Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Ronaldo learns he cannot brag about drag

An idle mind

The truth of an idle mind being the devil’s workshop cannot have been so better realised than in the story of the three-time FIFA world footballer of the year being caught in a scandal.

The football prowess of Ronaldo Luis Nazário de Lima simply Ronaldo as any football prodigy is known – a single name that says it all like Pele or Maradona, legendary and he might soon be on a plinth of adulation as the aforementioned world stars of the beautiful game.

Unfortunately, Ronaldo picked up a knee injury which has left him sidelined and recuperating in beautiful Brazil.

It would appear after a night out; Ronaldo dropped his girlfriend at her house on Monday and then decided to paint the town red or whatever colourful shade you might be persuaded to choose.

Wrong turn, wrong plan

With a person of Ronaldo’s means and status one would think he would go looking for something sophisticated, classy and discrete as gentlemen of that kind of persuasion would do, he throws caution to the winds and picks up three prostitutes.

Every fan of Ronaldo must to wondering with surprise and then with male chauvinistic glee to realise that he is confident that his manhood can tackle three players and score each time – I am exhausted at the thought, already.

Having acquired goods on the street without necessary warranties and guarantees, a trial squeeze of the supposed harbour of mammary glands and a little caress up the thigh revealed that like poles were about to attract.

Guys in drag are not what Ronaldo is about to brag about, it is very much like Ronaldo facing the goalkeeper on his side and sending the ball into the net for an own goal, Ronaldo had picked up transvestites – Ouch! Ouch! Puke up the Viagra.

Caveat emptor

This is very much like yesterday evening when I was out; there are many peddlers of watches, jewellery and gadgets who were going round offering amazing deals. But the thought crossed my mind that many might take up these deals and end up with dud watches, fake jewellery or damaged gadgets.

With no receipts, traceable link to the seller or any means of return, they end up in the serious bad situation of being the buyer caught out for being foolish – there are reasons why it is better to buy things from properly laid out businesses at shops and those reasons are more than just getting cheap stuff.

Smart or fool?

So, Ronaldo in thought over-drive, possibly exacerbated by the plausible psychological problems his knee injury has given him, successfully paid off two of the transvestites but had a hard time with a third business-savvy and opportunistic transvestite who left with Ronaldo’s documents when he refused to buy out his embarrassment in what constitutes both blackmail and extortion.

With proof that Ronaldo has been playing ball in the wrong field, Andre Luiz Ribeiro Albertino gains a profile that elevates transvestism to celebrity and gains probably more that Ronaldo can pay for, but at Ronaldo’s expense.

One must give it to the transvestites for being so convincingly feminine that they were able to persuade Ronaldo of the excitement and pleasure of a trio of commercially available pudenda.

The police would suggest Ronaldo is probably a victim of extortion – I beg to disagree, he is more a victim of himself for being idle, unfaithful and utterly naïve – in those circumstances he was taken advantage of.

Indeed, the legal process should handle the matter of possible extortion but the lame excuse of psychological problems might not persuade Ronaldo’s girlfriend and frankly owning up to the fact that he was looking for fun might just impress me a bit more.

A young man cannot afford to be idle – that is the moral of this tale.

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Josef Fritzl: A man apart, an arch-demon indeed

The alternative evolution of man

When men plumb the depths of depravity that it is impossible to fathom the realities of what gets narrated as truth, have we come to crossroads on the evolution of humanity?

We are disgusted and reviled by stories of children being sexually abused by adults; it becomes unspeakably repulsive when that adult is the parent of the child.

There is no field of psychoanalysis that can confidently explain why a father should find his daughter so sexually attractive that he would indulge in incest.

A man apart – an arch-demon in truth

The news waves are regaling us with stories of Josef Fritzl who lured, captured, drugged and handcuffed his daughter at 18 and imprisoned her in a dungeon below his home where he engaged in enforced incestuous domination of the girl for 24 years and produced 7 children by her.

The strongest word the criminal justice system can find for such acts are adjectives of the word crime, but this is more than a crime, it is an abomination, an aberration, a taboo conceived and carried out by a man who could well be an arch-demon deep in the vortex of what leads to the core of hell.

No parental control should get this far

It would be speculation to suggest that Josef Fritzl had not previously sexually abused other young girls till it got to a time that he thought his daughter had come of age for abuse at 11 years of age.

The power of choice, freedom and life that he exercised over his daughter and his children by his daughter should be a subject for serious analysis, nobody should because they have parental rights exercise such untrammelled control over their children to their utter detriment as we have witnessed with this case.

One can only wonder what appealed to that iota of humanity that he had left that he allowed his very sick child to go to hospital for treatment and now the saga has opened as an almost unbelievable tale.

This is the same man who on finding out that one of the twins his daughter gave birth to had died unceremonious dumped the body in an incinerator.

We find ourselves shocked at what our humanity would abhor but has been enacted by one of our species.

God save the children

The children whose split identity would call on the widest available amelioration resources are caught in a maelstrom they cannot begin to understand – being siblings of their mother and grandchildren of their father – this could very well lead to the onset of severe mental illness.

One can only hope that the goodness of humanity, the compassion of the community and the succour of many would help those children escape the damaged existence this unconscionably evil man brought them into.

Theories abound about the man’s secrecy, deception and machinations that even those under his roof did not know of his family below, in the cellar.

Questions abound

Austrians have to ask themselves some serious soul-searching questions because this is a rupture in their society one that has replaced the norm with some ethereal nightmare that does not seem to be near its end.

Have the Austrians becomes so satisfied, so contented and so respectable that their duty of social enquiry has been stunted by the need to maintain civility and polite coexistence?

Is there a traditional complacency of comfort that allows for them to accept political liaisons in their government that gives legitimacy to extreme right-wing parties?

Is this, almost too many already – one similar case happened 2 years ago with Natascha Kampusch – abuse of girls and women inadvertently woven into some fabric of their developmental process that some unstable men are playing it out, in reality?

I need a early-bird paperboy

Need a quick paperboy

One has been reduced to reading the Daily Wail at breakfast; it is not the most comfortable feeling at all.

An Englishman must have his daily at breakfast but somehow the higher brow dailies seem to have relapsed into a sedentary holiday atmosphere with the Daily Telegraph getting to my island at well after 1:30PM.

Shurely shome mishtake – we cannot retime breakfast for lunch; that would just not do.

The Germans have it

As I visited the newsagents this morning, one could be forgiven for thinking I had just walked into a shop on Kurfurstendamm – every paper and magazine had an umlaut.

This island might be Spanish but there are more German signs here, the thought crossed my mind that we might have a Kosovo situation brewing with the Germans clamouring for unity with the mother country.

The dearth of cultured queens

I finally had a night out yesterday which started just after 1:00AM and as I got into town, someone took interest in my using a cane by being a silly busybody.

So, I said, “Are you trying to make polite conversation or are you being a typical uncultured British oaf”. He whooped with despicable effete and ran off with his gaggle (of geese) before my cane brought order to his disorderliness.

Whatever happened to the classy and debonair queens of old who carried themselves with such grace and well-mannered comportment – from Oscar Wilde, Noel Coward – I am reading his letters, Sir John Gielgud and now Sir Ian McKellen.

What we have now are loud and brash chavs with no airs, courtesy or manners – the dregs that make you tilt your head backwards with backhand to the brow in an almost fainting spell of despair.

O! Back to the place where everybody knows my name as they punctuate each sentence with Sir. I am being served - Thank you very much.

Living wage - a dimension to fighting corruption

Education for a better life

Many parents in developing countries have great aspirations for their children and one they pay the most attention to is education.

There is a belief that putting a child through school is a gateway to having their children attain a better life than that into which they were born.

I want to belief that this assertion still finds true though I wonder if education is as life-changing as it was for the generation of my parents and consequently mine.

Paying the teacher

Watching the news this morning there was a story of a 13-year old Cambodian girl who had to leave school because she could not pay the teachers considering the country does have a free education programme.

But then, I saw the same issue in Sorious Samura’s Living With Corruption documentary where in Sierra-Leone government employed teachers depended on their pupils to provide the means for them to survive.

Paying a living wage

There is a function of government and employment in government which when missing fosters practices that are innately corrupt.

Governments in poor countries have to lead by paying there staff a living wage, one that meets the needs for housing, food, utilities, health, transport, possible eventualities with a little to put aside.

Where governments, organisations or businesses fail to meet this basic requirement, the shortfall has to be met somewhere –

  • it allows the police to set up road blocks indiscriminately that act as illegal toll gates
  • teachers instruct their pupils to bring in money and household essentials or risk failure and exclusion
  • customs officials over and above the outrageous import duties that impede the smooth flow of goods and services, create distorted markets
  • employees file their taxes returns with non-existent children to gain pecuniary advantage
  • bureaucrats are not responsive in performing their duties until persuaded by illegal means

The system feeds the system from the top to the bottom, it has become endemic; you begin to wonder how this can be dealt with conclusively.

The abuse of power

Then I remember when I was at the polytechnic, there were two courses no one could dream of passing if they had not bought at expense the tutorials produced by the lecturers.

There was nothing fresh about the tutorials, they were just an opportunity for men in power to fleece their students and get away with it.

These lecturers earned a good living wage because I also had an uncle who was a lecturer in the same polytechnic who served as an emergency resource when I was skint and he definitely had more personal responsibilities than the lecturers on the make.

That is the other dimension to this issue, greedy people in power who exercise with impunity the power to demand favours and reward patronage just because they can.

The matter of corruption is a multi-headed hydra and we need to decapitate each head as we look towards the development of poor countries – let us hope each head taken off doesn’t grow into another menacing snake head.

Monday, 28 April 2008

Grand Inga Project: Another White Elephant for Black Africa

For bigger for badder

When I read of the instigation of the largest dam project in the world being planned for Africa in a hydro-electric configuration last week, I skipped the news as one of those grand schemes of delusion.

The excitement of being able to produce twice the energy of the Three Gorges Dam does nothing for me, but I would note a number of issues with this matter.

There are doubts that this project offers much to poor Africans who probably have no need for electricity in their survival quests much as we all know that despite the business and energy benefits giving people the glint in the eye; it would be the dispossession of lands of people who have been there for generations, the destruction of precious African habitat – human and ecological apart from other unforeseen consequences, probably the damage of the Three Gorges Damn too..

For Africa from London

I find it interesting that for a project that would affect so many African countries, as it also involves 7 African countries with the intention of distributing electricity from DR Congo to Egypt in the North, Nigeria in the West and South Africa down South is coordinated by the World Energy Council in London.

This represents the Genesis of why this project probably serves no particular purpose to Africans in general, it is a project that would cost $80 billion and a good deal of that would not go to Africans but we would be saddled with the debts.

The token natives

The architects and designers would be knowledgeable about dam projects and come from abroad, the heavy machinery manufactured in countries outside Africa would be brought in to build the grand construction and all shipped out once the deed in done.

Project Managers would probably be affiliated to the World Energy Council with contractual agreements that break the bank.

A token native would head the project and the politicians would assume all the political kudos, Africans would be dotted around the project but the strategy tasks would go the “experts” whilst all the spade work would be done by longsuffering Africans glad that they have a job at all.

Maintaining the incredible

After commissioning, if things go wrong, at great expense a consultant on better that UN-diplomatic status terms would have to be shipped in to sort things out – technology transfer? Dream on.

This Inga Dam project was first mooted about a generation ago but could not be realised because of political turmoil in that area.

Before you accuse me of blind cynicism, Nigeria probably has one of the largest petroleum infrastructure in Africa, but it is not producing anywhere near its capacity, in fact more of the infrastructure is being shut down.

As a commercial concern, the project is very viable, in terms of technology, it is probably well up with any you can find anywhere else in the world, in terms of qualified personnel, they are not lacking in that expertise.

Politics drives conduciveness

The problem is our political system has been unable to address and resolve socio-economic issues that affect the people in the proximity of that entire infrastructure.

Anytime there is a problem in that area, the consequences are global in their effect, world markets get jittery and oil prices begin to escalate.

Logically, one would think the force of global markets and the economic responsibility on our political system would compel them to find ways to resolve the issues in the Niger Delta but it would appear they have not cottoned onto that crucial responsibility issue to be able to gain the impetus for engagement and resolution.

Conversely, one might say the government is unable, incapable or complete bereft of ideas to begin to find solutions to the Niger Delta crises.

Cynically, I would contend that certain power brokers are fuelling the conflicts to mark territory and exercise undue influence without consideration for the consequences to either the locals or the world at large – I would take this line of thought as the main reason for the Niger Delta crises.

But the point I am trying to make is where a government cannot provide the necessary political atmosphere that addresses the socio-economic issues that allow people to have the confidence to establish businesses or run projects, we end up with white elephants everywhere.

The little things yet undone

The area that is to accommodate this dam is not far off from communities that could use electricity from those currently operating dams – Inga I & Inga II – but they have no electricity and power lines were built to supply electricity to the Katanga mining province 2,000 kilometres away, most definitely for the mines rather than the people.

There is no people-driven element about this grand scheme, it is a résumé boosting project that would be completed by 2022 and would probably collapse in 3 years with the big names involved having moved on to another grand white elephant.

A different energy plan

If we were really to consider a real energy plan for Africa, we probably do not need another hydro-electric dam and we probably cannot manage a nuclear power station but with sun, wind, oil and gas, a lot can be done to use what we have to meet real energy needs.

I have a thumbs-down regarding this project and I hope that good sense prevails over the excitement around this project to abort it before the kickbacks start enriching malevolent actors pretending to be interested in the energy needs of Africa – I am really not impressed at all, we do not need that dam.

Nigeria: Why Poor Countries Are Poor

Why Poor Countries Are Poor

It is important that people who are involved in the development in developing countries recognise the task ahead of them and the difficulties they face.

When I read the chapter “Why Poor Countries Are Poor”, in the Undercover Economist, I was taken aback by both the insight and truth of the things the author say.

I found an online version of “Why Poor Countries Are Poor” which I implore you to read.

The role of bureaucracies

There are many issues I cannot address here but one interesting issue is the role of bureaucracies in stifling development, progress and economic growth.

Corruption is exacerbated by the layers and hoops of unnecessary bureaucratic requirements that simply keep pen-pushers and deadwood in their positions of unwarranted privilege as enemies of change – people need to get things done and the only way to smooth out any activity is to grease grubby palms.

All certificates ever had

One interesting example of this useless bureaucracy is the story of someone who has had most of his education in Europe which includes a PhD from a reputable university along with 2 Masters degrees in different but related disciplines, a smattering of certificates and professional qualifications, almost countless.

He had recently been appointed to a senior directorial role in the government sector in Nigeria and he has been asked to produce all certificates he has ever had since he was in primary school.

So, after a 30-year career, you need to find the yellowing pages of teacher opinions when he was in primary and secondary school to do a job his peers already think he is well qualified for.

Documentation and searches

We have bureaucracies in the West, but also structures and institutions that work after a fashion and we recognise that the highest qualification attained might be the person satisfied the requirements for being granted that qualification, preceded by the person having satisfied the entry requirements for that course and all that down the line.

Another thing is the way we document and computerise records such that the search for any information or confirmation of any detail is at the behest of the enquirer rather than the giver of the information.

Unfortunately, these structures are disjointed in Nigeria, there is very poor record keeping that most legal deeds have to be given as sworn affidavits with no corroborative authority apart from the hope that the person has been truthful.

In those circumstances, one may not question too strongly the need for all certificates going back to the birth certificate.

Now, this is ridiculous

I was however thrown when I heard they also want the birth certificates of the parents; they have been long dead and were born sometime in the 1910s or 1920s, probably a tree was planted when they were born as was when my father was born, but birth registration and certificates?

What you may ask does the birth certificate of parents have to do with someone satisfying the requirements for job and being vetted to assume that position?

The birth certificate of the principal would if registered at birth have contained the names and professions of the parents, that should suffice, but bureaucracies breed mountains of useless data accumulated for no other purpose than to give mandarins and bureaucrats undue relevance and power to oppress or inconvenience the citizenry without helping anyone.

The best thing any government of a developing country can do is reduce layers of bureaucracy, bureaucratic irrelevance and the people who feed that system – time to register companies, accumulation of unnecessary information, provide access to relevant economic data without strictures and nip all sources of patronage in the bud.

The Netherlands rises above sea level

All out, all out

I could almost wager that the parts of the Netherlands below sea level which includes Schiphol airport at -5 meters World have risen to a mean above sea level at least for a week.

I say this because as I was leaving for holiday on Saturday morning, the taxi queues for departures were quite long and the departure lounge was brimming with people trying to escape the dreary weather of Northern Europe despite the rare improvements in weather with some sun and rising temperatures.

One can only be so grateful for services like priority check-in, access to lounges to relax before a flight and being known by name as you take your seat on the flight - it all takes away the stress of travel.

Deluge of holidays

Netherlands usually has the least number of bank or public holidays in Europe, numbering a paltry 8 days and there are no breaks between the middle of May and the Christmas holidays.

This year, with Easter being so early, we have very rare bunching up of holidays that probably happen one in a lifetime in Calvinist Holland – the government seems to hate free days.

So, on Wednesday, the 30th April, we have Queens Day which is the day the great unwashed come into the cities and defile it buying bric-a-brac and drinking to a stupor, why people get excited about the day escapes me – we the city-dwellers take the opportunity to desert town before they arrive.

Tolerant dimensions of the Dutch

Thursday ushers in a Christian Holiday, Ascension Day, celebrated throughout continental Christian Europe and most organisations have decided there is no point having staff come in on the Friday, thus reducing the week to a 2-day week.

In that decision, you find the subtlety of Dutch tolerance – the appreciation of human inclination or frailty and an accommodation of the situation.

It explains why we appreciate people have a need for liberal sexual gratification or indulge in mind-altering substances – we recognise the situation, and accommodation it by providing a location for the activity and regulate it such that the criminal element is considerably reduced.

All abroad

Having a week set up like that, people reckon the number of sick calls on the Friday might make opening offices unprofitable so it is better to close and allow the goodwill of people having Friday off without having to feign some sickness or tell tall tales.

That explains why making of the Dutch have gone sun-seeking, then May the 12th is another holiday – Pentecost, so like me have just merged the whole weekend-holiday, week-holiday stretch into a 2-week getaway – as easy as, get me to the sun PDQ. (Pretty Damn Quick)

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Nigeria: Kick out all foreign British Airways staff

Crowding out the President

It would appear Yar’Adua’s visit to Germany must have done us all a world of good. Whilst he returns to Nigeria, hale and hearty, it appears he must have had a Blackberry keeping him abreast of issues pertaining to Nigerians globally rather than just those in the motherland.

The one agitating the Nigerians in Diaspora at the moment is that pertaining to the maltreatment of Nigerians on a British Airways flight in March that has lead to serious Internet activism calling for the total boycott of British Airways services.

Before I address that matter in much detail, I just have to note that the welcoming entourage for the President included the vice-President which is fine, 8 state governors, party apparatchiks, his children, grand-children, in-laws and God knows what other patronage seeking well-wishers and fair weather ‘friends’ who should be busy at their desks making the life of Nigerians better.

New titles for the chiefs

I could not help but notice that the wife of the vice-President does not have the common and cheapened chief moniker that everyone including the rat in Nigeria has, she is addressed as Dame Patience Jonathan – I would not plumb the depths of unnecessary research to find out that came about.

I suspect before long, chief would be so passé, you will have to be Count, Countess, Lord, Baroness with each ostentatious show of vacuous titles vying against each other in the race to be grander than dog shit, is Nigeria not a republic, who is the monarch dishing out this silliness?

Activism breeds no patronage

Anyway, back to British Airways, it appears they are getting engulfed in a maelstrom; maybe that is a strong word, but there seems to be some movement on the matter, the President has “tasked” someone to get on the case and find out what really happened.

I am glad about that because African governments are rarely interested in activist issues because there is no patronage or incipiently corrupt gain to be had from these matters where there are contracts, privileges and vested interests to serve which help ascribe grand schemes to the name or tenure of the politicians involved.

It also represents why we do not have a maintenance culture because nobody gets praised for maintaining a big project in some backwater, but everyone gets kudos and payback for being part of a grand project especially those dumped on us by friendly international organisations.

Not build for usefulness

The issue is not about keeping things running, it is about having put it there – as I finished the book – Undercover Economist – the author gave an example of a library that was built to raise the status of the school to university level. It was designed by an ex-student architect and it was grand and beautiful but completely useless.

Thankfully, the librarian was a VSO posting who could stand up to the principal, she refused to move the books into the new library because each time it rained the roof served as a funnel that filled the library with water and it would have ruined the books.

The principal still insisted on moving the books but resistance is keeping that from happening – the issue is simple, powerful interests build dams, factories, hospitals and all sorts of things necessary for good-living standards but none are really geared towards improving those standards, they are there for accumulation of kudos of the power brokers.

That is the plague that affects many projects in poor countries, including Nigeria, in fact, the library issue was in Cameroon, we had a similar situation with a hospital burnt down in the North of Nigeria and the governor lamenting his reputation had been destroyed.

When the issue should have been why a hospital finished 18 months before was not commissioned because they had not been able to invite the President to open it.

Send in the natives

I have seriously digressed, but these are issues that need to be aired – when the government asked for British Airways staff to meet to discuss these matters, they sent in two natives when higher management who would most probably be Caucasians should have gone to represent British Airways.

I used the word natives because, the whole issue smacks of outrageous levity and complete indifference to matters that do impugn the dignity of Nigerians. These tin-pot bwanas go to Nigeria and live with the swagger of Colonial District Officers in opulence and receiving obeisance of obsequious, fawning and hapless natives that they would never attain in Great Britain.

The natives would know the language of their kind, the colonial concept of divide-and-rule (just read the topic on the link) returns in the 21st Century, the effrontery is breathtakingly unbelievable, but the reality is clear for all to see.

Kick them all out

They have become untouchables who are answerable to no one and meting out malevolence with the aplomb of a potentate – in my mind, every foreign manager of British Airways in Nigeria should be kicked out, somehow, they would not take this matter seriously till our bark has a good shark bite too.

Next, the British Airways licence to fly to Nigeria should be suspended for at least a month – Nigerians who wish to travel to Nigeria should consider sending money instead of visiting to show off that they have arrived with hedonistic recklessness.

If we are going to get a change from British Airways which appears to have become an embodiment of institutionalised racism, it must hit them hard in both their pocket and the public perception of that organisation. If their senior staff cannot respond to an invitation from our government then they have no reason to be in our country neither should be allowed to profit through commercial activity in our country.

Restitution is beyond costing

The restitution required of British Airways should also include a public apology in National newspapers of the Nigeria and Great Britain – we will not relent till the cancer of ineptitude that eviscerates Nigerians of comforts that others enjoy when travelling British Airways to other places is excised.

Pound for pound and mile for mile, we pay well over the odds for those services, we should expect the service to be impeccable – this requires they replace the dead-ender crew we get with better trained, cultured and understanding people who know the whole concept of service.

Additional Reference

Robert Fisk of the Independent on the British Airways treatment of customers and his personal experiences.

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Sun shines hard in Gran Canaria

Scheduled child seating

After the dreadful cold of the last few months, I have embarked on another sanity retention and enhancement escapade, I am back in Gran Canaria where the mercury is rising to the point that I could do a cold shower without a shiver.

Arkefly could not guarantee flights for the times I wanted to travel so I decided to ditch unreliable charter arrangements and go for a schedule flight with a stop-over in Barcelona on the way out and one at Madrid on the return in 15 days time.

I could not believe my amazing luck, for the third time in succession, I had another child behind me, there wasn’t too much crying but tantrums a-plenty as she kicked out so repetitively, I thought I was being mugged taking a massage in a Turkish bath.

I endured but not with any sleep, my co-passenger sympathised saying it would only be a 2-hour flight and it would all be over – almost over for the child I thought silently.

On transfer

The transfer desks in Barcelona are a mystery, you see big signs leading to Transfer Information and the it stops, you look back and you know it is somewhere in the middle.

When I finally found the desks, they were completely inconspicuous, the information desk was as good as asking for directions and being told to go North when you should be going West.

Switching from AirFrance-KLM to Air Europa was quite an insight, the service was definitely notches higher than Franco-Dutch fare, in fact, the food in comparison was the difference between cut-price dog food which needed water to reconstitute it for eating and gourmet Pedigree Chum – I woofed it all down, more or less.

It is a bit humid, I think I should saunter down to the pool and find out if my ankles are light enough for my first swim or sinking.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Maybe was a cornflake boy

My Genesis in cornflakes

Well, well, the scientists have brought us good news about the boys, I never was a cornflake girl, and I thought that was a good solution, now I know more.

As mum stepped into the kitchen that summer morning in 1965, she must have had a bowl of cereal which eventually aided conception that turned out to be a male.

Yes, as I was saying, research has now indicated that a woman’s chance of having sons instead of daughters depends on having cereals and not skipping breakfast.

I would suppose mum wondered if she should have Kellogg’s Cornflakes or Weetabix, but that makes me wonder how I turned out.

Cornflakes for blondes, bran for brains?

For instance, could it be that she did not finish her breakfast and hence I became an early term baby?

Or maybe cornflakes should have helped me become blonde and my brown eyes are derived from Weetabix.

With the array of cereals on the market today from tasteless but healthful bran, through muesli that is the equivalent of a complete mouth workout that tires you out before the third spoon to fancy Shreddies or Frosties – you are probably on the way to boy-a-la-cereal.

Now, if you had nuts in your cereal, you might end up with a mad child – no original idea of mine, the scientists have put me on the top of the helter-skelter of outrageous imagination and given me a push – Stop! I can’t.

Eat the cereal and ditch the packet

The scientists cover much more ground by asserting high-calorie breakfasts are the best guarantee of influencing the gender of the baby and I begin to wonder if the research is worth the paper of a million Zimbabwean dollars.

The Western slant of this research cannot be overlooked as I see faces of hunger in other parts of the world with boys in tow – who sponsors this kind of stuff?

Frankly, one cannot write much more about this without getting obtusely facetious and quite derisive, but before the ladies wanting boys take all the cereal off the supermarket shelves in a make-boy frenzy and then realise this is not really happening – You bet your life it is a boy – a cornflake boy!

Who would be satisfied with a tom-boy? Check the gender and sue the cereal company.

Reference

The ideas of cornflake girl and cornflake boy are derived from a song (YouTube link) by Tori Amos.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Does a Darwin Award await Father Carli?

All balloons no man

Hearts must have raced to the point of exhausting cataclysm when balloons were found just off the coast of Brazil.

Now, many would have thought this cluster of balloons was released after some peace event highlighting the plight of the suffering all around the world and Brazil in particular.

Unfortunately, the parson had deserted his vocation as is required on Sunday to embark on some earthly glory at the expense of feeding hungry flock.

Booking passage

Father Adelir de Carli might have been divinely inspired but his execution of whatever task he had been given is no doubt grand folly that might have him neither entering the Guinness World Records nor the Lamb’s Book of Life.

On Sunday, the father strapped to 1,000 helium balloons, with floatation equipment, a satellite phone, GPS and a probably displeased Father in heaven was planning to fly for over 19 hours and breaking some world record.

One however should not forget that there was a charitable cause to this seeming madness, the goal being to provide a rest stop for lorry drivers in Paranagua.

If as the news story indicates, Paranagua is a major port for agricultural products in Brazil, the government and lorry owner organisation should not have to be persuaded with stunts like this to make this kind of provision – it should just be there for all purposes that are good and healthy.

Lost father

It has now transpired that Father Carli is not under those balloons and he might have been lost at sea with prayers that he has not met a fate equal to departing this mortal coil.

If the Father had problems operating his GPS device, then that would have constituted a serious problem especially if it had been recalibrated to Mecca time, a disingenuous attempt by Muslim scientists and clerics who should be better engaged to grab our world time system and align it to the presumed centre of the earth, which some believe is Mecca.

I am no geographer, cartographer, scientist or cleric, but I know one thing for sure, the centre of a geoid is definitely not on its surface.

No Darwins yet

That should put paid to that religious ruse masquerading as good science but it is a most dastardly attempt to damage our time and date systems on the premise that our current time system was imposed by colonialists, it works; we need to be delivered from idle clerics whatever their religion.

Anyway, one can only hope that Father Carli is found alive and well which means he would miss the opportunity to be posthumously awarded the Darwin Award.

Between you and me, I do not think the Father Carli was smart and he could have done his charitable work through less stupefying deeds – but then, if he had succeeded in his escapade, I would have gotten a pin to prick all those balloons.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Nigeria: Yar'Adua healthy from Germany with love

Rushed out to Germany again

This situation continues to baffle me, that we have a President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria who needs to fly out to see his private doctors in Germany anytime he has an ailment.

Someone must be telling me that in that great oil-producing nation there is nobody nor any institution with the knowledge, expertise, equipment and location to treat our President.

The situation is so damning as it is laughable and the joke is made all the more derisive when his spokesman suggests that he had an allergic reaction – is there an adrenalin nurse in the house?

I would suppose there was someone in Nigeria to administer some palliative medicine to arrest the allergic reaction whilst he travelled 7 hours on a plane to Wiesbaden in Germany see his doctor.

The real mandate to the Ministry of Health

In fact, we see the messing around that has been happening in the Ministry of Health with the fraudulent disbursement of bonuses to staff for keeping Nigeria in a disgraceful situation.

The oversight committee in the Senate does not seem to know there is a conflict of interest in taking money for junkets from an arm of the Executive when you are in the legislature – rather than having junkets in Ghana, as if Nigeria does not have team-building and bonding facilities good enough for its representatives – they should have been working on ensuring there is at least a facility of world standard that could address medical problems of our leaders.

Again, the irony and shamelessness is really not lost on anyone when the spokesman goes on to say, “There is nothing that precludes the president from seeking healthcare abroad. Even leaders in advanced countries do that.”

We have a health emergency

I am not sure Chirac, Bush, Blair, Shroeder, Koizumi, Howard, Berlusconi, Martin or Putin (That is the G8 leadership at around 2004) have ever left their countries to seek treatment when the best in their country is at their beck and call. It would be disingenuous of me to suggest that the best in Nigeria are not good enough for our President.

The spokesman however acquiesces to the feeling we all have, as he says, “I share the position that our country should be able to make travelling abroad for medicals (sic), either for the President or any other citizen, a matter of choice rather than of necessity.” He took the words out of my typing.

Then we are given the political spiel about critical challenges, access and commitment – meanwhile, Yar’Adua recuperates from Germany with love till Tuesday after a week of being away.

Do we have a health emergency? We do; the possibility of the bad luck of losing a President and Goodluck stepping in – Nigeria could not suffer worse luck – I am down on my knees with fervent supplication in sack-cloth and ashes – This should not be our lot.

The entity is Nigeria, the identity is Nigerian

Inadvertent Ambassadors

I am of the opinion that anyone who has any association with Nigeria is automatically an ambassador of Nigeria and by unfortunate commission assumes that role fully when they leave the shores of the motherland, fatherland or ‘parentland’ as you deem fit.

This is not to impose the weight of any responsibility on anyone, but if people do identify you as Nigerian, you become the source of information about the country and you are inadvertently the window into their opinion of Nigerians.

I have been in conversations where some people have had bad experiences with Nigerians and someone speaks up saying they have had Nigerian friends, salt of the earth, compassionate, responsible and very trustworthy confidants – we leave impressions everywhere we go.

Nigeria is the entity for identity

I tire of the argument that the entity called Nigeria is not representative of a people who have a common purpose; (reference to a comment on Chxta's blog) that entity has existed since 1914, there are very few people alive who can remember when Lord Lugard put together that jigsaw puzzle.

Nigerian is what we are regardless of localised affiliation; our old national anthem recognised that ‘though tribe and tongue may differ, in brotherhood we stand’. There is a brotherhood of Nigerians, whether you decide to belong and contribute to its development and progress is your choice.

It is time for us to move beyond the tired arguments and debates of old of which we have had not part apart from the reading of history.

Drop those old chains

I tire of the allusion to slavery when problems of Nigeria are discussed, I do not know anyone who was taken as a slave from the localities of my forebears; I had the good fortune of having a great-grand mother into my early 20s and she never did talk of anyone taken into slavery in her time – Slavery had been outlawed since 1834 in the British Empire.

I have been to Badagry to see the chains and shackles of old, I have seen Roots, but I do not intend to try out those chains and make them the symbols of my tomorrow by blaming the problems of today on a past I was never part of.

Becoming relics of the past

Nigeria has a very rich history of empires, kingdoms, conquests and defeats; we can take the lessons of our history and use those as a force to build a people of a strong heritage with a future brighter than the brightest day.

Many of us are free-born Africans but have refused to be what we are, rather we seek refuge in some hamlet mentality fearful of the next village and bound in the terror of superstitious beliefs that everyone out there is the enemy – if we cannot come together in community building we cannot move on to the greater task of nation building.

Colonised in the mind

I also tire about the tales of the effects of colonialism, Nigeria was already independent and a republic before I was born, so why should I aspire to have a colonial mentality when I was born after the country of my heritage was already the master of its own destiny.

When my father built his house, it was not built to the design of some old colonial District Officer quarters, it was built as he wanted it with his own ideas and plans as a Nigerian free to decide how he wanted things to be done, the architects, surveyors, builders and decorators, all Nigerian, were paid for their work, no slaves were employed – there was no colonial brick in that building. I do not intend to build mock-Tudor, Georgian or Jacobean either.

We deceive and delude ourselves if in the fifth decade of our independence we still think our problems are not majorly of our own doing and seek to blame them on others like Mugabe is trying to do about Zimbabwe after 28 years of destroying the good land he inherited.

You cannot choose your co-passenger

A simple analogy is this, when I book a flight, I can choose the seat I want, but I cannot decide who sits beside me. If at the end of the day I have to sit with someone for a 4-hour flight I can be all grumpy and asocial throughout and make my flight utterly miserable.

Alternatively, I can try and engage the person in conservation, something, I am wont to doing because I am something of a chatterbox; a foible, I suppose – the person either responds or doesn't.

If they do, we enrich each other's life, knowledge, experience and probably become friends; I cannot count the number of invitations I have to visit the homes of people in faraway places because of these chance meetings.

Nigeria – Our sovereign Motherland

The entity called Nigeria is the source of the identity of every Nigerian, it is time for us to accept the fact of that entity as it is and start to engage with the unknown passenger (other Nigerian) beside us in the flight (Nigeria) that we are in and work towards a unity of purpose to build Nigeria, the nation of which we are all willing or unwilling ambassadors.

When I see the Motherland of our old national anthem until 1978 and the Fatherland of the new since 1978, I wonder if the old does not capture more clearly the essence of what it is to be Nigerian and the pride we should have in our great country; that critical word seems to be missing in the new.

The new seems to be a slight rewrite of the old and though we have to live with the new, the fact is we still seek a nation where truth and justice reign, where our flag is a symbol of honour and where no man is oppressed.

The old tells us what it is to be Nigerian, the new tells us about the duty we have to make Nigeria great such that the labours of our heroes past shall never be in vain.

Arise, O Compatriots!

Reference

The two Nigerian National Anthems

Nigerian scammers will always be a minority

Those rotten Nigerians

One is saddened to read that 87 Nigerians have been arrested in Spain on suspicion of defrauding at least 1,500 in a postal and internet lottery scam.

In the light of my last blog, these are the kind of people who make our inadvertent commission of being ambassadors of Nigeria a very difficult job.

They put us in inappropriate spotlight that many who do not have an alternative identity have to try harder at proving honesty, capability, eligibility and trustworthiness.

Be smart about scams

I have received many letters saying I have been put into some lottery and I have won a prize but for me to gain access to the prize I have to pay some administration fee to some agent engaged by the lottery firm.

I do not think you have to be too smart to see that there is something fishy about such a proposition, the news story indicates thousands of these letters and emails are written in ungrammatical English.

The question would then be why a “reputable” lottery organisation would engage an unprofessional outfit to manage lottery winnings that probably would reflect badly on their enterprise.

In it to win it

My view of lotteries is simple; you have to be in it to win it, and every lottery I have won has been because I consciously entered in that competition with the hope that my numbers or ticket would come up and win the grand prize or some other prize.

Where lotteries are managed on the Internet, especially in the Netherlands, you have the option to include both your address and bank account number so any winnings go directly into your bank account without the need of an agent.

In fact, the whole scheme of this scam looks quite wrong headed, whilst the administration of winnings might be a costly exercise, informing the winner directly of their winnings should not be too cumbersome.

Most people who register in competitions have the option to opt-out of having their details passed on to agents, if a lottery firm outsources this service, one would expect that the letter or email informing a person of winnings would bear all the official hallmarks of the lottery organisation at first.

No need to pay

Then, the lottery organisation would have paid the agency to handle the winnings, the agency should not then have to charge the winner any administration fees because a percentage of the winnings should have gone to covering the cost of administration – a winner should never have to pay administration costs.

Another question is how a lottery expects to break-even if it randomly chooses non-contributing participants from an email list, I do not believe there is some bottomless cash pool somewhere where someone derives joy from giving money to unknown strangers and then requires them to pay up to get paid.

The Caribbean for one

I remember one prize I won in 1992 before the Internet was popular which was for a 1-week cruise in the Caribbean, but living in the UK I had to pay a fortune to get to the Caribbean and then probably end up as a stowaway on some pirate’s vessel.

It did not take long for me to realise I was being taken for a ride and about to be scammed, I do not do stressful lottery wins, much as a Caribbean cruise for one could never have been any fun at all, the devil is always in the detail processed by a logical brain. The same scam is now rehashed for another medium.

The logic usually does not add up, eventually, the old saying catches up on the deluded or desperate that has been cajoled into a despicable enterprise – it only takes 1 out 1,000 fools answering to make a profit.

The old saying is – A fool and his money are soon parted – if you have not expressly entered a lottery you cannot seriously expect to have won anything and you should not believe you have won anything.

We are good Nigerians

Meanwhile, shame on all those Nigerians, I do hope that the full force of the law is visited upon them and we who keep on the good side of the law continue to prove that those shameful miscreants are the exception rather than the rule.

Most Nigerians abroad are engaged in meaningful activities that build economies, communities and relationships, we who take our ambassadorial jobs seriously would not relent in being the good and exemplary Nigerian.

Friday, 18 April 2008

Nigeria: Senator frogjumps her back wall

A new interest in Nollywood
I am no particular fan of Nollywood, though in the 70s we got caught up in aspects of Bollywood and Sinowood (Bruce Lee, the noises and the kicks), neither do I watch much Hollywood, the last time I was in a cinema was just about a year ago.
I must however say that some scripts, which are inadvertently appearing as news from Nigeria, are looking like we would be getting a major blockbuster very soon starring the thespian qualities of the histrionic Senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello at her most melodramatic – I am enthralled.
Senator Obasanjo-Bello happens to be the daughter of the erstwhile President of Nigeria, and it seems she is getting embroiled in every kind of shady deal, which brings the name of Nigeria and the “office” of an elected representative into disrepute.
Cleared but not really cleared
Recently, the Nigerian Senate cleared their own from culpability in the squander of funds from the Ministry of Health; she happens to be the Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Health.
We have been told that 10 million Naira was given to the Senate Committee for a junket retreat in Ghana. The Director of Administrator in the Ministry of Health, Dr. H. B. Oyedepo who has been talking to the EFCC says it was 20 million Naira – so there is a little business of searching out the real truth and why the doubling or the halving of the money.
The great and desperate escape
Anyway, the EFCC have been after the powerful senator and on a visit to her home to invite her to appreciate the comforts of the commission, news reaches us that she made for the back garden and scaled her wall to escape those menacing EFCC clutches.
The senator would contend that she is no fugitive and we are being regaled with a sob story that she is now afraid for her life.
I’ll tell you this much, if I ran to my backdoor and scaled the wall of my garden, not only would I be afraid for my life, I would be in danger of losing it with a 7-storey plunge.
I cannot believe that such a highly placed politician who has been besmirched with claims of corruption and is protesting her innocence would resort to such desperate measures usually reminiscent of illegal overstaying refugees trying to escape the capture of immigration agents.
Her father’s daughter
The senator has form and she goes on the defensive by claiming, “There's a very huge anti-Obasanjo sentiment in the country now and honestly the behaviour is not normal.”
I could almost sympathise but the truth about the matter is simple, I know that many of us hold our family names in such esteem that we would be all too reluctant to be involved in anything that would bring shame to the family.
That inclination comes from a life of honesty, rectitude, integrity and pride instilled in us by our parents, which would have been instilled in them by a culture that could not countenance the concept of being brought to shame. We hold those values dear, no matter where we are in this world, the few who stray sometimes completely lose their way and end up foul of the law.
Some of the children of President Obasanjo do not seem to have been privileged to acquire this kind of parental guidance, the Obasanjo presidential term seems to be a litany of entrenched corruption, smoke screens of fighting corruption and the complete abuse of process.
A coward exposed
The example of Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello shows that she has followed after the abuse of power rather than the desire to maintain a reputable family name, which others would do by keeping a low profile.
She now feels she is a victim of harassment; that is just so pathetic – she would make us believe she has done nothing wrong - whilst she has peddled influence with impunity and she is now reaping the results in being wanted by the anti-graft agency for a number of questionable activities. Unfortunately, daddy does not seem to be able to pull the strings to exculpate his daughter.
What is most revealing about this saga is this, having been involved in a number of shady deals and transactions; she is unable to face the music and consequences of her actions. This is typical of people who have gained power through nepotism and abuse of process such that they know nothing of the responsibility they are given and when the going gets tough they are crybaby cowards.
If this does not sound like the makings of a Nollywood thriller, I challenge you to come up with a better plot.

Monday, 14 April 2008

Nigeria: Senate safety from blame not guns

That Teflon girl

The Nigerian propensity for a junket and partying knows no limits as we hear the Senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello has been let off by the Nigerian Senate.

Her Senate Committee on Health took 10 million Naira of funds off the Ministry of Health for a retreat in Ghana when that along with another 290 million Naira should have been returned to the Treasury on the orders of the President.

This is what led to the resignation of chief officers of the Ministry of Health and the unfortunately scalping of that most respected academic and healthcare professional, Professor Adenike Grange.

Rules and dues

Apparently, Senator Obasanjo-Bello broke no Senate rules which we are told tally with rules in United States and United Kingdom constitutions and because the money has already gone towards their retreat, it cannot be returned to the Nigerian purse.

The rules might tally, but in those countries, they have democratic accountability, judicial oversight and anyone who besmirches the name of the parliament or Congress by mere association would with dignity step down from a position of authority.

As all things in Nigeria, it might just end there because the culture of impunity and collegiate of banditry that props up fellow miscreants allows for all to play the same rotten game and get away with it.

We can only hope that she not yet out of the crosshairs of the EFCC because this lady has form in very many shady matters.

Gun of a chief

Meanwhile, the Senate President, Senator David Mark who might well have to go back to the electorate soon to re-contest his seat has been celebrating his 60th birthday, troops of titled and lettered chiefs, bloated politicians and power brokers would be in tow.

The Olubadan of Ibadan had another chieftaincy title to dole out for favours yet unknown which saw the Senate President conferred with the title of Aare Onibon of Ibadan.

Aare would be the equivalent of an English peerage some sort of arch-chief, commander-in-chief or generalissimo and the Onibon part, I would suspect means he is the custodian of the guns of the city.

Anytime I hear someone has an Aare kind of title, I am always suspicious of something about to happen.

A requisite sacrifice

A mobile policeman, Sergeant Akinola Tajudeen happened to be at the ceremony to help keep order and he blows of his head accidentally at the investiture of the custodian of the guns – in Nigeria, there is more to it than meets the eye, this one almost makes one believe that one should never consign to conspiracy what can be attributed to incompetence.

There seems to be four versions of the event in the same news story, not that it matters; an unfortunate human sacrifice is as much a successful chieftaincy initiation, no questions about why a mobile policeman in a civil setting should have a gun without the safety catch on.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Olympics: I have a facial on the 8th of August

Scheduling appointments

I must have words with my calendar secretary, he has been scheduling all sorts of appointments that I am not sure I would be able to honour because of other eventualities that might arise.

I have found that I have a facial schedule; in fact, it is a full body treatment as a metrosexual aside; on the 8th of August 2008 in the afternoon. That is not to say I have no other indulgences before then but that seems to clash with another important event that I had previously considered attending.

Regrets, regrets

My regrets to the Chinese government for not being able to attend in person the opening of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing would be duly expressed, but the greater regret would be, if I have cucumbers over my dainty eyelids, I would not watching the opening ceremony on television either.

I would not give up a floatation tank treatment and the reflexology manipulations not to talk of the beauty treatments that would make a me surer man than me to while away precious pampering time in front of a tube – I do not have a flat-screen television yet – the one I have still works.

We are busy

Before I begin the self-flagellation of utter regret, Gordon Brown might also be down at the spa, Ban Ki-Moon seems to have booked his pedicure for the same time and George Bush is thinking maybe his pheasant shooting date might just change the course of history to make him the best President of the United States ever.

Suddenly, at the eighth second, of the eighth minute of the eighth hour in the night of the eighth day of the eighth month of the eighth (It is really the ninth) year of the millennium we might all be busy doing something else but what the Chinese want us to do – watch their grand show of pretending to be a nation that has arrived on the world stage.

Learning from 1936

This time we would not be spectators of a new kind foreboding once experienced in Berlin in 1936, all is not well in China today just was all was not well in German then, one has to be discreet enough not to mention Tibet, Myanmar, Darfur or human rights within China itself, that would not be the done thing.

Ah! I have an offer at the Spa, I can visit twice in a month, and I would be back there on the 24th of August.

Zimbabwe: Mugabe is a coward

Release my results

Follow me through this analogy – I have just completed a number of academic examinations leading to a major qualification – at the time when I was to receive the results, half the results were released but the whole detail that would prove I was qualified was not released.

Then as I clamoured with the examination board to release the rest of my complement of results, someone took the decision to remark my papers.

I am then left in a quandary, the first being why all my results were not released on time in the first place and then what could have lead to having my papers remarked without information as to why.

Nigeria not an example for good

This is just an analogy; the reality creates a worse feeling for all concerned because the first instance relates to when the Nigerian military government under Ibrahim Babangida cancelled an election that took place in June 1993 having released half the results of that election, a situation that plunged us into another few years of despotic rule.

The failure of democracy in Africa can be directly traced to the failure of simple democratic processes in Nigeria. The situation is so bad that you never find Nigeria at the forefront of speaking up for democratic reform because our processes are so tarnished and not credible enough to give us the moral right to talk to others about doing things right.

Some commentators would contend that the electoral debacle that happened in Kenya in December 2007 only happened because Nigeria provided no leadership in matters of electoral rectitude where the voice of people in votes are properly and correctly presented in the figures sanctioned as official.

Recounts before results

The second part of my analogy pertains to developments in Zimbabwe, where the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has decided to recount the votes cast in 23 districts covering the presidential, parliamentary, senate and council votes.

I find it incredible that first of all, only the complete parliamentary results have been released and only part of the senate results, the rest have been kept from the public who have a right to know what their collective voices have said about who should govern them in Zimbabwe.

I would have had no problems with the recount of districts that have results released, but I cannot see how there can be a recount when the results have not been released.

There can be a recount sometimes, if the results are close, but all parties should be privy to those results and the reasons for the recount. Unfortunately, the ZEC appears to be a pliant organ of the ZANU-PF rather than an independent arbiter and custodian of the democratic process for the good of Zimbabwe.

Mugabe is a coward

The real situation is simple, the Grand Despot of Africa and strong man of Zimbabwe, Mr. Robert Mugabe is a coward. He cannot bear to see that he has been rejected by Zimbabwe after all he did to terrorise the people or buy the election by giving away car keys on the eve of the election.

Mr. Mugabe, is coward because he was afraid to hear his fellow African leaders of the SADC tell him that his time is up, Mr. Mugabe knows the real truth and his cohort of hardliners whose loss of ruler-ship would make them fodder for the Coliseum of the hungry lions of retributive justice are steeling him up for stealing the election.

This is where a country like Nigeria or South Africa should have stepped in and pre-empted what might turn out to be a travesty of democracy.

Give me Brutus or Judas

I despair for what would happen in the end, but should it take a Marcus Junius Brutus to get rid of this Caesar that has destroyed his country or a Judas Iscariot to betray this non-Messiah with the goal to sacrifice one man for the good of the many?

It is time to have Mr. Mugabe despatched, Zimbabwe has been too long under the strangled-hold of this despot, it is time to forcibly take his grasp off the neck of the people and let then thrive as they should for a future that Mr. Mugabe does not have the time, the vision or the will to give.

Invade for democracy

This is one time where every well meaning voice must speak up for the democratic right to have the results of a vote released, correctly, promptly and without controversy.

If this recount is another ploy to adjust the results to meet the needs of people who cannot accept that their time is up, it must be repudiated with the greatest force possible and this time the sovereignty of Zimbabwe should and must be violated to ensure that the people’s voice and votes are what counted to reflect what they have intended.

Zimbabwe deserves respite and this is one cause that is a blight on Africa, only second to the disgrace in Darfur – Zimbabwe must be free by the vote or by the boot.