Friday, 8 December 2017

14 years, a blogger

In 2017, I have not been as prolific a blogger as I had hoped to be, and it is not for the lack of stories or opinions to write about.
The year has been eventful as I was caught up in the maelstrom of circumstances sometimes beyond my control and definitely beyond what I was ready to endure that I took some rather decisive steps about where my career was headed.
I suffered for that principled stance, but I would not have a story uniquely mine if I have not throughout my life launched myself from the platform of comfortable certainty in the uncharted space of uncertainty about many things including whether I had enough to see through the day, talk less of the next.
Yet, this is a milestone I must celebrate, the 14th year of my blog and this would be my 2,846th blog, I would not beat myself up for not having written more than this, I am just glad and full of gratitude for the times that have filled me with new purpose. When I started this blog in a hotel in Berlin, I would have never thought it would still be active, this long after.
I constantly think of living and of dying, each having some sort of purpose with renewal being the recurring theme like the need to breathe to stay alive. I look forward to celebrating more years of writing and hopefully doing more with what I believe is the gift of expression.
I hope I can invite you, the readers of my blog to contribute blogs towards the 15th anniversary. Thank you for being there and being near.


Friday, 1 December 2017

World AIDS Day 2017

It’s strange, I’m in a different place,
As if I had run a really hard race,
In all the sweat and toil, I found grace,
No plans I made could ever retrace,
The steps that brought me to this place.
In the days and times of great pain,
Before my eyes, it laid so plain,
That the things I had worked hard to gain,
Were nothing if this scourge left me slain,
I learnt many lessons on the power of pain.
We who live as it courses through our veins,
And stand as beacons to hope that reigns,
With our HIV we run knowledge campaigns,
That AIDS and stigma won’t keep us in chains,
To know for sure, do take a prick to the veins.
With condoms maybe you’re protected,
Without it, know the risk of getting infected,
I take my ARVs as the doctor intended,
By PrEP or that, we know life is extended,
On being undetectable, we’re all protected.
The story that weaves a curtain of loss,
It was a death sentence not giving a toss,
Our knowns and holds beyond it cross,
Every World AIDS Day is not a gloss,
But one to give meaning and purpose to our loss.


Tuesday, 21 November 2017

The Grand Despot of Africa is deposed

The revolution was over long ago
There comes a time when men are tested by circumstances and they fail to read the times rapidly falling from grace to disgrace slowing down time into slow motion crash.
Such was the end of the tyranny of terror of the man I have for over a decade referred to as the Grand Despot of Africa. In 1980, Robert Gabriel Mugabe was the revolutionary, the figurehead that took the entity of Southern Rhodesia from the grip of Ian Smith to the new dawn of Zimbabwe.
Since then, Robert Mugabe raised a revolutionary fist against forces known and unknown, enemies within and without, regaling crowds with revolutionary zeal, beguiling the people with the feeling that they are being assailed by the old colonialists whilst the reality was he was the colonist of the same colour as his brethren for the past 37 years.
Forgetting when your time is up
At 93, Robert Mugabe who could have long retired into revered African statesmanship like Julius Nyerere of Tanzania or Nelson Mandela did before him, fastened his grip on power, railing and raving, knocking down perceived opponents and easing the way for his firebrand and intemperate wife to assume dynastic succession.
What Robert Mugabe forgot was despite his iron grip on power, he was there at the behest and will of some of his people and the cohort that surrounded him that allowed the mystique of his inviolability and the myth of his seeming omnipotence to becloud his judgement.
He made one last miscalculation, egged on from the pillow of his bedchamber by the First Shopper of Africa, Gucci Grace whose vaunted claim to significance was being the wife of the President and by that she thought she was untouchable.
Bringing down the temple on his own head
He sacked Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa on the 6th of November and with that came down the principal stone held up the cult of personality of Robert Mugabe. The sacking of Emmerson Mnangagwa was like pulling the pin of the grenade and forgetting to throw it at a target far away, then run.
That singular act crystallised the mounting disaffection with first his wife and then Mr Mugabe, the army moved in and put him under house rest, sparing in his life in what was a coup in everything but name, Mr Mugabe failed to see that the end was nigh. The enemy without that was the rallying call of his rambling party speeches which defined his stubbornness and defiance was now at his doorstep, the army, the veterans of independence, his party, the youth wing that venerated him and his people.
Mr Mugabe was alone and asked to go, yet he refused to budge as every vestige of status, power and authority was being humiliatingly stripped from him, he then squandered the magnanimous opportunity to leave the stage the little dignity he had left in a nationally televised speech, Robert Mugabe had overstayed every toleration of his presence at the helm of Zimbabwe politics, it was no more whether he would leave, it was when.
The final humiliation
The parliament instigated the articles of impeachment to depose him, and then a letter arrived from the President Robert Gabriel Mugabe, read out in parliament, it was his letter of resignation. It finally dawned on him that he had run out of excuses and rhetoric to fight the groundswell of animus that had galvanised the people to ask him to go.
Robert Gabriel Mugabe is the apotheosis of the failure of leadership in Africa, he failed to transition from a revolutionary to a leader of his people, he exploited divisions amongst his people to retain a hold on power for over a generation. He failed to mentor successors, presiding over squabbling amongst his underlings seemingly secure in the impression that there was no one that could step into his shoes.
Failed leadership in Africa
What irks me most about African leaders that sit fast without budging under the hubristic delusion that no other countryman can do the job of leading their country is that it soon become a glaring lie. There are probably thousands of Zimbabweans, male and female alike that could, given the opportunity do a better job than Robert Mugabe ever could.
The legacy of Robert Mugabe is there for all to see, revolutionary zeal is not enough, he brought the country to its knees, from prosperity to poverty, entrenching a corrupt patronage that concentrated political power and economic clout in very few hands whilst he gave the people the prospect of wild dreams of adventure than became living nightmares.
No laurels for disgrace
No one will mourn that passing of the era of Robert Mugabe except for the few that profited from his being the emperor of an endemically corrupt enterprise, his resignation was greeted with celebrations on the streets of Harare not seen since the day of independence.
Robert Mugabe should now retreat into ignominy, insignificance, disgrace and silence, only to be read of when his longevity in life comes to an end. Our eyes are now on the remaining sit-tight African leaders vying for the crown of the Grand Despot of Africa.
Bye, bye Robert Mugabe, you shall like Ian Smith be consigned to the bad history of Zimbabwe.

To Iya at 75

Dear Iya,
I write to wish you a happy 75th birthday. I have said before, you are a survivor and you are tenacious.
I thank God that through a life experience that is incomparable, you stand and shine, a beacon of example to innumerable, including us your children.
I appreciate in all honesty that we have not shared common views on many things, we are individuals, you are my mother, I am your son, we have done some things with mistakes along the way.
I am not a devil and you are not a saint, we are both human beings and our differences go a long way because I am burdened with vivid memories that never wane.
That is how we can understand each other, not through digging up those memories, but in knowing no one gets excused just because of status, the equity we seek and the moral high ground we race to climb at slightest available opportunity neither comes with clean hands nor priestly robes.
It is like the touching of the nose, in knowing and saying nowt. You know I write and I know this would eventually get you because that is the way the world is today. The voice that goes out will be heard.
I have not been the best son, it comes with the territory, there are things I probably would never want revealing about my childhood, but I am the product of motherhood, mothering and parenthood that has given me an amazingly blessed life, that honour, no one can take from either you or my father.
We must get beyond estrangement to reconciliation, from the silence to a celebration, of the smiles and laughter I remember, of the songs happily sung and taught, of the pride a son has in his mother and that which a mother has in a son. Like rivers once driven apart by forces they could not control to a confluence of waters brought together by a greater calling beyond ourselves. 23 months! Anyone else would ask why?
You will not get tradition out of me, but knowing, feeling, humbling, respect and reverence are why you will always be Iya to me, we are blessed the greater with you fully engaged in our lives despite everything, I love you, mum. 
Happy birthday and many happy returns of the day.
Akin (Oludamilola)


Monday, 13 November 2017

Hotel life: In the mastery of charlatanry

For I looked for a hook
For a man shall endure many tribulations and suffer indignities too numerous to mention for the shame of having lived through those experiences, but none of this is the sum of a life that is a journey of amazing discovery that puts dreamland into the shade.
Down in Berkshire on the recent sojourns that have taken me far away from home in search of professional expression, I took lodgings in a budget hotel that provided not as much a hook to hang my coat or jacket that hangers would be a luxury.
Yet, with a fridge, cooker and microwave oven you find some home comforts in the midst of the inconvenience. The bathrobe hook on the inside of the bathroom door has found a new purpose, one finds the means to improvise.
Smokers of weed run riot
On returning from work this evening, I found a scruffy note snuck under my door which I thought was offering to clean my room at a later time because I left a ‘Do not disturb’ sign on the doorknob.
The speed at which disgust and rage cross my visage cannot be measured by the eye when on reading the note, there was the suggestion I had been smoking in my room.
Staying in a budget hotel does not mean I have the temperament for provincial budget behaviour borne of the mastery of charlatanry that informed whoever came to that conclusion on matters in my accommodation. The smoke alarm did not go off, no one should have entered my room in my absence and the window was closed, so you do wonder how they ever knew that I was smoking.
No suffering this gladly
I was smoking for four years until 33 years ago and that is by no means yesterday. There is a time I would have in a fit of pique moved out of that hotel without delay, something I have done many times before, but I calmed myself down, tried to find a funny side to it, fired off an email to the hotel proprietor demanding an apology and then sat to write this blog.
One does suffer silently the inflictions of ignorance and stupidly in many places, yet, none of it must be suffered too gladly. They have beyond my stay lost custom and a customer out of either incompetence or ineptitude, I did not leave the comfort of my home to be heaped upon with a travesty.