Saturday, 18 September 2010

Time out..

This has got to be one of my favourite songs ever.. Dire Straits, sax and guitar at their very best. 

My youth was marked with splendid music, quite unlike the Lady Gagas and the Nicki Minajs that today's youth must endure. Mark Knopfler was a huge figure for me in those days and my copy of the album 'Brothers in Arms' in which this track featured was one of my most treasured possessions for a long time. Sheer brilliance this..

Thursday, 16 September 2010

That leaked UN 'genocide in Congo' report..

Today President Kagame of Rwanda is in London to deliver the annual Oppenheimer Lecture at the IISS. This is seen as a sign of international respect for a leader who has spearheaded fifteen years of development and economic growth, and is seen by the British and US governments as a model for the rest of Africa.

His Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF) took power by bringing to an end the genocide of his Tutsi people in 1994 - as the UN stood by.

But a new draft UN report, leaked, but to be formally released on October 1st, accuses President Kagame's RPF of committing appalling atrocities in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo as they pursued Hutu genocidaires. The report even suggests that the very soldiers who stopped the genocide of the Tutsis committed a second genocide, against the Hutus in the forests of the Congo - an allegation which robs President Kagame of his legitimacy.

The president has reacted angrily, threatening to withdraw Rwandese peacekeepers from Darfur, saying the UN's failure to stop genocide against the Tutsis invalidates any criticism of the RPF.

He told Channel 4 News: "To accuse Rwandan forces, or Rwanda, of committing genocide in the Congo or anywhere else for that matter, other than what happened in our own country, is just absurd. To say people feel insulted and very angry is an understatement."

Channel 4 has obtained footage (posted above) from film makers Ofelia de Pablo and Javier Zurita, of the training in forensics of Congolese Police and army personnel who will excavate the graves where the bodies of the RPF's victims are believed to lie. There have also been obtained, interviews with some survivors from those massacres in the late 1990s, which suggest that, at the very least, President Kagame has a case to answer. Channel 4 tell us that they saw just a little of what was happening and that the UN report confirms their worst fears.

On Baobab, The Ecomonist's blog on African politics, economy and culture, appears this insightful post on the subject. The readers' comments too are quite interesting..

Zimbabwean parents disown gay son..

The devastated parents of a 20-year old Bulawayo man have said that they had no choice but to forcibly evict their son from their Tshabalala Extension home after he confessed he was gay. Sources close to the openly gay Irvine Mahachi Junior said that a rumour about the estranged man's sexual preferences had been circulating for over two years and were only confirmed to be of substance when he decided to come out of the closet.

In an interview, the visibly shocked father, Mr Irvine Mahachi, who was still failing to come to grips with his son's bizarre sexuality, said that he had disowned his first child and does not want to hear from him again. "As far as I am concerned I do not have a son any more. The only child I have left is my lovely daughter. What Irvine has done is taboo and shameful. It is unheard of in our African culture", said the emotionally aggrieved father.

Mr Mahachi declared in no uncertain terms that he was never going to forgive the black sheep of the Mahachi clan and would not entertain pleas from relatives.

"Anyone who tells me to forgive Irvine risks a fierce quarrel with me. I did not raise my son to be gay. I raised him to be a man. I expected him to chase after skirts like other boys, but he never did that. I should have noticed then that there was something weird about him, maybe I could have strengthened him into a man", said Mr Mahachi with tears in his eyes.

The self-employed, shattered father-of-two revealed that his wife fainted, while he was shocked and speechless when his son announced to them that he preferred men to women.

"The manner in which he asked for an audience with me and my wife made me realise that something was wrong. He was nervous and not his usual self. I was so angry and shocked that I hit him with my fists, something that I have never done in my life. My wife suffers from high blood pressure and the shocking news almost killed her. Even today she is not herself", he said.

Attempts to interview the Mrs Caroline Mahachi failed as she refused to talk to Sunday News because her son's disgrace was a "family matter". In a telephone interview, Irvine Junior refused to reveal where he was staying but confirmed that he was gay and a member of the Gays and Lesbians Association of Zimbabwe (GALZ).

"Its a pity and a shame I was born into a society full of hatred and intolerance. Had I been born in South Africa nothing like this could have happened to me. This country need to move with the times, it needs to change. All this discrimination is unnecessary because at the end of the day who I sleep with is my business. I know that your newspaper is anti-gay and speaking to you is tantamount to suicide. But please be objective and publish my side of the story with fairness", he said.

Irvine said he was saddened by the fact that his parents had chucked him out of their house, but hoped that one day they would accept him as he is.

"All my life I have been the victim of homophobia attacks but I never expected that from my own flesh and blood. I feel betrayed, but such is life. I have been called names, but now I am numb to it.

"All that matters is that I finally told my parents the truth about myself. I am happy with myself and that's all that matters," he said.

Homosexuality in Zimbabwe is illegal and frowned upon and those who practise the bizarre and unholy act are regarded as outcasts. The three principals in the inclusive government declared that gays have no place in Zimbabwe, with president Mugabe being on record as describing them as "worse than pigs and dogs".

Leaving to Zion

I listen to this now and images of a youthful me flash through my mind; high as a kite on something I should not have been smoking, skanking to this music in a crowded, smoke-filled, very dark room somewhere in Ikeja..

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Scapegoating Africa's gays..

"There's a huge amount of ignorance about issues of sexuality throughout Africa, whether its men or women, straight or gay," the medical director of South Africa's Innovir Institute, Dr Steven Miller, told Australia's Sydney Star Observer recently.

Miller was on a speaking tour of Australia to discuss the plight of men who have sex with men in Africa and to talk about cultural factors in African societies, which hinder people's access to good HIV care.

"There are social taboos around talking about [sexuality] people grow up in a state of ignorance about this very important aspect of their lives," Miller said.

The end result is a lot of SDTs, poor monitoring of physical and sexual health and a lack of perception that something may be wrong, or knowing where to go to get the problem sorted out.

"But men who have sex with men are the most under-reached, under-recognised and most discriminated against people in Africa.

"With the exception of South Africa the rest of Africa is still very strongly against the notion that men having sex with men is a normal behaviour and its certainly not seen to be part of African culture - though of course there are many studies and simple experience shows that this is not the case."

Miller said that homosexual men had become the new victims of the HIV epidemic because African communities were scapegoating them as spreaders of HIV and a range of social ills.

"If we extrapolate from what we know is happening in South Africa and assume the same rates of infection exist in other African countries, that would be between 5 and 8 percent of gay men being infected with HIV.

"That is in fact much, much lower than the seroprevalence rates we see in the heterosexual population in Africa, where in some countries up to 40 percent of people are infected."

Miller said this was because the repression directed at gays had driven them so far underground that options for sexual expression was extremely limited and different groups of men who have sex with men rarely had contact with each other. Andrew M. Potts

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

On those pet peeves..

Top of the list has got to be halitosis, which is the medical term for bad breath and is defined by Mosby's Medical Dictionary, 8th Edition 2009 as "offensive breath resulting from poor hygiene; dental or oral infections; ingestion of certain foods such as garlic or alcohol; use of tobacco; or some systemic diseases, such as the odour of acetone in diabetes or ammonia in liver disease."

There's nothing quite as disappointing as meeting a person for the first time, especially when the person is one that you've looked forward to meeting, only to find that he/she has bad breath, but is blissfully unaware of it too. In some cases, you can see that the person is aware of their bad breath problem. They will look away when they address you in a bid to direct their breath from your direction. Sometimes they hold their hand over their mouth when they speak and it is clear that their self-confidence has taken a knock.

A friend of mine once had a bad breath problem. He didn't seem to be aware of the problem, though he would frequently complain of toothaches. I thought I wouldn't be a good friend if I didn't tell him about his bad breath. And although it wasn't easy, I told him anyway and offered advice about mouth cleaning techniques, which perhaps he should adopt. None of these worked, so together we decided to visit the dentist, where it was discovered that he had a huge dental abscess from an infection. He lost a couple of teeth, but the infection was treated and the bad breath went away. Bad breath is treatable and should be regarded as such. Also, this scourge of humanity is not as much of a problem as many of us fear. Researchers in the field find that at any one time only about 1% of the population has it and so many more people worry about bad breath than are actually afflicted by it.

Next on my list of pet hates is smelly feet, also known as bromodosis.

The feet have more sweat glands than any other part of the body. Shoes and socks can prevent the sweat from your feet from evaporating or being absorbed, which attracts bacteria. The bacteria cause sweat to smell bad, leading to bromodosis (smelly feet). People with hyperhidrosis (a condition where the skin sweats excessively) are particularly prone to bromodosis. Synthetic footwear and poor hygiene can make the problem worse. Other factors too such as certain medicines and hormone changes can increase the amount of sweat the body produces.

The condition of smelly feet can be easily treated and/or controlled. Good foot hygiene is essential. Wash feet daily using mild soap or anti-fungal soap and a scrubbing brush and dry them thoroughly, especially between the toes. Change socks at least once a day. If you sweat a lot, change your shoes too. Wear thick, soft socks made of natural fibres or sports socks specifically designed to absorb moisture. Avoid synthetic materials. Wear shoes made of leather, canvas or mesh and not synthetic material. Keep toenails short and clean to prevent bacteria from multiplying.

Third on the list is body odour, commonly referred to as BO and known medically as bromhidrosis, osmidrosis, or ozochrotia. Bromhidrosis is defined in Medilexicon's medical dictionary as "fetid or foul-smelling perspiration...."

Body odour is a perceived unpleasant smell our bodies can give off when bacteria that live on the skin break down sweat into acids. Some say it is the smell of the bacteria growing on the body, but it really is the result of bacteria breaking down protein into certain acids. Body odour becomes evident if measures are not taken when a human reaches puberty, 14 - 16 years of age in females and 15 - 17 years of age in males. People who are obese, those who regularly eat spicy foods, as well as individuals with certain medical conditions such as diabetes are more susceptible to having body odour.

Sweat itself is virtually odourless to humans; it is the rapid multiplication of bacteria in the presence of sweat and what the bacteria do (break sweat down into acids) that eventually causes the unpleasant smell. The smell is perceived as unpleasant, many believe, because most of us have been brought up to dislike it. Body odour is most likely to occur in our feet, groin, armpits, genitals, pubic hair and other hair, belly button, anus, behind the ears and to some lesser extent, on the rest of the skin.

Body odour can be used, especially by dogs and other animals, to identify people. It can even have a nice and specific smell to the individual and to this I will testify personally. It is important that puberty has been mentioned specifically, because it was at that stage in my life that I was ushered into the land of sexual pleasure by someone who was himself in puberty. He exuded a sweet, strong smell, which was unique to him and which others might find unpleasant. But for me it was heady and exciting and sexually stimulating. I identified him with it and for me that smell heightened the intensity of the sexual pleasure. Yikes! Did I really admit that? :) Anyway, I suppose it is for this reason that body odour has made it only to third position on my list..

Body odour can be easily controlled by good personal hygiene; keeping the armpits dry and clean. Hair under the armpits is known to slow the evaporation of sweat, so shaving the armpits regularly has been known to keep body odour under control in that area. I also recently learned that Botulinum toxin, more popularly known as Botox, which is the most poisonous biological substance known, is sometimes used as a treatment for individuals who sweat excessively under the armpits. The toxin blocks the signals from the brain to the sweat glands, resulting in less sweating in the targeted area and can be effective for from two to up to eight months..

Sunday, 12 September 2010

When sparks fly..

From the moment your gaze settled on that face in the front pew, you knew. You were captured by those eyes in the lock of mutual attraction; that faint curling up of the corners of the mouth, the knowing deepening of the intensity in those eyes...those eyes, again and again. There was no mistaking it. Then the smile; smile met by smile..

And in the aftermath of the benediction, in the milling of the crowd of the holy and the sacrosanct, you are drawn together, almost like pawns in the hand of that mysterious and invisible magnetic force of Mother Nature, which of her own accord brings two people together. The greeting, the smiles, the handshake, lingering, reluctant to let go; the thumb gently caressing the back of your hand, that intensity in those eyes again..

Handshake morphs into handclasp, unrelenting, unwilling to be released, eyes still locked in mutual embrace; soft words exchanged, a stirring in the loins..? How awfully you want him to stay and share in the refreshments, the jollof-rice, cake and fruit on offer this anniversary Sunday; how gladly you would rush around the buffet counter to produce a platter of food for you both to enjoy. But he must leave. "Other commitments elsewhere", he whispers, smiling. "There will be another time.."

And of course this you must accept, for he is after all a man of God who is visiting you from another congregation, with untold responsibility to his flock. He must leave now and you must endure the parting, the hands reluctantly letting go. You stare at him from behind as he walks away, slowly, him being careful not to draw attention; you knowing that he is thinking the same thing as you. When will that next time be..?

Friday, 10 September 2010


Yes I know, I've been told of my weird taste in music.. But I do think this song is brilliant though.. :)

'Home' is the new (not so new any more) single from the Goo Goo Dolls first album in over four years. A prominent drumbeat builds the brooding, mid-tempo song's momentum as lead singer John Rzeznik's strong voice in this track begs the listener "please take me home..."

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Venting my spleen..

I cannot be the only one who has noticed those Afro-Caribbean women, who when its summer, bare their bodies in (what I consider to be) the most inappropriate manner. Most often, these sistren are overweight and of the Caribbean variety. They sport varying numbers of gold teeth and all manner of bling on their necks, their wrists and ankles, with brightly coloured talons for fingernails and tattoos across their backs and sometimes around their navel. These women are brash and speak loudly in unintelligible patois with each other or into a phone, or to some leery-eyed-gold-toothed brother who is shuffling along beside them. Sometimes they are seen pushing a child in a pram, with a slightly older toddler in tow, struggling to keep up..

Of course I see the tattoos, but only because the women insist on exposing their lower torso by wearing an undersized blouse that stops just below the bosoms. Then down below the (usually fat and lumpy) exposed stomach flesh is another garment, which is obviously intended to cover their womanhood, but which almost invariably leaves the lower half of their buttocks exposed for all the world to see..

And all of the above besides, these damsels will often crown their apparel (or the lack thereof) with a blonde wig on the head, or with hair extensions which they insist must be blonde, or brown at the very best. I have yet to come across any record in the history of black-African peoples, where blond hair was considered at any time to be a thing of beauty. Can we visualise a Caucasian woman wearing a thick black Afro wig and how preposterous that would look?

The bottom line for me is that these women look ridiculous! It may be slightly surprising, but I do appreciate feminine beauty and especially when it is well put together with dignity, sophistication, elegance and modesty. Yes, to be modest is classy, and classy these women are not! That said, considering the number of them that I see with young children, there must be some heterosexual men out there who find these women attractive..

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Going walkabout..

Settling into my new home has taken all week, but today Saturday, after taking care of all the necessary household chores the details of which I will not bore you with, I set out on a walkabout of my immediate surroundings. I knew that my house is located in an area that is on the fringe of the city, but I was unprepared for an encounter with farm animals just five minutes walk from my front door, neither did I anticipate the sweet earthy smell of manure.

Suddenly, London doesn't seem any more like the concrete jungle that it used to feel like. I'm even considering procuring a pair of hiking boots to go a wandering in the countryside during the remaining few weekends of the summer; an activity that once during those giddy youthful days gone by of national youth service, was a favourite pastime of mine in the wild open spaces of the Jos Plateau in Nigeria..

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Up and running..again..

After an incredibly hectic week I'm now finally able to take a seat in front of the computer in the corner of my new flat that I've designated as the den. Its nice and quiet and perfectly still in these parts most of the time. And save for the odd car passing on the street, which one hears only when the windows are open, or the occasional exuberantly rowdy youth in a car-with-loud-music-blasting-out-of-the-car-stereo, it is tranquil and peaceful and just the way I like it, the only noise I can hear as I type this post being the slightly annoying soft whirr of the washing machine in the background..

I do feel obliged to write this post though, since there are those whose emails I have failed to reply because of the circumstances that I have been confronted with over the last few weeks. Things have now reverted more or less to normal and I am confident that I should get those replies out without further delay..

I haven't mentioned this before, but there are issues concerning my job too. The arrangement that I have with my firm is in the process of being altered, so the word "upheaval" seems to apply in several aspects of my life at the moment. One's attitude towards this is to stay positive and look upon the prospect of "change" as having the potential for improvement or betterment, such as has happened with my housing. So one tries to stay calm, not be fazed by the ostensible commotion and hold on to the belief that all will be well in the end. I will keep you posted..