Sunday, 21 December 2014

Thought Picnic: The expanding capacity of relationships

London inspires
Looking out this morning at an amazing view of London from the sixth floor of an apartment presented a panoramic view from the Tower Bridge to Vauxhall which took in iconic features of London as the Gherkin, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Tate Modern and the London Eye.
The beauty of London from a height cannot be denied, to wake up to that view daily can be a source of inspiration quite different from living London on the ground level. That is not to talk of how London is lit up at night from the Shard to other tall and significant buildings.
Relationship hooks
Yet the subtle and unspoken message is in relationships that bring with them new experiences and knowledge that become part of us by communication, interaction and fellowship.
For instance, the view I appreciated this morning came as a result of a relationship, that it is a residence of my host might leave this fact uncherished and somewhat made light of.
Then I look back at my love for history, for architecture, for travel and for adventure and realise my various relationships brought with them opportunities that expanded my horizons to new revelatory things about my partner first and then about other perspectives I would never have seen if I were not in that relationship.
Strive for profitable companionship
This is why it becomes needful to seek companionships and relationships that stretch us, taking us out of our preconceptions, prejudices and comfort zones to view and inculcate the different, the diverse and the other.
If I were to go out on a limb, I will say relationships extend our capacity, whether those relationships are good or bad, what matters is the lessons we learn from information and knowledge that comes with those interactions.
When we look back at our relationships with that in mind, it is very possible that we will learn to cherish each and every one of them better and if we are to explore opportunities for new relationships we will have the mindset of always taking the positives regardless of the uncomfortable negatives.

49 - Another year of gratitude

Numbers and dates
I celebrate with thankfulness what I will call the year 6 A.C. for I have found that I look at the story of my life as B.C. and A.C.
My life Before Cancer (B.C.) is so radically different from my life After Cancer (A.C.), but it gives me a narrative that speaks grace and blessing, hope and excitement, opportunity, realisation and much more.
Yet, I find an interesting numbers game with the transition from 48 to 49, the many factors of 48 being 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 12, 16, 24 and itself, are with the addition of 1 reduced to just 1, 7 and 49. 6 x 8 = 48, then add 1 to 6 and take 1 from 8, you end up with 7 x 7 = 49. I have not tried to determine if there are other number relationships like this.
Reflecting on the year
The year itself has been wonderful and successful with my being in my longest stretch of employment since I fully recovered almost 5 years ago, I have felt engaged, productive and meaningfully contributing to change in a business environment, it makes for a sense of happiness and well-being.
My health has been strong, I’ve had no reason to take time off for my health. Maybe colds or coughs, but nothing serious, I am blessed.
Thanks and thanks again
I look forward to my 50th year with hope, aware of my vulnerability and conscious of each waking day being a blessing beyond compare, I am full of gratitude.
In closing, I must appreciate friends and relations who have supported me in many very significant ways, tangible and intangible, they have loved me beyond what I deserve and I am forever indebted to them. Ade & Bose Oyefeso; my family in so many ways, Kola Akinola; my friend of over 30 years, Sola Awodi; who I’ve known for over 28 years who has been a bountiful outstretched hand, Bisi Alimi who as brother-friend is a constant inspiration, Funmi Iyanda where do I begin? Peter Kenny, John Coll, and my social media world of people I’ve met and I am yet to meet on Twitter and Facebook, you have all sustained me. Thank you.
To God, as a relapsed religionist, I give the greatest thanks.
Here’s to my 49th birthday, please raise a glass and drink to my health and I wish you all a merry Christmas and a very prosperous, rewarding and exciting 2015.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Thought Picnic: Keyed Off

Black Maria
As it rained behind the County Court, there was a man crouched at the door of a van, probably bigger depending on what your imagination allows to be the size of a van.
At a time, this type of van was known as a Black Maria and yet there is no clear etymology of this vehicle name, rather, it is slang that has become part of common usage, but let me take you on another ride with this Black Maria story.
The Black Maria nowadays is no more painted black, but white with tinted porthole windows at the standing height of whoever occupies the back of the van. Many times as the van leaves court, photographers raise their cameras to the windows to take pictures, I do not think I have ever seen one picture that shows the occupants of the Black Maria.
Broken key
Yet the story is stranger still because the man crouched at the driver's door was trying to get into the van, probably the driver and from what I could see him do, it appeared he was trying to tease or prise the key out of the keyhole.
I could only guess that some accident had resulted in the key to the van being broken in the lock, which made me wonder why Black Maria's were not equipped with wireless key fobs like you have for cars.
Then you realise that criminals might acquire the technology to control the locks of the Black Maria and in the process the State might lose the control they have over those they have decided to confine for the purposes of justice.
Locked in or locked out
Being locked out of your van gives you the freedom to walk away, then what if someone were locked in the back of the van and the keys happened to be broken in the lock, spare keys will be useless until a locksmith is asked to come and help out.
It might well be that those who were brought to court with the Black Maria will be going home if acquitted for using other means of transport to return to the comforts at Her Majesty's pleasure.
That is the dread of a key broken in the lock, with the keys you can keep people in prison and with the keys broken in the lock, perchance, you have kept people out of prison.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Rubbing the lamp of inspiration - Pain‏

The lamp
I sat before a computer and decided this was a time to rub the Aladdin’s lamp of writing and have the genie of the lamp rise to grant me a wish of inspiration.
I rubbed and scrubbed until the gleam gave way to the bland metal that had been electroplated with the promise of something more valuable and no genie came.
Then I thought the lamp had been given had no particular mystery to its existence apart from what the purpose of the lamp is, to light up my path so I could see the way and when in a dark room to light it up lest I dash my precious shins against sharp table edges that would leave me groaning in pain.
The knowledge of pain
Pain is something I know, or rather, something I once knew, it lived in my body and took a whole apartment in my mind. Its demands for my attention were extraneous and beyond what I could naturally handle that I needed analgesics and opium-based medication to give me comfort.
Yet, there are times when in my lonely corner, I have cried at the pain inflicted because of my ignorance or stupidity, I wept a little, sniffled a little and calmly bore my cross, the pain with its sudden appearance will with time wane away and my comfort will return with the increase of knowledge of a lesson learnt.
Wishing and hoping
So there, there is no Aladdin’s lamp with a genie of inspiration to guide you when you are compelled to write. Maybe however, if we allow our imagination to be excited that one little bit, there is indeed a genie and though I had a wish to write, what was granted as my wish was dark and scary.
When next I rub that lamp, I hope my wish to write is granted and whatever I write is something to make you smile, but I will have this thought at the back of my mind, be careful what you wish for.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

South Africa: How to Get Away With Murder - Violence Against Women continues

Never forget the issue – It is Violence Against Women [UN]
Reeva Steenkamp and Anni Dewani - names of women, real people who by reason of the cases brought against their partners have been relegated to the background.
The perception is that, based on the case pursued by the prosecution against Oscar Pistorius and Shrien Dewani, these men have apparently walked off lightly from their involvement in the deaths of girlfriend and wife.
Reeva was the unfortunate victim of a killing, whether it was murder or homicide is up for discussion, Anni was the victim of a car-jacking murder in an alleged murder-for-hire scheme procured on her honeymoon by her husband. The fact is, two women are dead.
Not a crime until there is a victim
That Oscar was an irresponsible gun-nut prone to fits of rage was not in dispute and eventually we heard that Shrien was a closet hard-core homosexual who engaged in kinky sexual activity. None of this is by any means criminal, we have the right to pursue hobbies and fantasies to the limit as long as no one else comes to harm in the pursuit of such activities.
Where one this departs from the ordinary is when a man for whatever reason is terrified into thinking there is an intruder in his home and he fires 4 shots into an enclosed place unaware of who might be in there. In a cartoon, whoever might have been in the enclosed place will walk out as if the shots were just a shower of confetti, in real life, the consequence is grave, the person died, having been hit by three shots.
Where the prosecution failed
It was left to the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that this act was intentional, failing that, at least prove irresponsibility, it failed and so Oscar Pistorius literally got a slap on the wrist for gun-toting wrist action that led to the death of an innocent woman who had the misfortune of being his girlfriend.
One cannot fault the case law from the perspective of the judge, it had on the balance of probabilities with a wily lawyer gotten the man off the hook for a more serious crime. However, the state has won the right to appeal the sentencing, we just have to watch this space for the new exegesis of the Latin descriptions of criminally causing the death of another.
A soap opera like a thriller
With hindsight, having learnt of the secret life of Shrien Dewani in England, Anni Hindocha of Sweden should never have been in any kind of matrimony with her husband.
One can assume that both were caught in the strictures of being third-culture kids; parents and relations from the Indian subcontinent, they being products of English and Swedish societies having to respect traditions.
It is probably why Shrien was in the closet living a double life of lascivious homosexual and eligible bachelor, a combustible mix of circumstances with Anni as the unfortunate collateral damage.
Where the prosecution failed again
According to the prosecution, having procured a false matrimony, the pull of the other life presented Shrien with situation that having fulfilled the cultural requirements demanded of him in the marriage ceremony now could terminate a union that should not proceed beyond the honeymoon.
Anni and Shrien made from South Africa for their honeymoon and there she was killed by people her husband presumably had interesting contacts with before the carjacking. Those people were prosecuted and jailed as Shrien returned to the UK and progressively played a grieving husband, a nervous wreck, an accused, a challenger to an extradition that lasted three years, an extradition to South Africa to face justice and now a free man.
Until proven broke, it seems
We are none the wiser about how the stories the other murder told against Shrien might have come about, the prosecution again having failed to raise its argument above the bar necessary to make Shrien face the charge of murder or at least the conspiracy to commit murder.
There are two immutable facts, the women are dead and the case law to test the allegations against boyfriend and husband who were lawyered up to well that it gives life to that thing that Alan Dershowitz once said on television. "Everyone is innocent until proven broke."
Can these failings continue?
More disturbingly is whether the prosecution has the nous, skill, empathy and conviction to make a convincing case against well-heeled men who purportedly have been involved in the deaths of their partners.
One cannot really put a finger on where it has gone completely awry, but 2014 cannot be said to have advanced the movement to stop Violence Against Women with these two high-profile cases in South Africa.
Though the prosecution will have a second bite of the cherry in revisiting the judgement against Oscar Pistorius, I do not think anyone is holding their breath about a radically different outcome.
In the case of Shrien Dewani, it is unlikely anyone would step forward with a hand in marriage lest they meet a similar fate, but having being conveniently outed, he might well get on with openly being a homosexual until some twist of fate allows for Anni Dewani to get some form of justice and her family some form of closure.
In both cases, I am saddened, Violence Against Women remains an everyday reality and it is unlikely victims of such violence will get a fair shake of the law in their favour.
C'est la vie.
Further Reading