Sunday, 31 January 2010

Thought Picnic: The therapy of talking

The one man

The man defined by his stoicism in the face of his tribulations bottles up everything with the stiff upper lip and resolves things will turn out right.

What burdens of great weight are shouldered in a mind that could be overrun with the billions of permutations of thoughts and solutions to the myriad problems that surround.

Yet, a man is but one person, one mind, one head, one and alone as he grasps and grapples so desperately with the hope, the belief, the faith, the doubt and the wars in the spiritual.

Can one walk these roads alone? Can one survive the sudden fall into the valley of the shadow of death? Does one know if it is the shadow or the reality, the sound of the roar or the presence of the lion?

The need for another

The mind plays tricks on you to the point of disillusionment and despair and you wonder where your help comes from, but there is always present help in the time of need.

One person needs another for support, one mind needs another to curtail the madness, one head needs another because as they say, two heads are better than one – there are persons, minds and heads of value and importance out there for the man who will open up and talk.

In talking, one finds ideas, concepts and insights, some reinforce things known, others originaland inspired; opening new ways of resolution and possibilities that almost always elude the singularity of man on his own, wandering in his own wilderness seeking respite and succour.

Learning anew

In all one finds an interesting insight, the fact that one never really integrated in a host society because everything seemed to be fine and then when things took a turn one was left clueless about how things really work where one has been for almost a decade – that probably defines an alien or rather a typical Englishman interestingly.

Amends will be made and knowledge gained because there are rights to be appropriated and benefits to be gained, meanwhile man when considering all is in deep gratitude for the amazing support that comes from that simple step of talking to someone else about those things that have been bottled up in that overactive almost exhausted mind for ages.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Thought Picnic: No pills for the bills

Our plans smothered by life

If only the plans we make fall into place in the clockwork of life, our stories would so different, ever so different. If we saw the future of today a year ago, what would we have done to preempt it all to be so different?

These thoughts come and go with one assurance that life gives hope and adversity comes to go, the man is made by how he wades through his adversity not by the adversity itself.

Insuring the assurance

The insurances for what cannot be assured vary, but we fail to insure against them, without compulsory insurance, the able would not insure, the wealthy will not bother, the healthy would believe invincibility and the living would dare immortality but life deals cards from decks you have not touched.

Your priorities vary from their impatiences, you wonder if the whole sum of life is really the battle of desire over restraint, maybe for some it is moderation over excess but those who have the luxuries needn’t be affected by the reality of lack.

The gift of good health

In my realisation, the greatest prize is the gift of good health, with it you can go to places and make great changes, without it you seek mercy from those who might believe you have great potential, if only, but now only you remain with the hope of reprieve.

You wonder how the flippancy of a night in any hotel you wish to stay in parallels the scrimp and save that stretches to three weeks awaiting new manna from heaven.

One by one, the creature comforts are lost to unpaid bills for which the pharmacist has no pills, you diligently swallow the pills and the bitter ones too, you have been told they will make you well, your wellness is the key and let it be on time you pray.

Cherish health

You are ably showing your inability to be able to accentuate your ability with drowsiness written on three pills, you need one liveline, one faith, one hope and big hand of love to lift you out of the quagmire – the just shall surely live by faith.

Then your mind wanders back to that day you were told your illness will last months and you will have no income for almost a year, did you need a Joseph for a nightmare and you forgot to get him out of prison?

The lessons are well learnt, cherish health, insure against the improbable and be ready to tackle the amazing and God give you strength to come out strong on the other side.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Boldly tell your doctor everything

I tell it all now

There probably is a drug for every type of condition if you can articulate to your doctor exactly how you feel and your doctor is aware of that condition as to offer the best advice or medication to help with that situation.

During the time of my illness and the process of recuperation, I have learnt to be more open about the things I observe about my body, my feelings, my reactions and my comfort to my doctors, there is no time to be embarrassed about having to drop your pants and show them things.

With this kind of information, my doctors have sympathetically heard me and sometime adapted or modified my medicine to help me get better and feel better about the medication I use.

Healing the pain

The two areas where I have benefitted most from the management of my medication in relation to how I feel has been in pain relief and sickness manifested as vomiting.

I think by now we have gotten the reduction of pain down to just using an epidermal patch which I place on the skin of my belly that releases 25 micrograms per hour of Fentanyl [1] into my bodily fat over 72 hours.

This required a little adaptation, the patch itself can easily come off so my neighbourhood nurse gave me sheets of transparent plasters I could place over the patch to keep it fully adhered to my body – that advice came because I freely offered that information of discomfort not knowing there was an easy remedy to the situation.

Stopping the throw-ups

As for vomiting, that has been brought on by all sorts of things, it was first with the morphine in hospital, I was taken off that and given pills to handle the pain instead, soon afterwards a change in my medication brought on more vomiting that I had to take suppositories to reduce the nauseating effects. In fact, the suppositories are still part of my daily medication as an anti-emetic.

After my first chemotherapy, I had read up on the side effects and asked if I would have the anti-emetic pills for that particular chemotherapy, I was given something similar but by my fifth chemotherapy it was not as efficacious as before, I was so horribly sick for days unable to keep food down or take my medication.

So, at my last meeting with the oncologist, I mentioned this, it was important because it was on the basis of my saying I was tolerating the chemotherapy well that my dosage was increased from the initial 6 to 8 sessions and now after my fifth it looked like I was not managing it that well.

What the doctor ordered

The oncologist prescribed Emend aprepiant [2] which with the other anti-emetic medication I already use helps prevent chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV). It consists of three pills the first large dose to be taken an hour before chemotherapy and for the two days afterwards.

Apparently, it blocks the vomiting signals from the brain rather than from the stomach and I could almost say I feel the battle between my brain and stomach where I know I would not vomit even though there seems to be every inclination to want to vomit – the wonderful power of chemicals in the body.

Looking through the side-effects of using Emend is interesting because it literally has all the ones we know that chemotherapy sometimes causes like hair-loss, loss of apetite, itching and so on, but I must say, stopping the vomiting is probably the better trade-off in the circumstances.

As for drowsiness, well, I have been doing a good deal of sleeping all day, a good few of the pills do cause drowsiness in any case, but Emend is just what the doctor ordered – don’t be afraid to tell your doctor all the truth, it always helps.

Sources

[1] Fentanyl - From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[2] Emend aprepiant

Monday, 18 January 2010

A prick in the metacarpals

The preparations

Getting up this Monday was done with one thing in mind, I was having my 6th chemotherapy dosage at 14:00 hours and everything had to be in place for that appointment.

I did some light shopping getting some milk for my tea and biscuits for my date and at about 13:15 hours, I took my first pill, this was prescribed to deal with the kind of chronic nausea I had experienced after my 5th dosage and that are probably the most expensive pills I have every ingested, the main pill which has 125mg of the active ingredient goes for EUR 32 and the other 2 pills of 80mg strength to be ingested each consequent day is about EUR 19.50.

Thank God, I am not American in America, insurance and the shouldering of burdens by our social welfare system has meant I have not expired and died but have hope and expectations of a better life ahead.

The boy without his people

I arrived at the out-patients ward about 5 minutes early, I barely recognised one of the nurses and one of the patients I had seen a couple of times who was probably on the same 3-week chemotherapy cycle as I am.

There was only one seat available, so I put up my coat and settled in for my first cup of tea, one of the patients was a teenager probably in his early teens, he did not seem to have been accompanied, from what I saw on the drip stand, I suspect he was having a blood transfusion.

He definitely had his wits about him, asking for his next appointment times and conversing quite well with the nurses – I would have expected either his parents or some older relation to be there with him, I suppose they were all confident he could handle things well, though I must say, when I did have my friend with me on my 3rd chemotherapy session it offered a sense of belonging and comfort.

A prick in the metacarpals

When I shook the nurse’s hand she thought my hands were a bit cold and she suggested I wash my hands and wrist with some warm water to help the veins show to allow for an easy insertion of the drip needle.

I still suffer from left-hand, right-hand confusion, if I were asked a direct question about veering in any direction to either the left or right, I would probably hesitate and might even get it wrong – I need to contemplate long before to get it right the first time.

So, I offered the nurse my hand and she inserted the needle in a vein at the back of my hand halfway up the metacarpals of the phalanges of the 2nd and 3rd finger, it was the lowest I had ever had an insertion, usually it is closer to the wrist just around the carpals, I was a bit surprised by that but said nothing.

It was when I was pouring my next cup of tea after the Caelyx solution had been attached to the infusion system that I realised I did not have as much dexterity with the free hand; it then dawned on me that I had offered my right hand rather than the left – then to imagine I made such a fuss about rearranging the furniture all for my right hand to get used instead.

Accelerated infusion

I noticed the infusion started at 14:15 hours and it usually last an hour, I read through a number of Economist articles and then reclined the seat for a nap, at 15:00 hours the infusion system started beeping, the Caelyx solution was fully infused in 45 minutes which is the minimum allowed time, as I learnt on the day of my 1st chemotherapy.

It was the first time I had been given the faster infusion rate, I felt fine after that and once the Caelyx solution had been completely drained through the system, something you note by visual observation because the solution is red whilst the saline solution is clear, the needle was removed and a prepared to return home.

The closing chats

On chatting to the nurse after securing my next few appointments, she said the usually average of chemotherapy sessions is 6, it sometimes goes up to 8 and they have had regimes of 14 dosages – FOURTEEN!!! One might tolerate it so well, but that many is as good as being on chemotherapy for 10 months – I just have 2 more sessions to go.

There are 7 seats in the out-patients ward, 4 had left, 2 had short sessions during the time I was there and the last two seat reclined in the seats were there before me, the one I recognise and the other recognised me from sessions before, I apologised allowing the talk about my left/right dichotomy to suffice for forgetfulness.

Getting back home was not that eventful, I returned, made a meal, wrote this blog and I might well catch a nap. I hope to be hearty and strong after this sixth session – the careful management of all bodily fluids including sweat in relation to possible guests is on for 6 days now, that period of cytostatic ostracism again.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Still learning to write blogs

Still learning to write

I will be the first to say that my blog is nowhere near perfect; I am constantly finding ways to improve my blogs in the language and expression I use as well as the aesthetic view of the blog.

In the end, I think a blog should be readable in all senses of that word, I admit that sometimes the sentence construction in my blogs can be inscrutable and I have a tendency to use multi-syllabic words in expression.

There are reasons for that but those reasons cannot be easily expressed, let us just agree that the voice is unique to the writer and that is how the writer is best able to express himself.

The words must not fade away

For many, simplicity in language and communication is essential, I believe that is important, but English as international as it is, is in danger of losing some of its colour and articulation if we allow whole sections of the vocabulary to go redundant for the sake of reaching the lowest common denominator of reader.

When I first started blogging over 6 years ago, even I after passing my texts through the Fleisch-Kincaid reading scales felt a lot needed to be done about the way I write, I think I have improved, it is a work in progress.

Records of long paragraphs

However, the part that gets me most about blogs is the look, I was just trying to read a review of District 9 and after a few paragraphs I gave up. Not because the writer did not have something important to say, rather it was because the blog presentation was not aesthetically pleasing to the eye.

There were paragraphs of up to 20 lines, the punctuation was weak and it looked interminably cluttered, it was a pain to read and you could be keep a train of thought going if your eyes skipped a portion of the blog.

Some bloggers do not editing their copy by going through the published material to see if things look good and right, I am forever editing my blogs and making corrections even to blogs years old if I notice something is wrong.

Rules of the thumb

I usually write my blogs in a word processor and then transfer it to the blog host where hopefully there is no need for changing the formatting.

In my word processor, I try not to let any of my paragraphs exceed 5 lines, at the very maximum, 6 lines of text and there are is a clear delineation between paragraphs – some white space, making it easy on the eye.

I have always captioned my blogs such that groups of paragraphs normally 2 to 4 paragraphs have a bold caption giving an idea of what is about to be read and breaking up the presentation into easy chunks whilst giving it a sense of flow – I have always felt that was the best way to offer material especially on blogs.

It is saddening to realise that there are many blogs I would have liked to read from the beginning to the end but have failed that basic requirement of good presentation.

A treatise I decline

As I prepare my blogs on my word processor, I am conscious of the length of my copy and I strive to keep it to a maximum of three pages, if it gets to a fourth page it probably should be split into two blogs and offered in parts.

I was reading an opinion on Sahara Reporters the other day and it could well have been the length of the Complete Works of Shakespeare, it was unbelievably long my scrollbar slider is so thin, it was nigh invisible. It was a treatise with opinions like needles lost in a haystack, I am not the best at précis or concision but really.

There was no way that blog would get read completely except by a speed reader and it is possible the writer just dumped all his thoughts in there with fully copies of his references without appropriate links and worse.

I follow the basic function of a good skirt; it should be long enough to cover the detail and short enough to keep the interest – that makes a good blog and I am still an apprentice seamstress learning about how to make a good skirt on my manual sewing machine – feet to the pedal, hopefully, I am using the right stitch.

Ignoring the Sabbath for church and library

Getting up for church

My church runs two services on Sunday, the early one starts at 10:15AM and the later one at 12:15PM, in the last two weeks I have woken up early enough to attend the first service but end up going for the second one instead with more than enough time to spare.

In general, my alarm which is on my mobile phone is set to wake me up at 8:10AM on Sunday morning, however, stirring up at that time is just not as easy as it sounds, after a few snooze taps which last 5 minutes, I dismiss the alarm and get out of bed, immediately preparing to go to church.

Up for firsts but doing seconds

Last week, though the weather was dreadfully cold and inclement, I was already at the tram stop when I realised I hadn’t pocketed my wallet and had to return, so I took the opportunity of missing the rushed attempt to catch the first service to relax and have breakfast then plan for the second service instead – I probably was amongst the first to arrive primarily for the second service.

This week, I was already dressed up and ready to leave for the first service then decided it was better to have breakfast and plan for an early arrival at the second service, it also allowed me to take my morning pills at home rather than at church.

In fact, I am thinking of moving my pill hours from the awkward eleventh and twenty-third hour of the day to something more reasonable around the 10th and 22nd or the 9th and 21st – ideally, the last option is probably the best time, consideration of the 8th and 20th is a possibility too – I have to work on the logistics of the pill times.

The library is full

After church, I planned on spending a few hours at the Amsterdam Public Library [1], a 7-storey expansive edifice with reading tables, 600 computers split between Apple Macs and PCs, free wireless access upon registration, a number of theatres with performances, cafes, restaurants and all sorts of areas for many kinds of activities.

I usually take a place on the 5th floor which is quiet and secluded enough whilst offering the opportunity to study or do some work and even talk on the phone.

Arriving at a few minutes to four in the afternoon, the library seemed to be completely full, none of those seeming secluded places were available, I walked most of the floors to no avail, on a second run of the floors, I found a space on a communal table to do some work.

The serious youth of Amsterdam

I should have reckoned that with the mild sunny weather people would come out to play, but again, it was not like people were out to play but to read and study, the examination times for the universities, colleges and the like must be quite near.

One would be taken aback realising for once that there is indeed a serious side to Amsterdam youth and their education, it is unlikely that many of these people were out clubbing on Saturday night doing everything to excess and nursing hangovers on Sunday.

What church?

In the same vein, I do not think many of the attendees, who were not in hijabs and all those ostentatious turbans, warps and religious or cultural coverings had gone to church in this supposedly Christian country.

The Sabbath does not get observed anymore, from what I could see of the library this afternoon, very few were here with their kids running about and this could easily have been a weekday with work as usual.

If anything, the people of Amsterdam do come out to read and study, the library provides a great atmosphere to get things done, I wish them all good luck with their examinations – it is quite gratifying to see this, really it is.

Sources

[1] Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam – Public Library Amsterdam


Friday, 15 January 2010

Presaging my 6th chemo

The Fridays before the Monday

I was up so late I almost thought I would be too out to make my appointment this morning for 9:15AM. I had set the alarm for 7:55AM and after 4 snooze sessions I got out of bed and got ready.

Every three weeks, usually on a Friday, I go to see the oncologist who monitors my progress with the chemotherapy and how my blood is coping with the onslaught, though the previous meeting was Thursday all because the Friday was Christmas Day.

Much talk and much progress

This time, I arrived at the hospital with just 3 minutes to spare and before I settled down after registering my presence the young doctor was out to call me into his surgery.

He was quite impressed with my progress though I did let him know a number of issues I had since my last chemotherapy. I had been more sick than I had ever been and I had to find a way of managing the emesis through the drugs I already had.

After looking at my feet, I had been experiencing a bit of pain in my left sole, I have learnt visiting the doctor must be the opportunity to reveal that is tell him everything, they also need that information to fine tune whatever regimen you are on.

Other important business

I also took the opportunity to renew my prescriptions for the anti-emetics which now have new instructions along with an additional anti-emetic to be taken on the day of chemotherapy and the succeeding two days, the pain patches and foot cream all got updates too.

My new appointments were set and then I had to give blood for further analysis, there was a big queue at the blood testing clinic but I get the express badge which is an exclamation mark in a yellow triangle and your queue-jump to the very next person to be seen.

Let us pray

As has become my ritual, I called on the catholic priest with whom I had a long discussion on what I have been going through and how I have been responding to treatment, he then prayed for me and by the time I looked up at the hospital clock, it wasn’t even 10:30AM yet.

I’ll be back in hospital on Monday in the afternoon for my sixth session of chemotherapy; meanwhile, I probably have an eventful weekend ahead.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Nigeria: Dr Abdulmutallab deserves no honour, tell our Senate

The irony is lost

Irony is a concept it seems our lawmakers in Nigeria have lost, their propensity to align with the herd in stampede mode just beggars belief, I am left gobsmacked in incredulity.

I have just read that the Nigerian Senate Deputy President, one Ike Ekweremadu moved to have the father of the knicker bomber given a National honour. [1]

It is like feeding malevolent code to a computer, I should expect it to crash irretrievably at the illogicality of the command issued, but maybe one should try to understand the madness of this idea.

Honoured for fatherhood

Now, Dr Umar Abdulmutallab is the father or Mr. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab [2], it is unlikely that the erudite personality with all his achievements would want to be honoured for being the father of a misguided son who was about to blow off his genitals and bring down a full laden aircraft of innocent people over a heavily populated American city.

Maybe, for instance, Dr Abdulmutallab might deign to consider it for having offered his son such privileged education in prestige institutions around the world and suddenly realising he had lost paternal contact posted a missing persons call like any concerned parent would.

Honoured for being an informant

That sounds implausible, but probably, he might be persuaded to accept such an honour for not finding ways to ground his son, but reporting his possible extremist views to the US Embassy in Nigeria but not the security agencies in Nigeria. An almost civic duty carried out with unpatriotic flair, the amazing bravery of a father telling on his son, though none of it really prevented what could have happened.

Then one could receive such a national honour for protecting ones global interests from the taint of terrorism but realising the possibility of absolution if ones son is sacrificed to the security agencies in the United States rather than trying to protect him and end up being labelled someone who aids and abets terrorism.

Honoured for celebrity

Perhaps an honour is well deserved for being the instigator by fatherhood of the man who put Nigeria on the global map of terrorism, who became the most talked about person in the world at Christmas 2009, a Nigerian par excellence, both notable and notorious.

If that all does not make sense, presumably some other countries want to honour Dr Abdulmutallab for being a rotten parent, who deigns to perform his civic duty in an unpatriotic fashion, reporting his son for extremist leanings and thereby protecting his global business interests, and so Nigeria should stupidity jump the gun and get in there first by honouring this selfless, courageous, brave and commendable heroism.

He deserves ignominy

Dr Abdulmutallab deserves no honour and really is would be atrociously contemptible for him to even consider showing up for anything talk less of an honour with regards to how his own son turned out.

At best, Dr Abdulmutallab is an almost hero but nothing he did prevented the act of terror his son almost succeeded in completing but for luck the he either fumbled his assignment or the quick acting of his fellow passengers on that almost fateful flight.

Ignominy and disgrace are the least that could be conferred on the Abdulmutallab family, at worst; they should be ignored, though I would like them all to be interrogated by the US Security services with the permission of Nigerian authorities.

The apology of our Senate leadership

There is no doubt that our senators know no irony, this act belongs to my Apes Obey Series [3] where Lord Lugard in his astute observation in the Dual Mandate confirms these traits in the leadership of the Nigerian Senate.

an excitable person; lacking in self control, discipline, and foresight ... full of personal vanity, with little sense of veracity ... his thoughts are concentrated on the events and feelings of the moment, and he suffers little from the apprehension for the future or grief for the past ... and is conspicuously deficient in the management and control alike of men or business; he loves the display of power, but fails to realize its responsibility; ... he has ... an instinct rather than a moral virtue.

It goes on and on but we are the poorer for it that a person of the stature of the Deputy President of the Nigerian Senate did not think through this despicable idea before submitting his motion, it is just incredible that he could not anticipate the irony of it all.

The stupidity of such a motion and the crass idiocy it confers on him was exemplified in the fact that he could only find the Senate Leader and nine other senators to support the motion, it was negatively received on the whole; but what a laughing stock it would make of Nigerians – there is no way Nigeria can be taken seriously with such people in leadership.

In my humble opinion, they do as much damage to our image as the pants bomber has done and arguably worse, they are a disgrace.

Sources

[1] Senate opposes national award to Abdulmuttalab | NIGERIAN TRIBUNE - News

[2] Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[3] Introducing the Apes Obey! Series [akin.blog-city.com]

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

To Miep Gies protector of Anne Frank diaries

Anne Frank tours

I first visited an Anne Frank [1] exhibition in a church in Islington in North London some 16 years ago, the pictures and detail of the suffering of the Jews in the Second World War were harrowing but there were as personal story too, the diary of a teenage girl who was hardly in her teens about their daily life the courage of the very few who strove to keep her and her family from the grip of Nazi-occupied Netherlands.

Two days ago, the last of the Dutch citizens to aid and shelter them from harm died at the age of 100, her name was Miep Gies [2].

On my second visit to Amsterdam, in 1996, the Anne Frank Museum [3] was a must see for us and on that dull afternoon we trundled to the almost non-descript house and walked around the house, the enclave and noted the observations of Anne Frank on panels and boards all around the house, it really had that very old feel to it.

A tourist’s itinerary

My third visit was a chaperone to the parents of my friend with whom I visited 10 years before, the whole setup had changed, adjoining buildings had been acquired and the place now looked like a very commercial tourist attraction, probably one of the most visited in the Netherlands and for all intents and purposes, it is worth a visit.

Without going into much detail, Miep Gies, her husband and 3 other Dutch citizens helped conceal Anne Frank, her family and a number of friends, all of whom were Jews in a annex of the office they worked in.

It was an act of exceptional courage in a time of great suspicion and deception, it was difficult to know who to trust, the risk they took could have cost them their freedom as well as their lives.

Unfortunately, Anne Frank and her concealed colleagues were discovered and transferred to Nazi concentration camps where she died at the age of 15.

The preservation of memories and memorials

Miep Gies found the diary Anne Frank kept during the times of concealment and when Otto Frank, Anne Frank’s father returned to the Netherlands, that diary was published and has made Anne Frank probably one of the most talked about victims of the Holocaust.

Coincidentally, the concentration camp site at Auschwitz in Poland is falling into disrepair [4] and there are appeals for aid to keep the infrastructure from falling apart and hence preserve an essential piece of memory about man’s inhumanity to man.

The narratives are very clear, the need for exceptional courage and bravery in preserving our humanity, the utility of documenting our daily lives for posterity and fact that we cannot afford for monuments of remembrance to waste away just because they look like relics of times long gone.

All these are signposts of history from which hopefully we can learn lessons to live better lives for ourselves, our communities and humanity at large. Rest in peace, Miep Gies and thank you for showing us your deep humanity and preserving the memories of times we must never forget.

Sources

[1] Anne Frank - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[2] Miep Gies - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[3] Anne Frank Museum Amsterdam - the official Anne Frank House website

[4] Auschwitz asks Britain for help to preserve decaying death camp - Times Online

Beware of Online Romance Fraud

No more a laughing matter

In August 2007, I made such great fun out of an Australian sheep farmer who had been tricked into travelling all the way to Mali to meet a young and beautiful Liberian bride ready to pay him a hefty bride price. In Silly Dingo hooked by Nubian money boobs [1], I had a field day of jest and comical levity which on the serious side included a kidnap for ransom and threats to his life but for the quick thinking of his embassy.

In a new report in The Independent [2], it appears this is a serious issue and no more a matter for idle jest in what is now known as “romance fraud”.

Romance fraud

What romance fraud entails is a fraudulent group setting up a profile of a prospective partner on some international dating site and luring suitors into the possibility of love and romance. The exchanges can get to a point that they are impossible to share with others and therein is the lure.

The target is unwittingly drawn into confidence and faith that it is enough to compel travelling to meet the partner who sometimes is in some West African country. On arrival, the target is kidnapped and held for ransom before release, by which time the “stupidity” of the target is public knowledge and seeking redress is almost impossible for the shame of it all.

Loving into crime

This is even made worse for those seeking same-sex relationships in countries where homosexuality is seen as taboo. There, desperate young men offering undying love of the type one cannot find in more “liberal” countries with commitments bordering of subservience are sometimes an irresistible lure and at the same time leave the target with the impossibility of reporting the fraud to the authorities.

The view is that these crimes are under-reported; the victims are left licking their wounds and rebuilding their pride having been damaged by these unfortunate alliances.

Be wary, be alert

That is not to say one cannot find love online and in these dating forums, it is just important that one be very wary of impossible promises, besides one should find alternative ways of verifying that the prospects are indeed real rather than frauds, in fact, no matter the level of trust developed engaging your embassy in ascertaining facts or even serious crime agencies in detective work has more than a useful end for the purposes of safety.

Once you become the welfare source for your prospect by sending money for everyday things of life, your suspicious should be aroused and be ready no matter the level of lewdness in exchanges has become to cut your losses and run.

The most important thing is not to be ruled by the prospect of the best sex you have never had with the most beautiful thing that does not exist but in empty words and false photographs.

Do not divulge any unique details like full names, full addresses (emails should do) and never your bank account details. If anything of this romance is too good to be true, it probably is, think of yourself being groomed and lured rather than being wooed.

Shamefully, Nigeria and Ghana show up as places where your travel to see your computer lover might well be an ordeal you will not wish on your worst enemy.

Source

[1] Silly Dingo hooked by Nubian money boobs [akin.blog-city.com]

[2] Briton suffers 'romance fraud' kidnap ordeal - Crime, UK - The Independent

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Nigeria: Yar'Adua interview a hoax?

Developing news

Apparently, in the scramble to maintain the charade about the President of Nigeria, he granted an interview to the BBC [1] by telephone where these words seem to have been spoken.

At the moment I am undergoing treatment, and I'm getting better from the treatment. I hope that very soon there will be tremendous progress, which will allow me to get back home, I wish, at this stage, to thank all Nigerians for their prayers for my good health, and for their prayers for the nation.”

A recording NOT an interview

I am sorry to say that this does not convince anyone that the president is alive or that it was not recorded before he fell ill and then played back from a recorder – this was a monologue, not an interview.

Nigerians would only be pleased to see and hear their president on television with proof that it screening was done on the same day it was shown.

At the tail end of the recording it appears the President is wishing the Nigerian football team success in Angola at the current African Cup of Nations competition which seems quite apt but then, I have been wishing Nigeria success since they qualified for the competition long ago and the draw with Egypt had been known for quite a while.

Just put him on television

I would not put it past the Machiavellian inclinations of his cabal of helpers to have schemed this all along since they even were not sure how long he would be away. A number of recordings that pick on seminal events that they already knew will take place and release the recordings as phone monologues sounding hollow to prove a point that I am afraid it does not prove.

Radio and telephone is not enough, no Nigerian should be bought by this, it has all the hallmarks of deception and his handlers have yet to come up with incontrovertible evidence and proof of his still being around to conduct any affairs to try an rope in the reputation of the BBC in such a despicable attempt at proving the imponderable is just plainly atrocious.

I will go as far as call this so-called interview a hoax, that hopefully would be exposed very soon, if not, that they should provide better proof and debunk my claim after which I would definitely eat humble pie.

The basic demand is – Put Yar’Adua on screen today! [2] Nothing less would suffice, once that is done and properly authenticated, we can get on with our business praying for his speedy recovery.

Sources

[1] BBC News - Nigeria's ailing President Yar'Adua breaks silence

[2] Nigeria: Put Yar'Adua on screen today! [akin.blog-city.com]

Nigeria: Put Yar'Adua on screen today!

What is the real news?

This dreadful game of obfuscation and subterfuge has to end regarding the health and whereabouts of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.

There were news stories in the NEXT newspaper stating the president was brain-damaged [1] along with the list of people maintaining this charade of ignominy that makes Nigeria a laughing stock.

The Punch newspaper suggested the president had been on life support [2] as far back as December, the ensuing logic is that the president might already have passed on, but that might just be jumping the gun.

It appears the newspapers have broken ranks and injected a sense of urgency that can cause pandemonium within the coterie of faceless and unaccountable persons holding the whole of Nigeria to ransom.

What presidential orders?

Now, one reads in the Reuters that his spokesman who was on a junket to Angola phoning home from Angola to say the president’s health is improving [3] and he has been ordered by the president to return to Nigeria on Tuesday.

In his words, “The president is alive and actually getting better, he is very much conscious, can talk and has been talking, including making phone calls to some people back home.”

So, Mr. Olusegun Adeniyi is going to vicariously leave supporting the Nigerian football team in Angola to return to Nigeria and with that prove he is under presidential orders? That is laughable, if not completely risible. Maybe the president has lost his sense of fun and humour.

Well, that is just not good enough evidence or proof that the president is alive and well, if this spokesperson is not yet aware, we Nigerians do not trust by one bit any government official that proffers any view about the president until they can produce in controvertible evidence.

Do the Castro debunking

This is what would suffice, when President Fidel Castro of Cuba had speculation swirling about his health and fitness he was filmed in hospital reading the current dailies that also included being visited by President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.

Nigerians would expect nothing less, the President filmed in his recuperating stance in hospital watching a current CNN or BBC programme has was first broadcast no longer than 6 hours before its publicity and reading Nigerian newspapers no earlier than that day before and the current day’s editions of English sections of Saudi newspapers. He must chat audibly and coherently with either a Saudi royal or a well-known Nigerian figure.

Preferably, this filming should be done with an announcement to the press corps in Saudi Arabia about when the filming starts and when it ended, the reproduction and distribution should be done in Saudi Arabia and once the provenance and authenticity has been verified we can accept what is seen.

Need for incontrovertible proof

The provenance and authenticity must follow internationally accepted chains of custody, nothing like some secretly filmed Al-Qaeda announcement, the film certified with voice pattern checks and definitely NO STILLS, this should also include a millisecond clock counter and no editing of the clip whatsoever.

In this day and age, without that kind of evidence, all announcements amount to kicking against the goads and outright lies in the least – it is no fault of the Nigerian public that the government maintains no trust in their activities, this is a sure way of winning that trust back and really arranging this amazing revelation should only take hours.

At worst, get the BBC, CNN or Al-Jazeera to do the filming if they cannot get a Nollywood outfit to film something truthful rather than the fictional briefings we have been regaled with for 51 rotten days of atrocious effrontery showing up as buffoonery before the whole wide world.

Sources

[1] Yar'Adua is brain-damaged: 234NEXT.com

[2] The Punch: ‘President placed on life support’

[3] Nigeria president's health is improving: spokesman | Top News | Reuters

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Nigeria: Umar Farouk alone in court

Charged with news

There was some catching up to do on the news front, going through my staple of UK based news websites represented by broadsheets, CNN, BBC, Reuters and a smattering of international news aggregators.

I did not expect any particularly new information regarding the arraignment of Mr. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab [1] since the newswires had reported that he had plead “Not Guilty” to the 6 charges of indictment, none of which contained any derivation of the word terror.

I fail to see why US courts put those on federal charges in leg irons apart from a sanctimonious moralising stance of humiliating the accused – it is unlikely the person would bolt having been handcuffed surrounded by armed security personnel.

It is not like the prisoners have feet like lethal weapons of some obscure martial art manoeuvre ready to decapitate or defenestrate the deputy, the overkill exaggerates beyond the laughable.

Un-present representatives

The BBC sketch [2] of the young man’s day in court suggests he had a hobbling gait possibly due to the lap burns he suffered when his underwear lit up but did not blow up – God have mercy, incredible.

It was interesting to note that there was a delegation from the Nigerian embassy in Washington taking front row seats having flown to Detroit – I cannot say if they were there to protect his interests, ensure Nigeria’s name was not further besmirched or seeking some international publicity riding in the misfortune of another countryman.

One of the diplomats confirmed to the correspondent that none of the family members had come [to court or to the United States of America? One cannot say.]; This is a man with at least 10 siblings with whom he could claim paternal affinity, a mother, an absolutely rich father [whose global business interests have been inadvertently saved the taint of terrorism by conveniently snitching on his son], a possible troop of extended relations and not one of them could deign to make an appearance at court.

Image versus fraternity

The child has seemingly been disowned for the “shame” he must have brought on the family that they would rather never be found anywhere near him – I would not read too much into this but I am sure, if any of his family had requested a visa to be present with him it would have been granted on compassionate grounds – in times of trouble, one would think families would pull together and pull all stops to offer the moral support of physical presence.

I would suppose like it has been all his life, the big-wig daddy has probably thrown filthy lucre at the problem and the wads of cash would now stand as support, succour, shoulder and shield. It is a sad commentary but one has to wait and see.

To suggest the public image and status of this influential and respected banker’s family is paramount and more significance to them than fraternal loyalty to their misguided son would be a cruel damnation.

Brief or briefed?

What I found rather surprising was that Umar Farouk might not have heard the judge correctly about what level of school he had reached because generally speaking college in English usually refers to secondary school education whereas Americans read that as university education.

The judge then asked if he had attended secondary school which really comes across as daft because it is clear from the basic information we all have about Umar Farouk that he attended UCL in London and read mechanical engineering – whilst that is University College London, the emphasis in English would have been on the university rather than the college element of that name.

Hopefully, the judge is in the element of his brief and has been properly briefed about the cases he is presiding on and this, for instance, requires the judge be quite smart and sharp by which I mean should take time to read up and be informed on the cases in his docket, particularly from other information gleaned about Umar Farouk who has a Bachelors degree and was undergoing a Masters degree programmed he should not have been slighted with the question about whether he had attended secondary school.

Make yourself clear

An affront of prejudicial and denigrating belittlement totally uncalled for, one would say; you would think the judge just arrived from Mars and was swept into court completely oblivious of the news or what he was doing in court; I am not impressed at all and it will not augur well if it is put down to a procedural question or plain absentmindedness.

It would appear the judge has to put in the effort to make himself understood because Umar Farouk again stumbled at the next question about whether he had taken medication in the last 24 hours, the detail sunk in later on and Umar Farouk corrected himself.

If he did suffer burns injuries, it is likely he would be on strong painkillers which can have the effect of causing drowsiness or tardiness and that has to be taken into consideration but one would think the judge would have been briefed about all this considering this is a high profile suspect in a case that attracts global interest.

In any case the whole procedure appeared to take just about three minutes and the correspondent could read no emotion from Umar Farouk’s face but once again as he looked around courtroom, his life’s story was read back to him in slow motion, my parents are once again AWOL – he is again, alone and lonely.

Poor child!

Sources

[1] Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[2] BBC News - Abdulmutallab impassive in court

Opening the mouth of the father - Part falls apart

The fifth part of this series Opening the mouth of the Father – Part 5

The bride price completed

It was time to wrap this whole ordeal up, but for the minor detail of the other part of the bride price for which an envelope could not suffice.

Having been rustled by highwaymen so deft that we had no belts for our trousers, buttons for our shirts nor laces for our shoes, this was a test of love teetering on the verge of failing woefully, I could not say that love was about to conquer all at this stage.

By silent arrangement not to be revealed the cash element of the bride price was substantial but presented in an ornate Chinese dragon decorated wooden box with a lock, the key taped to the false bottom and left for the curious to examine when the ceremony was over.

That in itself was a ceremony of words and claps, songs and dance, the presentation itself won them completely, it was an untrue sigh of absolute relief.

A case for the bride

Finally, the bride’s box of tricks came forth in a solid Samsonite case rather that the customary nondescript portmanteau, gifts that had one lost in aisles of embarrassment.

How I would have loved to have the help of the Bra Advisor at Marks and Spencers, when she appears on the honeymoon night would you have been shopping at Victoria’s Secret or Agent Provocateur? Are you be served by Mrs Slocombe in the hosiery and lingerie department or have you slithered into Ann Summers shop to find out that fantasy of size does really matter, always?

My bride became a mannequin in my mind, more real than Madam Tussauds could make her, a bipedal clotheshorse as the case was opened to reveal, 6 pants; all colours bright, 6 bras to make Eva Longoria get hers done, 2 under skirts – do they still wear those things? Apparently, someone forgot that stockings are necessary for Europe and really, one could look really sexy in suspenders – surprise!

A flannel listed as a face towel, a big towel; probably for the beach, two lace blouses and well for all concerned 2 head ties which when worn after being set by an expert could be an edifice of beauty to rival any hat on Ladies Day at Ascot.

The smell that lingered

A bottle of celebrity piss water, sorry, I meant, perfume and a Mary Kay make-up set, the in-thing for them back there, not to forget the comb – with all that relaxed hair, do they still need a comb?

I never knew they had such an array of traditional cloths and there were a good few in the case, krukru bite, damask with a green tinge, accra not in Ghana, velvet but not blue, ikaki not like khaki, fenin must be something else, India not that far, loko, plain George never seen it plain before, akwete, fun and egne bite – the wife was about to become a one person circus in a Josephine in her coat of many colours.

A gold set, the list said, a sado-masochistic box of rings, chains and golden handcuffs, er, bangles to take her prisoner apart from the jewellery she was bedecked with, a luxury brand wrist watch and a wrist band of coral beads meant uncertain lies of tradition had been fulfilled in pretentious modernity.

The list came in 6 parts, how else could we have told this tale?

We can now close the mouth of the father, he had nothing to give all along - The end.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Nigeria: Identifying with Nigerian good

A typical Nigerian

Let me start by saying without equivocation that Mr. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab [1], with whatever appellation or nickname the media might want to give him is Nigerian.

That is a fact, a truth, a reality and a detail we have to live with, his heritage is Nigerian, his father is a well-known Nigerian and until 2 weeks ago, he was a Nigerian like many of us who have sought educational opportunities abroad and made a good job of it.

In some ways, he was a Nigerian with an international outlook having studied in Togo, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

An unfortunate Nigerian

In other circumstances, this young man would have been a prospective employee to some organisation armed with qualifications to make a living and make a difference to his community and possibly have some influence in a wider spectrum of society.

Unfortunately, just because he failed to take that trajectory of being a nice Nigerian abroad does not automatically disqualify him from having come from where he came from, nor does it stop him from holding the passport he had every right to claim to hold.

Identifying as Nigerian

Maybe indeed Nigerians are not necessarily terrorists that go out to blow up international flights, but we would have been quick to identify with a Nigerian who discovers a new type of jet propulsion fuel that takes full consideration of global warming.

Whilst is it unsavoury to identify with this young man, the clamour to disown him for the line of study and expression he took does not change the fact that he would be identified as Nigerian by others and it becomes us to appreciate that fact and work on dealing better with the consequences of that situation.

Nigerians are not or Nigerians are?

We cannot define ourselves by what we are not and many have said we are not fraudsters, we are not drug-couriers, we are not fanatics, we are not extremists, we are not terrorists, we are not everything you can think we are.

Maybe, we are not those things, the questions then becomes, if we are not this or that, what are are?

We are Nigerians, first and foremost, we engage in legal, legitimate, worthwhile and profitable activities in our communities, societies and environment for the good of the many. Many of us are successfully in positions of responsibility doing our best in whatever calling we find ourselves.

Those of us in training, school or university, take our vocations seriously and strive to excel bring honour to all that associate with us.

We are generally congenial, friendly, likeable, humorous and enjoy the pleasures of life, we are positive leaning people, quite optimistic in our outlook and portend to have a spiritual grounding in life.

Nigerian pride in good ownership

I think those declarations speak more for who we are rather than what we are not. Whilst I can see the mass hysteria of signing up to protest and disownership pages we should acclaim our Nigerianness more positively than that by heralding the good Nigerian and good Nigerian endeavours.

If all it takes to be a fervent and passionate Nigerian is to band together against a terrorist, our understanding of our identity is in need of a clearer vision.

In closing, I declare again that Mr. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab remains a Nigerian through and through, our disowning him does not make him irrelevant, but our identifying with people, symbols and purposes of good Nigeria would make a better statement to the world at large.

Sources

[1] Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Nigeria: Privileges Umar Farouk Never Had

Childhood building blocks

Readers of my blog would have read a number of childhood themed blogs I have written in the last few years tinged with nostalgia and mostly revolving around my schooldays.

In conversation with a friend yesterday the topic of the underwear bomber came up and I found myself saying that the young man had not affinity with Nigeria and hence there could be no expectation for him to exhibit any form of patriotism regarding Nigeria.

What is developing out of the whole story is the ownership dilemma of how to identify with the young man or completely disown him.

Schooled away from home

An ex-teacher of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab [1], identified with him by remembering a schoolboy who was caring, talented and articulate, in fact, Chris Edmunds [2], had this much to say, “You are my former student. I taught you. I played football with you. I visited you in your boarding house. I shared school lunch with you.

This was when he was at the British School in Lome, Togo, a child of great privilege and opportunity but definitely far from home.

Not supported whatsoever

With the inclusion of Nigeria in the US screening list, it is cant to portend that internally with the religious unrests, kidnappings, assassinations and Niger Delta, Nigeria does not represent some terror risk internally already but there is a desperate attempt to disown the young man in order to absolve ourselves.

So the Honourable Minister of Information has been particular about the fact that he was educated outside Nigeria and that he spent less than half an hour in Nigeria. In her words [1], “He was not influenced in Nigeria, he was not recruited or trained in Nigeria, he was not supported whatsoever in Nigeria.”

Therein is the issue; this person from youth had been far away from home, strange places became home, he found succour amongst strangers, other narratives indicate he was lonely and alone, in all, he was in as vulnerable a position to be influenced by anyone or anything that offered care, assurance, comfort and love – a warped kind of gratitude to that love birthed the scenario of being convinced to carry a bomb in his pants – God have mercy.

Always around my parents

However, this is what I am getting at, whilst I was born in England, I returned to Nigeria with my parents and only started schooling in Nigeria, they sent me to very good primary schools where we were taught, inspired, encouraged, challenged and given the opportunity to explore.

Whilst we had house helps, my parents also had time for us, we went on outings and picnics which diminished in frequency as we grew older, we played ball, my father installed a swing [lilo we called it in Hausa] in the garden, my mother got me a bicycle with her salary raise – I was at home, loved, provided for and protected.

When I went to secondary school, I was in a boarding house but close to extended relations who were always on hand and every holiday season, I was jetted back up North to see my parents, when we moved to Lagos, on the last day of school, there was always someone to pick me up and take me back home.

Creating my affinities

The points I am trying to make are, I was always close to home, my parents never delegated their parenting to the ability to throw money at the issue, I had lunch at home and dinner with my parents when they returned home, I was never put in a situation where I felt alone or lonely.

What that did was it gave me an affinity for all the environments I have been in to conserve, to remember, to cherish, to uphold and to promote all the good regardless of how much contrary things have happened or have been experienced.

Missed out, lost out

Unfortunately, the reason why Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab never had the kind of privilege I had was because by the time he reached the age where I enjoyed all this parent guidance and support, his parents did not think schools in Nigeria were good enough to give him the standard of education worthy of status of his family and the consequences are there to see.

This might well be a simplistic analysis but for me, it is very relevant, the minister’s assertion, “He was not influenced in Nigeria, he was not recruited or trained in Nigeria, he was not supported whatsoever in Nigeria.” is a ringing indictment of how our educational systems have failed us that we end up sending our kids to faraway lands and unfortunately far from parental support and control that creates the affinity and compelling desire to preserve rather than destroy.

Sources

[1] Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[2] The Punch: AbdulMutallab: Caring, talented student — Ex-teacher

[3] Nigeria says inclusion on US screening list unfair | Top News | Reuters