Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My close encounter with 'That One'

I met BO today. I had been sitting listening in an audience to one of Chicago’s finest economists argue with Joe the plumber about the American economy and its fundamentals. The debate was taking place in one of the rooms of the City Hall. Sonya and I sat together somewhere near the back of the room, ready to make our escape as soon as the debate ended, before the doors became jam packed. I turned and realised that sitting to my right was BO, the Illinois senator who had been running for POTUS and who had actually won, I was shocked that anyone could concentrate on J. the plumber's intellectually shallow arguments that Prof Segae was patiently trying to dispute when the president-elect was sitting in the same room. Or maybe they just hadn’t noticed yet. Behind our row sat a couple of men in loud Hawaii Shirts- they were not your typical layabouts, but they did not strike me as people attending this event for the intellectual stimulus. Immediately I guessed, they were Barack’s security detail - so obviously did they stick out.

When the debate started to wind down, Barack left the hall and I immediately followed. There was no way on earth I was going to let him go and not have shaken his hands and told him what a profound influence he was having on my life. He was really friendly and when I told him that Sonya and I were on a working visit here (she had joined me in the entrance hall), he asked if I knew Chicago. I said no, this is my first visit here. This hall is the only place I know here. Actually, I was planning to do a bit of sightseeing after the opening address. I ignored Sonya's look of astonishment - we were both so jetlagged that we had planned to head off to bed after the opening address. She waved goodbye and headed to the close-by four seasons hotel where we were lodged.

Could you recommend any particular spots for sightseeing? I asked Barack. He looked at me and said, well the History Museum - really teaches a lot Chicago’s history. You know what, I'm headed downtown now, why don't you come along and I'll show you around. I was so awe-struck as I gladly (whaddya expect!!!) accepted the offer. We started to walk off getting into conversation about mundane things. At the next traffic light, he hurriedly turned right into the huge mass of people - I had to almost run to keep up. Why did I get the feeling he was trying to shake off his bodyguards? Well probably because that’s exactly what he was trying to do. After we had turned a few corners, the crowd thinned out, and there was no Barack bodyguard around - at least none recognisable as such to me. He had relaxed visibly and took deliberate slow steps - well as slow as you can go when you have such long legs. I still had to go at double my normal pace to keep up.

We entered the gates into the grounds of the museum, you could see the instant recognition, but people gave him his space still. Amazing. As we went from room to room, he pointed out various exhibits to me and filled me up a bit on the history of the city. After about an hour, we stopped at the cafe, to get a small snack. I was amused to see that they had apple strudel on offer; I decided to see what a Chicago strudel tasted like. B just had a soymilk coffee. It felt so unbelievable to me to be sitting here with Barack Obama, having a coffee and talking about God and the world - surely, only in America.

When we left the small snack bar, after him giving the waitress, who had looked at us with intense curiosity, an autograph in addition to a fat tip, we got on the escalator, taking us to the lower levels of the building. Gentleman that he is, he let me get on first. I was surprised that he got on directly behind me though. I leaned back into him, enjoying the feeling - trying not to think what the heck was going on. I wasn’t going to look a gift horse in the eye - how many other women get a chance to lean on Barack Obama? As I savoured the safe feeling of a strong man’s chest, I was brought jarringly back to earth by a voice, standing directly beside me, asking BO about how he felt being constantly described as African-American, when in fact he was biracial.

I turned slightly, and saw her then - a pretty, obviously biracial woman with hazel eyes, and light brown spring curls held back by an Alice-band. At least she’d be pretty if she lost that maniacal racial activist fervour in her eyes. She explained she was from South Africa in this lovely lilting voice and that even during apartheid, there was a separate racial category, just for people like her. I stood there thinking, how fucked up some people are. We had gotten to the bottom of the elevator, and I stood and listened as Barack explained to her why we shouldn’t worry about the boxes people try to put us in since they were never accurate and could never really define a person, his experiences and world view with any sort of accuracy.

We said byes and were about heading into the next exhibition room, when a PA announcement about an immediate evacuation due to a bomb scare came through. Oh shit, this was going to make the news. I could already see the breaking news headlines: ‘BO out with a strange woman at the Chicago History museum during a bomb scare’. I mentally prepared myself for the barrage.

Sure enough, as we got into the entrance hall of the building, there were on the left TV cameras, on the right, yep, the evaded bodyguards, but now they had their suits on. Sitting in the middle, as though presiding over the occasion was Michelle Obama as nicely coiffured as ever, flanked by Sasha and Malia on both sides. BO refused to answer any questions and I was about to follow suit. Until that is, the dreaded question came flying through the mike, straight at me. What is your name and are you mister Obama’s lover. I stopped and ignoring the first part of the question said – don’t be ridiculous, everyone knows how deeply in love Barack and his wife are and how happy they are together. I then turned to Michelle and asked her if I was wrong - she gave me a hi5 and said of course you are right sweetie. Don’t mind the press guys always looking for a piece of a juicy story.

The press guys were disappointed especially when they were whisked many meters from the candidate and his family by the security operatives. Since the bomb scare was called off and people immediately allowed back in, I realised it probably had been a ploy to get us out of the museum. Meanwhile, little Sasha had walked up to Barack while this was going on and demanded to see her little sibling again. Barack bent towards her and showed her his flag pin. I thought that was quite odd.

I walked up to Michelle and told her how much of an admirer of hers I was. She smiled and we engaged in small talk. Then Barack said it was time to go he said a quick goodbye, nice meeting you to me. He then headed outside, presumably for the waiting armoured black SUV that I had seen through the windows as we entered the entrance hall. I turned to Michelle to say goodbye and was washed in her icy gaze. She turned to one of their staff - "find out how much and compensate her". She then walked off to join her family without saying a word to me! That hi5 had just been for show - she didn't believe there was nothing between Barack and I!!!!
Then I woke up.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

A COMMON destiny!

Today the 70th anniversary of the Kristalnacht antisemitic riots was marked in Germany. Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass, is often regarded as the starting point of the Holocaust. For Anglican congregations, today was Rememberance Sunday - which is a day of rememberance for all those who have given their lives in the pursuit of peace and freedom. One part of the pastor's sermon in Church today got me thinking about how, 60 years, the amount of time that has elapsed since the end of WWII wasn't such a long period of time if things are put into perspective. Such conflicts in places like Northern Ireland, the Balkans and even the Hutsi-Tutsi war have gone/went on for so much longer. Seeing how far Western Europe has gone in putting behind the hatred and enimty of the war and in uniting and forging a common destiny is a great lesson, especially for Africa. Below are a few outstanding examples of how far people on different sides of World war II have come in terms of moving on in the last 60 years.

The Dresden Frauenkirche(The Church of our lady), destroyed during the (deliberately? some might controversially argue) bombing of Dresden (which was one of the most beautiful Baroque cities in Europe) by the US and British troops just a few weeks before the end of the war, as well as the Coventry cathedral, destroyed by German bombers during the same war were both kept for years as war memorials. The Dresden Frauenkirche was reconstructed and rededicated in 2005, having been rebuilt over a period of 13 years with donations from severaly sources, including support from the city of Coventry. The new cross on top of the dome of the cathedral was constructed by Alan Smith, a British goldsmith from London whose father, Frank, was a member of one of the aircrews who took part in the bombing of Dresden.

Volgograd was almost completely destroyed during WWII. The Battle of Volgograd/Stalingrad was the bloodiest battle in human history, with combined casualties estimated to be above 1.5 million. I visited war gravesite and memorial in Volgograd(Stalingrad), Russia sometime in early 2001. Some groups in Germany were financing the excavation of the mass graves, and identification of soldiers bodies, both Russian and German. The names of the victims identified so far are engraved into a wall, with the graves of Russian soldiers on one side of the road, and those of German soldiers on the other side.

It always amazes me anytime I travel in Alsace, the region in France of which Strasbourg, where the council of Europe has its seat, is the capital city. Alsace is a region that lies between Germanz and France and which has several times in its history been transferred back and forth between the two countries. In fact, during the last war, members of the same family were drafted to fight on different sides. Yet, today, the people of Alsace, France and Germany have moved on. Alsacians can now speak their language freely and celebrate their culture openly. One can move freely between both countries, live in France and work in Germany and vice-versa. You can do your shopping across the border in the same currency, without any stress or fear (Of course once you cross the border, even though there are rarely any checks, you instinctively sense you are in a different country due to the difference in architecture and landscape).

These are a few examples of how far these peoples have come in the 6o years since the war ended. How I wished many African countries would take a cue. A peculiarity of African wars is that most of the conflicts in Africa are tribal/ethnic conflicts that have spanned centuries - before the Europeans arrived and complicated the problems by forcing them into one country, Hutsis and Tutsis were killing each other, etc. Wars within a country only destroy the common future for both the agressor and the aggrieved. The current conflict in Congo has very few winners, perhaps 0,001% of the population.

Even in Nigeria where thére is currently no war going on, tribalism has continued to pull us down. This disease that makes the fact of a person being 'my brother' the single most important fact in political appointments or in the prosecution of offences is pulling us back as a country. There is a subconcious tribal war going on in that country. Its time to realise that as long as Nigeria remains one country, we share a common destiny. To paraphrase that biblical admonishment to captive Jews in a foreign land 'pray for the peace of the land you are in, for in its peace, you will find your peace'. Without peace for the Igbo, the Yoruba cannot have peace in the same country. As long as some people in the North continue in ignorance to refuse vaccination for their children against polio, all of our children will continue to be at risk of polio. As long as progress and justice bypasses the Niger Delta, true economic progress cannot come to the whole country. Our destinies and futures are shared. We need to let that fact permeate our minds and hearts.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Yes we can!!!

Overwhelmed and filled with gratitude to be alive in these extraordinary times, I am jogged out of my unplanned but extended hiatus from Blogville by the awesomeness of the history-making election of Barack Hussein Obama as the next president of the United States of America.

While I am not American, I believe one does not need to be American to realise that we are at a "defining moment in history" to quote the US President-Elect. Happy disbelief and enormous joy apart, my main emotions today have been melancholy and deep reflection.

What Barack Obama has achieved is undeniable proof that with determination, hard work and God on your side, nothing, absolutely nothing is impossible for he who believes. Yes we can.
"Yes we can" has become more than a campaign slogan, it has become a mantra that will be chanted by generations to come, the symbol of a new era.

As a Nigerian, I feel the twin emotions of despair at the bleakness of the situation of my beloved nation, and hope that "Yes we can", yes we can turn that nation around. Yes we can, destroy the ills of corruption, injustice and lack of integrity that plague our public space. Yes we can, shatter the chains of tribalism that have kept our nation enslaved. Yes we can create a better tomorrow for future generations. The greatest thing that we can gain from this historic occurence as a nation is an awakening to the possibilities that abound to us as a people if we pick up the mantle of change and determine not only to say, but to act in the knowledge that yes we can begin a new day.

As a mother to be, I am reassured that with the God's help, I can confidently leave behind, on this historic day, any insecurities and fears about future difficulties that my unborn child might face as a person of colour growing up in a predominantly Caucasian society, my fears about any limitations or barriers that will be placed in the way just by due to skin colour. "For nothing is impossible to him that believeth". If God decrees a thing, no one can stop it. Yes we can.

For me personally, this is a watershed moment - a moment that internally frees me to go for what I believe. Not to worry about whether my decision to take a leap into the unknown, to maybe leave a great job to follow the path that is dear to my heart, yet as fully clear as it is. To follow my heart down a path that I believe to be the right one for me, as I silently chant “yes we can”.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


I originally drafted this post on 9/6/2006 but never posted it.

I've just watched a one hour video with excerpts of interviews from Maaman Vatsa's widow and sons. Its just so sad. One of the things that make my blood boil is our denial as a people. My father and I had a heated argument about contemporary Nigerian culture a few weeks ago. According to him, one has to be careful, because western values are eroding our society, and lie at the root of our problems as a nation. I just could not hear that calmly. Western people have public structures in place, universal education, enough food, regular electricity and clean water for all their people. I don't care what they are doing wrong, I'd like to have a part in it!

We in Nigeria on the other hand are God-fearing - the number of Public places of worship is unbelievable- yet we cannot provide education, portable water, constant electricity,etc, etc, yet we have the audacity to sit on a moral high horse about other people's values. We have such a huge LOG in our eyes, so big that we are 3/4 blind, yet we claim to see the gnat in other people's eyes.

We claim to be godly, but obviously we do not adhere to the saying "cleanliness is next to godliness", as the amount of rubbish on our roads can attest to. We are such egoists that caring for number one is uppermost in our minds. We get slighted at the slightest hint of disrespect. "Don't you know I'm so and so". People are content to live in their mansions surrounded by stark suffering. We wallow in our ability to throw crumbs under the table to our fellow Nigerians. We claim that we are decent and regularly express outrage at the morals of westerners, yet anyone who has ever been to female halls of residence at a Nigerian University knows that our exclamations are a case of pot calling the kettle black. At least, the Europeans mostly do it for love, or desire. What do you say about a nation of people who worship the god of their bellies. What about using every means possible to extort money from fellow human beings. We are not the poorest nation on earth so we cannot claim that we are the way we are because we are poor. And a lot of our people are well educated, but the education seems only to make them worse.

Many times I despair for our nation. Every nation has its ups and downs, but how do you retrive a people whose morals and ideals have been corroded away by selfishness and greed? Is there still a chance to pull us back from the edge of the precipice or have we already fallen over?

Nobody can convince me this was how our cultures were. Just a little glimpse back into my relationship with people who have since passed impresses upon my mind that it was not always this way.
We have become a people with no ability to "cut our coat according to our cloth" not as individuals, not as a nation. We are a nation of suffering people, yet at the slightest opportunity, we carry out orgies of spending, regardless of where we get the money from.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


- You come in, they continue staring at the tv screen or sometimes even at you, without saying a word. "D, how are you", you ask? He smiles back, answers "fine" if you are lucky, and promptly ignores you, absorbed in whatever it was he was doing before you came in.

- Their uncle comes in, and says hi to the adults but "overlooks" N and Y. He ignores them because he is sick of having to always greet them first, old enough to be their father as he is.

D is a 10 year old son of Nigerian parents, born and bred in the U.k.

N and Y are Austrian, in their early teens.

One thing I cannot stand is bad manners.

Monday, April 21, 2008

A short story

I crept up the stairs, sure that the boys were too absorbed with playing football with the neigbourhood kids to notice that I was absent. They, just like I was about to, were taking full advantage of having been left unsupervised by our usually over vigilant parents. We were not allowed to mix too freely with the neighbours or play with the kids on the street; running wild, my mother called it.

Right now, I was intent on something more important than playing football. I crept up to the door, and saw that they had left the key in the lock. Wow, my great chance to explore the content of this mysterious room was finally here. I entered, shutting the door behind me in an attempt to fool anyone coming up the stairs into thinking that the room was empty. I was not worried about my parents returning home too early, the room overlooked the street below and I would be able to hear the pii pii of the 504 horn calling us to open the gates and let them in.
There were so many interesting files and folders to go through, and I got more absorbed by the minute. When I glanced up at the clock and saw that I had been at it for about 15 minutes, I decided to go through only one more file before leaving. I reached for the bottom file, making sure to remember its exact position so as to be able to replace just exactly as it was.
I opened the file and started to peruse its content. It contained a tax declaration for my parents for the year of our lord 1982. When I got to the part where the children of the claimants were to be listed, I froze and felt cold all over from what I read. “Taiwo Ajala May 12 1971; Kehinde Ajala May 12 1971. Tinuke Ajala September 1974………”

I frantically placed the sheet aside in order to be able to look through the other contents of the folder. I forgot about putting the sheets aside in the right order. I found the birth certificates of all the kids listed in the folder and some other documents that I was too agitated to read. I replaced the papers back in the folder and put the folder back on top of the file. “No, it should be at the bottom”, I thought to myself as I turned away from the door to replace it at the bottom of the pile and to arrange the pile neatly.
I headed for our room, climbed up to my oasis, the top bunk of the double-decker bed that I shared with Tope. I lay down with my thoughts, too upset to think rationally. My poor, poor parents. What a harrowing experience they had been through. I started to think how I could make it up to them; how I could show them that I cared. No wonder they were so careful with us and very concerned that we not run wild. I decided that I would talk to my father when my parents returned home. I would hug my mother. I was puzzled as to why I had no recollection, but decided that I was probably too young to remember.

My parents returned home three hours later. Immediately my mother changed and went downstairs to the kitchen, I knocked on the door of my parent’s room. When I heard the “come in” in my father’s deep voice, my heart leapt into my mouth, I still didn’t know what I was going to say.

“Daddy, I would like to come clean with you”, I started. “I went into your study while you were away and I looked through some folders. I’m sorry about Taiye and Kehinde. What happened to them? Did they die? It must be really be painful for you and mummy”.

“Don’t worry, nobody died”, my father reassured me. “The forms you saw were only a template, don’t worry”.

"But....", I started to say.

“And by the way, what were you doing snooping in my study, that’s very deceitful and I am very ashamed of you”.

“I’m sorry sir”, I said, hanging my head.

“Go to your room right now”, he said, displaying none of the fierce annoyance that I had come to expect from my father when he was dealing with any of our misdeed. He even had a sort of amused look on his face.

It took me several years to realize that Taiwo and Kehinde Ajala, were my parents way of defrauding the old Western State and claiming extra benefits.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

You can't cheat an honest man

I have gotten several e-mails in the last few weeks informing me of the fact that I had won in a lottery where the winners were selected randomly. The mails then went on to detail a list of personal information which needed to be sent before I couldreceived payment of said win. These emails could have fooled only very naïve, child-like people, or very greedy people, blinded to the very obvious by a desire to get something for nothing, or much for peanuts. How can you have won in a lottery that you didn't enter for? And the official from the lottery board has only a yahoo or hotmail email address. Hellooo???

That is why I am very irritated at the following report on the BBC website about the arrest of lottery scam suspects.

My irritation stems from the ever-present debate when the issue of scams comes up. Is it only the scammer that should be punished? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying its right to cheat anyone out of his or her money, and I believe that scammers must be punished, but like Mickey says in Hustle “you can’t cheat an honest man”.

I am never taken in by freebies, it is a natural law that you never get something for nothing and anyone who wants to because of their greed, deserves whatever follows. I am sorry for the naive people who were taken in, but it seems they must have a bit of intrinsic greed.

Maybe I'm just being to hard on the poor stupid people.....

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Thought provoking

The images above are from a blog titled The Ongoing Adventures of ASBO Jesus which I came accross a couple of months ago. While I don't always agree with his positions, I am glad for the thoughts they provoke.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Asa in Concert

Someone I know posted a video of "Fire on the Mountain", the widely aclaimed single from Asa on her page a few months ago. I listened to it, it was quite good I thought and forgot all about it. As the months went by, she was mentioned by several people in various blog posts, on facebook and I finally got curious.

I watched the video of her interview on New dawn with Funmi, and she sounded so down to earth that I was intrigued. On her official homepage, you can listen to her various tracks. As I perused the page, I found that she would be playing inseveral locations Germany, and I found she would be playing in a city close to where I live!!!! Immediately I decided that I would be at the concert. Now, you have to know me for you to realise that it was not a very "selbstverstandlich" (logical) conclusion. In the whole of my 30year(in four weeks), I have only been to I think five concerts. Most were accidental attendances, as in my hubby wanted to go and I tagged along. The only other concert I had consciously decided to attend before now was a Shaggy concert in Moscow, and I didn't even pay for the ticket - I knew one of the organisers and he gave me a free ticket.

So, anyway, I decided to go to the concert (apart from the fact that I like her music and also do anything to support other hardworking Nigerians, I also needed a bit of a distraction). I immediately set my PR forces in motion -i.e. I sent an email to all my friends inviting them along. It turned out that one of those friends had bought an Asa CD accidentally in Nigeria over the christmas holidays, and she was immediately for it. She said she was going to invite some other friends of hers. I also decided to invite some of my colleagues, so it was a very jolly group of us that went along.

Meanwhile, I was able to buy the CD in Media Markt, an electronics store here, where I had also previously bought Ayo. For the first time, I listened to all the tracks including "So beautiful" which has become my favourite - when I sing "e bami kira fun mama mi, orisa bi iya ko si laye".....I sing it for my mother.
The concert was great - she knows how to work the stage! Everyone I spoke to enjoyed the concert and we all think she is going places. She is also very inspirational, I mean, her voice is not typical, and it must have taken a lot of determination to get where she is. I should take a cue from her wrt my book.....
We got a chance to speak briefly to her afterwards and also to take pictures with her. I even have an autographed CD to show for it!!!! In all, it was a great experience.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


I have not had so much to say nor felt so incapable of expressing myself in any form as I have felt in the last few months...... Ever since we lost the gift we hadn't planned on, a lot has changed for me. I feel things just as deeply, but can't really be bothered to express myself. Its’ not really that I'm grieving - after all I never really got to know him that well. Even though I was only in the very early stages, at a point where there were more imaginary changes than real ones occurring in my body, I had begun to imagine that he could hear me. I always wanted a daughter, but somehow I knew this baby was a boy. I also knew that I would give my life for that little piece of life growing in me. Sadly I didn't get the opportunity. I only know that God knows best. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be His name. I wanted to call him "God's gift" *. I know that any child that He chooses to give me will be His gift.

I learnt one thing - every single child born healthy is a gift from God above. One can't always choose the date like one can with respect to most other things on God's earth. In this one area, one must learn to say YES to God's will. I was not sure I wanted to be a mother before. I wasn't sure when I'd be ready, but the fleeting couple of months that my gift spent with me made me certain that I'll be ready as soon as He allows.

* Theodora - God's gift

Monday, February 11, 2008

Life is....

........what happens to you while you are busy making plans. Trust me, I know what I'm talking about. When I've had a chance to wrap my mind around it, I'll probably put up a post about it.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

419 Mail

I just got this in my inbox. I can't believe some people are actually taken in by such obvious scams.

CONTACT: christcharlesglory@yahoo.com
ATTN:Sir/madam,I am the chairman of the contract award committee,federal ministry of petroleum resources, Nigeria I am in search of an agent to assist us in the transfer FIFTY MILLION, FOUR HUNDRED THOUSAND UNITED STATES DOLLARS,And subsequent investment in properties in your country.You will be required to: (1) Assist in the transfer of the said sum(2) Advise on lucrative areas of investment(3) Assist us in purchase of properties. If you decide to render your service to us in this regard,35% of the total sum will be offerred to you.PLEASE SEND REPLY TO INDICATE YOUR WILLINGNESS IN ASSISTING US SO THAT I WILL DIRECT YOU ON WHAT NEXT To DO. INCLUDE YOUR DIRECT TELEPHONE ANDFAX NUMBERS IF YOU ARE RESPONDING.THANKS FOR YOUR ANTICIPATED ASSISTANCE.

YOURS SINCERELY,Chairman of the contract award committee(CCAC)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Rare, medium or well done

I was in the supermarket this evening after work to get some supplies and I decided to get some meat. Normally I just get lamb, and its usually available packaged and/or deep frozen. In the particular supermarket that I went to, they had no frozen meat section, and the fresh lamb looked a bit suspect to me, so I decided to get some beef for a change. The butcher asked what I wanted to use the meat for in order to advice me on what to get. Just as I was about to say beef stew, I caught myself. No need to get myself entangled in explaining what that is. I said "steak". I got my meat and headed home.

Chuckling to myself, I thought about steaks. My husband likes his steak rare, I like mine of course, like a typical Nigerian, well done. We have worked out a compromise, I take out his steak first and cook mine until I'm sure its well done. My husband likes to make a joke about this. Often when we are in a restaurant, and I order a well done steak, he says jokingly to the waiter "first make sure its dead, then fry/grill it till its dead again and then hit it just to make sure". Na im sabi. Don't mind him, when I cook stew, if I'm lucky, the pot lasts the day with him picking out the pieces of meat to snack on everytime he walks around the kitchen. Meanwhile when he buys me lamb, he always complains good naturedly that making stew with it is waste of perfectly good meat.

Talking of steaks, for some reason, I have never managed to get well done steaks in the Netherlands. On the occasions when I was lucky, I got a medium steak. Mostly, it was just rare. In fact the last time, when I finally decided to swear off eating meat in Holland, the meat was so rare I kept expecting a "Moo" anytime. And even my oyinbo colleague admited that it was way too raw, even for her who liked rare meat. My aversion to raw meat is I guess funny, because I love Sushi so so much.

By the way(and completely off topic, but anyway, thats me), if anyone reading this knows where one can get nice suya in London please tell me. I had suya from somewhere in Peckham about 4 years ago and I must confess that I was quite disappointed.

Be safe.

Monday, January 14, 2008


In many news reports, the Republican Party is referred to as the "GOP". At some point, I guess it was during the last elections, I decided that they were probably referring to themselves as God's own people, seeing that many evangelicals are affiliated to the party, and Dubya claims to do nothing without being led of God. I don't know what made me google GOP tonight, but now I know that it stands for Grand Old(or 'Ole) Party. Makes much more sense of course. Thank God for Google - the bane of ignorance!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Everyday Nigerian Heroes 1: Ilasamaja Youth Forum

The Ilasamaja Youth Forum was started a few months ago, here in the words of the president of the organization, Abu Olawale Raymond:

“What happened was that we went to the internet,” Raymond said, in a chat with Saturday Sun, “and we saw stories about young people in different parts of the world, coming together to do things for their communities, and working with other organizations like the UN. We decided to come together and think of programmes that we could do that would benefit our community, as others have done. Since then, we have held seminars on HIV/AIDS, liberating the youths from poverty and we celebrated International World Youth Day on August 12, this year. On environmental sanitation days, we visit areas in our community that we feel need cleaning and do what we can to clean up these areas.”

For once a good story about Nigerian youth and the internet. The collapse of the pedestrian bridge and their voluntary work in helping pedestrians cross the road to avoid casualties is what makes them heroes:

The incident that forced them to become heroes was the collapse, a couple of months ago, of part of the pedestrian bridge that goes across the Apapa-Oshodi
Expressway at Ilasamaja bus-stop.

....... casualties followed as people were forced to dash across the highway, trying to dodge cars coming at breakneck speed, driven by motorists who didn’t know the situation of the collapsed bridge and just thought the pedestrians were breaking the law. Many died, especially among the elderly and young children, who didn’t stand a chance against on-coming vehicles

It was this state of affairs that led the Ilasamaja Youth Forum, led by its president, Abu Olawale Raymond, to decide that too many members of their community had been lost and something had to be done before more would perish. So they printed the name of their organization on lemon reflective jackets, picked up a few sticks and headed for the highway directly under the collapsed bridge, where they have remained everyday for weeks, trying to slow down traffic so pedestrians can cross safely.

Again a sad reflection on our society that the police and LASTMA only started to "assist" only after IYF got involved.

Their work eventually brought the situation to the attention of the police, who sent a number of their officers to assist. Sometimes, LASTMA officials also pitch in. Some other youth organizations, including the Action Congress, youth wing of Ward F2, also joined forces with them, for what is essentially a full day’s work, everyday.

Its not easy, but its heartening that in a country where millions have to struggle to make ends meet, young people are going out of their way to do things like this.

Raymond says they have to juggle the time they have to be able to work there, since most of their members are students and workers. He himself is a student at Lagos State University who also works.
“We resume everyday at 7 am, which is a very busy period because people are going to work and students are going to school, and then we work till 9 am. Then another group, that is the AC Youth Forum, continue from then on. We ask some of our members who have to go to work in the morning to write letters to their companies to let them come to work a bit late so they can take part in the work. The students who don’t have lectures in the early morning also take part at that time. Those who can’t take part during the week help out at weekends. The others, who can stay the whole day, do so. We have about 19 members who do this work everyday.”

Praise is also due to the Action Congress youth forum and all other youth groups carrying out such voluntary acts of community service under dangerous conditions all around Nigeria. I implore anyone who can do anything to assist or encourage such groups acts to please do what they can. The financial assistance offered by Oceanic bank for the purchase of caution signs is a fine example of the type of support which can be offered.

We decided that we needed to erect some caution signs to slow motorists down to make our work easier. So we approached Oceanic Bank, that has a branch nearby and asked them to help us pay for these signs to be erected. They gladly agreed to do that and complied as promised.”

One can lament till tomorrow about the government not doing its job, and they would be perfectly justified. However, doing one's on bit, while clamouring for greater accountability and effectiveness of the government through peaceful but persistent means is, in my opinion, the only way forward for Nigeria. These youth deserve praise for doing their bit.

Read the full story here: http://www.sunnewsonline.com/webpages/features/living/2008/jan/12/living-12-01-2008-001.htm

*This is the first of what I hope will become a regular series of posts, about ordinary Nigerians, both young and old, giving back to their community and to the country that has given them so little. *

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Lago Maggiore

Here is a picture of the back view of Lago Maggiore taken from the balcony of our hotel room. This picture was taken during our summer trip. I love this picture so much, because it gives me such a sense of peace. A really beautiful landscape contains the most unimaginable colours - such colours as would make you think a painter over imaginative if you had seen it in a painting. Hundreds of shades of green and blue and grey, its amazing. I guess that is why I love impressionism, especially anything by Claude Monet.
Info: I am generally a sucker for landscape photos.
I liked the photo so much I even made it into a card. Here is a picture of the card:

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Ms Platnum - Give me the food

Wow, three posts within 24- thats a new record for me. I just had to post this video though 'cause it is so hilarious. Enjoy.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Rural Nigeria lights up with solar power + PH Burning???

Article by Micheal Simire on SciDev.net

Nigeria has launched a solar power scheme that will eventually light up as many as ten rural communities with no access to the national electrical grid. A Lagos state government official, who wished to remain anonymous, said construction work had commenced on the respective projects and contractors were expected to start delivering them around mid to late January 2008.
Some 5,000 people — living in villages in the Badagry, Epe, Eredo and Ojo local government regions — are expected to benefit. The project's estimated cost of 150 million Naira (about $1.25 million) is being funded by the state Ministry of Science and Technology.
Laudable start although 10 communities of 5000 people is hardly enough in a country of 140 million.

A pilot project began in May at the fishing village on Bishop Kodji Island, a low island of about 5,000 people between the Atlantic Ocean and the Lagos lagoon. For the first time, villagers have television in the community hall as well as power to the churches, mosques and schools.The lifespan of the panel is 30 years according to the manufacturer. Also thereis little or no maintenance: all the villagers need is to clean dust from the panels. The deep gel battery will last for 10 years," said Adenike Boyo, director of science and technology at the Directorate of Policy, Programmes and Promotion — the ministerial department that will oversee the project.
If the panels are so low maintenance and durable, that is definitely great what with our society not being a paragon on issues of maintenance. Its also good that it is a renewable energy source, so no artificial scarcity and unnecessary price raises are to be expected. No generator fumes, no noise, much much less emissions are some of the other great things about this.
Solar energy can be used for the most mundane things like street lights and parking meters and it is great that we are finally catching on.

The government of another state, Imo, in eastern Nigeria is utilising solar energy to power streetlights and other ancillary services. Government spokesman Steve Osuji said that the innovation is coming under the current administration’s 'Clean and Green Initiative', whereby Owerri city and other major towns in the state are being given a facelift. A similar government project, launched in 2002 with assistance from the Japanese government, has lit 200 rural communities in Imo, Ondo and Jigawa states as well as the capital Abuja.

Combining renewable energy with more traditional energy sources is definitely the future even for developed nations, so this is the way to go -although a thorough revamp of PHCN should definitely remain high on the list.


Fighting in PH

Its difficult to know if its Militants or just plain outright criminals who are killing, looting and causing general mayhem in Port harcourt. What a terrible way to start the year - my heart goes out to the people of that formerly sunny city who have been caught in the battle between unscrupulous politician and criminals as well as sometimes militants.

I know this is probably easy for me to say since I am not directly affected and safely far away, but I believe that only the people have the power to put an end to these senseless activities. The people of Port Harcourt need to stop cowering and take decisive action in protest. I know that protest will probably turn bloody, but silence is bloody as well - many people have died and lost their means of livelyhood in the past few months, so silence is not the answer. These men who are carrying out these unspeakable acts also have family - parents, wives, children - these people need to speak out. That is if they still have any semblance of conscience left in them.

Odun a yabo o...Frohes Neues Jahr...S noviim Godom...Happy New Year

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