Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Seriously obsessed with gays

Obsessed about gays

The archbishop beat me to it, but one cannot help but notice the all pervasive obsession with homosexuality amongst seemingly heterosexual macho men or fertile women all around the world. I do have time for Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a perceptive, practical, conciliatory world figure who I do respect.

The Church in its various guises has split over so many issues, in this day, it would have been more edifying if they were split on how best to handle to scourge of HIV/AIDS - by missionary work or sending aid - maybe Darfur - by finding ways of isolating the government of Sudan or finding ways of safely getting medical and food aid to the refugees - or global poverty.

This is where the Church may be seen as relevant and responding to the needs of people, it also helps the work of evangelism as people see the work of Christ exhibited selflessly by fellow human-beings.

Galvanised on the negative

Unfortunately, the church cannot seem to galvanise itself on the work of compassion and love, their energies are being expended on the sexual preferences of people who would rarely visit church.

Those who visit and decide to fellowship in the communion are castigated and ostracised; they become the objects of pontifical proclamations of evil such that those barely interested in church do not bother themselves with the matter any more.

There may indeed be chapter and verse of fork-lifted scripture to condone and encourage animosity against homosexuals, but I cannot recall the Gospel being preached in that manner or tone - basically, you cannot get religion into people if religion would not first accept them as they are and then teach them how to live and grow in the tenets or doctrines of the same.

The gates are closed and slammed shut, long before the people who probably need church have had time to walk down the road that leads to the parish.

One would not be remiss at noticing that the church has definitely lost its way, the message of charity and compassion has been lost in the cacophony of conservative activism and some moral debate which in no way addresses fundamental human suffering as we see in the world today.

A right-wing ambush of shame

Move to Moscow last weekend and a peaceful protest to ask the Mayor of Moscow to allow a gay march, something that freely happens in most Western capitals is overrun by right-wing yobs throwing Nazi salutes for the purity of Russia.

It makes you wonder, if the spread of right-wing intolerance is the better image for a country or the simple acceptance of the fact that a minority people can be different and they too just have as much rights as any other citizen of that great country.

The question then becomes - what is it about homosexuality that agitates heterosexuals so radically?

Definitely, something deep down in heterosexual psyche is in need of psychoanalysis because I have never seen homosexuals get agitated about the gathering of homosexuals, they all probably grew up amongst that lot and have had to live with bigotry, intolerance and violence that comes at them everyday.

That old rope

Many would say, I have heard that before, even the just recently deceased Reverend Jerry Falwell subjected himself to abject ridicule when he suggested that Tinky-Winky in the Children's TV show - Teletubbies was homosexual because of the purple colour of the body suit and his handbag.

No doubt it does look a bit suggestive; a spokesperson for children's rights in Poland picks up this dirty rag 8 years on. Ewa Sowinska first thought the character was female then thought male; asexual did not occur to her, fair enough.

She wants a psychological evaluation of Tinky-Winky to be done to determine if Teletubbies is suitable viewing for Polish children.

Now, I have seen how enthralled little children get with watching Teletubbies, it would be like snatching milk from the mouth of babies in order to protect them from - you tell me.

How do we get people like this to express such dastardly opinions in public and still appear sane? We are all obsessed with homosexuality - the sooner we own up the better we would feel about ourselves and the self-loathing that exacerbates the externalisation of unwarranted anger against harmless people who just want to get on with their lives.

That last question I asked 18 months ago lingers - Does gay marriage affect the relationship between you and your partner? If Yes; Why? If No; What is the problem?

Two inflations one Zimbabwe

A basket of tragedy

The wicked man who rules Zimbabwe as a grubby dirty dictator must have interesting perspectives of inflation. Hardly a year ago, inflation was hitting a record 1,042.9%, then business quotations were not valid for more than 2 days - unimaginable - one year on, it has rocketed to 3,713% - it continues to fill me with amazement still where in the West an inflation rate of 4% would send jitters through the markets threatening all sorts of business confidence and possible collapse of certain financial instruments.

Poignantly, one report illustrates how traders are coping with these unprecedented inflation levels, a bar of soap gets cut into three and then each part is sold at slightly higher than a third of the price of whole.

Food stuff are now been re-weighed and repackaged into smaller quantities for more or less the same or higher price in what is referred to as the "Tsaono Basket", Tsaono meaning tragedy in Shona - a language spoken in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique and Botswana.

The greater tragedy of this is the fact that hardly 10 years ago, Zimbabwe was the food basket of Southern Africa where farms which mainly belonged to white Zimbabweans produced enough to feed the people and export to neighbouring countries.

These farms were seized in some mendacious black empowerment drive and given to so-called war veterans who knew diddly-squat about agriculture or farm management - the result is a country on the verge of great famine and starvation - Mr. Mugabe might have appeared smart with what he had done but he has ruined his country and he is oblivious of this fact.

More police, still no farmers

We now find that in readiness the elections next year the police force is to see an inflation of 100%, the numbers are to be doubled to double the oppression and repression of a people who only want to survive and seek a government that would meet the socio-economic needs that any world citizen deserves.

Any wise old man would see the problem with his country and suffering amongst his people to realise that the recruitment drive should be in raising people with knowledge about farm management so as to start to bring Zimbabwe out of the doldrums.

We need to ditch the patriarchal system of patronage in Africa that allows for nasty old men to impose their selfish megalomaniac will on a people thereby impeding progress and condemning their countries to preventable suffering and unnecessary poverty.

Mr Robert Mugabe was once one of the leaders of the liberation struggle in Southern Africa, but that is now history because there is no point in being ruled by people of the same colour and then encountering such great hardship because of misgovernment, corruption and nepotism.

There may be some who would begin to wonder if the times under white rule were not times of great freedom and prosperity.

If that is not a greater indictment of Mr. Robert Mugabe and his cohorts or gang, nothing else is.

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

The Big Sickening Show

Big Brother don't bother

When I first saw Big Brother and the rave accompanying it many years ago, I felt we could not plumb any further the depths of depravity, I was wrong.

Big Brother has excelled exceedingly in scraping the dregs of all that is humanly and socially despicable, deplorable and disdainful.

Only last week, Channel 4 in the UK and implicitly the producers of Big Brother - Endemol - which has a Dutch progeny were upbraided for making "serious editorial misjudgements compounded by a serious failure of their compliance process".

This was in relation to the Celebrity Big Brother 2007 show where racist bullying by poorly educated celebrity dunces was aired as they laid into a more sophisticated and successful ethnic minority contestant.

There is no doubt that the producers allowed the rotten behaviour dressed as controversy to continue, they also allowed it to thrive despite the fact that people were losing lives in India because of the events on the show - it was amazingly free publicity and wanton ignominy that could not be paid for or garnered by any other means, they cynically exploited it to the extent that their sponsors cringed and pulled out of the show.

Inspired of mendicancy

Now, the makers of this rotten tat genre have descended into a bottomless pit that digs deeper than the misery of hell, nothing can be as desperate as begging to notoriety far beneath the most unacceptable cause or whim.

The new reality fare has three contestants vying for the healthy kidney of a terminally ill cancer patient. I cannot begin to think of how this format would involve the public in phone-ins and voting - So, nastily named that it translates from Dutch into The Big Donor Show .

The "O" in Show is the shape of a kidney, these people are sick and they make me violently, regurgitatively and retchingly sick beyond respite, they are too obviously certifiable.

Suffice it to say the producers have rationalised this event and stated that this would highlight issues with organ shortage, organ donations and the needy recipients, but this can also be handled in a series of documentaries on the matter. O! Really?

This is NOT Liberal

The Dutch are known for being liberal, but I would be darned if this fits into any definition of liberal and not a less appealing depraved bastardisation of humanity.

Unfortunately, the outrage to this affront to all that is good and decent gives undeserved oxygen and priceless publicity to a programme which might go ahead in the name of free speech, scheduled for this Friday.

It is left to be seen if the contestants will be wheeled on stage on gurneys all laden with intravenous medication from the four posters as the dialysis machines hum with terrifying distraction in the background just as the cancer patient writhing in pain, half-sedated on morphine plays eternal benefactor of a life restoring miracle - a badly needed kidney.

The fallout without responsibility

Then what counselling or consolation would desperate and O so desperate patients receive from the disappointment of losing out and the winner finding out that there is no type match as some unscrupulous doctor is paid to perform the transplant probably for another spin-off show?

If during the show, the terminally ill patient dies, who assumes the Power of Attorney to make the donor choice or would that have been written in a will thus giving the impression of a pre-determined winner?

This opens up too many issues of ethical, moral, social, psychological and legal import, but the quest for publicity and notoriety has probably subsumed this wholesomely important matter.

This all makes for entertainment ever so gross, but the fact is; there is a public who will be entertained and titillated by their quest for material to sate their interminable voyeuristic lusts. No one however, to take responsibility afterwards for psychological and emotional fallout as patient and donor experience how life ends in humans suffering from incurable diseases.

Before long, it would be childless women vying for donor eggs or who handles the pain of labour best before asking for an epidural, maybe some puppy-eyed kids vying for adoptive parents, or imagine the Big Heart Gift - it just does not bear consideration - if this show gets through and gets aired; the human race would have gone too far down the lane of degenerative evolution; apes would probably be more principled in their approach to social issues in their primate communities.

It must be stopped forthwith without any mitigating circumstances whatsoever.

Methinks, this protest is futile.

Democracy Day in the eyes of the fair-minded

Democracy Day

Two countries in the whole wide world celebrate Democracy Day, a third is proposing the establishment of one.

The United States is proposing one for the first Monday of November in an even-numbered year; I can suppose there is agreement that the United States of America is a democracy with all elements of the democratic concept functioning and operational.

Another country celebrates this auspicious day on the 19th of February, this being Nepal. However, on closer scrutiny, it was for the usurpation of power by the Rana Dynasty from the Shah Dynasty - hardly what we might call democracy.

A contemporary definition of democracy can be obtained from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary and it says with clarity - a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections.

We can affirm from this definition without any doubt that democracy is the express will of the people to be governed collaboratively or through those they choose to represent them. Those who they chose have to renew their mandate periodically through free elections.

The ex-military civilian president

When Nigeria instituted Democracy Day on the 29th of May 1999, it clearly was indicative of the fact that the country had returned to democratic control after a long period of military leadership and mismanagement.

That day 8 years ago also heralded a new expectation in the psyche of Nigeria as we lauded the advent of General Olusegun Obasanjo (Retired), a man who once ruled Nigeria as a military dictator in between 1976 and 1979.

Now, General Obasanjo, lest we forget his military career before he assumed a civilian fa├žade, addressed the Nigerian people in a valedictory speech yesterday and somehow, either sheer belief of delusion lead him to suggest - "For the eight years that I have enjoyed your mandate and support, we changed ... the image of our country in the eyes of fair-minded, honest and objective observers both at home and around the world".

Many at home and around the world would not entirely agree that the elections which were conducted in Nigeria, a third time now in succession were to any standard credible, though Mr. Obasanjo would like to make us believe so.

We celebrate Democracy Day once again with a flawed and corrupt version of what could have been a better managed and transparently conducted democratic process as if Nigerians really can do no better.

8 years come and gone

There is no doubt that he had a mandate of 8 years, and there is no doubt that the image of the country has changed, but have the real bread and butter issues of ordinary Nigerians been addressed to any degree?

Then we come to the eyes of fair-minded, honest and objective observers both at home and abroad and we might as well agree that bales of wood are being pulled over our eyes if we are to believe that democracy has been well served, infrastructure has been improved upon or the general prospects of Nigerians have greater optimism than when he assumed office in 1999.

I shall neither praise nor castigate Mr. Obasanjo, today, but when history is written, hopefully, it would be a fair assessment of the events of today; it would be honest in reckoning how this man who has lead Nigeria for 11 and a half years has distinguished himself and it would be objective in noting where opportunities have either been seized or missed.

Like some have already said, 8 years have come and gone and Mr. Obasanjo leaves Nigeria the way he met it and most probably worse. His chapter closes as Mallam Umaru Yar'Adua first tries to justify his new position and execute executive power with a flawed mandate.

The Nigerian Proclamation

In recent history, Nigerians have been overwhelmingly betrayed by those charged with addressing their needs. Instead of serving the people, public servants have served themselves to the detriment of the masses. The result is a nation lacking adequate infrastructure, organisation and security.

The ineffectiveness of Nigerian leaders indicates a lack of accountability to their constituents. Nigerians are no longer relevant to their leaders, thus, leaders do not feel responsible to them.

The recent failure to conduct a free and fair electoral process was yet another illustration that the needs of the many are secondary to the wants of the important few.

From this day, all Nigerians are responsible for the future of this great & powerful country. Consequently, all Nigerians must commit themselves to the following:

  1. We must demand that elected officials be held accountable for their actions and in-actions.
  2. We must expect democratic principles to be honoured, respected and maintained.
  3. We must believe that all Nigerians are equal under the law and should be treated as such.
  4. We must apply ourselves to improving the lot of every individual Nigerian regardless of gender, religion, tribe or social status.
  5. We must strive to maintain a united republic despite our differences.

Only upon achieving these principles can we as a people fully live up to our potential as a land of greatness. For ours is a country renowned for its illustrious people, ample resources and sheer physical beauty.

Saturday, 26 May 2007

Celestial Church gets Pentecost early

Not Pentecostal fire

I was reading the Evening Standard yesterday and in the News in Brief section there was the news piece - East London church gutted by fire - the unfortunate event took place in Poplar where 40 firefighters fought the blaze and brought it under control.

(I could not obtain a link to the electronic version but the London Fire Brigade does report a church fire in the area.)

Somehow, I subconsciously took exception to the adjective used to describe the church, it was termed Evangelical, one suddenly realized I had been conditioned to assume everything evangelical is closer to the Christian right and charismatic circles that take on the "Born Again" epithet.

A sect so vibrant

Having this used to describe the Celestial Church of Christ can be termed a bit of a misnomer; I have however seen it better described as a sect.

Now, before the whole church hierarchy from laity to the Assistant Deputy Vice Supreme Superior Senior Evangelist descends on that last comment, a sect is simply - a group adhering to a distinctive doctrine or to a leader - according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary - Cele as they are known in Nigerian parlance does have distinctive doctrines, and that should suffice for all objectivity.

It would however appear that the church has suffered a number of fires all around the world, one in New York was attributed to an electrical fault.

The office of the prophetess must be in abeyance for these events to occur without premonition and precaution.

Incandescent Candles

Beyond that, one would not be surprised if certain fires have not been as a result of the careless handling of naked candle flames; the church literally sustains the candle industry wherever it thrives.

At times I am enthralled by church uniform which when worn is supposed to give you spiritual shoes; well, you have to be bare-footed to wear the holy garments which have colourful girdles depending on your ranking in the church. I have always wondered if these spiritual shoes are wearable in Northern Hemisphere winters - there is no telling, when in regalia, the impossible can be done, miracles might require some grand inferno of candle light pyrotechnics.

My commiserations on the total destruction by fire of the church; like the Yoruba would say, it offers the opportunity to build something bigger and better.

Seven Hallelujahs to the four corners of the world.

Friday, 25 May 2007

Rayfield, Jos - Memories of a child

Maps of places once seen

I wrote about my mobile phone a few days ago and alluded to Microsoft Virtual Earth which I could access from my smartphone device.

So, I panned the maps down to Nigeria and began to zoom in on Jos which when I lived there as a kid was in the old Benue-Plateau State - gone are the days when we just had 12 states in Nigeria as opposed to the situation now where every homestead is almost a national entity, a state would not suffice.

I would not be surprised if Nigerians found a way of creating 200 states just to be about to cater for the quest for power and the opportunity to waste oil money on personal enrichment rather that the socio-economic development of the governmental areas.

Rayfield green fields

As I zoomed in on Jos, I saw all the name places of towns that brought memories of childhood flooding back. I did not see the suburb of Rayfield which was just beyond the old airport; most of the residential area there was taken up by chieftains of the Amalgamated Tin Mines of Nigeria (ATMN) where my father worked as Deputy Chief Accountant.

Jos and environs

The fields around Rayfield were quite idyllic; a golf course with the tee-off point in front of the club house on a hill, strangely, about 20 metres down from the tee-off point was a steep descent that ran into a main road which cut the fairway and greens off from clubhouse.

Now, I wonder how sometimes we rode the paths through the golf course without the fear of getting hit by wayward golf balls. My father however, never played golf, the bag and balls simply rotten away in the garage; he was more a tennis player, the game of people in their late twenties.

Riding into the barren clay (kaolin ) outback was always a pleasure, we rode our bikes until we got to some functioning mine plant where the miners give us some souvenir tin ore to take back home, once we came across a menacing group of men who must have been up to no good as they snarled and gnarled at 2 little boys who were just exploring the world around them - that was quite scary.

Even little Rayfield had its scandals, we, the kids, all hear of these things, a sudden pregnancy and the poor girl suddenly disappears, but I also remember getting stung by bees twice, my right ear lobe still has the strange indent created as a result of the sting.

Corona School, Bukuru

Beyond Rayfield, there was Bukuru where the company clubhouse was as well as my school, a land-rover ride each morning from the front of the office - two things I remember were a fierce and feared teacher, Mrs. Obole and the school menace, who lived not too far from us, the nursery school even had a nursery rhyme to his honour which went.

Simon Cox, is a fox, put him in a leather box.

Many a time, some kids would have loved to have him put in a leather box and the lid sealed like Davy Jones' locker; once he tied a boy with a leather belt to a post and had others pelt the poor lad with water bombs made to some Origami design.

At that time Yakubu Gowon was the Head of State and he frequently had President Eyadema visit from Togo, and since he was from a village near Langtang, each time we knew he was in town we were taken to the railway crossing just before entering Bukuru where we waved patriotically; flags of Nigeria, the children - black, white and coloured, the same enthusiasm; I probably was one of the very few kids not born in Nigeria in my class.

We were always acknowledged, sometimes with a slow down and an appreciative wave from the host and his guest.

When the bloody coup of the 13th of February 1976 took place, I was preparing for secondary school in the South of Nigeria, one of the chief instigators was Lt. Colonel Buka Suka Dimka ; I was in school with his son.

Other towns of interest

Vom was the home of the veterinary centre (National Veterinary Research Institute), I remember I had to write a rambling essay about our visit to the centre, I never liked writing essays or letters, I hope I have improved with age.

Move on to Barakin-Ladi and another club house where our parents might not have been aware of the emerging studies on parental guidance for children's entertainment.

I saw my first horror film in that club house, some nice parent had arranged this cinema event for all the kids of senior ATMN staff and we were made to watch this blood and gore film - a millstone and lake awaits that kind parent, we were definitely marked for life after that.

Other names of places though my memory fails me of important army schools, the home town of our gardener and the seething but quiet animosity between the Birom and the Angas - Gindiri, Pankshin, Shendam, Damshin and Lafia extending into the Tiv lands were once quite familiar.

One local musician did not endear himself with these words in the more generally spoken Hausa language.

Birom de Angas, ku deina sha giya mus.

Translating to the Biroms and Angas should desist from getting drunk on alcohol. Oh! what days of yore. The local tipple was called Burukutu - brewed from millet which was abundant in that area, other recipes use sorghum.

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

The Pfizer Drug Trial

A leaked report

There is a need to follow-up on the blog I wrote about Humanitarian Pfizer before a number of points I raised are misconstrued and misinterpreted.

Nowhere was I commending Kano State for refusing to have children vaccinated, rather, I was highlighting the fact that their refusal must have been as a result of the experience they had with Pfizer and the supposed unapproved and illegal drug trials that took place.

Apparently, there was a report completed five years ago which is still confidential and under wraps that details to a greater extent how papers were forged granting access to this demographic and the possibility that no drugs were tested on some the children presumably affected.

The problem here is that the report has not been released to public scrutiny and what we know of it is due to some unauthorised leakages and no official has necessarily corroborated what has been relayed from that report, however, we now have names and titles of the Nigerian personnel who believe they were first cajoled and then kept in the dark about what Pfizer was up to.

Panel Faults Pfizer in '96 Clinical Trial In Nigeria - washingtonpost.com - Thanks to Snazzy for the link.

Hence what we really have to go on in the public domain is the detail covered by the news in terms of the new court case filed a few days ago where the numbers and the events seem to be at variance with the yet confidential report - the truth will out.

The bane of intellectual blind-sidedness

I also refuse to be challenged from the emotive perspective that if I had children, I would not have refused their testing for polio and the consequent necessary vaccination.

The commentator speaks from the comfort of an educated pedestal without appreciating the composition of the said demographic not having been deceived into offering children for trialling an unproven and untried drug in the midst of a seeming pandemic; all in the guise that they were being helped and this was approved by both the government and supported by the WHO.

The people affected in Kano State were attended to in a field hospital and probably not knowledgeable or literate enough to appreciate what was being done or attempted on their children and after The Washington Post blew this rotten exercise wide open in 2000; 4 years after the said events, it was only an expected human reaction to resist any Western medicine offers for mass immunisation in the light of such previous cajoling, deception and betrayal of trust.

Pfizer in the courts

Pfizer would contend that they obtained verbal consent of the parents when they should have only gone ahead with informed consent, a higher standard of ethical probity as required in the West.

It would appear Pfizer once had a statement about the drug tests in Nigeria, but that article can no more be found on Pfizer's site. In all, 4 court cases have been through the US courts and they have mainly been dismissed on grounds of forum non conveniens, basically, issues of jurisdiction rather than substantive misgivings on the merits of the case.

At least, Pfizer has waived possible statute of limitation problems, which means this case might run for years till some sort of resolution is reached.

Hopefully, there would be a judge ready to hear this case and get to the heart of the matter, it might also require lobbying Congress to come down heavily on rich drug companies that take advantage of helpless, poor and illiterate people to attempt dangerous drug trials outside the purvey of their government and judicial processes.

You only have to do a search on Google for Drug Trials Africa to see how much we in Africa have become a continent of guinea pigs for Big Pharma.

So, once again, in the circumstances, I can understand why the Muslim North in Nigeria were against vaccination, though it was ill-judged and wrong; they definitely were not going to be guinea pigs in another macabre drugs trial - the government had to institute serious confidence re-building measures to get the people to acquiesce to hopefully an honest activity of really saving life with drugs that really do work.

Drug Trial links

Kano Trovafloxacin trial litigation - 4 cases brought in the States since 2001

Nigerians in drug trial take their case to US court - Raufu 326 (7395): 899 -- BMJ

Nigeria: 1996 Drug Trial - Kano State Sues Pfizer for $2.7bn

Good Clinical Practice

London Drug Trial Catastrophe - Collapse of Science and Ethics

Drug Trials

The Constant Gardener

Nigeria's drug trial fears

Researcher received undisclosed payments of 300,000 dollars from Pfizer - unrelated but relevant

HTC Trinity - Connects, Works & Pleases

Mobile Phone does kitchen sink

Managing a new gadget is not that easy, only last month after failing to get Orange Netherlands to provide me with a smartphone in English for the past 18 months, I went out and got me one from one of those Internet outfits that do SIM-less mobile phones.

After reviewing everything I could find on the market, I decided on the HTC P3600 (codename HTC Trinity) smart phone in Bakelite black which gives you all kinds of connectivity including Wi-Fi and a flaky GPS functionality.

I had hardly switched it on and I was updating the ROM and many other things as I got accustomed to the keyboard and other interesting functions on the device.

Previously, I had used Bluetooth to transfer all the phone contacts on my SonyEricsson T610 phone to Microsoft Outlook; it was then a seamless transfer unto my new device.

Backup it up, do it now

When I consider how much data gets stored on mobile phones, it does not bear thinking of, the circumstance of losing all that data - in fact, I once had an Orange SPV 200 phone which allowed me to store all my phone data on an Orange server, unfortunately, out of a 2-year contract, I only got 6 months of service out of that phone.

It wasn't till about 3 weeks of usage that I found the Block Recogniser input method which uses the Graffiti script recognition that I mastered as a user of the HandSpring Visor Deluxe many years ago, but getting to write the G was a bit of trouble for quite a while.

By then, I had bought the Full Screen Keyboard from SPB Software House which seems to function for none of the applications I use; I am also shy of Pocket Word after typing in almost 2 pages of text only to find that some quirk in the device would not save my document. I now use the InkWriter/Note Taker application which I can open in Microsoft Office Word on my desktop and that is fine with me, lightweight functional and effective.

Mini-SD in playlist creation

Only yesterday, I had to acquire Storage Tools from SoftWinter because the 1GB mini-SD card suddenly disappeared half a gigabyte of music files and there was nothing I could do to retrieve my files; imagine, I lived with that for almost 2 weeks, it had become a seething nuisance I could no more entertain; after copying the data I could find to disk, I ran the Storage Tools analyser which started creating 16KB CHK files; well that was trouble I was not willing to entertain any further either.

A quick reboot saw me reformatting the mini-SD card and then putting back the data I had backed up elsewhere, just a quarter of my Classical Music library and we were ready to go.

I launched the Window Media Player 10 Mobile for Pocket PC application and could not find a way to create a Playlist, in fact, many forums had indicated you had to create an ASX file and then upload that to the device.

That was not going to work for me, I had randomly selected the files I wanted on my device, I needed to be able to create the Playlist on the device itself, before long I was installing the Playlist Manager freeware to handle my music files in situ - I created the Playlist but could not get the device to use it.

Whilst the device was playing back some music, I clicked on the Now Playing option, then on the Menu and found the option Save Playlist..., clicking on that, I was able to give the playlist a name and it automatically loaded all my files into the new Playlist and there I had it. One can create Playlists on a Windows Mobile 5.0 device, if you know how to do it.

Live Searching the wrong country

So, this morning as I ended up in the Microsoft home page in the USA, there was a picture of a fresh faced developer you might not be too familiar with along with an advertisement for Live Search for your Windows Mobile device, a facility that gives you information about services, directions, traffic and businesses and in your area; but when I checked, it only had information for the USA and the UK, nothing for the Netherlands.

Fresh developer

It would appear Microsoft has a competitor to Google Earth called Microsoft Virtual Earth all on my mobile device, it would appear, for now and for the near future, I have a mobile phone that works, no need for an iPhone just as I have had no need for an iPod.

Meanwhile, as I explored the world at my stylus-tip, I scrolled down to Africa, I homed in on a location that brought back memories of childhood - to be continued in another blog.

Monday, 21 May 2007

A mars a-whey

Me teeth do meat and leaf

I am what you might call traditional, I have dentition as an omnivore to eat my food - plant and flesh - and digest that to provide nutrients to my body.

When I was a kid, we had such a large expanse of land around our house, cattle grazed on the grass that stretched down to the forbidden paddocks - left behind after tin and columbite had been mined exhaustion.

Many a cow would lie down chewing the cud , a regurgitant of previously eaten grass before it can be digested; they have the dentition for that, they are herbivores - imagine human-beings re-eating throw-up - Oh! YUK! YUK! EUGH!

A bit of animal in my chocolate

You can see where this is going as I did not feel that much sympathy for the fact that Mars was ditching synthetic rennet for whey containing rennet found in the stomach of veal calves.

For me, that was a welcome development considering the amount of food additives and coal tar that enters our food to make it aesthetically pleasing to the eye above all else that matters with food.

Within days, Mars Inc. has reversed this decision - Bah! - profuse groveling apologies and all, because strict vegetarians donned the garb of the Disgruntled of Tunbridge Wells and flooded Mars with 6000 comments in days; 12 times the weekly volume.

How can a minority of people in what a less sympathetic blogger might class as ones with a nutrition-complex less sophisticated than that of a cow's create such a rumpus?

Well, they have and Mars will be hearing from those of us like a little bit of an animal in our chocolate. Meanwhile, I am so distraught; I would be having grass for dinner. (I love vegetarians, honestly!)

Humantarian Pfizer fed Nigerian kids poison drug - allegedly

The devil's work in Africa

The sensationalism of the headlines made us want to cover our heads in shame as we tried to defend what was the indefensible.

The Muslim North in Nigeria had refused to allow their children to be vaccinated against polio which in many ways delayed the eradication of polio in Sub-Saharan Africa, in some cases; places that were once clear became vulnerable too.

Anyone who read the by-line in the Scotsman - "Polio vaccination dismissed as devil's work across Africa" would have sniggered; the ignorant savages do not know what is good for them.

With hindsight, there is much to reckon with this refusal, Kano State in Nigeria has just sued Pfizer for a $2.75 billion compensation for using 200 of their children as guinea pigs to test an unapproved drug - Trovan Floxacin - under the guise of humanitarian aid.

Help from the devil

There was an outbreak of measles, cholera and meningitis in 1996; the World Health Organisation and Pfizer offered to help the government with this problem but it transpired that these children were given drugs that lead to complications, deformities and even death.

It would appear some independent research also found some batches of medication to be contaminated, allegedly.

What is quite disturbing about this case if it does get to court and suffer proper judicial scrutiny is that fellow Nigerians might have been party to this rotten exercise whilst the gravitas of the WHO might have given legitimacy to an activity that is completely unethical and utterly beneath contempt.

The might of Big Pharma that Pfizer represents might have hoped to exploit rife corruption in Nigeria so that this almost "eugenics" exercise would not be exposed, someone must have been paid off being privy to what was about to happen to helpless, innocent, frail and trusting little children and their seemingly gullible parents.

Low-level hysteria

Once this rotten activity was discovered, it was no surprise that low-level hysteria was employed by the religious leaders and government to prevent vaccinations from taking place a few years on.

Who was to say another Big Pharma firm would not use the large demographic of deprived Africa to test some drug for the benefit of the more privileged West.

There are many including the rich shareholders of Pfizer who would wish this suit was both frivolous and calumnious, but I would contend that some legal advice must have seen serious merit in this case.

This reeks of the infamous Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male which ran from 1932 to 1972 in America where poor illiterate black males were denied treatment for syphilis. There are stringent laws guiding medical trials in the West, but with the oaf of Professor Eyitayo Lambo sitting in the Ministry of Health in Nigeria, it is unlikely that he would have been agitated at all by this rotten exercise, though it happened long before he became minister.

He could not be bothered about the prevalence of sub-standard drugs in Nigerian Teaching Hospitals because the case was not presented directly to him as it was to his predecessor.

To small a price to pay

$2.75 billion sounds like a high price to pay but no price can be high enough a penalty for subjecting helpless innocent children to deafness, paralysis, brain damage and blindness with drugs that cause such immeasurable misery.

Let us see, with revenue of over $48 billion in 2006 if the price on the head of an African child is worth anything compared to if this exercise had been conducted in the West.

The deception in the guise of humanitarian aid in a very vulnerable situation is just unforgivable, I am all too livid with rage as I now understand the reticence of the people to take on new vaccinations, they were duped, robbed, betrayed and literally killed off for possible block-buster drug success - not only should Kano State be suing Pfizer, Nigeria and Africa as a whole should be scrutinising what other gifts we have been made to ingest in the guise of prophylaxis or therapy when in fact we were guinea pigs in an unconscionably malevolent trial.

Time to dump your Viagra pills down the drain and make sure they are properly flushed away before your toilet bowl thinks it is dysfunctional too.

Addendum:

Read the last paragraph as a metaphor, a reader left this comment - Actually, it is probably a bad idea to dump much Viagra in a toilet. Hormones and psychoactive drugs are starting to show up in the blood of aquatic organisms as well as in many bodies of fresh water in the United States and other industrialized countries. - I would agree, the prospect of seeing marine life cured of erectile dysfunction would be to horrific to countenance. Thanks Don.

Sunday, 20 May 2007

Sally Clark - Medical profession hubris or humiliated

Preamble

The Many Tragedies of Sally Clark is a blog I wrote about two months ago - a doctor camped out there for a few days with some comments to which I wrote a few lengthy responses, this new blog developed as a result of comments left therein.

The boss, the priest and the doctor

There was a time when people did not question their bosses, their priest or their doctor. Nowadays, the bosses can find themselves in hot water, besides, the moment people learnt how to build a career, and they took control of the decision of who they would want as boss.

The priest who still stands as succourer is now challenged in that role by the therapist with a bottle of pills and the moment people learnt to read the Bible, the word of the priest was no more as infallible as it once was, much as a good few are getting into trouble lately.

One profession that has failed to grasp the changing times and seasons is the medical profession, they still scribble in illegible handwriting and we rarely get a second opinion of their views, even in a life threatening situation.

Doing a good job

A number of cases have highlighted that fact that doctors want to be applauded as people who save life and that should be all-encompassing beyond any need for accountability or ethical adaptation to the realities of what society now expects or these professionals.

In the past week, I have been engaged within the comment fields of a certain blog I wrote a few months ago with a doctor who takes a completely different view from the tone and context of my write-up.

It was about the case of Sally Clark, the woman who was convicted and then acquitted of the murder/cot-deaths of her two infant sons, she died recently, which triggered my original write-up.

Exercise cautionary expertise

However, a good deal of my commentary centred around the mystique of expertise that exuded from the expert witness a renowned and celebrated consultant paediatrician who had formulated a behavioural syndrome which became the pivot on which the case against the many women who endured the tragedies of cot-deaths faced criminal trials.

When the famous and respected professor veered out his realm of expertise into the superfluous statistics, the judge, jury and press were completely enthralled by the numbers; it is almost beyond debate that those numbers influenced the outcomes of those cases.

When the numbers were really tested against realities, most of the convictions became unsafe, additional information about the health conditions of the victim infants seemed to point to other exculpatory evidence which was not offered as part of case evidence.

The need for moral responsibility

I stand by the views I expressed in my earlier post, professionals have responsibilities, to know what they are talking about and appreciate the value or import of their opinions on humanity, it is pertinent to be confident however one should exercise competence with a sense of consideration; it is called understanding your moral responsibility.

As the exchanges developed certain key issues arose, some like soundbites with an emotive tinge, but serious in any case, four of those issues I address below:

Doctors don't take the Hippocratic Oath - This shows how behind the times I must have been, doctors used to take this oath with the view that they pledge to preserve life. My view is the preservation no more just a physiological or anatomical issue, there other areas of social responsibility that the doctor occupies, the gravitas of their profession confers on them some sweeping purvey over their patient's lives, that issue must become part of any 21st Century medical curriculum.

Dead babies who have no advocate - I would that any baby that dies in any suspicious circumstances has a thorough, confident, intelligent, meticulous and fair advocate to state their case. The babies' and the parents' rights should and must be protected and safeguarded from unwarranted opprobrium.

The automatic imputation of guilt and liability on the parents in order to seek some sort of retributive justice for the innocents is an extreme that should be unacceptable in our society. Experts must ensure they have complete review of all the circumstances before they postulate. Where it can be proven that the parents are culpable, then that evidence and the presentation must be beyond reasonable doubt.

Doctors treat patients not laboratory results - I fear for this statement, indeed doctors should be treating patients but in most cases no treatment can conclusively be administered without the benefit of laboratory results. One good example was the subject of the 2005 Nobel Prize for Medicine, the discovery of bacteria in the stomach against the overarching body of medical knowledge. The bacterium - helicobacter pylori - was found to be causative of certain ulcers and even cancer, who would have thought certain cancers could be treated with antibiotics.

Certain evidence suggested that a cot-death victim might have died of staphylococcal septicaemia; the commentator contends the child did not die of this infection, but if the pathologist had offered this evidence to doctors when the child took ill weeks before, there might have been a different outcome from better observation.

The medical profession is against the GMC - This is where doctors need a review of their activities beyond their education and expertise; their interaction with the public.

I quote liberally from the Economist, professions have at least four elements; an accepted body of knowledge, a system for certifying mastery of that knowledge before it can be practised, a commitment to the public good and an enforceable code of ethics.

The medical profession does quite well with the first two, the commitment to the public good cannot however be monitored and validated by just the medical profession, the General Medical Council (GMC) serves the purpose of ensuring that a doctor who treats the public can cultivate the trust of the public.

Where this ability to maintain and cultivate trust is compromised, the license to practise comes under review and it can be revoked.

Saving the medical profession

Whilst there was an uproar in the medical fraternity when Professor Sir Roy Meadow was struck off, the public good was served and is what esteemed profession failed to recognise.

The GMC continues to save the medical profession from a mounting crisis of public confidence which is critical to the practise of medicine.

The commentator laments the dearth of paediatric expertise since the incident at Alder Hey Children's hospital where consultants removed for storage organs of dead children without the consent of the parents.

For the advancement of child medicine there is probably a case for removing the organs but definitely not without consent.

The bane of intellectual arrogance

Sometimes, hubris and seeming unassailability can becloud the ability for professions to recognise their moral responsibilities in a public setting and the public is getting fed up with intellectual arrogance being displayed and acted out in dictats from on high.

We might not have the knowledge or expertise but we all have access to information and these compete for attention in order to make personal quality decisions in our lives.

This is the challenge that faces the medical profession and it is one they would have to embrace from the student to the emeritus professor if they are to suffer lesser vexatious scrutiny and keep out of court or present themselves to a GMC hearing.

On closer inspection the loss of two children to cot-death was a great tragedy regardless of the class demographic; the case that followed was a travesty considering what further information made the sentences handed out unsafe; the ensuing court battles revealed a fundamental debacle and error of judgement in accepting ideas outside the professional purvey of an expert on the whole, neither medicine nor the public good was properly served.

The death of Sally Clark was the sorry end to the clash between a proud and almost arrogant profession and the public they serve.

My Shehecheyanu - 7 Dutch Years

On Saturday the 20th of May 2000, I set sail for a land far away from home, to live with people of a strange tongue, they welcomed me, succoured me and gave me new perspectives, vision, aims and goals. Home was London the land was the Netherlands.

I am thankful for the way things have turned out; I am still a wayfaring man at heart looking for ways to continual remain relevant in the many spheres of my life.

Whilst my religious inclinations are in an abeyance of sorts, deep down in my heart and soul, I thank the Almighty God for all the blessings and favour that have come my way and sustained me through funny, happy, strange, restless and crazy times, which are many.

I can with gladness of heart say my personalised version of the Shehecheyanu, the special Jewish prayer at august occasions.

Blessed are You, My God,
Creator of time and space,
Who has supported me, protected me,
And brought me to this moment.

I love the Netherlands.

Saturday, 19 May 2007

Gorilla in the midst

Who let the ape out?

This might appear crazy if not outrageous for speculation, but as parents and children visited Diergaarde Blijdorp Zoo in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, an alpha male gorilla that had been kept in an enclosure for one wonders how long scaled the fence, crossed a moat and went on a rampage successfully attacking and biting a woman and invading the restaurant refuge that people ran to for safety.

The gorilla was finally subdued with a sedation dart to the relief of many.

However, this represents an interesting lesson from the animal kingdom, we can enjoy the pleasures of zoos by seizing animals from their natural habitat and place then in fancy enclosures as we satisfy our curiosities with realities that are hardly viewed on the National Geographic Channel, but those specimens might just have wised up to the fact that this is just no more good fun for them.

Ass of you and me - Ass-u-me

There was the assumption that a moat representing the fear of water and inability to swim is an adequate deterrent - we now know better.

Animal enclosures utilise knowledge of fears, phobias and boundaries to offer comfortable views whilst keeping the contact between animals and human-beings at a minimum.

Governments make use of laws, the punishment of crime, the use of untrammelled police force and many other tools of sovereign purvey to marshal and encage people in some orderly sense of serious unease. As the Economist notes, the military or military-backed governments are often good at micro-managing the citizenry - basically they turn the country into an over-scaled barrack and everyone should fall in.

Paying with arse-wipes

Zimbabwe becomes another case in point as inflation hits 3,731.9%, this is outrageous, and it means one ply of one sheet of my nicely scented arse-wipe can get a lot more than $10,000 Zimbabwean and probably a lot more.

When I learnt of hyperinflation in Economics class, none of these kinds of figures ever featured, it is criminal to the extreme, and how can anyone continue to preside with any dignity on a state so savaged by irresponsible stewardship and megalomania?

It is time for the gorilla in the people to break free from the constraints of unnatural societal cohesion where freedoms are curtailed and rights are trampled upon, enough is enough, in all these places.

Meanwhile, the sedative dart to put a gorilla back in the cage to hit those leaders such that they should face justice maybe from raping the country or destroying the efficacy of democracy.

As the Economist notes again with poignancy, it is not the lack of money that keeps people poor, it is misgovernment; this should be the aim of the UN Millennium Development Goals, good government would lead to achieving the goals.

The gorillas in our midst should return to where they belong.

Lingering smells of the caged life

Noah's Arc Cologne

Considering how this blog began to form in my mind earlier today, it is a pleasant surprise that I find myself in olfactory proximity to much zoological defecation.

I boarded the Zoo Express shuttle which had seats that would make traditional church pews feel like comfortable feather-bedded loungers as we tried to set the record for the longest possible time to complete a journey to the zoo in tortoise-drawn carriages. No wonder, I saw no tortoises at the zoo, they had all conked out, the poor things.

The main notice within the zoo declared the place Cologne's Noah's Arc, well, I did not see any animals going in two-by-two and it was well and truly beached. Much as one can be entertained with wildlife from Australia, Madagascar and nether lands, the jury is out on the complete work of conservation since the flood wiping out animals is the human race and their effect on earth, than anything else.

Truly inspired names

In two hours, I had just about seen that almost extinct and endangered orange-nosed, red-breasted, yellow-beaked, black-handed, blue-bottomed, pink-toed, green-eyed, fluffy-haired, three-fingered picinini and everything else.

Somehow, the politically-incorrect names we once used to describe fellow human-beings are now lavished liberally on animals in the zoo.

I am sure when Adam in Genesis had the task of naming animals he must have done a better job.

Now, I have nothing against zoos but one might have to don a gas mask next time one visits a zoo.

That was a day out in Cologne. In the end, when I saw a big stop sign barring people from going down a path, one surmised, great fiery dragons be there - it is a zoo after all.

Pictures of the visit are in the Cologne Zoo Set on Flickr, I did not tour the whole zoo, so no elephants, seals or penguins.

Friday, 18 May 2007

Stoners required for Sharia execution

Punishing crime against women

Crime and violence against women is still something men and society seem to be able to do with impunity in Africa, one report suggests it is seldom punished. There are civilising voices that are being raised to highlight these issues and bring focus to the need for radical and positive change.

Unfortunately, one such voice for change in the blogging community seems to have lost the desire to continue this thankless activity and I very well sympathise, social issues in Africa cannot gain prominence where the quest for basic survival is the primary pre-occupation.

Apathy reigns whilst hedonistic pursuits leave us in need for things to improve our society and raise our quality of life, one would miss the voice of Black Looks on these matters.

Sharia in the headlines

The law and religion collide again in Nigeria's north where a man has been sentenced to be stoned to death by Sharia Law.

His heinous crime is the forcible raping of two teenage girls, an act he committed with an accomplice who got off lightly with just a six-month sentence.

I would not argue the disproportionate difference in sentencing, as to how a rapist and an accomplice cannot both be accessories to the same crime and how not even a corporal punishment element appears in the sentencing of the supposedly lesser criminal.

The logic escapes me that the horridness of the crime of rape has been belittled in some way that would make it arguable for a participant in encouraging a rape might get off quite so lightly. Am I expressing surprise at Sharia judgements being so lenient?

There is a risk of imputing tribalism, in noting the ambiguous name of the main criminal which is indeterminately Southern Nigerian (Ade Debo) as compared with the more Northerly sounding and Muslim name of the accomplice (Shagari Abubakar), but I would contend that greater principles of due legal process, albeit Sharia Law prevailed in the execution of justice and judgement.

The punishment

In the West, rapists do get quite stiff sentences, even up to life imprisonment, in America, it would exact a capital punishment, especially if it leads to murder - I would argue that rape should and must be severely punished if proven.

The points of interest arise when you hear the proclamation of the judge; Aliyu Mohammed, "For your action, you will be stoned to death as ordained by Allah".

I would not dispute this statement, but how many times have we seen certain actions of men carried out in the name of God so as to be considered credible, unassailable and inviolable.

The we read that the men have 30 days to appeal the sentence where man in the assumed capacity of Allah can commute what Allah ordained to a lesser punishment - maybe I am being a bit pedantic here.

Are you a stoner at heart?

If the sentence does not get commuted, in the 21st Century, would there be a wolf pack of Nigerians available to pick up specially selected stones to throw at a fellow human-being till he were dead?

Would people be compelled by their Islamic leaders to do the Allah-ordained task of stoning or face the wrath of Allah?

Surely the execution of criminals should be the function of the state and this should be carried out in a humane and civilised manner, to set this activity in the marketplace of a mob of bloodthirsty people creating images too savage for Allan Quatermain's Africa is beyond the pale.

The bizarre nature of this whole thing would be if certain adherents of Sharia principles offer their services as professional "stoners", or rather, they are catalysts that help instigate and encourage the mob to pick up stones and finish off the criminal as he bellows out blood-curdling screams of pain to the hearing of inured children.

The role of civil law

We should punish crime appropriately, but at this juncture, civil law is probably the better tool to handle cases like this than traditional religious methods which would take the focus away from the crime and place it on the criminal as activists move to prevent this sentence from being carried out.

Somehow, Sharia Law does have its place in society, but it also has to adapt to modern values in such a way that social matters are handled with the adjudication of the Sharia court whilst felonies and serious criminal matters are forwarded to the civil law division.

The way Sharia Law grabs the headlines when these punishments are given persuades people to highlight the fossilised aspects of this code of conduct and creates resistance to the more civilising forces for social cohesion that Sharia Law might bring to communities.

The only progress I have seen in this matter is where the female victims of this sex crime have not been charged with some absurd offence of encouraging the rape; amazing perspective, but too valid in Africa to be ignored.

Thursday, 17 May 2007

Is Goodluck suffering a run of bad luck?

Good luck for Goodluck

I once made a flippant comment regarding the Nigerian President-select Umaru Yar'Adua when a blog said his appearance at an interview had something of a rabbit mesmerised in the middle of the road by the lights of a fast approaching vehicle in the night.

Alluding to other aspects of concern, which includes the uncertainty of his rather buoyant health I said, "If he survives, he has good luck, if he doesn't we have Goodluck".

It would appear the President-select is a scarce commodity, the brigands that head his political vehicle of electoral mischief - sorry, I am getting ahead of myself here - political party, I meant - have been keeping him from the public view and creating an air of royal mystique about him.

In Purdah or a zombie

He does not seem to be able to appear for all sort of events marking his victory or seeking to having him talk to the people - as an out-going Sharia Law governor, methinks he is taking the laws too far and he is going into Purdah. This might usher a new regime of gender equality repolarisation, what a woman can do, a man can likewise do in Nigeria.

However, on the matter of good luck and health even the President of the United States undergoes a thorough health check with the basic details made public, what is to say we do not have a Presidential air ambulance in scrambled state ready to fly off to German the moment he blinks twice at the fast approaching lights?

To the good health of Mr. President

But seriously, I do wish the President-select well, the uncertainty of what we are getting does leave the whiff of a bygone Soviet communist secrecy age about if the leader can sniff or is a stiff.

The matter of good luck worries me more, because it can be argued that Yar'Adua did not choose his running mate, it was an arranged marriage instigated by the out-going President.

The Trojan President

Dr. Goodluck Jonathan of all better performing governors in the South was plucked from the obscurity of ability within the quagmire of terrorist acts in his state that he did little to manage or curtail and thrust on Nigerian as a cynical ploy to indirectly given the state influence and hopefully sap support from the machinations of the insurgents and militants that sabotage oil installations and kidnap foreign workers with relative ease, giving Nigeria unpalatable headlines.

Now, it would appear this ploy has not worked, Dr. Jonathan does not have a constituency in his state, he is no man of his people - twice already his property has been attacked and his relations have suffered great distress as a result. One might be tempted to say bad luck is jabbing at Goodluck.

Less sympathetic commentators might even hazard the thought that his luck as run out, the dangerous part of this is the possibility that Yar'Adua is a Trojan horse, whose incapacitation would pave the way for Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to assume the presidency temporarily or more.

That would be an unfortunate turn of circumstances for Nigeria, for if that man in a well resourced and financed oil-rich state could not find socio-economic solutions to placate the tensions in his state, the grand project of Nigeria cannot expect to see better - herein is the death of luck.

Allowing for some optimism, these people can somehow spring surprises, we'll see.

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Sustaining bad reports from Africa

The international shame of it all

One must now begin to wonder if there is anymore pride to be had in being African.

Somehow we have been bestowed with ignominious leadership and representatives who heap opprobrium, ridicule and embarrassment on Africans; it is now unashamed bravado to proclaim African-ness in public and keep a straight face.

Last month we endured with derision the shameful debacle of the Nigerian (S)elections so comprehensively rigged there was almost no just recourse apart from new elections by unbiased organisations, but this did not happen.

A bit earlier, the grandfather of African despotism had his hoodlums beat up his political opponents as his country set records for hyperinflation.

Other African governments have tacitly allowed for Zimbabwe to become a basket-case, it is an utter disgrace.

Death on horseback

The only comfort in Darfur is death visiting people as horse-backed black Nazis called the Janjaweed. The incredible fact being they are equipped for their death mission by the Sudanese government and this has been going on for at least three years.

I am no fan of John Howard, the Prime Minister of Australia, but his decision to stop the Australian cricket team from touring Zimbabwe is laudable, nothing should be done to let the brigands in that government savour any ounce of credibility; unfortunately the British government could not muster the guts to take that kind of decision 2 years ago.

It appears we still have to learn of ways to ensure Africans do not get a raw deal from our leaders from the West. Where is our humanity, civility or even civilisation?

Sustainable disgrace

To crown it all, the UN Commission on Sustainable Development had a vacant chairmanship position available to be filled by an African and the Africans put forward the Zimbabwean Environment Minister of all qualified Africans we can find for such a role. It is laughable and risible if it were not a complete letdown of Africa and Africans.

Sustained destruction of a once great, resourceful and self-sufficient nation is what this man brings to the job following his service to Mugabe's megalomania.

Someone must be acting out irony or playing a bad joke. It leaves me unwilling to continue to identify as African and one is just not impressed.

We cannot continue to sustain this kind of report from Africa, it is primitive, ignorant, savage and backward, it must stop.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Jerry Falwell goes to meet the Lord

The passing of a man

It is with some sadness that one learns of the death of Reverend Jerry Falwell, bastion of the religious right, co-founder/chancellor of Liberty University and consummate detractor of liberal America.

The Reverend was found unconscious in his office this morning and could not be revived till declared death in hospital later on.

Whilst the Reverend did much to gather together those of a like mind ranging from Christian fundamentalism to the evangelical strands, he was no doubt a strong polarising influence in America, making pronouncements that really got noticed and in some cases caused great embarrassment to committed Christians in general.

In all, it showed that great "Men of God" were fallible, able to make a ridiculous clot of themselves, hopefully learning a lesson of humility in the process and doing better after.

We be fallible men

Many would write about the great man, but at death there is also a reckoning, a review of the deeds of a man, no evil would be spoken of him, but the truth should find airing for this one occasion.

One issue that faces the world we live in today is Global Warming, there is sufficient scientific study leading to the impression that this phenomenon is fuelled by the activities of man on earth. Now, I am concerned for the way this concept is being hijacked by all sorts of inimical interests, their work is creating a situation where reasonable people are becoming sceptical of the realities we face.

Global Warming debunked

Reverend Falwell was no signatory to the document written by 86 leaders of the religious right who became to avow that man's stewardship of the earth is in need of responsible use of the earth's means and resources. The Reverend simply parlayed this as a liberal conspiracy to subject the world to a globalised kind of government.

It was worrisome to see that no student in a class at Liberty University when asked yesterday on a BBC TV review on the evangelical schism around the issue showed any concern for Global Warming, however remote or as the Reverend said, there was no conclusive scientific evidence about Global Warming.

I wish it were conclusive, but when did any knowledge of our world become conclusive? We have always been in a continual learning process, gaining new insight and knowledge to understand things better, the man could have been a better leader in this regard.

The lost love message

There is no telling the pulpit-bashing and vituperation meted out against the homosexual community, the extent of that absurdity was evident when he said the purple handbag of Tinky Winky in the much calming toddler's television programme TeleTubbies was a depiction of homosexuality.

No stranger to controversy, he later apologised for calling Mohammed a terrorist and his view of September the 11th was that gays, atheists, civil-rights activists and legal abortions in the US had angered God and "helped this happen".

For an evangelist and preacher, one can simply say it was an admission of failure because this same man who made provision for women in crises pregnancies could have extended his brotherly kindness to welcoming the gays, atheists, activists and abortionists into the church to find the embrace of God's love that I would suppose he preached and counselled on.

Shirking the grand responsibility

The irony should not be lost on anyone when II Chronicles 7:14 lays the responsibility of peace in our lands at the behest of those who follow Him rather than those who do not.

II Chronicles 7:14 - if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

However, he did apologise, but let it not be said that the great man failed to get the import of this message, there are many great good works he did for the Christian community and they will be lauded as his life is celebrated.

So, we mourn the passing of a great man of God, imperfect as he was and we all are, he has done his bit, it is now our turn to leave nothing to chance of the things that might be written of us when we are gone.

Rest in peace - Reverend Dr. Jerry Falwell.

Monday, 14 May 2007

To Madeleine McCann's abductor, a millstone awaits

Madeline McCann
Madeleine McCann - See the distinctive right eye; left eye in the picture. Courtesy BBC News.

Not through my children

There is a saying in Yoruba that goes as follows: "If my enemy decides to engage me, let it not be through attacking my children". The meaning of this is very deep, having never been a parent; I cannot begin to understand the utter distress and state of discomfiture that overcomes a parent when they sense or know that a child is in danger or peril.

From observation, I have seen many literally go mad, lose objectivity and lose control; there are no words to explain the palpable emotion of that situation.

In my late teens, when I voluntarily went missing because of problems I had in my life, my mother was beside herself, that another saying was invoked, "Knowing that a child is dead is a lot better than not knowing about the child when missing".

Supposed to be family-friendly

It is in this light that I also have in mind the McCanns who went on holiday to Portugal in the "family friendly" Praia da Luz resorts only to have their daughter Madeleine McMann abducted just a few days before her 4th birthday.

Not enough analysis can be made of the fact that the police are completely unused to child abduction crimes by reason of the lack of expertise, the indifference to previously locally reported abduction crimes and a poor understanding of prevailing human trafficking issues.

Portuguese law that prevents cases from being exposed to public access through crucial information dissemination and appeals does need reflecting upon; people move fast when it comes to kidnappings and abductions, there should be an information overload not a blackout on these matters so that the culprits can be apprehended quickly.

Usually, information leading to solving these crimes mostly involves members of the public informing the police, this is a lesson to take away from this situation, if any.

Safe but still missing

The profile of the abductors vary from someone who recently suffered the bereavement of a child to malevolent low-lives given to pederasty and peadophilia; the latter I would not countenance and I pray God that Madeleine is with the former, keeping faith with her parents that she is alive, safe and well with someone lavishing care upon her, but this person coming to the realisation that Madeleine is no orphan and she needs to be with her own and returned to the comfort of her family forthwith.

I cannot in any way blame the parents for having left their kids to go for a meal without availing themselves of childcare facilities - childcare facilities do not offer absolute safety, they only help to confer blame when something goes wrong - the whole context of "family-friendly" is lost if one cannot leave kids in a place - private hotel apartment - for an hour or two whilst the parents spend some quality time together.

And parents do need to devote time to each other without the interference of the kids which is why they did not dump the kids with minders during the day, but in the night when as it were, things were supposed to be quiet and safe.

Faith and persuasion

It is nice to know that people can still find succour and strength in their faith, the church being the rallying point of all those who have come together to pray for the safe return of Madeleine.

The additional voices and incentive for information leading to the safe return of Madeleine has hit £2.5 million about $5 million, even the culprits, if many should find a way of turning against each other and aim at this generous largesse, and I hope it does move more to act on any suspicious activity related to the little girl.

Hopefully, the time to really review policing in the tourist areas of the Southern European coasts of Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece would come, however, for now, all that can be done to help the police return Madeleine to her family should be done without restraint, the police themselves know that with the eyes of world on them, not only is their reputation at stake, the whole "family-friendly" fantasy is about to go up in smoke.

My personal appeal

I personally appeal to the humanity of anyone who might have Madeleine McCann, give her up to be returned to her parents; even you will know that you cannot find rest with the harm of separation you have exacted on the girl, there can be no greater cruelty than to separate a child from its parents and there is no sterner punishment for those that commit evil against children.

Like Jesus said in Mark 9:42 - if you give one of these simple, childlike believers a hard time, bullying or taking advantage of their simple trust, you'll soon wish you hadn't. You'd be better off dropped in the middle of the lake with a millstone around your neck. (Message Bible)

There is no ambiguity in this statement, Jesus would care less if you drowned and it was made sure that you really did drown at the bottom of a lake; releasing the child might as well give you the redemption of swimming to safety - spare yourself the millstone.