Tuesday 31 October 2006

Ditch the plane and catch the Nigerian Choo-Choo train

The minister and the aftermath

It would appear the Nigerian Minister of Aviation who by now should have been pensioned off for incompetence at best and culpable homicide at worst has found a scapegoat for the air crash that occurred on Sunday – the pilot.

Apparently, the pilot took off against the advice of other professionals like the air traffic controllers or weather analysts.

This allows me to advance the theory that the pilot probably took off against other professional advice because of the influential passengers he was carrying who might have coerced him to move or be reported – anyway, one can only still speculate till the flight recorder black boxes reveal the conversation between cockpit and controllers as well as conditions that lead to the crash.

The carrier has lost its license to operate, even though the last time there was a crash bearing the flag of this carrier was 10 years ago.

This just would not do, we need radical action that would put the aviation industry back to a safety driven footing that instils confidence to fly in any prospective customer. It goes without saying that Professor Borisade, the Aviation Minister is incapable of pushing the necessary reform to avoid tragedies of this sort, how many more crashes caused by incompetent pilots can we afford before that reality dawns.

However, as we mourn the loss of the departed and attempt to give succour to the survivors, there seems to be some good news on today.

Choo-choo coming home

Nigeria has signed an $8 million contract with the Chinese to design, construct and maintain a 1,315km/822 mile railway line from Lagos to Kano – God knows that having this kind of infrastructure would do wonders for the Nigerian economy.

A second phase would be a line from Port Harcourt to Jos, this would appear like a second line without a link to the first.

I remember that the existing railway system was like an inverted Y, with people going to the East of Nigeria having to travel up North to Kaduna and then down to the South-East.

From the map below, I have suggested a better plan.

Map of Nigeria - Courtesy UNODC - unfortunately.

I think we need a triangular system which has Lagos, Kano and Calabar as the termini, then an inverted triangle which has Port Harcourt, Sokoto and Maiduguru as the other termini. Minna and Jalingo could then be at the intersections, if not a direct line between those two cities that would go through Abuja and Jos.

This is a simple serviette paper design of a system that could become the engine of development, if the politics is kept out of the need for the rail to pass through the hamlet of some influential man whilst it would be better for it to pass through a town of less influential people.

Monday 30 October 2006

The news takes the weekend off in Nigeria

News takes the weekend off

What really goes on in that country? That is the question I had on my mind this morning as I looked for local information about the air crash that took the lives of prominent citizens of Nigeria; the spiritual head of Nigerian Muslims and his son and grandson.

Going to the Nigerian government website, the latest press release is dated the 27th of October, in the midst of the fact that we had a major tragedy on the 29th of October – the news probably takes the weekend off and does not get paid overtime.

The Ministry of Aviation has no news on the crash the page about the Aviation Industry in Nigeria shows a blank – I am not surprised, there is nothing to write home about with the incompetent professor in charge who has had nothing to show than preside over the increase of flying coffins masquerading as aircraft.

Then, I clicked on the link to the NTA, the premier television and news station, whilst expecting what they published as Click here to Watch the most current NTA network news, only to end up with a News Extra programme recorded on the 25th of October, 5 days earlier.

Whilst we wait for the governmental news services to catch up with events, those who died, especially the Muslims are long dead and buried.

Sunday 29 October 2006

No voting advice for our Dear Dutch Leader

Tell me who

The Dutch political season in readiness for the November 22nd elections continues apace with the launch of StemWijzer (Dutch). StemWijzer is an online voters’ advisory that poses questions to the participant to help them determine if they are conservative, liberal, libertarian, socialist, communist or whatever political shade you might be, it now has a more European outlook called VoteMatch.

Then it advises on which of the 26 or so parties the participant should vote for at election, offering second and third choices depending on how the questions are answered.

As I have lamented before, our Western democracies are failing because of the failure of education and the lack of understanding of how to read party policies and ideologies and how to match that with personal political slant and thinking.

People think they are liberal and end up being classified as intolerant and right-wing, some who are right-wing end up in another political spectrum, how does one begin to appreciate ones political temperament and convert that into an effective democratic voice?

Bad system or lacking an ideology

Worse still is when StemWijzer cannot offer an opinion as what party you can vote for, when this happens to the person who has been Prime Minister of the Netherlands for the past four years, questions should be asked.

The Prime Minister is leader of the right of centre CDA, which would be nominally conservative, could it be that Stemwijzer is seriously flawed or we have a leadership without an ideology?

I do not have to answer that question because the Prime Minister himself says and I quote, “StemWijzer provided good support for people in making a well-motivated choice”. But for some reason, StemWijzer could not even find a neutral or nonchalant choice for our Dear Leader.

Other leaders like the leader of the Liberal party (VVD) was advised to vote for the progressive-liberal D66. The leader of the Labour Party (PVDA) however, was true to his party and ideology – he probably should be the next Prime Minister of the Netherlands.


Dutch election news - Part I

The veil amongst Christians

The head scarf debate

As we settle into what would be a debate for a long time in the West about head scarves, veils, the hijab, coverings and exposures, I remember quite poignantly that this debate has been around for quite a while.

Some 20-something years ago, this debate was going around in evangelical circles, this was not just contentious but frustrating that what was so explicitly discussed in the Bible still left some selecting what they wanted to believe to support their prejudices.

Not, only so, people of other religions also select portions of biblical scripture to support their views completely out of context of the truth that was being portrayed.

Selecting Bible choice cuts

In the Bible, 1 Corinthians 11:3-16 (King James Version), gives the complete low-down on this issue, but it would take an open mind and fresh eyes to appreciate the context and direction of this passage.

The keys to this discourse are in verses 3 and 16, but the 3rd verse usually gets misunderstood and the 16th verse conveniently left out of the discourse for reasons I can never understand.

I would take particular verses and break them down for the purposes of furthering this debate, there are other meanings with regards to relationships in here, which I would not cover, but I would clearly contextualise because it is used to foster abuse.

Separating every man from the husband

3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.

What we need to note here is the article and possession, it says the head of every man is Christ, however, NOT that the head of every woman is man.

The woman using the definite article pertains to a single woman in relationship to a man, her husband. Every man anywhere cannot just lord it over any woman, he can only do that, in a relationship that is a marriage.

In another blog, on the more emotive issue of wife-battering, I covered how the husband has to be as selfless as Christ to be able to exercise any kind of authority where they believe themselves to masters of their homes and be able to throw their weight around the place.

What is clear is a woman outside the relationship of marriage automatically has Christ as her head, when she has her man, the dynamic of headship changes to her husband.

It is a difficult one, but man in general consists first of male and female; in this case, there is no conferment of the complete servitude of the female sex to any to every man born on earth – it would be illogical.

Traditions and customs might support this dynamic of making all women in society less of the male, but it is not supported in Christianity to give man husband-status to every woman except his truly wedded wife.

Who covers whom?

4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head.

Here, it is clear that this refers to man as male.

5 But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.

This uses every woman, but the possibility of two heads, if unmarried, her head is Christ and if married her head is her husband – NOT every man.

6 For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.

If a woman would not cover her head, she should shave, but if shaving is considered a shame, she should then cover her head.

7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.

Once again, the definite article is here, the woman (wife) is the glory of the man (husband). We do not go around presenting every woman as our wife, rather, there is one woman who takes that pride of place, and we adorn her and present her with pride and honour her with love and devotion.

8 For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man.

9 Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.

This takes us back to the Adam and Eve story, where Eve was crafted from the rib of Adam as his helper and companion. The definite article also features here – the man (husband) and the woman (wife).

The woman’s prerogative

10 For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.

Now, this fouls up every authority man tries to exercise over the woman because it says it is the prerogative of the woman to decide on whether to cover her head or not. There is no duty of man to impose this on the woman.

This is usually read as the man ought to have power of the head of every woman and force them to appear in a wifely role or subservient role.

For many, the Scripture ENDS here, reading any further is too inconvenient.

Co-dependence of the sexes and equality

11 Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.

12 For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.

Equality in the church and equality before God, so where did all this male domination come from?

So, no one would like to read beyond verse 10 because to serious home truths break down the male domination fortress.

13 Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?

Well, this is question of traditions and customs; there are places where women can be covered and others where woman do not get covered – debate.

The long hair day

14 Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?

Touché – men with long hair have no say in this matter, they need to deal with their issues.

15 But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.

Oh! Apostle Paul does begin to complicate issues by clarifying them. There is a separation between the head and the hair introduced from verse 14 and the reference is now to long hair.

It appears, if a woman has long hair, she already has a covering for her head – it is a no-brainer that hair does grow out of the head - she does not need an artificial covering like a scarf.

Well, why do we have all this fuss about scarves when the hair already covers the head?

16 But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.

If this becomes a contentious topic, drop it, we have not taken on any traditions or customs of head covering, hair covering or even male domination – it is not the way of the church.

And all the men say … Amen!

Friday 27 October 2006

Rape-bait without the veil

Religious discordant

Religious leaders have always used analogies, parables and allegories to convey spiritual thought and teaching in ways to help their adherents understand truths that can be personally applied.

Just as we are reviewing the commentary about the veil and integration an alternative view has appeared about the veil and ingratiation.

The main point itself is about the veil and how that relates to societies in which people are either forced or elect to wear the veil.

Concern or prejudice?

The Mufti of Australia, the most senior Muslim cleric had given a sermon during the pious month of Ramadan where he contended that women who do not wear the veil dishonour themselves.

That is an opinion, albeit held by a religious leader with a following; does this imply that the leader is engaging his listeners to impose the authority to ensure that women do not dishonour themselves?

However, to then go on and say that without the veil, women become ready prey for scavenging and hungry predators – in fact – this is the quote – “If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside... and the cats come and eat it... whose fault is it, the cats' or the uncovered meat?” Read …

Outrageous views of those not integrated

Breaking it down, the leader is saying the uncovered women are as uncovered meat and men taking sexual advantage are like cats drawn to meat.

I cannot imagine that any religious leader would make a statement like this in the 21st Century, more so, a religious leader who has been in this position in a Western country since 1989. The fact that he is a Muslim is really beside the point.

Any leader should temper his views with reasoned logic and context, taking note of the message that could be imparted to possibly impressionable followers.

A broad fallacy of flawed logic

The leader obviously identified in his thinking what might be sexual provocation through undress, bodily adornment and accentuated feminine gaits – however, that does not absolve observers from restraining themselves and preventing the situation where lust hunger and lasciviousness get the better of their civility.

What this leader portends is that men cannot be held responsible for committing rapes predicated on the sexual attraction of the victim – we cannot have a society where rape is right for any reason regardless of the circumstances – in this – the leader was utterly remiss and should not only attract opprobrium but condemnation and ridicule from all quarters.

This statement not only denigrates women, it belittles men and offloads responsibility for personal attitudes and conduct to externalised stimuli – I am not sure an apology would suffice for what might just be inciting to rape.

Thursday 26 October 2006

The Oscar for Best Leader in an Actor's Role?

The mobile benefactor
And so, some mobile phone business mogul who has made it big in the growing communications market of Africa is offering a prize for best leadership and governance in Africa - $5 million – that is a tidy sum.
The way things are, if people in leadership seek a legacy of integrity, honour and visionary ideas that bring progress to their people, it is a worthy cause.
It would probably excite the head of some Bantustan to vie for prestige, in other places where the leaders already have their hands deep in the tiller and have converted the treasury into a personal bank or milked aid for beautifying their homes and beatifying their personalities – this would be a lost cause.
An Oscar for global leadership?
It is, all the same, a noble cause and though more than the Nobel Prize not to say cheap publicity for somebody called Mo Ibrahim – my cynicism could almost state that this could mean favourable contract terms for a mobile phone business.
As Bill Clinton and Kofi Annan have expressed support for this contest, I do wonder if for now, there is any leader in the West that would qualify for a real leadership prize, whatever the means and terms of determining the winner.
Low expectation complex
In fact, Wikipedia appears to suggest that the bar is quite low; the leader only does not have to plunder the resources of their country and should hold free and fair elections – for a basic award and lifetime pension after their term in office – sounds rather persuasive. Human rights? Not a mention.
If this is the standard required, not only is it a complex of low expectations, it exemplifies a crisis of good leadership in Africa, first steps, this might be, but I am far from excited by it all.
So, the Oscar for Best Actor in a Leadership Role goes to …
If you have ideas for contenders, please tell.

Monday 23 October 2006

Yikes! I've been tagged

Tagged by Jeremy from Naijablog


Laboratory Technician in a Brewery
Electrical Technician in a flour mill
Field Engineer - Computers
IT Systems Consultant


One where I do not have to work in a month that contains an R
One where the other months which do not contain an R only requires me to think and talk from my island bordering the Canary Islands
Mentoring exciting people
International bon viveur


{Gosh, I don’t watch that many films}
The Matrix – first one
Crouching Tiger Flying Hidden Dragon

The Gladiator




Yes, Minister
The Many Wives of Patrick
The Daily Show (Global Edition)


{I’m English; I go on Holiday not on vacation}



BBC News
My BlogScope – section on my blog


Àsáró – Yam porridge
Farmer’s omelette
Peking Duck
Macadamia nut ice cream


Sushi and Sashimi
Brussels sprouts


Steak and Kidney pie
Bread and Butter pudding
Venison with pears in a red sauce
Château Margaux 1993


{Which one? I sleep in two but use the guestroom more than I use the master bedroom}

Film Collection
Folded world map


A bell to call the butler
More space for waltzing or a fox trot
A floatation tank
A human teas maid


A suit
A Philip Starck watch designed for Fossil
Buckle shoes from Barkers


Burj Al Arab – in the best suite they can find




Noam Chomsky
Tom Peters
A dream partner
Anita Baker


How did I get lumbered with this?
How do I get my last module – Java out of the way and finish my masters?
How do I get someone to react to a problem I have been highlighting at work for quite a while in a reasonable manner?
When would I have finished answering this?


Classical Music
The English countryside
Paris on the Seine
Zurich in the summer


Ayoke @ Exodus
Chippla’s World
Katherine @ Cultural Miscellany
Zeddie @ Rush3K Flashbacks

Sorry – You all happen to be in My BlogScope.

Is Rice on bootlegged rice alcohol from North Korea?

If you are wondering what they are on, make sure it does not come near you, it is pathogenically lethal.

So, Condoleezza Rice says, “We will not accept a nuclear North Korea” – where has she been all this time?

We already have a nuclear North Korea and they have been testing the stuff – Wake up!, M’dear, denial is no substitute for urgently needed diplomatic and bilateral engagement of a fellow nuclear power, that, I am afraid is today's reality. Smell the coffee ...

Politicking with straight talk

Scrawny politicians

Sometimes, I think Dutch politicians, especially those who have had the providence of patronage to become ministers are such touchy people who assume airs and have delusions of grandeur.

They are so quick to take offence, go to court and make so much about they possibly questionable honour, integrity and definite lack of charisma.

The Prime Minister for example has been to court at least four times for situations where he has been parodied as a porn star or a person snatching a feeder from a baby – we cannot explore satire, talk less ridicule without some cellophane skinned lion heart boo-hooing back to mummy.

Needing a reality check

These people really need to be brought back down to earth, they are no demigods of any particular status, nor are they any more special than the man in the street, the opportunity to serve the people is becoming the opportunity to play feudal lord over others – it is patently un-Dutch and nowhere near the egalitarian society we are supposed to espouse.

So, one of the so many stuck-up ministers comes to the rescue of an even more stuck-up minister – my blog favourite Mrs. Verdonk or Lady Oddjob as she is known as on my blog.

She happened to find herself in a situation where she was accused of taking political advantage of the murder of the film producer Theo van Gogh – well, they all did and anyone who says they did not is a bare-faced liar.

Then someone else suggested the deportation of failed asylum seekers as akin to Nazi war crimes – now, I would be hurt if anyone said my actions could be compared to the Nazis.

An apologist seeks an apology

However, this is how it pans out, Mrs Verdonk is demanding an apology for the politicking allegation but none for the Nazi smear.

Let s look at that again, the politicking allegation can from an alderman, an elected council official, but the Nazi jibe came from a member of parliament.

The Member of Parliament is absolved because of her status for the alderman is supposedly infra dignitatem – the cheek of it all.

It goes without saying that the alderman – Ahmed Aboutaleb is probably one of the best integrated Muslims in the Netherlands; well educated with sharp and commonsense opinions – that obviously cannot be the reason why he is under fire.

What is annoying is the fact that the Dutch are known to be straight talkers, but it appears some people only allow straight talking if they can talk down to people but we all should hands behind our backs, heads bowed step backwards mouthing ‘Yes ma’am.

Many U-turns Required - II

The comment below was made anonymously in response to my article on Many U-turns Required; I try to address the issues raised with interspersed comments as follows.

[Comment] So the U.S should talk to every perceived enemy in the world-and that solves it and makes GW Bush a good world leader - Condi should jet out on and talk to them all.

[Response] I think there is no point trying to stress that the US and the kind of policies that GW Bush has espoused over the last 6 years are predicated on the fact that a country like the US in the absence of a Cold War does need an enemy to serve as a foil to project power and influence around the world.

North Korea, Syria, Iran, Sudan and Venezuela all offer opportunities to project fear on the American people about dangers at home as much as their getting stuck into the quagmires that are Iraq and Afghanistan.

If they had ever even tried to talk to them, there would have been a point, they have not.

[Comment] I think this position oversimplifies things. We must appreciate that the rhetoric of "no discussion with evil men/dictators etc" often belies the backroom discussions that go on all the time.

[Response] If there are backroom discussions why does the front room rhetoric resound with increasing animosity and frosty relations?

The fact is America is selective about the so-called evil men/dictators that it deals with; there is no balance in their projection of foreign influence that it now makes them literally ineffective in many places.

Be it Israel, Lebanon, Sudan and Zimbabwe, them not condemning the military coup in Venezuela, aligning with the military dictatorship in Pakistan, ignoring the democratic mandate of the Hamas, fostering Nuclear proliferation in India and condemning it in Iran with is under threat from two sides of its territory.

The oversimplification as it appears is primarily a commonsense diplomatic stance that the Bush administration find too simple to adopt.

[Comment] The lack of overt high level contact in the full glare of the cameras does not necessarily mean the absence of all contact. Anyway a lot of people, for example, criticised the US for not talking to Syria and conveniently forgot the existence of a US embassy in Damascus.

[Response] Yes, and they also have an Embassy building in Iran, what is the point of having the building without a full-fledged ambassador? Having office administrators handle serious diplomatic issues is hardly the way to deal with countries that could seriously impact your safety in proximity countries and allies.

[Comment] You forget that the deal Madeline Albright negotiated with the North Koreans was badly defaulted on by the North Korean government.

[Response] Indeed, it was flawed but North Korea did not get nuclear during the Clinton era and if Bush had tried to correct the flaws and not unfortunately hurt the sensibilities of the “dwarfish” leader, we probably would not be where we are at now.

At least we had inspectors in North Korea and were able to monitor and report what they were doing, we no more have that advantage apart from satellite pictures and measuring seismic activity after the event.

[Comment] You forget that Rwanda happened under Clintons watch

[Response] Agreed, it did, but should the lessons of “never again” not now apply to Darfur? Should the Bush regime now try to outdo the Clinton administration in being ineffective in the face of great human injustice considering they are the only ones who have called Darfur - a genocide.

[Comment] You forget that Somalia happened under Clinton’s watch

[Response] And now, it is happening again, with the Islamic “overthrow” of a UN supported government which is getting compared with the Taleban.

[Comment] You forget that the first attack on the WTC was under Clinton’s watch

[Response] And the blind sheik implicated as the instigator of that activity is in prison, they are even not prosecuting his lawyer for treason-type offences.

The people responsible for WTC II or 9/11 still send us home videos five years after and we have lost more lives in Iraq and Afghanistan – only yesterday, we were receiving messages from Mullah Omar.

[Comment] You forget that Al Qaeda was formed under Clinton’s watch

[Response] This is disingenuous, yes; it was formed under Clinton’s watch but instigated in the aftermath of Gulf War I [an earlier Bush era, I would think] when America was seen to occupy the Islamic Holy Lands and propping up Middle East regimes that do not attend to the clamour of their peoples.

[Comment] You forget that the planning for 911 started under Clinton’s watch

[Response] And what did Condi do with the dossier she was handed about the Al Qaeda threat – I think the 911 Commission drew a good few conclusions about the new regime’s inactivity.

You forget that the attacks on the USS Cole, the US Kenyan and Tanzanian embassies were under Clinton’s watch. You forget that Afghanistan fell to the Taliban under Clinton’s watch. You forget that Clinton never formally made the existence of a Palestinian State US Policy.

[Response] Considering the way the Republicans highlight that there has been no other attack on US soil since 911, I could commend the Clinton administration for keeping their guard up after WTC I that Al Qaeda had to find soft targets elsewhere – hence, the USS Cole and the African embassy disasters.

Afghanistan became a vacuum of power once the Russians were driven out, I would suppose the Taleban represented a form of peace after 20 years of war and as they grew more unacceptable they would have remained in power if they had handed over Osama bin Laden – but that was a difficult decision for them that they offered to send him to a neutral country.

They had just fought along side their Muslim brother to liberate their country from the Russians; they probably had a blood oath with Osama never to deliver him to anyone which is why they risked their demise than garner opprobrium.

Now that the Bush administration have created a terrorist haven in Iraq, Americans are still getting killed almost everyday only that they are being killed in Iraq. That seems to be great comfort to your public.

I see two handshakes in the Middle-East moving towards peace which was progressing and could have been improved upon rather than being left dormant till the Bush administration was embarrassed into saying something radical and where is the progress still?

Yasser Arafat shaking the hand of Yitzhak Rabin on the White House lawn and Jordan through King Hussein recognising Israel, all happening under Clinton’s watch – they created the forum to talk, that other Arab states at least now recognise the right for Israel to exist.

However, the attitude to the democratically elected Hamas who won election on a platform of not recognising Israel such that sanctions are about to make that government collapse helps feed the rhetoric that questions the legitimacy of Israel from Iran.

We have never had a more strident Iran and this is one of the countries that the US would have to talk to directly and respectfully, as well as Syria if they are going to extricate themselves from Iraq – Mr Bush is waking up to this reality.

[Comment] The list goes on - I cite these examples not to detract from Clintons legacy but to make the point that its no use idealising the Clinton era and that the context and circumstances of the two presidencies are significantly different.

[Response] You are not doubt right, we can all do convenient lists depending on what part of the political spectrum we are on, but rather than build on the Clinton legacy to forward the fledgling deals or plans that were in place, they were all discarded for a neo-conservative doctrine that put Bush at variance with the world before 911 and then Bush squandered the post-911 goodwill on the Iraqi escapade just as Americans are governed through fear into what is no less a police state.

[Comment] In fact, there is a growing consensus amongst Historians that the Clinton presidency was an inconsequential one as far as global events go.

[Response] I think we need a need a bit more time to see where history would place Clinton and Bush, there is no doubt that Bush has his place in history, how he would be judged would be revealing to all concerned before revisionists have a field day.

Besides, my blog has broached many of the issues I have covered in here concerning American foreign policy and its ineffectiveness – Bush may be able to do a better job, if he has the will to do better is debatable.


Sunday 22 October 2006

Withheld numbers should beget withheld responses

Phone vibrates with no caller recognition

Out of the blue came this phone call to my mobile and as I wont to do, if the caller-ID shows up as Withheld or Unknown, my telephone manner is different; I would always try to identify the caller before I confirm who I am.

So, the conservation went along these lines.

Caller: Hello, Hello, Hello {In quick succession} – [Definitely, someone I have never spoken to, or maybe not in a long time].

Moi: Hello, who am I speaking to? Sometimes, I say – Hullo! Who is calling this number?

Caller: Can I speak to Akinola Akintayo?

[Now, that is really someone I have not spoken to in probably 10 years or more, in fact, that could be closer to 20 from my reckoning – amazing how much information one can glean from that]

Moi: Just a moment, and who are you?

Caller: I am [First introduces himself with a nickname he acquired long after I last met him], the brother of [uses brother’s fully qualified name – I recognize who it is and get a bit more familiar], we went to secondary school together, [yes, they were 2 years my junior], we come from the same home town [Now, you tell me, I must have forgotten that].

Moi: Ah! Yes, I do remember, how are you? We probably have not spoken for the best part of 20 years of more. I am Akin Akintayo, nice to chat to you again.

Caller: How are you? How is family?

[Do I say, I have no family, I am still part of my faraway birth family or I run a large family of one? I just say fine – But I suddenly realize, whilst in the West, a family can be one plus others, he might be expecting I am married to some super-fertile wife with whom we would be taking the population of the Netherlands to 17,000,000 which being at an estimated 16,336,346 would mean she would be have to be doing multiple births of probably 10 at a time.

He being part of a twin set would not find that strange, but I have had a few more calls that have gone along the same lines asking about my family.]

My Space and communication asteroids

It is the few more calls in days that are getting to me, I have to respond to Unknown numbers, I have been unable to extract a return number and I am of the good mind of just ignoring all Withheld and Unknown numbers as I normally do.

It transpired that my good sister felt I would like to chat to some old friend and parted with my number – we’ll have words.

Having been away from Nigeria for so many years I have to adjust to the temperament of people who have recently moved up here who could turn up at your door unannounced – I did that before 17 years ago – or call so many times in a week.

Suddenly, my communication spectrum is getting crowded out by signals from one transmitter – on a separate note, it is no wonder my home answering machine has 19 messages which probably have been gathering magnetic or electron dust for probably 2 months.

Time to wipe it clean – a bad habit - but how do you respond to a situation on your answering machine that is over 2 months old? Pray, it is nothing about winning the lottery – a bank error in my favour would show up on my bank statement, I can live with that.

Authority Stealing in Nigeria

Inured to it all, I suppose

Strangely, none of the Nigerian blogs I visit daily seemed to have picked up on this issue that Nigerian leaders have ‘stolen’ $380 billion cumulatively since independence with the worst atrocities in the 80s and 90s.

This leaves me a bit uncomfortable because it would imply that this is no news or people are so inured to that fact that they cannot be bothered to express any outrage.

Whilst the word stolen is qualified as either wastage or outright kleptomania, I would plumb for the least desirable definition of the word.

Basically, good leadership and stewardship of Nigeria’s resources and means should have ensured that any moneys spent were properly accounted for and whoever dipped into the treasury should have been able to declare in clear terms what for, why and what is to be achieved.

If they have been remiss in ensuring the proper management of resources then not only should those leaders be ethically sanctioned, they should indicted on possible treasonable offences for not serving the best interests of Nigeria.

Those military kleptomaniacs

The 80s and 90s had 3.5 years of democratic leadership and 16.5 years of military leadership. Whilst we can lament the dubious electioneering of the civilians, we really should stand up to those to forcefully imposed themselves on Nigerians in military dictatorship and then plundered the treasury without moving Nigeria forward in any appreciable way.

The selfsame rotten miscreants are now parading themselves as possible presidential candidates in the 2007 elections, this really should not be so.

What has happened is these people have looted the treasury years ago and are seemingly going straight and presenting themselves as gentlemanly and respectable people, however, it is important that the provenance of their wealth be probed to the last kobo (lowest denomination of the Nigerian Naira).

How much would a military dictator have been earning per year and how much more would have come his way through corrupt patronage?

Then what business interests were fronting for them as they passed moneys from the Nigerian treasury that they had turned into personal cheque accounts?

Name, Blame, and Shame them all

It is not enough for the chairman of the EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission) to highlight the fact of waste and theft; he should have a crack team questioning how any senior military official who appears to be living beyond the means of their remunerations came about their good fortune or largess.

Also, if the chairman is indicating that we should reject corrupt leaders, he should help us better by telling us who they are first and then he should have them first indicted and then arraigned into detention till every source of wealth is accounted for and tallied to the dot.

But then where does he make this statement? At the 60th birthday celebration of one of those leaders which included many of the ex-military leaders – this could have been bare-faced cheek or the usual annoyance of patronage that confers credibility on people of suspect integrity.

Once upon a time

The greater ill here is that there are many of us in Diaspora who most probably would have stayed in Nigeria if our resources were better managed, as I was growing up in the 70s, it appeared there was much to look forward to in Nigeria – you never thought your parents had to speak to some Mandarin to get you into the right school, you got there on merit.

The salaries people were paid meant they could easily afford a life of Western tastes, the middle classes thrived and help the promise of a better future for their children and grand-children.

In the early 80s, all I had to do was walk into the Student’s Union office having obtained a Nigerian passport a week before and book a flight to anywhere in the world, visas and documents arranged without much fuss.

The Naira had a value that was almost at par with the pound, students going for summer in the UK or the US were not a rare thing.

By the time the 80s came to a close, not only had these easy things gone, the Naira was devalued to less than 5% of its value in 1980, anyone who by happenstance was born abroad in the 60s was leaving and many others who had the opportunity left seeking good fortune elsewhere.

The destruction of the middle classes

The plundering of our resources destroyed the fabric of a cohesive and thriving society and it was used to polarize the nation along tribal, religious and moneyed lines as both violent crime and white collar crime literally went unsanctioned.

There are more people who probably left for their safety and security than for anything else, it is not helped by the fact that recently some people who have aspired for office have been expired by murderers probably on contract to eliminate opposition.

Ban them all

However, this really should be the radical change to our constitution, any military or civilian person who has been in leadership in Nigeria in the 80s and 90s covering the Head of State, the cabinet, the permanent secretaries, CEOs of major companies, leaders of military divisions, former governors, their deputies and their cabinets should be barred from contesting office ever again.

If they were not involved in the looting and wasting of our resources, they cannot have been ignorant of those activities and they could have raised a groundswell of revolt against the corruption of those days.

Also, they should all be at risk of losing their freedom if they are found to be politicking by trying to influence selections or elections, they should be under duress to prove that they have not been interfering with the system.

Accountable leadership beckons

We definitely need a new crop of leaders who would be subject to the scrutiny of the EFCC which should have a head that is appointed independent of the presidency and of the status of probably the deputy chief justice of the federation.

The rape of Nigeria should and must not go unpunished; we should be outraged and demand that they all be swept out the history of Nigeria into black books of shame from which they would only be able to extricate themselves once they can prove the untainted provenance of their wealth.

We cannot continue to condone as Fela did say – Vagabonds In Power/Authority Stealing and that was 1979 – could the outgoing President Obasanjo who was had of State then be indicted on a few counts of plundering too?


The Politics of Implementing the Structural Adjustment Program in Nigeria

Saturday 21 October 2006

God speaks to Rumsfeld too

Hearing voices or hearing things?

If you wondered why Donald Rumsfeld has not been pensioned off despite the brick bats he has received, well you should hear from Marine General Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“He leads in a way that the good Lord tells him is best for our country” Read here …

My reading of this is simple, if we have someone how hears from a higher being whilst refusing to listen to mortal men, we would rather keep the man than have someone who can between his religion and his interaction with men appear to be a man of reason.

The greater fear is if this comes from a General, we are in a greater pickle than we ever thought we were, we are in deep shit – this is really where we also need the good Lord’s help too.

Many U-turns required

Can you pull back?

It would appear the Bush Cabinet is in the process of trying to negotiate the U-turn of an Australian wagon train in a cul-de-sac on Iraqi strategy, we can only wait and see what becomes of the surrounding buildings and lawns as people are left askance at the stupidity of getting into the cul-de-sac first place.

As the debate goes on about what to do about Iraq ranging from sating the course to pulling out, one fundamental we seem to be forgetting is that the US and Britain opened this Pandora’s Box and there is no easy way to shut it back up tight.

The fact is, Iraq was like a grenade with the pin ready for pulling out, Saddam Hussein for all his evils kept that powder keg from exploding – very much like how Josip Tito kept the Yugoslavia bottled up till he died and the whole place became a conflagration of ethnic conflicts.

Much as many would like America to cut and run, the fact is there is a lurking ethical complex that requires that the mess after Saddam be becalmed to some pre-invasion quality of peace, something that I would think impossible in the foreseeable future.

Squandering the Clinton legacy

Then for all that can be said about the Clinton administration, I must highlight a few seminal points, they at least got the Israelis and Palestinians talking, the highpoint which was that handshake between Rabin and Arafat on the White House lawn.

With North Korea, Madeleine Albright did do to Pyongyang and there was a possibility that Clinton could have visited – however, more striking is that North Korea did not become nuclear on Clinton’s watch.

In fact, with Carter and Clinton, the Democrats did much more with the symbolism of getting the Arabs and Israelis to talk to each other than the Republicans have in 30 years.

Bad diplomacy

In the six years of Mr. Bush’s tenure, what we have gained is a consuming obstreperousness to refuse to talk in a bilateral relationship with Iran, North Korea, Syria, Hezbollah or Hamas as well as Iraq before the war.

This really cannot go on; it does not help the cause for diplomacy if there is no dialogue and hiding behind the Europe initiative with Iran or the 6-party talks about North Korea does not cut the muster.

In the end, it leaves US with second-hand information that lets Condoleezza Rice say that she does not believe the promises given to China by North Korea are as iron-cast as they are supposed to be.

Well, at least China sent someone to Pyongyang to hear from them; Europe and Russia have send people to Teheran, the UN Secretary General has been to Damascus and Teheran too, America has just been skirting the issue rather than getting stuck into really seeking world peace.

I am not hot on Rice at all

At this juncture, I have come to the conclusion that Condoleezza Rice, though a highly accomplished scholar in the dynamics that exemplified the cold war is a lightweight in the New World Order – she is no Henry Kissinger (that would be to besmirch him, though in these present times he could be indicted for a good number of civil rights and human rights misdemeanours), nor is she a James Baker III who is now co-heading a group to rethinking the American Iraqi strategy – probably because the administration has run out of ideas and she is no Madeleine Albright, at least she got the President to do something – Yugoslavia for example, though she denies influencing the situation.

Where America could have been the impartial arbiter with the respect due to a superpower they have taken sides and lost the ability to leverage resources and power that they have become bit-players in areas where they should be prime-movers.

No hope for resolution

With this approach to global issues, not only will North Korea conduct a few more tests, they would manufacture nuclear warheads, Iran definitely would develop a nuclear weapon just to show they can, the nuclear race would hot up with other countries in the Far East and the Middle East considering their options.

So, somehow, this leads to a new Republican National Convention political advertisement which plays on the fears of Americans with the premise that they might suffer a nuclear attack brought on by terrorists.

Well, the fear factor did work in 2004, I would hope it would be a damp squib in this year’s mid-term elections, because, the whole Bush administration attitude to terrorism with their untrammeled control of the Congress has lead to a more unsafe world – change is required and checks are needed – the Congress in the hands of the Democrats is the only alternative between the partisan evils we have to contend with.

As Clinton once surmised, we have the choice to choose between someone exciting our fears or lifting our hopes, this terrorist message is now old hat.


The Fear Factor video

Talk, grunt and say Hello!

More talk all talk

One programme I always pause to watch is the HardTalk series on BBCWorld where guests are interviewed having to address tough questions by seemingly fearless hosts. However, there are the lighter versions which are HardTalk Extra for famous people not involved in politics and ExtraTime for sports personalities.

In the last week, I had the opportunity to see one with Martina Navratilova and another with Leslie Phillips, people I do admire in some sort of way.

Blunt the grunt

In the case of Martina (unfavourably referred to as Navrati-leave her alone by some unfriendly characters), I finally understood what she meant when her complained in the 90s that Monica Seles was squealing like a stuffed pig, referring to her grunting.

That created something of a muffled laugh, but I thought it was a disgruntled comment, fair as it was.

However, when you also hear the American with a Russian background – Maria Sharapova grunt as she anticipates hitting the ball you begin to wonder, does it really require that much effort, barely do you see the men produce that much noise and they definitely hit harder.

So Martina explained that, the grunts muffled the sound of the tennis ball hitting the opponent’s racquet and sometimes the sound of it hitting the floor of the court or the net cord, this means one can only anticipate the ball by sight through flight rather than the added benefit of sound.

Sight, depth and perception

I remember I was never good at tennis, I just could not hit the ball, but it was not till later in life that I understood the reason. This was not much to do with my hearing, though that only really improved in my teens; it was because I had astigmatism in the left eye which meant I would not judge distance and speed.

It affects me so much that I never cross roads with fast moving vehicles except when traffic lights give me right-of-way or the driver acknowledges my intentions. Only a few days ago, people calmly crossed a dual-carriageway and when I followed, I became quite anxious as a car approached at speed, it was probably safe, but my brain could not use the information it was getting about the proximity of the vehicle.

It could be frustrating, but I am a patient man when it comes to crossing roads, my legs are not insured, and neither do I want to put them through the stress test of breakability.

As for the grunting in tennis, a decibel meter with warnings and points deductions might just help curtail those Neanderthal tendencies and make the game more fun, I also want to hear the ball being hit when watching on television.

Hellooo and bless

The interview with Leslie Philips was quite light hearted, known for playing seemingly gentlemanly roles with a lecherous affectation, he has been acting for about 70 years and does look really well at 82.

His trademark Hello! Or DingDong! Just have that sense of double entendre that was clean and so tongue-in-cheek about the Ealing Comedies, the Carry On series and Doctor.

Only Leslie Phillips can make Hello mean, what are you doing tonight, darling? A chat-up line, that can almost never be read as sexual harassment.

It would appear, his depiction of doctors might have lead to some people taking on that career on the premise that it would get them to meet sexy nurses besides doing the jobs of catering to people’s health – probably, the reason the NHS is what it has become.

However, for me, the line that stands out most was at the end of the film Saving Grace where having played the vicar and knowingly observed the growing of marijuana in first the churchyard and then with one of the parishioners, his reply to the question from the press – Bless! [Eyes rolled up looking up to heaven] – For me, that was a classic.


Navratilova wants ban on grunting

TIME.com: Stop That Grunt! -- Jul 13, 1992

Tuesday 17 October 2006

The real world of John le Carré

John le Carré

An interview with John le Carré on Dutch TV covers topics like Africa the Congo, the end of the Cold War, democracy, globalization and terrorism.

Whilst the introduction and some commentary is in Dutch, the interview itself is in English.

Choose the media player and the speed of your connection – breedband is broadband; and then click on Opslaan which means Save.

Some of the stuff he said (not verbatim more paraphrased) -

Africa is the pistol and Congo is the trigger.

The causes are not to be read as excuses, there are causes of terror and they need to be studied. We can view the war in Iraq on the very basic premise - let us get our hands on the oil of Iraq before the Chinese get it, it is rightfully ours to obtain because we are have the right by reason of being the chosen people.

Terrorists are soldiers without guns, soldiers without planes and soldiers without uniforms.

We do not understand the power of hate, the power of resentment in our society.

Video Playback

Video Playback with Windows Media Player and Broadband

Beyond the veil

Right through the veil

A lot of commentary has gone in the talk of unveiling the veil which gained some serious press when Jack Straw, the leader in the UK House of Commons revealed that he always entreated veiled visitors to his constituency surgeries to remove the veil.

As Nkem in African Shirts highlights, whilst he submitted the issue of communication, he was really pushing the issue of integration – both in my view are important.

Coming from an African society, Nigerian in particular, it was a sign of disrespect or obstinacy to look elders in the eye when being spoken to or when speaking to elders. In fact, rarely do we look each other in the eye when communicating even amongst peers, it is deemed confrontation and aggressive that it rarely happens.

Look me in the eye

When I moved to the UK, this cultural thing came with me, but then I realised all too soon that people expected you to look them straight in the eye when conversing, it represented honesty, truthfulness and sincerity – I was at the risk of being condemned untrustworthy for not interacting in the expected manner.

The expected manner being the culture and norms of forms of conversation in the UK, this regardless of the fact that I for a while from the age of 6 to about 25 the dominant culture in my life was Nigerian.

In these modern times, we are used to various forms of communication; the telephone by which variations in tone and inflexion can convey a manner and demeanour; emails or letters where hopefully thought and expression are used effectively; online chat which allows for casual forms of communication or Short Message Service (SMS) test messaging on mobile phones.

Senses in communication

The list is not exhaustive, but these allow for communication without the need for physical contact. However, when the person with whom I am communicating is in my presence, then, I expect with all the available senses I have at my disposal to interact with varying levels of intimacy.

Recognition (sight) of whom I am meeting, then a handshake (touch), as part of an introduction and greeting that would be voiced (hearing), if we are wearing cheap cologne or perfume (smell) and (taste) in a kiss, if we are a lot more intimate.

Some people might have some of their senses deprecated and then would have to rely on other senses to interact – Helen Keller – who was both deaf and blind used her hands to feel faces and communicate.

My point, when there is a presence to communicate; concealing the face does become an impediment to communication.

Where we are from is not where we are

Now, there are cultures and locations in this world where covering the face with slits for the eyes are signs of chastity and purity, that place in not in Europe.

My view is that we should definitely bring the best integrating bits of our foreign cultures to meld with host cultures for the promotion of understanding of where we are from, those bits of our cultures that separate us such that it creates division rather than interest and inquiry do not help us get assimilated into host cultures.

The freedoms the West offers us to be who we are should be not taken to the point that our expressions of values go against the grain of cohesion and the fostering of community relationships.

We are who we are, yes, but we are no more the dominant culture when we leave our indigenous lands of origin.

Basically, I do not see this as an Islam issue, it is basically a cultural-integration issue where people forget that freedoms they enjoy in freer societies should encourage them to integrate rather than look for ways to dissociate and be separate.

People who read this along religious lines are just looking for conflict rather than conciliation and shame on them.

Finest quality Ecstasy from the Police

Rotten electioneering looms

With Dutch elections looming in November, a number of things have to come to the fore to excite the voting masses into probably making the wrong choices.

Somehow, electioneering with hot-button issues like immigration, integration and crime seems to develop a life of its own which suddenly gets beyond the control of the instigators and hopeful helps the electorate make the right choices.

In the Netherlands, we should expect no less tugging at these matters, one of which has already caused outrage – politicians can seem to act tough through their mandarins in government organisations, but people who usually have not sold their souls step back thinking, this is not the kind of Dutch people we want to be.

Immigration to the fore

So, it transpired that a Chinese woman who is a failed asylum seeker was committed to detention in readiness for deportation – that is no news – however, she has an 8-year old son, like any decent mother, she refused to have her son placed with strangers – professional foster parents who would pitifully lavish minimal parental care for the moneys that make up their livelihood.

If I had a child, I’ll rather feed it to crocs than have it stay with such leeches.

Herein, was the outrage, not so much that the woman decided to take her son with her to detention – that was her comfort and expression of love and I am all for that – but that the organisation in charge could not arrange an alternative scenario where mother and son would not end up in detention.

Not looking good at all

The issue is even more complicated because the son, by reason of being born in the Netherlands is Dutch, representing a clash of parenthood and the state – in this case, one would hope that the bond of parenthood is of greater significance.

The point has now been made again that the Dutch through their government is tough on immigration; however, once again – like in the Ayaan Hirsi-Ali case just 4 months ago; a face-saving strategy has to be concocted to shift the blame of both the political masters and the officials.

The woman appears to have produced some more information which has lead to her release from detention and we are told this has nothing to do with her battles for residency or the outrage concerning the detention of her son – Exactly. We, the people just have to be taken for fools on the premise that the rules have just been followed to the letter – as the Dutch are wont to.

Meanwhile, plans are afoot to rescind the decision to deport them to China, I wish them luck.

Asylum seekers milking health

In the same electioneering gloom, the Health minister has intimated the house that asylum seekers get more healthcare benefits than the Dutch; not only did this outrage the MPs who thought real problems healthcare problems were not being addressed; it would outrage the electorate.

Whilst ministers can use selective language like asylum seekers, since we do not carry visible labels on our heads depicting our status in the Netherlands, asylum seekers could very well become synonymous with all immigrants, fuelling all sorts of negative feeling to legally resident but different people – surely, the politicians know what game they are playing.

Finest Ecstasy from the police

Finally, it appears, the politicians might not be able to take laurels for being strong on law enforcement – 250 policemen had been found to be failing in the level of integrity required of law enforcement. Surprise! Drug trading, drug peddling and joy-riding seem to feature in the rap sheet of crooked and bent policemen.

Somehow, they have able to link lacking experience with integrity violations – my view, the oldies have learnt how not to get caught. It is no secret that I think the Dutch police are bone-idle, bureaucracy laden, pen-pushing abusers of the law – quick to levy petty criminals but completely lame when pursuing serious criminals.

Inquiry – my foot!
An inquiry is to be instigated – I have questions.
Why are you surprised the police are corrupt?
What is the secret to not getting caught?

Can I now report a crime against the person in any police station in a city, especially, if that police station is outside the nearest emergency treatment centre though the crime happened elsewhere in the city?


Chinese boy freed from IND expulsion centre

Asylum seekers 'sponging off healthcare'

Inquiry into 'shocking' rise in police crimes