Monday, 12 December 2011

Homo what?

The African/ Caribbean opposition to homosexuality, is somewhat disheartening.

I read this article that seems to include a lot of what is currently circulating as valid reasons for opposition of a basic human right.

Here is the article.

Link to the article called "Homo what?"

I won’t address all points, as the author covers other topics like female prostitution and child sex.

1) Changing the “natural order”.Sex has been around as long as marriage has. Homosexuality is not a recent invention. It was not imported into Africa, indigenous cultures were already familiar with it.  There was no issue, then the Europeans came and brought their Victorian values, which outlawed homosexual behaviour. This is what the author is referring to by the “natural order”.

This means there was a time, when heterosexual couplings and homosexual couplings co-existed. The foundation of “heterosexual marriage”, did not dissolve. It continued, so why now when homosexuals are calling for their rights to be respected, heterosexuals view this as a threat?

2) What is this “moral” meltdown in the West the author is referring to?  What makes African/or Caribbean people more “moral”, is it poverty?  Many social vices which exist in the “West” exist in Africa/Caribbean also. You name it drug abuse, alcoholism, child abuse, spouse abuse, you name it, it exists.  So this idea, that the “West” is somehow morally worse for recognising that sexual minorities have rights too doesn’t make them any more morally worse than people elsewhere. On the contrary by recognising the basic human right to freedom and equality, makes them a better society in my opinion

Link for article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

3) Defiance for the sake of defiance, is meaningless. African countries are using the stand-off with Britain and other “Western” nations  by denying and in many cases actively persecuting homosexuals as something to be proud of. They should separate defiance from reason, then re-think whether defiance is  wise and sensible. It is disposable worthless political capital. When famine or natural disaster strikes, where is their defiance then?

4) It is true, that same sex relationships without intervention don’t produce children. As we all know there are ways to have children; by coupling with the opposite sex specifically for that purpose or medical intervention like artificial insemination.

African countries are not lacking children, they are not facing a shrinking population. In the case of Nigeria, there are too many people.

But because a union/marriage doesn’t produce children, that is no reason for denying same sex couplings? According to this argument then, any childless heterosexual couple should have their marriage forcibly dissolved. Which would be totally wrong and unnecessary. So why is it accepted for same sex attracted persons?

5) “More than a purely private decision, intimate pair bonding is a public commitment to conform to the valid interest of society reflected by law and the Law is a sieved collection of society's principles, attitudes and values to build a secular cathedral that serves as a sanctum for all”

This statement totally dehumanises marriage. According to this statement, freedom of choice and emotions have nothing to do with it. What a dreary of unwanted existence!

They talk about building a secular cathedral that serves as a sanctum for all. I thought secular societies, differentiate between religion and the state.  One of the main pillars of opposition to gay rights/homosexual rights is that it is opposed to the religion as practiced in those societies. Yet these societies claim to be democratic and inclusive, which they are not. So I’m not too sure of what the author means by that statement. It seems to be filled with inconsistencies. (They talk of a secular cathedral, when they make no distintction between religion and the state. They mention the use of "all", when they don't wish to include everyone).

6) They go on to talk about the need to identify who they are and what they stand for. It would be interesting to see what label they would use for themselves. As things stand now they certainly aren’t democractic, or inclusive or egalitarian.

7) According to the author, “the foundational flaw in the homosexuality argument is their inability to show, why the children of heterosexuals should be allowed to fill the void” – to use her words.

Obviously checks have to be put in place before any orphan or homeless child is sent to a foster home. True in the “poisoned” atmosphere in Africa this will be very challenging to find individuals who are just looking at the facts, and nothing else (but it is not impossible).

Just because a child is raised in a homosexual home doesn’t mean they will turn out homosexual. Similarly, not all heterosexual homes have children who turn out to be heterosexual. As long as no abuse is occurring, and that the interests of the child are better served by being with a foster family than being left to languish in state institutions, then this shouldn’t be a problem.

This whole issue has become blown out of all proportion, and people should take a step back and assess things with a clear and reasoned mind. Rather than throwing insults and going on the rampage to attack sexual minorities, be it physically or using the law.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011


Just to let everyone know that I'm fine and expect to be back shortly. My apologies for the unplanned absence from the blog..


Wednesday, 9 November 2011

A sad note

Today I got back from work and heard the news that Heavy D, (his real name being Dwight Arrington Meyers died today at 44,).

Here is a picture of what he looks like.

I'm not to sure of the cause of his death, apparently he was having difficulty in breathing, and died shortly after arriving at hospital.

The full account can be obtained from here:
Brief account on the death of Heavy D

I remember Heavy D, from when I was unemployed and MTV had started, my Mum had just got cable tv (television), we (my cousin and my nephew, niece and myself) used to rush around the tv to watch "Yo MTV Raps", and they had video channel called "The Box", which was a jukebox, and you can request a video. They were our favourite channels.

I loved this video, called "Dem no worry we" - by Supercat featuring Heavy D. I loved the video, it is truly multicultural in a Jamaican styley. Heavy D's performance was sharp and well delivered. Before that time when African-Americans did reggae, it never quite worked according to my mind. But Heavy D, did it superbly. Later, I did find out that he is indeed a Jamaican, no wonder!! Enough of the talk, here's a link to the clip. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do, he brought happiness and joy with his music, thank you Heavy D. I hope he finds true peace where he is now.

Heavy D is better known for the hit "Now that we've found love", but to me "Dem no worry we" eclipses that any day, any time. I still like the song, 20 years later. I didn't like "Now that we've found love" much then and that still remains the case.

Here is the link for "Now that we found love".
"Now that we found love" - by Heavy D

Monday, 7 November 2011

A call to face Africa's challenges from the hills of Rwanda

I came across this article, it was encouraging to read that there are people in Africa, who engage in true talk. I agree with the author (Shyaka Kanuma). A new way of thinking is introduced here.

A new way of thinking from Rwanda

I like this piece, it deals with the prevailing attitude that exists amongst Africans. The sooner people forsake the easy option of blaming outsiders and wake up to the challenges that the continent faces, Africa will get up from it's knees and begin to walk with the rest of humanity (as opposed to being held by the hand and led astray as is currently the case).

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Our best days may be behind us...

There has been a lot of talk about the world population hitting 7 billion people recently. This has been a source of concern for those who worried about the future of mankind.

In the case of Nigeria, this even more urgent, the last head count says there are 167,912,561 people in Nigeria. The population is increasing at a rate of 5.6 million people per annum. Now to any sensible person, that is a lot of people to add every year.

This wouldn't be so bad, but in the case of Nigeria, this can not be viewed as a outstanding success. Due to Nigeria's failure to hold up any tangible, positive achievement to show the rest of the world. Nigerians are left desperately clasping at straws like saying "Nigeria is the giant of Africa", and "oil". This is rather sad and pathetic to my mind. The oil within Nigeria, has nothing to do with Nigerians manufacturing it, it was there before anyone even knew what oil was, it was (good) fortune that it lay within what is now called Nigeria.

As for the population, children are a good thing. But like any other good thing, you can get too much of it. Nigerians tend to smirk that theirs is one of the largest populations in the world. Why the smirk? Are they the only ones who know how to reproduce? I think not. Is Nigeria the size of Russia, with millions of square miles of fertile and, the answer is again no. Do Nigerians love their children more than anyone else in the world, definitely not. Is there a need for such a large population, given that technology is reducing the need for man power? There is no need for such a large population.

In other parts of the world, controlled population growth goes hand in hand with an ordered society, one where it's citizens are happy to live. In Nigeria population growth is not controlled and this government like all previous governments doesn't regard this as an issue. With a country that is losing significant amounts of agricultural land due to desertification in the north, and soil erosion in the south, along with subsistence farming . The destruction of the environment by the poor to survive (ie collection of firewood etc), accompanied by governments who don't and can't meet their needs, doesn't make for a happy future. With dwindling agricultural land, unsustainable agricultural policies, it seems Nigeria may never again be in the position to feed itself. This accompanied by a lack of an industrial base, or technological base, means future generations will become poorer. Even if the country were to fall apart. The Sahelian region would be least likely to cope with rapid population growth, desertification and climate change, the best they can hope for is to spoil for a war with it's southern neighbour(s), as they have nothing to lose.

Political leadership at the centre (Abuja) is at best weak, and  prone to gimmicks, and is myopic in nature. The population at large is hostage to a cocktail of increasing ethnic chauvinism, religious misinterpretation, cultural resistance, intolerance, rampant corruption and mismanagement, which do not make for a bright future. The country has escaped to date, due to the unimaginative solution of exploiting the mineral resources (namely oil and gas deposits), but these are finite and non-renewable, and once exhausted there is nothing in place to generate significant income.

By the year 2020, Nigeria would have surpassed 200 million people. This is more than the population of the whole of Southern Africa (the SADC  region (Southern Africa development community)  on a fraction of the surface area. The UN (United Nations) estimates that by the year 2050, Nigeria will be the fourth most populous country in the world. (that is a disaster).

To make things even more tricky, how can you urge people to have less children? Even the educated have large families, I've several aunts and uncles who have more than their fair share of degrees and have an average of eight children per family. So if the middle class won't listen, what hope do you have to persuade the poor? In other parts of the world, this is a natural benefit of increasing education, but Nigeria bucks the trend.

Another point to consider, is that Nigerians are satisfied with low standards. Those educated southerners in Nigeria are proud that they have the highest literacy rates in Nigeria, with the south-west with 73.6 per cent, the south-south with 71.9%, and the south-east with 74.1%, the north central has 54.9%, and the other northern regions ie north-west 33.9% and north-east 33.8%.

These figures are taken from

Compare that to Kerala state in Southern India, they have 100% literacy amongst female children, (it goes without saying that for boys it's also 100%), and population growth not just in Kerala but throughout Southern India has reached replacement levels.  You can see with this comparison, that there is still a lot of work to do in Nigeria on this front. At it's very best around 26% are uneducated, in the worst case 67% are illiterate.

With future generations facing increasing poverty, conflicts over land and resources will be more common. The best, the educated class can hope for is to escape Nigeria and take up residence, in some other land where the government had the foresight to plan for the future needs of the host population. Nigeria is not blessed like other African nations like DR Congo (Democratic republic of Congo), with large areas of unsettled fertile land with relatively small populations, the crunch time is fast approaching, so there is less room to manoeuvre. It is not by mistake that Nigeria is third world.

Nigeria will soon become synonymous with not just corruption, but how badly can one destroy a country so completely. Other countries will look and say, "well at least we are not as bad as you!" This is all rather tragic because it is avoidable, with some consistent effort.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Le cygne (The Swan): Camille Saint-Saens

I couldn't think of a better way to end the month. I adore Saint-Saens' music, being as influenced as he was by two of my favourite composers, Sebastian Bach and Amadeus Mozart. Saint-Saens famously wrote,
"What gives Sebastian Bach and Mozart a place apart is that these two great expressive composers never sacrificed form to expression. As high as their expression may soar, their musical form remains supreme and all-sufficient".
Camille Saint-Saens (9 October 1835 – 16 December 1921), was a French late-Romantic composer and he is known especially for his 'Carnival of the Animals', a musical suite of fourteen movements, most of which relate to various members of the animal kingdom, from the Lion and the Tortoise, to birds, (Aviary) and fish, (Aquarium). Le cygne (or The Swan in English) is the 13th movement and is the most famous movement of the suite. Enjoy..

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Today's LGBT Icon..

LGBT History Month celebrates the achievements of 31 lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender Icons.

Each day in October, a new LGBT Icon is featured with a video, bio, bibliography, downloadable images and other resources

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Ghana: Somewhere over the rainbow

The following works were produced and written by Mark S. Luckie and published by UC Berkeley's School of Journalism. I have not obtained copyright permission to reproduce the works here, but have instead chosen to post the links to the various stories. The stories were developed on a reporting trip to Ghana by Mr Luckie during the 50th anniversary of the country's independence from Britain. While there, he discovered the legal and social persecution gays face, how some men, both gay and straight, are driven to gay prostitution for the money and the Ghanaian government's failure to address the problem of HIV/AIDS within the gay community.

(Please click on each of the various titles appearing below to visit the webpage on which the story appears).

Homosexuality is considered evil and disgraceful by many Ghanaians and any public display of affection or accusation of being homosexual could mean swift arrest and jail time under Ghanaian law.

Ghanaians are known for their enterprising spirit and using their resources to sustain themselves financially. For some men, that means selling the only resource they have - their bodies.

Homosexual acts are illegal in Ghana and many in the country blame gay people for the spread of HIV/AIDS, yet there is no government agency that directly targets the prevention of the disease within the gay community.

A look at the HIV/AIDS prevention advertisements in Ghana and how the advertisements lead many gay men and women to believe that HIV/AIDS is a heterosexual disease.

Author's Note: I think that the works make for some great reading and starkly enunciate the reality, without being judgemental.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Man's inhumanity 2: Burned alive by angry mob..

I came across this story titled Gay African Man Beaten, Burned Alive by Angry Mob (Extremely Graphic Video) in which the assertion was repeatedly made that the victim of this gruesome incident captured on film was a gay man, beaten and burned alive because of his sexuality. At the same time, the story points out at length that nobody knows who the victim is, or even in which country the incident occurred. The only thing the author seemed to know for sure is that the victim was a gay man.

Well, I am way too squeamish to have watched more than the first few minutes of the video and so I am unaware if anything was said or done by those in the video to confirm what was said in the story about the victim's sexuality.

If there is anyone who has the stomach to watch it in full, I would be grateful if they could confirm to us whether in fact the video reveals that this was a gay man and that he was so brutally put to death because of his sexuality. Otherwise, I am inclined (with all due respect to the unfortunate victim in the video), to think of this story as another instance of gay people jumping on the 'victim' bandwagon.

That aside, what this video clearly shows us in graphic detail, is the degree of cruelty and inhumanity that we humans are capable of. And the presence of a large crowd of spectators too, obviously amused and entertained, speaks volumes. In which way now are these murderers better than the person that they killed? On whose behalf were they doing this? God's?

Click here for Man's inhumanity 1

Trouble sleep, yanga wake am..

Fela from 1972. I grew up listening to music like this. Timeless..

Monday, 10 October 2011

Foreign Aid and Homophobic African Governments..

Recently came the news that homophobic countries in Africa are to have financial aid from Britain cut.
"In itself, such a move should be applauded. Countries where gay people are persecuted, imprisoned or even killed merely on account of their sexuality should be treated as pariah states. Giving money ostensibly to relieve need in places where such true human rights to life and liberty are routinely snuffed out like this is quite obscene," observes the UK's Daily Mail newspaper's Melanie Phillips.
While I welcome this move and think of it as being long overdue, I believe that the timing of the UK government's announcement is significant, coming just after a Conservative Party conference at which the Tories attempted to boost a compassionate image of their party - a move that has been widely scorned as being a stunt. After all, it is not only gay people who are being persecuted in many of these countries. Several other social groups also suffer abuse, as for example in Islamic countries, where women continue to suffer systematic oppression. Yet we hear of no plans to cut aid to their countries on their account.

I think that this announcement might be a sweetener for those who have criticised the Cameron government for continuing to increase its foreign aid programme at a time when the same government is carrying out deep spending cuts at home. Prime Minister Cameron has famously stated that continuing to increase the aid programme at the time of austerity is a "sign of moral strength".

However, when one considers that the UK is having to borrow huge sums of cash from parts of the developing world, such as the Middle East and China just to stay afloat, but is at the same time doling out enormous sums in aid to poorer developing countries in Africa and Asia, one cannot but wonder whether the government's critics don't have a point. More so when the facts are that: although the budget for the UK's Department for International Development is set to increase from the current £8 billion per year to £11.5 billion by 2015, the Home Office budget, which pays for the Police and counter terrorism within the UK, has been cut over the same period, from £10.1 billion in the current financial year, to £8.3 billion in 2014/15. Yet, it is still the case that much of the aid given to poorer countries is not capable of being monitored as to how it is utilised.

Aid funds are manipulated by tyrants in order to oppress, enslave, suppress and even kill their own people and to prop up their brutal and corrupt regimes. (I will refrain from mentioning names, but to bear out this argument, there seems to be a correlation between those African countries most reliant on foreign aid, and those with the most brutally oppressive regimes). It has been argued (disingenuously in my view) that the problem of misapplication of aid funds is a thing of the past, and that aid budgets have now been made "rigorously accountable". But even the UK government-established Independent Commission on Aid Impact has stated that up to 27 per cent of the UK's aid budget goes directly to the recipient countries' governments to spend as they choose. A further one-third of official aid money goes to expert international bodies such as the World Bank and the United Nations. Only a relatively small amount is spent by the UK Government directly on humanitarian projects.

Therefore, governments that are recipients of foreign aid are free on the larger part, to do what they please with the money that they receive. This money is seen as easy pickings by those in power in those countries. And far from helping poor nations rise from destitution, foreign aid has encouraged dependency, fostered corruption and prevented the development of the free institutions of government and civil society, whose absence is the principal cause of the poverty in the first place. Also, to protect the rights of gay African people, it will not be nearly enough merely to force African countries to repeal or amend their anti-gay legislation. There must overall be changes in societal attitudes too, yet it is difficult for me to envisage how the withholding of foreign aid alone will bring those changes about.

In conclusion, I must express how strongly I feel about the fact that several decades after achieving independence from their former colonial masters, many African countries continue to rely so very heavily on financial aid from abroad, such that this aid has been allowed to become a whip with which African governments can be flogged into submission. This is another count in the long indictment against the leadership that the African people have had inflicted upon them..

Rays of hope theme continued

I decided to create another post, even though it is a continuation of the previous post.

The view points articulated by such prominent Americans from the video clip above stands in direct contrast to the hate-filled stance being advocated across much of sub-Saharan Africa. This includes passing legislation specifically designed to imprison people for being gay as in this case

Anti-gay legislisation from Nigeria

or public ministers pushing for a public witch-hunt of gay people, here

Public intolerance in Ghana

These kind of examples are more akin to the atmoshpere in pre world war II Germany.

With these two camps ie the intolerant view coming from Africa or the tolerant view from America. For me I will take my stand with that of the Americans on this point. Colin Powell and Phylicia Rashad win, hands down. Phylicia has presence and authority, she could bring sanity to the most ignorant hot-head.

On another point they held a Pan-African film festival. I was surprised that to have the term LGBTI and African mentioned in the same breadth, would even be tolerated by the African contingent. Some great themes and issues were being explored here. It was interesting to note the consciousness that some actors displayed.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Rays of hope from the land of the free

I was having a browse on a gay search engine (as I do), and came across this.

It seems very interesting and is long overdue. Here's a brief description
No More Down Low.TV is a groundbreaking, one-of-a-kind lifestyle and entertainment series dedicated to dispelling myths and stereotypes about same gender-loving people in the African American community.
I couldn't have put it better myself, so I didn't; I just borrowed that from the About page on the site. While there I also found out that the site was launched in 2010, so it's been around a while. It's free to check out the blog and look around, see what's new and happening in the areas the site covers, and you're going to find that this isn't just your ordinary blog. There are lots of posts and interviews and the episodes of themselves, of course, but there's also a community area and bonus videos. Perfect, a great place to check out LGBT issues concerning the African American community.

It is a relief to know that change can come from a land that is more enlightened, than Africa & the Caribbean (for the most part). It makes a refreshing change than to read of stories such as,

Ghana Rounding Up And Arresting Gays & Nigeria: Days of Gay Marriage will soon be Numbered

which are all too depressing to dwell on.

However as the esteemed Akin says on his blog:

"In other words, the concept of the acceptance of homosexuality in Africa will only be under duress from free societies in negotiations for other things than it becoming an accepted thing in society.."

This is not to say the struggle for equality should be left solely to those overseas, the more intimidating and infinitely more dangerous campaign must continue from the home base also.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

You're on a 1980s music trip this weekend. Gloria Estefan's 'Don't Wanna Lose You' triggers memories of something that came into your life at that time, but lingers in your mind long after it was extinguished; bringing with it thoughts of bittersweet moments that can only be triggered by a piece of music such as this. Like wine aged as time has passed, your appreciation of that long-lost thing has deepened. And with melancholy, you push the replay button, again. And again..

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Nigeria: A Nation?? at 51

By Zainab Usman

“ ‘Nigeria is a state, not yet a nation’. Discuss” was the very first continuous assessment essay question for GENS 101, Nationalism course in my first year and first semester at Ahmadu Bello University Zaria. Myself and many of my classmates probably wrote complete drivel in a bid to answer it partly because we were fresh out of secondary school and hardly understood or were able to distinguish the concepts of statehood and nationhood, and partly because the lecturer hardly came to class to actually “teach” that module. It was not until relatively recently that I got to fully appreciate the weight and import of these concepts, how they relate to me as a citizen and why I was asked that question at the university. This question of Nigeria’s statehood and its viability as a nation was an issue our immediate post independence leaders were confronted with at independence in 1960 and remarkably more recently, as Nigeria marks 51 since the attainment of political independence, Nigerians are increasingly asking the same question: whether we recognize ourselves as members of a single Nigerian nation, bound by common values of Nigerian-ness.

At independence, Nigeria’s political leaders were acutely aware of the socio-economic and political challenges confronting the newly independent entity and were aware of the profound socio-cultural divergence between the hitherto autonomous northern, eastern and western regions. As former US Ambassador to Nigeria John Campbell rightly notes, the nationalist leaders, their differences notwithstanding recognized the need for unity under the common banner of a democratic Nigerian state due to shared ideals for the pursuit of economic development, governance according to the rule of law and to serve as a beacon for other African countries on the global stage. These ideals were embodied in the lofty motto “unity and faith, peace and progress” as inscribed in the Nigerian Coat of Arms.

Along the line, after years of intense elite bickering, military coups, a civil war, electoral manipulation and fraud, those common values, yearnings and aspirations have become lost on both leaders and followers in Nigeria. A typical manifestation of this phenomenon is that some Nigerians, from students and civil servants to public office holders cannot recite the national anthem or the national pledge. The basic philosophy of our Nigerian-ness after more than 5 decades has become lost amidst the rubble of crippling poverty, increasing inequality between the haves and the have-nots, the dearth and near collapse of infrastructure, alarming level of insecurity, intensification of ethnic, regional and religious cleavages and animosity amongst citizens, infamous bad leadership and scandalous corruption.

All these have culminated in a political leadership that is confused, mediocre and grossly inefficient populated by a corrupt, self-seeking, and fractured political elite devoid of patriotism, nationalistic pride and sovereignty as the recent batch of Wikileaks cables on Nigeria have revealed. This leadership and elite have not only resulted in weak and dysfunctional state institutions but also a followership which in the absence of effective and inspiring leadership is distrustful of such leadership, and is mutually antagonistic of one another; a followership bedevilled by poverty, inequality, marginalization and a sense of injustice that is increasingly becoming desperate, disillusioned and militant. The militant and violent Movement for the Emancipation of Niger-Delta (MEND) recently warned Nigerians to steer clear of Independence Day celebrations in Abuja because it claimed it was planning a bomb attack.

A leadership which lacks nationalism and patriotism similarly inspires a followership that has little nationalistic pride and devotion. For several years many Nigerians, save the ones in government who have to participate in official protocol, hardly genuinely participate in the Independence Day celebrations. What celebrations can you participate-in when there is hardly power (electricity), when several bombs have gone-off in various parts of a city, when you are grieving over the loss of a relative or friend who died in a ghastly road accident, when newspaper headlines are daily screaming with sordid salacious stories of government corruption and inefficiency, when parents have several graduates loitering aimlessly at home unemployed and where university students nurse a perpetual mortal fear of finding themselves stranded, unemployed in the labour market?

Interestingly, while acknowledging many of these enormous problems, one basic fact which most Nigerians fail to recognize or prefer to (willingly) overlook is our role in it all. It has almost become an automatic reflexive action for everyone to quickly attribute Nigeria’s problems to bad leadership (which is not under dispute). It is almost a comical irony to read the transcript of interviews with some legislators, ministers or other public office holders and hear them complain about bad leadership as the bane of Nigeria’s problems forgetting that they actually constitute such “leadership”. It is as though the concept of leadership in this context has assumed the notion of a nebulous, abstract bogey-monster which provides an escapist punching bag for us to blame for our woes. In our eagerness to blame “bad leadership”, we conveniently forget that those leaders are not foreigners or aliens, but are part and parcel of our society – they were once ordinary citizens like us and are an embodiment of the nature, the pulse and attitude of our society. We fail to remember that if we want our leaders to change, we need to change our ways, our mindset and re-assess our aspirations so that the leaders will reflect those values and when they falter or waver we make them (or pressure them) to toe those lines.

After 51 years of “independence” and over 12 years of democracy we are yet to accept that change has to come from within all of us. If we have forgotten or we no longer respect the philosophy and common values that bind us together, if we have relegated our yearnings and aspirations for a developed, progressing, stable and effectively governed and democratic Nigeria where everyone is equal and can realize their full potentials, then how do we expect our leaders to be any different from us and miraculously have the much desired “interest of the nation at heart”?

As Nigeria marks 51 years since independence, we need to embark on a sober reflection of what Nigeria means to each of us, and what role we have played and are playing in the state of Nigeria today. A nation is built when it’s constituent inhabitants recognize the common values and aspirations they share despite their differences and how crucial it is to safeguard and protect those ideals in every sphere of life. Until we recognize and embrace that, our march towards nation-hood will continue faltering.

Cross posted from Nigerians Talk

Friday, 23 September 2011

Coming back to the future..

Its been quite a while since I've put something up on this blog. The reason for this is that I've been otherwise preoccupied, my time being taken up by professional disciplinary proceedings, which commenced just over three years ago, but came to a climax over the last few weeks. (I had mentioned it previously on this blog here and here).

It has not been easy having to wait for such a long time and having to live with the uncertainty about the future that is of necessity in such circumstances. For me it is a matter of great relief that finally the proceedings have concluded and the long wait is over. Of course you would expect me to divulge the outcome of the proceedings and I will, but only to a limited extent, given that those proceedings are not the real subject of this post. To assuage your curiosity though, suffice it to say that the outcome for me in particular was a reasonably good one, given all of the circumstances.

I have emerged in a considerably better position than I had imagined and am now able, after a period of prolonged professional paralysis, to think about and consider the future. And this relatively favourable outcome is essentially thanks to the assistance of a wonderfully brilliant senior barrister, whose services I would not normally be able to afford but for the great professional indemnity insurance policy that I had ensured was taken out by my former firm, which included cover for legal representation before the disciplinary tribunal.

So now that hurdle is in the past and the time has come for me to pick up the pieces of my career, which I must admit is in unmitigated tatters. I feel almost as if midway through my working life, I am now required to start my career afresh, when one is at that age when Human Resources departments are not exactly falling over themselves to take you on; together with the added disadvantage of the world being in the middle of a horrendous economic crisis. I now find myself wondering why I ever imagined that the end of the disciplinary proceedings would also bring to an end the uncertainty about the future, the apprehension and the worry.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Monday, 29 August 2011

On Boko Haram..

John Campbell of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) sounding the alarm on Boko Haram in November 2010. Mr Campbell was pointing out that "deteriorating economic and social conditions in Northern Nigeria are behind the recurring upsurge in Boko Haram's activity".

Mr Campbell also wrote this blog after the bombing of the UN office building in Abuja, Nigeria last Friday, in which he suggests that although Boko Haram has not been part of an international terrorist movement, the group has doubtlessly had contact with Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb and with Al-Shabaab. (For more of Campbell on Nigeria, click here).

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Witchcraft and superstition in Africa (a view from Australia)

Yesterday, (23/08/2011)

I heard a broadcast.

Click here for the broadcast

It featured Leo Igwe, I had never heard of the man before. He was introduced as a humanist, and a founder of the Nigerian humanist movement, Nigerian skeptic society. He is also a Director – International Humanist and Ethical Union for West and Central Africa.

Since I didn’t know what a “humanist” was, I looked it up.

“Humanism is the belief that we can live good lives without religious or superstitious beliefs. Humanists make sense of the world using reason, experience and shared human values. We seek to make the best of the one life we have by creating meaning and purpose for ourselves. We take responsibility for our actions and work with others for the common good..

So now I know what humanist is. Ok, back to Leo Igwe.

He kicked off his introduction with this line

…"My country is deeply religious and we have very little to show for that in terms of progress, development, tolerance and civilised values. Deep religiosity in my country has brought us so much hatred, conflict, division and discrimination…

This is a point of view, I would never have expected someone in a prominent position from Nigeria to ever say, speaking the truth so clearly, unambiguously and addressing issues head-on, without a huge dose of denial of basic facts. Unlike the former foreign minister Ojo Maduekwe, who said “there are no gays in Nigeria”. People of the ilk of Mr Maduekwe , all too often occupy prominent positions in Nigeria. So to hear someone like Mr Igwe speaking was literally a breath of “fresh air”, he didn’t gloss over the gory facts . Anyway, he talked about how religion has been twisted and used to persecute individuals within society based on the idea that they are perceived to be witches or wizards.

Society has been effectively hijacked by religious zealots (from many faiths), that many of politicans whom you would expect to defend the defenseless are rendered impotent, due to them either believing the doctrine pedaled by many Pentecostal churches (in this particular case), or they rely on the followers of Pentecostal churches.

Step in reason, logic, self-responsibility to dispel this mania of superstition that pervades Nigeria and much of sub-Saharan Africa. The skeptics society and humanist society, are slowly changing minds, encouraging people to think for themselves, so hopefully this practice of targeting individuals on account of sorcery will come to an end.

This behaviour is not confined to Nigeria alone.

"Cases of children being accused of witchcraft occur particularly in at least eight countries in west and central Africa: Benin, Gabon, Nigeria, Liberia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo Brazzaville and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)."

Click here

To hear of people like Mr Igwe, shows that the candle of hope still flickers against the odds in Nigeria.

Some other relevant links can be found below.

Belief in Witchcraft in Africa

The religious climate in Nigeria

Friday, 19 August 2011

Human Trafficking: The Nigerian Connection

Some really interesting stuff. A direct consequence of the dereliction of duty by government and the potent combination of poverty and ignorance. I have previously discussed this issue in my post Sex, Lies and Black Magic.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Climate Change Adaptation and Conflict in Nigeria

"Climate change, a growing number of voices in media and policy circles warn, is raising the risks of violent conflict in the twenty-first century. Dire futures are predicted for some of the world's poorest, least prepared countries and their most vulnerable citizens. This report, (authored by Aaron Sayne, who in July 2011 published policy recommendations with background on Nigeria's Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB)), is sponsored by the Centers of Innovation at the U.S. Institute of Peace and evaluates these claims for conflict-prone Nigeria.

Based on a comprehensive literature survey, interviews with senior government officials, academics and private sector figures and the author's work as a conflict analyst in Nigeria, the report calls for a more nuanced approach to mapping the links between climate change and conflict. It reviews evidence of such links in Nigeria and outlines a process for achieving conflict-sensitive adaptation to the effects of climate change."

Click on this link for the 16-page Special Report

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Friday, 12 August 2011

Hot Cities: Dakar, Senegal

From the Rockefeller Foundation's landmark documentary series, 'Hot Cities', which premièred on BBC World News in 2009 and explores the impact of climate change on urban areas. The series was released just as world leaders were conducting negotiations leading up to the United Nations Climate Conference in Copenhagen.

Click here to watch in full all of the episodes in the 8 - part series.

The underlying message in the case of Senegal, as with several other African nations in a similar situation and facing similar circumstances, is, in my estimation, that in a world with a rapidly changing climate, governments should understand more acutely the need for investment in food security. The problems of 'climate change migration' and 'climate change refugees' that were predicted, are now becoming a reality.

Increased urbanisation will make the dangers of global poverty and climate crises especially acute in cities. The concentration of low-income people in high risk areas and on an ecologically fragile land will increasingly expose millions to the consequences of imminent and worsening climate disruption.

The problems associated with climate change are among the most serious that many African countries face. Yet I fear that too few on the continent are aware of this, understand the seriousness of the situation and recognise the potentially dire consequences of failing in a timely manner to tackle the looming crises head on.

Monday, 8 August 2011

On climate, hotspots and poverty..

It is, of course, poor people – and especially those in marginalised social groups like women, children, the elderly and disabled – who will suffer most from [climate] changes. This is because the impact of humanitarian disasters is as much a result of people’s vulnerability as their exposure to hazards. – CARE International (2008), Humanitarian Implications of Climate Change: Mapping Emerging Trends and Risk Hotspots.

What is a climate hotspot?

A climate hotspot is an area that is facing particularly high impact from global warming and climate change and is most vulnerable to its deleterious (or injurious) effects. With regard specifically to environmental factors and global warming, a hotspot can be assessed using the indicators below (from It’s important to keep in mind that the impacts from climate change reach well beyond the natural world, affecting social, political, and economic arenas as well.


Indicators of a widespread and long-term trend toward warmer global temperatures, including:

Heat waves and periods of unusually warm weather, which can lead to increases in heat-related illness and death, particularly in urban areas and among the elderly, young, ill, or poor.

Ocean warming, sea-level rise, and coastal flooding. “A continuing rise in average global sea level would inundate parts of many heavily populated river deltas and the cities on them, making them uninhabitable, and would destroy many beaches around the world,” according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a group of 2,000 scientists which advises the United Nations (Tacio, 2009).

Glaciers melting. As glaciers continue to shrink, summer water flows will drop sharply, disrupting an important source of water for irrigation and power in many areas that rely on mountain watersheds.

Arctic and Antarctic warming. Melting permafrost is forcing the reconstruction of roads, airports, and buildings and is increasing erosion and the frequency of landslides. Reduced sea ice and ice shelves, changes in snowfall, and pest infestations affect native plants and animals that provide food and resources to many people.


Events that foreshadow the types of impacts likely to become more frequent and widespread with continued warming.

Spreading disease. Warmer temperatures allow mosquitoes that transmit diseases such as malaria and dengue fever to extend their ranges and increase both their biting rate and their ability to infect humans.

Earlier spring arrival. An earlier spring may disrupt animal migrations, alter competitive balances among species, and cause other unforeseen problems.

Plant and animal range shifts and population changes, in some cases leading to extinction where warming occurs faster than they can respond or if human development presents barriers to their migration.

Coral reef bleaching, which results from the loss of microscopic algae that both color and nourish living corals. Other factors that contribute to coral reef bleaching include nutrient and sediment runoff, pollution, coastal development, dynamiting of reefs, and natural storm damage.

Downpours, heavy snowfalls, and flooding

Droughts and fires. Along with the human toll, sustained drought makes wildfires more likely, and crops and trees more vulnerable to pest infestations and disease.

The case of Burkina Faso

What makes Burkina Faso a hotspot? Along with heat waves and prolonged periods of unusually warm weather, Burkina Faso has been increasingly facing a number of the harbingers listed above, including extended droughts, downpours, and flooding, along with unpredictable planting seasons.

Jan Egeland, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on conflict, has called the Sahel region of West Africa, which includes northern Burkina Faso, “ground zero” for vulnerabilities to climate change (IRIN, 2008, “Sahel: Region is “ground zero” for climate change – Egeland”). He further observed, “Climate change in Burkina Faso does not mean there is less rain, it means that rainfall has got less predictable. And weather overall has become much more extreme. . . . [in 2007] in Burkina Faso, there were eight rainfalls over 150mm – that means eight major floods in one four month period. The alternative to floods is basically no rainfall – it’s all or nothing, and either way is a crisis for some of the poorest people on earth” (IRIN, 2008, “Sahel: Climate Change Diary Day 1”).

A report on the The Humanitarian Implications of Climate Change (2008) commissioned by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and CARE International identifies the Sahel region of Africa as facing “high overall human vulnerability” to climate change in the coming decades. Burkina Faso is identified as one of the hotspots at risk from climate change in another recent study as well, which focuses on countries in sub-Saharan Africa most vulnerable to climate change (Thornton et al., 2008). Both studies looked at a combination of environmental, social, and economic factors in assessing vulnerability.

Burkina Faso has one of the highest poverty rates in the world, and the majority of the population relies on subsistence agriculture, making the Burkinabe particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. These factors combined with a high rate of illiteracy, a poor communications and technology infrastructure, and a struggling education system combine to make Burkina Faso an important country of focus for a study not only of climate hotspots.

Friday, 5 August 2011

My fifteen minutes of fame..

For a while, I was undecided whether to title this post 'Fifteen Minutes to Save the World', a play on Madonna's song '4 Minutes'. I settled for the one above though, because this more accurately describes what happened last evening, when I was invited by a Dublin radio station, Dublin City FM 103.2, to participate in a 'lively discussion' on the crisis in the Horn of Africa, broadcast live. My role, I think, was to bring to the discussion arguments from the perspective of the angry and frustrated African, since I have previously strongly made the assertion that African governments and their peoples have repeatedly demonstrated an almost shameful lack of interest in, and concern for, the very serious human tragedy that is the drought and famine in Somalia and other countries in the Horn of Africa.

I received the invitation only a few hours before the scheduled live broadcast and hence had insufficient time to notify everyone, although I did put out the word on Twitter and Facebook. The last time I was on a radio show was on the BBC World Service and as far as I am aware, nobody who knows me tuned in then. When BBC Radio 5 invited me subsequently to join in a discussion on the then impending Nigerian National Assembly Election, I dis-invited myself, for reasons I had no control over. So yesterday, it was important to me that somebody listened and that they should give me some reaction afterwards.

And fortunately, just five minutes before the show began my niece who lives in Lagos, Nigeria said "Hi Uncle" on Facebook. After hurriedly explaining to her that I was on the cusp of joining in a live radio show, I sent her the web link to the radio station's website, since the show was to be broadcast online as well. And so, apart from the several thousand Dubliners who were tuned in and would have heard my "passionate" and "heartfelt" remarks, a member of my family too listened in.

And the reaction she gave when we chatted afterwards was good too. I mean my niece is no pushover, (she holds a Masters Degree in International Business from a top UK university and holds down a senior position in the banking world), so her reaction really did matter to me. I was concerned, because I know of my tendency to be ardent and impassioned, (which even years of advocacy before the courts has done little to improve), especially when the subject-matter is one about which I feel strongly, as yesterday's was. I feared that I would stall and stammer, as occurred while on the BBC World Service, when uncharacteristically I stuttered and became tongue-tied and ran out of words altogether, lol.

But no, It was great to have the opportunity to express my views concerning this very important issue, the importance of which going by the evidence, few Africans seem to be aware of, or to be interested in. Many are nonchalant - the African Union has coughed up a measly $300,000 in relief aid, whereas, the British public alone has so far put together donations amounting to in excess of £44 million. My niece later commented that there was little talk, appreciation or awareness in Nigeria of the seriousness of the crisis; in a situation where even the governments of Africa believe that in times of crisis such as this, relief ought always to come from elsewhere other than Africa..

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Deep Blue Something's "Breakfast at Tiffany's", one song that won't go away..

Friday, 29 July 2011

The Maroon Cultures, what do you know about them?

Its interesting how much of Black history we have not been taught and have to find out for ourselves. I've recently been reading about the Maroon cultures in the Americas and I'm surprised to learn of the extent of the sustained and meaningful black resistance to the indignity and cruelty of African slavery.

These histories are by far more culturally relevant to me than the history of the Habsburgs of Europe, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the German Kaisers and other such European lore that I was made to write exams about, or the Chaucer, Milton, Shakespeare and Keats that I was force-fed as a schoolboy in West-Africa all those years ago. It is shocking how much of our true history is unknown to many of us.

The resistance put up by these heroic peoples is much too important to our sense of self-worth and to our pride and dignity as a people and I think it is almost criminal that it has been allowed to remain suppressed for so long.

I expect to be doing a more detailed piece on this soon, detailing the achievements of these brave African peoples, who resisted oppression and fought back, successfully in many cases. Please seek out information concerning this important part of the history of our people, if you can. Peace..

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Lagos, a crisis of overpopulation, poverty and slums..

The startling issues reported in this video do not seem to feature on the agenda of the authorities in Nigeria. The Nigerian government, like most of its other African counterparts, continues to demonstrate obliviousness of its responsibility towards the nation's citizens. As things stand, the future of the ordinary Nigerian citizen living in his own country is bleak, given that the country's population is expected to double within 30 years. The situation in Lagos is replicated albeit on a smaller scale, in towns and cities all over the country.

No, you never hear anyone talk about overpopulation in Nigeria. What you hear of instead is how everyone is expected to have children of their own, with little consideration given to the living conditions into which these children are to be born, or the quality of life that they will be expected to have after they are brought into the world. It is unsurprising that Nigeria, a comparatively wealthy African country, continues to hold firmly to her position in the Low Human Development countries (145 out of 172 in 2011, but 142 out of 172 in 2010, so Nigeria is actually sliding down the table) in the Human Development Index (HDI).

Rather than tackling the really difficult issues that confront the nation, what I hear from Nigeria (and many Nigerians), is a whole lot of high-sounding nonsense, narrative and rhetoric which to my mind smacks of collective self-deception; a seeming pretence that ours is a "normal" country, as if these difficult issues will simply go away when we ignore them, when we do not discuss them, or when we pretend that they don't exist.

Seeking to improve the quality of life for the ordinary Nigerian is not a matter that has been taken sufficiently seriously, unfortunately, despite the increasing urgency for this in a world with a fast expanding population, one in which competition for resources (and markets) will intensify significantly in the coming decades. It is trite that a more developed society is better placed to compete successfully than a less developed one is and unless we begin to do something about this now, going by the current predictions, our society's place in a future post-oil world will be very different from that which any of us, as Nigerians, would wish for it to be.

Published also on the website Nigerians Talk

Sunday, 24 July 2011

You Know I'm No Good..

I cheated myself,
Like I knew I would
I told you, I was trouble
You know that I'm no good..

Here also..

Rest In Peace, Amy..

Saturday, 23 July 2011

How sad is this..

Someone for whom I always had a soft spot died today. It came on the news this evening that Amy Winehouse was found dead in her north London flat earlier this afternoon. This is how the BBC reports it and the Manchester Evening News.

Aged 27, Amy was too young to die, depriving the world of a huge musical talent. She was much vilified and was even booed recently at a concert in Serbia, where she is said to have been so drunk while on stage, that she could only mumble the lyrics of her songs. Yes, she was troubled and had a problem with drugs and drink, but there is one school of thought that refers to addiction as an illness.

And doped as she apparently always seemed to be, she still belted out her songs on stage to much acclaim until recently. I am particularly affected by her loss because she endeared herself to me with her rebellious, unconventional character, since I am one who will admire anyone who is bold enough to fly in the face of convention. This is a very sad evening for me..

Amy Winehouse performing 'Valerie' at Hyde Park in London at a concert organised as part of the Nelson Mandela 90th Birthday celebrations. The 'enfant terrible' of her generation, she will be sadly missed. R. I. P.

Take a look at this one too.. How sad..

Thursday, 21 July 2011

West Africa - The case for more regional integration

The Oakland Institute in collaboration with Action Against Hunger (ACF) have published a new Report, titled ACHIEVING REGIONAL INTEGRATION: The key to success for the fight against hunger in West Africa

You may download the Report Here (pdf).

In the report, the argument is made that if West African nations do not move decisively towards regional integration, no amount of money, development, or agricultural technology, will be sufficient or effective at ending hunger.

Frederic Mousseau, Policy Director at the Oakland Institute and author of the report asserts that
"many issues, such as price volatility, are regional by essence and cannot be tackled effectively by individual countries. Without integration most West African states will remain subject to the agenda and goodwill of international donors, institutions and richer countries.

Resource-poor African governments need to implement regional policies for sustainable food production, smoother regional trade and regulated agricultural markets.."

The report elaborates on the potential for ECOWAP (the Regional Agricultural Policy for West Africa), which is a "comprehensive and ground-breaking food and agriculture common policy in West Africa," to bring durable solutions to hunger and poverty.

My own take on this is that African governments cannot begin soon enough to take extremely seriously the question of lifting out of poverty more people from among their populations. The need for this is urgent, in a world in which populations worldwide are growing and competition for resources is intensifying. A nation, a large percentage of whose population is kept poor, is a nation that will remain underdeveloped in perpetuity. Nigeria is a case in point, this baffling paradox that is a wealthy, leading petroleum and natural-gas producing and exporting nation, which has an overwhelmingly large proportion of her people living in poverty.

China has the world's largest population, but has succeeded in lifting out of poverty 400 million of her citizens over the last 30 years, a number that is perhaps as large as the population of the entire West African region.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

What are we doing about the crisis in the Horn of Africa?

Talking up Africa is positive, it is a good thing. However, in doing so we must prevent ourselves from forgetting that as at this minute, millions of our fellow Africans are faced with the threat of starvation in a situation of drought and now famine. And the sad situation in the Horn of Africa is only the latest example of several similar instances on the continent about which we have not shown sufficient concern.

It seems to me that we have become accustomed to the idea that in times of crisis, relief should always come from outside of Africa, whereas we Africans just sit back and wring our hands helplessly.

To my mind, it is the actuality that responsibility for the well-being and welfare of our fellow Africans falls on us primarily, and starting with our governments, our response to this current crisis has been lacklustre to say the least. Its almost as if we are not even aware of the duty that we owe to our own continent. Just saying..

Note: For completeness, you may want to take a look at this African Union (AU) press release informing of the approval by the AU Special Emergency Assistance Fund for Drought and Famine in Africa, of emergency relief assistance to Somalia. The press release goes on to state that relief funds are depleted due to failure by member states to make their voluntary contributions.

Hereunder is the link to a post on this blog concerning this issue from 12 October 2009. The warning was not heeded.

Postscript: In updating myself on this matter I found this blog. Clearly, the sensible actions of the Ethiopian government in preparation for the crisis, has meant that the effects of the drought on Ethiopia have been substantially less severe than they have been in Kenya, whose government can fairly be accused of gross negligence. Somalia is a different story, since there is no government to speak of in that country, capable of organising anything as complex as would be necessary in these circumstances..

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

East African drought, the 'worst in 60 years'

A drought developing across the Horn of Africa is now the worst in 60 years - affecting 10 million people, according to the United Nations.

I don't know if the governments of the people in the affected countries are as interested in this serious issue, as are the foreign aid agencies. There is the suggestion in some quarters, that the drought is a direct consequence of the world's changing climate, a situation for which the Africans who now are suffering the most, bear the least responsibility.

See here for more