Sunday, 31 August 2008

A millipede to the mille

From enthusiasm to consistency

When I wrote my first blog on the 8th of December 2003, I thought I would write everyday and I did for the rest of that month and most of the month of January 2004.

But as the months went by, I missed out a few and when I wrote I probably got 5 blogs in.

I suppose I got more serious about blogging at the beginning of 2006 and the numbers began to add up.

Today, the number hits 1,000 at 4 years and 267 days according to my blog console; days because the programmers handling my blog site could not break the days down into months and days in a consistent way.

Keeping my own faith

I have tried to stay true to Akin playing on the English meaning of the word pertaining to likeness rather than the Yoruba meaning which is more like a heroic warrior, I don't do heroics just the occasional histrionics.

It is about things too concerning to ignore and it is still essentially similar to what is known, compatible to what is expected and related to the unexpected.

I write with thanks

Whilst I write what I have written and when it is written it is what I have decided to write, I thank my readers – friendly, unfriendly, complimentary and downright obnoxious – you all matter - your readership and commentary offers even that little bit of satisfaction, I look forward to the next 1,000 in probably a lot less time than it took the first.

Thanks and cheers.

The example of riches untold

It’s the Guardian angel of thought

I have tendency to fall into a stupor when I get on flight to anywhere, the time before take-off is literally interminable that I sometimes miss the choreography of aircraft safety and the offer of newspapers to read.

I had deliberately left the things I was reading in my bag as I took my window seat but halfway through the flight my mind was aching for input so I asked the lady next to me if I could read her paper.

It was the UK Guardian and I really would not read anything that wet but for the seemingly dire circumstances.

The bottom of the front-page of the Friday 29th of August newspaper had the picture of a lady kneeling down fully and submissively bowed to the floor as if in deep supplication at a religious convention that majored on getting rich [1].

The Prosperity Gospel

I have seen that before and it took years to be weaned off the diet of milk and honey with a tub of unhealthy lard.

The prosperity gospel [2] has taken root in a branch of Christianity that has Pentecostal yearnings, the news feature contends that these ideas of interpretation of the Bible come from Oklahoma which has been the incubator to the wildest inspirations that defy the logic of getting successful.

Now, I have nothing against prosperity, in fact, I am all for prosperity which in essence could be good health, the presence of happiness, the ability to share, having sufficiency to meet ones requirements and something over whilst being content, I doubt if it is all about getting rich [3].

I like people to be ambitious and have good role models too that inspire them to great things, but it is covetous to desire to be like others for the sake of being able to say you have arrived.

Extensive studies [4] have been conducted on whether elements of the Prosperity Gospel do have a theological basis rather than a pseudo-heretical deviation.

Rick Warren [5] who pastors one of the largest congregations in American seems to stand alone from this deluge of “God make me as rich as Richie Rich [6]” syndrome and had a feature run in the Economist [7] about his teachings.

Ghetto churches with a different message

One thing the news feature noticed was most of the congregation seemed to be made of ethnic minorities from West Africa and the Caribbean – I do wonder how these churches integrate into or adapt to the communities they are in.

I remember when looking for a church, years ago, I went to 2 churches in The Hague and Amsterdam, I could have just walked down a street in Lagos, they were alien to the culture and their environment – it was all well to have the comfort of similarity in numbers but that is what the ghetto is made of.

These ghetto “churches” probably do have a message and have the power to inspire in a particular way, but when every message, intonation and supplication begins to read like dollar or pound signs, I worry for where the evil has taken root in the quest for or the love of money.

Between money and wisdom

There are many verses in scripture that suggest it is good to be rich but key to those verses lies the juxtaposition with wisdom because like the Proverbs say, money is of no use to a fool – Proverbs 17:15-17. As we all know, a fool and his money are soon parted too.

Wisdom is the key – Ecclesiastes 7:11-13; it brings prudence to the management of ones resources where the making of ones character can even be an exercise in money management.

The church featured in the news story which happens to be the largest church in the UK ran into some difficulty recently concerning its charitable status as well as financial irregularities with the way its funds seemed to have been diverted to means that were not above board.

Those matters got resolved with the minister in charge having to pay back GBP 200,000. It does not augur well for churches that taken voluntary contributions on the premise of faith and goodwill to end up under financial investigations - it is bad as an example of character and damages the reputation of the greater message - that is a glaring fact that cannot be subject to debate.

Example of riches

As one sits down to listen to the word as preached today, the anecdotes, analogies and allegories sound like the example of riches untold triggered by selfless tithing in the belief that the returns can be a thousand-fold - tendency to go out of context to pursue a particular belief system is rife.

It reminds of an episode years ago where an overdose of this kind of talk lead a friend to believe that God had promised him a large some of money, N17,000, and that was a lot of money; an equivalent of $20,000 or GBP 14,000 at the exchange rates then (1984) as we were all students.

He opened a bank account and waited for the day when the money would be deposited by God, the day finally arrived and he wrote the amount out to cash in a cheque, prayed over it and went to the bank.

He got done for fraud and it was a case that dragged on for a good while, the only saving grace for him was that he did not spend too long in a police cell; it was an eye-opener to all of us – God uses people most of the time and rarely exceptional circumstances, He does not do magic and many confuse the need for the miraculous with unexpected providence of good luck typifying a magical wave of the wand.

Riches of example

The riches of the example of Christian living cannot be just having the best car, the biggest house, the most vulgar bling and the swagger of a garrulous moneybag – it must be the ministering to ones community with whatever little one has got because sufficiency is what matters not excess leading to squander or wanton living 2 Corinthians 3:4-6 & 2 Corinthians 9:7-9.

I seek a gospel that espouses and ululates in the riches of example, it is time to find relevance in our communities which are more diverse than specific race churches or financial-driven thought philosophies; the gospel of the example of riches inspires no confidence in the quality of Christian devotion, dedication and living.

Chasing the cloud of success without the requisite dint of hard work, honesty, good character, reliability, dependability and service to ones community is as far removed from the gospel as the East is from the West.

As for the woman who was pictured kneeling on the front-page of the Guardian, if you are not asking a-miss – Amen.

Sources

[1] Religion: Pentecostalist gathering draws worshippers keen to get richer | World news | The Guardian

[2] Prosperity theology - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[3] TIME.com - Does God Want You To Be Rich? - The Religion Pages - Sponsored by Unitarian Universalists

[4] ReligionLink - Is the 'prosperity gospel' prospering?

[5] Rick Warren - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[6] Richie Rich (comics) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[7] Rick Warren – Lexington | The next Billy Graham | Economist.com

Note about originality: The example of riches derives from a phrase used by Bill Clinton where power replaces my use of riches.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Power of Our Example

Awakening to vision and audio

I was up last night as I always sleep with my television on, my dreams of sound and imagination just eases into the reality of vision and audio with the hope I have not arrived from a terrifying Steven King saga.

I prefer to sleep with news channels on rather than music channels, I do however remember a time I had the gospels playing back during me sleep, it sometimes made those stories and events alive and vivid.

Anyway, I got up to CNN’s coverage of the Democratic National Convention when Bill Clinton was about to speak.

Taking time to accept Obama

So much had been made of Bill Clinton being sour about Hillary losing to Barack Obama, he has been one of the most ardent supporters of his wife’s bid for the nomination and who can blame him?

It also took time for me to realise that Obama was at the head of a movement whose time had come rather than a motivator for a campaign to fulfil an ambition.

As Bill Clinton came on stage, one could see that that he was still well liked, there was lots of adulation and the ovation went on for minutes that he had to entreat the people to stop and sit down for business to continue.

The talk that matters

He finally got to say his bit and it was vintage Bill, the Democratic Party today appears to be blessed with at least three very prominent people who have found the key to the use of words to inspire people, the other two being Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Bill Clinton successfully linked the relationship between a strong America at home and a secure America abroad as he forcefully backed the candidacy of Barack Obama for President.

I have the feeling the Hillary Clinton might not make another run for the White House if Barack Obama takes the Presidency in November.

Example of our Power

However, what I found the most striking about Bill Clinton’s speech was when he said “People the world over have always been more impressed by the power of our example than by the example of our power.” [1]

This subtle use of and juxtaposition of words speaks volumes, just as certain people would attempt to view the failings of Bill Clinton as a poor example of moral rectitude, the example of power he has portrayed has been for the good in many places.

The judgement call for Americans is the preparation for posterity and the beginning of history – it would ask if America would be viewed as projecting the power of example as to have become a civilisation in its own right or whether the example of power has made them no better than vandals, Barbarians and plunderers whose self-interest left the world in great turmoil as we have today.

Under siege or higher purpose

The weight of history need not fall on the shoulders of Americans today but the future that begins today provides a path that can make a whole difference towards the troubles America faces today – Where “the American dream is under siege at home, and America's leadership in the world has been weakened.”

Shall they and the American dream remain under siege with a continuation of the policies of the last 8 years or shall America’s leadership in the world be strengthened with the advent of a man who “has a remarkable ability to inspire people, to raise our hopes and rally us to high purpose?”

A place called hope

That man was Bill Clinton 16 years ago and he has passed the baton today to Barack Obama; the alternative, for all intents and purposes falls far short of that higher purpose because the passage of time seems to have vindicated the measured and insightful views of Barack Obama than the belligerent machismo of John McCain on the war in Iraq, the timetabled withdrawal of troops and talking with Iran.

Being the most powerful country in the world, the responsibility that comes with that position is self-evident – the example of power has won wars but we are still in battles and the power of example has saved lives and won victories in the most intractable situations.

We have Bill Clinton to thank for articulating in words the clear purpose of the day and the duty Americans have to assure and safeguard their future and that of those after them by electing a man that embodies our hopes rather than one that accentuates our fears.

Source

[1] Democratic Convention, Bill Clinton Speech Transcript - Democratic National Convention Speech Transcripts - Zimbio:

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

The end of Europe

Bought this, sold that

Sometimes I wonder about the what we have bought and what we are sold; whilst in Lisbon on one of my tourist jaunts I took a taxi to a prominent monument that meant using the 25th of April suspension bridge.

Taxi fares are usually properly advertised with surcharges for heavy goods, extra passengers, out of town travel and so on.

The bridge has a toll charge system, but I do not think that applies to taxis, however, when I got to my destination, the driver gave me a figure quite different from that on the meter indicating he had to pay a toll.

I really had no time for an argument but I am sure I should have insisted on the meter price and stood my ground – you really do not want to visit a religious place feeling serious pissed off, so I lived and let live.

Filling in the time

Still on the matter of bought and sold, I returned to town without a bridge surcharge in a taxi and bought a tour to Sintra – to be covered in another blog.

We spent the best part of 90 minutes in the palace and then I realised they had to fill in about 2 to 3 hours to justify the cost of the tour.

We got onto the long and windy roads that reminded me of the trip into the Gran Canarian hinterland and finally ended up at Cabo da Roca [1] or Cape Roca which is supposed to be the westernmost point of both mainland Europe and mainland Portugal.

The end of Europe

It was quite windy and even through we are at height of just 140 metres above sea level we were above a good few low-lying clouds.

The clouds we could see above were moving at speed such that if people visited in the olden days they would be moved with awe and almost definitely have an apparition of something to confirm their dread of the supernatural.

Suffice it to say that I saw the end of Europe as we know it and was almost impressed though quite fascinated all the same.

The slideshow and details appear soonest as well as that of my visit to the fossil cliffs and beach of Costa Caparica.

Source

[1] Cabo da Roca - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Nigeria: Gulags of learning

Suspended for rightful protest

Some areas where educational institutions do not seem to have improved in Nigeria are those of situation analysis, student discipline, leadership and fostering an atmosphere where ideas and opinions flourish.

I write this as I read in the papers that 5 students were suspended indefinitely [1] from the Olabisi Onabanjo University having been recorded on television protesting against the raising of school fees - nothing in the story suggests they were up to anything else.

I would not go into details of that, but I would relay my own experiences of this failing.

Summer School gets hot

In the summer of 1980, I returned to school for Summer School in preparation for secondary school final examinations, we were to spend 4 weeks and for me some of those lectures were quite enlightening and instructive, I probably gained a lot in the first two weeks than I did in a whole half-term of regular school.

One weekend night, some of the more adventurous, if not the more idiotic boys in my class, who had their hormones running wilder than their brains could control them to remain human, went out to the girl’s hostels to meet up and do more with the girls.

When the girls refused to come out to play, the boys went on a rampage, destroying property and harming a few of the girls in the process, I think a few needed hospital treatment.

Judge and jury without justice

In the morning, the teaching staff and the Board of Governors met to review the situation and decide on what to do. Without interviewing any of the boys and on the emotive situation of observing the girls, they decided to close the Summer School with immediate effect.

They also decided none of the boys would return to the boarding house for the rest of their final year, having been a boarder for four years I spent my last and most important year in secondary school as a day student.

Now, the Board of Governors might have thought they were offering the best disciplinary action in excluding us from boarding school, but they never considered that without the regimen of supervision in a boarding house a good few of the boys would go off the rails.

The damage and the harshness

I believe the set of 1976-1981 could have been one of the highest achieving sets with regards to the final examinations but that unfair punishment of everyone without the investigation of who really was involved and culpable probably destroyed what could have been a solid foundation for the future of many.

Much as I did get into polytechnic the next academic year, in the end, I lost a good few years before I finally got my education back on track.

In what was a very striking observation, the vice-principal came round to supervise us packing our things in readiness for leaving Summer School, she saw two of us and said ruefully, “I am sure you were never involved in the fracas but a few unruly boys have spoilt it for everyone, even with this fate, I wish that you still encounter good fortune.”

It remains one of the things I hold against Remo Secondary School, Sagamu, I was only 14 and they never once admitted they did us wrong and it would always be a black mark on every other good thing that that school brought to helping mould the person I am now.

A letter to the hounds

Another instance was after a students’ unrest at Yaba College of Technology in 1984, we were sent home and then on re-entry we had to sign an undertaking of conformance to rules that registered us into some sort of slave camp.

One student had written a letter to the Nigerian Guardian questioning a number of unsettling activities in the school which for the sake of objectivity was critical, truthful and balanced.

However, the authorities would have none of this, so every lecturer was trying to find out who A. Joseph was, and because my first name begins with an A, I was asked at least thrice if I was the A. Joseph.

Where they should have been working together to resolve the issues raised, they were baying for blood like hounds, they wanted a scapegoat and thankfully, they never got that particular person.

A good number of us rather vocal student activists just never managed to make it out of the college with a result.

Manufacturing drones

Schools are stripping out individuality, independence and initiative; people pass through school but the school does not pass through them, we end up with drones that have excelled in regurgitating information rather than expressing knowledge, their intelligence is stifled and intellect is mediocre because they have been through the educational mangling machine that produces clones not thinkers.

You cannot express yourself, you should subsume self to the commonality of sameness or you would be punished severely – our schools are mortgaging our future because teachers, lecturers, principals, professors and chancellors would not be challenged, they would brook no questions and condemn every alternative thought.

Gulags of learning

Debate is for the outcasts, people on the road to rustication because they upset the peace equilibrium that dictates that your freedoms are only the ones you enslave yourself to and your rights are theirs to dictate – they are the benevolent masters who know what is best for you, you can never think through any problem.

Our schools have become worse than prisons, they have become gulags of learning; learning to conform, learning to obey, learning to submit and learning to be silent – they have become a malignant cancers that need to be excised from our society forthwith – the 21st Century cannot afford to have drones, people schooled for military style obedience, people whose brains have become so idle they can no more think.

The power of the school

Forget the concept of freedom of expression, the school can make or break your life and almost always get away with it even if you win your case; you bare the mark like Cain and would never be forgiven.

How schools acquired this malevolence escapes me except for the explanation that many teachers are not in their jobs for the love of the impartation of knowledge and the development of minds but are frustrated failures that have no goodwill or inspiration.

I am still thankful that I have had teachers, lecturers and professors who have promoted the thinking culture all for selfless and noble reasons; I commend them and hope they can take hold of their schools and turn them around for the greater good of society.

Sources

[1] THISDAY ONLINE / Nigeria news / Keyamo Flays Suspension of Ogun Varsity Students

NB: I have used school in the broadest possible sense to encompass all institutions of learning.

Nigeria: What Africans for Obama exposes about judgement

Leaders who cannot be wrong

I do not know what it is with leaders and people who are supposed to be in reputable positions who cannot admit that they might have been wrong, economical with the actualité or had a lapse in judgement.

Where they seem to have been caught out in public, instead of admission you get denial and instead of humility you get hubris.

Their utterances in those times of personal tribulation suddenly begins to show the type of person they are, they probably cannot be gracious in defeat, they are probably driven with cold ambition that the end always justifies the means and they are probably are too far away from good counsel to realise the error of their ways.

Leaders with virtue

What these people reveal about humanity is that it probably takes one set of virtues to rise to the top and we cannot begrudge them their success, but it takes another set of virtues to earn respect by reason of the person you are regardless of what you have been able to achieve.

Dare I say that people seem to confuse both sets of virtues and think they can interchange them to buttress both their achievements and character; we can easily get blindsided by these manipulations which would prevent us from getting to the truth about matters concerning these leaders.

Fulminating silliness

Our dear Professor Ndi (Ndidi) Onyiuke-Okereke, the highly successful and high achieving Director-General of the Nigerian Stock Exchange seems to have been caught in that confusion and the more she fulminates the less one is able to admire her for her smartness and sense of judgement.

I am still living down the silliness of the outburst that she is a very intelligent person who has a PhD she did not buy, as if anyone cares if she got it from a burger-flipping university though she might be referring to others amongst her detractors who might have acquired theirs at a buy-one-get-four-free shop.

However, what her outburst does tell us is that Nigerians generally might not see the difference between great achievement and good judgement, something she has decided to exploit without necessarily realising that she has exposed herself to greater ridicule.

The detail of her folly

The issue at hand is that she fronted the Africans for Obama organisation and being such a high profile figure in Nigeria and probably internationally, she organised a fund-raising activity without properly stating her intention to the Obama campaign organisation in America.

It would appear the first the Obama campaign organisation heard of her fundraising event was when an advertisement was placed in the PunchOnline newspaper with the picture of Barack Obama and the Yes we can! slogan of the campaign without any clear disclaimers that the Africans for Obama organisation was not in anyway affiliated or associated with the core Obama organisation in America.

Chronology of events

Three days before the event, to forestall any attacks in America about foreign backers raising funds for his presidential campaign a counsel from Obama for America, Inc. wrote to the editor of PunchOnline advising the editor there was no affiliation and no funds raised by Africans for Obama would be accepted, the detail of which I covered in an earlier blog [1].

Now, the letter might have arrived at PunchOnline after the event but one should clearly note that the Obama organisation had already disavowed this charade before its spectacle of people displaying more money than brains took place.

Trying to impress

Indeed, there is probably some good intention in trying to “sensitise” American-Nigerians to the need to vote for Senator Barack Obama as president, but they are the ones living in America and they might well be persuaded of other aspirants that some busybody organisation from Nigeria might just convince them of their persuasion.

Perhaps Professor Okereke-Onyiuke who was an adjunct rather than a substantive professor [2] at the New York City University was going to impress them with her college degree and hence bring her views to bear on supposedly hapless and less intelligent American-Nigerians.

Where she lacked judgement

This is where the lady was lacking in judgement

Being such a high-profile Nigerian she could have supported such an Obama organisation in Nigeria without fronting it like she did.

Once she had decided to organise a dinner/concert with all the fanfare and publicity; she should have sounded out somebody in the Obama organisation in America for advice on how to channel her activities properly.

Having not done that, the advertisement placed by Africans for Obama should have stated clearly that they are in no way affiliated to the Obama organisation in America.

Once she had learnt of the dissociation by the Obama organisation she could have acquiesced and offered that she had done what she had done in good faith and would learn the lessons from this poor situation.

If the words of her vociferous defence had been spoken by someone else of a similar stature, a peer, in Nigeria or internationally, there might have been more to it, but from her, it smacks of self-conceited megalomania typical of garrulous and uncouth Nigerians.

This whole thing about people being jealous of her success is sick-making enough, who cares how successful she has become? I don’t. We just care that Nigerians in leadership stop making a laughing stock of Nigeria at home and abroad, and then compound the whole thing with braggadocio.

So, on the BBCNews site [3] she delivers the coup de grace, “I am a woman of the highest integrity.” To which I say with all the disgust and disdain I can muster – BULLSHIT!!!

Sources

[1] Nigeria: I am a very intelligent person (Africans for Obama) [akin.blog-city.com]

[2] African Success : Biography of Ndi OKEREKE-ONYUIKE

[3] BBC NEWS | Africa | Row in Nigeria over Obama money

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Apes Obey! Lack of apprehension


If she could have visualised the future
One can almost begin to sympathise or even attempt to empathise with Professor Ndi (Ndidi) Okereke-Onyiuke, the Director-General of the Nigerian Stock Exchange as her bluster creates more tribulation on the verge of ruining her otherwise well-earned reputation.
Even I could not have anticipated a situation where I would be writing an Apes Obey! Series [1] with her as the principal frame of reference.
What this simply signifies is the sad but succinct analysis of character that Lord Lugard documented of Nigerians 86 years ago which permeates all strata of society from the lowly proletariat to the aristocrats of business and politics.
Ruing the race about race
Professor Okereke-Onyiuke must be ruing the day she allowed her quite sharp and incising thinking along with her great intelligence, her academic PhD and stature of being a woman of the highest integrity [2] to play second fiddle to the notion and politics of race affiliation.
Supporting Senator Barack Obama for his policies, rhetoric, thinking, ideas, vision and message of hope alone should have made this matter a cause for the meeting of minds and buttressed the points about her intelligence but she made it a meeting of the colours of the skin.
Basically, she was pandering to race and emotively trying to persuade people of African descent who happen to be Americans to view Senator Barack Obama from that perspective rather than one of a person who has brought a message of change that is in season to change a nation and eventually the world at large.
The other matters about her judgement and her outburst are already covered in blogs [3] I have written and many others in the Nigerian blogging community.
The problems
The aftermath of the advertisement, the dinner/concert, the moneys raised and the robust defences are the subject of this blog.
Having raised about N100 million ($834,000), with the Africans for Obama dinner/concert, regardless of the chronology of events, the Obama organisation put out a letter of disavowal and dissociation to the Editor of PunchOnline that published the advertisement for the party. [3]
Since the fundraising concert did not clearly state its intentions regarding the raising of funds even though the professor contends that it was to sensitise American-Nigerians to vote for Senator Obama as opposed to going out to vote as a civic duty regardless of who they decide to vote for the whole event was on the verge of looking fraudulent and deceitful by obtaining funds under false or dubious pretences.
Interest of the agencies
Just after the event, the Security and Exchange Commission in Nigeria queried [4] the Director-General to clarify her position on this Africans for Obama organisation and the publicity accompanying her fundraising event in the light of her prominent position in the economic profile of Nigeria.
As she protested the transparency of the Africans for Obama organisation and acclaimed her high integrity; the whole exercise was fast becoming a farce of idle busybodies but she felt she could bulldoze and bluster her way through the criticisms of her actions.
In fact, two anti-graft organisations by reason of her office could have had some interest in this developing farce, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) where Sections 13, 18 & 19 [5] without much legal argument would cast the Director-General as a public office holder and without much extrapolation would have made an offence in Nigeria to sensitive through fund-raising Nigerians to vote for a particular candidate and hence an offence to attempt to do such in the United States.
The indignity of it all – meeting the EFCC
However, the higher profile Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) [6] has taken an interest in the case and Professor Okereke-Onyiuke has suffered the multiple indignities of
Being invited for an interview with the EFCC
Being detained [7] overnight in their facilities then released [8]
Having her passport seized [9] then returned with the advice that the commission be informed of her intentions to travel
Being told to return all moneys [10] to the last kobo to all donors and participants possibly with her bearing the full cost of the dinner/concert she organised and not being able to defray costs
And they are conducting an independent investigation of the banks [11] holding finances of the Africans for Obama organisation with the unfortunate impression that they have not taken her for her word.
A lack of apprehension
That there is a whiff of a financial crime involving the Director-General of the Nigerian Stock Exchange due to an unfortunate lapse in judgement that could have been minimised with a humble and contrite admission is as bad a hit to the reputation of a highly placed person as one can get.
But this is a trait to be expected of Nigerians according to Lord Lugard when he talked of what has impressed him “as those most characteristic of the African native are his lack of apprehension and his lack of ability to visualize the future.” [1]
In this case the professor threw caution to the wind by not being apprehensive about being misconstrued as having a conflict of interest or the use of her exalted office to promote issues where such high profile people should be very discreet.
The law of consequence
Her inability to visualise the future also indicates how she could never have expected her well intentioned activities to lead to these rather embarrassing developments even though there were enough warning signs and detractors to make her think again about her activities.
This same lack of apprehension allows us to muddle through issues rather than thinking through and following through to a conclusion, it allows for the subjective of the present to overrule the concept of anticipation, preparation, thoroughness and objective thinking.
We leave everything to divine providence without making the necessary plans to accept the providence such that if one encounters misfortune, it is not blamed on the lack of planning or preparation but externalised to vague enemies and detractors.
The law of consequence is being able to visualise what our decisions now would create for the future – short term or long term – we have very little regard for the possible consequences of our actions or inaction.
What we do to ourselves alone
It can be outrageous to suggest that most misfortune is brought on more by self-fulfilling prophecies or self-inflicted action because one does not apply ones abilities, talent and intellect to the fullest rather attribute issues to the active malevolence of some vague enemy, else that enemy would be identified, confronted and defeated.
The inability to visualise the future permeates all strata of society from the feeling of morbidity of writing wills and testaments to pension planning to times of retirement, but it also includes family planning where people who have insufficient means do not discipline themselves enough to prevent bringing into the world children they cannot properly care for.
The list is long, the analysis too harrowing and the analogies ever present, just as palpable as ones hand touches ones face for feeling and comfort, we all have a lot to learn from both Professor Okereke-Onyiuke and Lord Lugard, it is both a shame and instructive that this seemingly benign Africans for Obama event exposes more about what people have observed of us Africans in a negative and pejorative sense.
Sources
[6] Economic and Financial Crimes Commission - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Friday, 22 August 2008

Our Lady of Fátima

Fátima without knowing much

When we lived in the North, in Kaduna and Jos at various times in the 1970s I always wondered why certain Catholic Church institutions had a Muslim name as part of their identification.

I had learnt that the name of one of Prophet Mohammed’s daughters by his first wife Khadija was Fatimah [1] who was considered one of the most devout examples of Muslim living.

There was an Our Lady of Fatima Girl’s Secondary School in Kaduna and later when we moved South, there was the Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church in Aguda, Surulere, Lagos [2].

The Fátima they speak of

Fátima [3] was a lot further afield than the confines of Nigeria, it is the name of a once nondescript village in Portugal and this is derived from Moorish influence over the Iberian Peninsula.

The greater claim to fame comes from the six apparitions of the Virgin Mary [4] to three shepherd children with instructions, revelations and miraculous events on the 13th of every month from May to October except in August when she appeared on the 19th.

The children Jacinta and Francisco were siblings and Lucia the oldest of the children was their cousin; as it all transpired, the siblings have both been beatified, Lucia only died in 2005.

Please read the links within the blog to get the details about the events that have turned the little village of Fátima into a world centre of Catholic faith pilgrimage that has received popes, with Pope John Paul II having visited the sanctuary thrice.

The visit of a protestant

Being in Lisbon gave me the opportunity to visit this fascinating place and observe firsthand the cult of Our Lady of Fatima [4].

As I got on the tour bus after being picked up from my hotel, during the 123 km ride the guide amazed me with the way she said all she had to say in one language before switching to another, it was like having the whole Bible read to you or listening to a whole sermon in one language you do not speak as you wait for your language.

By the time she finished telling the stories, I had probably become the most sceptical on the bus, I almost felt I was being taken for a rather long ride, but then it took the Catholic Church a good 13 years to come to the conclusion that the apparitions were worthy of belief.

The question as I chatted to a devout Catholic couple who had travelled from Australia, devout Catholics to the point that I skirted the issues of homosexuality and abortion was what was a Protestant [Anglican and repressed Evangelical] doing visiting a place of devout Catholic pilgrimage?

How about because it is there and I can get to it? Another thing, the veneration of Mary does really give my theology serious misgivings, I suppose that is why I would remain Protestant.

Between the religious and the kitschy

When I eventually get my pictures up online, they would tell the whole story and I saw and took my pictures – Our Lady of Fatima now hosts the 4th largest Catholic Church in the world, Igreja da Santissima Trindade [3] – no mean feat for a place that was once a village.

Then we went up to the village of Aljustrel where the shepherd children came from, visited the house of Lucia where time seems to have stood still in 1917 with sheep eating out of trough – now, that is tourism schmaltz, if I ever saw one.

A walk down a path to a well when an angel appeared to the children to prepare them for the visitation of the Virgin Mary had a woman drawing water for people to drink – I only drink bottled water, so I bottled out of that one.

It all looked like déjà vu, I was once a shepherd boy in a nativity play, but then shepherds, sheep, mangers – yes a manger in Lucia’s house, wells, angels and virgins – somebody must be pulling my leg, am I reading chapters and verses of the Gospels of Matthew and John in no particular order?

It was a pleasant day out. I should be walking to Lourdes or Santiago de Compostela next.

The slideshow, the details and comments on the pictures of my visit to Fátima.

Sources

[1] Fatimah - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[2] Our Lady Of Fatima Catholic Church Aguda Lagos

[3] Fátima, Portugal - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[4] Our Lady of Fátima - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Lisboa without a fleece boa

Shortly to Lisboa

A few days away to Lisbon since I could not take a long summer holiday because plans to receive guests went awry.

Having shifted that holiday to Christmas time, it is looking like I would not get the hotel I require, so I probably would be looking further afield, which is a shame or an opportunity.

As I may have written in many other blogs when I travel, I am always fascinated by air travel, the way that big mass of metal takes off gracefully and flies through the air till it gets to its destination.

Air crash somewhere

One must reflect, commiserate and sympathise because as I arrived in Lisbon, CNN had the breaking news of an air crash at take-off Madrid’s Barajas International Airport where it now appears 150 lives were lost. My prayers are with the survivors and relatives of those who perished.

The pressures of running an airline with the high fuel costs, outrageous surcharges, unrelenting competition and shareholder unrest can make the whole idea of air travel less safe than it should be, considering the said airplane aborted a take-off before it had that fatal accident on a second attempt.

Concerns one has

One only hopes that the pilots who should have a clear view of the health of their plane are not being put under pressure to take undue risks because of business pressures.

On my KLM flight, the plane was just about half-full that the captain advised that passengers should not change their seats until after take-off in order not to affect the balance of the plane.

Meanwhile, we had to take off our seat belts because the plane was being refuelled as we settled to leave, whilst being reminded that a half-full plane is bad business for KLM but they are there to serve the customer, I almost felt a lump in my throat for being cynical.

Lizard lakes

Once we took off, the views were magnificent, eventually; I decided to take some pictures from that vantage point of 11,000 ft, lakes looking like dragon-lizards and that amazing view of sprawling mountains and homesteads that makes you ask, who scribbles on the earth in this way?

Every time I am in the air, I see much of the beauty of the earth that is lost in the proximity of urban life and the struggles to survive, I can only wonder at what those who go into orbit see of earth from afar.

The hazy pictures in my picture album are probably the effects of light, pollution or some phenomenon I cannot explain beside the fact that some pictures were taken with my 2-megapixel mobile phone that was in flight-mode.

I am now here in Lisbon and would be posting a few more pictures and stories of my 5-night stay.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Nigeria: I am a very intelligent person (Africans for Obama)

The default is Obama

I go into recluse and somehow a wind blows that shivers my timbers. It has taken time for me to warm up to the idea that Senator Barack Obama might well become the President of the United States.

That notion comes from the compelling evidence that the man has formed a movement that sits on the tide of time that calls for change and understandably, there was nothing the Clinton machine could do if she was campaigning against a movement whose time had come.

Between John McCain and Barrack Obama, despite my deepest premonitions about what the latter, he appears to represent in what he has been able to do, the world’s fate and future; the world is probably better secured in the hands of Barack Obama for the fulfilment of whatever the purposes of destiny are.

Blackening animal sameness

I have not been given to the idea that Senator Obama being darker hue of pale and sporting a similar tan to mine creates a kinship of minds, ideas, visions and ideals.

I am saddened the objectivity of many has been beclouded such that where they should find kinship through the audacity of hope and purpose, they have plumbed the depths of similarity, they have found the basest level of kinship as birds of a feather that flock together.

As elevated as the human species is, we sometimes find mutual purpose in the animal instinct of the fellowship of race and colour, just as the canine family finds kinship in the olfactory inhalation of faecal orifices – there is probably a place for all this and one is not against how people decide to express their kinship.

African busybodies for Obama

One Professor Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke, who apparently is the Director-General of the Nigeria Stock Exchange, has landed herself in a quagmire of ignominy that she for her girth might find difficult to wiggle out of.

She inaugurated the Africans for Obama Presidency in July where she opined that, “The policies of Obama will have effect for Africa, not only the world, because he believes in Africa”. [1]

She then organised an "Africans for Obama" Dinner/Concert with a poster advert of Barack Obama and his campaign slogan, Yes, we can! [2].

The naturally obsequious Nigerians seeking validation threw money into the busker's hat as she played the music praising our black brother Obama for the emancipation of the world – however, the Obama for America campaign has completely disowned the professor’s clique and her antics. [3]

We all know that it is illegal for US Presidential campaigns to receive funds from abroad, I would suppose that means from non-Americans; but the matter here is whilst the professor holds a green card and has lived in the United States for 16 years, her organisation had published an advertisement on the PunchOnline website that gave the impression that Africans for Obama was raising funds for Obama for America.

Therefore, Ms. Kendall C. Burman, a Staff Counsel with the Obama for America organisation was compelled to state [4] that Africans for Obama is no way affiliated and is in no way associated with either Obama for America, Inc. or the Democratic National Committee.

Conveying dubious intent

The paragraph of interest reads – I have stressed in bold the particular area of concern in the paragraph.

“We wanted to make clear that the event and this organization are in no way associated with Obama for America or the Democratic National Committee should this organization seek to place additional advertisements in your paper”.[4]

I think it goes without saying that whatever advertisements were placed before this letter was received by the editor of Punch Online must have conveyed even in the slightest sense that Africans for Obama was associated and affiliated to the core Obama organisation in America and the subtle hint to PunchOnline in Ms. Burman’s letter was to add a disclaimer to subsequent placements of that advertisement.

Don’t buy this sob story

Dr. Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke who is now receiving flak from all corners has come out protesting that never was her dinner/concert fundraiser aimed at raising funds for the Obama campaign but to sensitise (Nigerian English) Africans in America about the need to come out and vote for the big bird of the same feather.

With the wall-to-wall coverage of the Presidential campaign in the United States, I am quite amused that Nigerians based in Nigeria can add to the publicity rather than embarrass the man in their quest for validation.

This is the same woman who spearheaded the Corporate Nigeria campaign organisation that sought to extend Olusegun Obasanjo’s term in contravention of our constitution and fledgling democracy.

A very intelligent person

To crown it all, she protests, “I am a very intelligent person; I have a PhD that I did not buy. We were careful with our advertisements and we were transparent in all we did. I don‘t understand why Nigerians like to be negative. People have been mobilising support for Obama all over the world and they are not being castigated. I want to make it clear that I am a Nigerian and I have the right to do anything I want with my time and my money.

Calm down! Madam, you are getting a bit melodramatic there; I agree wholeheartedly with most of what you have said, I am dubious about that clause on transparency and I am sorry I do not agree at all with the first clause – A PhD does not automatically confer intelligence on the holder, no matter what else you have achieved. This time the lady is trying to be too smart.

If you for once think who can hit me on the head with your title, qualifications and office whilst trying to obfuscate your skulduggery, well, I am not intimidated, not one bit.

Democracy for the moneyed

Suffice it to say that the busker’s hat collected N100 million ($833,540) and our Madam threw N10 million on her own crap table in what is the typical hedonistic show of money that has become the hallmark of uncultured, uncouth, degenerate and reprobate Nigerians.

A country where they conducted elections that were a complete sham now offers democratic inspiration to one that has had it running for over 2 centuries and has learnt from at least 4 years ago that ever vote counts and at least most votes in America do get counted and tallied to reflect the will of the electorate.

That is done.

Taking the Punch

Oh! Before I forget, just before PunchOnline runs off smugly with their headline “Obama disowns Okereke-Onyiuke, others”. Looking at the letter that came from the Obama organisation and for the purposes of reference, I have made a copy of the picture of that letter acknowledging that it belongs to PunchOnline and should remain available for public viewing to maintain balance in this discourse.

The advertisement placed by Africans for Obama must have been before the 8th of August 2008 when the Obama organisation wrote to PunchOnline. The event took place on the 11th of August 2008 and PunchOnline releases information about the disavowal on the 19th of August 2008 – long after they have laughed their way to the bank.

Surely, PunchOnline could have for all good ethical business practice released a very prominent disclaimer to correct the impression given by the adverts placed before the 8th of August 2008, somewhere between the 8th of August and the 11th of August 2008, maybe later.

There might well be the case that this could not have been done over the weekend or that the post ran late such that it was received after the event.

Not in good faith at all

PunchOnline could still have stated the advertisements were placed in good faith and on learning of the concerns raised by the Obama organisation, it was incumbent on them to avoid a situation where the public might appear to be misled.

One asks, when should we begin to expect integrity in business?

Obviously, this would have made a good few stupid moneybags stay away from the love-in as well as have generated unwanted bad publicity for a prime event.

That would have embarrassed Professor Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke, the powerful and influential Director-General of the Nigeria Stock Exchange, now, it would be disingenuous to suggest they were told to cool to story till well after the event, but the chronology of events leaves one quite suspicious.

The Ndi Rap

In the end, neither the reputation of PunchOnline nor the professor is enhanced by this farce and it would not be over till the fat lady sings, once again.

I am a very intelligent person,
I have a PhD that I did not buy,
with money, with money, with money.

I am a Nigerian, a real Nigerian person,
I have the right to do anything, everything, something,
I want with my time, my time, my time.

I am a very intelligent person,
I have the right to do anything, everything, something,
I want with my money, my money, my money

Chorus

My money, my time, my PhD
I am a very intelligent person

Hit it, Ndi!

I think it all needs improving on, answers on a postcard.

Sources

[1] Guardian Newspapers: Obama's victory can leapfrog African economies, says Okereke-Onyiuke

[2] Ben Smith's Blog: Africans for Obama - Politico.com

[3] The Punch: Obama disowns Okereke-Onyiuke, others

[4] Letter from the Obama organisation as a JPEG file published with the Punch article