Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Harold Smith, Sir Bernard Bourdillon and everything in between..

In July last year I posted about Harold Smith's claims about vote-rigging by the British government in the 1950's in Nigeria. Below are several strands of follow-up material for the student of Nigerian history:

1. Here is a new guest posting by JG on an article in next month's New African:
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The British and election rigging in Nigeria.
Further to the posting on Naijablog with the above title (July 15, 2007), readers may be interested in Osei Boateng’s article in New African (November 2008) that takes up the accusations of election rigging in pre-Independence Nigeria made by Harold Smith.

In ‘A Squalid End to Empire’, Boateng draws attention to ‘official confirmation’ for what Smith alleged, and what a colonial policy maker apparently described as ‘rigging the parliament through official majorities, a restricted franchise and so forth.’

Boateng directs particular attention to a report on ‘The Future Constitutional Development in the Colonies’ in British Documents on the End of Empire. Though published in 2000 and 2001, relevant papers among those documents have not, it seems, been examined in the context of discussion about election rigging in Nigeria.

Boateng writes, somewhat vaguely, that ‘BBC TV has done something on Smith’ but does not indicate what. He does not refer to the July 2007 BBC 4 Documents programme that aired Smith’s charges, a programme that represented an important discussion of the Smith’s charges in the mainstream UK media.

Among the fascinating pieces of information in Boateng’s article is a reference to the strategic importance of Kano international airport to the British. Apparently Sir N. Brook described it as ‘on the air communications line to Uganda, Kenya, the Arabian Peninsula and the Far East’. That may explain a lot.
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2. A friend has a copy of the Nigeria-related British Documents on the End of Empire.

Among the key passages from these documents are the following:

"Sir Bernard said that there was no 'Nigerian' feeling, but this would grow in time" - 22-June-1943, Sir Bernard Bourdillion to attendees of a colonial office meeting

"He was confronted with the difficult setting of an artificial unity which existed only on the map. His problem was to build a system which would allow organic growth and make the unity superimposed from outside into a living thing which might progress through varying stages of adolescence to adult nationhood" - 19-Jul-1944, Sir Arthurd Richards talking about Lord Lugard.

"But what of the alternative ? The suggestion is seriously made that all Unofficial Members should be elected by ballot. This is in a country where barely 5% of the population can read or write, where for generations the peasant has been far too concerned with the problem of existence to concern himself with anything but the most petty local affairs, where in large areas the natives, men and women, go unclothed, where cannibalism is still practised, where secret societies based on ju-ju can still indulge in mass murder, where the very leaders of organised labour invoke ju-ju to impart discipline; where the vast populations of the Moslem Emirates are only just emerging from the eastern feudalism of the Middle Ages. To attempt popular election in such circumstances would not be to introduce democracy but a sham disastrous alike to the true interests of the people and to the future of the country" - 9-Jun-1946, Sir Arthur Richards, Letter contesting the validity of the NCNC's proposed visit to the UK to ask for independence.

"...referred with foreboding to the historic conflict between the North and the South of what was now Nigeria; once the British left, he said, the North would continue its interrupted march to the sea" - statement (apparently) made by Tafawa Balewa, March 1947.

"He is quite unscrupulous, and is always ready to say whatever he thinks will appeal to the audience of the moment. He has no regard whatever for the truth, and will make any statement or give any promise which will advance his cause with no more intention of keeping his promises than the late Mr. Hitler had. In fact, his methods in many ways remind one of Hitler, and have possibly been copied from him" 10-Jun-47, Letter from G Beresford Stooke to the CO describing the Colonial Nigerian Government's views on Zik.

"What you are suggesting in effect is that the East and the West should be persuaded to agree to the North having the same representation on the Legislature as the East and the West put together, or something near it, in return for the North agreeing that the central Legislature should not be concerned with regional legislation" - 23-Feb-50, Letter from AB Cohen on the next stage of the constitutional review.

3. Those interested in buying/reading these fascinating documents should start here. The Nigeria documents are Series B, Volume 7. When you scroll down the page, you come to this intro blurb:
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Nigeria was Britain's largest colonial dependency in the 1950s and home to one-third of the population of the British empire. This two-part volume of official documents on the evolution of British policy examines Nigeria's move to independence in the years to 1960.

It is a story of policy-making in London and of political pressure from Nigeria, punctuated by riots, communal conflict and regional tensions, and one that has much to say about both Britain's future position in Africa and Nigeria's subsequent history.

Part one covers the years between 1943 and 1953. It begins with the wartime Colonial Office debates over indirect rule and Nigeria's political future. Nigerian reactions to British initiatives and to local economic and political developments are recorded in detail. These are seen first in the increased prominence of the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons under Nnamdi Azikiwe, and the subsequent polarisation within Nigerian politics that led eventually to the emergence of the Action Group under Obafemi Awolowo and the Northern People's Congress under the Sardauna of Sokoto.

Part two covers the period from mid-1953 through to independence in October 1960.

Throughout, the documents reveal Britain's explicit aims and ambitions for the future of Nigeria as independence drew closer. Central to ministerial and official thinking in Whitehall was the view that Nigeria would not be ready for independence in 1960.

But rather than forfeit Nigerian goodwill and its place within the Commonwealth, and also to protect British trade with and investment in the country, the decision was made to proceed.

Documents on the future of the Cameroons, as a United Nations Trust Territory administered from Nigeria, are interwoven in the main text and an appendix takes the Cameroons' story from Nigeria's independence through to Britain's withdrawal the following year. Entirely based on hitherto unpublished material and drawn primarily from the records of the Colonial Office, Commonwealth Relations Office, the Foreign Office, and the Cabinet and its committees, this volume will be essential reading for all students of decolonisation and modern African History.

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You can buy this volume from Amazon here.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Naij - screening at the British Library this Saturday (1st Nov)

Jide Olanrewaju's excellent documentary on Nigeria's history is showing as part of Black History Month (and Camden's Black History Season) in London this Saturday. Click here for more info.

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Vote for "Imagine This"

Sade Adeniran, author of the fabulous Commonwealth Writers Prize-winning book Imagine This has been long listed for the World Book Day campaign, Books to Talk About. Please take ten minutes out of your busy day and click here to vote Imagine This onto the short list of 10.

Click here to read an interview with Sade. Imagine This will be published in Nigeria by Cassava Republic Press in 2009.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

On the Osu

At last an article on the Osu - the outcasts or untouchables of Igboland. It is odd that this enduring caste system does not seem to have been challenged. You hardly ever read about it in the local papers. Perhaps there are human rights groups in eastern Nigeria who are tackling it, but who never get any airplay. Or perhaps life just carries on, while a whole section of society gets treated like shit. The linked article does not shed any light beyond make condemnatory noises. What's required first of all is serious sociological research. Where are there Osu communities? How long have they been there? What dynamics are in play which support/reinforce the stereotyping? There's a PhD thesis waiting to be written, as well as what probably would still be years of struggle ahead to abolish this indefensible division between communities.

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Fashion event coming up at Terra Kulture this Sunday..

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Good high-life/old skool music site

Here.

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Blog drought..

Internet access has been extremely limited in the past few days, and blogging from my BlackBerry just doesn't seem right. My ISP claims that their fibre optic cable was cut in Lagos. I know ISPs have huge problems with cable sabotage and theft, so maybe, just maybe, they are telling the truth for once..

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Elendu in discussions with the SSS

Nigerian blogger Jonathan Elendu, writer of Elendu Reports, has been invited for discussions with the State Security Service upon his arrival in Abuja. Here for more info.

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Whites-only accommodation in Abuja

This ad appeared on the Abuja expats (yahoo group) today:

WUSE II
3 bedroom flat for white expatriates only (serviced)- 2.5m
payable 2 years service charge 500,000 p.a

This is the company that advertised the property and is complicit in an apartheid rental system in town.

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Netherland..

Rather than there being a 'new voice' in American letters, I'd rather say that we've re-discovered an old one. Joseph O'Neill's magisterial novel Netherland (ostensibly about cricket in New York) is an echo of The Great Gatsby. Here is a short passage from the early pages of the book, where our Dutch narrator, Hans, stares out at a Manhattan street scene in the early hours from his hotel balcony:

"The pallor of the so-called hours of darkness was remarkable. Directly to the north of the hotel, a succession of cross streets glowed as if each held a dawn. The tail-lights, the coarse blaze of deserted office buildings, the lit storefronts, the orange fuzz of the street lanterns: all this garbage of light had been refined into a radiant atmosphere that rested in a low silver heap over Midtown and introduced to my mind the mad thought that the final twilight was upon New York..."

I'm re-reading F. Scott Fitzgerald immediately after this...

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Father sues son for idleness..

This story appears in the Vanguard today:

A Bauchi-based businessman, Malam Sama'ila Tahir has dragged his 20-year-old son, Jamilu Sama'ila, before a Bauchi Lower Sharia Court for idleness.

Reports say that Tahir, a trader at the Bauchi Central market, had dragged his son before the court, asking the court to send him to prison for being idle.

Tahir also accused his son of belonging to a gang of criminals.

Tahir told the court that his son had refused to go to school or engage in productive activities in spite of counseling and guidance by his family.

"He is not listening to words and he is bringing shame to my family.

"I am tired of his nefarious deeds. Please, put this boy in prison so that I can be free," Tahir pleaded.

In his submission before the court, Jamilu admitted the charges but sought for leniency.

In a ruling, the Presiding Judge, Malam Tanimu Abubakar, said the court was convinced by the voluntary submission of the charge by the accused and sentenced him to six months imprisonment under section 95 of the Sharia panel code.

The court also ordered the convict to 30 strokes of the cane for being disobedient to his parents, which were immediately administered at the court premises.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Maintain vs Powell round 2

Nice little piece by Olly Owen here.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Zamani Farms update

Haven't pasted a Zamani Farms (Jos) update from Norma in a while. Here you go:

Hello customers,

After some very violent rains towards the end of last week, we had a couple of sunny days. Yesterday we had harmattan haze all day, and cool temperatures (18 at night). Today it is cloudy again, but no rain so far.

We are hoping that the rainy season is really over so that we can get down to the business of producing beautiful vegetables without worrying about rain, hailstorms and high winds. The rains last week destroyed some of our maturing iceberg lettuce, but not too much damage was done to other crops.

(I apologise if you think I am obsessive about the weather here, but please understand that everything we produce, the type of veggies, and their quality, depends on weather conditions. We are lucky in some ways in that we can grow some crops all year around, but the changing of the seasons really does affect what we do on the farm, so we have to keep a close watch on the weather. And we do try to make our customers aware of the conditions we are facing, especially since Abuja is really an artificial environment quite different from the rest of Nigeria.)

Our new lettuces are coming along well, although we will have very limited amounts of iceberg for a couple of weeks until the young ones mature, since the ready to pick ones were damaged by the rains. Other varieties are growing well, including cos, butterheads, and various leaf lettuces. Please bear with us for a couple of more weeks, and by the end of the month we should have nice lettuces of all types.

Meanwhile, we will give you the best available on the day we pack your order. Endive frisee and escarole will be a bit limited for about two weeks until the next batch is ready, although we will have a small amount to supply. Radicchio is finally maturing and we should have some of that as well.

Herbs are doing fine, with new basils growing well in the sunnier conditions. Nearly all types of herbs are available. Our new arugula is looking lovely, and cilantro (coriander) and dill are also fine. In addition we have nice oregano, chives, mint, parsley and all the other varieties. We have plenty of tarragon and rosemary too. We have also planted new chervil. We will let you know when it is ready.

If the cooler and drier weather continues our new broccoli and cauliflower should grow well and we will have some to supply in a few weeks. I know you are looking forward to these, and we will certainly keep you informed of their progress.

Nice beef tomatoes are available, and good plums are starting to come into the market so we will be able to supply much higher quality ones than we have been for some time. Cherry tomatoes in the greenhouse are on their way out and there will not be many of them. We have planted out lots of tomatoes in the field -- beef, cherry and plum -- but they will take a while to mature. Some of the new cherries should be available in about two weeks.

Courgettes are coming along, and green ones are available. Cousa are on the verge of flowering, so we might have some by the end of next week. Yellow ones are also beginning to fruit, along with some yellow squash. Butternuts and other winter squash are also fruiting, but need a little time before they become mature. We will let you know.

Nice carrots, beetroots, leeks and radishes are available for next week. There will be a bit of fennel, and hopefully a little kohlrabi too. We have been planting lots of beetroots, carrots and turnips for the dry season and they have all germinated well. We are also planting our dry season potato crop, but you will need to wait a couple of months before they are ready. Meanwhile we are getting nice Nicola potatoes from local farms, and they are very delicious.

Our greenhouse French beans will finish this week, but hopefully the new batch we planted outside will be ready to pick by next week. There is a very limited amount of asparagus beans, but we have planted lots more. We have also planted yellow and purple French beans, and they will take another month or so before picking. Our new mangetout (snow peas) have come up well, and need another couple of weeks. Sugar snaps are also on the way.

Green and red cabbage are available, along with Chinese cabbage and a limited amount of bok choi. Spinach, which suffered a lot from the rain, is starting to come back, but the quantity we can pick will be limited for the next couple of weeks. Swiss chard is coming along, but not a lot will be ready for next week. We do have lots of sorrel and collard greens. New varieties of kale are on the way too. We should have a bit of Mizuna from our new batch, and in the next few weeks quite a bit should be available.

Celery is still young and small, and we can supply only a limited amount -- you can use it for soups and flavouring, but the big stems and heads will take another few weeks.

Mushroom production is sporadic, but some should be available. Order early if you need them.

The fruit scene is looking up with the drier weather. We still have some passion fruit, and maybe some rhubarb, although this will stop growing in the dry season. But our pawpaws should start ripening and we should have a few to supply.For the first time since we started the farm we have planted some watermelons and other types of melons this year. They are growing well, and we hope to have some sweet ones to supply in a couple of months. The watermelons available in the market are usually very watery but not very sweet, mainly because of the large amount of chemical fertiliser used to grow them. Ours are strictly organic, and you will be able to taste the difference.

The best news is that our strawberries have started flowering, and if the weather stays dry and sunny we might have a small amount to send to you by the end of next week. We are keeping an eye on the situation, and will let you know more next week. I read recently that strawberries have the highest anti-oxident content of any fruit and are exceptionally good for you.

Unfortunately, in many places a lot of chemicals and fertilisers are used in growing them. But ours are grown with only animal manures -- no artificial fertilisers, and certainly no fungicides or pesticides. So we can guarantee you will enjoy them and they are completely safe for your kids. I usually eat them straight off the plant, but you probably will want to wash off the sand first.

We have been waiting for really dry weather to come before pruning our grapes. Meanwhile, we are replacing poles that were blown down in the rainy season, and stringing up new support wires. If the dry weather holds we will start pruning next week. After that, we need to wait 100 days before we will get fruit to pick (if we are successful in keeping the birds away). When we do manage to get a crop, it is really a treat since they are truly delicious, as you will see in early January if we are lucky.

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And now for something completely different..

More British humour that may be a little inscrutable to the non-Anglophillic among us. Thanks Olly.

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100's most influential black people

Tanx BK for dis ting.

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Why Christianity is not 24/7

Interesting thought-piece pasted below, taken from here. The title of the blog post (a replication of the article's heading) is a little misleading, as you'll see. It does raise an interesting issue about whether African evangelical Christianity is 'closer' to earlier forms of pre-modern Christian worship (I suspect it probably is):

Cardinal Polycarp Pengo, the archbishop of Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, last week addressed the plenary assembly of the presidents of the bishops' conferences of Europe held in Hungary. As president of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), he spoke about a familiar theme: the explosion of Christianity in Africa in the face of steep decline in Europe.

"In contrast to the situation in Europe, in many parts of Africa, particularly in cities and big towns, on Sundays and feast days the churches are full of worshippers. In many cases, four or five masses are celebrated in churches every Sunday. And practically all those masses are full to the brim," he reported.

Reception of the sacraments is very satisfactory and vocations to the priesthood and religious life are so many that seminaries and formation houses are always full. Many aspiring candidates are asked to wait or to abandon their desire altogether.

Cardinal Pengo wasn't gloating. It is fact. But he also pointed out the dark side of the massive growth: "the phenomenon common in many African societies of Christianity on Sunday morning and the practice of witchcraft and sorcery during the rest of the week."

Excuse me, Your Eminence. Let's get that bit about witchcraft right. There are witches in Africa, of course. But it is not correct to suggest that witchcraft is an accepted way of life among our peoples. Nor is every expression of traditional African spirituality to be dismissed as witchcraft. That was missionary fiction. The witch in Africa is the personification of evil. He or she is the antithesis of good, and is rejected by the community in life and in death.

But the point about 'Christianity on Sunday morning' is valid. Africa may have the big numbers, but the quality of Christian life on a daily basis is wanting. The genocide happened in Christian Rwanda; in Kenya, a majority Christian nation, we butchered and displaced our neighbours over political differences in January.

Some of post-colonial Africa's greedy and callous despots and their henchmen who murdered or tortured dissidents, plotted genocide of 'enemy' tribes, looted their nations, starved entire communities of national resources and entrenched negative ethnicity, were Christian.

Today, the pews are filled every Sunday with corrupt politicians and state officials; employers who pay their workers peanuts; policemen who execute or rape suspects and hire out their guns to thugs; magistrates who set murderers free for a bribe; teachers who give grades in exchange for sex; executives who reserve jobs for their tribesmen; investors who grab public land, pollute the environment and cheat on taxes; medical staff who chat on their mobile phones as patients writhe in pain unattended; journalists who seek cash for stories; butchers who tamper with the scales to con customers; greedy matatu (taxi) crew who raise fares on a whim; spouses who won't forgive.

Why is this? Mainly because Christianity is no magic that turns the convert into a perfect human being upon baptism. We still have our human limitations with us, which is why we are always in need of the mercy of God. But there is more.

Sunday Christianity

First, we received Western Christianity as a Sunday event unrelated to daily life, and we have tended to keep it that way. This is in complete contrast with the traditional African spirituality which we were told to discard as paganism. The African is immersed in the spiritual world 24/7, even in her sleep (through dreams).

When Prof Fr Michael Kirwen, director of the Maryknoll Institute of African Studies in Nairobi, arrived in Kenya as a missionary some 40 years ago, he says he could not convince converts that it was a sin to miss Sunday mass. They told him they did not have to go to church on a particular day to meet God; they were in His-Her presence all the time!

It is Western Christianity that objectified God, recreated Him-Her as an intellectual idea, and put up a boundary between the spiritual and the material, the sacred and the profane. Is this dichotomy evident in Jesus' teaching? No.

Secondly, Pope Benedict XVI has recently said that Christianity is not another moral or ideological system, but a transformative encounter with a person, Jesus Christ. Well, Papa, often in Africa we experience Christianity as an encounter not with Jesus but with a bureaucracy.

Western Christianity is obsessively institutional. Its religious officials are a powerful class of 'spiritual middlemen' whose job seems to be to dole out access to the Divine. They keep pushing God further upward and the ordinary Christians further downward. The result, as one African archbishop put it, is that "God has been represented to Africa as distant and inaccessible to ordinary Christians, as if indifferent to them."

The rise and popularity of evangelical/Pentecostal Christianity in Africa, which emphasizes personal experience of the Divine in every sphere of life, is in part due to its closeness to the traditional African spirituality of God-with-us 24/7.

[Mr. Makori is the Editor of CISA]

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Censorship in Kano..

I received the following email his morning:

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Last week on Monday, a wildly popular Hausa comedian Rabilu Musa (aka d'an Ibro), who often satirizes government and religious authority figures in his films, was arrested, tried in a Censorship Mobile Court in less than an hour, and sentenced to two months in prison without bail and a fine of N20,000. I spoke with his manager two days ago, and he said Ibro was not presented with a warrant for his arrest. Neither was he asked if he had a lawyer or given a chance to defend himself against the charges.

The charges seem to be that he was dancing indecently in the film Ibro Aloko and Ibro Kauranmata. However, both films were released before the advent of the current censorship law and seem to have passed through the Kano State censors board at the time they were released. The other charges are that he did not register his production company with the Kano State Censor's Board. Ibro had registered individually as an actor and has the certificate to prove it. He also claimed that he did not have a production company. The magistrate, Mukhtar Ahmed, found him guilty anyway. Ibro was taken to prison but is currently in the hospital for a pre-existing illness.

Whether or not Ibro actually did break any laws, the speed at which his "trial" took place and the absence of legal representation at such a hastily conducted court case seems to be a clear violation of Nigerian federal law.

NOTE: The Kano State Censor's Board is a separate entity from the National Film and Video Censors Board. All films in Nigeria pass through the NFVCB and are given ratings. The Kano State Censors Board was set up in 2001 following the implementation of shari'a law in the state to censor films being sold in Kano State; however, they appear to only be censoring Hausa language films.

Following a cell phone sex scandal involving a Hausa actress last year, a new director general Abubakar Rabo Abdulkareem began a war on filmmakers, writers, musicians, and other media distributors in the state. Ibro is the third Hausa actor/filmmaker to be arrested and imprisoned in the past year, the first one being the musician/actor/director Adam A. Zango for marketing his music video cd Bahaushiya during a ban on filmmaking in Kano (also for naming his album Bahaushiya, which was seen as "libel" against Hausa women); the second was pioneering Hausa filmmaker Hamisu Lamido Iyan Tama, who was arrested on his return from the Abuja Zuma Film Festival where he had won best Social Film for his film Tsintisya and accused of selling his film in Kano without passing it through the Kano State Censor's board, and finally Ibro.

However, these are just the big names. Apparently there have been over 300 arrests by the Kano State Censor's Board of "smaller" people, including video vendors and those who sell "traditional" medicine (for apparently using "vulgar" language over loudspeakers and having 'pornographic' photos advertising herbal aphrodisiacs.) In the meantime, you can still buy foreign films with explicit sex scenes from street vendors—no problem.

In addition, writer/journalist friends of mine have been receiving threatening text messages and late night calls from blocked numbers. One of my friends tells me that the latest pamphlet distributed in the mosque was railing against the Daily Trust and Freedom Radio. Previous pamphlets have targeted Leadership newspaper and its editor Ibrahim Sheme.

At issue seems to be newspaper coverage of alleged government corruption. During the Eid al-Fitr celebrations, I was in the Fagge neighborhood watching the parade of the emir and other district heads. We nearly didn't go out on the street because there were rumours about the 'yan daba (area boys) planning to cause trouble because they were unhappy about the government spending billions of naira on buying new vehicles for the emir and district heads.

The 'yan daba did, in fact, come out with knives and rioted for a few minutes before the police came. (I was back inside by that point). Apparently similar unrest occurred on the Friday of the Eid celebration at the sarki's palace, where crowds pelted the governor and sang songs from an Ibro film (the song made fun of a certain kind of striped material that apparently the governor is fond of wearing but does not directly mention the governor) to mock him.

Unfortunately, there has been very little national news coverage of what is going on in Kano, especially on Ibro's arrest, and there seems to be little awareness from the Southern Nigerian filmmakers about what is going on in the North, perhaps because of the language gap. Therefore, what seems to be needed the most is to raise national attention in Nigeria to these human rights violations, especially among Nigerian entertainers and government officials. I think probably the only way to get the Kano State government to put a stop to the Censor's Board is to get the Federal Government to put pressure on them. This is a tricky situation as far as raising awareness. Writers and filmmakers have already been accused by shadowy organizations distributing fliers in mosques of being "agents of Jews and the West." So, there needs to be some way of raising awareness within Nigeria without creating an international brouhaha that oversimplifies and exacerbates the situation.

For links to articles about this, see the following:

Editorial in today's Leadership, here.

Other articles about the Ibro case:

Here
Here
Here

this is a link to the coverage from the Kano State government paper. Note the tone.

Other articles about censorship in Kano:

Here
Here

(A piece by the director general of the censorship board - here)

I've gone on google and have gathered the addresses and contact information of some important national organizations/ministries which might be able to put pressure on the Kano State government. If I can access more personal information, I will try to update this note. I have also contacted the Nigeria chapter of Amnesty International. I would welcome any other ideas you may have on how to raise awareness about this.

[end of email]

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Colin Powell dances the yahooze

At the Dis Day bash at the Albert Hall, here. Anyone found it on YouTube yet? I wonder if he knows the song is a celebration of living large on the back of 419?

Thanks AW for emailing the lyrics:

If I hammer,
1st thing na hummer,
1 million dollars,
Elo lo ma je ti n ba se si Naira.

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Boys dey hustle
Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Gbogbo aye
Champagne, Hennessy, Moet
For everybody;
Ewo awon omoge, dem dey shake their body;

[Chorus]

Everybody, enough effizy
Take am easy
It's all about the Benjamins baby.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Nigeria School doc now up on YouTube.

Here. Excellent documentary on life in a Kaduna school..

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Topical humour..

An elderly lady receives an e-mail from the son of a deceased (but wealthy) African general, asking whether he could transfer millions of pounds into her bank account in return for a 20% cut. All the son needs is the sort code and account number. Not realising she is the victim of a Nigerian 419 fraud, she e-mails back the details. A couple of minutes later she receives an e-mail back from the general's son: 'Icesave?!' What is this, some sort of scam?"

Thanks BK for forwarding this one!

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Transformational leadership course - coming up next week at IITA

Excellent, highly recommended etc. course being organised by Ashoka in Ibadan next week, taking place at the divinely tranquil International Institute for Tropical Agriculture campus. Here is the blurb:

Ashoka Innovators for the Public in Nigeria and Freemind Project UK are facilitating an Everyday leadership Training Workshop at International Institute of Tropical Agriculture IITA Ibadan between October 13 and 16, 2008.

The FreeMind Project helps people live and love their lives more fully through the development of emotional intelligence skills which have been identified by Bill Drayton founder of Ashoka as crucial for the achievement of Ashoka’s “Everyone A Changemaker” vision.

Ashoka and the Freemind project would like to invite all other citizen sector stakeholders to join them for this cutting edge capacity building workshop.

For more info, contact Lesley Agams: lagams@ashoka.org
+234 806 925 4232

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Andrew Dosunmu..

Just come across Andrew Dosunmu's excellent portfolio site. He is a leading professional photographer - but seems to be better known in the States, where he is based. Start here.

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Cracking down on African banks..

Excellent article by Paul Collier on the need to crack down on African banks who are complicit in fraudulent capital flight on the part of elites, here. As aid budgets get cut from Western governments, its time to put pressure on African banks to ensure that the money planned for political diversion stays in country and is used to benefit the citizenry..

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Law school failures

Someone contacted me anonymously with the following figures for this year's law school graduates:

Grade Total Percent
First class 4
Upper second 103
Lower second 572
Pass 3004 75.46%
Conditional pass 221 4.53%
Fail 977 20.02%
Total 4881

Fees for 2008 were N220,000 (plus N15,000 to buy the form), whereas they will be N320,000 for this year's intake (plus N15,000 for the form). Meanwhile, out of the four campuses, only Abuja has internet facilities and regular water supply. The three other campuses - in Lagos, Kano and Enugu - have no internet and no regular water supply. More campuses are being planned at present.

Questions should be raised about why 75% of the students achieved only a pass (which is more or less considered a fail mark). Is this because of the poor quality of the intake, or the lowering standards of teaching at the law schools? Is it really acceptable for three out of the four campuses to have no running water and basic sanitation facilities? Shouldn't the problems with infrastructure be sorted out at these campuses before any more campuses are developed?

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The Garden City Literature festival

Okey Ndibe on the recent literature festival in PH, here. It seems like the embattled denizens of the 'garden city' were desperate for some good news and turned out in huge numbers. Good stuff. Meanwhile, corporate/govt sponsorship of meaningful creative programmes that promote the telling and re-telling of Nigerian stories remains dismally low. This means in turn, that re-imagining a future for Nigeria remains under-developed. Without a dream and a meaningful vision for Nigeria (as opposed to 'vision 2020' and all its historical precedents), its hard for any long-term strategic planning at any scale, whether in the public or private sectors, or within civil society. People will remain stuck in the neediness of the present, rather than make sacrifices in planning for the future..

As a young hyper-achieving Nigerian told me in London a few days ago, Nigeria suffers from two failures: a failure of the imagination and a failure to implement..

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Friday, October 03, 2008

Sarah Ladipo Manyika reads from In Dependence..


.. at the Blue Mountain Cafe (lovely place) in East Dulwich, last night.

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Lemn Sissay poem in South Manchester...

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The back of a seat in the cinema..

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Saul's birthday card...

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Foucault on the Strand...

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Sarah Palin on the great history of America..

If you didn't see some of the excruciating CBS footage, click here. Its hard to see why anyone would vote Republican with the possibility of Palin becoming President - should McCain stumble off this mortal coil. In the face of not being able to reference Supreme Court decisions she disagrees with, she waffles on without making any sense like an automaton, the only thread to her threadbare argument being that decisions should be made at a local level - ie not vested under nationwide federal decision making. See here for Lola Adesioye's account in the Guardian (lots of other good links too).

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Ekotaxis - new service for Lagos

A satellite-monitored meter-based taxi service for Lagos, here (holding page) and here. Not sure when its launching however..

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