Sunday, August 29, 2010
Kole Omotoso's Just Before Dawn gets off to a bad start, with what appears to be a broken link between missing sections of the book in the early chapters. It is also (the Spectrum edition I have) a low quality book: the cover design is dreadful and the paper is so thin you can see the ink on the reverse of each page. Still, once you get going, it is an absolutely magnificent read, bringing to vivid life the complexities of colonial and post-Independence Nigeria. He does this by fictionalising real events with a deft ear for dialogue and then providing bridging narrative sections. This passage, from the chapter Their Field of Play, is typical:
This stone is now in the grounds of the Calabar museum, but was originally sited at Ikom to the north. The Ikom Monoliths are each at least 2,000 years old if not much older. They are Nigeria's Stonehenge and show evidence of a writing tradition in West Africa from the time of Socrates and Aristotle.
Sculpture overlooking the Cross River, Calabar, Dec 2006, originally uploaded by nobodaddy69.
Just dug up these pictures from nearly four years ago during a trip to Calabar. I had posted some of them at the time, but its nice to look at them again.
The price seemed reasonable, location
Indifferent. The landlady swore she lived
Off premises. Nothing remained
But self-confession. "Madam," I warned,
"I hate a wasted journey—I am African."
Silence. Silenced transmission of
Pressurized good-breeding. Voice, when it came,
Lipstick coated, long gold rolled
Cigarette-holder pipped. Caught I was foully.
"HOW DARK?" . . . I had not misheard . . . "ARE YOU LIGHT
OR VERY DARK?" Button B, Button A.* Stench
Of rancid breath of public hide-and-speak.
Red booth. Red pillar box. Red double-tiered
Omnibus squelching tar. It was real! Shamed
By ill-mannered silence, surrender
Pushed dumbfounded to beg simplification.
Considerate she was, varying the emphasis--
"ARE YOU DARK? OR VERY LIGHT?" Revelation came.
"You mean--like plain or milk chocolate?"
Her assent was clinical, crushing in its light
Impersonality. Rapidly, wave-length adjusted,
I chose. "West African sepia"--and as afterthought,
"Down in my passport." Silence for spectroscopic
Flight of fancy, till truthfulness clanged her accent
Hard on the mouthpiece. "WHAT'S THAT?" conceding
"DON'T KNOW WHAT THAT IS." "Like brunette."
"THAT'S DARK, ISN'T IT?" "Not altogether.
Facially, I am brunette, but, madam, you should see
The rest of me. Palm of my hand, soles of my feet
Are a peroxide blond. Friction, caused--
Foolishly, madam--by sitting down, has turned
My bottom raven black--One moment, madam!"--sensing
Her receiver rearing on the thunderclap
About my ears--"Madam," I pleaded, "wouldn't you rather
See for yourself?"
Saturday, August 28, 2010
Excellent article by Greg Mills here. I think he touches on the key issue but doesn't develop it sufficiently - a weak sense of national identity in many African countries is at the bottom of the issue. The provenance of this weak identity comes directly from late colonial period divide and rule policies.
Friday, August 27, 2010
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Excellent resource page here. It includes an early and the latest version of the bill.
Eno's Story, a redemptive tale of a young child accused of being a witch, will shortly be released by Cassava Republic.
With the array of submarine cables commissioned/in planning into Nigeria/West Africa, the focus shifts to the lack of internal bandwidth capacity. I'm told that NITEL still has the most extensive network. However, there is no market incentive for this network to be utilised, maintained and developed as it should. See here.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Farin Ruwa in Nasarawa State is one of the highest waterfalls on the continent, with a drop of more than 150 metres (Victoria Falls' drop is a mere 108 metres). And yet, according to this article, there has been just over 1,000 visitors since 1999. The people I know who have been there all say its a stunning experience. The falls are only three hours drive from Abuja. Plans to develop tourism to the site and also for a hydro-electric power project have yet to be implemented. A trip during this damina season is in order methinks.
There are some knowns and some unknowns on the list. I wonder what being in the Hall of Fame actually consists of. Is NLNG going to build a museum somewhere with exhibits on those selected - or is it just the usual "Gala night" affair?
Monday, August 23, 2010
Scroll down to the 6th paragraph to find out what happened to the man Port Harcourt is named after. Thanks JB for the link.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Lovely photos of Borgu in 2005 from UK-based Bukkie 73 Photography. Click on Enter then on Exhibitions bottom right to see the pictures.
Not quite sure who is behind this, but it looks adventurous!
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Advert for the proposed new state for the Nupe people, originally uploaded by nobodaddy69.
"Edu" means river in the Nupe language.
An interesting proposition by Ainehi Edoro on a possible line of flight from the continuity/discontinuity and authenticity/inauthenticity poles in rethinking African history/futures/contemporainety. Here.
The "First Lady" institution in Nigeria as a form of gender-mainstreaming? This author thinks not?
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Memo from Lord Harcourt to Lord Lugard, Zungeru Cemetery, originally uploaded by nobodaddy69.
Lord Lewis Viscount Harcourt was the British Secretary of State for the Colonies (and therefore head of the Colonial Office). He is the origin of "Port Harcourt". I once saw a doctor in London who was his grand nephew. Someone else once told me Lord Harcourt was a paedophile, but who knows?
There was a visitor's centre planned at the site of Zik's birthplace, but the project was abandoned over a decade ago. What is left is a modern ruin. Zik's grave in Onitsha has suffered the same fate - an abandoned white elephant project and another modern ruin. Is this how we should remember past heroes?
The sand is used to make concrete building blocks.
Sand collectors ride out in their canoes to collect sand from the riverbed. This involves diving underwater with a bucket...
I kept thinking I was in Thailand or China. In fact, the rice seed they use - Weta - has been introduced from India.
They earn 500 naira for a full day of back breaking work threshing rice stalks.
Thursday, August 05, 2010
The website for the official Nigeria @ 50 celebration book, "New Windows of opportunities", published by Fidelis Anosike, here.
Wednesday, August 04, 2010
A gracious review of The Thing Around Your Neck on this excellent Ghanaian literary blog. Kinna comments,
The Light Up Nigeria Twitter feed published a series of compelling tweets this morning. I've pasted them all below, more or less in the order they appeared. Read and absorb the complexity of the mess:
· 1881: year Electricity was first generated in England. 15 yrs before Nigeria
· 1896 The year electricity was first generated in Nigeria. Place was Ijora, in Lagos.
· 60KW - Nigeria's generation capacity in 1896. :)
· Kainji Dam: The oldest, still functional power plant in Nigeria, is about 40 years old.
· 48% - percentage of Nigerians who have NO source of power, 114 years after we first generated power in Nigeria....
· 40%: percentage of the population served by the National grid
· 60%: The average percentage of time when the 40% served by the grid don't have power.
· Kainji Dam: What it was designed produce 760MW, What it is producing now: 400MW. Why? Faulty parts
· 3: Number of Hydro Plants in Nigeria. 1939: Amount of power in MW, they are supposed to generate. 1000: What they generate
· 11: Number of Thermal Plants in NG. 5976: Amount of power in MW, they are supposed to generate. 2589: What they generate
· There are 16 ongoing power generation projects designed to generate 12,500MW for the national grid
· If the projects were completed today, Nigeria would have 20,000MW capacity in generation. BUT....
· BUT... The National transmission grid is only designed to carry 4,800MW. So 75% of that capacity will useless...
· But it also gets WORSE. Some of the electricity generated is "lost" in transmission. (Transmission Loss)
· Transmission losses usually should not exceed 7%. This means that if 100MW is generated, at least 93MW should get to u!
· The Transmission losses on the Nigerian grid is 35%!!!!! So if 100MW is generated only 65MW gets to you!!
· Please find a diagram of the NG transmission system attached. Notice the TX losses?? http://yfrog.com/114n5g
· Transmission losses in Nigeria are the highest in the world. more than 3 times what is normal.
· Even if we generate 2000GW, our grid will only be able to carry 4800 MW and 1,600MW of that will be WASTED
· So why does the Nigerian transmission grid have such a high loss?? Sabotage! Illegal Connections, Poor Equipment
· There were 12 cases of sabotage of the transmission grid in Nigeria in 2008 alone. (TCN)
· N1m. The amount in Naira paid to Ajibode Community as reward 4 assistance in apprehension of two powerline vandals in 08.
· 30 years: The average age of the equipment on the National grid. Older than most of you!!
· To illustrate the capacity issues on the National grid consider the following example:
· River State spends $161m to generate 275MW. Capacity of Grid into Rivers 100MW. 175MW: what RSG paid 4 they don't get
· Rivers State is only getting 40% benefit of their own investment because of grid limitations. :)
· Over 90 transmission projects are ongoing, to add an additional 9,000MW to the capacity of the grid
· Even if all 90 transmission projects are completed, There will still be a shortfall of 10,000MW in capacity. God dey.
· But even if we complete all these projects... the biggest question is HOW WILL THEY BE MAINTAINED?
· For more information on the status of power generation projects: http://bit.ly/cs056D Jan 2010, but still current.
· EFCC survey (published 2010), PHCN ranked least performing & least honest, less than political parties or the police!
· According to the same survey, 82% of the businesses surveyed admit they have bribed PHCN for "better treatment"
· If we are bribing PHCN, will they not be corrupt?
· N7/KWh - How much we buy power in Nigeria. N18/KWh - About how much it costs to generate
· N11/KWh - About how much of your electricity bill Govt. pays for you (subsidy). *shrug*
· How much of our PHCN bills do we really pay? Lets do a small check. :)
· 950m - how much in naira Consumers in the Diobu Business Unit in PH Rivers State alone owed PHCN as at March 2010
· 98bn - Amount in naira owed to PHCN by FGN MDA as at April 2009.
· 70bn - Amount owed in debt to PHCN due to unsettled bills as march 2010 - Minister of State for power.
· So if the customers and the govt. are owing PHCN, how do the staff get paid?
· If you are not getting paid or paid well, are you more likely to collect bribes from saboteurs?
· Now lets talk about gas. Gas is the source of fuel for 40% of all power generated in Nigeria.
· Nigeria produces 4.2bcfd of gas every year. 55% of that is flared (burnt up)
· The amount of gas flared in Nigeria creates about 70 million metric tons of CO2 emissions per year. BIG pollution
· Imagine stacking up $2.5bn in $100 notes and burning them up in a huge inferno? That’s what we do when we flare gas!
· The amount of gas we flare can provide electricity for ALL OF Sub-Saharan Africa
· But that is not all. The amount of gas we flare is equivalent to $2.5 BILLION every year!!
· The state of Florida has 55,460MW generating capacity. About 10 times that of Nigeria
· Texas can generate 104,966MW of electricity - beat that with a stick. :D