Sunday, December 21, 2008

So long, and thanks for all the tofu

We're away somewhere exotic until early Jan, so no blogging for a couple of weeks. I wish all my readers a Happy New Year and see you in 2009!

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Friday, December 19, 2008

What's NEXT?

Its been a helluva week. Finally, the NEXT website is launched. Its far from perfect (I am aware to pixel-level granularity of its bugs/flaws at present), but it beats the pants of any 'competition', and we have yet to really begin.

The print version will launch on January 4th in Nigeria, the UK and the US simultaneously. I can't wait for the launch partee on January 3rd in Lagos. Well, I can wait actually - cos a little trip to the beaches of East Africa is coming up..

Our design guru, Mario Garcia, has a little piece here on the launch of the site, with a glimpse of what the print daily and Sunday papers will look like..

And so to bed.

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CALL FOR APPLICATIONS

Residential School 2009

Governance for Development in Africa Initiative

To be held in Dakar, Senegal, 30 March- 04April 2009

Funded and supported by:

Mo Ibrahim Foundation
School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)
CREPOS, Dakar, Senegal

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation in association with SOAS and the Centre of African Studies-University of London is organising a Summer School in Dakar, Senegal, in April 2009 on the topic of ‘Governance and Development in Africa’.

The residential school is for 25 participants who are policy makers, academics, or civil society representatives from any African country who will gain, through this training, new ideas and experience on the wide issue of good governance and development. We welcome applications from a wide range of backgrounds.

Applicants should have proven research and/or professional experiences in fields relevant to the theme of Governance and Development in Africa.

All costs for successful applicants, including economy flights, accommodation, and subsistence, will be covered. The school will run from March 30th to April 3rd, 2009.

Applications should include:
CV (including email address for correspondence)
Official transcripts of courses/degrees/professional qualifications
two reference letters
Proposal of max 1500 words outlining research interest and professional background and how the applicant will benefit from attending the Summer School

Deadline for applications: 20th January 2009

To be sent electronically or by postal mail to:
Angelica Baschiera
Centre of African Studies
SOAS-University of London
Thornaugh street, Russell Square
London WC1H 0XG
Email: ab17@soas.ac.uk Tel.: +44 (0) 207 898 4370

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Here's to Eduardo

"Eddie B" in New York - Part 2 - Radio City Music Hall.

Eduardo is a Brazilian who lives in Salt Lake City. He's over here in Lagos to help us put the finishing touches to our content management system for NEXT.

When he's not waist-high in code deep-into-the-night, Edourdo likes to become Eddie B and make funny-silly videos..

Great guy. A free-standing human being.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

African Studies Association of the United Kingdom - Journal Writing Workshop

In association with the International African Institute, the British Academy Africa panel, and the journals Africa, African Affairs, and the Journal of Southern African Studies, the ASAUK is planning a writing workshop to assist young scholars to prepare material for publication in international journals.

The workshop is scheduled for Saturday 14th March 2009, from 10.30-6.30 at St Antony’s College, University of Oxford. ASAUK will support travel within the UK for up to 10 participants. Applicants should contact David Kerr d.kerr@bham.ac.uk with an abstract, and an indication of travel expenses, by 17th January 2009. Those papers or chapters selected for the workshop should be ready for circulation by the end of February. Participants should try to get them into a form suitable for submission to a journal (about 8,000 words and with footnotes).

The ASAUK Council, working through its Research Committee, is committed to enhancing academic links between British and African institutions, and to increasing representation in British journals of work by scholars based in Africa. It is also committed to creating opportunities for young scholars of all backgrounds to publish their material. The workshop will be designed to achieve these goals. We are particularly interested in applications from those doing doctoral degrees and those who have recently completed.

In the initial session, representatives from the Journals will discuss their priorities and the publication process in general. In three further sessions, students or post-docs will have the opportunity to present papers to a journal editor and small audience, and to work through comments and possible improvements. Papers will be pre-circulated. There will be follow-up workshops involving other journals.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

The Architecture of Demas Nwoko


Now available here.

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Forum on Violence and Political Malpractice in Nigeria at SOAS coming up..

Friday 19th December
12.30 -14 pm
The recent violence in Jos, in which up to 400 people died after a period in which Nigeria has been mercifully free of major incidents of communal conflict, has been a disturbing wake-up call.

The incidents which led to the deaths of up to 400 people defy simple characterisation as 'ethnic' or 'religious' violence, and point us towards pressing issues of electoral conduct, political violence, social conditions, governance and constitutionalism which the government of President Yar'Adua needs to address with credible long-term policy initiatives.

This participatory meeting will explore the root causes and responses to the violence, and consider the roles that stakeholders, both internal and external, can play in helping to ensure that such incidents do not recur. Presentations will be brief in order to maximise room for input and debate.

Speakers include:
Dr. Abdul Raufu Mustapha
Lecturer in African Politics (Oxford University)

Ms. Alice Ukoko
Founder and CEO (Women of Africa)

And
Mr. Adam Higazi
PhD candidate, (Oxford University)

Chair:
Mark Ashurst
Director (Africa Research Institute)

Venue:
School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)
Room G50, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square WC1

Refreshments will be provided

Please RSVP to cdd@cdd.org.uk Tel: +44 (0)20 7359 7775

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Are you/do you know a Burma vet?

Forwarded enquiry - an interesting research project:

Over 90,000 African volunteers fought against the Japanese in Burma during World War II, in the two-year jungle warfare campaign in which allied forces reconquered Burma. The majority of these soldiers, of the Royal West African Frontier Force's 81st and 82nd divisions, came from Nigeria. Many of them became important community leaders and activists on their return home. Yet despite their central contribution to the war in Asia, their contribution has largely been forgotten. This self-funded (ie shoestring) project aims to interview as many as possible of the surviving 'Burma Boys', to record for posterity their life-changing experiences of war and empire. We (a UK-based phd student and a freelance film-maker) plan to eventually produce a TV history programme to give this subject wider coverage; while the recordings we make will be deposited in university archives in the UK and Nigeria.

We are very keen to hear of any Nigerian veterans of WWII's Burma campaign who might be willing to be interviewed sometime in January – we plan to make the research trip in 2nd and 3rd week of January. If you have a relative, family friend or know of anyone who fought in Burma, please mail burmaboys@gmail.com or call our Nigeria contact Henry Mang on 0806 645 9532 .

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Amazon are meanies..

Click here to find out why.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Pop Africana

Nice.

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Trick's Music Bar...

I guess in a world full of ambiguity, its nice for a spade to avoid being called a trowel every now and again. The rules for Girls for Trick's Music Bar (Tarzan Jetty, Lagos) leave little to the imagination about what kind of joint it is. Here.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

The horror in Akwa Ibom...

I finally watched the Channel 4 Child Witches documentary last night, at the Abuja screening. As with many others who have watched it, I had a sleepless, restless night full of sadness and anger.

My first reaction to the film was incredulity. How can people seriously believe that children are witches who fly off to covens in the middle of the night? As 'prophetess' Helen Ukpabio says when she was secretly filmed, there are witches and wizards in Harry Potter. However, these are things for the child's mind, to be put away during adolescence. How adults can retain the gullibility of children en masse is hard for the educated mind to comprehend. Grinding poverty, a lack of education and sinister manipulation from money-minded fake-pastors has produced a horrific mix in Akwa Ibom.

My second reaction was anger. To see a pot-bellied man swagger around with a machete, laughing as he threatens to murder a small child whimpering in front of him is enough to induce hatred. To hear how foam bubbled out of the young girl's skull after the nail was banged into her brain provokes outrage. To listen to the 'Bishop' as he explicitly boasts that he has killed 110 children is enough to wish him harm. Note how he says that he has killed '110 children' not '110 witches inside children' as he is now trying to say from the comfort of his prison cell. To listen as another pastor tell us that a small girl accused of being a witch stays with him in his bedroom during the night, and is locked up in a small room during the day is enough to want one to ensure he is castrated (at least chemically).

It is good that the Akwa Ibom State government, after many years of inattention, is finally taking action. Quite why what is now the richest state in Nigeria (given that it is the highest oil producing state) should be full of such desperately poor, uneducated people is a reasonable follow-up question.

Change is in the air - but will it go far enough to save the children who are being tortured, killed and sold off (in their hundreds, every week) to wealthy families in Equatorial Guinea, Cameroun and Gabon via highly organised trafficking gangs? It would not be difficult to close these gangs down - but do the powers-that-be have the stomach for it?

Some ways forward:

Nollywood films that portray children as witches (such as Ukpabio's "End of the Wicked") should be banned. Those who sell such films (such as Liberty Gospel Church) should be prosecuted, their operations closed down.

Akwa Ibom State Government needs to make a concerted effort to educate their citizens that children cannot be witches or wizards. This will require a robust communication strategy that filters down to primary school level.

The child-witch phenomenon is growing, well beyond Akwa Ibom into neighbouring states, just as it is now found in countries as far afield as DRC and Pakistan. Nigerian communities in London are also not immune, as we know from the child's body found washed up in the Thames a few years ago.

Little will change until those who are leaders in communities in Akwa Ibom and elsewhere (teachers, local chiefs, local politicians) themselves realise that belief in satanic/dark forces, 'deliverance' and child witches is utterly incompatible with Christianity, or with the 3rd millennium. The Anglican, Catholic and more formally organised/respectable of the Pentacostal churches have a huge role to play here.

The Lagos screening is this Saturday, at Terra Kulture, at 4pm.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Toni Kan reading last night


The Toni Kan reading was lovely last night. Just under 60 people turned up - not bad considering most people are away on an extended Sallah break.

There was a Jos flavour to the evening, with Christine coming down from Jos to sing three beautiful songs. Toni of course went to UniJos back in the day (with Helon Habila). There were also a number of Josites in the audience.

Perhaps the most exquisite moment was when a serious-looking woman asked whether it was really possible for a dead man to have an erection. You will have to read the book to find out why she asked this.

More tour dates across the country (and overseas) are to be planned in the following weeks..

Photos:
1. Christine and Toni. Christine is a musician/singer from Jos with a magical voice. Her album will be out next year.

2. Toni and myself. Yes I need a haircut.

3. Toni signing a book.

4. A section of the audience.



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The Abuja Palmetum

Forwarded invite:

You are all invited to the opening of the Abuja Palmetum.

It is a beautiful 20 hectare park in Maitama with over 300 species of plants and palms.

It will be a private opening for 2 days only so please be there and discover this beautiful oasis for you to enjoy. For all the writers, photographers and poets, its the place to find inspiration (or better yet, peace and quite) for you to work or just relax.

Come along with comfy shoes(better yet ,-trainers) if you will like to hike up hill to enjoy the beautiful views. Snacks,BBQ, Drinks etc will be available at the garden.

Bouncy castles and acres of land for kids to play in and nice romantic spots for the lovers out there....

Pass along the invite to your friends and family in Abuja!

See you then....Remember its for two days only....Saturday 13th december and sunday 14th december 2008.

Direction: Ibrahim Babangida Blvd. Right next to CBN Qtrs near BPE.

For more info:
08034513006
adcityltd@gmail.com

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Toni Kan book reading this evening - change of venue

The Toni Kan book reading this evening will now be at the Azia Hall, Denis Hotel: plot 910, Malabo Street, off Aminu Kano Crescent, Wuse II, Abuja. 5pm for 5.30pm start. The Denis Hotel is less than 5 mins drive from Salamander Cafe along Aminu Kano..

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Fuji sallah special - Ayinde Barrister...

SIKIRU AYINDE BARRISTER ( PROPHECY )

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J.M.G. Le Clezio reads from Onitsha

This year's nobel laureate reads from his 1997 novel Onitsha.

Here.

Thanks Teju for the link.

This post is dedicated to C.E. and her startling novel yet unborn..

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Monday, December 08, 2008

Solving the gas flaring problem in the delta

An interesting proposal to solve the problem of gas flaring and the lack of power in the Niger Delta in one fell swoop, written by energy journalist Chris Cragg:

Gas flaring in Nigeria: Towards an alternative solution

A new start is desperately needed for the Nigerian gas industry, both in its relations with its western co-partners and on the issue of natural gas flaring in the Niger Delta. This is needed, not merely for the health of the Nigerian economy in these difficult times, but also, literally for the health of its people.

The declaration of Force Majeure on 40% of the supply of Nigerian natural gas to the country’s Bonny Island Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) plant in early December 2008 is the culmination of a decade-long three-sided struggle between the Nigerian Government, the oil and gas companies and the inhabitants of the region in which they operate. The abrupt termination of supply from Shell Petroleum Development Company’s (SPDC) Soku upstream plant in Rivers State was due to the need to remove some 50 illegal valves from its pipelines. These had been used to siphon off significant quantities of condensate, but effectively made the pipelines unsafe to operate.

The economic consequences of this “temporary” shut-down should not be underestimated. Bonny Island LNG plant is Nigeria’s only existing LNG export terminal and in 2007 delivered some 10% of the world’s seaborne natural gas. It is also important for the European Union’s energy security, some 9.7 million tons of the LNG, or 62.3%, being contracted to Spain, France and Portugal.

However, the existence of some 50 illegal valves on a gas pipeline is not the end of the story. With an average of two oil and gas workers kidnapped every week, numerous deliberate pipeline fractures and explosions, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the oil and gas industry to operate in the region. This means not merely that the industry that supplies 95% of Nigeria’s export revenues is having difficulty functioning efficiently, but also that it cannot explore for the necessary reserves that will safeguard such income into the rest of the 21st century.

Failure to find and exploit such additional resources – which are known to be available – also means that Nigeria’s laudable plans not merely to export oil and gas but to electrify the 40% of the country currently without power and develop its neighbours in West Africa will come to naught. Its production of high quality crude oil will continue to decline, while its opportunities to develop fertiliser production for better agriculture and power for future indigenous industrial development will slip away.

A three-cornered problem; the indigenous people

In essence the issue has three major actors, all of whom are distinctly at odds with each other; the central government, the oil companies and the indigenous peoples of the Rivers State and other states in the hydrocarbon-producing belt of the south-west.

To take the last first, it is hardly a surprise that the indigenous peoples of the south-west regard the oil industry as an enemy, regardless of the numerous attempts by the companies to ameliorate the situation. For, since oil production began in the late 1950s, the industry has been flaring the associated gas that comes up with the oil in huge quantities on land. Official statistics suggest that in spite of numerous attempts to stop flaring, in the first half of 2008 some 1.8 billion standard cubic feet per day (bscfd) of untreated gas was still being flared. This may be significantly down on the amounts flared in, say, 2005, when officially some 40+% of all gas produced was flared. However such is the level of mutual suspicion involved that many doubt the official figures. Equally the decline in the percentage of gas production flared may well be the result of increased unassociated gas produced and the shut in of significant amounts of oil production.

Either way, however, few can doubt the health and societal effects of this gas flaring. The situation would be better if it was merely purely natural gas (methane) that was flared. But it is not. The flare stacks emit particulate, sulphur dioxide, benzene, toluene, hydrogen sulphide and a good many other identifiable toxins. The effect on health does not need to be imagined. It is cancers, asthma, chronic bronchitis, numerous heart and lung complaints and, in effect, a great many premature deaths and a high infant mortality rate. Given the spread of these flare stacks in the region, it is highly likely that more than 30,000 people actually live within a kilometre of one flaring well.

Secondly, in societal terms, the effect of this is widespread anger and resentment. For those in the region, the benefits of hydrocarbon extraction for the economy as a whole are seen as simply passing them by. The oil that is produced is taken away and the toxins stay behind. The system of allocation of revenues from central government that goes to the state governments is seen as inadequate for the sacrifice involved.

However, attempts to change this relationship by extracting oil and condensate locally are deemed illegal and penalties are harsh. While such activities carry a high level of danger – some 2,800 people having been killed horribly in explosions in the past decade – illegal refineries and localised production still flourish in secret. This, in turn, creates a high level of resentment at any attempt by the central authorities to stop it, regardless of health and safety arguments.

Given such a situation, it is hardly surprising that those without adequate electricity and deep in poverty resent the intrusion of the industry and seek to profit from kidnapping.

The companies

So what of the companies? Here the first thing that has to be said is that the flaring is not the result of some gigantic conspiracy to pollute West Africa. When these wells were first drilled to produce Nigeria’s high quality oil in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, flaring natural gas was common practice throughout the oil industry from Texas to Saudi Arabia. The natural gas industry was in its infancy. The use of it in combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power generation was unheard of, when most power was produced directly by raising steam from oil products. Nobody suspected climate change.

In places like the North Sea, the associated gas produced in oil production found a market close by in an existing gas grid that had previously used coal-produced town gas. To be valuable, natural gas needs a market and an infrastructure to get it to that market. None of this was immediately available in the Niger Delta. Now however, it is more or less unheard of for associated gas to be flared in the western world, by western oil companies, except in emergency for safety. Flaring on this scale is nowhere found outside the former Soviet Union and nowhere in areas of such population density.

There are in practice two ways to stop flaring. The operating companies can find a market for the gas and gather it from the individual wells, or they can shut in the oil they are producing. In relation to the latter, Nigeria’s production of crude oil is already falling. Since 2005, Nigeria’s oil production has fallen from around 2.5 million barrels a day (mbd) to 2.1 mbd, or by 400,000 bd. Even at an average price of around $50 a barrel, this is a revenue loss of $20 million a day, or $3.7 billion a year. Logically, to maximise the reduction in flaring, the choice is to shut in those wells producing the lowest level of crude for the highest level of associated gas. There is some evidence that the companies have been doing this, hence the fall in crude production.

Getting the gas to market is a different proposition altogether. For SPDC, one of the more open of the companies, the dilemma is best shown by the point that to cut its own remaining flaring of 256 million standard cubic feet a day (mscfd) requires creating a gas-gathering system linking over 1,000 wells in an area the size of Portugal, or roughly one well per 91 square kilometres. If averaged out, this would suggest that each well is producing around 256,000 standard cubic feet a day (scfd). While having devastating consequence on the local environment, in terms of gas produced, these are not, individually, very large gas producers.

In truth, it would require some 400 of these wells to produce enough gas to power a 1,000 MW gas-fired power station, or the yearly output of almost 550 of them to produce a million tons of export LNG.

The companies thus face a considerable dilemma; either shut in crude, or build substantial gas-gathering networks across hundreds of kilometres to gather small batches of gas. Naturally, the current security situation in the delta does not help such an undertaking. Indeed SPDC’s plan to eliminate flaring on the Forcados Yokri field, due for completion in 2006, has been stalled for precisely this reason.

However, before suggesting that the companies are entirely blameless in the current situation, it has to be said that the instinct towards secrecy that pervades this difficult issue effectively prevents a better understanding of the problem in Abuja. Chevron, for example, may or may not be the biggest flarer of gas, but is certainly not going to admit to it. Total flatly refuse to reveal anything at all on the subject. The net result has been a chronic failure to adequately define the problem and thus seek a better way to resolve it.

The Government

This level of secrecy has created a high level of expectation in the Nigerian Government about reducing flaring that is largely a delusion. This delusion is twofold. First there is a belief that the flaring can be stopped by governmental decree, or legal means. Second, there is a belief that large LNG, power station, or pipeline projects will make a big difference.

In relation to the former issue, gas flaring has been illegal in Nigeria since 1984. It has been punishable by fines on the companies, these being mitigated in recognition of reality by being tax deductible. If this seems faintly ridiculous, it is joined by Presidential pronouncements that gas flaring will cease on such and such a date. The latest is December 31st 2008, which embarrassingly followed on from the previous one of January 1st 2008 and no doubt will be followed by yet another.

In practice, the level of investment required, plus the length of time needed to put in place the kind of projects thought by the Government to solve the problem, make nonsense of any strict timetable or legal fiat. This relates to the second delusion.

Nigeria currently has very substantial plans for the expansion of its gas export industry. There are now six completed LNG trains producing 22 million tons (mt) of LNG at Bonny Island, needing 3.5 bscfd of gas. A seventh train is planned, needing a further 1.2 bscfd. Two other projects, Brass LNG and Olokola LNG are planned to produce a further 22 mt. In total, existing and planned LNG capacity will need 8.3 bscfd.

Furthermore, a gas to liquids project from Chevron already underway needs 300 mscfd. The existing, but not fully loaded, World Bank funded West African Gas Pipeline (WAGP) will require 400 mscfd. Finally, there is a plan to pipe gas to Algeria and thence to southern Europe over 4,300 km, scheduled for 2015. This in term will need 2.9 bscfd. In short, export plans require a grand total of 10.9 bscfd.

At home, the National Gas Infrastructure Development plan calls for a massive increase in centralised electricity production of say 10,000 MW and a high voltage transmission system by 2014. This will be in addition to the supposed 6,000 MW that currently exists of which only 2,000-3,000 MW is actually functioning. Putting it simply, a 1,000 MW state of the art CCGT power station needs very approximately 200 mscfd to function at capacity, so this ambition will need around 2 bscfd of reliable gas supply.

While a sceptical eye might be raised at the sheer level of investment required for these projects and the timetable, there can be little doubt that with 184 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves, Nigeria has the resources to meet these ambitions. The problem is that such projects have little to do with solving the issue of flaring gas in the delta. If anything, the idea that these projects will reduce flaring is a major distraction from the real challenge of finding and producing enough non-associated gas to make them work.

LNG projects, major pipelines, gas-to-liquid plant and power stations are expensive investments and require above all a stream of gas that is likely to be reliable for the 20-30 year lifetime of the project, or at least a promise of it. This overwhelmingly favours non-associated gas.

By comparison associated gas, particularly such as is produced in the delta, is ultimately reliant on the continuing production of crude from the associated wells. If the crude output falls below economic levels this gas is liable to be shut in. And as noted, the volume of gas-per-well, is relatively small in the context of the requirements of such large projects. Indeed the force majeure closure by SPDC of the Soku plant reveals precisely this. The vast majority of the gas going into the existing LNG trains appears to be non-associated.

The Government is thus wrong to expect that its current big projects are likely to substantially reduce flaring. Equally, given its past record in relation to equity investment in such projects, in the power industry as well as oil and gas, it might be as well to concentrate on maximising non-associated gas in its investment plans. For there is a way out of the flaring problem. The point is that it is local, small and at the heart of Nigeria’s problems in the delta. The flared gas should be used for local power generation.

A rational and radical solution

Given the chronic problems of rural electrification, where the area around Port Harcourt averages three hours of power a day, it is hardly surprising that Nigeria has almost as much power capacity in stand-by diesel-fuelled generator sets – at an estimated 2,500 MW – as it has centralised functioning power stations. What remains astonishing is that few seem to have realised that such generating sets, ranging from a few hundred kW to 5-10 MW can be run not merely on natural gas but on mixtures of methane, butane and propane.

Indeed, of all engines, compression engines commonly known as “diesels” are far more tolerant of different fuel mixes than either turbines or petrol engines. Nor is there anything new about using gas in them for power production. Oil industry platforms have been doing it for decades. Consequently using them to run on the gas that is currently being flared is not only possible, but has numerous advantages.

For a start, there are a lot of them in place. They do not need additional investment in significant transmission capacity like high voltage lines, because they have their own local networks. They are cheap at $12 million for a new 10 MW unit and they do not require a high level of expertise to run.

Given the close proximity of the wells flaring gas to small rural centres of population, the extent of the necessary gas pipelines bringing gas to gen-set is likely to be only a few kilometres. Naturally, this will require a level of well-by-well analysis to step up, or step down, the level of pressure needed for both generator and pipeline, as will issues of localised pollution from the generators themselves. These however are likely to be minor in relation to the existing problems. There are likely to be local technicalities that will need solving. Nonetheless, these are soluble on a case-by-case basis.

Given such a localised solution, the obvious objection is that it could take decades to actually end flaring. Yet to be frank, the current means to reduce it looks like taking just as long. In addition, this ignores the momentum that is likely to increase as each flare is put out and the waste gas utilised for electricity. Virtually all experience with rural electrification across the developing world suggests that, once started, it proceeds at an increasing velocity. People want electricity and if as in the case of the Niger Delta, small and reliable power grids come with an immediate, rapid and obvious fall in the level of pollution any such projects are likely to be very, very popular.

Above all, for the people of the delta, this would not merely mean access to power and a fall in chronic levels of pollution. It would mean that, for once, some of the benefits of the hydrocarbon economy that is so important to Nigeria as a whole, would come home. As such, it might, just might, transform the existing high level of resentment that creates such a difficult operating environment for both companies and government alike.

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Soyinka sketch from the 60s

Taken from here. Thanks JG for the text.

PRESS CONFERENCE
A compromise government is in power after rigged elections, the regular old shysters are back in the saddle. One cabinet minister, caught out nakedly in a shady land deal, took the time-honoured method of brazening it out with irrelevancies.

Journalist: Now sir, about the problems of the coalition government, I wander if –

Minister: My friend, before you say anything else let me remind you that I am a M A Michigan.

Journalist Yes, sir, but with all due respect-

Minister: In fact, I got two B As you know. One at Toronto for Political Science and one for National Economics and Sociology, that was in Dublin.

Journalist: What I am trying to ask, sir, is your position as a Minister in the broad-based government-

Minister: It was after that I went to Michigan to get my masters.

Journalist: But sir, if we may define this broad-based government-

Minister: We cannot define Government. A Government is not a human being with a broad base or a broad bottom. If anything, it is more like a baboon with too many bottoms. So perhaps we ought to call it a round bottom Government. (Laughs broadly and sips his drink.)

Journalist: Would the Minister say some words about-

Minister: The B A Toronto was with Honours you know. First Class with Honours. The B A Dublin had no honours but that was discrimination - everyone knows that. Colour bar was very strong in the universities in our days. You boys don't know how lucky you are. If you are good you get your degree but if all you can manage is to be a quack journalist coming to ask me stupid questions, then it is your fault.

Journalist: Sir, what are your plans to improve-

Minister: Improvement, that is me. I've always tried to improve myself. When I did not get honours in Dublin, I went to Toronto and did it all over again. So I just laugh when you people say do I know the path of honour. I not only know the path of honour, I know the path of honours, (Laughs. Wipes tears of laughter from eyes.) So ask yourself, is it possible for an Honours man not to be an honourable man?

Journalist: Now, sir, about your Operation Fantastic, don't you think that-

Minister: My friend, what is there to think? I said fantastic and I mean fantastic. I am fantastic. Nigeria is fantastic. Everything about us is fantastic. The things which happen here cannot happen anywhere else, they will be fantastically fantastic. Look my friend, man is either common, ordinary and a nobody, or else he is fantastic. We have men of timber, we have men of calibre. And some of us are timber of timbers, So worry about yourself. Are you a nobody or are you a fantastic timber?

Journalist: Now, sir, these recent events. Don't you agree that they might give Nigeria a -

Minister. (Quickly interrupting. ) Oh yes, I know it is a big boost for Nigeria. Don't forget I am also an international author. I wrote 'Irredentism in Renascent Nigeria’. I am a director of several companies and I have shaken hands with Princess Margaret when I was taking tea with the Royal Family at Buckingham Palace. So if you don't know who I am people, who matter do.

Journalist: Now sir, about those land deals, don't you agree the Government may-

Minister: Let me insist once and for all that although I am a personal friend of the Prime Minister, personal friendship does not come into it at all. This is all a matter of Principle, Policy and Politics - write it down, write it down and refer to it as my three P's - Principle, Policy and Politics. They are my Three P's for Peace. For Peace and Good Government, for Peace and Stability. Seek ye first the Kingdom of the P's and the world shall become a Palace of the People.

Journalist: Sir, we all know that even less embarrassing things than this have brought down some Governments.

Minister: My friend, you are a small boy. You are all small boys. Principle, Policy and Politics. Do you think I am interested in the little amount of money involved? Chicken feed. Chicken feed in an elephantine mouth like my own. I can spend that in one week and not know the difference. But it is a matter of the Three P's: Principle, Policy and Politics.

Journalist: Could you explain that further, sir?

Minister: With pleasure, and let me remind you that I am an M A Political Science and I say that this is a matter of the third of the P's - Politics. Now when we agreed to serve on the broad based
Government was it not to give the Government a Trial? Well, my friends THIS IS THE TRIAL.

(Freeze..)

Read more...

Sunday, December 07, 2008

This is hilarious


Click to see Video

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Ikotun

I found myself in Ikotun, an unloved and anonymous part of Lagos. Endless people hustling a living on the street. The noise and the dirt all too familiar..

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Child Witches screening in Abuja this Thursday..

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Africans Arguing in A London Bus....

If you haven't seen this yet....

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Friday, December 05, 2008

NEXT goes live on Twitter


Nigeria's first breaking news service launched today on twitter, here.

NEXT's website, goes live 18/12/08 [12/18/08 if you are US-centric].



NEXT's print paper launches 04/01/09 [01/04/09 US].

Read more...

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Toni Kan reads from his new book, Nights of the Creaking Bed

Next Tues, 9th December, Abuja.

Click to enlarge.

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Death and the King's Horseman

Now on at the National Theatre, London, here.

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Scholarships for Commonwealth journalists

Apply here. Deadline 31st Jan 09.

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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Saving Africa's Witch Children - Lagos Screening flyer


This is a free event. Please bring your donation along with you, and tell all your friends. Putting a stop to this sick, evil and perverted practice is within reach!

One has to say, the recent actions of the Governor of Akwa Ibom are highly commendable. See here for some of the latest developments.

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Monday, December 01, 2008

The London African Film Festival

Is on this week. Here.

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Sunday, November 30, 2008

The turn of the screw

The Governor of Akwa Ibom finally takes a stand against fake pastors and those behind the child-witch phenomenon in his state, here.

Read more...

Dama do Bling - Danca do Remexe

Some light relief - a slice of Mozambique hip-hop. The last 3 minutes are the most interesting!

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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Violence in Jos...

The post-election violence in Jos seems to be spinning out of control, with at least 20 dead so far. Please spare a thought for Talatu-Carmen, the blogger, who is locked-down in the family compound with a hundred other people.

Zamani's farms deliveries to Abuja have been disrupted, as has all other business in Jos. See Norma's weekly email pasted below for a sense of what is going on:

Hello customers,

As you have probably heard, the situation in Jos is not at all good. Many people have been killed and houses destroyed in the aftermath of the local government elections that were held on Thursday. Two of our delivery staff -- Audu, our head driver, and Ado, our delivery assistant -- had their houses burnt down and lost all of their belongings. This afternoon I spent driving all around Jos looking for their families in some of the refugee camps set up around the town after people were evacuated from their area by the army. We finally found them, and brought them back to my compound. So we currently have about 25 refugees in the house. Our van, which came back with difficulty from Abuja today (the road was blocked for many house), is currently parked at a police station because it was impossible to drive it through parts of Jos to our house.

Moving around in Jos is not easy, and we are not sure when the situation will return to normal. Today we couldn't get to the farm (30km away from the house) because many of the roads were blocked and parts of Jos are under 24 hour curfew. Fortunately everything is normal at the farm and so far there have not been any incidents of violence in the rural areas around Jos. But it is impossible to get some items like onions and potatoes that we source locally because no one is coming in to Jos with these items. Everything in Jos -- shops, markets, banks, etc.-- are all closed and the city is virtually deserted. All the inhabitants are locked in their homes.

20:02 (GMT+1) - Associated Press (via the BNO Twitter feed) is now reporting that over 380 people have been killed in Jos. Funny how more people may have died in Jos in the past 2 days than in Bombay, but how it has scarcely registered with the global media corporations.

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Friday, November 28, 2008

Reuben Abati on the horror in Akwa-Ibom

Here.

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Bombay terror

Like many of you, I've been hooked up to minute-by-minute reports on the Bombay terror attacks on tv and the internet. I spent December 07- Jan 08 in all the places that were hit - The Taj, The Oberoi, Leopolds Cafe, VT Terminus etc.

Its interesting that the hottest breaking news site now is a tiny operation that is only based on Twitter - BreakingNewsOn - a breaking news aggregator.

Throughout last night it was consistently several minutes ahead of CNN (which routed through to its India sister network for most of the time), the online wire services (Reuters, AP etc), the BBC, Sky etc. in terms of body count, latest developments etc.

For some backstory on BNO's disruption of the wire-services paradigm, click here.

The UK Guardian finally caught on to the ongoing nature of events by firing up a live-blog at 8am this morning - here although again it is not a patch on BNO's twitter feed.

The analysis on the rolling tv news stations has yet to be well rounded. I've heard no mention of how Shiv Sena must be factored in to the Islamist's targetting of India's commercial capital for instance.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Gideon Mendel - live talk at the Frontline club

Free Webcam Chat at Ustream

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Petition against Liberty Foundation Gospel Ministries

The petition site is here.

The facebook campaign page is here - nearly 14,000 members already.

Read more...

The Dalai Lama in Lagos..

The Dalai Lama visits Lagos this week. He is speaking at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs in Lagos this Thursday, giving the tenth annual Anyiam-Osigwe lecture. It is a time for the Nigerian Buddhist community to rejoice.

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Future Makers fundraiser


An interesting fundraiser-cum-charisma/creativity seminar is coming up on Sat 6th December in VI.

Click the flyer to the left for more info.

The project is focused on transforming the lives of Area Boys in Lagos..

Read more...

Second letter to Broda Baraks..

Dear Cosin Baraks,

I am still waiting your ansa to my last letter. Hope things are all fine with you as you prepar for wite aus. How are Auntie Winshell and my shidren? Hope fine. Mama Sarah and all famili in Kenya and Nigeria have sent her greetings.

When I tell my son Adesoye dat Broda Baraks need a male son to take ova Amrican presidency afta you, e say no king in Amrica. I say what about Matin Luter King? E say Papa you funny. I say your moda famili funny. E say for Amrica, no fada pass power to im son, I say wat about George Bush pikin whish get presidence from im Papa George Bush also.

Now, I have to tell you a fery bad news and I hope you take it with heart of a man as you are Afrika man and not Oyinbo pepper who don’t have liver. Dat your small wife, dat Awelewa (Beauty na her Lagos name) I tell you about whish famili marry for you, is fery beatiful gal o. if you see her eyeballs, hehn? Den be like two boil hegg! Her hair is black and long and tick without no chemical, it take 3 onidiri 5 hours to plat it with rubber. Her hip is like Aran velvet and roll like syncro system till e scata somebodi head and the way the hips be I tink she will have plenti sons as possible. In fact her breast is standing anyhow. If somebodi put dia head on her breast, they will be in heaven. Anyway, I am paplex to find out that the gal have take in. That means she have get pregnancy. I was very surprise because she is a good well behave gal. After I take her to my pastor for prayer, Pastor tell me that, in fact, to be honest, I am the one she get the pregnant for. It is de devil work to scatter awa famili and becos de gal is friending wit bad gals in the yard since she come to dis Lagos. I beg you broda to forgif me but it is devil work! I tink our famili enemy want to use the gal to cause problem in Obama famili. I am very regret dis but pastor say we must not spoil de pregnancy. Mama Sarah have said the next wife for Baraks will be in her own personal room in Kenya until we send her to you. I tell Beauty she will be my 3rd wife but she say I too old. I say what about Broda Baraks, she say too old. You two old man. I say ya her fada be too old. She say she want go school after she born and be lawyer. I tink she have now stopborn laik Lagos gals.

I have now move to a self contain in Shogunle because my new position as Barak cosin cannot allow me to stay in two room Iyana Ipaja again because of when you want to come and greet me. The self-contain is very nice and get tolet.

I still want your help wit my NGO so dont foget your own flesh and blud.

Till I hear you, may Helen Akpabio catch all ya enemy and may dey fomit lizard, cowrie and padlock, afta, fall down and pisces! Amin!

Yours best cosin in Nigeria

Festus

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Monday, November 24, 2008

The spinner

videoI took this at the MTV Africa awards. Apologies for the crappy quality - I have yet to buy my flip mino so this is BlackBerry video at its worst.

For a precious few seconds, this guy made me believe in magic.

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Banking survey in Nigeria

EFInA has just published its banking survey of Nigeria. Here are some of the headline findings. The survey can be downloaded here.

Banking profile
1. 74% of the adult population has never been banked, 85% of adult of females are unbanked. The main reason for not having a bank account is due to lack of money, while the most important reason for wanting a bank account is to save money. 61% of the unbanked would like a bank account. Only 3 % of the adult population use a microfinance bank

Access
2. 53% of adult Nigerians are financially excluded (no formal or informal access to finance)

Savings
3. 38% of the adult population are currently saving, 26% of those come from the lowest income group LSM1. most are saving in case of an emergency.

Loans
4. Only 7% of the adult population currently has a loan, but 18% have a credit facility at a shop/kiosk. Loans are risky, 26% of those have missed a payment. Most important reason for a loan is to expand a business.

Insurance
5. Only 2% of Nigerian adults have access to insurance. 65% of Nigerian adults have either not heard of insurance or do not know what it means. Most insurance products are fake

Technology
6. 53% of Nigerian adults have access to a mobile phone

Read more...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

All the ways in which the MTV Africa Awards were awful

The MTV Africa Awards held at the Velodrome near the National Stadium in Abuja last night. It was a disappointment. Let me tell you the ways:

1. The event management/security was dangerously sub par. There was no clear information on where to park, either on the ticket or via temporary signage around the venue. Consequently, hundreds of drivers had no idea where to leave their cars. This led to chaos and an hour wait to drive inside the stadium - with cars nosing against each other and tempers (mine included) raised. Getting inside the velodrome was a life-threatening experience. Hundreds of people forced through one-at-a-time like cattle to the slaughter. The crush was scary. At the gap in the metal fence blocking the flow was a white guy, exuding malevolence. He looked like ex-Mossad to me. I gave him some lip when I got near to the gap, telling him what a great job he was doing. He grabbed my face with his hand and squeezed it, and sneered, 'so what the fuck you gonna do huh?' A little later, I bumped into a female friend there who had come up from Lagos to see the event and had had a similar experience getting in. 'Never again' were her precise words.

2. The velodrome is NOT a venue for music events. The concrete curves of the place create the most unsuitable echoey acoustics. It was impossible to hear what the presenters/award givers/winners were saying. Ditto the acceptance speeches. I was thankful the place didn't collapse - as did the first version of this Julius Berger-erected white elephant (originally erected for the COJA games, never used since).

3. Quite why the event was billed as the MTV Africa Music Awards (MAMA) is a mystery. In reality, the event was mostly a celebration of the derivative low-production-values drivel that is Nigerian hip-hop - Dbanj, P-Square and the like. There was no sense of a wider continent or variety, even from within the African hip-hop sub-genre. The audience screamed wildly whenever Dbanj's name was mentioned, but fell silent at the names of non-Nigerian artistes.

4. Trevor Nelson (the MC) is a prick. Some poor woman had to carry a towel and follow him round, de-shining his head every few moments. What kind of person insists on a towel carrier?

5. The headline act, The Game, looks like he has spent most of his time in a maximum security prison in an orange jumpsuit. Quite why he should be revered as a model for African youth is beyond me.

Now for the good points.

1. At least the velodrome didn't collapse
2. Seun Kuti is a star in the making. Give him a better venue and he would have thrilled
3. 9Ice is a subtle performer and one to watch. Again, give him a better venue and he might just provide a good night out
4. There was a young guy wearing jeans, t-shirt and a hausa cap at a jaunty angle. I quite like that fashion concept
5. Before the show, a guy started spinning trays and balancing a twirling bottle with a stick held between his teeth while doing the splits. Not sure how that was humanly possible

Apart from the This Day tent on the Lekki Expressway, Nigeria doesn't have a decent concert venue where thousands of people (especially young women) can safely enjoy live music. From the evidence of last night, neither is there a decent event-management/security outfit that can create a safe environment for events of this kind in Nigeria.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Franco Sacchi on Nollywood (TED Talk)



Click here if you have problems watching the embedded page.

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Sub-prime problems hit Japan...

Following the problems in the sub-prime lending market in America and the run
on HBOS in the UK, uncertainty has now hit Japan .

In the last 7 hours Origami Bank has folded, Sumo Bank has gone belly up and
Bonsai Bank announced plans to cut some of its branches. Yesterday, it was
announced that Karaoke Bank is up for sale and will likely go for a song, while
today shares in Kamikaze Bank were suspended after they nose-dived.

Samurai Bank is soldiering on following sharp cutbacks, Ninja Bank is reported
to have taken a hit, but they remain in the black. Furthermore, 500 staff at
Karate Bank got the chop and analysts report that there is something fishy
going on at Sushi Bank where it is feared that staff may get a raw deal.

……but looking on the bright side, growth at the Shitake Bank has mushroomed.

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The politician's phone

The following text messages are a sample received on a friend's phone (a member of the National Assembly) in the past few days. Sometimes we forget to consider the social pressures people in public office face from 'family' members, and how this tends to reinforce structures of complicity:

1. Honourable sir, pls. assist me with the sum of N18,000.00 to balance my house rent. My landlord made it clear to me 7 years ago when I was moving in that he usually buy his Sallah ram with the rent of that flat and I have never defaulted in payment since 2001. Meanwhile, my rent is due by January 2009 but this Ileya is 9th Dec, 2008. Sir, my landlord is a kind old man in his early 80’s, till date I’m still paying N36,000.00 while similar apartment goes for N70,000.00 inside the crescent. In as much as I appreciate the old man I cannot afford to lose the house. Uncle xx, help me out. May Allah make your tenure in the House a more successful and profitable one, to the constituency, Sir.

2. Good day my bro pls I neer ur assistant 4 my children school fee pls is 50 thousand eny amout u can aford pls thanks.

3. Good day Hon, how are u & d family I hope everybody is okay if so thanks 2 God 4 his mercy. Hon I want 2 please beg u with regards 2 dis 2008 Eid il Kabir Sallah Ram. Please my Hon help me o. As God will continue His blessing on u and all d family Amen.

4. My hon hope you have not forgetting me, for my new baby girl. GOD BLESS YOU AS SENATOR IS WAITING FOR YOU.

5. Good evening sir. Sir, U can elivate me by assisting me getting my own barber’s shop. And I know uve too much at hand and I also know that ALLAH will appreciate and bless u for any assistance u give to me. Thanks.

6. Dear honourable it is still your cosin. Pls hon if you can help this blood relation of yours I will be the happiest person on earth. Pls dear am begging you with the name of almight allah and with the name of your dad my late uncle xx and the name of our four father pls am suffering in silent I need some fincial assitan from you to add to the lettel money I use for buying srab hon pts what ever you can assist me with I will apriseat it you can sent it through mr xx your sec while expecting your respond I remain sincere thanks yours…

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Sub-Saharan Africa, 2025

The leading intelligence organisation in the US, the National Intelligence Council, has just released its latest global trends review (download here). The report predicts that by 2025, the US will have lost its superpower status. This is what it has to say about Sub-Saharan Africa:

Sub-Saharan Africa: More Interactions with the World and More Troubled
In 2025, Sub-Saharan Africa will remain the most vulnerable region on Earth in terms of
economic challenges, population stresses, civil conflict, and political instability. The weakness
of states and troubled relations between states and societies probably will slow major
improvements in the region’s prospects over the next 20 years unless there is sustained
international engagement and, at times, intervention. Southern Africa will continue to be the
most stable and promising sub-region politically and economically.

Sub-Saharan Africa will continue to be a major supplier of oil, gas, and metals to world markets
and increasingly will attract the attention of Asian states seeking access to commodities,
including China and India. However, despite increased global demand for commodities,
increased resource income may not benefit the majority of the population or result in significant
economic gains. Poor economic policies—rooted in patrimonial interests and incomplete
economic reform—will likely exacerbate ethnic and religious divides as well as crime and
corruption in many countries. Ruling elites are likely to continue to accrue greater income and
wealth, while poverty will persist or worsen in rural areas and sprawling urban centers. The
divide between elite and non-elite populations is likely to widen, reinforcing conditions that
could generate divisive political and religious extremism.

By 2025, the region’s population is expected to reach over one billion, notwithstanding the
effects of HIV/AIDS. Over one-half of the population will be under age 24, and many will be
seeking economic opportunity or physical safety via out-migration owing to conflict, climate
change, or widespread unemployment. The earliest global effects of climate change, including
water stress and scarcity, will begin to occur in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2025.

Today almost one-half (23 of 48) of the countries in Sub-Saharan Africa are classed as
democracies, and the majority of African states are on a democratic path, but the most populous
states in the region and those with high population growth could backslide.

Although Africa is already assuming more of its own peacekeeping responsibilities, the region
will be vulnerable to civil conflict and complex forms of interstate conflict—with militaries
fragmented along ethnic or other divides, limited control of border areas, and insurgents and
criminal groups preying on unarmed civilians in neighboring countries. Central Africa contains
the most troubling of these cases, including Congo-Kinshasa, Congo-Brazzaville, Central
African Republic, and Chad.

In contrast to other regions of the world, African attitudes toward the US will remain positive,
although many African governments will remain critical of US policies on issues like the Middle
East, Cuba, and global trade. Africa will continue to push for UN reform and for permanent
representation on the UN Security Council.

Read more...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Okey Ndibe on child abuse in Akwa Ibom

Here. The Channel 4 documentary will be shown around Nigeria next month. More details soon.

This article by Olusegun Fakoya provides a bit more context on the phenomenon of child 'witches', tracing it back to Congolese kindoki.

Read more...

The price of oil..

Can anyone explain why, with oil below US$50 per barrel and fuel prices dropping accordingly around the world, the price of petrol is not budging in Nigeria? This article goes in one ear and straight out the other.

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Abuja photojournalism piece on Monocle.com

Here.

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A slice of Dubai on the Marina..


To all the doubting Thomases and cynical naysayers who thought it couldn't happen - here it is- evidence that the Sunborn Yacht hotel has finally berthed on the Marina. Alhamdulilah!

Expect a rapid drop in flights from Lagos to Dubai and Doha as Nigerians enjoy the glitzy side of life at home, with Apapa/Tincan Island views thrown in for free..

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Afrocar


Snapped at the National Theatre a couple of weeks ago..

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Africa on my mind

"The West is losing its grip on the world it made and there will be a time soon when Africans will feel sorry for you. Actually, they already do, but this time it will be for your decadence and not just for your lack of cool."

Here.

Thanks OO for the link.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Those days we remember


My sister-in-law Folake celebrated her call-to-bar today. Mama Bidemi flew up from Lagos, as did Pa Erogbogbo and various other family members. It was lovely to have them round. Champagne was poured as libation, and as secular lubricant.

Congrats Folake. May you mark out your place in the world, and who knows, become a SAN one day..

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Turning on one's demons..

While concerted effort I'm sure will now be made to challenge religiously-engineered child abuse in Akwa Ibom, the problem with focusing solely on the child-witch phenomenon is that it brackets out all the other dangerous and superstitious nonsense that people are wont to believe. The horrific story of the thriving albino body-parts trade in Tanzania is mirrored elsewhere on the continent, with blood, skulls, eyes and the like accorded much value, even if it is taboo to even begin to discuss the trade in polite society.

It seems that many places in Africa are stuck in a post-colonial rut: no longer able to believe in the old ways, not able to embrace rationalism/modernity, and thereby utterly caught up in a bastardised web of 'belief' that weaves confused and half-forgotten aspects of the old ways into dangerously contorted versions of Christianity.

Perhaps however we are at a tipping-point, where Africans in a collective critcial mass begin to question what has happened to belief in the African post-colony and whether being guided by theocratically-induced mechanisms of fear and craving are really the way to live one's life. This critical reflection is at least suggested by some of the comments to my earlier posts on child-witches..

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Good African history, culture and politics blog

Here. Browsing the site led me here - the Concerned African Scholars site. Nigeria doesn't feature in any of this. I wonder when Nigerian academics overseas are going to join forces in this way?

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Yoruba man's letter to Obama

Apologies to those who've seen this a zillion times already:

Dia Broda Baraks,

Congrats on your assumption to the throne of US. We your Nigerian famili are very happy for you and for ourselves. It is our turn now to chop US national cake and our enemies cannot do anything about that.

I was to come to see you personally at Wite aus but I was not allowed at the airport because of say no fisa. I told them I am Obama kosin bet they refuse me. Your new elesion is a very good news for the Obama clan in Kenya and the famili in Nigeria. When I fest went to the family aus in Kenya to tell dem we are one famili they did not agree but my pastor from my church make 3 days dry fast and give me a special sponge to baf in barbitch after this they accept me. Becos they don't remember the sister of your granfada mother dat went to Nigeria and mari a shief live near Lagos in 1956 which is also my own personal great grandfada.

Now the famili has choose me to diskus some important matas with you. You know you have been long in Amrica and have forget our traditions but tank God we, your famili are hia to guide you to be rill African man. As a president, you must have a male son in office who will take over after you die and since ya wife Mitchell has not able to do that, we have find a wife for you from your fada village. The famili have already chose a good girl from de village not like Amrica or lagos gals who are too stubborn to obey the famili. She is a humble well behave and edicated gal who study sewing and fasion disine so she can help with sewing your suit wen e tia and also unifom for ami and soja. I hope ya waif will assept famili shoice becos we have fogif her for her winchcraft wich dont allow her to have a male son but if not, she can go back to her fada. Even my pastor has say your younger thoter may need a deliverance becos her granmoda want to give her winsh and ogbanje spirit to chop. Please don't wori about what dis will cost becos I will do it with my own pusonal moni becos we are one famili.

I also want to tell you that I want to set up NGO for hades unfans in Kenya and I can be the leader of the NGO. I have a good standard six degree and also studied computa at Iyana Ipaja so am well qualify for dis. Please I need your help for this.

I hope you will consider my request. I will also like your personal mobile so I can call you. Please greet Auntie Minchel and the shindren for us. God bless you and may all your enemies fall down and die, in Jesus' name!

Til I hear you, I am

Yours amiable cousin

Festus Obama

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Oshiomole's speech...

Nigeria's Obama's speech here.

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Okrika celebration

videoA friend shot this traditional celebration in Okrika - the opening of a primary health care centre.

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Petition regarding the assault on Uzoma Okere on Nigerian Village Square

Here.

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Update on the missing satellite

Its sitting in a car park in orbit around the earth, or something.

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Child Witches follow-up

The Channel 4 Dispatches programme last night had a powerful impact. You can watch video clips via this link. A Facebook group to close down the Liberty Foundation has appeared. 10,000 pounds was raised within hours of the programme finishing, which will be put to good use at CRARN and for Stepping Stones' excellent work. To make your donation, go here. The journey to stop the terrible practice of castigating children accused of witchcraft in Akwa Ibom has begun.

Read more...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Lost and found...


Do you ever get the feeling that there is too much news in Nigeria? Its a bit of a paradox really. Nothing changes on one level, but so much happens on another. So many tragi-comic dramas every day. The funny story du jour is that Nigeria's satellite, the poetically named NigComSat, is now officially lost in space. That's N40billion down the drain - or rather into the cosmos - then.

Meanwhile, Senator Afikuyomi's floating hotel has been found - berthed on the Marina - image to the left. Lagos' problems with the absence of affordable yet good quality hotels should be over within days, if not hours, if not minutes, if not now. Hallelujah!

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Governor Oshiomole

It looks almost official by now. Great news I think. Oshiomole is one of the smartest guys in any room. I've heard him speak - he thinks in paragraphs, if not chapters..

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Ed Kashi on the Niger Delta

Great audio-commentary to his photographs of life in the Niger Delta, here. Thanks ES for the link.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

rip Mama Afrika

Last song for Mama Afrika - South African music legend Miriam Makeba has died in Italy.

Johannesburg - South African singer Miriam Makeba has died aged 76 in Italy, her publicist told a local radio station on Monday. Talk Radio 702 said Makeba died of a heart attack shortly after performing at an event near the town of Caserta.  "I'm not yet absolutely certain of the causes of her passing, but she has had arthritis, severe arthritis, for some time," her publicist told the station.

 
The legendary singer, affectionately known as Mama Afrika, died overnight after being admitted to hospital near the southern Italian town of Caserta, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP), quoting the Italian Ansa news agency.
 
Makeba, whose most famous hits included Pata Pata, The Click Song (Qongqothwane in Xhosa) and Mailaka, died after taking part in a concert for Roberto Saviano, a writer threatened with death by the Mafia, the Italian agency said.  She sang for half an hour for the author of Gomorrah at Castel Volturno near Naples alongside other singers and artists.  "She had been the last one to go on stage, after the performances of other singers," an AFP photographer said.
 

"There were calls for an encore and at that moment someone asked if there was a doctor in the house. Miriam Makeba had fainted and was lying on the floor." Associated Press reported that the emergency room of the Pineta Grande Clinic, a private facility in Castel Volturno, confirmed reports of her death.
 

Mama Afrika was known for her songs about Africa's struggles for independence. "People gave me that name. At first I said to myself: 'Why do they want to give me that responsibility, carrying a whole continent?' Then I understood that they did that affectionately. So I accepted. I am Mama Afrika," she told AFP in an interview in 2005.
 

Miriam Zenzi Makeba was born in Johannesburg on March 4, 1932. According to Wikipedia, her mother was a Swazi sangoma and her father, who died when she was six, was a Xhosa.  As a child, she attended a training institute in Pretoria for eight years, where she first started singing. Her professional career kicked off in the 1950s with the Manhattan Brothers, before she formed her own group, The Skylarks. She grabbed international attention in 1959 when she starred in the anti-apartheid documentary Come Back, Africa. After that, she went to London where she met Harry Belafonte. He helped her get entry to the United States, where she released many of her famous songs.
 

She received a Grammy Award for Best Folk Recording in 1966 with Harry Belafonte for An Evening With Belafonte/Makeba. The album was about black South Africans living under apartheid. When she tried to return to South Africa, she discovered that her passport had been revoked. She testified against apartheid before the United Nations in 1963.  She was married to singer Hugh Masekela and Trinidadian civil rights activist and Black Panthers leader Stokely Carmichael. When her only daughter, Bongi Makeba, died in 1985, she moved to Brussels. Anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela persuaded her to return to South Africa in 1990.

 

'Very good old lady'

 

She was always optimistic about post-apartheid South Africa, even though she acknowledged that it came with its own problems. "We have only had 11 years of democracy but we are moving, we are moving forward faster than many countries who have been independent a long, long time before. We all have to do it together, all of us, found ourselves this country regardless we are black, white or whatever," she said in the interview with AFP.

 

Asked who the next Makeba would be, she replied: "No, nobody can replace me as I can't replace anyone else," said the singer, who added that she wanted to leave a memory of, simply, a "very good old lady".

 



 

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Sunday, November 09, 2008

More on Liberty Gospel Church etc.

Good article in today's Sunday Telegraph on the disturbing child-witch phenomenon in Akwa Ibom State - here. The sooner Liberty Gospel Church is closed down under the Child Rights Act the better. Helen Ukpabio needs psychiatric care - clearly she shouldn't be let loose on vulnerable/gullible people in the area. Meanwhile, it beggars belief that someone who calls himself 'The Bishop' can still walk round a free man after boasting he has murdered 110 children.

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Friday, November 07, 2008

Pray the Devil Back to Hell screening in Manhattan tomorrow (Sat 8th)

Pray the Devil Back to Hell chronicles the remarkable story of the courageous Liberian women who came together across faith to end a bloody civil war and bring peace to their shattered country. More about the screening tomorrow eve here. Thanks Lanre for the link.

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Uzoma Okere Campaign for Justice..

Dear All,

I was with Uzoma Okere in Alausa yesterday and at the Ministry of Justice thereafter, where we edited the petition to ensure it was explicit about what we want.

But let's not celebrate yet. The battle has just begun.

It ends when justice has been served. And we will keep at these protests until justice is administered on the rating monsters.

If you want to lend your voice to the injustice, please come to 14 Muri Okunola at 12.30p.m on Sunday November 9.

We will be there till 3pm with a video camera to record the faces and voices of incensed Nigerians.

From there we will proceed to University of Lagos where filming will continue at 4pm- 7pm in front of Moremi Hall. Similar filming will take place on Sunday in London, New Jersey and Beijing.

We all have a responsibility for what happened. We permit it by not speaking.We intend to broadcast the footage on local and international television in order to inspire shame in each one of us as individuals and in our government.

We will continue to air the clip on rotation until justice is served. Please spread the word. We look forward to seeing you there on Sunday and please send this to all your friends on facebook.

Ebun Olatoye.

Facebook campaign page is here.

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The brutalism of everyday life..

I am at best, the most amateur student of Nigerian history. How could an outsider ever hope to master all but the tiniest slice of events, without putting in years of study?

However, it seems to me that the deeper significance of the Uzoma Okere beating earlier this week is the way it exposes the ongoing brutalism of everyday life in Nigeria, and specifically the normalisation of violence against women. Stripping a woman near naked, battering her, drawing blood, carrying around horse whips just-in-case someone gets in the way... where on earth did all this apalling barbarism come from?

Perhaps the roots lie way back in the colonial administration of the 1930s, 40s and 50s. I'm too much of a beginner to be able to see that far back. However, the most recent time horizon would seem to be the reign of Idiagbon and Buhari in the early 1980s. It was during their War Against Indiscipline (WAI) - no doubt motivated by the noble goal of curbing corruption and other 'sharp practices' - that military-style beatings of civilians in the street became commonplace and accepted. The news footage of those beatings is out there, if you wish to find it.

Whatever the complex of historical causes, it is clear that the wound of military rule in Nigeria still festers and is far from healing. Just as South-Africa went through the trauma of a Truth and Reconcilliation process, perhaps something along those lines is needed in Nigeria? Until then, it seems hard to work out how civic life can be given the guarantee it needs. When will citizens be able to walk or drive the streets of Lagos without fear of a random violent attack?

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The Niger Delta Reality TV show...

Taken from yesterday's Vanguard, here. Article pasted below:

To discourage social vices, firm embarks on Reality TV E-mail
Written by Emma Arubi
Thursday, 06 November 2008
THE first ever Niger Delta Reality Television Show intended to pull gifted youths in the region from all manners of social vices is billed to take place in Warri soon.

Management of Matoria International Limited and February 22 in collaboration with Daclin Global Enterprises in charge of the television show told Vanguard that it was part of efforts to channel the energies of the youths of the region not only away from crimes but towards ventures that will help them in future.

According to a statement issued by the Managing Director of Matorial International Limited, Mrs. Maria Ogaga, the entertainment programme is being packaged to inspire, inculcate knowledge, discover, promote and enhance the young musically inclined youths of the region and also divert their attention away from crime.

She disclosed that the Niger Delta Reality Show was also packaged to address the myriads of problems, such as kidnapping, hostage taking, pipeline vandalisation, illegal oil bunkering, robbery and other vices facing the people of the region.

“The Niger Delta Reality TV Show, christened The Niger Delta House is also a synthesised edutainment programme, put together to eradicate poverty, building people into leadership, promoting and preserving diverse cultural heritage as well as fostering peace in the region.

“With all the peace loving governors of the Niger Delta states, this reality tv show will help consolidate a lasting peace in the Niger Delta,” Mrs. Ogaga added.

She disclosed that the first prize winner would go home with a brand new car worth N2 million while the second and third prize winners would go with N1.5 million and N1 million, respectively in a television house programme from where winners and losers would eventually emerge.

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Helen Ukpabio - saver of souls


Thank the Lord for Helen Ukpabio, freeing the witches of Calabar from demonic bondage. Here.

See also here (interview in a Ghanaian newspaper).

She gives a brief bio on her website:

This is just a brief history of my life. Full story is written in a book titled “THE SEAT OF SATAN EXPOSED”.

I was initiated into Olumba cult at 14 years of age, I was also betrothed to Lucifer as would be wife. This automatically qualifies me to attend a spiritual school for the Royals. I was trained in concepts of mysticism, occultism, spiritism, Satanism, demonism and general cultism. The idea of developing strategies that will aid in keeping activities of the cult alive and seeing more human registering with the occult kingdom is the number one goal of the occult kingdom.

The practice of witchcraft, necromancy, familiar spirits, and other spiritistic activities in order to multiply them thereby causing confusion multiplying wrong altars are Satan’s strategy to help water down the true churches are some of their activities.

Finally, the Lord brought me out in His own time. I was saved, born again, sanctified well taught in the word. I was 14 years when Olumba seized me to work for Satan but at 17 years, the Lord brought me out to His glory.

In 1992, I received a call into full time ministry, this is how Liberty Foundation Gospel Ministries was born. The aim being to set the captives free by the gospel. Ever then the Church has grown forward.

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Follow-up on the Uzoma Okere story

Several local papers have finally caught up with the citizen-journalism driven story, with Lagos State Gov Fashola promising to pick up the victim's legal bills.

The Punch - the first paper to pick up the story
The Guardian
Vanguard

etc.

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The Obama family rushing to the White House


I'm sure like me, this image has reached many of you in the past couple of days via email, with the heading 'the Obama family rushes to the White House' or 'Kenyans rushing to the White House'.

Interestingly, I've received the image from Nigerians so far.

If a white person had sent the image, no doubt it would have been perceived as a racist slur.

Apart from the fact that the image clearly represents people of the Sahara - Nigerois, Toureg and the like and certainly not East Africans, another question comes to mind.

Given that the President-elect of the US is partly of African heritage, does that mean he is now fair game for lively commentary from Africans, in a way that stands outside of the conventional racial parameters of America?

And, could this override-principle work in reverse?

Can President Obama take a critical look at the weak governance that pervades the African continent, the posturings of the various neo-colonial elites and at the utterly ineffectual African Union, and on account of the African aspect of his heritage, have the liberty for the trenchant criticism that is needed? Can Obama stand outside of the mealy-mouthed muted liberal approach to African corruption and bad governance (muted as much of course by trade requirements - arms, geo-political influence and energy- as by principle)? Will he be able to tell it like it is?

Let's see.

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The koko pots of Ilorin


My sister-in-law has just returned from Ilorin, with three koko pots from the Oja Oba market. These beautiful dark pots are an Ilorin speciality. The most expensive pot was N200 - a dollar and a half. They would fetch twenty or thirty times that (if not more) in the US or the UK.

So often people do not recognise the value in what they have close by. Why is that?

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