Adewumi is the first to be called forth.  He is asked probing questions.  Answers fail him.  The mask falls and it becomes patently obvious that his claim is false.  He turns out to be a product of his mother’s shameless and senseless escapade with a farmer.
However, to the utter dismay of everyone, Babatunde turns out to be the missing prince during his first earthly journey.  He has reincarnated as Babatunde.  He has the symbol of kingship, a pointer to the identity of the sought-after prince and king.

While dissociating herself from the crops of feminists, who believe that the woman has been long conditioned in the environment of masculine dominance, hence the need to liberate her from the shackles and hands of male dominance, Olatune in Rose of Numen gives the woman a new focus. The woman carries a secret flame that she must light in man. Among others, she revisits culture contact, bribery and corruption, predestination, the link between the spiritual and the physical world (a theme which the farmland of African writers have ploughed appreciably), and dwell more on incarnation and reincarnation.  She presents us in this work of fiction, with two interconnected and interrelated world, and with the characters we go many a time on foray from this earthly plain into the world beyond.
Numen Yeye is an intriguing and captivating novel that is laced in flowery language, garnished with local idioms.  Biola Olatunde indeed rises to the challenges of originality and creativity.
Like a meandering gentle rivulet, the well-etched words flow smoothly as it takes on issues of global concern that borders on emotions: pains, loss, joy and love, with a force.  Also, we hear the resonance of love as it permeates through the thickest of hearts to produce a relationship that cannot be forgotten in time.

Book Reviewer:
Sola Owonibi, PhD: Chair, Department of English Studies, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko, Nigeria. An award-winning poet and play-wright, he is the Chairman, Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Ondo State Branch.

I am really grateful for that review because for me , writing at the international level has been a learning process and I am sure I have not scratched the surface yet. I look forward to your comments and suggestions.
You can always get a copy of any of my books from ifwgpublishing.com as well as on amazon.com

Chat soon.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Numen Yeye Series

It is my new year. On the first Saturday of this month I turned 65. Nothing new in that as one day looks very much like another eh? For me though, birthdays are markers and I have a habit of looking forward to them. You know, do reviews and previews of my the past months and years sometimes. It was special for me this year because I had a chance to formally unveil to my own circle of friends my book two of the Numen Yeye series. Rose of Numen had been releases a couple of weeks before then.

I am using the instrument of fiction and facts to tell my people a story, and it is with a longing that we will dispense with the false fa├žade we give the world. We are Nigerians, and I know that deeply ingrained in every Nigerian is a search for the Truth.
Why did I start these Numen series?

I spent my early years in the Northern part of my great country. I was used to walking wide open spaces in the blistering sun , the wild windy storms that will stop as abruptly as it had started.. We lived in Kaduna and I spoke the Hausa language instinctively with family and friends. I listened to tales of the dark south as I heard tales of rituals, dark medicine and held the southern peoples specifically my Yoruba homeland in dread.

When my policeman father was transferred South, we thought we had received a veritable death sentence. I had a sense of being closed in. Then I met my maternal grandmother and heard a story that opened a love for my tribe, a questioning of the very things that had kept me frightened. She was a priestess, a love and mystic that in the very simplicity of her life showed I had nothing to be afraid of. She told me about the pantheon of the gods of my ancestors and how it is I could find the same in any particular religion in any particular part of the planet Earth. Above all, these gods in a single thread led straight to Olodumare, the Supreme One.

So I wrote the Numen Yeye series first as a play, in the same trilogy as I later did in prose.
Last Saturday, I presented to my own community of friends and fellow authors, the second in the series…ROSE OF NUMEN.

Let me share one of the comments of Lloyd Weaver an African-American, when I gave him the book to read before coming to the presentation:
Lloyd Weaver presnting Rose of Numen
” I am totally stunned. There is nothing more to be said. I thank the Mother of All.. You have put your soul on the line and rendered your life sacred.” Quite heavy words for me but I understood what he meant for Lloyd is an Ifa priest of a reputation that earned him a chieftaincy title from the accepted cradle of Yoruba land, Ile Ife. I felt excited when he came to the launching and spoke glowingly about the book. His comments underlined the comments of the book reviewer, a head of the department of literature, Dr. Sola Owonibi.
Dr. Owonibi, the book reviewer

In the words of Dr. Owonibi, “I am a teacher of Literature, I should know about Literature and with all sense of responsibility, the book Rose of Numen, is a great work of Literature. It is a great work of literature, a book that I am proud to recommend to anyone. I congratulate the author on a well written book and the publishers for a great cover and layout.”

I felt like I was floating on a cloud and listening to accolades for someone else.






  

 I will continue next week . I hope you will order for your own copy.
You can buy a copy from ifwgpublishing.com

Or at amazon.com

Sunday, August 23, 2015

When you look at it


When you look at it, learning is a continuous experience. No I am not about to share any momentous discovery. Wish I can tell you about some great discovery or the key to riches or even longevity. Nah! I want to share some of my experiences in the last couple of months. It has given me some kind of strange sensing. How did it start really? First I was living on the edge of some anxiety. My publisher Gerry Huntman of IFWG could pass for the typical British, you know he could be very close mouthed about things.

When I sent in the sequel to Numen Yeye, he didn’t let on about his assessment of the book. I took that in my stride because I assumed he was sympathetic about the fright I got when I had a few chapters left of the book. I had told him the book was about ready to be submitted and I had a chapter or two left. Then Numen went for a walk and simply disappeared from the computer! I almost died. Gerry gave me all types of suggestions, friends did, my IT friend stared for long hours at the darn computer Numen was not there. I cried for two nights wondering where I was going to start. Third morning, I went back to the computer and put it on, looking patiently at the files, my mind blank and came across one that the computer had named ‘temp’. Puzzled I clicked on it and there was…Numen!. I stared, and almost gingerly scrolled to the last page of ‘temp’. She had shed weight, not much but I whispered softly to her, asking her if she had missed home that much. I could continue and I could finish. I respectfully invited Numen to continue. When my husband walked into the sitting room he saw me in intense concentration, my head cocked to one side as I listened inwardly and told the story as I heard it. Numen had assumed an imperious tone and I had to catch up fast.
You might think I am crazy as I tell you this, but for me, writing is always an emotional thing. I tend to feel the characters are personal because you see after introducing them to you, they tend to follow me around until they have finished their story. Some never really finish as they assume I am always there to listen.

Numen just asked me if I have actually told you the specifics of what I have been talking about. I apologize. The sequel of Numen Yeye is now available to be purchased. Rose of Numen the sequel to Numen Yeye is now in print and published.
You can get a copy at most online stores but particularly at amazon.com
You can also get all my books at ifwgpublishing.com

I will tell you some more very soon about why I wrote the trilogy. The third book in the series will come out sometime next year.
I want to leave you with this question, is the concept of God meant for only ‘civilized’ parts of the world?

Rituals, sacrifices and such ‘barbaric’ practices have been defined by civilized countries as being the prerogative of the Dark race of Africa, but from Historical records, is that really true?
I am having a headache just thinking of it. I have a friend, he is British, a very good writer and he writes about the most brutal things. After reading his first book, I have been afraid to open another page of another book of his to read. He never gave mine a chance saying it was too exotic and yes..barbaric. There was no ritual nor anything to give you sleepless night. He just wrote me off the map. Kind of sad.

Numen Yeye is African fantasy on spiritualism, everyday concept of our myths and confusion between our traditional religion and the Western imports.
Rose of Numen continues where Numen yeye stopped. It is a trilogy that I am sure you will love to read.

Take my loving dare and buy the two or anyone copy.

Talk soon’

Sunday, July 26, 2015

To the survivors

I love reading. It is an opportunity to escape into another world and be somebody else for a change and for me it is an education. Well, this piece is about an education that I will not be flippant about. I review books because it helps me learn about concepts. I enjoy the books and also sometimes I get to make friends. I also have certain self imposed guideline I have given myself. I simply read as the intended reader and share how the book stands with me as a person.
Now that is off my chest, couple of months ago, I got books to read and review. Great I said to myself and read the first two and loved them. Quickly sent the authors questions I wanted them to answer. I like staying in touch with them. I have known authors who did not bother with me again after I had reviewed their books. Suits me fine.
In one of those batches of books I received was a book that I was horrified to learn I had missed for weeks as it sat in my computer overlooked. Couple of weeks later a guy sends me an email asking if I had read his book? What? I apologized, assumed it was one the books that I did not enjoy and told the fellow I had no understanding of the subject matter, so I wrote a nice email back that I could not get a handle on the book and explained my reasons. He gave me a nice reply and wondered what I could not understand about rape. I was shocked. Did he write about rape somewhere in that book? I stared at his name again really puzzled.
I went backtracking my emails on books to read, it was not on my downloads. I was getting ready to email back that he must have sent it to someone else but I wanted to be sure so I started checking my back emails…and there it was. I stared at it in shock. Downloaded and there was the name Robert Uttaro.. To the Survivors..blimey! I started to read.
To the Survivors…..
I opened page one and was sucked in. I raged, cried, was angry and  Bobby had me.He took me through the minds of people that made me look at a crime, that for us in my corner of the world we have been unable to define properly let alone classify and give it a name. Bobby’s book is about rape. It is a tough subject for a woman to treat, either personally or even to read. I had a tough book on my hands. I HAD to read, felt it, cried over it and was raw with a myriad of emotions for days..
Thank you Bobby, I almost didn’t like you but I do love you and I will like every human being to read this book. It is not fiction, when you read it, you will half wish you can dismiss it as fiction. Bobby’s confusion, and compassion glows through and also his sincerity and honesty.
I want you to meet Bobby and I hope his answers will help us.
Bobby Uttaro
1.    Welcome Bobby to Ephesus.

Thank you for having me. It’s a blessing and honor to speak with you.

2.    Can you define rape in all its ramifications as you understand it?
In my opinion, rape, especially child rape, is the worst crime human beings commit against each other as it causes the most damage to a person’s mind, heart, and soul over significant periods of time. People who are raped have their power and control taken from them. Some believe they will die during a rape and others want to die after. Think about how terrifying and sad this is. The pain and suffering that rape survivors experience can often last many years to a lifetime. But the damage caused does not just hurt the survivor; it hurts that person’s family and friends as well. Significant others are often devastated, sometimes more so than the survivor. I know of a man who was so broken after he learned that his girlfriend was raped years before. He didn't know what to do. He didn't know how to process it. It was as if nothing in life made sense anymore.
There are so many ramifications of rape, probably too many to list now. In my experiences, I have yet to see a crime that causes so much shame. If one feels shame, one will inevitably have serious health problems. Many, if not all rape survivors at one point in their lifetime, possibly even for years, have suffered deep shame. This is so incredibly sad because on top of being raped, a person most likely lives with shame for years. Shame is crippling and paralyzing. Think of the suffering people who have this undeserved shame live with and how it affects their lives and the lives of those around them.

The ramifications of rape are vast, but I will mention a few. Rape is linked to shame, anger/rage, depression, insecurity, anxiety, fear, suicidal thoughts and suicide, eating disorders, and other health issues. It causes low to no self-esteem. It can alter people's perceptions of themselves and the world around them. Many rape survivors live in fear. Many rape survivors are physically and spiritually shackled. Rape can shatter the soul. And on top of all of these horrific effects and sufferings, many rape survivors blame themselves. But I want everyone to know that it is not their fault and that they can regain control back. Their lives can be happier and healthier if they are unhappy and suffering. The soul can be strengthened and healed.  
Lastly, there are many societal and financial ramifications from rape. Rape can be linked to drug addiction, prostitution, organized crime, and our prison populations, to name a few. For example, I had a meeting at a women’s prison in hopes of getting the book To the Survivors to the inmates. At the time of my meeting there were approximately 100 women incarcerated inside. The Director of Women’s Programming told me roughly 75% of the women had been raped. Also, the Director of Mental Health Services told me 99% of the women had been raped. Why were they incarcerated? The majority were incarcerated due to drugs and prostitution. There is a clear correlation between our female prison population, prostitution, drug addiction and rape. This is also true for some of our male inmates as well.
Ultimately, rape causes more damaging ramifications than I can answer in your question, but hopefully this is a good starting point and answers some of it.

3.    Is Sexual assault, rape or sexual violence graded?

Some people grade different levels, but I don’t think that it is necessary to do. I don’t think we should. Every sexual assault, molestation, or rape, is a crime that causes suffering. We should help anyone affected and not grade their experiences.

4.    Rape is not gender sensitive and is prevalent in every society on the earth, what can be done to stop it?

The prevalence of rape can decrease if more people make changes within their own hearts. I believe that we can stop and prevent some acts of rape, but I do not believe we will stop rape entirely. I believe rape will exist as long as human beings live on this earth. This is not meant to sound hopeless. I am very hopeful of what can be done and I know more people can heal. I would not keep doing this work and be speaking with you if I did not see real human and spiritual growth within people. But I do believe it is important to be realistic about the world we live in and the evil atrocities that will continue to exist.

Rape is the most prevalent and least reported violent crime throughout the world. The majority of people do not even speak about it, let alone get active and help people affected. Minimal rape crisis centers exist worldwide and too many people don’t want to deal with the realities.

It is believed by some that the second most lucrative illegal business in the world is human trafficking. Billions of dollars are made every year off the sale of human beings who are forced into sexual slavery. In addition, little boys and girls are raped in homes by relatives. People are raped by their spouses. And we know that even some individuals who work in the most trusted public service positions – from law enforcement to religious clergy - rape. How will this stop? I don’t believe it will ever stop, but we can help people in their healing process and we can raise awareness through education.

Education and people intervening if they see something inappropriate is necessary for the prevention of sexual violence. Sadly, many people don’t see the signs of a rape or sexual assault before they occur. If we educate people on some of the signs, we may be able to prevent some crimes. For example, there were many signs of early troubling or inappropriate conduct in the lives of Jim and Chris, who are speakers with individual chapters in To the Survivors.  If people around them were educated on the signs and empowered through that education to act, those innocent boys may not have been sexually abused. However, no one noticed, or some noticed but did not intervene, and these boys suffered.
I don’t believe we will ever eradicate rape on this earth, but I believe that we can help people in their healing process and live healthy and productive lives. We can listen to each other, show each other compassion, and empower each other. Too many survivors suffer in silence alone. But I want to tell people that they do not have to suffer in silence. They can heal and they can also help others if they choose to. Our voices are incredibly important and valuable. We can make a real difference in the lives of those who are struggling and suffering. I hope and pray for more of us do that.
Ultimately, rape can stop if human beings stop raping. It is a choice. Sadly, it is a choice that people will continue to commit and many others will continue to not speak of.
5.    Would it be right to say that as much as the assaulted is counseled, the aggressor also needs assessment and managing?

So many acts of sexual violence are hidden from others. This, of course, makes assessing and managing a perpetrator exceptionally difficult. How do you assess and manage a person abusing another person when no one knows or speaks about it? This happens too often. The majority of rapists are not arrested, let alone convicted and then sent to prison. And even those who are sent to prison, how long is their prison term? The majority of those convicted come back into our society. Should more be done to manage them? Yes. But the majority of rapists freely walk this earth and commit vile crimes.

I do believe the aggressor needs counseling, but only if the aggressor wants counseling. Sadly, some people commit these crimes with no remorse. I believe remorse and redemption exist for those who want it, but not everyone wants it. If you read all of To the Survivors, you will see that none of the perpetrators showed any true remorse for their crimes.

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Andromedans by Elizabeth Lang..a Review

The Andromedans make me mad. They make me want to get to the next jump gate,
board a flight and knock heads. I was left gasping, my tongue out at the edge of the cliff
askance at the abrupt end of 312 pages of heat, anger, agony and anxiety. It took a
while before it sunk in that it was a story. It had come to an abrupt end. Now I know the
meaning of cliff hanger! I am trying to uncurl my fingers, my muscles, and my mind.
The Andromedans, the third in the Empire series holds you by the throat from page one
and you are taken through at such a blistering pace, into the world of sci-fi and held by
the throat until like Adrian you are left denuded of all emotions. At the end of the story I
was left begging for more, angry with Elizabeth Lang for not finishing the darn book!
I love Adrian Stannis, I even suspected if he was real I would have had a crush on him,
and always imagined his reaction that if ever learnt that he would clip my wrinkled ears.
That thought makes me smile at the power of the author in making such characters so
rounded and compelling. There is however the portrayal in this particular series of
Adrian as an object of admiration, exasperation
Kali, I always saw as the saving grace of Adrian, her cool understanding of the human
race or shall I say in her undanstanding of us. But there is the new revelation of learning
she thinks us noisy. Wow. Ergh, excuse me Kali, was wondering if you were not a mite
interested in Sester.
Sester, who for me was a non person, annoying, frightening, and downright carries a
label.”HANDLE WITH CARE” Just for a nanosecond, he was believable when he fell in
love with Rena Dastrin, spring and dead winter affair.
Elizabeth is one of my favourite authors, I always read with awe her ability to make
fiction so real as for you to think she was reporting a real event that just happened in the
neighbourhood. I would like to congratulate her on this one. It is a vast improvement on
the series. I do have some questions though.
First of all, thank you for your kind words. I’m glad you liked the story.
1. The death of Venner seems tame considering his omnipotence in the Empire, is
it to show the supremacy of the Andromedans?
It’s hard to answer that without giving away spoilers for the next book. Let’s just say that
there will be a fourth and final book to the Empire series called The Vitarins.

2. Who actually is Sester? One senses there is much more to him .
There is certainly much more to Sester than meets the eye and we will be finding a lot more about him in the next book. In many ways, his life is, and always has been intertwined with Adrian and Argus.

3. Adrian showed almost the invincibility of the human spirit, but you seem to state
in the way that the story has ended that , courage, loyalty and conviction though
good qualities of the human psyche, may not win out as evil may ultimately win
out. True?
I’m glad to say that while evil may take us to some very dark places, it will not, at least in my books, never entirely win out.
In some ways, while the breaking of Adrian was horrible, it did have some benefits, although it may not seem like it.
When the empire took Adrian as a child and moulded him into what they wanted him to be, he was never allowed to become who he could have been. What happens to him in
The Andromedans, allows him to do that and we discover who Adrian is and always has been beneath that cold exterior.

4. The ultimate soldier Argus is proven at the end not to be a human being but an
admixture of experiment and engineering, do you feel that the human being is too
faulty?
The empire thinks that being human is not enough to fight the war and win so they try to ‘improve’ the original, making Adrian super smart but devoid of emotions and Argus a super soldier without a conscience, but in the end, what makes them strong is not these ‘enhancements’ but those characteristics which make them human, their capacity to love and their loyalty.

5. I have an anxious question, will Adrian be redeemed as a human being?
Stay tuned
.
6. Andromedans contrary to impression are more evil than the Empire, so what is
the raison d’etre for their war with the Empire? On a deeper scale the essence of
this book paints a picture of Ultimate Chaos. Please enlighten
In this book we finally get to see the enemy, and while they may look different and have superior technology, their motivations are not unlike our own. I was inspired by an idea from a scientist (unfortunately, I don’t remember the person’s name) that aliens, if they existed and were more advanced than we are, that if they discovered our existence and saw what we have done to our own planet, they might think us a threat that they would not want to allow into the rest of the universe.
That idea made me think of other things too, not just how we have used and abused our own world, but each other.

7. Kali as a protagonist for good has been ineffectual, preoccupied with Adrian
could not use her potential gifts, did not save Adrian. Tell us why?
Kali has always been afraid of her own powers. She doesn’t want to make mistakes because she knows how much damage she can do. In some ways, she has always been afraid of herself, that darkness that makes her willing to do anything, justify any action as long as she feels there is a need.
In any ways, she is a microcosm for the compromises that both the Empire and the Andromedans make in order to survive and do, what they think, is the right thing.

8. There is a dead hero Dain, a tantalizing Celia, and a Sam, in different formats,
unfinished stories and mysteries to be explored, are you planning on unveiling
them later?
We will find out a little more about Celia and Sam.
As for Dain, as we get to know Argus, it is almost like knowing Dain because they are mirror images of each other. The humanity which made Dain strong enough to break the Empire conditioning is the same humanity that Argus is discovering, albeit reluctantly, about himself.

9. What is your next work in progress?
I am working on the fourth book, The Vitarans, and a new sci-fi/fantasy called Mrs. Beeston.

10. You are a very talented artist, and that is a gentler creativity, do you have
conflicts of creativity sometimes?
I enjoy the different aspects of creativity, both in word and visual. The conflict comes when I never seem to have enough time for both.

11. The author sometimes mirrors himself/herself in one of the characters, which
character speaks for you sometimes?
They all reflect different aspects of myself, except Sester. I don’t know where he comes from…though I do have a wacky sense of the ridiculous sometimes.

12. Which age will you recommend should read this book?
With the sophistication kids are exposed to these days, I would say at least young adult.

Thank you very much for sharing with us.
Thank you for allowing me to share the Empire universe.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Interview with Paula Youmell


COFFEE AND DONUTS 


When I got about reading this book, I was genuinely skeptical, first saw it as a labour of love for fellow authors. You know in my fondest dreams I used to imagine myself as an author.
Now I don’t know anything about donuts and coffee. I love drinking coffee, the processed stuff and donuts?

I am generally not into Food or stuff like that, the reason is simple, I live in a part of the world where such things as donuts and coffee looks exotic. Trusting Christine on this I opened the first page and started reading. I must sound a note of warning here. Authors are required to write on what they know, Paula scored that, however if I stayed with the title, I would drop the book. So it might be something worth considering when you pick a title that sends a picture of being a cookery book.
Maybe authors should consider a chat with the publisher. This book on a bookshelf in my world will go unnoticed except for the very curious and yes truly is the coffee and donuts of life. Coffee and Donuts is really hand book that gets you through the day in a wholesome way. I enjoyed myself, and like the author says it is a book you want to read as you get ready for the day. I found myself smiling especially when she insisted I was responsible for my experiences, I love that. She made me believe in her comments, was honest and believable particular when she talked about her fixation with weight and food. I learnt I could forgive myself. That was a cool feeling, to shrug off the weight of guilt and truly accept me, warts and all. Yeah, I could sleep on the darn bed unmade!

Let us have a chat with the author 
Paula Yourmel
1.    
Please tell us a bit about yourself
I am a Registered Nurse, Health and Physical Education Teacher, and a Holistic Healer. I have studied whole food nutrition and natural healing for 28 years. I support others on their path to healing their bodies by working in rhythm with nature.
2.    Well I got my peeve out of the way, will you like to let us know why you called it coffee and donuts?
In the very beginning of the book I explain how people like things, foods, that bring back fond memories and create comfort for themselves. Coffee is a morning ritual that is comforting to many, many people around the globe. Donuts, as I wrote in the beginning of the book, are a fond memory for me. My Sisters and I made many a donut with our Gram. People, in the USA, put coffee and donuts together every morning as breakfast food. The two, paired together, seemed like a heart-warming title for morning inspirations; much like the morning cup of coffee and a donut.
3.    From my own spiritual background, I am taught not to see the human being as a divine being, and I find that a hard chew for me, will it matter if a portion of your potential readers think like me?
Maybe, maybe not. My life experiences have taught me that the divine, “God -Goddess,” is part of us all, that we were made in the likeness of “God-Goddess;”  that our soul is a part of the collective soul, the divine energy of the universe.
Your novel, Numen Yeye, speaks of a Goddess, Priestess. You speak of being a one God centered faith person but also how “man’s search for identity… every human being has a responsibility to have a luminous goal and try to reach it. It is not an issue of religion.”
I too believe healing and spiritual beliefs are not an issue of religion. I think whatever a person’s spiritual beliefs, we can all do deep soul searching to heal ourselves.
(I look forward to reading this novel of yours. Yes, I just ordered it.)
Your book presumes that I have read your first book, that left gaps because it segregated from truly relaxing as it indicated I need to have read book one. Was that deliberate sales style?
No, not a deliberate sales pitch. So many reviews of books on Amazon complain that a subsequent book by the same author were a waste of money as half or more of the information was the same as a previous book. I did not want to repeat information for my readers.
4.    I like your comment, ”healing is a journey” and like you stated human beings find that difficult, why do we have it so difficult to start on that journey?
I believe for each person there are different factors that hold them back but that all stem from the fear of change, the fear of stepping out of their comfort zone into the unknown and the unknown consequences of this action of change.
5.    Let’s go to Nepal, two basic contrasts, the four month old baby and the 102 year old man, the dramatic similarity is that they are survivors of the earthquake, there is a lot of symbolism in that happening. People were affected by that happening, how do we learn to be healed, mind, soul?
Natural disasters open a whole different world of suffering. As humans, we cannot control what natural weather patterns (obviously human’s modern industrialized existence is having major impacts on our weather system) and earth shifts bring to our daily life. I think any natural phenomena that has the power to take our loved ones and neighbors from our daily existence is deep form of acceptance, recognizing we cannot control everything that happens to us and in our lives. Perhaps this is what the Buddha meant by letting go of our attachments to things.
6.    Please explain to us from this side of the pond, whole foods and our perception that civilization means eating the kind of people (food?) Western people eat. Our main diet is more often carbo- heavy?
Whole foods are foods that are minimally processed, cooking and cutting up food is processing, and nothing is removed from the original food and nothing has been added in. For example, refined flour takes the whole grain and polishes off the bran and germ (removing parts of the original whole). This leaves the grain’s endosperm only to be ground into flour. You have lost the fiber source (bran), the fat soluble nutrients (germ), and many minerals and nutrients. On the adding in side of things, let’s take a look at most commercial yogurt. Yogurt is simply cultured milk. Commercial yogurt adds thickeners, stabilizers, refined sugars, and in some cases (cheap brand names) artificial flavors.
Are your Carb heavy diets from whole food carbohydrates; not the refined, packaged food carbohydrates of American culture?
7.    How would you want your book to be assimilated by the average African who has lived all his life on the continent?
This is an interesting question as books definitely have an audience range. I do not have any preconceived notions that my book will appeal to all audiences from all walks of life. Industrialized nations, whose people have pulled themselves away from the flow and rhythm of natural living, need to be reminded that we are all a part of nature, all a part of the web of life.
8.    Please explain what you mean by holistic healing, do you accept herbs and the use of incantations in place of yoga?
Holistic Healing means using natural means to re-balance the body’s health: herbs, whole foods, energy healing, daily movement, natural lifestyle choices, etc.
9.    Do you write only on healing, will you accept clients from Africa? Do you have a regular clinic and is it very expensive?
I would accept any client who wants to work with me if we both agree that my support services are a good fit for the person needing support. I also need to feel comfortable in my ability to help the person. If I think someone else might be better suited, have more knowledge and experience with their challenges, I would not hesitate to refer them to someone else.
I have regular office hours and I do not believe I am expensive. An initial consult is $175 and a person is hiring me for at least 8 hours of my time to review their health history, start a map of their healing plan, meet with them for 2-3 hours, then I do a thorough email follow up with suggested lifestyle changes and healing additions to their lives, and answer email questions for 2 full weeks.

10. Share a typical day with us
Up by 6 AM getting the day rolling, breakfast and lunches made for my kids. I drive them to school by 8:15 and return home to:
·         Do laundry, clean house, get in a bit of yoga, etc.
·         Review client charts and see clients
·         Write books, blog posts, articles for magazines, etc.
·         Create and market online courses
·         Pick my kids up at 2 PM.
·         Walk my dog.
·         Make dinner, do dishes, and finish up any business work.
·         Bed by 9:30, read, lights out by 10 PM or so.
·         It is a fun life!

11. What is next after coffee and donuts?
10 years ago I started a book about working with kids around whole foods, health, and healing. It was a homeschool project with my 2 sons. I would like to finish this book. I also have ideas for 5 or 6 more books. It is a matter of having the time to write.
12. Please give links to where we might purchase your books and blog you have.


Thank you very much for being part of this discussion.


Thanks so much for the opportunity to share my work and passions with your readers.