Saturday, 30 December 2006
Friday, 29 December 2006
Wednesday, 27 December 2006
Accepting the ordinary
Eating at 805, 805 Old Kent Road, SE15 1NX
Having been called a snob a number of times when I have given objective reviews to things pertaining to Nigerian endeavours, it woud be remiss of me not to commend exceptions to what was looking like a rule.
I have always sought out restaurants that serve Nigerian cuisine, first in London and then on other cities around Europe. In fact, it is a bold initiative to set up a business that caters to particular tastes, however, there is still work to be done to burnish up these business to standards that would open them up to wider and sophisticated clientele.
In some cases, I have been tempted to invade the kitchen without the courtesy of asking for an apron to teach a few fundamentals about the food being served, however, the fear of walking into a place that might make a mockery of the Cholera Joints in Nigeria which consistute sheds of disease borne vermin nestling through the feet of the madam of the cauldron has restrained me.
Enduring the pain
I have in times past borne the pain of food poisoning with resolve and fortitude, the taste of home sometimes compels one to visit again, the need for competition cannot be overstated.
Years ago, Africana on Camberwell Road was the standard bearer, even recently, when offered a doggie-bag for what was left-over, I was indiscrete enough to suggest my dog would not sniff the food - it was that bad.
All Roads to 805
So, this day, I found that this restaurant was on Old Kent Road, number 805, it is no wonder that I never liked London buses and where I should have asked questions, I did not - so between London Bridge and my destination, I happened to ride on 4 buses that all turned off the road except the last.
I was not sure if the restaurant was open, but when I got in and asked, a friendly and courteous waitress ushered me to a seat and brought the menu.
The menu was beautifully designed, well laid out and properly assigned the entrees to the appropriate sections, I do prefer restaurants that defer to words better than Starter, but language does seek a common standard for general understanding.
The riot of tastes and imagination
Boiled Yam with tomato omelette and hints of pepper - well, that was once for breakfast at home when I was a kid, the pictures that formed in my imagination.
Ewa Aganyin - black eyed beans made to a special Aganyin (a Yoruba tribe stradling South-Western Nigerian and Eastern Benin Republic) - it was a pot pourri of delectable tastes, one was lost for choice.
I settled for the Goat Meat Pepper Soup - an entree, Pounded Yam with Edikan Ikan and assorted meats and Guiness Malt drink.
Hot! the pepper soup was, a sniffling nose after the first soup, sweat on my scalp by the second spoon, very palatable.
Meanwhile, the service just improved as the pounded yam arrived, a bowl of warm water to wash my hands, as I finished, a bowl of soapy water to wash my hands again, after a rather sumptious and wonderfully prepared meal.
Before, I could ask, toothpicks to bring my dentures back to good looks, the only fault I could find was my not learning of the place and visiting before.
I was both suitable amused and impressed, a Nigeria business that had moved beyond the contempt of familiarity and the offering of the mediocre because we condone it, to providing service as one should expect.
If you are seeking authentic Nigeria cuisine in London, you should be making tracks to 805 and 805 Old Kent Road, SE15 1NX - Bus 21 would get you there from London Bridge and you will be overcome with the nostalgia of mother´s home-cooking, once again.
More for the body count
As if enough blood has not been shed in Mesopotamia, the death sentence of Saddam Hussein has now been confirmed without option for appeal or commutation.
As usual, the appeal of humanity and barbarity welcomes this announce, Europe asking that this sentence rescinded and America heralding it as the quest for Iraq to "replace the rule of a tyrant with the rule of law". It all sounds hollow to me.
The death of Saddam would not suddenly staunch the flow of blood just as his capture did not change the ferocity of the insurgency.
The miscarriage of justice would be so evident in the finality of his death, as I once stated, Saddam is now guilty of one specific crime, the killings in the town of Dujail, however, he is accused of many others and probably would be guilty of those too.
If however, his sentence is carried out within the next 30 days, the other crimes and accussations would possibly be tried post-humously - so is the legacy of the rule of law that America has bequeath to Iraq.
Basically, I do not expect any lawyer to waste their time trying to defend a man who is dead and buried, except if there is a principle at stake. That principle of has already been compromised and made of non-effect by what constituted a circus of a kangaroo court, accepted by many but would hardly be legitimate by ordinary Western standards.
Beyond that, if the death sentence is to be carried out, there is a tradition to execute military men by firing squad, to kill Saddam Hussein as a common criminal by hanging, having ruled his country for about 30 years, albeit tyrannically would leave all involved lesser men that they purport themselves to be.
Blood thirsty plague
There is however a deficit of global leadership on dealing with tyranny, if Zimbabwe, Burma (Myanar), Sudan and North Korea, to name a few thrive on oppressing their people and quenching their aspirations to better government.
Then the appeals court in confirming Saddam Hussein´s sentence was of the opinion that the life sentence given to one defendant was too lenient - baying for more blood obviously.
It can be said that before America visited Iraq, the blood-thirstiness was the preserve of the cabal of Saddam´s kith and kin, now, everyone has a taste for blood, in my view, these sacrifices of human beings would not bring peace, love and joy to Iraq, not that it has brought any respite to all involved.
Monday, 25 December 2006
His soul has departed
Sadly, news reaches us that James Brown has died at 73. His repertoire of music, songs and lyrics would serve as a catalogue of influence and inspiration he gave to entertainment from which he first earned the accolade of Father of Soul and the Grandfather of Soul.
If anything, his music became part of the movement to help black people see that they do not have to change who they are, especially pertaining to their racial identity, to be people who can significantly change their circumstances and society at large.
Black and proud
When he sang, I am black and proud, it was an anthem of an era, around the time of societal ructions in America as blacks were trying to gain equal citizenship and opportunities to the American dream.
Many would say, "I am black" would suffice and there is no need to say it loud, we have always had our blackness as part of our being, if we cannot live with who were are, then we have been overcome with a poverty of spirit.
Still fighting the old fight
Unfortunately, there are still many who are caught in the yoke of the pre-civil rights days, who still view their race at a disadvantage, who cannot mouth the words of that emancipation for the fear of selling-out of a life steeped in the hatred of all other races and a deeper hatred of those of their race who have just decided to make the best of life without the baggage of the politics of race deprivation.
The passing of James Brown indeed marks the passing of an era, one of the many musicians who whilst entertaining sent a message to their people to stand up like men and women who have rights, can exercise privileges and succeed exceedingly well.
Being black and being successful
In the same vein, one remembers Fela Anikulapo Kuti who in his Open & Close album exhorted us to "Shake your yansh (back-side) like a black man. Basically, the message is, no matter your colour, it should not be an impediment to being whatever you have dreamt you have ever wanted to be, except when you decide to change your colour.
Adieu! James Brown - The Apostle and Grandfather of Soul.
Sunday, 24 December 2006
Thursday, 21 December 2006
Giving thanks and looking ahead
I finally got back home yesterday and settled into my bed after long days of working and just as too many of sleeping in strange hotel beds eating funny food.
A half past midnight, I woke up, mouthed a prayer of thanks and rolled off the bed. I am now officially over 40, I'm 41, filling forms would be different now, but I would be more amenable to those that have the 35 - 44 checkbox than ones with 41 - 50 checkbox.
There is no doubt that I am glad to be in my forties, I never considered people in their 40s too old and over the bridge when I was a lot younger. So, when I finally got to 40 last year, there was no need to be depressed because having not despised that landmark nor entertained the fear of growing old and decrepit - if that is the common parlance, my mind and outlook was set on adventure rather than depression.
It is important that people realise that growing older is a continuous process, you do not suddenly arrive at 30, 40, 50 or some big number, you were on that journey from the day you were born, if you do not prepare for it, it would catch you unawares.
Worse still, after the party and the drinks, when you get back home, for days, probably weeks or months a pall of depression descends upon what should be the joy of a new dawn and a personal new year.
There is much to give thanks for and there is much to do, but in all, I am grateful that I am here, I am strong, I am still relevant, I enjoy change, learning is pleasure, giving is fun, sharing is a life force and looking forward to new challenges in the New Year – Life is Good – You can join me for a glass of bubbly.
Friday, 15 December 2006
I can imagine that friends, cousins and relations would be cross with me visiting
The last time I was in the UK, I informed so many people and got so swamped that it was impossible for me to get anything done talk less of spending quality time with all these lovely people.
This time, the ones who know are so far out of town that the obligatory visit would not be exacted on the little time one has.
Ma’am and I this morning
So, I spent the morning reviewing the passing out parade of Prince William with the Queen by my side, sometimes one has to step out to grace royal meetings, even Ms. Kate Middleton’s hat was well-worn as it crossed my mind that if she tried to appear more glamorous than her prospective step-mother in-law she might accidentally prick her finger on a spinning-wheel as one does and a hundred years would pass in the bliss of being the 21st Century Sleeping Beauty.
Though, that is an apt reference considering the Prince could not exceed the 2 guest quota to the dinner celebrating his passing-out, my having rescinded a place did not mean Ms. Middleton could step up to that plate – such is life with the Firm.
One piece of news pervading the headlines in the UK concerns Ipswich, at one time in my life, I died in Ipswich for 2 years – it is my opinion you cannot live there – times when I tried to make friends the prospects ended up being hostile.
In fact, I slept over at one such “friend’s” place having worked most of the evening helping to recover data, just before 3:00AM the next morning, an armed response team broke down the door and entered the building with assault weapons, I could have been on the set of Lethal Weapon VI; the day before he had threatened his business partner with whom he has disagreements with a possible gun attack.
That put paid of trying to make friends in
Cardinal Wolsey, the catholic cardinal who could not arrange a divorce for Henry VIII bequeath some things to Ipswich, Ipswich is definitely an old town, Chaucer, martyrs and witch-burning in nearby Manningtree a charter that dates back to 1200.
So, 5 women who probably were prostitutes and had drug dependency problems have been found murdered and dumped in rivers and fields around
Somehow, if anyone is missing for more than 5 minutes, panic first and think after, that is the pall of fear that fill the townspeople with irrational anxiety.
Not to talk of just one new opportunity to play up xenophobia as some now suspect a Polish builder who drives a Be My Wife (the irony of seeing prostitutes) – BMW – might have been sowing his wild oats and turned Jack the Ripper – err – the Suffolk Strangler, a good distraction till the facts are better gathered.
In all, if I have nothing to contribute to improving the reputation of
Wednesday, 13 December 2006
They finally had the bottle to do it and rightly so. Lady Oddjob has had her hat thrown at her and she has been decapitated – well not literally.
Readers of my blog would think I have had it in for Mrs. Verdonk for all her populist policies on integration and immigration, which display an overarching toughness but belie a seething illiberal xenophobia that is gaining acceptance amongst the Dutch.
She has on 5 occasions been called to the Dutch Parliament to explain her actions but there was always a détente, a hesitation, and an almost there that there were never enough votes to sanction her.
But Mrs. Verdonk has been no end of trouble for her party and the cabinet in which her party help a minor coalition participation, part of which lead to the fall of the cabinet in the middle of the year.
Popular but unliked
Whilst she did garner more votes than her party leader, in general, she was not aligned to the Dutch way of doing things in government, the parliament now stung or refreshed by the elections of November 22 have now successfully passed a motion of no confidence on her.
The kind of brinkmanship where the Prime Minister just detached himself from responding to the displeasure of parliament had reached a point where there were just enough votes this time to get it over and done with.
She obviously has been unable to take the hint that she is the issue and even if she is not, other people in office with any iota of integrity and self-respect would have stepped-down.
Not Mrs. Verdonk, she would tough it out, like she has always done, till it becomes untenable for the team in which she is a junior member to maintain any credibility. She is a blind Samson who is ready to bring down the temple on herself but taking all the worshippers down too in her suicide mission.
The cabinet which is for now in caretaker mode should now just sacrifice the lady for the stability of governance rather than chuck it all in as they are wont to do in general.
Popular party of one?
Mrs. Verdonk is a junior minister, the indictment is against her intransigence and obstinate demeanour that gets its lifeblood from the Zombie-ist – Rules are the rules – mantra.
We might finally get a minister that would handle the portfolio of Integration and Immigration with a humane perspective because for all her strengths, she worked to disintegrate and make others emigrate.
She might just end up starting her own party, though it is unlikely that she would do anymore harm to the government that what has been done to this comatose cabinet in life-support.
I am beginning to have faith in the Dutch Parliament and it is high time.
Monday, 11 December 2006
Object to the subject
Never has an objective assessment of a situation garnered outrageous subjectivity than when I have had the fortune of expressing an opinion amongst fellow Nigerians.
It would appear the issues of basic netiquette are beyond the comprehension of seemingly knowledgeable people, I wanted out faster than a bullet leaves a gun.
I had written about the use of the Reply All button in a forum where I have had the unfortunate circumstance to find reluctant membership, in which I also offered possible alternatives to accommodate that type of content.
The forum coordinator had announced that a few new persons had joined the community, that was fine by me, but before the cock could crow the first time, 10 emails had arrived in my mailbox, people echoing the welcome greetings to everyone rather than the just the particular new entrants.
True African SPAM
I must have missed something in my upbringing, as I learnt later on; it is in the true African tradition to receive unsolicited email which in the West would be called SPAM.
It was impossible to keep the focus on that issue, by the time I knew it; I was mired in sycophantic acquiescence, dribbled over with the spittle of contrived disappointment and dispossessed of my Nigerian heritage because I dared to challenge an unacceptable convention.
Then, someone said I was bringing
Informed consent is a cardinal principle
The issue still is; I was co-opted into that forum because someone just assumed I would want to participate in the forum without seeking my consent; one comment read that as a goodwill gesture.
Where have these people been? Organisations cannot just co-opt you without an opt-in which includes informed consent even if their surveys indicate you might be interested in their products – that principle applies regardless of if it is a village forum or a sophisticated gentlemen’s club.
Read my script upside-down
In the end, I asked for my name to be expunged from their records and mailing lists – for which I received a few brick-bats, I did not say for once that my mother-tongue is in fact English – there is a possibility that what I was conveying in language – tone, context and syntax – was lost in translation - my foible - I say what I mean.
Anytime you are tempted to Reply All, just think about what is actionable about your email and if it is relevant to that audience.
I would talk of this no more, one is utterly miffed and certainly not amused.
A study in change
A whole week of silence and the dog ate my blog, well that sometimes happens to ones homework.
There were many things I wanted to write about, the face of George W. Bush when he received the Iraq Study Group Report – main point being, the only course is discourse with
Besides, the incoming Secretary of Defense had the Senators checking their hearing devices when he answered in a matter of fact way that the war in
If George W. Bush had thought he could scupper the intent, tone and delivery of the Iraq Study Group report by poaching someone for a sensitive position from amongst their ranks, he has just been introduced to a new ball game and all hitters are hitting straight for the head – Ouch! I feel your pain Georgie.
Sit on the Hard Rock
Meanwhile, in the midst of all that kafuffle, Chief Yellow-Feather was busy smoking peace pipes on a Hard Rock – Indian reservations which have licenses to run gambling business very much like the effect the Opium Wars had on China are making serious money and making big deals.
The gambling houses do not seem to have created the wealth for drug and alcohol-abuse which sometimes plagues indigenous tribes and aborigines, somehow, these guys wised up and have made good.
Next time you visit a Hard Rock Café, sit in the wigwam, smoke a peace pipe, have a communal chant as we see the Indians begin to make a killing of the cowboys – history and restitution might live centuries apart but methinks the Indian is arriving with loads-a-money. Don’t forget you feather head dress – so you how much we have learnt from amusing generalizations.
Slow cook Polonium
The radiation fallout is still appearing in more places that I wonder if my impending trip to
The past is kicking the bucket
That said; Pinochet finally kicked the bucket, the end of an era that leaves memories of how
There are still many of that era that live without retribution for the pain and suffering they have caused people in South and Central America – Pinochet would be mourned by just a few, I do wish Kissinger well, but he should try visiting Europe.
This brings me to the dinosaurs that remain in power for eons – Ayoke once wrote of a sermon she heard which is quite enlightening.
The future restrained
30 years ago, General Obasanjo who was then the Head of State of Nigeria visited a school and told the students that they were the future of
The leaders of old, old ways, old ideologies, old methods, old corrupt activities are still gathering to rule Nigeria – we forget that 36 years before, Colonel Obasanjo took the surrender for the Biafran War, what are they still doing running the country into the ground?
When shall the new consume the old like an unquenchable fire yielding the ashes of our past such that we are no more shackled but free?
By which time I realized that on December the 8th, I had been blogging for three years, why quit when you are having fun?
Tuesday, 5 December 2006
A sham-ppointment ended
Following his election victory of 2004, George W. Bush instigated some rather controversial appointments which did not endear him to many.
We guffawed when Condoleezza Rice was presented as the new Secretary of State succeeding Colin Powell, we wondered why Rumsfeld was still not given the boot and the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court drew more brick-bats than accolades, she eventually declined.
However, the most irreverent of all was that of John Bolton as the
Mr. Bolton, a smart, intelligent but abrasive man in want of tact and lacking the graces required of a diplomatic posting could not be countenanced by the US Senate for that position but he went anyway through a recess appointment which had to be confirmed by the Senate eventually.
At a time when the UN was in need for reform through sometimes driven by US animosity for the lack of support for their Iraqi intransigence, Mr. Bolton in the eyes of the President was the right party spoiler to shake the place up.
Diplomacy and demeanour still matters
Unfortunately, they forgot that the UN is still a place where your case has to be eased into the system to garner support – Mr. Bolton probably had great potential but his demeanour made that possibility unrealisable.
After 16 months in the position, the Senate now under the control of the Democrats is still implacable, concerning confirming his appointment and as if by great intuitiveness Mr. Bolton has read the tea leaves and fallen on his sword.
There would be many who like me would not shed a tear for his going and like the metaphor of shaving 10 storeys off the UN Secretariat Building, his presence there has made no bit of difference to improving the perception of Mr George W. Bush’s
“There is no such thing as the United Nations.
As for the title of this piece, it is not original, but quite apt, anyhow.