Tuesday 30 December 2008

The Audacity of Hope

He will disappoint

I can safely predict that president-elect Barack Obama would disappoint more people than he would impress, even though it appears he can be all things to all men.

In just about a week, I have finally turned the final leave the 362 page body, The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama, it lives up to the hype and more, I have not read such an engaging book written by a politician which still reads with such conviction, simplicity and sense of purpose.

A story well told

In fact, I am amazed that during the campaign some were saying they knew nothing about Barack Obama with it culminating in Sarah Palin’s sinister; Who is Barack Obama? If she had ever bothered to read this book or read anything in particular she would have been in no doubt about whom he is, what guides him, how he thinks and where he wants to take America.

If I had read this book when it was first published in 2006 and had been able to see beyond the mist of celebrity and celebration of the newcomer orator, I would have had no doubt in my mind that the man would take the presidency and would have seen his tussle with Hillary Clinton as the training school for the bigger and substantive campaign.

A universal constituency

The reason why Barack Obama would disappoint many is because his constituency is universal; it has no specific identity, vested interest, obscure agenda or overbearing lobby. The people who want direct access to power have an axe to grind and a purpose of self-interest.

Everyday people only want to get on with their lives, hoping that the government ensures their freedoms and that they have a safety net when things turn bad – all that matters in terms of their government is that whoever gets chosen by the concept of democracy becomes an all-inclusive leader of all rather than the partisan, divisive and self-interested politician whose platform is founded on things that divide ad not things that unite.

A message that resonates

Barack Obama will not serve any of the special interests and lobbies who feel that they have a call on his office, they might think themselves crucial in his support framework but by numbers they are really insignificant to the broader swell of optimism that moved people to climb unto his vehicle of change they could believe in and the audacity of hope they could latch unto.

Through the book, Barack Obama addresses both the wedge issues and the core values of America, the conservatives whose message of individual responsibility forgets the greater call to Christian service of sacrifice, charity and compassion. The black churches that need to address the responsibility and begin to move beyond the clutches of race, racism, prejudice and deprivation politics.

Thinking through

He is both liberal and conservative that he comes across as pragmatic almost to a fault, his thinking is mature, considered, introspective, determined and commonsensical; when he responds to hard questions, he might sound professorial and he is a professor at Constitutional Law – as the Harvard Political Review [2] opines, “He manages to make nearly everything he says sound non-threatening.”

His different narrative

I can appreciate as a product of cultures though not of races, his quest for a strong identity, the influence of his forebears on his life, his desire not to propagate the troubles of his youth and past on the possibilities of the future.

This is a man who is a man of the times where every other politician that seeks office sits in disagreement and disagreeable banter, polarising the electorate and sending them like hordes into harms way as they sit hoping to reap rewards of office without despatching the responsibilities handed to them.

Indeed, some politicians do start with altruistic good intentions but the cut and thrust of the bear pit of politics shipwrecks their original aspirations with inaction and unfulfilled promises.

I am sorry to say that this is why Africa with not have leaders like Barack Obama, and it remains why the Middle-East would not see peace without someone who is ready to dispassionately stand above the fray regardless of the personal cost for the sake of the people who suffer on both sides of the conflict.

A text for any class of learners

Any class that of students that would be progressive needs this book processed into bite-size chunks for civics, civility, community service, seeking common ground and seeing the quest for public office as a service to humanity rather than one to those with specific and ulterior motives.

I am not sure we would see a politician of the mould of soon to be President Barack Obama for a generation, but for now, we should wish him Godspeed as the audacity of hope takes hold and begins to materialise into realities once considered impossible.

I commend to you The Audacity of Hope [3].


[1] The Audacity of Hope - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[2] Harvard Political Review - The Audacity of Hope

[3] Amazon.com: The Audacity of Hope: Barack Obama

Obama's vision of what America should be :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Politics

Monday 29 December 2008

The verge of pleasurable disgust

No care for the body

Overheard as I wended my way to the beach through the Maspalomas dunes, he said, “Is that a man or a woman?”, “Maybe a man,” came the response and then the conclusion, “He looks like a very fat woman.”

This is not to be disparaging, but in general men and women are not taking any care of themselves anymore, it is not a case of if you’ve got it, flaunt it; but one of whatever you have just let it droop.

It is more than an eyesore, the possible David of Michelangelo that walked the dunes is now cloaked in layers and layers of lipidinous (An adjective of lipid, if I could be excused this licence) excess, bloated and drooping almost to the ground.

Sharing the unwanted

The dunes are some sort of nudist reserve where ones reserve is taunted to the unacceptable that one is on the verge of being sick.

Halfway down, there was one man who appeared to take some care of himself and was in full view spanking the macaque; monkey would be have been overly generous, as one resisted the tendency to be indecent he beckoned as it were for one to offer a service to his lady.

Just as a wave of charitable concern was about to engulf me to allow for becoming a eunuch so that I could be castrated to help this man, I realised that even if I were Tarzan I would never be a swinger if I could help it – the revulsion of the thought allowed me to close my eyes 5 metres to the scene and close my ears to the giggling as I paced 5 metres after.

Give me oxygen

The thought crossed my mind of protuberances cosmetically enhanced by donations from Africa but what would the pleasured do with an amalgam of ebony and ivory all for the sake of the climax they once knew.

Suffer me no more the decadence of men but what people get up to on holiday leaves one completely astonished.

Back hand to the brow of a head tilted backwards, I sigh and beckon for a dose of pure oxygen.

Saturday 27 December 2008

Christmas is today, the feast of thieves

Between God and mammon

One is almost driven to distraction about the way Christmas is so yoked to retailing to the complete exclusion of the Christmas story in the United Kingdom.

Originally, as varied historians assert, what became the Christmas [1] feast was once a pagan feast, not that it so matters now, but the contemporary message of Christmas should for all intents and purposes retain a link to what gives rise to the celebration.

What I see on the English channels on my hotel television is the great lament about retailers, shopping, bargains and profits – Baby Jesus cannot seem to get in edge-ways.

Buying at every cost

Materialism has pervaded the atmosphere, even customers are rushing into the upscale Selfridges, it really makes you wonder as people queue up for shopping in the winter cold just to grab a cheaper handbag, shirt or dress.

In my view, what you cannot afford at the full price you probably should not have, the victory of a bargain or a price reduction by omission or commission rely belies a poverty of spirit that people fail to understand. However, sometimes shops have deals or promotions but we should not be waiting for the stirring of the water by angels [2] for cripples to “jump” in.

Between affordability and bargains

For instance, when I was buying my home, my unspoken prayer was to be able to afford it whenever I was ready rather than having to wait for prices to collapse before I stepped in – what if prices did not collapse but doubled, then I would never get to buy my home.

Equally, much as we live in a debt-fuelled world where the ability to pay off a debt depicts your seeming creditworthiness especially if you are middleclass, the received wisdom should be that one should not spend what you do not have in the bank to pay off – regardless of the reach of your credit cards.

But people are trapped in a hedonistic addiction to goods and the need to be able to show off, Christmas should never be a time for bargains and really, I have no sympathy for retailers who fleece their customers throughout the year and plead low till receipts at the end of the year.

Not in that demographic

If most customers were like me, retailers would have to get into better logistics to keep in the market, the competition would be so keen that only retailers with durable, sophisticated and valuable goods would remain in the marketplace.

Behind all this lament of the retailers stands the shareholders who have raked in profits like money is going out of fashion and even in these lean times, they still expect those atrocious profits – my wallet is closed because, the shoes I buy, last; the clothes I wear are durable; I am not a fashion slave, my old television still shows good pictures and I am not given to unnecessary ostentation.

The government would like the economy to recover through more consumer spending, which is a fine macro-economic idea, but customers as individuals need to be wary of situations where they are more exposed financially than they should be – thrifty is the word, regardless of the national call to spend; except where you have received a bailout from the government.

Bring Christmas back

Since Christmas is about the roots of Christianity, if the retailers are having a really tough time this Christmas without any mention of Christ, we can look at it as the proverbial overturning of the tables in the temple – then Jesus took exception to making His Father’s house a den of thieves [3], today, the climate takes exception to making a holy and religious time of celebration and reflection a trading day for cheaper tat.

Maybe one should have some sympathy for the impoverished, seeking the unaffordable but who think overpriced goods they crave are now a bargain to be had – conversely, maybe that is the real price of the goods with a little markup – we have all been had and we think we have had them.

In fact, Christmas becomes a good cloaking scam for a more sinister con, but if it costs less, it is worth less or should that be worthless?


[1] Christmas - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[2] John 5:4 For an angel of the Lord went down at certain

[3] Den of thieves

Thursday 25 December 2008

Nigeria: Sack that slovenly Senate

I have to work

In my line of work as a self-employed consultant, I work an average of 20 days a months, on occasion there could be up to 23 days and there are cases where I might have to work overtime. The day consists of 8 hours.

However, because I am not a salaried man, I can only be paid for the approved and signed hours I have worked. For instance, my hours added up to 200 because of some administrative issues in October, they were down to 168 in November and because of my holidays, I have put in only 112 hours in December.

There would be a world of difference between what I took home in October compared to what I am taking home in December – there is probably a break-even point below which what I take home cannot meet my outgoings and then I would be running a dangerous deficit.

When I look at the hours I put in for December, I know for sure that I would not breakeven on 8 days of work which adds up to 64 hours and definitely it would be an administrative loss to my client if I only put in just 8 hours or effectively just worked 8 hours out of a possible 160 hours for all sorts of reasons.

An utterly disgraceful and abject failure

Why am I off on one of my detours of analogy and being a raconteur? I just read that the Nigerian Senate only passed 8 out of 120 bills [1] in the whole of 2008.

If that were an academic score, it would be so below any ranking for a failure, the assessor would seek alternative means of explaining why this might have happened.

In fact, there can be no valid explanation for this but maybe one should be a bit reserved in passing judgement.

They probably have excuses

If 120 bills were presented to the Senate, they must definitely have some inference, reference or possible effect for the Nigerian people, one would assume.

If 112 of those bills could not be passed for any range of reasons one can wonder if the Senate never had time to debate them having been constitutional sitting for at least 181 days of the year. That equates for just about 9 months of working days.

It cannot be that they were only able to pass a bill a month in the whole of 2008, surely, Nigerian issues should attract more attention, urgency, application and seriousness than to have been left to a situation where this appalling result becomes so evident.

This is unacceptable

The Senate has been slow, slothful & slovenly, this is a country where about 70% live on less than a dollar a day and those people do back-breaking work literally everyday God sends and they are still hardly able to fully meet their needs.

These wronged people are then represented by a cable of fully-fed, overpaid, squabbling Senators with their noses in the trough who are pre-occupied with their in-fighting and overcome with corrupt activity that there is no time for them to really engage in what they were employed to do.

There is no institution, establishment or organisation that can abide a kind of result like this apart from an unaccountable, irresponsible and lackadaisical Nigerian Senate that is not in reverence of its electorate and care nothing for the duties they have been assigned.

Sack them all

There is every reason to demand the sacking of the whole Senate with the uproar that should include Nigerians getting a refund for work not done – these people earn about 500 times the pay of Nigerian and apparently have nothing to show for it.

In effect, politics is not working for Nigeria and if no one can do something about this with a clear condemnation of the Senate leadership who should hold their heads in shame and disgrace, we are far off from genuine reform.


The Punch: Senate passes eight out of 120 bills in 2008

Merry Christmas, enjoy the wine

Christmas greetings

Wednesday 24 December 2008

The audacity of travel

If I can help it

The lessons we learn from experience sometimes leads us to do the extreme in a determined effort to avoid reliving those moments again.

I finally switched on to holiday mode just under 24 hours before leaving home, the hours did not rush by as I did my own ironing and then packed my bags.

I can say I was able to pack only twice and I even eliminated a pair of trousers and a pair of shorts from my holiday fashion show, it still tipped the scales at 27kg and that for me is travelling light.

Sometimes, I am not able to separate the hotel booking from the charter flights, I really want the hotel but I would get their on my own steam. The experience I had of being delayed 6 hours, getting on a plane like I was getting on a bus full of football hooligans and doing a tour of all hotels in Playa del Ingles before dropped off last, I just was not going to risk anymore.

After confirming my booking, I phoned to let them know that I would not be flying with ArkeFly nor should they bother picking me up at the airport. I had to add one extra night to my holiday to have scheduled flights by KLM and Air Europa with a stopover in Madrid.

Up, out and there

Having gotten up at 4:30 this morning, I only had enough time for a shower and packing my ultraportable before the taxi arrived to take me to the airport, I was in Las Palmas at 13:35, just a little over 8 hours of having rights than the 4 and a half hours of suffering worse.

I also arrived an hour earlier than I would have and had a pickup which end up as a stretch limousine, I just wanted to avoid doing a tour of hotels but to end up like bling-king, well, I cannot complain for the comfort, I would not know if my street cred is intact.

The audacity of it all

The real audacity of travel still remains my fascination with the miracle of flight, much as it is so common as to be inconsequential, the whole concept and practice of putting all the bulk of metal with souls and their baggage in the air and safely touching down at a destination is still a wonder of human ingenuity to me.

As you would have noticed, my reading material included the Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama what I have already read of that book leaves in awe of that man, then the man sat behind me also had the book and before long we were on about the hopes of Barack and the fears of Obama – I have come down on the side of him being the man for these tough times.

The Financial Times also named him their Man of the Year and opined on how he would have to please some and disappoint some – I think he really is the Man of the Year and for all he has achieved, he is also my Man of the Year – my first ever.

The audacity to survive

And to show how the credit crunch might not hold much of a crunch to some, the Financial Times published a correction – “The Bulgari ring featured in Life & Arts on December 20 is not available to buy over Christmas as suggested. It will be available at Harrods from January and in all Bulgari stores from February.”

Now, that is the Audacity of Confidence and on that note, may you all have the audacity of hope for a merry Christmas and the audacity of travel that would take you through a prosperous and rewarding New Year and the audacity of confidence to be whatever you want to be despite that realities that surround us.

Merry Christmas