Friday, November 13, 2009

Helloooo.....anybody there?

We like to think that we are unique. But really, we aren't all that special. We are prone to doing the same things as many others. It might be due to the last vestiges of the 'survival' programming in our DNAs, where the chances of survival are higher in a herd.

What I'm trying to say, to cut the long story short is that the fact that I too have been MIA is directly attributable to the Facebook phenomenon. In spite of the fact that I resisted the urge for so long, I have now, for almost a year succumbed, and have been badly infected by that deadly virus which has been going around. And yet, it doesn't give the satisfaction that writing does.........

I still have a lot to say, but demands of family and FB have bitten into my time, so that I almost never manage to sit down to put a fleeting train of thought to paper before it disappears. I would like to do more of that in the coming months.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

New trend in Democracy

The opposition candidate alleges fraud(see Here) in the recent Afghan elections. This recent spate of fraud allegations after elections, and subsequent innovative solutions as seen in Kenya and Zimbabwe is leading to a dangerous trend, that in my opinion prevents one from knowing when fraud has actually been perpetuated, and when it is just a case of trying to get your share of the cake by shouting loudest.

There have been practically no elections in recent times in Africa, Asia or South America where fraud has not been alleged. While in countries like Ghana, one party let go, there have been 'innovative' solutions like power sharing as already mentioned above, or just massive crackdowns and human rights abuses as recently seen in Iran.

In developing democracies, or young democracies as the press calls them, I think that it would be unrealistic to await completely fraud-free elections. If that is the case, the question then is this -how much fraud is too much fraud? Do creative solutions not undermine the very tennets of democracy? How does one avoid politicians behaving like spoilt kids who alwasy want to have their way, while at the same time making sure that genuine concerns are addressed?

If I come up with plausible answers to the questions above, I'll be sure to post them. Meanwhile, anyone with any ideas is welcome to share.

Recently on my reading table: Outliers by Malcom Gladwell; I do not come to you by chánce by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani.

Meanwhile, if anyone is reading this, have a lovely week.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Back to the future

I was recently doing a spring cleaning on my email accounts when I decided to go down memory lane. Since unlimited storage is a relatively recent phenomenon on free web mail accounts, I have very few emails dating back to 1998, which is when I first opened my main mail account. Since one only had a few MBs at that time, deletion of emails was very routine, and I did not have the oversight to save copies of those mails.

One thing struck me very strongly: the people who were fixtures in my life at that time, with whom I constantly exchanged emails on a daily basis (even when we were still going to meet for dinner later), whose lives were so intricately woven with mine, so much so that I could not imagine not being constantly in touch with them , these people have been replaced by others over the space of time. Don't get me wrong, these people are still my friends. We still keep in touch - only instead of weekly or several times a month, its now once or twice a year.

Isn't that what maturity is though? Those people who helped nurse a broken heart, with whom we once plotted business ideas that never came to fruition, trips and surprises that still bring a warm feeling whenever I think about them are still in my life. I have made room for others though over the years.

The most surprising of all, with hindsight is the person closest to me now. 9 years ago, my husband and I were not that close, we exchanged forwarded emails every once in a while. While most of our early correspondence has been lost to the forced email account clean ups of years gone by, seeing those emails which I have saved, I would never have predicted that we'd get married and start a family together.........

Now you see why I never destroy old letters or cards or emails(except I am forced to) - the future is a conundrum that can only be unraveled(or maybe not!) by a study of the past.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

If it is God’s will……

I am a Christian, and believe in God’s will. I have seen seemingly impossible situations turned around, because I believe it was God’s will, and I truly believe that with God nothing shall be impossible. In many cases where one has already done ones best God’s will is usually what makes the difference.

But, now the big but is that I totally reject as false the belief in ‘if it is God’s will, nothing can prevent it from happening’, when one has not done one’s best. If you have not yet recognised it as such, this post is a RANT!!!!

I urgently need for my sister to be here in two weeks time. The first time we discussed this issue was at the beginning December, and she told me that particular week would be best because she would be on a training trip to the UK and could afterwards fly over for a week or so. Now, the visa procedure for a private family visit here entails getting an official invitation letter from the town hall (against a small fee), the original copy of which the potential visitor would need to present at the embassy during their appointment. Together with this document, they’d need a copy of the host’s birth certificate, if related, their own original birth certificate, health insurance as well as the other minor required documents.

Now I know from experience that getting an appointment is the bottleneck in the whole visa application process, for the country I live in, so I told her to already start working on getting an appointment as early as possible. I was unable to get the iv done as early as I’d have liked it, and I had to send DH*. He got it done and sent it via snailmail on Dec 23. We got into an argument over that as I was of the opinion that he should have sent it via DHL. Lo and behold, the package arrived at home during the first few days of January (Kudos to Nipost). I again repeated the ‘please work on getting the appointment’ plea. She assured me she – would. I called weekly to find out her progress.

So, would someone please explain to me why she only started trying to get an appointment last week only to realise that her passport would be expiring in April, so she had to apply for a new passport, which she only got last Friday. Since one’s passport is not required to get an appointment, I wonder why she needed to abandon the quest for an appointment, which by the way was left way too LATE!!!! Anyways, here we are, four days before she flies off to London and she is still trying to get an appointment. Of course, things have since turned to ‘don’t worry, my God has assured me that things will work out’; ‘if it is God’s will, I will get the visa and be there’; ‘what’s even the big deal about the visa sef, kini mo fe wa mu ni ilu won**, afterall I just want to come see my sister who lives there.

Father, forgive me if my faith is not strong enough to see how you can act through this shoddy planning to enable M be here in February as planned/desired.

I have seen this scenario re-enacted time and time again, this, I-am-not-suffering-in-Nigeria- they-should-even-be-happy-that-I-am-thinking-of-visiting-their-country-so they-should-bend-all-their-rules-and-anyway why-do-they-have-so-many-rules attitude. I have seen it more times than I can count. An uncle of mine came into the UK sometime last year telling me that he was heading to the Netherlands for a conference in two days time – meanwhile he hadn’t bothered to get the visa in Nigeria, because the process was so long – he planned on going to the Dutch embassy in London, getting the visa processed, ‘express visa’ he said, and then heading directly to Waterloo to catch the Eurostar, for which he already had a ticket. Of course it didn’t work out.
And instead of realising it was his fault the only thing he could say was ‘ they should go to hell, there isn’t anything special about their country and its their loss; What stupid rules’. Stupid rule or not, it is still their rule, and its is clearly written on their website and in all the information brochures that you can only get a visa in your country of residence and I mean, he had known about the conference for months!!! And this is a man who expects blind obedience to his wishes from members of his own family o.

That’s why I try to refrain from joining the continuous bashing of our leaders. Fine, they don’t follow the rule of law, but neither do most Nigerians, including, as annoying as I find it, even members of my immediate family. Our ‘bigman’ mentality makes us believe that we at least should be above the law, which was made for the common man. May God help Nigeria!

Hey, anyone care to substitute for my sister?

* - Dear Husband
** -what’s the big deal about the visa, there isn't anything I need in their country
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