Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Big mama Africa belittled by cartographers

Crossing into the southern hemisphere,
Over a line that makes you wonder where,
Strange and familiar names do appear,
This is the Africa we probably should not fear.
Three villes say the French Belgians were here,
Libreville to Franceville are not quite near,
By the time Brazzaville is at your stare,
You're in Congo and it is not a dare.
Mbandaka sticks in my mind like a crime,
It was Coquilhatville once upon a time,
Congo and Ruki rivers make it maritime,
As it sits on the equator just in its prime.
Africa is a place of distances far apart,
The maps conceal a secret we never chart,
If Bakwanga does play a part,
It is four thousand miles from your start.
In Livingstone a place to which he came,
Even Victoria falls he did name,
Much he did to build his fame,
Yes, the British left many marks of shame.
If we knew our basic geography,
From our narrow African philosophy,
We'll realise it's extensive ethnography,
And redraw the misleading cartography.
A Flickr slideshow of flight tracker places mentioned.
The flight tracker playback of the journey, you can zoom in on the maps to see the place names that came up in the poem.

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Finding me do what I would not do

In the knowing
You cannot overdo appreciation as it stems from the acknowledgement of person, deed, event, or action. You acknowledge and notice, commend and compliment, give praise and sometimes as lavishly as the mode of communication chosen can afford it is all part of gratitude.
I have learnt to be thankful, thankful for so many things, the gift of life, the lifting from deathbed to enjoy life from a new perspective, the blessing of means to do things that would heretofore be impossible, the honour of friendships, people who give time, place, love, consideration and more for reasons you sometimes cannot comprehend, but you are grateful for them being around.
In the doing
The appreciation of love is a higher calling, one we tend to take for granted because love is always there open, ready, willing, able, exerting beyond duty, empathising in a oneness of spirit and soul, ever giving rarely demanding, it is mysteriously powerful.
To it we must respond with consideration and without confusion, knowing the genuineness in which it is offered and we learning to reciprocate in ways that enhance that exchange that is deeper than can be comprehended.
In the living
We must appreciate, we must celebrate, we must immerse ourselves in the beauty of love’s expression and in that find healing that no other medicine can give. It mends the hearts, glows in the face, puts a spring in the step and renews the youth tremendously.
There probably isn’t anything that can’t be done for love, because when it comes to it, it is unconditional and unconventional, selfless, and generous to a fault, you will do for love what you normally will not do. That is the full expression of appreciation.

Thought Picnic: I was sodden too sudden

To prophesy, I did not
Suddenly, is not a word I use that often, though I do sometimes pretend I rarely act on impulse but on slow determined and considered thought and reflection before I do anything.
However, what I cannot account for is how casual commentary becomes prescient as if one has been gifted a power of benign prognostication that has hardly developed beyond reviewing issues in hindsight.
The decision to go to Cape Town at Easter was made in early January and in deciding that, there was a throwaway comment that South Africa might again see a visitor sooner than planned. We were already counting down the days towards the meeting in Johannesburg for our onward flight together to Cape Town.
To manifest, I sure did
Then suddenly, a furlough and an uncertainty intervened in a situation where time became available to consider possibilities and opportunities. This all got clarity yesterday evening and with it comes a trip to the southern hemisphere. Now, who would not jump at a business trip to South Africa?
The execution was sudden, but the thought process had been sown, watered and tended over weeks of flux, wherein, the indeterminate follows on to the definite. With ticket in hand, board on high, affections in overdrive and meetings planned for the eruptions of ideas, goals, aims and hopefully more than one ever desired. We face life as a journey of people, hearts, and minds.
Providence shines on me and I am grateful for all that gives me a story to tell, eventually.

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Nigeria: Can we radically rethink our political machinery?

Resisting the laughable
I was not surprised when I heard on BBC Radio 4 in the very early hours of this morning that just 5 hours before the polls opened in Nigeria, they were postponed for a week. [BBC]
It would be convenient for me to write from the western comfort of my abode to rant and rave about the systemic dysfunction that bedevils Nigeria and runs counter to the words of Sir Abubakar Tafawa-Balewa on the day of independence, when he said, “We are called upon immediately to show that our claims to responsible government are well-founded, and having been accepted as an independent state we must at once play an active part in maintaining the peace of the world and in preserving civilisation. I promise you, we shall not fail for want of determination.” [AkinBlog][Dawodu]
The courage of reality
In that assertion at the dawn of independent Nigeria, the claims and the want are no more the subject of debate, the conclusion is an everyday indictment of a nation that is full of potential and that is all we have, potential.
Yet, for all accusations by the main political parties that the postponement could presage the manipulation of the vote in favour of either, I must commend the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for having the courage to realise they were not ready and taking the difficult but necessary decision to postpone.
The pressure to carry on regardless would have been immense but having recognised that certain locations would be denied suffrage and appreciating the logistical problems of getting election materials to the various places that might have been sabotaged, this was the only reasonable option.
The saboteurs gaming the system
The problem with Nigeria is myriad, we have a rentier class of political jobbers who have no occupation apart from peddling influence, they suck the oxygen out of every other viable and productive sector of the economy, society and government, such that things can only work with their agreement.
Then, amongst them, because the remuneration within politics far exceeds that which can be acquired out of qualification, hard work or merit, they employ every means to disrupt and sabotage the electioneering process that represents the will of the people in order to entrench themselves in positions where they can control the commonwealth arrogating to themselves untrammelled fiat over the helpless masses who are best kept in the vassalage of only having begging bowls, living hand to mouth and driven by survival by the belly.
That is the failure of Nigeria that has resulted in postponing the elections for a week. There are people who have a vested selfish interest in what they can usurp to the detriment of others and without any scruples as to whether anyone gets hurt or killed in the process.
Rethinking our political machinery
Sometimes, I wonder what it is that can fix Nigeria in the state that it is, but we can start with one thing, slash the remuneration of the political class to just basic allowances for board, meals and transport. If they need additional income, they should earn it like everyone else.
Nigeria cannot afford a fulltime legislature, at the exorbitant cost at which it is run today, there is no reason to feather the beds of the legislators when ordinarily the middle classes on their earnings cannot afford the basic things without the temptation to malfeasance, corruption or fraud.
The legislature should have a term time with a clear agenda like a syllabus of activities and bills to debate, run with the efficiency of a principal of a secondary school, clearly with objectives and penalties for not producing results. An Office for Government Accountability having the independence to review and sanction the executive and the legislature when they fail in their responsibilities.
As a consequence of this
Taking the remuneration surplus out of politics would immediately divert the eyes of the heretofore political jobbers to other honeypots and troughs, whilst hopefully allowing Nigerians with a sense of altruism and commitment into politics. At least, they would not be politicking for the money but for the opportunity to serve.
Then, reduce all political terms to one term, none should seek re-election without having been succeeded once, within that, cascade the elections such that the executive branch is not elected in the same year as the legislative branch. This is radical, but I think it would go a long way to taking the leeches out of the decision-making framework of Nigeria.
There is still hope
There is a likelihood with this rethinking of Nigerian politics, we might come close to the what Sir Abubakar Tafawa-Balewa dreamt was possible in Nigeria, “that our claims to responsible government are well-founded.”
In the meanwhile, I hope that when Nigerians do finally get the opportunity to elect their political leaders and representatives in a week, INEC would be ready, the people would have chosen wisely and their express will be presented in the validated results.
Long live Nigeria and God bless Nigeria.

Friday, 15 February 2019

In My Time

Songs that touch the heart
There are many songs that I have heard that touch a part of me that nothing else can. Sometimes, it is just the music, the easy listening that brings a calmness and restfulness to my spirit, I feel I want to play it back continuously until I fall into slumber.
Then, beyond the sound of the music, you look at the lyrics and find such meaning that you can completely relate to as if the words taken out of your life and published to the strains of music that take your thoughts to another place.
All that I know now has to go
Recently, I found a life experience I never thought I would ever have again, I have a long history of relationships, some good, some bad and the others are forgettable. Some of my past loves are still friends and I cherish their friendships, but there would be no rekindling of what we once felt for each other, that has gone.
How again I realise experience limited my ability to move on and find new love, I built crenellations around my heart for it had been hurt and broken too many times, I did not want to hurt anymore. I was protecting myself from heartbreak and by that not opening my heart to those who might have been more caring and careful, considering and considerate, in love and loving, I was exhausted.
I let my heart be touched
Even with that, I thought I was on guard by default, then someone came and in a short embrace, my heart settled, a calmness enveloped me, I felt peaceful and drawn to this person in ways impossible to resist. There was no conflict between my head and my heart, both were telling me, there is much in this than you could ever imagine. Go with the flow, dare to ask and fear for nothing about what might happen.
I followed my deepest premonitions like I was walking through caves towards a welcoming light and comfort, I was being led into love unbeknownst, I was in love before it dawned on me that this was happening to me. I accepted there was no escape from this feeling. Crazy as it seemed, it was real, it was true, and it was growing in strength, in meaning and in prospect.
I let my heart be touched, I let my mind be caught, I let my life be changed, I let my love be shared and the past has become its own story because the present is a miracle of dreams that come true for the very few. In that, I have been blessed, for after all I have been through, in my time, I have found love – it is a wonderful thing.
This song touched me deeply
You know, I'm no beginner
My heart's been to the wall
I'm a tried and true romantic
Who's seen and done it all
And when you walked into my life
Suddenly I knew
All the love I had inside
Was leading me to you
In my time
I've lived and loved so much
Through each high and low
I let my heart be touched
In my time
There isn't much I've missed
I've seen love come and go, but heaven knows
I've never loved like this in my time
After all that I've been through
I'm in love with you
I've won some and I've lost some
But us dreamers don't complain
We keep reaching out for passion
No matter what the pain
When I looked into your eyes
It all fell into place
I found, what I was searching for
Shining in your face
In my time
I've lived and loved so much
Through each high and low
I let my heart be touched
In my time
There isn't much I've missed
I've seen love come and go, but heaven knows
I've never loved like this in my time
After all that I've been through
I'm in love with you
In my time
I've lived and loved so much
Through each high and low
I let my heart be touched
In my time
There isn't much I've missed
I've seen love come and go, but heaven knows
I've never loved like this in my time
After all that I've been through
I'm in love with you
In My Time lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group