Saturday, June 30, 2007

Seven Things

1. That I love the company of people older and younger than myself, as much as I enjoy being with those my age (mid to late 30’s). When you’re friends, and the friendship is based on love of life, ideas, adventure, honesty, integrity and fun – age simply doesn’t count.

2. That I often wish my blog wasn’t called naijablog. It’s problematic and troubles me. When I joined blogger, I spent around 3 seconds deciding on the name. There’s not a week goes by when I think of shutting it down.

3. It’s not possible or desirable for most people (including myself) to commit to having sex with one person for the rest of your life. It is however both possible and desirable to commit one’s life and love to another. Why should desire impinge upon a commitment grounded in love?

4. That the quickest way to hugely reduce one’s carbon emissions is to go vegan. This has more positive impact on the planet than almost anything else you could do.

5. That egotism is the ultimate source of pain and violence in the world. It breeds hatred and delusion. Buddhism is the most effective set of practices I have found to gradually detach oneself from the narrow confines of the ego, to reach out with love and care to the world, to others, animals and the environment. Any religion which preaches an all-powerful God who must be obeyed or worshipped is simply a monumental projection of an ego back into the world: the ultimate act of vanity.

6. That no matter how hard I try to abstain, I will return to my love of coffee.

7. That there is no better way to waste an afternoon than by throwing Frisbee in a park, with friends.

Thanks to Bitchy for the tag. I am now tagging:

Chxta
Molara Wood
Idemmili
Chude
Talatu-Carmen

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Old Street Graffito


I couldn't help thinking this artless piece was commissioned by a record company, hoping to instill a viral meme in the minds of the Old Street/Hoxton set in the face of a rapidly shrinking business model..

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Iyawomi



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Big Bad Ben Thompson's house

There where the pigs roamed, the gun lay waiting, the daughter was violated..

The new owner has built a moat around the house, as you can see. Perhaps he will also stock it with pirhanas, just in case.

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The fields near Wheaton Aston

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Bunhill Fields tombstone


In death, the quiet traces of a revolt, and a spiritual upsurge..

RIP Theophilus Lindsey..

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Bunhill Fields

I spent my last afternoon with Bibi for a while near the tomb of William Blake and Daniel Defoe at Bunhill Fields, near Old Street. The sun's rays raced through the plane trees, creating an animated, dappled play of light. Two runtish dogs raced each other across the green. All was well with the world, at least here, where the ancestors lay sleeping.

The last person to be buried in this cemetery for non-conformists was laid to rest here one hundred and fifty years ago. It is a beautiful, tranquil place. I imagined that William B was wandering about still. How moving that all these years after his death, flowers are still placed by the tombstone.

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Genevieve second update

Excellent critical commentary by Molara Wood on the Nigerians in America site.

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Back in the Motherland

The guy ahead of me in the queue at Gate 7 had a Macbook Pro box from the Apple Store. To make conversation, I said, 'that's a nice toy you've got there!"

He smiled. "Yeah, its the second one I've bought. My wife threw the first one out of the window."

"Why did she do that?"

"She found some pictures she wasn't meant to see.. The next time I go on holiday, I'll keep the experiences to myself. If I meet a woman, she'll be confined to the time I meet her. There's no point trying to relive experiences."

I laugh loud and louder, feeling the sore muscle in my back (a recent swimming injury) complain bitterly. "That's the problem with Macs, its much more difficult to conceal files."

He looked at me with a slight smile. "Its ok, cos there's parallel operating systems. So you can use Windows when you need to."

I have a sense of a lesson only partially learnt. They must have been good pictures.

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Friday, June 29, 2007

Lazy boat up and down river

We hired a boat and pushed out, onto the lazy river.

We found shade, underneath the willow tree.

Kisses fluttered between us like butterflies mad with the season.

Up river we ventured..

Then down river, toward a delta of desire.

The landscape was undulous;

soft white clouds printed themselves on the blue of sky.

The day went, the dusk came.

Crepuscular arcs of intent wrapped themselves between us.

Still we floated on the river.

We both slept ourselves awake

As time's tide wore on.

And in the morning, there you were,

Magnificently above me.

Liquid night, liquid day, liquid journeys into a liquid unknown.

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The first black mayor in Ireland - a Nigerian


Click here to read the story. Thanks PK for the link.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The wax and wax of David Adjaye

The UK's most interesting up and coming architect, David Adjaye, continues to gather fame and fortune. Read this article, on his imminent conquest of the US. Thanks JG for the link.

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Nigerian investor/stocks site



Investor Delight is a new website currently in Beta-testing phase that enables you to track your existing Nigerian stocks with ease. Here is the blurb from the site:

InvestorDelight.com is a web based tool designed to make computing the value of your stock market investments extremely easy.

No more calculators! No more spreadsheets!!

Our goal is to give a holistic view of all your stocks and their value online realtime.

We delight in taking stress out of determining the worth of your investments at any given time.

You are able to effortlessly keep track of the performance of the stocks which make up your portfolio(s).

If you have comments on the BETA version, email: ponle@investordelight.com

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The Tube - if Germany had won the war..


Click to enlarge..

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Where's my bloody pith helmet?

The email list for expats in Abuja continues to amuse me. There was an advert for a servant yesterday that was pure 1920's colonial, or even 1820's plantation:

"I am writing to introduce and recommend V_____. He is a Nigerian of 24 years who I have found is an excellent house boy and handy man and is also able to cook. Not only can he clean and look after your house or office but is able to repair or resolve plumbing and electrical problems that seem to frequently arise in the home here. He speaks understandable English and is intelligent, reliable, diligent and honest."

I'm sure the person who sent it in has the best possible intentions - trying to ensure that the guy is found a good future employer etc. Its just the tone reminds me of a letter written by the wife of a colonial officer, just a few minutes before she brunches on Earl Grey and cucumber sandwiches..

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Rememory: Big Bad Ben Thompson

Big Bad Ben Thompson’s house was at the end of the lane, at the end of the road, a mile or so from the village. It was a journey we, the children of Wheaton Aston, never made. Big Bad Ben was rumoured to have a shotgun. Worse, it was thought to be one of those slingshot guns that fired pellets in all directions. The furthest we went was towards the end of Mill Lane, where the tarmac road turned into an earth track. Even though we were adventurous in other directions, we considered the pain of having lead planted in the body at speed, and stayed away.

We also knew why Big Bad Ben Thompson protected his lair. He had had children with his daughter. The fruit of this unnatural encounter went by the name of Edward. He was thought to be about the same age as us, but he never went to our school. By the age of 11, Edward had facial hair and looked strange – a confused look set upon his face. He went to a special needs school. We also heard that pigs were allowed to roam freely through the house. Various people had gone to see if everything was all right; no one escaped without a scrape, or a threat snarled at them from Big Bad Ben.

It was rare for anyone to ever see Big Bad Ben Thompson. I saw him once or twice at the local Spar shop. He was a large man, about twenty stone or more. He had poacher’s whiskers, and a look of permanent malcontent was stained across his face. We saw, or rather felt, his daughter (I forget her name) more often. Whenever we had to get the old double decker green bus back home, she got on when we reached Penkridge – she was making her way home from the market. The bus would tilt imperceptibly when she climbed aboard. She was even larger and more ferocious looking than her father. She would have made a fine female sumo wrestler, had there been need for such a category back then.

For years after I left home, Big Bad Ben Thompson’s house lay empty. What became of him, his daughter, and his son/grandchild Edward, I don’t know. A local builder-developer finally bought the land, and is planning to build a moat around a developed version of the old house. We also hear that he may have a helipad there. Before he bought the place, we went for a walk to the house. How strange it was to walk down the lane, into the no boy’s land of my youth. The house was small – just two small rooms downstairs and upstairs. I listened to hear the ghost of Big Bad Ben Thomspon, but all I could hear was the sound of the wind in the trees and a crow in the distance. Perhaps Big Bad Ben Thompson, his daughter, and poor Edward roam the earth still.

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CSDG/ECOWAS Peace and Security Mentoring Programme

The CSDG/ ECOWAS Peace and Security Mentoring Programme
As part of its Knowledge Building and Mentoring Programme, the Conflict, Security and Development Group (CSDG) at King’s College London in collaboration with the Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), is pleased to announce a call for applications for the MA Studentships and Mentoring Programme 2007-8.

Funded by the UK Department for International Development, the Programme will bring together 5 West Africans at the early stages of their career to undertake a carefully designed MA and training programme in Conflict, Security and Development at the King’s College London. This training will conclude with an attachment to the ECOWAS Commission for practical experience in the field of peace and security.

The Purpose of the MA Studentships and Mentoring Programme
The Programme is designed to expose young African professionals to the complexities of conflict, security and development and to equip them for careers in this field. The Programme has 3 main aims: The first is to increase the pool of West Africans versed in the field of Peace and Security. The second is to ensure that African regional organisations such as ECOWAS have better access to knowledge and expertise relevant to their peace and security mechanisms. The third aim is to inject skills within regional and national centres of excellence so that they can strengthen their policy research capacity on peace, security and development topics. It will also develop the existing network of African scholars working in the field whilst linking them with the peace and security mechanisms of relevant regional institutions.

Programme Content
This is an 18 month Programme, with 3 components. The first comprises the MA Programme and mentoring sessions based at King’s college London. The first part of this phase entails full-time study at KCL, where successful candidates will pursue an MA in Conflict, Security and Development and attend specifically designed training sessions on African peace and security. During this period, they will conduct visits to several UK institutions working in the field of peace and security and undertake research visits to partner institutions in Europe. The period of study in the UK will end with a simulation seminar during which a mock conflict management situation will be practiced.

Action Research and Mentoring at select institutions
The second component entails action research aimed at exposing successful applicants to the real world of policy actors, while undertaking research directly relevant to the work of key African regional organizations, particularly ECOWAS. This will be based on collaboration with CSDG partner institutions, including, for example, the New York University Centre on International Co-operation (NYU-CIC), the International Peace Academy (IPA) also in New York and the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP).

During the period of their attachment to these institutions, Fellows will be expected to produce written work, based on analysis of issues of immediate policy relevance to the work of ECOWAS and/or the African Union. The subject of their research will have been agreed with the facilitating institutions and the sponsoring African organizations at an earlier period.

Attachment to ECOWAS
The third component of the CSDG/ ECOWAS MA Studentships and Mentoring Programme will be based at the ECOWAS Commission, where participants on the programme will be based for a minimum period of 6 months. Here, participants will follow a structured program applying knowledge gained through training while also gaining direct experience of the workings of the organization. Under the supervision of senior staff working in the field of peace and security, they will participate in and contribute to the day-to-day work of the organization. They will also be exposed to the complexities of the sub-region and to the stack realities confronting the practitioners operating on peace and security in West Africa.

Terms of the MA Studentship and Mentoring Programme
Successful applicants will have the status of full time MA students on Conflict Security and Development Masters course. It is necessary for applicants to the Mentoring Programme to make individual successful applications to the MA Conflict, Security and Development in the Department of War Studies. Details of the MA Conflict Security and Development can be found at this link: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/schools/sspp/ws/ps/tpg/macsd/

You can make an on-line application at this link:
http://student.kcl.apply.studylink.com/index.cfm?event=security.showLogin

All foreign students at King’s College London and will be subject to the immigration rules of the UK, which can be found on the King’s College London web page for obtaining student visas: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/international/preparing/visas/

Additional information on studying as an international student at King’s College London is available on the College’s webpage for International Students:
http://www.kcl.ac.uk/about/structure/admin/acareg/studentservices/intstudents

The position is funded* and will include a stipend of £825 per month for the first 12 months based in London. In addition, a one-off sum of £750 will be made available to each student upon their arrival in the UK, to assist with winter clothing and book expenses. Successful candidates will be able to apply for University of London accommodation, although they can make their own alternative accommodation arrangements. Candidates are strongly advised to make all necessary accommodation arrangements prior to taking up their positions at King’s College London. Information on KCL student accommodation can be found at this link:
http://www.kcl.ac.uk/about/structure/admin/facser/accomm/appguide.html

For the period of attachment in ECOWAS, participants will receive a stipend of $1,000 per month, exclusive of medical insurance expenses; in addition to a $500 one-off allowance to enable them settle in to their location. Fellows are expected to find their own accommodation during this phase also.

It is important to note that this financial support is for individual participants on the programme. It does not cover dependants and it is not intended to support family members. Successful candidates will need to make alternative arrangements to cover the costs of dependants before arrival in the UK. Under the UK Immigration laws, prospective applicants must satisfy the Home Office that they have sufficient funds to support themselves and their dependents before arrival in the UK (taking into account the stipend to be provided by the Mentoring Programme).

The programme is a full time appointment and all applicants are expected to make a full time commitment. Given the intensive nature of the programme, including its short phases in different locations, as well as necessary extensive travel, successful applicants that are expectant or nursing mothers will be advised to defer their admission to the programme.

The offer of a place on the programme will be subject to successful candidates obtaining a student visa to study on the MA. Failure to obtain a visa to enter the UK automatically invalidates the offer of a place on the programme with no consequences to King’s College London. Successful applicants will be required to undergo medical examinations at recommended venues prior to taking up their positions. It is a condition of the programme that successful candidates shall return to their base or home countries at the end of the programme. Please note that any deviation from the terms of the programme, except as may be lawfully authorized by King’s College London, shall affect a successful applicant’s immigration status. Please consult the British Embassy/High Commission in your home country for more information. The Conflict Security and Development Group reserve the right to terminate the appointment in the event of any breach of the conditions of the MA Studentships and Peace and Security Mentoring Programme.


Eligibility
Applicants should:
ß Submit a separate application for the MA Conflict Security and Development (CSD) at King’s College London. The offer of a place on the programme will be conditional upon admission onto the MA.
ß Be citizens of a West African country (member states of ECOWAS), with valid travel documents.
ß Have knowledge of, or experience of human rights, security and development issues.
ß Must be able to demonstrate a commitment to contribute to work on peace and security in Africa
ß Have a demonstrable plan for how to utilise knowledge gained in the Fellowship upon return to their countries and organisations.
ß Must be fluent in spoken and written English.
Application
To be considered for the MA Studentships and Mentoring Programme please e-mail or post the following documents to Eka Ikpe at ekaette.ikpe@kcl.ac.uk or Eka Ikpe, Conflict, Security and Development Group, King’s College, London WC2R 2LS UK by 17:00 hrs, 10July 2007:
ß A letter of application detailing your relevant experience and qualifications.
ß A supporting statement detailing why you think that this Mentoring Programme is important and future plans for engagement with peace and security issues no longer than 1,000 words.
ß 2 letters of recommendation(To be received directly from the Referees by the deadline of 17:00 hrs, 10 July 2007)
ß Recent curriculum vitae.
ß Two writing samples.
ß Indicate on your MA Conflict Security and Development application that you are also applying for a place on the CSDG/ECOWAS Peace and Security Mentoring Programme.
Please ensure all documents are sent in as MS Word attachments in a single email message or as a single post package and that your name is indicated at the top right hand corner of every page of all documents submitted.

* This project is funded with the generous support of the Department for International Development.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Missing member in PHC

Another classic bit of Nigerian journalism. Chinedu Wosu, please give up the day job. Read it and weep/laugh/jump in the lake as appropriate.

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Spiders in Nigeria..


The following post was sent to the Abuja expats email list recently:

"Twice in the last few weeks we have found medium sized
(about 1.5 inches across) fast and fairly aggressive
brown spiders in our house. Just wondering is anyone
familiar with which spiders are dangerous?"

There is an interesting response from another member:
"All spiders are venomous, it's how they subdue their prey, and the venom
is basically a virile collection of digestive enzymes that are injected
into the prey which is held by the spiders front legs, and pedipalps while
the venom takes effect. The digestive enzymes do their work and the spider
then sucks up the resulting soup of digested tissues from the prey. You
can see this yourself by pulling apart the exoskeleton of prey items to
find there is nothing left inside. Creepy? not really as there is no
malicious intent on the spiders part.

Of course, quite by accident, some spiders digestive enzymes are
problematic for humans as they begin to digest the flesh around a spider
bite, and some people seem more susceptible than others to some spiders
venoms, and some bites can occasionaly prove fatal. Spider bites are
however, extremely rare events.

So which spiders are the most dangerous? In Nigeria some of the larger
Selenocosmia type (Tarantula sized things) spiders will have long fangs
and can inflict a painful bite, and most of the spiders that live in
underground burrows, or in crevices with a distinct funnel shape to the
entrance of the thick sticky web are potentially dangerous (but only if
you stick your finger down their burrow).

I suspect the brown spiders you speak off are very flattened (yes, before
you have smacked them with a broom) looking with long legs which appear to
be bent forward a little, and are one of the more common spiders found in
houses in West Africa where they generally live quite peacefully with
their neighbours (you) and actually render a useful service by eating a
host of troublesome insects. If it is the species I think it is, then what
you are troubled with are juveniles -they will get bigger, but also mind
their own business.

Of course you could, as one of the other respondents has suggested, poison
every living thing in your house with a fumigation bomb, perhaps including
yourself with the residues, but if like me, you brought a tolerant
disposition with you to Nigeria, you could assimilate these quite
interesting, and essentially harmless, elements of local biodiversity into
your lifestyle."

So now you know. Love thy spiders! The image above by the way is a Tarantula, commonly found in Nigeria.

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

NITDA Act

Below is news of the new NITD Fund. It would be nice to know what they plan to spend all the moolah on:

"A new law has compelled all banks, insurance, information and communication technology companies to dedicate one percent of their profits before tax to the National Information Technology Development Fund (NITD Fund).

The money would be channel for the development of information technology in the country, the Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency, Professor Cleopas Officer Angaye has said.

Speaking at the Inauguration of the implementation Committee of the 2007 NITDA Act in Abuja, Angaye said the fund will be deducted out of the tax paid to the federal government by the companies.

He said it is not a new tax on the companies, "It is out of the share of the federal government". According to the new law "a one percent of the profit before tax of companies and enterprises enumerated in the Third Schedule to this Act with an annual turnover of N100,000,000 and above and such paid by the companies shall be tax deductible".

Angaye said the fund is necessary looking at the challenges in the sector, saying the new law would be at immense importance in moving the sector forward. He said IT initiatives are money demanding, therefore requires such fund to survive. He pointed out that government alone can not shoulder the responsibilities.

The new law said the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) shall assess and collect the levy imposed under section 12 of this Act. "The levy imposed under section 12 of this Act shall be due and payable within 60 days after the federal Inland Revenue Service has served notice of the assessment on a company in such form as the federal Inland Revenue Service may, from time to time, determine".

"Any company, agency or organization that fails within two months after a demand note, to pay the levy or the import duty imposed under section 11 of this Act commit an offence and is liable on conviction to fine of not less than 1,000,000 and Chief Executive officer of the agency or the organization shall be liable to be prosecuted and punished for the offence in like manner".
(SOURCE: Daily Trust)

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Zaha


Zaha Hadid, the architect, is profiled by Stephen Bayley in today's Observer. I once was involved in quite a public contretemps with her. A few years ago, she was speaking in the grandiose setting of the Royal Geographical Society, near the Royal Albert Hall. After about an hour of slide after slide of odd shaped buildings (some of them admittedly beautiful), I was first to ask her a question. She had spoken of a social vision in her work; I wanted her to say more about this, as all I could see was formalism - computer-generated shapes and an absence of right-angles or recognisable facades.

Before I had reached the end of my sentence, she interjected. 'I am not going to be asked questions like this by a white man!' she belowed. I could see some of her acolytes looking in my direction with concerned irritation. Someone moved to take the mic off me. I resisted. 'No no Zaha, I'd like to finish my question.' It was not a rude question, after all. Zaha carried on, 'please I am not going to answer this question by this white man.' Well versed in this tactic, I countered quickly, 'this is a tired form of silencing strategy, racialising critical discussion to stop it. I would however like to ask my question.' At which point, several people were straining to see who the interlocutor was. I had a sense of collective tempers rising around me. I handed the mic to one of the ushers. Round after round of sycophantic questions ensued. Madame Zaha is used to getting her way...

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Whole Foods


Yesterday we went to Whole Foods on Kensington High Street, the first UK version of the American Health Food chain - and something of a retail destination at the moment in London. The shop is arranged on three floors, and apparently the biggest of all the shops in the chain - bigger even than the giant cornucopias in Austen and Columbia Circle. First, we ate on the first floor food court. There is a seafood bar, a sushi bar, a juice bar, a pizzaria, a mezze bar and a vegan bar amongst others. The food was good but over-priced (my child-sized portion of hummus, couscous and moussaka cost six quid - it would have been six dollars in the US). While my fellow visitors were finishing their food, I went for a scout around the other two floors. I took this sneaky pic with my phone camera (you're not supposed to take photos). The layout is similar to the US versions, especially in the way the fruit and veg are laid out on open central stands (as opposed to always being on shelves as in UK supermarkets), with lettuces pressed together vertically to create a wall of enticingly crisp wet leaf. Despite the prices, the place was buzzing. The customer service is excellent. I asked several members of staff whether they liked working there - they all smiled and said they did. Whole Foods knew what they were doing by having the former Barkers department store as their first site. The building is beautiful - triple height ceilings, art deco finishes etc. With Notting Hill, Kensington, Holland Park and Chelsea all within minutes in the weekend Boxster or the weekday Lexus, there must be ten thousand millionaires within a two mile radius who are not used to bothering about much things actually cost. Despite these misgivings, it will be nice to see that miserable philistine excuse of a health-food chain, Holland & Barrett, booted out in the cold. I bought a stick of French garlic and some mocha coffee soya ice cream, which my friends hungrily laid into when I went back upstairs.

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Jeremy and Antonio

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Kyoto Garden

One of my favourite places in London, the Kyoto Garden, Holland Park.

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Cyclist, Kensington High Street

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Near Marble Arch, in the rain..

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Photojournalism course in Nigeria


One of my favourite images from last year was Spencer Platt's photo taken in southern Lebanon during the Israeli bombing campaign - modellish looking women drive past a bombsite in an open top car. The picture came first in the World Press Photo awards. Checking out the site today, I was pleasantly surprised to see that World Press Photo has been partnering with the Nigerian Institute of Journalism in offering a 4 month-long course on photojournalism. Click here to find out more.

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Woman hold breasts

Yesterday, I was reminded of the Fela song which features these lyrics:

It is because of their beauty, that a woman holds her breasts when she runs, not because they will fall off.

Fela sings in Fante, Yoruba then English. Is there any finer poetry than this? Sexuality, movement and humour all tidly pressed into one sentence. Classic anikulaponese.

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Friday, June 22, 2007

New coffee bar/bookshop in Abuja

A new coffee bar/café called Salamander has opened on Aminu Kano Crescent, Wuse 2, next to Mama Cass (ground floor of purple painted ‘Colours in Africa’ building). It serves breakfast and lunch, as well as some dinner options.

The place is worthwhile to explore - especially if you like books and music. Inside the café, Glendora/Jazzhole – a renowned Lagos music/book shop - has opened a new branch. You’ll be pleased with their collection if you like good quality Jazz/Funk/Afro Beat and/or want to explore Nigerian music (especially Yoruba) ‘off the beaten track’.

Salamander Café / Jazzhole & Glendora
72, Aminu Kano Crescent, Wuse 2, Abuja
09-7084518 / 0702-7850932

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Nigerian cricket

Link
I keep threatening to join the Abuja Cricket club - they seem to lose consistently to teams like the Kaduna Crocodiles - they need my services of course. Twenty years ago, I was a wannabe demon fast bowler. I guess now I am a hasnotbeen notsodemon medium pacer.

In writing this post, I have been trying to compile a list of all the cricket clubs in Nigeria (sadly the Nigerian Cricket Federation site is a little light on the content side). The London Nigerian cricket site (from where I lifted the photo) is here. I like the picture of the cricket lunch being a hearty tub of jollof rice - a lovely African twist that beats cucumber sandwiches and mayonnaise hands down. Bizarrely enough, there is a short news piece on Nigerian cricket on the English language version of the Chinese People's Daily site, which mentions the Unity club of Awka and the Flying 16 of Benin (not sure what happens to the other 5 men when they are playing). This article mentions teams in the Lagos League called the Pioneers, the Rocks, the Levites and Midas inter alia.

There is an interesting colonial story to be told about cricket in Nigeria - see the beginnings of the story here. The expatriate colonialists set up the Nigeria Cricket Association in 1932; the local population setting up the Nigerian Cricket Association the following year. The two associations were divided on racial lines until 1951, when the two bodies formed a joint Board of Control. One can imagine how various racial/colonial tensions were played out on the field all those years ago, just as in India..

Thanks Aiyekoto for inspiring this post.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Solsticing...

The solstice was spent not at Glastonbury Festival or Stonehenge with thousands of others (I find it hard to love mud), but in London. After a meeting in Borough market, I went to the ongoing Shunt event underneath London Bridge station. Entering a doorway within the concourse, one enters an uncanny world, a magical catacomb, with video installations and strange theatre taking place in different spaces. In the middle, there is an opening into a double height space with a bar. Odd electronica bleeps and booms into the dank space. Some vegetation grows into the ceiling corners, despite the absence of light. It reminded me of the journey inside the Great Pyramid in Cairo.

After leaving the underworld, I walked up past Moorgate to Bunhill Fields, thinking again of Blake (he is buried there, as is Daniel De Foe). The cemetry was locked. The sky was a silvery crepuscular blue. I thought about the hidden spaces within cities, and how some hidden spaces are not really hidden at all - for what one might see there is the quite ordinary - whereas other spaces are hidden and can only remain hidden. If more people knew what took place there, it would change the way they think about the city, and about human behaviour. They remain concealed, occluded, at the margins of society.

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Manual pleasures: you have been warned..

I hope none of my readers ever indulges:

"A chance masturbator stands the risk of nervous-depressing permanent insanity, premature death, especially for those with high blood pressure, diabetes, blood diseases, inability to perform sexual act naturally, etc. Other dangers attached to masturbation sexes include inability to pull out of the act. It has even been documented to cause more deaths among boys in Europe than any plaque or war. Masturbation also results in total loss of sexual feelings and desire due to lack of sensation when it is time to actually engage in legitimate sexual intercourse. Quick, early or premature ejaculation is also one of the rewards of regular masturbation.

In girls, the breast development is arrested or retarded and the individual also stands the risk of experiencing spinal irritation resulting from epilepsy as a result of loss of seminal fluid in a male."

Click here to read the full article. We can only extend our heartfelt gratitude to the Nigerian Tribune for warning us of these dangers, before its too late...


o se KA for the email.

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How to tie a Gele

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The future of Albion..


I met an old student of mine this evening. He spends his time cycling up and down the land, writing a book about England, reaching back to ancient forms of imagining the landscape. His interest is in recovering a sense of Albion that has been covered over, using William Blake's ideas about the imagination as his impetus. It seems to me, thousands of years after the neolithic age, in the Tesco age, with devolution raising the question, 'what is it to be English?' and everyone obsessing about carbon footprints, a return to the landscape, not on the basis of a nostalgic impulse, but as a way forwards for an hybrid identity that pushes England's mongrel identity into a positively mongrel future, might the way forward. He tells me that Blake would turn in his grave if he knew how Jerusalem has become the anthem for football yobbos (or rather football asbos) painted in St. George's Cross on the terraces. A new Jerusalem would be more mystical, more pluralising, more in tune with the mysteries of the landscape and deeply respectful of the elements.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Nigerian govt sue Pfizer

The Nigerian govt is suing drugs giant Pfizer for US7bn - following on from the company testing a drug (with disastrous effects) in 1996 in Kano State during a killer outbreak of meningitis. Click here for more. Finally, there is resistance to Africans-as-guinea-pigs in the eyes of Big Pharma. Thanks Aiyekoto for the link.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

NOI at TED


This is worth watching/listening to. The former Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala gives a robust speech at the recent TED event in Arusha. Thanks BK for reminding me.

Here are details of the video “Africa Open for Business’ she mentioned

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Nigeria: 17th most 'failed state'

Well, at least it beats Uganda. See here for the Fund for Peace's full table rankings. Merci les chemises d'afrique pour le linkage.

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Genevieve update

The following text appeared in yesterday's Nigeria Guardian:

The Genevieve magazine has apologised for a portion of the March 2007 edition which indicated support for discrimination against persons living with HIV/AIDS.

Its publisher, Mrs. Betty Irabor, in a press statement disclosed that the offensive article was meant to canvass a contrary opinion. She blamed the error on production mix-up and took "full responsibility" for the publication.

She said: "I wrote the article to illuminate this issue and it ended up having the opposite effect because of editorial slip."

This text throws more darkness than light on the whole saga. There is a world of difference between a 'production mix-up' and an 'editorial slip'. The former implies there was a technical issue (the wrong draft got published for example), the latter implies a problem with the content itself (in its approved final version). Note that nowhere was there a direct apology for any offence caused - the statement that Genevieve magazine 'has apologised' implies a prior act of apology has already taken place. This is a not-too-clever way of avoiding saying in the press 'Genevieve magazine apologises for any offense caused.' This damage limitation exercise itself threatens to cause further damage. Perhaps they should change their PR people(!)

As well as a full feature dispelling the myths of HIV and promoting a loving/caring attitude to PLWA in the next issue, it seems that another article on eyebrow care - threading/waxing in preference to blades - is also required ;-)

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Sahelian landscapes turned into sound Wed and Thu this week near London Bridge

There's an unusual and interesting sounding (literally) event coming up on the 20th and 21st - turning the Sahelian landscape into art and sound - at a gallery near London Bridge. Click here for more. Download the pdf flyer at the bottom of the page for a more detailed take on the show.

Pasted below is some text from the flyer, if you can't be bothered to download it:

Landscapes reflect the lives
and histories of the people who
live in them. Scientific analysis
of the soil can be used to
examine how people lived in
the past and provide lessons for
future management of landscapes
in extreme or fragile
environments.

The Sahel in Africa is an area at the fringe of the Sahara desert.
It is one of the world’s most marginal environments yet is home
to over 50 million people. With a dry season lasting eight
months of the year and unreliable rainfall, survival is hard for
farming communities. Climate change is keenly felt in the
Sahel. Understanding how people managed this landscape
during past periods of climate change is essential in developing
successful responses to future changes.

Soils can store information
recording the way people
have affected the land over
thousands of years. Microscopic
fragments of different
objects found in the soil can
tell us about past landscapes.
The colour, size and number of
fragments offer further clues
about the management of
landscapes.

New means of understanding past landscapes - The latest
advances in visual and sonic technologies allow us to illuminate
and make audible these ancient landscapes. In this unique
installation, a computer explores and represents nearly 10,000
years of soil records, revealing them in different colours and
perspectives. Sounds of the Sahel, and sounds made afresh are
recalled and shaped by the computer using scientific information
taken from the soil itself.

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The virtues of the chewing stick

The chewing stick known as the sothiou, popular in Senegal, has important health benefits over the plastic tooth brush. Click here to find out more. I've always wondered why it isn't more popular further east in Nigeria - in terms of being a chewing stick chewed all day long as opposed to just being an African tooth brush. Perhaps its partly to do with muslim cultures over non-muslim cultures, and availability of suitable flora? Senegalese women look so languidly stylish with chewing sticks in their mouth. Thanks NI for the link.

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Afro London


Taken on the sly with my phone on Oxford St. Apart from Afros, the girls are wearing braces. The 80s are back in a strange recombined way.

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Ice cream in Covent Garden

Taken with my camera phone yesterday.

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The World is Richer


Exhibition of sculptures and maquettes by Sokari Douglas Camp in the City, from 27 June - 18 July. Here for more.

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Ishmael Beah


My folks met Ishmael Beah at Hay a couple of weeks ago. On their recommendation, I bought A Long Way Gone - Beah's own story of the descent into hell in Sierra Leone and his time as a child soldier, fed a diet of cocaine mixed with gunpowder. A couple of pages in, and you will be utterly hooked. This is one of the most harrowing and compulsive books you will ever read.

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

The death business

Amongst other things, an East End funeral business, the Cribb family, used to purveying horse drawn carriages around Bethnal Green, branches out into the Ghanaian market - in this article in the Guardian yesterday. Thanks JG for the link.

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Chinua Achebe interview


In today's Observer. The lack of pictures on the Guardian/Observer website is becoming increasingly frustrating. There is a lovely photo of CA in a beret in the newspaper version, contrasting sharply with the one column plus annoying advert of the website.

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

An encounter, imaginary or otherwise..

She wore a pinstripe suit, with a white shirt, contrasting against her honey brown neck. Her lovely curves made the lines on the suit expand outwards like longitudes. She was offering something to our table. Her face was soft and radiant, emanating. She said she'd seen me the other day, at an event. She told me what I had been wearing. I felt an inner smile suffuse itself. She said my name with a delicious familiarity: the subfame of being a blogger has its returns..

After the programme, we went to a bar and talked. While she was talking and I listening, I kept falling into her face, as if diving into the ocean's aquamarine. As if we were on a Greek Island somewhere. We drank Smirnoff Ices. The pub was a loved-and-unloved Camden affair. Two scrawny mohicans took turns to feed the jukebox, with Led Zeppelin competing with the smoke to fill the air. Our voices and ears and souls mingled. All I could think was that I wanted to touch her hair and spend the night with her. Not necessarily for sex, but just to talk and fall further into the moment, allowing the frequencies between us to resonate, amplify and extend.

While walking to the tube, I told her I'd like to spend the night with her, make love to her, or at least talk and stroke her hair and allow time to stretch between us. She chuckled. She would think about it for another time. If it was a way of fobbing me off, it was done delightfully.

Later, on the escalator, she was on the step below me - I couldnt help myself. I reached and clutched her hair gently. Soft and scrunchy and endlessly inviting. She flinched slightly. Close together in the tube surrounded by lariness, I felt an irresistible urge to hold her. Somehow I resisted. At King's Cross we said a sort of goodbye. Something has opened up in the world. An aperture for a future intertwining. Love, however temporary.

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The kidnappers

Scary story about a woman kidnapped on a bus in Yaba recently. Body parts still have currency in Nigeria for ritual purposes. There should be a govt campaign to debunk such nonsense.

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More on the Genevieve firestorm

The HIV/Yinka Ekpe story has spread like a forest fire since this blog broke the story on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Bella Naija repeated the story, attracting 84 irate comments thus far. On the same day, 2plus2 took the story to NigerianVillageSquare, so far attracting 4 pages of comments.

Although a distressing tale of alarming ignorance from a supposedly educated woman of the elite class, the positive side of the story must surely be the power of web2.0 to act as a source of critique in Nigeria, where mainstream print media has utterly failed. This event signals an important moment in the Nigerian blogosphere, as it comes into its own as a source of critical engagement.

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Interesting jobs for Nike coming up in Nigeria

Below is an email I just received about two interesting sounding positions for Nike coming up in Nigeria. If you're interested, I can forward you the job descriptions. Email me: jeremy@bakareweate.com - or otherwise email Ebele direct.

SmartMark, Nike’s distributor in Nigeria, is looking for two superior candidates to join the team. The open positions are Business Development Manager, Sports Marketing; and Business Development Manager, Retail.

SmartMark has opened 5 Nike-only stores in Nigeria, and plans to expand aggressively. To do so, they need smart, business-savvy, creative people who have integrity, are passionate about sport and about bringing a premium customer experience to Nigerian consumers. SmartMark also wants get closer to the Nigerian consumer, which includes connecting with Nigeria’s athletes and cultural influencers. Both of these roles provide tremendous opportunities for entrepreneurial and highly motivated people to build and develop a market, a retail strategy, a team and a brand from the ground up.

There is more information about the positions in the attached job descriptions, and don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any additional questions. Please note that the while SmartMark is Nike’s exclusive distributor in Nigeria, it is an independent, Nigerian-owned and operated company.

If you or anyone you know is interested in the role, please pass your CV to me and I will forward to SmartMark. Please don’t hesitate to forward to people you know!!

Best, Ebele

Ebele Okobi-Harris | Nike EMEA | MDP, Strategic Projects
ph +31 35 626 9286 | ebele.okobi.harris@nike.com

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Notes on a philosophy of Birth

Birthing, returning to the passage out of the womb, the womb itself. Embracing the maternal matrix, the productive power of woman, and man's relation to that productive power in the form of sympathy and love.

In contrast, patriarchy begins with the idea that Eve should be controlled, de-natured, turned into Mary, a porcelain slab of purity. The womb becomes a phobic object, the engulfing maw. Female sexuality must therefore be viciously strapped down, swaddled, restricted, constricted. Male sexuality entwines itself with violence, beginning with slicing away at the clitoris. Rape becomes that which is just under the surface, as continual possibility and threat. And of course, men desire death.

The history of Western philosophy begins as a cosmic form of erotic desire - for the elements and being-within-the-cosmos (the pre-Socratic philosophers of wild being), but quickly becomes caged via Plato and Aristotle. Timaeus is one of the turning points, where chora - a spatio-temporal surface for becoming, is formed and opened and then reduced into space and rationality. We lose track of chora - there is no word for it in English.

Philosophers have desired death in their metaphysics for two thousand years, in the gradual rise of humanistic philosophy. After Copernicus and then after Kant, everything is reduced to the image of man, conquering the cosmos, starting with the earth - then structuring the very principle of thought and being itself - via transcendentalist philosophy. The repressed birth that lies outside dwelling-within-death is rendered nameless, noumenal. Philosophy becomes narcissistic and onanistic: how do I know others exist? How do I know they are not all mannequins? How do I know it is the moon I see? Are we not all in a dream? Legions of students troup through these questions, while life passes us by, as if beyond a thick silencing glass window. Existentialism and phenomenology do what they can to halt time's tide, but the die was cast long before (sometimes one needs to mix metaphors, just like there is always a time for a mochito).

And then Western philosophy ends (during the twentieth century), petering out into linguistic squabbles and logical puzzles - Russell, Wittgenstein, Kripke etc. The End of Man is widely proclaimed, and then the end of History is smugly announced. The philosophers of death end up fantasising about the death of philosophy, and it becomes a self-fulfilling reality. Deleuze loses his voice, jumps from the window and goes splat. The resonating decay at the end of the splat sound is the sound of philosophy quickly turning mute, like the silence after a church bell in a far off church.

And yet. The other side of the death of philosophy is the birth of the feminine, the Kristevan semiotic undermining and over-coding the symbolic. Man ends, the difference of desire begins. Chora returns - the space before space that has haunted all philosophers of death. The possibility lies within us that we recognise ourselves through our differences, rather than differentiate ourselves through the recognition of sameness.

But the birth of the philosophy of birth (loving the wisdom of birth) is fleeting, momentary, evanescent, fragile. The masculine ordering principle is all too ready to claim back the territory, the space between. What programmes, what teaching, what forms of learning and wisdom can keep us as long as possible within the feminine, at one with chora, the matrix, with Eve, Shiva, Osun, Yemaya and all the other feminine principles of desire and alternative forms of being-in-the-cosmos?

Stanislav Grof's perinatal exercises are one such way. Explorations of female sexuality are another (beyond the g-spot, the u-spot, the x-spot). Sexuality itself needs to be unleashed from its genitalised, heterosexualised cage (heterosexuality needs to become itself: truly heterosexual). A return to the earth, as the primary choral ground, is another way in which the feminine principle can become integrated within our lives. Economic growth models morph slowly into economic sustenance, as economic science itself returns to its ground in the oikos. We begin to worship Sango, as part-male, part-female ordering principle. Men no longer expel pregnancy from their lives, and women no longer tacitly accept it. A different set of boundaries are woven back into the lives of our children: they become the centre of our work in favour of the future, but are no longer drenched in material compensations, nor isolated and unloved. We realise that all we can really give our children (your children from me, my children from you) is the deep-routed sense that they are loved, and have always been loved, and will always be loved.

The philosophy of birth is a long slow process of becoming. We are not there yet. Masculine violence still rages through the world, destroying peoples, and ultimately the planet. It is only the feminine that will allow us to survive and flourish and lead the good flourishing life: eudaimonia.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

UK groans and moans..

The BAE corruption scandal is appalling, and shows how grubby and corrupt the British Government can be when it comes to selling ordinance and planes to anyone with the shekels to buy. Defence Minister Des Browne is a glorified salesman whose remit is to trudge around the world and flog planes and missiles. As for milord Goldsmith..

Oh to live the life of Prince Bandar, with a lavishly kitted out UK75m plane permanently operationally-funded by BAE; with his 2000 acre estate in Oxfordshire, his Aspen ranch and jaunts to Honolulu and Rio and on and on - all for being piggy in the middle. Could anyone have all that for doing so little and remain balanced in the soul and at one with the world?

I hope the US enquiry brings the whole edifice down, and is the final 9-inch nail banged into Blair's political coffin.

If any of this took place in Nigeria, many non-Nigerians would sub-consciously think, 'stupid Nigerians, they just can't help themselves' - with all kinds of racist undertones. It's time the rotten sleazy arms-dealing core of the Blair regime is utterly exposed for the valueless sham that it is.

Away from politics - although London has tarted itself up hugely in the past 10 years, there are still zones of design horror in high-volume-footfall tourist places with must leave a bad taste in visitor's mouths. Here are two unbelievably bad places that need to be re-designed asap:

1.The passageway from Charing Cross station onto Hungerford Bridge (footbridge across the Thames that leads to Waterloo). A pissy, narrow, sulphur-lit vomit-coloured corridor of yuck. How can this 50 metre passage way have been so unloved for so long? What would it take to glassify/designify it? Its a disgusting spatial experience, contrasting sharply with the whole South Bank architecture awaiting the visitor (Hayward Gallery being the dishonourable exception).

2. Euston Station concourse. A 1970s relic that needs to be knocked down, or preferably blown up (in a controlled non-terrorist explosion of course). Everything about the place is drab and awful. There is nowhere to sit. The pub above the concourse is diabolical - fit only for people with a hole in their head where taste might once have resided. The food and drink options are somewhere beneath Blackpool pier in terms of down downmarket appeal - Harry Ramsdens fuckawful yuckshmuck grease-outs, again under a warm sulphur pool of sick-coloured lighting. There is wifi, but you have to pay 6quid per hour for the privilege. Its all on a par with that logo in terms of hideous embarassment factor. Compare and contrast with some of the great train stations of Europe (my fav being Atocha in Madrid, which is a bit like Kew Gardens with some trains nearby).

talking of wifi: why is London so crap at it? You'd imagine by now most cafe's would offer free access, just to keep the punters staying and drinking. This is the case in other UK cities (my cuz tells me most cafes in Manchester have free wifi) - but not in mean-ass mercenary London.

Ok moan over.

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Wet Dad


Dad got caught, trying to escape the fountain. Embracing my inner child, I stood for a few seconds under the cold upspurting jets, and got drenched..

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The random fountain


The new fountain outside the Royal Festival Hall continually morphs its shape, with walls of water creating 'rooms' which announce your freedom, or your capture. This pair had to wait for their release..

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Event horizon - figure across the river

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Gormleys on top of the National Theatre

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Antony Gormley - event horizon


The Antony Gormley show at the Hayward is stunning. Around the gallery within a radius of 2km is an extraordinary spectacle of Gormley figures on rooftops, all facing the gallery - all cast from the form of his body. On top of the Shell Building, across the river beyond Trafalgar Square, behind and beyond in South London, solemn silhouettes impinge on the cityscape. Tens of suicides, or silent witnesses, or reminders of the human form set against solid geometry, or perhaps ghosts from a parallel realm?

Inside the gallery there are some fabulous pieces - including a glass room full of dry ice you can enter. Once inside, you lose all sense of space and time, entering an ectoplasmic zone of non-being. One can only think of death, or of birth.

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On the tube


Mom, Dad, Bibi on the tube on Wednesday..

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Car-fest in Abuja

THE Federal Government is considering granting a loan of N3.74 billion for the 469 members of the National Assembly to buy cars of their choices. Each senator is to get N8,105,600 while those of the House of Representatives will get N7,940,848 apiece.

Also, according to a breakdown of the perquisites of office released in the National Assembly, the lawmakers are to get 75 per cent of their yearly basic pay distributed monthly to maintain their cars. In effect, each Senator will get N126,650 to maintain his car monthly, while a member of the Lower House will get N124,075 for the same purpose.

But Senate President David Mark will not benefit from the loan or maintenance allowance because he is to have eight official cars including two for personal use, two as pilot cars, and one each for protocol, ambulance, security, and the press.

Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu is to get four cars like the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives.

The Speaker, Patricia Etteh, will also not benefit from the loan because government will provide her office with seven official cars. While Mark has two pilot cars, Etteh has one.
For their accommodation, the Federal Government will pay about N1.8 billion yearly for the next four years, with each of the lawmakers spending about N4 million each yearly to get houses in Abuja. The only exemptions are the four most senior principal officers of the National Assembly who will get official accommodation in the Apo Legislators Quarters, "because of the sensitive nature of their functions," according to government.
The government has granted a rise in allowances for lawmakers, from the federal level to the councils.

In its explanation for the increase of the accommodation allowance, the government said in a memo available to lawmakers in Abuja: "Given the current realities of the Nigerian economy, 100 per cent of the annual basic salary is inadequate to provide suitable accommodation for public officers in some parts of the country," adding that after commissioning a survey, the government has decided that the lawmakers in Abuja will get 200 per cent of their yearly basic pay while state lawmakers and councillors are to get between 45 per cent and 100 per cent.
The four heads of the National Assembly will also not benefit from the nearly N2.8 billion to be given to lawmakers to buy befitting furniture for their residences. Each member of the Upper and Lower Houses is to get 300 per cent of his or her basic pay as furniture allowance.
But the allowance will cover the four years and not to be granted yearly as speculated.
To look presentable on the floor and in public, each of the federal lawmakers is to receive a wardrobe allowance of about N500,000, representing 25 per cent of their basic yearly pay. But the amount will be distributed in their monthly take home pay. In effect they are to get a little above N20,000 each monthly for befitting clothes.

In the rules of the Senate, the presiding officer can ask an improperly dressed member out of the chamber on sitting days.

The same rule applies in the Lower House, even though it is rarely invoked.
Another amount government will pay the lawmakers is a Constituency Allowance, which the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), says is "to enable (legislators) establish and maintain offices in their respective constituencies."
The amount covers four years and will cost nearly N1.2 billion, because each senator is to get N5 million, while House members will receive a little less than N2 million.
For their utilities like electricity, gas, water, telephone, and refuse disposal, the lawmakers are to receive about N400,000 yearly but payable into their monthly salaries.
Their entertainment allowance has been raised from the previous 10 per cent to 30 per cent, meaning that with the new salary scale, the members will get about N600,000 yearly but will be paid monthly to the tune of N50,000.

After the completion of their tenure in 2011, and except reviewed, the Federal Government will pay about N2.8 billion as severance package for the 469 lawmakers. Each legislators will in 2011 receive N6 million.

In addition to these perquisites of office, the lawmakers are entitled to a Special Assistant on Civil Service Grade Level 12 or 13, and three legislative aides between Civil Service Grades level 08-09 to be paid by the National Assembly. Each lawmaker is also entitled to a personal assistant to be paid about N50,000 monthly.

From Alifa Daniel, Asst. Political Editor, Abuja

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Lagos: party capital of the world

Unusually upbeat piece on Lagos on the Beeb's site today.

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

C'est la vie - An Apology

I got sent this today. As someone who frequently offends with my pen and then is forced to munch through lots of humble pie, I would want to be the first to suggest the mistake is acknowledged and we all move on. However, there is now the perfect opportunity for Genevieve to plan an extensive feature which debunks all the myths about virus contraction/the testing process/where to go to get advice about retro-virals, as well as doing its bit to reach to encourage those in doubt to go for a test (its the best way to live a full life), and those with positive friends and loved ones to reach out and support them in all ways possible - including with hugs and kisses:

"My attention has been drawn to the outrage my last MorningDew has evoked in my readers, and to say the least, I’m mortified. But like the title says, C’est la vie. That’s life. Let’s just say that it took our readers’ ire for me to see the specs in my eyes this time. I accept and I apologize. Let’s just say that my view has been misconstrued to mean that I’m being judgmental, but who am I to judge? I never meant it that way, and like I said, I am simply mortified. What I wrote in that piece was just a reflection, or should I say, an expression of how any average human being can feel given that circumstance. I was only trying to show how panicky and ignorant the best of us can be about HIV/AIDS. Perhaps it’s just the human side of me taking over. For over four years, Morning dew has inspired; it has taught and shaped people, and those are the things that I love to do and they have kept me going! Morning dew is where I keep it real and that’s what I’d hoped to do with Cest La Vie but it went very awry and I stepped on our readers’ sensitivity in a big way. If what I wrote to playfully caution people has come across so wrongly, I can only apologize.

I have also apologized to Yinka Ekpe herself and her husband, and they’ve taken it in good spirit and forgiven me. Maybe this is the time for me to crave your indulgence – all you readers out there. To err is human, and if after over four years of Morning Dew, you’re finding me guilty just this once, then I deserve the privilege of a pardon. PLEASE, it’s not in my character to hurt people.

Betty Irabor"

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Ehindero in trouble deep

I love the way Nigerians can use the word 'fat' to describe people, without a trace of negative intent. The word is drained of all pejorative connotations, and becomes purely descriptive. Meanwhile, the rot in the police force seems quite deep. First Balogun, then Ehindero..

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RIP Fatiha Nkrumah

Source: the East African Standard.

First Ghana President Kwame Nkrumah's widow, Fatiha, passed away last week in Cairo, her home town, where she has lived for most of the years since her husband was overthrown in February 1966.

As to be expected, all kinds of tributes have poured in from all corners, including people and institutions that have never cared what became of her and her three children since Nkrumah died. Many conspicuous mourners did not even realise that Fatiha was alive all these years.

The worst of the hypocrites is Government. Those in power had the power, if the will was there, to have honoured Fatiha, recognised and provided for her and her family. But successive Ghanaian governments pursued a policy of benign neglect, outright hostility or opportunistic association and gestures towards the family.

This is not because Fatiha has lived outside Ghana. The same treatment was experienced by the oldest of Nkrumah's children, Dr Francis, the first son of Nkrumah with his Ghanaian first wife, or Sekou (Fatiha's second son) who live in Accra. The government announced that it would give Fatiha a State funeral befitting a former First Lady. But of what benefit is this posthumous honour when she was neglected while alive?

African hypocrisy transforms a dead person into a friend of everyone, with nobody saying anything negative about the departed. Some of this is due to guilt. We tend to over compensate by making all kinds of commitments and gestures after death. However, the guilt soon subsides and life continues as before.

The loved ones are left behind to pick up the pieces, as they must. Tears of some of the politically correct mourners go dry as soon as the TV cameras are turned off.

The way we treat the families of national and Pan-Africanist heroes does not inspire confidence that devotion to Africa means anything. Their families suffer: Absent fathers and husbands. The children grow up feeling victimised by the 'struggle' and after the hero has gone or is no longer in power, the family might as well have been dead.

Fatiha was much younger than the Osagyefo when he married her in a union that typified Nkrumah's refusal to accept the Saharan African divide. The three children they had together were all toddlers when Nkrumah was overthrown, and only teenagers when he died in 1972. Fatiha was barely in her mid 30s.

With no husband, father or State provisions, the family survived on goodwill, sometimes from strangers who never met Nkrumah, but treasured his contribution. The family could not live in Ghana, but thanks to President Gamal Abdul Nasser (after whom Fatiha's first son, Gamal Gorkeh, was named) of Egypt, the family got a befitting home on the banks of the Nile.

That house progressively became damaged for lack of maintenance since the family could not afford to maintain a modest but stately building. The Ghana for which Nkrumah laboured and the Africa he toiled for ignored his family. It is an insult to shed crocodile tears at the passing of his widow. It is an insult to the family for Ghana to offer a State funeral to a person largely ignored in life.

The State showed similar hypocrisy when Nkrumah died in exile in Conakry, Guinea, and later brought his remains to Ghana for State reburial! The embalmed body was for many years left to deteriorate in his home village before shame, political expediency and influence of Nkrumahists forced former President Jerry Rawlings to accept a mausoleum for Nkrumah in central Accra. Even then, most of the money came from Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi!

The spirit of Nkrumah continues to haunt opportunists and ideological parasites who use his name in vain. It should shame us into honouring heroes and heroines in life and death, especially the widow and children they leave behind.

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African slo-band/no-band

Many parts of the world are hooking up to broadband, except Sub-Saharan Africa. Blinkered anti-technology 'leadership' is the cause - witness the clueless approach to technology under the Obasanjo government. The new administration has a huge opportunity to embrace technology by building a fibre-optic infrastructure to span the country, and promoting alternative submarine cable projects to supplant the useless SAT-3 cable to enable competition amongst wholesale bandwidth providers. Anything less and Nigeria/SSA will continue to fall further behind. Nigeria lags far behind even Ghana in the broadband access stakes. See this story in today's Guardian.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

West Africa Night this Friday..

Sorious Samura and Usifu Jalloh at the West Africa Night, a fundraiser for the rehabilitation of former child soldiers from Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Event to be held on Friday, 15th June at the London Irish Centre, Camden Square, London. The West Africa Night is an event hosted by the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) from 6pm to 10pm on Friday, 15th June to raise funds for the rehabilitation of former child soldiers in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

The event will include a dinner of exquisite West African cuisine, an auction of statuettes, paintings and other artefacts from all over West Africa, a special showing of Amnesty International’s documentary “Time for Truth, Justice and Reparation for Liberia’s Victims” and live performances by Usifu Jalloh, a professional actor, dancer, percussionist and storyteller from Sierra Leone and Christina Oshunnyi, a Nigerian actress and dancer. Guest speakers include the award-winning journalist Sorious Samura.

With the guest list including the Sierra Leonean Deputy High Commissioner, the Liberian Ambassador, other diplomats, foreign dignitaries, friends and supporters of the CDD, West Africa Night promises to be the event of the month.

CDD is an international, non-profit and non-governmental organisation that has dedicated itself to the promotion and consolidation of peace, democracy and socio-economic development in West Africa for over 10 years.

Tickets are available for £20 and there are special discounts for couples and groups.

For more information, please contact Sylvie Bradwell, Co-ordinator of the CDD International Office, either by e-mail at sbradwell@cdd.org.uk or telephone 020 7359 7775 / 077 170 517 42.

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Achebe bags the Booker

Its shaping up to be a bumper year for Nigerian/African literature. Chinue Achebe wins the Booker International Prize. Thanks NI for the link.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Betty Irabor on HIV


Interesting perspective/attitude on HIV and how contraction/testing works from Betty Irabor, editor of Genevieve. Click on the image to read it. I will leave my readers to read and leave comments. I suspect this one may be controversial!

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That bloody logo


I can resist no longer in commenting on the disastrous logo for the London Olympics (designed by top brand consultancy Wolff Ollins). The funniest thing I have heard about it is that it represents the act of fellatio (the giver on the right, the recipient on the left, the pleasured member the dot in the middle).

We've heard that its jaggedy-graffiti style form is harking back to early 1980's design culture, which is apparently en vogue in the design world. Sounds like a bad case of designer-narcissism to me. If they'd done even a teeny bit of user testing (via focus groups or on the street stuff), they would have quickly found out that the design simply does not work and that people do not like it. From a formal perspective, the 2012 is hard to read (creating sub-conscious cognitive confusion); the olympic rings and 'london' sit awkwardly together, and the font for london looks amateurish. It would have been much better going for a slightly conservative but polished looking logo, rather than a bunch of 40-somethings straining at the bit to be down with the kids.. As it is, it appears we are stuck with it for the next 5 years. Bah!

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Life on the farm..

Pasted below is the weekly email I get from Zamani Farms in Jos - it shows how difficult life has become with the sudden switch to 10% VAT and petrol price increases - and their inflationary effects.

"Hello customers,

There are a few issues to mention for next week’s order: Next week Tuesday a general strike is scheduled. At this point we do not know what is going to happen, whether it will hold, or be called off. We are assuming we will be able to deliver as usual, but if not, we will let you know. We will have to assess the situation on Monday and see if the strike will take place, and if so, whether we will be able to deliver. As usual, it is difficult to plan ahead, but we will assume that things will be OK and we will take orders for Tuesday delivery as usual.

As you know, the increase in VAT to 10%, plus the increase in the cost of petrol, has let to higher costs of just about everything. Our costs of production will certainly go up, as petrol is one of our major inputs, both in terms of irrigation (we run 5 petrol pumps during the dry season) and fuel for our delivery van and other transport expenses. Like everyone else, we are contemplating a price increase. It has been over three years since we last increased prices, but higher running costs will probably make this inevitable. Some of our suppliers, including our friends at The Mushroom Factory who supply us with mushrooms, as well as those from whom we get potatoes, onions, etc, have all informed us that their prices will go up. At this point we have not yet decided on details, and are still thinking about it. We will let you know, but most likely any price increase will take effect from 1 July.

To continue with the bad news – we had another hail storm on the farm on Saturday afternoon. It was not as severe as the previous one, but it was enough to damage a lot of our lettuce. The very young lettuce that we have in the farm will recover and grow new leaves, but on Monday we had to pick most of the larger heads, even though they were slightly damaged, because if we were to leave them in the fields they would rot and turn black. So lettuce will be in short supply for the next couple of weeks. The lower part of the farm, which is more protected by large trees, was not so affected, so we will still have some lettuce to supply, although the heads will be on the small side. But it will take a few weeks of reasonable weather before we can get back to our usual quantity and variety. If you order lettuce, we will supply the best possible ones we have for that day, and if there are many orders we might have to ration.

Other items, however, were fortunately not affected and we should have reasonable quantities of most of our crops.

Our courgettes are coming back well from the first hail storm, and by next week we should be getting good quantities of them. In addition to the green, we should have some cousa and yellow ones. The yellow crookneck squash is also starting, and there will be a very small amount for next week.

We don’t have much winter squash, as we are waiting for the next crop of butternuts to mature.

Our herbs are all fine, and in good quantity, including all the basils (Genovese, Thai, lemon, baby, red and cinnamon) coriander/cilantro, arugula, oregano, marjoram, lemon balm, lemon grass, flat and curly parsley, mint and spearmint, chives and garlic chives, savory, and all the others. In addition to using them in cooking, they also make nice additions to salads, and give them an added zest.

We have nice leeks, spring onions, celery, radishes (both red and white), and a small amount of fennel. Beetroots are in limited quantity, and are generally not as nice as they are in the dry season. Carrots are in reasonable supply, and although they don’t look beautiful their taste is OK. We have planted a new variety on the farm that we are trying out, and they should be ready in about a month or so.

We will have very little broccoli for the next few weeks, as many of the mature plants were damaged by the hail (both storms). New ones are on the way, but they take a couple of months. We should be able to have some ready for supplying in about two weeks or so. From the old batch we can only pick a small amount.

Red cabbage and kohlrabi are also on the way, but will not be ready to pick for a few weeks. We will let you know when they are ready.

Our next batch is sweet corn is coming along well, and we should have some to supply in about 2 weeks or so.

Cucumbers, both pickling and salad types, are lovely at the moment and in reasonable quantity.

We have most greens, except for spinach, which will not really be available for next week. The new batch should be ready by the following week, but it grows very slowly in the rainy season. Meanwhile, we have lots of collard greens, kale, sorrel, and Swiss Chard, as well as lovely young Bok Choi and Chinese cabbage. Green cabbage is also available from the new crop, although the heads are rather smaller than the ones we usually supply.

The first batch of new potatoes (rainy season crop) is starting to come in to the market. At the moment they are very small, but nice. If you need them please let us know and we will try to get them for you. If you don’t specify new potatoes, we will continue to supply the older, but larger, ones that are available.

We still have lots of delicious avocados if you need them.

Oyster mushrooms are available, but probably not in very large quantity. If you need them, please order early."

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RIP Richard Rorty


Richard Rorty has died from cancer. He was arguably America's most well known and loved philosopher (of the pragmatist school). His book Contingency, Irony and Solidarity was a constant companion during my MA days.

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Monday, June 11, 2007

Exciting Job Opportunities in the Niger Delta

Our client, a Niger Delta Militant Group with branches in strategic locations throughout all the six South-South states of Nigeria is seeking to expand its operations to Abuja, the Federal Capital territory. This expansion has brought about vacancies for qualified and experienced young officers. The positions are:

Government Liaison
The successful applicant who will report to the Executive Council, and the Executive Director, Abuja, is expected to possess the following competencies:

1) Minimum of 10 years experience in militant agitation. (Membership of Al-qaeda, Hamas or other similar organisation will be an added advantage)

2) Fluent knowledge of Hausa, Ijaw, English, Italian and German

3) Expert ability to distinguish between Oyinbos and Albinos

4) Ability to swim in deep waters

5) Ability to recognise fake/marked naira notes by
sight

6) Ability to easily recognise all Senators and Ministers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Evidence of previous successful kidnap of BIG MEN must be provided (pictures preferable)


Photographer
1) Minimum of 5 years experience taking photos in war zones. (Domestic fights do not qualify as war zones for these purposes)

2) Proficiency in the use of explosives as camera lighting.

3) Knowledge of the different skin tones of expatriates, as an aid to taking high-quality pictures,
is a must.

4) Proficiency in the use of Adobe Photoshop, and Internet photo uploading software is a must.

Please include a portfolio of previous photo-samples (must contain kidnapped persons OR be taken in war-zones OR be nightshots in blackspots like Oshodi, 3rd Mainland bridge, Apongbon, etc)


Militant Trainee
1) Candidates must be between the ages of 13 and 50, be at least 4m tall, and may be male or female.

2) Minimum of Nursery School/Kindergarten certificate.

3)Jobless university graduates, and serving policemen will be given special consideration.

4) Possession of jungle boots and face mask is a must.

5) Preference will be given to persons with knowledge of foreign European languages, and persons with the ability to swim.


Remuneration

Very attractive, competitive, and comparable with industry standards (payments in foreign currencies).

Official guns, boats and grenades will be provided.

Excellent training, involving offshore
secondment (Iraq, Afghanistan etc) from time to time

Regular appearance on CNN, Alaaroye, Time Magazine, The Economist and other International magazines.

Excellent networking opportunities with Nigerian politicians, oil magnates, and foreign businessmen.


Interested applicants should forward their applications and detailed curriculum militae within two weeks to: militant_recruitment@OsamaConsulting.com

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