Sunday, 29 July 2007

Qataris not flying by the seat of their culture

Flight delayed

Some passengers flying back from Milan's Linate airport to London Heathrow would have been seriously displeased that their flight was delayed for four hours.

This delay was not caused by the weather or some unforeseen situation rather it was caused by the clash of civilisations and the absurd behaviour of adherents of a religion that portends to be rational.

It transpired that a minor royal of the Qatari ruling family of about 3,000 princes had gone shopping in Milan with his harem of three wives and a coterie of a male relative, a cook and a another servant, seven in all. BBC Story.

When they boarded the aircraft, the ladies objected to sitting beside men they did not know.

Adaptation versus integration

Now, the Islamic Arab culture caters for the fact that ladies do have to be chaperoned by male relations, especially if they are married to , as it were keep the women pure and chaste.

But Italy and the United Kingdom are not Qatar, an international setting like the seating plan of a commercial flight cannot be subject to manipulation due to religious concerns except if the women would have wanted to be classed as children, the elderly or the handicapped - it would stretch the imagination to place any of them in those categories.

So, as these truculent "chaste" women found that the air stewards could not rearrange the flight for their convenience seeing other proximity passengers might have been couples or groups rather than lone travellers, when the plane began to taxi for take-off two of the party refused to sit down creating a safety alert situation.

Storm at take-off

The take-off was aborted and the pilot ordered the whole party off the plane, but this was not before the police and Qatari diplomats got involved in the matter.

The party eventually returned to London on an Alitalia flight later that day.

There is no doubt that this intemperate situation would cause a bit of an embarrassment for the Qatari government as something irrational as boycotting British Airways might ensue.

Uncompromising and disagreeable

However, closer to the matter here, we find a situation where a foreign culture and religious adherence refused to adapt to circumstances outside the purview of its indigenous setting, it highlights the problem of people integrating in foreign cultures something that is a hot-button issue about Islam and European societies.

The prince on seeing this situation approached the pilot's cabin to complain, a situation that could have triggered a security, if not a terrorist alert, that move was unwise.

When the cabin crew could not resolve the issue, the party could have settled down in what was a probably an inconvenient situation for a 2-hour flight, but they brought in the law and their diplomatic bigwigs without due consideration for their fellow passengers and the inconvenience they might be causing.

Thankfully, the pilot was not cowed by that embarrassment of riches or the abuse of privilege as he ordered the party off the aircraft, the captain must always be king on any aircraft under their control.

Send the bill for a bad lesson

Meanwhile, the other passengers would have had a salutary lesson in Qatari culture and even the benign influence of Islamic teaching on the ability of women to appear in public and have a quality of independence in modern societies.

As I write, I hope a humongous bill containing the extended landing charges, compensation for inconveniencing all the other passengers as well as loses pertaining to having to reschedule the flight itinerary would be wending its way to the Qatari Royal Family accountant and bank manager.

Though the sorry situation about this story is if you are going to be a prince, never be born a minor prince because this would not have happened to the prime members of the family, they would probably have private jets or charter the whole craft.

Naijalive: After all the comments

I was THINKING ALOUD

It would appear nobody saw the first two words in my blog about the advent of Naijalive's Nigeria Super Blog - it states; Thinking Aloud.

I am getting quite fed up of seeing references by the proprietors of this project trying to cast me as villain; excerpting for emotive aggrandisement elements of my posting and leaving out the fundamental principles I was raising.

After their lengthy apology and then unsavoury comments dotted around blogs about this matter, I have already requested and they have acceded in removing my blog from their forum.

I wrote that blog in the light and context of the deprecation or absence of service from the Nigerian Bloggers Aggregator (NBA) - I would note clearly that I specifically subscribed to NBA and by doing that I was accepting the way they were representing my information.

Consent is pre-eminent

My beef with Naijalive was based on the following:

They registered me in their forum without my consent, the first I heard of this service was when I received an email asking me to change the way my feeds are submitted.

When my blog appeared on that site, all the formatting I had for my blog had been subsumed into some bland nondescript format and then people posted comments that did not reflect back at my blog.

Whatever they might want to call their type of aggregation, that meant that my blog was being altered and duplicated somewhere else where I did not have any control.

Making an ASS of U and ME

From my experience, there was a particularly "Nigerian" attitude about this service, they automatically assumed everyone who is Nigerian or has a Nigerian affiliation would want to be a participant and hence no consent is required in some absurd sense of brotherhood.

No, that is not how it is done in polite society or Internet ethic circles, even when I register in more established forums, I have the option to opt in or opt out of their services, I control how they interact with me.

I took particular exception to them requiring I change my feeds for a service which they have lauded to my distraction as a beta and preview (That is just semantics, the site is live, public and under continuing development, see the definition of preview below), I have been blogging since December 2003, I have never had a request like that from established aggregators because they know the choice of how I want my blog syndicated is primarily MINE.

It begs the question how many people would take actionable suggestions from a business that has not had time to prove themselves who are in a trial phase of their project. It would be a completely different thing if I was asked to participate in some user acceptance testing or become a pilot user before the preview went live.

Amateur and pretender

I stand by my use of the words "amateur" and "pretender", they are words that can be read in the most wide-ranging contexts that you may care to have; that they have taken the most negative connotations of the words is their prerogative.

They are amateur because evidently, none of them are in any mainstream information technology occupation; the project is run by a petroleum engineer, a civil engineer and a microbiologist and a free site.

They might engage computer experts in this project, but it really did first look like a dabble, a "have a go" thing because everyone is into the stuff. By their admission their tasking careers give them little time to spend on the project amidst the protestations that they intend to make this project as professional as possible. It would be no surprise that essential blog management expertise might be missing in the flux of amazing ideas.

I employed the word pretender because we have already been used to other services which have provided us similar functionality regardless of how they try to differentiate their offering, many other knowledgeable people opined that their approach was suspect and suspicious.

Coming late into this business of blog management there fundamental things that would be expected of any new service and at my first review, it was not close on any account to services I was already familiar with.

Welcome to the harsh realities

There is no doubt that Naijalive is adapting to the harsh realities of starting up an Internet venture in the blog genre and changes have been made to accommodate many of the requests but the core principles still remains

  • consent is required prior to registering a blog in your site
  • the look and feel of the blog should be retained except where excerpts or quotations are extracted, if the whole blog is published, it should not be different from source material
  • comments made to the blogs in the project, should and must reflect back in the comment areas of the source material

As usual, the proprietors would try to bluff their way through this matter, one could almost say that is also a typical Nigerian trait, by castigating dissent and criticism, having apologised their comments in other forums about my original "thinking aloud" blog simply showed they were in no way contrite by trying to play victim when in fact they were wrong - ethically and professionally.

Even one comment by probably an "expert" in Internet Law wondered why some people could be so anal - has someone's Emotional Intelligence just taken a plummet or what? If only people would address the core principles and spare us the emotional trips.

I have nothing against what Naijalive is doing, it has its purposes, none of which serve mine; but I got involved because I was co-opted without consent, it does not mean I should lose my rights to criticise their actions constructively or otherwise, be the business Nigerian or Martian, I take no prisoners on matters of principle.

Flexibility would help

In terms of advice, there is one last thing Naijalive requires, flexibility - make the superblog a collapsible outline, present the full text of the blogs if you must, but provide a button that collapses the blogs into just the title and the summary so that people do not have to scroll through pages of text to get to the blogs they really want to read. [This feature seems to have been implemented similar to that of the Nigerian Bloggers Aggregator, a duplication of an existing aggregator service, I would think].

There are people who write good summaries of their blogs too. By the way, it is Mr. Akintayo, not Mr. Akin, the effrontery of tyros is baffling to say the least.

PS: For all who care to check, a preview according to the Merriam-Webster Online dictionary is to see beforehand; specifically : to view or to show in advance of public presentation - by definition and reality, the Nigeria Super Blog is NOT a preview, it is like I said earlier, online and available to the worldwide public, not a select audience of reviewers. I think that puts paid to that charade.

References

Aggregating the Nigerian blogosphere. Re: Naijalive.net - Oluniyi David Ajao » Blog Archive

About the Project | The NaijaLive Official Blog

Global Voices Online » Nigeria: Talking About Aggregation, Copyright and Professionalism

Open Apology to Oluniyi David Ajao | The NaijaLive Official Blog

Saturday, 28 July 2007

Nursery rhyme speaks of English floods

Children know the flood

It would appear there is nothing else happening in the world apart from the floods in Gloucestershire. BBC News 24 is offering such pervasive coverage even my head is flooded with the news.

In a moment of flood panic, I felt some calm as I remembered a nursery rhyme my mother taught me.

It would appear Gloucester (pronounced Glosster) has been flood-prone from time immemorial, at least a picture in c.1725 shows Johannes Kip's West prospect of Gloucester, emphasising the causeway and bridges traversing the water meadows of the floodplain - a truth so well documented that it was taught to children in a nursery rhyme but ignored to the peril and suffering of many today.

Here goes.

Doctor Foster,

Went to Gloucester,

In a shower of rain,

He fell in a puddle,

Right up to his middle,

And swore never to go to Gloucester again.

You tell me if that is not about rain in Gloucestershire creating a flood that would have been at least 1 metre (3 feet) high.

If only more people were as smart as Doctor Foster, a lot of grief would have been saved.

Out of the mouth of babes ...

Obituary: Shambo, the loss of respect

Called out of the meadow

His was no ordinary life, nay, a female or milk would have flowed from the udders each morning, no feeding and nurturing for a silver-side steak with French fries as fat as human hair.

He was called to service and he did receive the tribute of religion that attempted to exclude him from the rule of law, the application of commonsense and immediacy of a pervasive danger to others.

For, he was the embodiment of the sanctity of life in every living creature, a life that must not be needlessly destroyed. To that point, it was a less to all; life is too precious to be wasted on the whim of the desires of others.

For the holy cow remains

So, this Friesian bull born in 2001, adopted in the monastic order of a religion that holds them dear and attaining the majesty of the holy cow, most sacred that it must be untouchable was touched by something so minuscule, yet too fearful to contemplate, for touch was a gift of death, bovine tuberculosis.

Had this bull been nameless, he would have died, unsung, unmourned and unknown, but his name was Shambo and they gave him a humanity that pitched a community against due process in the name of religion.

But the cow died and afterwards it indeed was a danger to other flock, it had lesions indicative of the presence of bovine tuberculosis.

Shambo leaves a community bereft of their sacred cow and some who travelled in all the way from New Zealand, all for the life of cow.

Rational religion, irrational adherents

The story of Shambo however does not end with its death because the community now appeals that no other animal be killed even if they are bovine tuberculosis indicative.

The sanctity of life awakens us to another reality, the "vicarious" sacrifice of one diseased animal to save other animals, as other farmers have required and as the health experts have advised; it is a fearful analogy, but whilst religion can be rational, the adherents can be so far from the rationality their religion demands.

This is not respect

This same sanctity of life is defiled time and again as individuals exercise their rights to remain alive without due consideration for others in the community.

People swift to use guns in the streets of London, many have become mobile abattoirs, a knife to hand and it goes deep into the flesh of another man because of respect.

A type of respect that does not belong on our streets but has broken out of the prison regiment where the law has placed people who need to be denied their liberty and their community as a just consequence of deeds which threaten society - crimes, misdeeds and disobedience amongst a multitude of many sins unmentionable.

In prison, the only dignity left in a man is the jungle of the alpha male; you are in a correction facility and hence damn the consequences of being corrected when you are wrong.

Like a pervasive contagion leading to a pandemic, the prison pathogen is wiping out civility in our societies, people would not countenance being corrected, because it makes them lose face for which they must make drastic amends by having in possession a gun which targets that lone protector of civility in our communities and snuffs the person out life a candlelight in a gale.

Doing right getting wronged

This has nothing to do with respect, people earn respect by being productive members of their communities and that completely excludes crime as unwarranted violence, breaking rules, possessing a firearm or harmful weapon.

But yesterday, the family of James Oyebola, 46, granted that the life-support machine keeping his sanctity of whatever life he had left be turned off.

This is another name of Nigerian heritage too many, from Damilola Taylor, 10, in 2000 who was thrust through in a stairwell, Michael Dosunmu, 15, in February 2007, who was shot while he slept in his bedroom, too many of my people are getting caught up in this rotten morass.

A ban on smoking in public areas exists in England, it came into effect on the 1st of July 2007 and people cannot have been oblivious of this fact. Some customers however decided to trespass this law and the gentle giant figure of the one-time WBC international heavyweight champion advised the customers to desist without rancour.

Those customers shot him in the face with a gun and the man died. For all the respect any man could demand of his fellow man, the most important one is to be able stand by what you have done and face the consequences for your actions like a man. They ran away.

James Oyebola was born in Lagos on the 10th of June 1961, he was well received as a boxer and a respected man in the community, he is survived by his girlfriend and two children.

Cowards without souls

These are men who have no respect for themselves or others, but this is becoming the Plimsoll line of respect amongst our youth.

The warped concept of respect that portends that society owes you everything and you have nothing to contribute to society, one that damns the consequences and gives you peer honour as a fugitive and criminal, one that is an untrammelled dementia of the ego that they feel they are bigger than everything around them and answerable to no one.

Within this youth subculture, exists the pain of the death of 17 young people in London since the beginning of the year, 5 of which were through gunshots. Lives needlessly destroyed in the pursuit of intemperate and criminal self aggrandisement masquerading as respect.

If we do not seize our societies and communities from this prison cancer, the raconteur would be possessed of interminable obituaries.

May the souls of all those forcibly made to depart this beautiful earth rest in peace, as for Shambo, the last wish of an adherent when it was taken from the monastery was for it to return a human - even I cannot begin to plumb the depths of the absurdities of religion - if it is believable, it is the beginning of faith, the emasculation of the rational.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Vigil for the cow eternal

To die or not to die

Activism is becoming the salve of every grievance and we are back to the great message of salvation, the salvation of the sacred cow.

Last week, I raised the issue of a cow which tested positive for bovine tuberculosis and the Welsh Assembly Government had ordered the cow to be slaughtered.

What should have been in an advanced state of decay lives and breathes in a Hindu community of monks at Skanda Vale farm in Llanpumsaint, near Carmarthen, Wales.

A High Court judge granted a reprieve, saving the cow from certain death, but this was appealed by the Assembly and now the order by the Court of Appeal in London has been given to sacrifice the cow on the simple principle of commonsense.

An infected cow is a danger to other cattle, species and possibly humans too, the consequences of which we cannot begin to fathom.

Testing again

Unfortunately, this holy cow, oblivious of its situation would not die quietly, because Hindu adherents are now keeping vigil and praying for the cow to be saved, one would wonder if this is to save it from the scourge of the consumption or from the weapon of the executioner.

As this tale twists and turns like the tail of a happy cow, the adherents have now written to the Welsh Rural Minister asking for a magnanimous gesture of testing the cow again since the original test might have produced a false positive.

Bent athletes who dope would hope to be able to ask for this kind of reprieve after the A sample and B sample have turned up positives, maybe they are all false positives.

This is all a red herring to keep the cow alive for a few more days or weeks and some smart chap or monk cooks up another scheme to convert the sacred cow from mortal to eternal.

It would appear the last resort of civil disobedience and obstructing the path of justice is very well on the table to thwart every way and means to bring Shambo to the bovine gallows.

If this magnanimous gesture of a second test is offered and it returns a positive; what next for Shambo?

If you feel affected by all this, the need to register a protest or want to say the last rites - Visit Moo Tube.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Religion saves cow for consumption

Senate disorder on religious guest

Two events juxtapose religion and the state or civil society, in both cases a conflict ensued though the resolution may not be to the liking of observers.

The first comes from a post on Chxta's World, a YouTube clip shows a Hindu priest invited to the Senate - the highest legislative authority in the United States - to pray, opening a session of deliberations for the day.

http://www.youtube.com/v/g8vENZwp1rk
Taken from Chxta's World

Just as he composes himself to utter his elegy, not necessarily sorrowful, a loud voice offers a hostile rebuke to his presence invoking the name of Jesus, this discourteous act was repeated once again in the middle of his prayer.

Now, the interrupter might well think they are speaking up for their religion and the selfsame notion of the Christian roots of America forgetting that this so-called Christianliness was what almost wiped out the indigenes of the America they now call their own.

Besides, the act was as unChristianly that anyone can get, treating a guest with such seething hatred and hostility when the message of love should be the warmth of evangelism.

Doing the devil's work

I doubt if the priest would leave the Senate thinking highly of those who so loudly profess their religion with utter disregard of others, suddenly the job of winning souls becomes one of losing souls - simply doing the work of the Devil and not knowing it at all - that is what happens when you lose objectivity for religious fanaticism - is the Christian version of a Jihadist (radicalised Islamist) now Crusader (radicalised Christian)?.

Anyway, what I found more heartening about the unfortunate event was the convenor immediately stepped to the microphone and rather than warn the culprit to behave he asked the orderlies to restore order to the chamber.

If that involved marching the person out of the chamber, so be it, it showed that the act was deemed unruly, disorderly and disrespectful of the house - hopefully a lesson was learnt; it showed that civil order matters more than zealous and religious bigotry.

Too sacred for the death

Swimming back over the pond we arrive at the Shrine of Shambo and a group of zealous Hindu worshippers. Apparently, Shambo was tested and inconclusively considered to be bovine-tuberculin indicative. If Shambo were on a cattle ranch or on the way to an abattoir, he would immediately be put to sleep and the carcase destroyed.

Not this Shambo, the bull and Holy Cow assumptive at the Skanda Vale Hindu monastery in Wales.

This became a tussle between veterinarian official and Hindu adherents who became activist and would not suffer any harm to befall Shambo.

Technically, this is illegal, unlawful and the obstruction of public officials in pursuit of their lawful duties and so the law was called in to deal with this matter which then ended up in court.

Taking risks of the law

For now the court has ruled in favour of the highly regarded Shambo and asked the authorities to reconsider other means of addressing the matter like treatment of the tuberculosis if found to be existent.

If Shambo does end up posing a serious health risk to other animals that would have been the court erring on the side of recklessness, worse still, with the lavish religious fawning of humans to their object of sacred respect the risk of the contagion jumping the species barrier is possible and how do you treat a person suffering from the bovine-induced tuberculosis?

It would be far-fetched to then consider the actions of the court bordering on the criminal, but a point of law would have been made not to allow religious activism and community clamour to override the basic element of civil law and order in our communities.

Without religion, Shambo would have already been dead and really quite dead, I say.

Monday, 16 July 2007

Middle finger the police

Fingers the cow

Fingers can be up to so much mischief especially if they extend from idle hands. As a child we had fields and meadows on which cattle grazed around our well-appointed colonial bungalow.

One afternoon as one cow came towards the opening in the inner fence, we pointed our palms, fingers spread-eagled like a star in what is a customary abuse of maternal forebears and that began a chase from the cow till the herdsman got it under control before it mauled us little kids to the ground.

Handing my way

Never make hand gestures to cattle they might read you and tread you. But in those same times I did notice that this was a transitional time between old vehicles without traffic indicators and those that had the flickers.

Since my father worked for a mining company there were lots of Land Rovers about and quite a few had the sign - No Hand Signals! Well, society was so polite then.

All fingers good

However, when I returned to England almost 20 years ago, I did not know the difference between the hand gestures - the one finger, the two fingers, the middle finger or the V-sign, in fact, I almost thought they were all friendly under you saw the scowl on the face or heard the most rancid expletive - my face went red at times - definitely not my sort of expression.

Middle finger the police

The Dutch have however taken the middle finger gesture to heart and to the law; after a lower court ruled that the middle finger was extremely impolite but not insulting, the appeals court overruled this affable view with a treatise that dictates that making this gesture is insulting, injurious to the honour and good name (of the police?) and hence illegal. Visitors to the Netherlands, be very afraid.

The man who made the gesture to the police would be doing jail for 3 months for other criminal offences which now includes the hand gesture - I am beside myself and caught in intemperate antipathy - someone really went to court twice to prove that a frigging middle finger was legally insulting?

I think I would end this with the Daily Telegraph - Alex cartoon of the 16th of July and just see what a finger put up by a cricket umpire for an l.b.w. can cost you when you happen to be in a auction, unbeknownst.

Alex cartoon

Courtesy of the Daily Telegraph - Thanks!

Catholic Church pays off paedophile accusers

Tithes and Offerings

I have not been the most ardent adherent of Malachi's Gospel, just before the offertory in Church many a preacher has re-enacted the Garden of Gethsemane as pleadings become mendicancy and entreaty betrays desperation that the honesty, purity and spirituality of the message is lost to the quest for filthy lucre.

It is almost an in-joke to Nigerians that when a person opens a church, it is like opening a business where worshippers can be persuaded beyond stupefaction to part with the rewards of the sweat of their brow to fund the lavish lifestyle of the founder who must live and exude the excesses of the prosperity gospel.

But the people have kept the faith because beyond filling the House of God with food there is a promise to be fulfilled, the blessing that floods your beyond a deluge as God opens the windows of heaven - think Noah's flood of blessings and you had better have an ark to ride in.

Now, many might have their views about the work to which tithes and offerings are put to in the Church, I have never been involved in Church government or management, but there is no doubt that standard practices of auditable control are necessary lest the organisation falls fouls of the law.

The settlement

We now hear that the Roman Catholic Church and the one true Church according to a document that receives the blessing of Pope Benedictvs XVI (Another story) is through its Los Angeles Diocese settling child abuse claims to the tune of $660 million, just 6 short of the mark of the beast that should be emblazoned with a hot brand on the priests who have seriously abused the office, the trust, their calling and children.

People in positions of religious responsibility who hold moral sway over their communities and in whom too many repose trust to the point that they believe their children are safe in the company of religious tutelage only to find out that the child's innocence is stolen in sexual duress by trusted Father String Himup.

It is fine that the Church is paying up, but this would not repair damaged lives, it allows the Church to wipe the slate clean whilst not fully exposing to the law the extent of seriously criminal activity and the culpability of the clergy in conniving, concealing, condoning these acts when they should have been challenged - they were comfortable with harbouring and shielding addicted sociopathic unrepentant paedophiles who just happened to be priests.

Paedophiles they are

Unfortunately, paedophile is one word that has never been used to address the matter of Catholic priests abusing children and just to properly set our minds on the revulsion of these acts the definition of paedophilia in the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary is sexual perversion in which children are the preferred sexual object.

And now, the tithes and offerings of the faithful Catholic laity would pay to make child abuse less synonymous to paedophilia, over $2 billion has been paid out, this is seriously big business and money - No wonder religion remains definitely the opium of the people.

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Pygmies in a zoo in Tintin's Congo

Congo on my mind

One event this week only makes us look at history, then see ourselves today and almost laugh at ourselves on matters too serious to be trivialised.

Now, I remember a few years ago when suffering unwarranted as if there can be warranted racial abuse; the man said he knew everything about blacks so I could not talk back at him; he being Belgian, I had to say - I am not from Belgian Congo (Once Belgian Congo and Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo) - Congo is not the black race.

But Congo (Congo-Brazzaville and the old Belgian Congo are read as the same here - referred to as The Congo) is back in the news for the wrong reasons today, we all remember the Adventures of Tintin, the memories of leafing through the "suffering sour tomatoes" swearing of Captain Haddock or the very "interesting" Thompson and Thomson detectives, well, cut to the chase.

Tintin in the Congo

Tintin in the Congo was published between 1930 and 1931, it was the second in the series of Tintin adventures where the opinion was it was racist and colonialist, portraying black people as monkeys and imbeciles.

The Centre for Racial Equality (CRE) made issue of what Hergé then later claimed "was only portraying the naïve views of the time", fair enough; as CRE asked for this particular comic to be removed from high street shops around Britain after a human-rights lawyer (David Enright) who saw it in the children's section of a Borders bookshop whilst shopping with his African wife and their kids complained.

What you need is controversy to boost the sales of an old Politically Incorrect book which should be read in its historical context and has no lien of contemporary life as we know it.

At least this should be the sensible view to take as you rush to the book store to get your copy - it is harmless commentary and comical entertainment, if not educational.

Pygmies in the Congo Zoo

The end of the story? Well, not really, travel to Congo for the Festival of Pan-African Music and see Tintin in the Congo come alive as it jumps off the pages, in something that could be only too surreal - Members of the pygmy community who arguably are the first inhabitants of Central Africa were invited to perform at the festival and then housed in a zoo.

Yes, fellow human-beings, members of the black race and citizens of the Republic of Congo who just happen to be of a shorter stature were housed in familiar surroundings similar to their forest dwellings - as the government statement says.

They were put in tents in a ZOO where as usual, people who appear to be different can be viewed as curiosities and this time photographed by tourists and visitors to the zoo.

What is so unfortunate about this matter is the fact that pygmies are not treated with any dignity by their fellow countrymen and this needs to be addressed from a national and international perspective even though prejudices die hard, there should be education that highlights the humanity of these famous people and legislation that imposes stiff penalties on the discrimination and denigration of the tribe.

Intolerable impressions

Beyond this is the impressionable situation presented to children who read about imbecile blacks in comics or see pygmies in the zoo, I do not know what to make of this, but this 76-year old comic is not as benign as it seems and it is probably best off the shelves.

Even though the comic juxtaposes smart white men with "dumb" black people, the underlying current is man's injustice and emasculation of other men be it between races or within the same race.

Basically, regardless of the historical context or setting of anything that portrays prejudice, we cannot allow the liberal/conservative divide to give oxygen to the prejudice, because what might be the past in one society might as well be contemporaneous in other societies and we have the responsibility to ensure that no part of the human race is treated with any less humanity than ourselves.

Saturday, 14 July 2007

Thinking Bloggers - My Thoughts

List, Lust, Last, Lost, Lest

One of my readers selected me as a Thinking Blogger a few days ago, I am honoured to be accorded that accolade and as things are in the sphere of blogging one is supposed to continue the chain of electing Thinking Bloggers.

I do read a lot of blogs even though I keep my list of regularly visited blogs very light, I learnt from years ago when ICQ became the rave - in hardly a week, I had 50 people in my contact list of which 90% only exchanged a basic greeting before they moved on having found me utterly boring.

Well, some people have so evolved that they can fully express themselves lewdly in a chat window whilst getting themselves off on fantasies and unseemly stories - I own up, I am too underdeveloped for that kind of experience.

Since then I have managed and pruned my contact lists on MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger and now my BlogScope to point-blogs from where I could navigate to other blogs.

As I write this, certain thinking blogs or content have gone into abeyance, like Ayoke's Exodus, her blogging stomping ground can no more be found, though it was at one time the front for a flower shop; Nkem at African Shirts has been quiet for over a month - I could not imagine a journalist going off blogging, well - then Ababoy went offline for a few months, by the time he returned, he probably spent hours thinking up a new name for his blog. It happens.

All these awards, just in case we all become irrelevant.

The Thinking Bloggers - few of the many

Chxta's World - Cheta is a young man in studying in the U.K. you can expect a thorough analysis of any topic he decides to write on. There seems to be an engineering precision in the way he finds balance for his opinions - I met him once when I was in the U.K. - I can learn a lot about Nigeria from him.

Chippla's Weblog: Thoughts on Issues - I can safely say that many blog readers who have read Chippla always wait for an objective opinion from Chippla to complete the perspective of any issue of discussion, especially when it comes to Nigeria and Nigerians. Like Chxta, he has an engineering background and writes with amazing clarity. His fascination for things that fly can be addictively interesting - Met him a few times, utterly pleasant company.

Jeremy at NaijaBlog - I cannot remember how I came across this blog, but this Englishman who has settled in Nigeria got me thinking about Nigeria and into a circle of interest about Nigeria that I had once lost. Does he provoke? You bet! Is he controversial? He could be. His philosopher head however does get you thinking on many levels. It is a pleasure to read him.

Black Looks - Sokari, her profile says, she lives in Spain. She covers hot-button topics about women, race, sexuality and social issues. Sometimes, I think she is too activist or left-wing for my sensibilities - is there something about opposites attract? - I find myself going back there to read and think. I like her stuff.

Cultural Miscellany's Katherine - A lady who is living an exciting life of changing careers, developing relationships and all those things that keep you sane and human. I have placed a few comments on her blog that reach deep down into my personal experiences - She makes me think, quite deeply too.

As usual, the chains in the blogging world are not supposed to break; the link has now been passed on to my selected thinkers to share their thoughts about other bloggers that make them think - Not more than 5 - Five is the number.

Friday, 13 July 2007

Teenage mules caught in Ghana

Girls being girls?

News that two 16-year old girls of British citizenship but of foreign descent were arrested in Ghana for attempting to traffic cocaine to Britain has been greeted with interest and interesting commentary.

However, before we get carried away on the deception of the moment we need to examine this case deeper than the superficial.

The words of the girls are a damning indictment of either the youth in general or the circle of friends that these girls might keep and none of it is good.

The words

"There were basically two boys over here who gave us two bags and told us ... it was an empty bag.

"We never thought anything bad was inside ... and they told us to go to the UK and drop it off to some boy ... at the airport."

"It was basically like a set-up. They didn't tell us nothing, we didn't think nothing, because basically we are innocent.

"We don't know nothing about this drugs and stuff."

Having the time of their lives

Now these are two girls of 16 who were offered £3,000 to travel to Ghana, their accommodation was paid for by two Ghanaian men who presumably then gave them two "empty" laptop bags with £300,000 of cocaine to carry through Ghanaian customs and then U.K. customs to give to some other boy in the U.K. - 5% tops investment to cart the goods to the market.

These girls were having the time of their lives as they dreamed of what they would do with £3,000 where many know the price of everything but the value of nothing.

Anyone who has finished secondary school and is about to start A-Levels should have been aware in some way that West Africa was now the drop-off point for mules to bring drugs into Europe - in fact, some of this was in the news only too recently, if the youth could ever deign to be weaned off their PlayStations and iPods to find out what is going on in their world.

The protestations recorded on the phone of their innocence are bunkum for all I care, innocent, my foot; these girls were willing to take large sums of money, deceive their guardians or parents that they were off to France when they were really off to Ghana and they cared nothing for the fact that they might have ended up in the hands of even more unscrupulous people who could have sexually abused them amongst other unprintable things.

Confide and confidence

One would expect when children of that age are met with such serious situations, they would intimate their parents or relations who should be close enough to confide in about what could turn out really nasty.

Their language of expression was appalling to say the least, double negatives do not make positives in English language - in place of 'nothing' they should have used 'anything', if they could ever muster any sensible expression in their distress.

One cannot say if the girls were just plain naïve or exercising brazen bravado in willingly allowing themselves to be used in this rotten scheme and deception.

If they succeeded

But one thing is clear, if these girls had succeeded they would have had to explain to their parents where they got money for their new kit from - more lies, how their passports got to have visa stamps of Ghana - even more lies, they might have persuaded other colleagues and friends to get involved in this racket and they probably would have repeated the unassuming offence again and again.

Meanwhile, all the boys - the givers and the collectors would have now gone to ground without an iota of conscience for the trouble they have gotten the girls into - that is business; an occupational hazard for them and lives destroyed for the girls.

Let me correct that, it was the love of money, the root of all evil that consumed the girls that they allowed themselves to be easily deceived and lured into this deception of their parents to acquire unwarranted riches.

Raising kids properly

What do kids get taught at school today? No dignity in labour, no honesty in the acquisition of wealth, no knowledge of ensuring that the art of making money should be transparent, above board, auditable and worthy of example. Am I being just utterly old-fashioned here?

One does feel a tinge of sympathy for the girls, but the fact that they were caught would hopefully alert others to the danger of this get-rich-quick scheme.

Meanwhile the girls, who were told nothing, thought nothing and knew nothing would be on a crash course of learning something pretty damn quickly - never trust men who offer you riches for "nothing".

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Squirrels grabbing my nuts

The Spider's web

I walked into my main bedroom, looked up and sighted a large cobweb, as I tried to take it down; I had to be sure there were no tripwires in the web that could set off alarms at the spying headquarters of the spider empire.

Apparently, my competitors had outsourced the job of spying to this colony of spiders that unbeknownst to me were recording and transmitting information to places unknown. Eight-legged with hundreds of eyes - I have to be careful.

The spiders have somehow fanned out through the house, but since the rendezvous point has been tampered with, I believe the spiders would not be able to upload the information to the spy headquarters and as they expend energy in rebuilding the network, their memory banks would be exhausted leaving me temporarily save from unwarranted espionage.

Animal spy

Living on the 7th floor, I have found that the spy network have not be able to engage mosquitoes in their nefarious activities, the thought of spies sucking blood at night for research purposes is scary enough.

Before you look out to see if it is that time for the maximum effect of the lunar cycle, the Iranians captured 14 squirrels that had the outsourced contract for spying on Iran.

It would appear they were employed by the Zionists and Great Satan - Tut! Tut! They must be nuts, but could it be the Iranian nuts or the Iranians that are nuts?

However, before this madness beclouds our sensibilities, pigeons have delivered intelligence, chickens have searched out chemical contamination and dolphins have sought out underwater mines.

Ah! The dog comes round for a stroking - Fetch!

Lilibet is twice not amused

Those one time subjects

Having decided to grace America with one's regal presence, these one time subjects of the realm were keen on commemorating the state visit.

One does ones sittings over a few weeks as ones diary permits, the quiet and deference, one is accustomed to but exception is made of precocious modern tattle when people lacking breeding deign to speak out of turn.

As Queen, regaled in the robes of The Most Noble Order of the Garter with ones regal diadem, one cannot be amused that the grandeur of the occasion is held in contempt by the painter - they call them photographers, nowadays - that one should remove ones diadem; To the Tower, her head on a charger without respite - that would have been her portion in the days of the First.

"I'm not changing anything. I've had enough dressing like this, thank you very much." Indeed Lilibet, one would not be ordered around by ones who have to carry their tools.

Twice not amused

The town-criers (BBC) whose charter bears ones seal have regaled to the people that one was too unimpressed to countenance a sitting after such effrontery.

No discretion can be expected of the many of the uncouth subjects that swoon in ones presence and prattle every word with the discourtesy of dissimulation - seize their charter give to the corgis.

And rightly so, one is twice not amused when events are chronicled in the wrong order to reflect badly on the crown as the painter asks for the crown to be dismounted from the royal head by ones regal hands.

One cannot recall the words, looking at the Lady-in-waiting - "Less dressy? What do you think this is?", you said, Ma'am". They used to be of royal lineage to four generations before they entered the courts. Patrick was such good company and now so sorely missed.

The painter shall not return to the realm and the town-crier's apology? Send the blacksmith (Director-General of the BBC) to the Tower till yuletide.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Egyptian Grand Mufti - FGM is forbidden by Islam

Tell on those people

It can only be welcome news as a £20,000 reward for information on practitioners of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the UK is accompanied with a law that expressly forbids the practice in Egypt.

The practice had already been banned in Egypt since 1997, but a UNICEF report in 2005 indicated that 97% of Egyptian women between the ages of 15 and 49 have been circumcised.

It is heartening to know that the Grand Mufti (Highest Official of Islamic law) of Egypt has clearly stated that there is no religious basis for FGM that it is forbidden by Islam and there is no Christian law on the practice either.

This is a rotten "tradition of men" that has become a kind of doctrinal belief system such that there are people who think there is a religious obligation to commit what is literally a heinous mutilating crime against the humanity of pre-pubescent girls.

Patriarchy denying women's rights

As one commentator did state, this thing thrives in highly patriarchal societies where the rights of women are suppressed in servitude to men and where the premise is about keeping the women pure - that kind of purity however, does not seem to pertain to men.

Now, Christianity and Islam does support male circumcision and this is part of the Abrahamic covenant which God made with Abraham - all of his male seed were to have their foreskin cut off - this religious practise does also have health benefits and has been advocated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as an anti-HIV/AIDS drive.

None of the beneficial experience can be alluded to the same barbaric practice on girls apart from sexual dysfunction, psychological trauma, tetanus, blood poisoning and irreparable damage to the urethra, bladder and vulva.

One in five girls are said to die during this procedure to keep up with tradition.

No safety in formal medicine

This "rite of passage" which presumably keeps girls chaste got its worst publicity just over two weeks ago when astute parents decided to use the medical profession rather than traditional charlatans to perform the procedure on their 11-year old daughter.

The hapless and helpless girl was given too much anaesthetic - now this is humane compared to videos of girls shrieking with utter terror being held down by their mothers and other related woman folk as her genitalia is being cut and sliced in the fulfilment of some long held tradition.

http://www.youtube.com/v/BJ0l9yDgN-8
Cautionary Viewing - FGM Mutilation Information Video

The girl died, but not in vain, there was such uproar about it that this law would also make the medical profession liable to prosecution for performing the procedure on anyone, it is hopefully a fully enforceable ban .

Vengeful mothers on helpless daughters

I wrote about the banning of FGM in Eritrea in April and the more this practice is explicitly outlawed in societies that think their traditions are dying out if they do not continue to practise barbarity and savagery the better the chance for the more amenable parts of their traditions to survive.

The problem is however growing in immigrant communities in Diaspora where some tend to be greater adherents than those in the indigenous homelands because of the nostalgic complex that beclouds the judgement of some in societies that appear alien to them.

Any information leading to the stoppage of these acts as well as the naming, shaming and prosecution of FGM practitioners must be very welcome, women who have lost their things should not vengefully visit this thing on generations after them, their daughters and grand-daughters, there is no use or benefit from this practice and it most stop forthwith in all societies civilised or uncivilised.

I am sorry if anyone has suffered this kind of mutilation, but it must stop with you and go no further.

Reference

Making trouble in the name of mutilated women

Monday, 9 July 2007

Making Skype a nuisance

Anytime some new technology is introduced on the Internet it tends to create utter nuisance.

Be it chat programmes or instant messaging programs, every silly stranger wants to get on your list and converse with you about things that do not concern them.

So, this evening my Skype goes off, thinking it was a friend I ran to pick up the phone but ended up in a chat conversation with someone who was just beginning to irritate me.

The conversation went thus. (Pseudonyms used).

[22:03:23] Mitah.28 says: hello

[22:03:42] Akin_NLD says: Hello

[22:03:47] Akin_NLD says: Who are you?

[22:03:55] Mitah.28 says: i'm Mitah

[22:04:22] Akin_NLD says: I do not know you - why have you contacted me?

[22:04:57] Mitah.28 says: just for cominicaition

[22:05:13] Mitah.28 says: do you have problem

[22:05:33] Akin_NLD says: I see, do you just pick strangers in the street and converse with them?

[22:06:18] Mitah.28 says: why

[22:06:34] Akin_NLD says: I don't have a problem and I do not use technology to barge in on other people just because they are there.

[22:07:49] Mitah.28 says: you dont want to cominic aition with antone

[22:07:58] Mitah.28 says: anyone

[22:08:32] Akin_NLD says: I want communication with people I know or people who share my interests - complete strangers are just hard work

[22:09:13] Mitah.28 says: tell me where are you from

[22:10:20] Akin_NLD says: I think that is none of your business, you have not told me anything about yourself, nor have you taken time to find out if I want to converse with you

[22:11:50] Mitah.28 says: you want to talk you about my self or what

[22:12:28] Akin_NLD says: What a nuisance

[22:13:34] Mitah.28 says: no thing

Really, do people just approach strangers on the street and strike up a conversation without prompting or is it the technology that allows people to become busybodies and a complete nuisance?

Margaret Hill - Home with parents

Debunking my scepticism

Earlier this evening, I viewed with healthy scepticism the assurance from the Governor of Rivers State in Nigeria that the 3-year old Margaret Hill would be released to her parents by the morning.

The news also said the police knew of where the girl was being held - I said a silent prayer hoping the police don't do something silly and endanger the life of the girl.

So, it is with great relief that we have now been informed that Margaret Hill has been released and been reunited with her parents with no ransom paid.

The release is really good news and one can only say let the process of healing begin from the trauma of being kidnapped at gunpoint and hosted in some hostile environment being fed plain bread and water.

We can only hope that she would mercifully be spared the nightmares of her ordeal and even forget the episode as the love and care of her family and relations overflow in comforting her and help her recover.

Handsome ransom?

The story of no ransom being paid does leave me a bit unconvinced; I once had to sign a release form for my employees' release from police custody saying I had paid nothing when in fact I had paid a large amount of cash to secure their release to the police.

The quest for money is an unquenchable pursuit that feeds the madness of this mendicancy, men who have sold their souls to perpetrate despicable evil purveying menace for monetary gain through unwarranted duress, it beggars belief that those brigands and criminals would part with their captive without something in the bargain considering the reckless abominable activity they indulged in.

Capture, censure and condemn them

This should not be the end of the matter, the story should not end with the good news of the girl's release; all the people who were involved in this criminal act should and must be brought to book.

It reads with great discomfort that it has taken the abduction of a British/Nigerian girl to highlight the fact that this is the third child kidnapped for ransom in the same locality - we need the firm hand of the law to deal a complete blow to this intolerable and unacceptable development.

Just like Jesus was minded to have a millstone put round the neck of any offender of children before they are thrown in a lake; I can made the exception of the death penalty being visited on these condemned and damned people - a mediaeval torture chamber is too good for these people and the sooner they are removed from society the sooner we can get back to tackling the real issues in the Niger Delta region.

At this time of good news for one family, I remember Madeleine McCann, hope she is safe and alive and pray that her parents can receive such good news - the finding and reuniting - as the Hills have had this weekend.

Other Related Blogs

Child in Niger Delta Kidnapping and Death Threat

Reasoning out the girl's kidnap

Sunday, 8 July 2007

London, 731 days on

7th of July 2007

Sometimes, it is important not to get carried away with the significance of numbers and dates. Dates should be remembered for reflection, commemoration or celebration however when numbers come together like yesterday the 7th day of the 7th month or the 7th (in fact 8th) year of the millennium, soothsayers, rumour mongers and people of dubious intent come together to give another day more significance than it should have.

Obviously, the masses would find some significant thing to do on that day, for instance the new Amsterdam Public Library opened on 070707, luckily no moons were to collide, meteors hit the Live Earth concerts or Second Coming frights.

London getting on

So, London was on my mind yesterday as Aldgate East, Edgware Road, Russell Square and Tavistock Square reached the solemn procession of victims, survivors, friends, family and sympathisers in low-keyed commemoration of the 2nd anniversary of the London Terrorist bombings.

As they contemplated on the things they have been through, London received the peloton to commence the Tour de France through the big streets of political and royal London, a Live Earth concert was hosted to save the world from carbon pollution that exacerbates global warming and Venus Williams was winning the Wimbledon Ladies Single trophy for the fourth time.

We must not forget that event two years ago that radically changed London and the country, however, with that at the back of our minds - This is London and it is business as usual.

Friday, 6 July 2007

Reasoning out the girl's kidnap

Irrational vengefulness

I stopped over at the African Shop on my way home this evening when I ran into another patron who had a view of the 3-year old girl's kidnapping in Port Harcourt, Nigeria I could not countenance.

As far as I am concerned, there is nothing that can justify the kidnapping of a child no matter how aggrieved you might be.

His view was that there might be mitigating factors that we do not know of that would have lead to the girl's kidnapping and what we all should be wary of, is situations where we cause offence to others leading the offended to react or seek revenge in an extremely irrational way.

He went on to say that if he was one of the people apprehended at the Grand Café and summarily deported as some were; any Caucasian he meets back in Nigeria would definitely bear the wrath of the actions in Amsterdam to their harm. That is definitely irrational.

I then said, if ever this kidnapping issue gets resolved in some amicable way, would the kidnappers be able to present their case in court to justify the kidnapping of the girl? I doubt it.

Prevent through restraint

But our man was more concerned with the mantra - "prevention is better than the cure" or later "to obey is better than sacrifice" - now what is preventable is probably preventable, but how do you prevent a situation where a deal, a business, an agreement or even indifference leads to your child being kidnapped violently at gunpoint?

I was exasperated and perplexed; I want to believe I live in a better world than one that accommodates that kind of view.

For instance, the same analogy could be extended to say, after I was beaten up by three drunken Moroccan guys, I get a gun and shoot any Moroccan in sight - No; the human race has really come a long way from that kind of unpersuadable and intemperate attitude.

Accepting the unacceptable

Unfortunately, there are some who would welcome that view as trying to see beyond the prevailing circumstances to understand the motivation for such actions - I see this in one of two shades, black or white.

Nothing and nothing ever can justify the kidnapping of a 3-year old at gun point - not in a jungle where cannibals and savages thrive, not in highly civilized societies and not in the Niger Delta region where criminals rule as laws unto themselves answerable to no formal authority.

We parted ways agreeing to disagree - I cannot convince myself more of the fact that this thinking must not be tolerated and for all the prevention and sacrifice; if you have been so aggrieved to the point of uncontrollable anger and seething for pay back, revenge and having the biggest last laugh - the Good Book says - Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord.

What you plan to do would probably be criminal and the law would not be sympathetic to the wrongs you feel you have suffered. How did I get embroiled in such a conversation?

Child in Niger Delta Kidnapping and Death Threat

Worsening Niger Delta Region

Whilst I have never given voice to the happenings in the Niger Delta region in Nigeria, the most recent developments would give anyone a great deal of concern.

It has transpired that a group of lawless brigands with no semblance of humanity or a conscience have grabbed a 3-year old mixed race girl from the comfort of being driven to school in Port Harcourt and threatened to kill her. This is pure evil.

I cannot understand what these people are trying to achieve, it is a given that British citizens have been advised to leave the Delta area because of seriously deteriorating security situation which has had the federal government without clue, initiative or inspiration, they have been caught flat-footed every time as Niger Delta criminals pretending to be activists have created a state within a state fomenting unrest.

These events are hardly local, they raise hackles internationally as global oil markets wobble and Nigeria makes the news again for all reasons but commendable ones.

Mike Hill, her father, is essentially a local who is both an oil worker and he runs a bar frequented by expatriates in Port Harcourt, her mother Oluchi is literally inconsolable, the kidnappers have asked the father to take her place.

Big man wades in

As usual, we are told that resources are being mobilised to search for the girl and rescue her from her captors, but is shows an utter embarrassment of duties and responsibilities if the Inspector General of Police has to fly out to Port Harcourt to coordinate the search.

Now, rescuing this child of utmost importance and the best resources we can get which should be devolved around the country must be applied to this task.

If I am now hearing that there is no District Superintendent, State Police Commissioner, Regional Commissioner or Assistant Inspector General of Police (IG) to coordinate this but the big cheese himself, we do have a sorry state of law enforcement in Nigeria - though an opportunity for the IG to ingratiate himself with foreigners and have the media spotlight.

Beyond this, one is worried about the fact that the girl might be taken into some nightmarish enclave in an unfamiliar setting whilst these rotten criminals exact their demands for a ransom or some other ameliorating deal - it is important that they do not bungle this rescue operation.

Get the girl then finish the men

The most important task is to get the girl back to her family safe and sound, after that, those men should be hunted down and exterminated like vermin - there is no cause in this world that can warrant the kidnapping on a child to gain some bargaining advantage.

These men do not deserve to walk the face of this earth one extra second, it is utterly contemptible and evil that anyone and even a Nigerian can think up such a scheme.

Maybe, it is necessary to have the Oga police in there coordinating things, but the job would only have been done with the speedy rescue of the girl and the apprehending of all the culprits to see justice and have the full wrath of the law visited upon them.

For now, despite all the real and palpable suffering in the Niger Delta regions, their cause is completely lost if any group of criminals can do this in their name, they must repudiate this activity and turn up these criminals with the utmost alacrity.

Thursday, 5 July 2007

Police recklessness in Amsterdam - Update

Justice rescinded

Just an update on the events in Amsterdam regarding the unwarranted police raid on a Nigerian social event. On Tuesday, the immigration judge ordered that the people be released forthwith, but the Council of State has temporarily rescinded that decision on the application of the State Secretary for Justice who is appealing the verdict of the court.

Ironically, the selfsame State Secretary of Justice - Nebahat Albayrak- was handing out resident permits on Wednesday under the general amnesty for illegal immigrants plan - she being of Turkish descent, though one must say she is a lot more humane in her outlook than her predecessor who was the Minister for disintegration and Emigration - Rita Verdonk, known on this blog as Lady Oddjob.

Obviously, one can understand the concern of the government if they already have 23 illegal aliens who were illegally arrested in custody; letting them go would be a logistical nightmare if they have to be traced again, however, the premise on which everyone (legal and illegal residents) was arrested was the police assumed that patrons of the café were all illegally resident in the Netherlands.

In fact, the case of the police is too prejudiced for reasonable debate because the police cannot produce evidence proving that illegal activity is mainly perpetrated by those illegally resident in the Netherlands - it is a crass and subjective defence unworthy of the least of Dutch values.

These are seriously murky waters of institutionalised xenophobia because releasing the "illegal" aliens would create an uproar from right-wing elements of society who would say the government is doing nothing about crime first and then illegal immigration. The justice that is served by following due process in apprehending illegal aliens through proper legal conduct of the law enforcement and immigration authorities is conveniently subsumed or suspended.

These people would now languish in custody for another five weeks within which the Council of State would hear the appeal and decide.

However, if the basic legal premise indicates that the raid is unlawful, they should and must be released or this would be a classic case of Machiavellian justice - The end, justifying the means. Surely, this must be utterly unacceptable.

I acknowledge the blogging community that has highlighted this case to a wider audience.

Don Thieme at LifeCycle Analysis

Editor's Pick at African Loft

Lady Oddjob - blogs

Presidential prerogative, pride and persuasion

Pardon me, forgive them

Whilst I do not in anyway condone the way in which an active secret agent was exposed to discredit her husband, I think the case that was built up against Lewis "Scooter" Libby was chasing after the wrong things.

He was charged and convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice as a peripheral issue to the case of who really revealed that Valerie Plame was an agent.

However, I am amazed at the prerogative of the President who regardless of what the courts have decided can exercise the power to commute, forgive or pardon the convicted with the judiciary having no recourse to appeal that decision. Clemency is an amazing demonstration of humanity and mercy.

The United States Constitution, Article II, Section 2 states - ... and he shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offences against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.

Interestingly, this is a power that the President has not exercised with too much political patronage 76 pardons and 4 commutations, none however for murders or heinous crimes, which is understandable.

So, Lewis "Scooter" Libby had the jail portion of his sentence removed by presidential reprieve and though the probation and fines remain, the President has not ruled out a complete pardon - Lewis simply has to continue to be a good boy to obtain grace and find mercy which is in the gift of the President.

With such power can come serious abuse, but I think Presidents have been quite disciplined with the use of this instrument even though there has been controversy about this half-pardon and the Clinton pardoning of Marc Rich - it is still the President's prerogative - take it or leave it.

My son, the President

Then President Putin went visiting George W. Bush and isn't it a pleasure to have an ex-President seeing his son become President; we might call that Presidential pride. George W. Bush has put his father George H. W. Bush to work on a number of projects as the Indian Ocean Tsunami fund with Bill Clinton. My heart warmed when he had his father greet and receive Vladimir Putin for their informal summit at the blue-blooded family retreat of Kennebunkport - Our dear Dubya is no red-necked Texan cowboy with a ranch, he was born with a gold spoon in his mouth and he wore silver slippers around the house.

The Olympic Linguist

However, President Putin had a stop-over in Guatemala where he pushed the case for Sochi the Black Sea resort in Russia for the 2014 Winter Olympics in impeccable English and French charming IOC members and jetting off before the vote of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). For months, I had been wondering about the adverts for Sochi and then suddenly there were adverts for PyeongChang, South Korea - it took a while for me to realise we were being subliminally programmed for the 2014 Winter Olympics. Strangely, I never knew Salzburg, Austria was in the race till they were eliminated yesterday.

Sadly, for PyeongChang, they are now second-time losers for the hosting of the Winter Olympics - strategy back to drawing board, I could not help but notice that within minutes of the announcement the PyeongChang advert was played again by BBC World - what cruel irony - I seemed to subconsciously have name-recognition for Sochi, that is how effective their campaign was, whilst I thought PyeongChang was in China - Go figure.

In the end, it was Presidential appeal that put this in the bag for Sochi and good luck to them before the environmentalists get all excited and destroy the games as their clamour destroyed the livelihoods of the Inuit in seal-hunting without consideration for alternative means of income.

Those rotten single-issue advocates who never consider the consequences of their actions apart from achieving their selfish narrow interests in the guise of saving our planet - even the planet needs people who can live their lives without townies imposing ideal values on traditional folk.

I digressed - this was about the presidential prerogative for pardons, presidential influence and appeal through persuasion and not to forget the presidential pride of seeing ones offspring do well.

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

I Go Chop Your Dollars - 419 Song Expose

We need to show the positives

I could not help but note the comment left in my blog about police recklessness in Amsterdam. It is a sad reflection on our society that there is a "White man's paranoia" when there is a gathering of people of African descent.

We who legally live in Western societies should and must not be afraid to gather for social events reflecting our culture, humour or traditions and we must not allow the nefarious activities of the few who besmirch the good name of our homelands to deny us the freedom to associate just because the police can be up to no good.

The freeing of the arrested detainees indicates a number of facts, the police were wrong in their assessment and actions; there are Nigerians who are law-abiding and legally resident in the Netherlands regardless of the impressions other prejudiced sections of society might have and the authorities can still be seriously embarrassed for being utterly irrational if people speak up for their having their right trampled over.

Pseudo-ambassadors undercover

If we all stay in our homes and refuse to associate with other countrymen and I can understand the reticence and suspicion of many, where would our host societies get to know about our culture, learn not to be afraid of our traditions and appreciate the good and worthy values we can bring to their societies?

We cannot allow ourselves to be completely subsumed into other cultures in the quest for acceptance, assimilation or integration, we are products of multiple cultures and we should celebrate all that makes us what we are.

Celebrating 419

This brings me to the "I go chop your dollars" song, it was released a few years ago, one does have to read the lyrics and understand what is being said because it is not so much about praising the scammers but highlighting a whole range of issues that affect the scammer and the scammed.

Having obtained the lyrics from Nikke's Index which appears to be pre-occupied with the public service of exposing scams, it is important to understand the language and the satire or irony that the song conveys - it is by no means a glorification of scam or 419 practices.

I would try and provide an exegesis for each line in order to help convey the thoughts.

I Go Chop Your Dollars

This is the song title - Chop means eat in Nigerian Pidgin English, but in this context it means swindle to spend. It has a corrupt connotation and this should be the giveaway about the song.

I don suffer no be small

Upon say I get sense

This highlights the socio-economic malaise in Nigeria, smart, intelligent and well-educated people who cannot seem to get opportunities for a career or more, it feeds a desperation to survive - in some cases, by any means possible - some turn to crime.

Poverty no good at all, no

Na im make I join this business

An excuse and a situation, one needs means to survive and we do not have the safety net of social services in Nigeria. Most of the time, the only people would have any means automatically become responsible for their extended families that whatever income they have is spread too thin to be of any effect.

Eventually, the benefactor would not be able to meet any of these needs and the supplicant has to come up with something.

A comment on Nikke's Index implied that most Africans are given to kleptocracy as a culture, we can ignore that comment, but there are issues in our societies that need to be addressed with good governance, infrastructure development, career opportunity and anti-graft revolutions.

419 no be thief, its just a game

Here he says that Advance Fee Fraud is not stealing, well, that is debatable depending on perspective. It is fraudulent no doubt because there is a false pretence in acquiring the trust that allows people to part with money for some sort of shady and corrupt deal.

Some people have turned this elaborate deception into an art or a craft and they are winning the game of deception, unfortunately.

Everybody dey play am

Everybody is playing this game. I think not, but probably everyone in that circle of desperation seeing others benefit from fraudulent activity is enticed into having a go and somehow, they do have rich pickings.

If anybody fall mugu, Ha! my brother I go chop am

This is the punch-line; if anyone is stupid enough to believe the stories then that person is game. Mugu means stupid fool - the etymology is Hausa but it has been adopted in Nigerian Pidgin English to mean the same thing.

Chorus

These are the tall tales that people believe and trust to become willing partners in the fraud and hence getting fleeced.

National Airport na me get am

I own the national airport

National Stadium na me build am

I built the national stadium

President na my sister brother

The president is my sister's brother - well that would translate to the President is my brother. However, sister in the Nigerian context could be a sibling, a relation or even close friend indigene of your town of origin.

You be the mugu, I be the master

If you believe all this, you are the stupid fool and I am the smart one - Mugu, appears again.

Oyinbo I go chop your dollar

White man, I would swindle you

I go take your money disappear

I would swindle you and be untraceable

419 is just a game, you are the loser I am the winner

Advance fee fraud is a game between you the losing fool and I the winner smart guy

The refinery na me get am,

I own the refinery - that is almost plausible, Nigeria is an oil-rich country, but really?

The contract, na you I go give am

But you go pay me small money make I bring am

I have a contract for you, but you have to pay kickbacks to get it signed over - Does the Al-Yamamah deal sound like this?

You be the mugu, I be the master... na me be the master ooo!!!!

Once again, if you believe all this, you are the stupid fool and I am the smart one

When Oyinbo play wayo, them go say na new style

When country man do im own, them go de shout bring am, kill am, die!

When a white man comes up with some money making (swindling) scheme, it is celebrated as a financial instrument, however, if my fellow countryman comes with a similar scheme he is criminalised, booked, jailed and shot down.

Oyinbo people greedy, I say them greedy

Westerners who fall for these deals are greedy, indeed they are very greedy and that is what these frauds rely on - greed.

I don see them tire thats why when them fall enter my trap o!

I am already fed up with the fact that they are greedy, but that makes them easy prey, if they can be deceived then they are game for the consequences.

I dey show them fire

I would do them for whatever I can, their money most especially.

My take

For all intents and purposes, this is really no glorification of the criminal activity, rather is simple social commentary on how desperate society is that they turn to crimes which some rationalise as games.

It highlights the willingness of the victims to believe the incredible in the hope that they can make large sums of money in some shady scheme - it is criminal too.

In what is seemingly a dog-eat-dog world, it is about pitting wits and some would in the end fall for the con because they are not half smart.

Once again, governments and law enforcement should do much to stop these activities, but it is change in the social circumstances of these countries that would sort this out - opportunity through merit, zero-tolerance of corruption and building of essential infrastructure to feed innovation and industry.

Solving the wrong problem

However, it is all a cop-out as the war on drugs - there is a growing demand in the West for the goods and rather than deal with drug addiction at home, they are spraying crops abroad.

It does not in anyway deal with the problem, rather, the makes the marketplace for drugs more violent. In the case of Advanced Fee Fraud, people who are vulnerable to tall tales about making large sums of money for doing literally nothing should first be educated and after education criminalised - it would take away the ready supply of greedy and gullible people who allow 419ers to exploit them.

The victims of fraud are not blameless in this matter and they too should be visited for being accomplices in nefarious and criminal financial activity.

Somehow, after reading through these lyrics, someone somewhere cannot take a joke and thinks it is glorifying scammers - I think not, it is the truth we hate to hear - the game, the mugu and the chop.