Saturday, 27 February 2010

Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves..

Va, pensiero, sull'ali dorate known in English as 'Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves' is a chorus from the third act of Nabucco (short for Nabucodonosor, or Nebuchadnezzar in English), an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi 1813-1901 an Italian romantic composer. Nabucco follows the plight of the Jews as they are assaulted, conquered and subsequently exiled from their homeland by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar (Nabucco).

Known as Verdi's "Jewish" work of art, it recollects the story of these Jewish exiles from Babylon after the loss of the First Temple in Jerusalem. The opera with its powerful chorus established Verdi as a major composer in 19th century Italy. Here we see the chorus performed at New York's Metropolitan Opera House with James Levine conducting.

The lyrics translated in English from the original Italian:

Fly, thought, on wings of gold,
go settle upon the slopes and the hills
where the sweet airs of our
native soil smell soft and mild!
Greet the banks of the River Jordan

and Zion's tumbled towers.
Oh, my country, so lovely and lost!
Oh remembrance so dear yet unhappy!

Golden harp of the prophetic wise men,
why hang so silently from the willows?
Rekindle the memories in our hearts,
tell us about the times gone by!
Remembering the fate of Jerusalem
play us a sad lament
or else be inspired by the Lord
to fortify us to endure our suffering!

(PostScript) The video I posted here originally has been removed from YouTube due to some violation or other. I hope it's nothing to do with the fact that I embedded it here on this blog. Fortunately I was able to find a replica also on YouTube, but the sound quality is not as good. Anyway, I hope you still find it enjoyable..

Wow, its one year already.

On 27 February 2009, I set out on a journey. I sat in front of this computer and wrote this post. It was the first post on this blog titled "Greetings Everyone" and for those who do not wish to click on the link, I have reproduced the post here..

Hi, welcome. For years, I have dragged my feet about starting a blog of my own. This has been because I wasn't able to make up my mind what the theme of my blog should be. My interests are varied and my mind wanders all the time like a butterfly. I haven't found it easy to decide on what exactly I should be blogging about. But suddenly, today, I have had a brain wave. Surely, I do not have to blog about anything in particular. I can blog about me and my wandering mind. I can talk about the things that bother me, the things that annoy me, the things that make me smile, the things that make me squeal with uncontrollable laughter. Oh my, there is a world out there waiting to be written about. So yes, I have taken up the challenge. Here we go.

Now one year later, having had the blog running for all of 365 days, I'm still exactly in the same place in my mind. Except of course for the fact that since I started the blog I've met some amazing people in the blogosphere, people I would not have met if the circumstances were different.. And you know what, I still have not run out of things to say! And I'm pinching myself, wondering if this is real, but hoping and praying that it is..

I've been somewhat incapacitated for much of the last two weeks. For the first time in about ten years I couldn't get online and it was as if there was a hollow inside of me, as if something was missing from my life. Its great to be back, its wonderful to be here, to be a part of a community spread across the world. Its fantastic to be alive in 2010! Thanks to every person who has participated in this journey with me since I started the blog, a journey that God willing has only just begun. Thanks too to those who have allowed me to be a part of their online experience.

Gosh, it appears that the rankings of this blog have slipped considerably over the last few weeks, but I can only look on this as a challenge. I must vigorously strive to regain the position that the blog once held. As you probably can tell, its late Friday night/early Saturday morning, but there are no corks popping I'm afraid. Its just been a quiet, solemn, sober, evening sitting in front of the computer with soft music in the background..

Friday, 26 February 2010

AIDS could die out by 2050?

A South African scientist Professor Brian Williams argues that widening the use of HIV-suppressing anti-retroviral drugs to all sufferers, not just those who are very ill, would massively reduce the rate of infection and see the disease die out by 2050. The world could be rid of the scourge of AIDS by the middle of the century, but only if it is prepared to spend huge sums of money on a mass screening and treatment campaign. Read more..

Thursday, 25 February 2010

In your face!

I just about knocked down a cyclist this evening. It's been raining all day and driving across town from Tooting in deep South London back across the river to more familiar locales in the Islington area, the traffic was murder! And those annoying daredevil cyclists were darting through the traffic like they have nine lives! Normally I would take it all in my stride, but this evening I was furious! Were it not for expert driving skills honed on the mean streets of Lagos, I would at this minute be in a dank police cell somewhere, awaiting interrogation on how I came about killing an innocent cyclist! I said I was furious, but it was not because of the traffic.

You know that fellow, the big overweight one with the round belly that flops over his trouser fronts; the one with those silly glasses hanging on the end of his nose? Yes, him, you know, that one with food stains on his tie, the loud, noisy one whose voice is clearly audible from half a mile off? Yes him!

In the last few days I've observed a change in his countenance towards me. This so & so who only few weeks ago would crawl to me on his fat belly, to seek my opinion on issues that exceeded his cerebral ability. He strutted past me in the car park yesterday morning, head held high in the air, looking down his nose at me as he shuffled past, ignoring my greeting...Hmm! I didn't make much of this. Later on during the day, our paths crossed again. And again, he acted as if to snub me. Today the same thing happened, but this time it was even more brazen. I heard him from a distance shouting into his phone, obviously talking to one of his children. He was speaking loud enough that I would hear that he's got kids. And I'm wondering why he thinks that this should upset me in any way. Late this afternoon we were walking on the same pavement towards the car park, and in the same direction too. Mr so & so brushed past me and the hostility was tangible...if only he could push me into the path of that oncoming truck, he would..

I sat in my car and quietly mulled it over in my mind. He had never acted in this way in the past. What had happened to cause him to change? Then bingo! Of course he's been reading this blog! So now he knows who I really am and it gets up his nose that he's having to share his surroundings with a gay man who declares that he is gay and is proud of it too. In his African mind he can only think to respond to this new knowledge with a display of hostility. But I'm sure that having read this blog and being so affected by it, it is guaranteed that he will return. And when he does return to the blog I want him to read this post.

Now listen to me Mr so & so. Yes, you read it correctly! I am what I am and I am happy being who I am. That is why I do not believe that I need to hide my true nature from you or from anyone else. I knew it would be difficult in Africa to be open about my sexuality, but we are not now in Africa. I would therefore wish for you to leave your ignorant attitude behind at home with your wife, before you venture out into the civilised society that you find yourself living in. Your attitude does not upset me, it annoys me! You have been exposed long enough to a liberal and tolerant society to know better. I'm sure you've heard of what happened to that fat Ghanaian lady who let her mouth run loose. If you haven't heard, I can tell you that I brought her actions to the attention of the Police and she wound up being formally cautioned, with a criminal record to boot! So Mr, keep your homophobic attitude far away from me. I will not tolerate it!

Phew! I needed to vent my spleen..

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Throwing tantrums needlessly..

Now I feel a bit silly for getting upset because my computer refused to connect to the Internet. I'm knocking myself over the head for having always clicked on "cancel" whenever the prompt to update my security popped up on the screen..

Thanks to Ade the chap who does our office IT, who was gracious enough to allow me a late evening telephone call. We had been on the phone for about 10 minutes when he miraculously diagnosed my computer problem.

"Do you have a PCWorld close to where you live?" Ade asked

"Why, sure.." came the answer.

"Go in there and get yourself up-to-date protection for your computer. Norton, McAfee any such, then uninstall whatever protection that you have and install the new one.."

The truth is that I didn't even know that I had Norton installed on my computer. I do remember though that sometime last year, a friend came round to help me out with my computer, installing this and that, most of which I'd never really understood..

Anyway, it transpired that the Norton 360 on my PC had expired and I had ignored the countless warnings I'd been given over the last several months. So taking Ade's advice I popped into the PCWorld place this morning and obtained the Norton 360 3.0, talking to the store assistant like I was some kind of computer expert, struggling to remember everything Ade had said on the phone last night.

I couldn't wait to get home this evening and having now installed the new antivirus, I'm back online. Its such a relief. With hand on heart I now make this solemn oath: I swear that from this day forth, I shall click on "YES" each time a prompt pops up on my screen to update anything. So help me God!

And I wasn't going to end this without saying my thank yous to Solomonsydelle, CodLiverOil, Naughty feeling, Quitstorm, Free surf and Femme Lounge for advice that was almost the same as what Ade gave me. Thanks all..

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Computer please

Just to let everyone know why things have been rather quiet around here..

Last Wednesday, I started my desktop computer in the early morning, as is my usual practice. I went to make a mug of coffee, came back to the computer, checked emails and stuff, then leaving the computer still running, I went upstairs to shower and dress for work. This has been my morning routine for years, so I didn't expect that anything would go wrong.

All dressed and ready for work, I returned downstairs for a final check of my emails and blogs that I follow. On arrival at the desk however, I noticed that the computer had restarted itself.. Yeah, it does that sometimes when an update has happened, as I'm sure you all know. So I thought nothing of this and rather than continue the start up process, I clicked on "shut down". I was running a bit late after all...

On returning to the flat in the evening, I went straight to the computer and switched it on.. Everything seemed fine at first until I attempted to go online. My preferred browser is Google Chrome, but it failed to connect. So thinking that this was a problem was with the browser, I tried Firefox and then Internet Explorer. None of them worked. So I thought this might be a problem with Virginmedia, my service provider. I got on the phone and after listening to a machine for several minutes and following its instructions by pressing several buttons on the phone, I finally heard it say, "If the fault is with your broadband Internet, press 4", which I did. Eventually, a rather pleasant gentleman with a Liverpool accent came on the line and introduced himself as Trevor.

I explained to Trevor what had happened. With great patience he talked me through several procedures, checking to see if the fault was with the wiring, or if the computer was in fact connected to the Internet. Trevor could find nothing wrong from his end. The computer was indeed connected to the Internet. But there just seemed to be something in the computer itself that was blocking it from making the connection. Trevor remained on the phone with me for the best part of an hour, but at the end of it all, we both realised that this problem had nothing to do with Virginmedia. The problem was with the computer itself.

Last evening I was speaking to young David, my new-found heartthrob. It was he who suggested that perhaps this has been caused by a virus. Now, I know very little about computers, viruses and stuff like that. Is it possible for a virus to have infected my computer, crippling it and preventing it from connecting to the Internet? Might it be that when I'd found that the computer had restarted itself that morning, it was because of the virus? If indeed the problem is with a virus infection, what can I do to get rid of it?

I'm contemplating purchasing a new computer, but this hurts, since the current one is hardly a year old and has performed flawlessly thus far. I'm having to type this while sitting at my desk at the office and I generally don't like the idea of writing blogs while at work...its so much more relaxed and private at home..

Monday, 8 February 2010

One cold winter's evening..

6.15 pm, on arrival at home..

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Kinshasa Symphony

Above is the trailer of the film "Kinshasa Symphony", which has been selected for Berlinale 2010, the 60th Berlin International Film Festival. The film celebrates its world premiere at "Berlinale Special" on 17 February 2010, 21.45h (rerun 18 February, 18.00h, Cubix 8).

"Kinshasa Symphony" shows how people living in one of the most chaotic cities in the world have managed to forge one of the most complex systems of human cooperation ever invented: a symphony orchestra. It is a film about the Congo, about the people of Kinshasa and about music.

The Orchestre Symphonique Kimbanguiste has been in existence for fifteen years. Initially a few dozen music-loving amateurs shared the few instruments they had at their disposal. Rehearsals were organised in shifts, so that everyone could have a turn. Today there are over two hundred musicians on the platform when the "OSK" gives a concert.

Most of the musicians are still self-taught amateurs. Even for those fortunate enough to have trained for a profession and found a halfway regular job, everyday life in the metropolis of Kinshasa with its eight million citizens is a constant struggle for survival. For many the working day begins at six in the morning, frequently a great deal earlier for the ones who cannot afford to share a taxi and have to walk great distances to get to their workplaces. Despite this they attend the rehearsals that go on well into the night, practically everyday. A staggering example of discipline and enthusiasm.

In the meantime some of the orchestra's repair artists have a whole collection of self-devised and self-built tools that they need to mend instruments. Their methods are as unorthodox as they are effective. Other members of the orchestra make their concert attire themselves, procure the sheet music required and make sure that the children are fed and looked after during the long evening rehearsals.

Armand Diangenda is the founder and conductor of the OSK. He is the grandson of Simon Kimbangu, a martyr greatly revered in the Congo for opposing the Belgian colonists and establishing his own church, the Kimbanguists. Armand plays the cello and is also a composer. "Music often helps me to think straight and plan my life", he says. "And even though the rehearsals are often uphill work with little immediately appreciable progress, making music together is a compensation for lots of problems".

And I say this is absolutely fascinating. :)

There is more of this orchestra here and here.

Living in the shadows..

A documentary reflecting the issues of 'Being gay in Kenya' is in the pipeline and with it, producers say they want to break the myth that gays and lesbians do not exist in the country, as believed by some members of society.

Comprising of first hand experiences of gay Kenyans, the documentary reveals issues of homophobia, stereotyping and stigma in a society in which the majority feel that homosexuality is unAfrican and unbiblical. In the documentary, some participants reveal how they have had to stay in the closet for fear of being identified as gay, while others are said to live double lives in order to fit into society. Others talk of the many gatherings often held, populated by respectable members of society, such as teachers, lawyers and even politicians..

As reported on Behind the Mask. Click here to read more.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

UNICEF - At a glance: Haiti - A day in the life of UNICEF staff members on the ground in Haiti

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti: 1 February 2010 - UNICEF has maintained a presence in Haiti since 1949. The earthquake that struck this country with such disastrous force on 12 January has significantly affected the agency's capacity to respond, but staff members have been adapting to difficult conditions on the ground. Click on the link below to read more and watch the video.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Nigerian soldiers killing civilians

Click on link, but viewer discretion advised

Nigerian soldiers killing civilians

Some interesting facts about "humanitarian relief" to Haiti

Out of every single dollar of the $397 million that the US has sent in "aid" to Haiti after the earthquake, 33 cents pays for the more than 12,000 troops dispatched by the US government in its humanitarian aid effort, troops that have taken control of the country. "In contrast the US is spending only 9 cents out of each dollar on food and another 9 cents to transport the food".

The statistical breakdown of how the US earthquake aid is being spent was undertaken by the Associated Press and reported by AP on Jan. 27. AP also reports that Haitians are being hired at meagre wages to assist the US efforts..

Monday, 1 February 2010

"We are ready to train your people.." Al Qaeda tells Nigerian Muslims

DUBAI (Reuters) - An al Qaeda group in North Africa has offered to give Nigerian Muslims training and weapons to fight Christians in the West African country, where more than 460 people were killed in sectarian clashes last month.

Somewhere over the rainbow..

This amazing version of "Over the Rainbow" by Eva Cassidy brought this American singer to worldwide attention. Sadly she left us to be with the Lord in 1996 at the age of 33 but this song and especially this version of it, lives forever..