The Governor of Akwa Ibom finally takes a stand against fake pastors and those behind the child-witch phenomenon in his state, here.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Some light relief - a slice of Mozambique hip-hop. The last 3 minutes are the most interesting!
Saturday, November 29, 2008
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:
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.
Friday, November 28, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
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.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
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.
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..
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
Monday, November 24, 2008
I 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.
EFInA has just published its banking survey of Nigeria. Here are some of the headline findings. The survey can be downloaded here.
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
2. 53% of adult Nigerians are financially excluded (no formal or informal access to finance)
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.
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.
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
6. 53% of Nigerian adults have access to a mobile phone
Sunday, November 23, 2008
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.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Click here if you have problems watching the embedded page.
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.
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…
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.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
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.
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.
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..
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
"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."
Thanks OO for the link.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
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..
Sunday, November 16, 2008
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..
Friday, November 14, 2008
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
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Its sitting in a car park in orbit around the earth, or something.
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.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
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!
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
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..
Great audio-commentary to his photographs of life in the Niger Delta, here. Thanks ES for the link.
Monday, November 10, 2008
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".
Sunday, November 09, 2008
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.
Friday, November 07, 2008
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.
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.
Facebook campaign page is here.
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?
Taken from yesterday's Vanguard, here. Article pasted below:
|To discourage social vices, firm embarks on Reality TV|
|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.
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.
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
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?
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?
Taken from here:
An Open Letter to Barack Obama
BY ALICE WALKER | TheRoot.com
Alice Walker on expectations, responsibilities and a new reality that is almost more than the heart can bear.
Nov. 5, 2008
Dear Brother Obama,
You have no idea, really, of how profound this moment is for us. Us
being the black people of the Southern United States. You think you
know, because you are thoughtful, and you have studied our history. But
seeing you deliver the torch so many others before you carried, year
after year, decade after decade, century after century, only to be
struck down before igniting the flame of justice and of law, is almost
more than the heart can bear. And yet, this observation is not intended
to burden you, for you are of a different time, and, indeed, because of
all the relay runners before you, North America is a different place. It
is really only to say: Well done. We knew, through all the generations,
that you were with us, in us, the best of the spirit of Africa and of
the Americas. Knowing this, that you would actually appear, someday, was
part of our strength. Seeing you take your rightful place, based solely
on your wisdom, stamina and character, is a balm for the weary warriors
of hope, previously only sung about.
I would advise you to remember that you did not create the disaster that
the world is experiencing, and you alone are not responsible for
bringing the world back to balance. A primary responsibility that you do
have, however, is to cultivate happiness in your own life. To make a
schedule that permits sufficient time of rest and play with your
gorgeous wife and lovely daughters. And so on. One gathers that your
family is large. We are used to seeing men in the White House soon
become juiceless and as white-haired as the building; we notice their
wives and children looking strained and stressed. They soon have smiles
so lacking in joy that they remind us of scissors. This is no way to
lead. Nor does your family deserve this fate. One way of thinking about
all this is: It is so bad now that there is no excuse not to relax. From
your happy, relaxed state, you can model real success, which is all that
so many people in the world really want. They may buy endless cars and
houses and furs and gobble up all the attention and space they can
manage, or barely manage, but this is because it is not yet clear to
them that success is truly an inside job. That it is within the reach of
I would further advise you not to take on other people's enemies. Most
damage that others do to us is out of fear, humiliation and pain. Those
feelings occur in all of us, not just in those of us who profess a
certain religious or racial devotion. We must learn actually not to have
enemies, but only confused adversaries who are ourselves in disguise. It
is understood by all that you are commander in chief of the United
States and are sworn to protect our beloved country; this we understand,
completely. However, as my mother used to say, quoting a Bible with
which I often fought, "hate the sin, but love the sinner." There must be
no more crushing of whole communities, no more torture, no more
dehumanizing as a means of ruling a people's spirit. This has already
happened to people of color, poor people, women, children. We see where
this leads, where it has led.
A good model of how to "work with the enemy" internally is presented by
the Dalai Lama, in his endless caretaking of his soul as he confronts
the Chinese government that invaded Tibet. Because, finally, it is the
soul that must be preserved, if one is to remain a credible leader. All
else might be lost; but when the soul dies, the connection to earth, to
peoples, to animals, to rivers, to mountain ranges, purple and majestic,
also dies. And your smile, with which we watch you do gracious battle
with unjust characterizations, distortions and lies, is that expression
of healthy self-worth, spirit and soul, that, kept happy and free and
relaxed, can find an answering smile in all of us, lighting our way, and
brightening the world.
We are the ones we have been waiting for.
In Peace and Joy,
Thursday, November 06, 2008
The muses are calling the scribes to scribble. Diran Adebayo's fascinating piece on Obama, here.
Excellent essay by Judith Butler on Obama and the promise/threat of redemption...
Selected passage pasted below:
To what consequences will this nearly messianic expectation invested in this man lead? In order for this presidency to be successful, it will have to lead to some disappointment, and to survive disappointment: the man will become human, will prove less powerful than we might wish, and politics will cease to be a celebration without ambivalence and caution; indeed, politics will prove to be less of a messianic experience than a venue for robust debate, public criticism, and necessary antagonism. The election of Obama means that the terrain for debate and struggle has shifted, and it is a better terrain, to be sure. But it is not the end of struggle, and we would be very unwise to regard it that way, even provisionally.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
In the Guardian today here.
Meanwhile, Maurice Iwu has faulted the US election, and suggested that America could learn a thing or two from the way Nigeria conducts its elections. Here.
Who was it who denied the existence of parallel universes?
As an antidote to the last post, check this. This post is dedicated to all my (currently) freezing readers in the UK! Dream on people...
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Tales of precipitous greed among the elite and the endless recycling of ne'er-do-wells in Nigeria can add considerable toxicity to one's sense of well-being, resulting in a funk. In which case, its utterly refreshing to hear true stories like the one below. Read and enjoy and big thanks to Felix for writing and sending this:
ISAIAH OSAGIEDE: THE HONEST AND SACRIFICIAL ABUJA TAXI DRIVER
By Felix Abrahams Obi, 4th November,2008
Since yesterday, I have not ceased to tell anyone who cares about Isaiah Osagiede, a cabman I met in Abuja on Sunday evening after a friend’s music album launch at Cedi Plaza Abuja. It was late at night and I needed to go home and rest after a tiring but fun-filled night. The best of Abuja’s poets were on ground to thrill the crowd with avant garde poetry. Eugenia Abu added the big sister support by reading from her book, in a Blink of an Eye’. Comedians loosened tension on stressed faces as they reeled out jobs that caused the ribs to heave and shake with laughter. Soulful music backed up by acoustic guitars made the air salubrious. My poet friend, Storyteller thrilled the crowd with his enchanting baritonic voice that lulls the heart of the hearers to submission. The double-album, “E Go be” and ‘De javu’ is destined to take performance poetry and spoken word to an enviable but not necessarily an elitist height.
From this elated mood, I plummeted to an all time low when I realized my phone was gone after the taxicab dropped me off at my apartment at Ministry of Finance Quarters in Wuye district of the FCT Abuja. It was past 10pm and I didn’t know what to do. Anyway, I used a friend’s phone to call mine and all I heard was, ‘the number you’re calling is not available please try again later’…what an annoying response I got from that ‘MTN Lady”. I tried over and again but no luck, so I decided to head back to Cedi Plaza hoping I’d see the cab. Luckily, he came back to Cedi plaza in a couple of minutes and I asked if he’d seen my phone. I described the make and the guy exclaimed, ‘bros I be see that phone wt one passenger dat I picked from you estate. The guy just dey play with am and come switch am off. I been think say na him get am oh...bros, I must find dat guy because I see am with your phone...”
Isaiah Osagiede was visibly angry and wished he had an idea that it was my phone. He showed me his own two phones and even tried to convince to take one of his so I can be using till I get a new one, but I declined. He showed me relics and mementoes that some passengers had forgotten in his car previously, hoping that someday he’d run into them so they can pick up their stuff. He told me his dad is a retired police officer of the ASP rank, and he had a Police ID that wards of police officers have by default. He promised to do all he can to track the culprit whom he was sure of recognizing. He was certain the suspect lived within my estate since that was where he picked him up earlier. We gave me his two numbers and promised to follow on the lead the following morning…i.e. yesterday!
From his residence in Suleja (Niger State) he went back to Wuye Abuja to track the suspect. Luck was on his side as he spotted the guy at the same spot he’d picked up the previous night. He walked up to the suspect and stealthily frisked him with his eyes…Bingo, he saw the phone; yeah my phone in the hands of the guy! Osagiede then went on to quiz him.
Osagiede: “Bros you sabi me?’
Suspect: “I no sabi you at all”
Osagiede: Na me wey carry you last night from here now…how you go take forget now?”
Suspect: “Ok…I now remember you’
Osagiede: “Wetin carry me come na dis phone wey dey your hand…na my broad get am and him drop am for my car last nit b4 I carry you”
Suspect: “Na my phone be dis….”
Osagiede: “if na you phone, wetin be d number and why you come switch am off…?”
Suspect: “Emmm…..” he stammered.
Osagiede: “You are under arrest”, brandishing his ‘police Id card. “I go carry ou go Force Headquarters for area 11”. And before onlookers could intervene, he whisked Mr. Suspect into his car and headed for Force Headquarters.
……………….. ………………………… …………………………
At the police station, the suspect was quizzed and no sooner, the truth came out like a precious golden nugget.
Suspect: “No be my phone…I been see am for the car seat, and come carry am after I switch am off.”
Police: “Where is the simcard?”
Suspect: “I throw am away for the bush wey dey around the bridge wey Julius Berger dey build near National Stadium’
Police: “If you no go find that simcard, we go detain you for here…”
Suspect: “Oga abeg, I go go find am 4 d bush…”
The Police had seized his ID card and phones and he was later taken to the site for the search by Osagiede. The search went on for hours under the hot and piercing sunrays…he found it later and headed back to the Police station. The sim was inserted into my phone and it was switched on…and it came alive again! At about that time I called Osagiede to check the progress.
Nuggetzman: “Osagiede how far now…?
Osagiede: “Bros we don find the phone but the guy throw way the simcard’
Nuggetzman: “just bring back the phone, and forget about the simcard, I go try do welcome back…”
Osagiede: “No worry oga, police say dey nogo release him if him no find the simcard..so na him we dey search for now…”
………………… . …………………… ……………..
By late afternoon, I put a call through again to Osagiede and he confirmed that the simcard has been found. And to confirm, I picked up my office lined and dialed 08033187876, a number I had used since 2002 and it rang for the first time! I pinched my self to be sure this is for real. But the phone was still at the police station, and Osagiede whose car had developed a fault along the line assured me he’d go and pick it up. He wanted me to avoid any contacts with the police for obvious reasons….to not complicate matters having told them that I am his brother, even though we only met by chance!
After leaving the mechanic, Osagiede took a cab to the Force Headquarters to collect the phone. Since the police wanted to be sure I had given him the authority to pick it up on my behalf, they decided to speak with me on phone.
Police Officer: “Do you know this guy…he said he’s your brother?
Nuggeztman: “Yes, I know him” I replied.
Police Officer: “Should we give him your phone?”
Nuggetzman: “Please I’d appreciate that...”
Police Officer: “Oga, but for things like this, you suppose come to show police some appreciation.”
Nuggetzman: “I know, but I won’t be able to come as I am at work now...”
Police Officer: “I will send a message to you through your broad…”
The Police had wanted to detain the suspect, but this would mean I’d have to make a statement and all, thus complicating the matter. Not sure I was ready for such melodrama; I told Osagiede that the suspect should be released since he’s produced both my phone and the simcard. He conveyed the message to the Police who reluctantly released Mr. Suspect after securing his own bail with some money; worth MTN’s highest recharge card value. The Police would’ve had more than this had I showed up at their station to show ‘appreciation’.Osagiede Isaiah and I have become friends. Having lived in Benin City couple of years back, we can now greet and exchange banters with each other in Bini language.There are still many Nigerians in the ilk of Isaiah Osagiede…we only need to tell the world more about them. And anyone can call or text Osagiede on 08034622074 to honor him for his heroic deeds!
The massive land reclamation project known as Eko Atlantic City goes public, here. The MD of the development, David Frame, describes the city (which will be one and half times bigger than Victoria Island) as the 'Dubai of Africa'.
He might want to put a raincheck on this comparison in future statements, given that the Dubai property boom has now collapsed.
Before we all get too excited, the Obama victory today is not going to change the world configuration. Of course, it will be time for celebration for all centre/centre-left types around the world, just as whenever 'one-of-us' is elected anywhere on the planet we must raise a glass.
However, what will really change?
America's key foreign policy positions, on Israel, the Middle East etc. will not change any time soon. The US will still dash Israel billions of dollars for military hardware each year to maintain the uneasy status quo - and not question its nuclear stockpile. Obama has shown no particular enthusiasm for Africa or African trade - I doubt if the US government will now pause to question the massive agricultural subsidy to American farmers which would give the continent a much-needed boost. America's desperate economic situation will not be remedied. Small town America is dying fast, with no jobs, no credit, no hope and now, no Starbucks. What can anyone do about this? Neither candidate has said anything particularly meaningful about how to create American jobs, beyond vague blocking gestures against outsourcing.
A more open, dialogic approach to international relations will certainly win back some favour for America, whose standing in the world could not be lower right now. Certainly, it should spell positive news for the UK and enable a more engaging relationship with Europe. Gordon Brown (and his successor) would face less of a choice between 'either Europe or America'.
A more intelligent form of politics will be welcome: instead of the oppositional platitudes of the 'war on terror' and the 'axis of evil' the numbskull Dubya bleated about endlessly. Lord knows that a Bobby Kennedy style of articulate debate is needed in dumbsville US politics and even dumberville American media (with its too-few notable exceptions).
A black man as President of the US is the most significant aspect beyond American shores, symbolically disrupting the idea of a global racial ceiling, just as Lewis Hamilton's win has disrupted the white world of Formula 1. At last, Fela's dream of a 'Black President' has been achieved. However, even in this case, the symbolic ripple-effect might be overstated - did feminist critique of patriarchy receive a boost when Thatcher was elected Prime Minister all those years ago? Its absurd to talk of Obama ushering in a post-racial future for America, when the US is utterly beset by the racial divide from top to bottom. Or, is the reality depicted in The Wire an illusion?
Obama's victory over the clueless and outmoded Republicans will be sweet. But lets not get ahead of ourselves and think that a new world begins from tomorrow..
Oscar-nominated actor Sophie Okonedo is to narrate a hard-hitting Dispatches programme for Channel 4 about children in Nigeria who are tortured for being witches.
Channel 4 hopes the film, Saving Africa's Witch Children, will have as much impact as last year's Dispatches documentary, China's Stolen Children.
The programme, which is due to air on Wednesday November 12, will look at the phenomenon of children who are blamed for catastrophes, death and famine and branded witches in some of the poorest parts of Nigeria.
Saving Africa's Witch Children follows Briton Gary Foxcroft, who has devoted his life to raising money to help the children and who works with Nigerian Sam Itauma, who runs a shelter for children accused of witchcraft.
The documentary will feature shocking stories of torture inflicted on children, including a 13-year-old who was tied up with chicken wire and starved and beaten for two weeks, and a 14-year-old girl who was burned with acid before her mother attempted to bury her alive.
One 17-year-old was left brain-damaged after having a three-inch nail driven into her skull.
The film will feature interviews with preachers from the churches that brand children witches or wizards and charge their parents to "exorcise" the spirits.
One preacher, who calls himself "The Bishop", told the programme that he had killed 110 people.
Cameras filmed him as he administered a mixture of pure alcohol, a substance known as "African mercury" and his own blood to one child accused of witchcraft.
The film, a Red Rebel Films and Southern Star Factual co-production, was produced and directed by Mags Gavan and Joost Van der Valk and executive produced by Alice Keens-Soper. It was ordered by the Channel 4 commissioning editor for religion, Aaqil Ahmed.
Okonedo, who was nominated for an Oscar for the movie Hotel Rwanda, has a Nigerian father.
Monday, November 03, 2008
One of my bessie mates has started a blog, here. Its about bloody time too - his thoughtful musings on the world should have been public domain long ago. Long may the keyboard rattle, Big Buddha!
Click here if you've not checked it before. Excellent contemporary African photography, fashion and editorial.
Sunday, November 02, 2008
Interesting series of discussions between Wole Soyinka and Henry Louis Gates here.
I'm often at a loss to understand why people decide to have children. I suppose for many people - perhaps even the global majority - its not a choice. Its something that simply happens, just like the waves that ripple onto the shore. Perhaps this automatic approach is the more understandable - women whose hormones condition large swathes of their reality, men who follow their desires and consider after the fact.
The conscious decision to have children is more difficult to understand. Clearly, the human species is going to be in for a torrid time in the next two decades. Resource and climate crises will only compound, whatever response international financial systems make to the immediate present. Population is spiraling out of control in many emerging economies, such as India and Nigeria. There will be not enough resources or jobs for the multitudes to come. There will be untold violence, perhaps as bad as the twentieth century's worst, perhaps as bad as the DRC right now. I don't see how there could be more peace, given the initial conditions of the present.
Why then, when one considers the issues at hand, would one want to add to the burden we humans face by bringing yet another child into the world? I simply don't understand it, as a conscious decision one might make. If one has the desire to be a parent, then why not simply adopt one or two or three of the hundreds of thousands of unwanted unloved children? Anything else strikes me as vanity.
Another strange phenomenon: that people with children often consider themselves to have something more significant at work in their lives than those without. The childless are subconsciously considered to be lesser beings, somehow less involved in the affairs of the world. Why think like this? One can be at work in the world, engaging to the full extent of one's powers in trying to leave the place one drop better, without reproduction. There is a residual smugness that surrounds many family set-ups, as if society is a better place for the children round about to be in existence. Such folly!
Right now, the fewer humans on the planet, the better. Why then are we headlong in the opposite direction?