Saturday 27 February 2010

Nigeria: Logical conclusions require no intrigue

Nollywood fantasies

Reading some of the Nigerian newspapers online along with the guerilla news agency can be quite interesting not to talk of the comments that accompany their stories.

Every news item with respect to the presidency is never allowed to follow a logical process to clear conclusions without the embellishment of what I would suggest is imagined political intrigue and sensationalism bordering on life imitating Nollywood fantasy.

To say the least, I am personally not bought on those stories that try to justify a certain perspective to garner an engaged readership when the natural course of events might well reveal a truth that unfortunately is not as newsworthy and will not create the market mass of commercial value and establish the organ as a respectable source of information.

Embarrassments and upheavals

The inability for delegated Nigerian government officials sent to Saudi Arabia to see the president had become a growing embarrassment for the Saudi government, they had to do everything to extricate themselves from that ignominious global scrutiny by coercing the “First Lady” to move her husband having done all they could do.

Indeed, the arrival of the President would have cause the upheaval that ensued, that was both natural and logical; obviously, that there were some manoeuvres without the knowledge of the Acting President was unfortunate, but the real condition of the unseeable President had to be preserved, that is understandable.

Like I have time and again surmised, on arrival, there was no way the President could assume or resume power without at worse a picture of the man in compos mentis addressing the matter of his long absence and his expectations.

Logical conclusions with time

Now, after 72 hours we still have heard nothing from him about his state, condition and plans, the logical conclusion without the need for the aggressive posturing certain pundits expected of the Acting President is Goodluck Jonathan is still in charge without having to wrestle and expend energies on those faceless mandarins and the so-called kitchen cabinet.

In my view, no visible President after a certain length of time means Acting President is substantive President until President is seen – the political intrigue and commentary is at best manufactured for effect. Basically the effect of the upheaval just fizzled out.

The First Lady is human

As expected, the meeting between the First Lady and the Acting President was going to be emotional, this is a wife who has watched her able husband deteriorate and become incapacitated by reason of illness, the risk of repeating myself that she had been reduced to a Juliet rather than exerting the powers of a Jezebel is just human in the circumstances.

If anything were being done in her name by others, it can only have been sycophantic and self-serving on the part of those protagonists who would have us believe they are serving the interests of the President and Nigerians at large.

The Acting President is in charge

Once again, the President is just unfit to be seen and that is fine enough with me even if the Acting President himself cannot see the President, without much ado the Acting President has executive authority until such a time that the President can clearly indicate he is well and well able to assume his office and resume his work.

So, let us cut out all the rhetoric, postulation, unnecessary political intrigue and speculative yarns masquerading as analysis or commentary and give the Acting President the essential and necessary support to steer this mighty ship of state called the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Whilst there is a market share to grow and a readership to build by these many news organs, it should not be done at the expense of Nigeria for the purpose of attaining a tainted credibility.

Long live Nigeria and God help Goodluck Jonathan whilst he gives many the patience to allow him do his job, I forgot, his wife is Patience – how uncanny.

Friday 26 February 2010

Nigeria: In the hands of a good doctor

Such impatient speculation

One has not been too particularly impressed with the hysteria and speculations that followed the return of President Yar’Adua in the dark of the night a few days ago.

Beyond the self-appointed pundits and impatient analysts, heretofore respected Nigerian newspapers assailed the persons and personalities of the kitchen cabinet and most especially the wife of the President with a blood-thirsty and inordinate quest for power at any cost.

It was quite difficult to glean any objective perspective in all those opinions and the Acting President Goodluck Jonathan did not fare that well in the matters either.

There was no doubt that the return of any similitude of President Yar’Adua would cause an upheaval, but we must not forget as I had suggested before that the continual visits of Nigerian politicians failing to see the President in Saudi Arabia was also becoming a serious embarrassment for the Saudi royalty and government.

Once again, he cannot be seen

The return of President Yar’Adua is so far good because with time the charade that had been maintained in Saudi Arabia could no more be retained in Nigeria longer than the day in which he returned.

Having been in the country for more than 60 hours, no one has confirmed a sighting of the President to ascertain what state he is in, it is not too difficult to deduce and conclude as one has averred for long that he is unfit to be seen and thereby unfit to rule.

There was no way that the emissary dynamic from afar was going to work with the President’s proximity still keeping him hermetically sealed from access or he still being too unprepared to address the nation he left over 3 months ago.

Radical changes afoot

So, finally, the coterie of sycophants and faceless mandarins or power brokers around the gravely ill but “recuperating” President have had to defer to his vice-President who at present is designated the Acting President with full powers until such a time as the President like Lazarus miraculously or as the legendary phoenix rises from the ashes to operate with his full capacity and ability.

Meanwhile, the issues of the day has allowed the Nigerian legislature to modify the constitution to deal with the exploited failings of the sections that allowed the President to vacate his post with illness for 90 days without sanction.

An understanding of organisms

In my view, Dr Goodluck Jonathan is a rare breed of politician and personality, as a holder of a PhD in biology he probably has a good understanding of organisms, hosts and parasites which could be microbial or humongous.

Generally, Nigerian politicians are prone to the conspicuous, garrulous, mendacious and atrocious; he has been inconspicuous, literally cloaking himself with a self-effacing lack of ambition and drive whilst attaining authority and exerting influence with unheralded deftness.

Parasites and hosts

When he became acting President he curtailed the most virulent organism in the administration, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice Michael Aondoakaa frightening a number of parasites from the hold they had on the helpless host.

Certain bacteria would definitely need to be catalysed into helpful bacteria and others would require a healthy dose of antibiotics, in some cases the ecosystem in which they thrive might have to change making them ineffective.

Viruses are a more difficult problem but with a boosted immune system championed by a determined mission to rid the nation of many of its ills, I would suppose there would be enough antibodies to overwhelm the viruses offering residual immunity to those strains.

In the hands of a good doctor

The body of the country called Nigeria is sick but not incurable; it has walked into swamps where leeches had almost sucked it dry but it not anaemic beyond what a decent few transfusions can help.

I think Nigeria is in the hands of a good doctor and am ready to be patient, non-judgemental and amenable to appreaciating the qualities and abilities of Dr, Goodluck Jonathan – I would suggest his knowledge of biology would come in more usefully in the political landscape of Nigeria, it consists of organisms no different from ones studied under microscopes too.

Thursday 25 February 2010

The chemotherapy is over

Arguing for the last

For all intents and purposes, I was resolute to have today be the last meeting with the oncologist with respect to my planned eighth chemotherapy treatment.

As I had stated before in my blog last week after meeting with my treatment consultant the fact that more chemotherapy had been scheduled beyond the 1st of March was not something I was ready to contemplate or prepared for in any way.

It was supposed to be all change from the 8th of March, signifying my freedom from chemotherapy and my readiness in however small a way or possibly better to seek employment and begin to rebuild my life.

The case made

Thankfully, my treatment consultant met with both the oncologist and the head of the oncology department about his concerns that the improvement of my immune system was being impeding by the chemotherapy and his view that chemotherapy should stop soon enough to begin to see improvements in my immunity.

The oncologists concurred and at my appointment today which was to presage the last agreed treatments they agreed that by the 4th chemotherapy I had already had magnificent response and healing and the other 3 after had simply bolstered that improvement.

The points accepted

So, they were satisfied that after 7 chemotherapy treatments there was now no need for the 8th which had been scheduled for the 1st of March and it was better to give my immune system the chance to recover so as to prevent my succumbing to opportunistic infections.

Before this, I had wondered if I could go on chemotherapy with a cold that was accompanied with violent sneezing and the occasional cough, there was some uncertainty and trepidation but this was such unexpected news.

All the blood test results had returned and everything seemed to be fine apart from the indicators for immunity which were just too low, the next meeting with my treatment consultant in May after new blood tests in early May should hopefully show the necessary improvements allowing for some changes to the drug regime I am still under.

Moisturising the pain

The oncologist was also of the view that I could further reduce my pain management medication and be weaned off it over the next week or so.

The special moisturising cream was prescribed and I was offered words of encouragement as he commended my bravery through the treatment and all the other issues that entailed.

He appreciated that for 5 months my life had revolved around a 21-day cycle of treatment, incapacity, recovery, expectation, analysis and back to treatment again without the opportunity to breakout especially to the challenging issues of seeking work in the light of mounting bills and threats.

Other things for worry

The newest threat today was the least of my concerns, as a traveller I had an iris identification card which should have been renewed since October that I ignored because I was in no fit state to travel talk less of having the means to travel, now the debt collectors are on my tail for the subscription – honestly, that is really the least of my problems.

Unfortunately, the ones I owe the least are the ones pursuing me the most, all those bills will all eventually be paid with the damage that has ensued to my credit rating by reason of incapacity and illness – someone somewhere is making good money out of misfortune, that is the way of the money system we live in.

Thank you, all

The good news in all this quagmire of realities and expected changes for good and better is that there is no more chemotherapy to take, not even a maintenance one.

For that, I am grateful to God, to all the experts and nurses who have cared for me, my loving neighbours, my friends from all the different spheres of life who have all supported me with means, goods, services, encouragement, concern and love – all of whom I just cannot thank enough, but still, I say thank you.

To my creditors who have been so reasonable too, reducing the stress that could impede my recovery, thank you too.

I saw the priest, that is another blog.

Wednesday 24 February 2010

Nigeria: Yar'Adua returns unfit to be seen

We did not see him

Eventually the global newswires will carry the news that the Nigerian President Umaru Yar’Adua [1] has returned home [2] after three months of absence due to illness.

The sad part of the news is nuanced in the fact that he was transported rather than a traveller, he was carried rather than walking, he arrived unseen, unwelcomed, unheralded, un-ushered and absent from press coverage under the cloak of darkness.

Again as one has continually stressed, the man is unfit to be seen, in no condition for a public and basically incapable of basic autonomous functions talk less of the burden of office.

We could not see him

To have been carted away by ambulance might just excite the deepest premonitions of doctors having done what they could do and now he has been offered the dignity of closure back at home.

The aura of Presidency has been swiped away with the basic realities of our frail humanity; presidents return home with a coterie of staff and admirers, they strut with triumphant aplomb down the stairs of presidential jets waving to their people with smiles and energy.

He could not be seen

Especially after a long time of absence, the least the lead would expect of their leaders would be to see the leader returning having recovered from whatever ailment no matter how terminal the prognosis might have been a foretime.

Sadly, it cannot be said that President Yar’Adua arrived ready to resume anything without stretching our imaginations to the incredulous.

Maybe he would never be seen

In all, we still wish the man very best for health and a recovery, prayerfully and wishfully, there might well be something to hope for but apart from the political upheaval that might ensue we might be closer to an Ariel Sharon [3] situation, since we cannot expect the miracle of an FDR concealment [4] but at best a Fidel Castro [5] transition.

The fact is, if the man had the slightest amount of strength to do anything, he would have walked down the stairs of that presidential jet even if at the bottom of those stairs he fell down and died.

Beyond this, we must begin to see

Hopefully, he would do the right and constitutional thing allowing for the country to continue and the goodwill of all good people to follow him to a better condition in the future, if not, let us be ready to mourn an honourable man at the very least.

God help the President but more so, God bless Nigeria and bless us indeed with ready able leaders and leadership.


[1] Umaru Yar'Adua - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[2] BBC News - Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua 'returns home'

[3] Ariel Sharon - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[4] Franklin D. Roosevelt's paralytic illness - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[5] Fidel Castro - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sunday 21 February 2010

What's for me in the welfare state?

Asking the welfare state

I finally decided to check to find out if for all the 9 years of working in the Netherlands I was entitled to any help in respect to having been out of work for so long and been ill for about the same duration of time.

Considering I had made other plans to actualise part of my real estate without much success advice I had received meant I should assess those possibilities.

Late in December, I thought my chemotherapy treatment was coming to an end so I registered as unemployed looking for work as well as for income support.

Good for work, much less for welfare

The work coach was quite helpful for the registration for the income support end was literally inscrutable, the forms on the Internet just went page after page and my knowledge of Dutch stumbled at the ambiguities of meaning, intent and context, I was getting nowhere.

Eventually, I decided to call the benefit office for all the help they could offer in filling in the forms explaining that I had been unable to effectively search for work because the chemotherapy really only gave me two weeks of utility every month.

Sadly, the strength of the chemotherapy knocked me out for more or less a week, if I could get very short term contracts for my services, maybe that can be tailored but the schemes had to be quite specific.

Forms and boxes

A meeting had been scheduled for last Friday in relation to the registration done in December and my work coach sent me a whole range of paper forms to fill in which I did to the best of my ability barring the ambiguous points.

I took copies of contracts, salary slips, hospital appointments, prospects and every other detail I could find on my situation to the meeting and we just got on with filling in the forms which we did very well without having to use the scheduled meeting for a form-filling coach.

It’s on some computer

I was surprised at the amount of information the system had on me, apart from all my employment contracts since 2002, I found that at least for part of penultimate contract and the last contract they also had the full details of what hit my bank account.

The SUWINET information system was an amazing Big Brother monitor of my financial activities, I questioned why I had to fill the forms with information they already had and could easily access by typing in my Social Security Number.

The way information is so interlinked in scary to say the least; it is on some computer somewhere and pervasively accessible to almost anyone who has authority to view it including my work coach.

We filled in all the forms, photocopied all the documents and I asked for copies of what had been recorded in the SUWINET system and the forms were sent by the internal postage network of the social security office.

Using the support system

It was quite a strange world for me, I had not visited a social security office since the early months of 1991 and like I said before, it was all the more difficult because I never learnt how that system worked because I have always been in employment and when I had breaks, I never had difficulties with those breaks.

I am however not sure of what I am really entitled to and if any claim will be backdated to some point for support and amelioration – such was the self-confidence in getting by that thinking of the safety of social security and the welfare state never really occurred to me until friends suggested I explore that area and it took some convincing to make that move.

In any case, I now have just 5 weeks to aggressively seek new employment to hopefully start work by the beginning of April at the latest, a few more meetings with creditors and medical personnel are planned – just wish me well with every good fortune.


The amazing prospect of Balkenende V

Balkenende IV collapses

I woke up yesterday morning to the news story on Al-Jazeera television that the Dutch cabinet had collapsed

Though we have had the same Prime Minister [2] since 2002 that was the collapse of the fourth coalition cabinet though this one lasted the longest.

The very obvious and challenging thing to realise is the politics of the Netherlands has changed irretrievably over the last decade from the traditions we have all learnt built the Netherlands into a country of global influence and economic clout.

The dyke collapses

Somehow, I am afraid that the thinking that allowed the Dutch to grab land from the sea for form the land mass we now have in the time worn fashion of the Polder Model [3] of consensus and compromise towards agreement has departed.

In political terms, we have had the equivalent of a dyke-break, I cannot find any outward thinking or celebrated act of statesmanship in the political landscape that has caused the collapse of all the four cabinets.

Rather, political infighting to self-destruction on such matters of local import looking for some political advantage in possible elections have bedevilled the system.

An ambiguous electorate

It goes without saying that we have the governments we choose and we have generally elected conservatives balanced by liberals and augmented by populist extremists, the last cabinet however was an uneasy grand-coalition of conservatives, the centre-left and an orthodox religious party – I thought it was a powder-keg, it only had a very long fuse.

In 2002, the cabinet of Wim Kok [4] dissolved in taking the possible responsibility for the Srebrenica massacre, this cabinet fell on the possibility of extending the tenure of Dutch troops in the NATO alliance in Afghanistan – they basically could not agree on the matter.

Our NATO commitment

Just less than 2,000 troops is not necessarily a significant number in Afghanistan and we do have a somewhat quiet existence there as opposed to the South of Afghanistan but we had been promised the troops will return this summer.

Not to mention the erstwhile Secretary General of NATO was Dutch, so we have a significant and influential member of that coalition pulling out with some consequences and hopefully not too damaging.

Generally, many would prefer that the war in Afghanistan come to an end with all our troops back home, which for me also includes the British troops but we cannot afford to leave a quagmire in that region, I am saddened that if that venture does yield results the footnote the Dutch might attain could be closer to ignominious by reason of little-country politics.

However, with the change of tactics in pursuing the war in Afghanistan there was a need to reconsider the pullback as part of the Dutch contribution, between the parliament and the within the coalition partners there was no agreement leading the Labour Party to withdraw from the coalition because they were against the extension.

Some fearful possibilities

Now, Prime Minister Balkenende might have the opportunity of forming another cabinet, the fifth – it really beggars belief, in July 2006, I wrote No to Balkenende III [4], I cannot believe I am looking at a possible Balkenende V.

I would suppose Jan Peter Balkenende does have some political savvy for holding on for so long even though his Calvinist inclinations might well reflect why he is somewhat invisible and some policies are parsimonious – but with another election the only worse thing that could happen is to have people be persuaded by the vitriolic rhetoric of Geert Wilders [6], the fact is he could be the next Prime Minister.


[1] Al Jazeera English - Europe - Dutch cabinet falls over Afghan row

[2] Jan Peter Balkenende - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[3] Polder Model - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[4] Wim Kok - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[5] No to Balkenende III []

[6] Geert Wilders - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
[1] and I was not that surprised.

Thursday 18 February 2010

Thought Picnic: Giving the benefit of doubt

Justified rage

One can easily understand the cynicism and scepticism that accompanies issues to do with Nigeria. We have had such appalling leadership, dishonest intent and mangled processes that anyone and everyone is probably fully justified in believing the worst of any action taken by those who claim to be in political leadership.

At this time the issue that most exercises the Nigerians in their discourses is that of the health of the president, his current condition, the transfer of powers and every other activity that attempts to keep Nigeria in a sort of limbo, bereft of rulership and direction whilst pandering to the whims of faceless mandarins who portend to speak for the president.

A detective one must be

In other blogs I have written I have made my case about what I could deduce from the information that has been given – we all know that Nigeria is not an open book of readily useable information from which one can draw clear-cut conclusions.

Rather one has to gather information from different sources, analyse the information, make some deductions and draw some conclusions, in some cases the circumstantial evidence allows one to arrive at a number of hypotheses and maybe there is enough in the detail to allow for the process of elimination to move closer to fact.

For me, you do not only look at the information for the presence of preconceived ideas, sometimes it the absence of the expected results that allows for indications to where the truth of the matter might be – I hope that I try enough to apply those principles to my analysis of information when I write my blogs.

Not dismissing the seemingly frivolous

There is no doubt that such conclusions can be controversial or completely different from the norm, well, that is why one has an opinion or an idea ready to be tackled by other well reasoned ideas based on good sources of information.

In all and this applies to oneself, one should strive not to be swept by the sentiments that allow our preconceived and subjective notions of the Nigerian polity to forsake entirely the benefit of doubt when certain actions are taken.

Rather than condemn every situation to waste, damage, destruction and untrustworthy intent sometimes some things need be done either to prove or to test a scenario from which the results might well be unexpected and annoying.

It all amounts to evidence

We have all seen enough to walk away from objective discourse when it come to Nigeria but we probably have not given enough benefit of doubt to situations we can so easily dismiss with contempt – I suggest we be not so inured to the possible goodwill, information or the lack of information – rather all this must constitute relevant evidence in pursuit of a general truth.

If actions lead to failures we might have already assumed, there is no guarantee that the failure would have been tested if the actions were not taken to satisfy that context.

Privacy, secrecy and control

On the subject of President Yar’Adua, he is in Saudi Arabia for many reasons which include privacy, secrecy and control – in his interview with the Financial Times in early 2008 he said he had been having treatment in Germany for 22 years – however, Germany presents a society where privacy, secrecy and control cannot be guaranteed.

I suspect people have watched too many hospital programmes to feel that President Yar’Adua is in intensive care with transparent screens and observation rooms where any “authorised” person can stray and view the “as it were” comatose subject – I would suggest they try a better study of Saudi Arabia and Arabian culture and appreciate the kind of protection Arabian governments give guests who seek protection and refuge in their enclaves.

Case in point is the protection all of Saddam Hussein’s family who sought refuge in Jordan get from the Jordanian royal family despite the secular demands of justice sought by the Iraqi government.

The embarrassment is spreading

However, sending higher level diplomatic teams might break down the barriers put up to protect their guest and Muslim brother guest for that matter – it needs to be tested because the embarrassment is no more only on Nigeria it is spreading to Saudi Arabia too, at a particular time it would be impossible to continue to entertain Nigerian government guests without offering them what they have come for.

The idea that webcams can be installed to observe the president from afar is as much fallacy as it is ridiculous but then that is a matter of opinion, the issues at play are complex and difficult, what we have are snippets of information from which we draw our conclusions, appreciate our truths and draw are conclusion with a modicum of hopeful objectivity and the absence of passionate sentiments.

If we cannot agree on anything, let us agree on this for a start – Long live Nigeria.

Wednesday 17 February 2010

The blood in the tales

Hospital days

Hospital appointment days are mainly just like fully given to the hospital, worse still if the appointment is in the afternoon, you probably can do nothing the whole morning waiting for it and once over you are too exhausted to do much with the rest of the closing day.

Today, I met with the main consultant and superintendent of my treatment programme, he is one of the head honchos in Internal Medicine as well as an academic professor in medicine, I read he was working on monoclonal antibodies for his PhD in the 80s – I knew enough about that research to be impressed.

The correct numbers

This was my second meeting with the consultant after I was discharged from hospital but before I met him there was the basic routine of checking my weight which by reason of my shoes and clothes was boosted by 2 kilograms to just over 70 kilograms, my blood pressure and pulse read within the limits of very normal.

I have decided to put no faith in this portable wrist blood pressure meter toys, I had one before I fell ill and it always gave readings that I was hypertensive, it got to a point that I was beginning to believe those readings until the readings at hospital told a more accurate story of normalcy.

The dangers of trying to handle ones medical needs by self-medication and the use of portable customer gadgets in my case was only so evident – some things are best left to the professionals and their well calibrated and accurate machines operated in a supervised setting.

Soon after the measurements were done, I saw the nursing expert who handles the social and emotional consequences of a diagnosis of serious illness and what needs to be done, I remembered her from when I was on admission, before I was discharged she went off on a 5-week holiday to Nepal, she asked to see me after I had met the consultant.

Looking good reading good

The consultant came to get me and was quite impressed to see how I walked and commented on the considerable improvement he had noticed, I agreed that a lot had happened, the lesions had all disappeared by December and though there is still some skin shedding everything feels fine, he later examined my feet.

He felt my treatment was going really well, from all the results that had been presented in the blood tests, I was responding very positively to all my treatments including the chemotherapy.

Significantly, he noted that not all the results he needed from my blood tests had arrived, those tests could take up to 2 weeks to be fully completed and results presented, he was quite curious about what they would reveal.

The other effects of chemotherapy

He said the haemoglobin, cholesterol, liver function results all looked fine but for the fact that my immune system still looked suppressed, the numbers were not encouraging but the percentages had gone up by 50% percent.

This lead to his wanting to curtail the chemotherapy sessions because whilst the evident cancer had disappeared it also had the effect of impacting on the immune system leaving one possible vulnerable to infection.

It was then that I learnt that additional chemotherapy sessions had been scheduled, that was something of a blow to me, for 2 months I believed that I will only have 8 chemotherapy treatments which would end on the 1st of March, it was the basis on which I had made may arrangements including trying to get back to work.

I deserve to know all

I just could not bare the thought of sitting through even one more session after the 8th chemotherapy therapy regardless of how well I was responding to the treatment, I needed a Ground 0 from where I could begin to get on with rebuilding my life – my consultant fully appreciated a prospective employee could not have chemotherapy sessions waiting in the background at an interview.

My consultant for medical reasons as the overseer of my treatment was now more interested in reading better results from by blood with regards to a vastly improved immune system, he would chat to the oncologist about it.

The next meeting with the oncologist is next Thursday, I also intend to make it clear that I am do not intend to continue on interminable chemotherapy treatments that do not have a clear idea of when it would be concluded – for crying out loud – I am entitled to know how much I have to endure without being tortured by trickle-down information.

It will be 8 and no more than that, I am NOT emotionally prepared and I do not intend to prepare myself for any more than that.

Maintaining the status quo

The readings from the blood tests also indicated we would not change any of the medication I am on till when we meet in another three months, meanwhile, when the other blood results arrive, I will get a call depending on what it all means.

So, another box full of prescriptions are going to delivered soon, this also provided the opportunity to talk about the eye irritation I was having for which I received a gel and the sudden attacks of acute claustrophobia I had about a month ago – the panic attacks as he called them might be related to pain management but if they returned I was advised to seek medical help.

Pain management was left to me, I could decide to halve the medication and consider the effects whilst I try to wean myself off the pain medication – we would just have to see how that pans out.

With all that done, we scheduled new appointments, completed the prescriptions, shook hands and said goodbye.

Miscellaneous matters

The nursing assistant was busy, so I had to wait for a while, it was then I learnt that I could find a full range of support services through the hospital if required, something I never knew before.

We talked about her trip to Nepal where she did a lot of hiking and mountaineering, touching on the subject that Westerners seem to have seriously organised working lives that they chose to go on busy chaotic holidays as a form of relaxation – an interesting perspective I’ll say.

After that, I called in on the priest, we did not have much time to chat, but I gave him the basics, I have a proper appointment booked to see him when I return to see the oncologist next week.

Whilst I was quite happy with the general results, I was taken aback by the issue of the still suppressed immune system and the additionally planned chemotherapy treatments – I expected a lot from today, I am grateful for what I already have and thankful for how far we have come – hospital visits end up as long tales and the detail is almost always in the blood.

Monday 15 February 2010

Nigeria: The "success" of the Jeddah delegation

The search party

The Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) risks a state of myopic closed-mindedness having first spearheaded the consideration that the President be declared missing on medical grounds and search party be instituted to ascertain his whereabouts.

The Federal House of Representatives instituted a “search party” of sorts to seek out the President comprised of members of the House rather than some special composition prescribed by HURIWA.

All but one of the selected members were able to make the journey to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the one being an unmarried lady would have been disqualified for visa requirements to Saudi Arabia even if she had presented her diplomatic passport rather than her Nigerian passport, but that was beside the point.

The host of delegates and President

The team arrived in Jeddah and would have by reasons of protocol been guests of the most senior Nigerian official in Saudi Arabia, that being the Nigerian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

The Ambassador would also have been the recognised host of the Nigerian President by our standards of protocol just as the President would have been a guest of the Saudi Arabian government by reason of his visiting the country in his capacity as the Nigerian President with the purported aim of opening a university in Saudi Arabia when he made his journey in November 2009.

As representatives of the Nigerian legislature visiting Saudi Arabia, the Ambassador would have known the main purpose of that entourage, to have at most an audience with the President of Nigeria or at least an observation of the President.

Inability to facilitate

For the first three days of that visit, the Ambassador who politically, legally and technically was host to the Nigerian President and the delegation from the House of Representatives could not facilitate an audience, an observation, a conversation or contact by all seemingly possible means with the Nigerian President.

As the reports go, the Ambassador tried to distract the delegation from their tasks by offering better accommodation, religious perks and tourist attractions which the delegation ably declined so as not be to distracted from their purpose and be compromised on their mission – that might call for some commendation.

Juliet not Jezebel

In any case, they eventually met with the First Lady, Hajia Turai Yar’Adua who from all indications was forlorn but hopeful, distressed but prayerful and so very aware of the condition of her husband.

The condition we can safely say could not be observed by persons who were not close family, by deduction one might surmise and aver that the President was in no condition to be seen for an audience or basic observation and probably in intensive care of some sort.

It is even possible that the President might not even be in the condition to see his wife, recognise her and consequently converse coherently with her – the picture painted of the situation reveals a lady who is a Juliet rather than a Jezebel – this is no woman scheming to retain the trappings of power and influence, I would suggest this lady just wants her Romeo back, alive, strong, able and responsive.

Those opportunists

The unfortunate thing is the faceless mandarins pulling the levers of power were already aware of her preoccupation with the health of her husband but conveniently co-opted her name and supposed influence to mask their conspiratorial Machiavellian activities.

It cannot be safely said those people were rooting for President Yar’Adua by any stretch of the imagination, but as long as they could keep us all in limbo about the state of the President they could pretend to have the eyes, ears and blessing of the President and his wife to run roughshod over the Nigerian Constitution and the Nigerian people.

A useful visit

That delegation by not being able to see the President through lawfully constituted provisions of assignment, protocol and purpose proved that the President not being available to meet under every possible circumstance was probably too incapacitated for himself, talk less of the office he had so far held.

For that reason, I do not believe that meeting was a wasteful and fruitless journey as HURIWA clamours. Regardless of the developments that have since ensued, the deduction HURIWA should have made should have been closer to recognising these circumstances rather than raising an unnecessary ruse which in my view leaves them open to myopic closed-mindedness as I said in my introduction.

God bless Nigeria

Until President Yar’Adua can be presented for observation, conversation and audience in contemporary settings as I suggested in my blog of January the twelfth Nigeria: Put Yar’Adua on screen today! – he is just incapable of appearing in public, he is also incapable of his public and his inability to be a public figure for what other unstated reasons means he is currently unable to be President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

We still genuinely wish him a speedy and full recovery, but the ship of state cannot be permanently moored in foreign docks, there are stormy seas to traverse with essential cargo for the purpose of building the motherland – Nigeria needs to move on.

God save the President, but more so, God bless Nigeria with capable leaders.

General Sources

(1) SaharaReporters – HURIWA asks Speaker Dimeji Bankole to refund Saudi trip’s expenses

(2) SaharaReporters – House delegation returns empty-handed: Yar'Adua very sick, isolated and abandoned in Jeddah

(3) 234Next – Lawmakers to account for failed mission

(4) - Nigeria: Put Yar’Adua on screen today!

Sunday 14 February 2010

Cupido on the couch

The couch replaced the lectern

I attended a most unusual church service this morning, sometimes I find myself conflicted between the traditional and the trendy, I would not say I am trendy, I seem to have a greater affinity for the traditional – in fact, I remember now that I did not write about the Christmas Eve service which was merry but really not what I was accustomed to – guitars, drums and carols are a bit much for me.

Anyway, after the worship and praise session, I had already noted that the 14th of February provided the opportunity to talk about love and lurve – if you get my drift, a seat and a couch took the place of the lectern and so the cheeky title of “Cupido on the couch” was made manifest, the caption diagram a stiletto shoe playing footsie.

Texting lurve

Our senior pastors, man and wife sat on the couch, another pastor served more or less as the moderator and there was a male and female interpreter to handle the bilingual needs of the church.

We were to send questions by text to the couch where they tackled the matters with wisdom, scripture and insights, I did wonder if there was much in there for me.

Perfection comes from adaptation

There is no perfect human being so there cannot be a perfect fit for a coupling match; in fact we have to find compromises and compatibilities that evolve in the partnership gaining perfection.

We essentially change and adapt within the relationships we form and those relationships are best created in the context of our familiar trusted friends and confidants rather than in isolation where one might be prone to errors of judgment and worse.

Believers and non-believers getting married place strains in spiritual development, however, if the marriage vows pre-existed Christian commitment, grace might minister to the uncommitted.

I could not put my experience in the same context, but in terms of the traditional patriarchal settings of Nigeria, my paternal grandmother was Christian, he, my grandfather was Muslim, neither imposed on the other and their children’s commitments ended up with half of the six children including my father going Christian and the other half Muslim.

Kisses and hands

It got racy as to dating, courtship, commitments and marriage, the first three offering none of the outlets for exploration people might be exposed to – the words of wisdom being the man should “eat the food with his mouth and pay the bill with his hands” – mouth and hands should wander no further.

But then Continental Europe does have more hands and mouth in hugs and kisses than the British Isles, so learning for the pastors I presumed.

As for sex, she said it was like dynamite, used right would create intended results, used wrongly could result in unmanageable consequences – in fact, I expected the dynamite analogy of when lit, it will go off with catastrophic consequences, I was listening.

Sex in all its Scriptural import is meant for marriage, but people get lost and experience this in other settings and for this we were offered the beauty of the grace of God that allows for a clean slate, a new start and a new commitment.

I would suppose this covered the majority of questions including the need for communication, the reservation of quality time to discuss and share, the commonality of purpose especially for spiritual growth and companionship.

The difficult matters

However, there would have been more difficult topics to address in that forum or in any other setting – incompatibilities that lead to divorce, sexual infidelity, child sexual abuse, sexuality, pregnancies, consequences of sex and abortion – issues that do much to excite the church for alternatives to the gospel.

They might be few but there is a danger that these things do not get addressed because the majority seem to satisfy a norm whilst the minority, well, need to find a place to feel safe, to probably feel welcome, to be seen, to be identified, to be helped and maybe given workable solutions.

Maybe such questions were not meant for St. Valentine’s Day and one could not suffer the cupids the debilitating pains of love so seriously abused.

The format was interesting and that really constituted our sermon for the day, a couple received a gift of a night’s stay in a hotel for having celebrated their anniversary recently.

Saturday 13 February 2010

Where is my funny valentine?

Fading memory

It was quite long ago the memory is fuzzy without the detail of the event that was probably hot, maybe passionate but did not last for enduring recollection.

For the other, it must have meant a lot more because the ringtone on the mobile phone signalling a new message simply read “Be my Valentine!”

Remembering a time

On a whim, it was Paris with all the activity but without love, without a love to hold, to cherish, to share, to adore – this must not continue any longer, if only things can change.

One should not be alone anymore, neither should one be lonely for that day and days that count after – the will to laugh and run into each others arms in the sand by the sea is the dream like bliss.

What could have been

A love that cannot be told waits to be expressed, a love that cannot be expressed but is desired, a love desired but so different is like joy waiting to see me smile.

My funny valentine, if only I knew where you were – Sweet comic valentine, so would I like to laugh to the sound of your voice – You make me smile with my heart, such joy you bring.

Your looks are laughable, who cares you are the best – Unphotographable, but I see you everyday so perfect – Yet you’re my favourite work of art, and nothing can compare to what I adore.

Where is my funny valentine?


A play on the lyrics of My Funny Valentine

Friday 12 February 2010

Nigeria: Goodluck left the PDP out

The visit

The members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the ruling party in Nigeria met with the acting President Goodluck Jonathan for two hours soon after the houses of the National Assembly passed the resolution for him to take authority.

In those two hours, it appears the acting President kept his cards close to his chest and did not inform these people of his plans to reshuffle the cabinet.

For 78 days, the global news wires mistook the atrocious preponderance of party political needs over the Nigerian Constitution for the due process of succession and handovers when the President is incapacitated.

Party arrangements

The fact is the alternation of leadership between the Northern indigenes and Southern indigenes of Nigeria was primarily an ungentlemanly and undemocratic fudge within the ruling party for the purposes of their self-serving cohesion.

This arrangement held the whole country hostage even though they all knew before the President was selected for election that his health was frail and where that frailty took hold the inevitability of Goodluck Jonathan acting in his stead was sure.

So, they really did feel out-manoeuvred when the acting President did not give them the opportunity to foil, interfere or know of his plans.

We felt left out

He could hear the wailing and lament of one of the leaders in the following comments, in intersperse those comments with some commentary, as taken from the Punch news story – Cabinet reshuffle catches PDP unawares [1].

We were there for about two hours in the night and throughout our discussion, he (Jonathan) did not raise the matter with us.

They were there to scheme as they had schemed for the passed 79 days and for once the man in charge felt it necessary to keep the matter to himself – we felt left out.

That was why some of us were making calls to journalists on Wednesday to confirm the information that some ministers had been dropped.

There was a disconnect somewhere, how could he not have told us about this, we could be losing control of the party agenda and the country taking priority – we felt locked out.

We were surprised

As I told you, we were with the Acting. President, but the members of the NWC were not told. It came to us as a surprise. This can be verified from some of the calls which some of us made to you members of the media, trying to ascertain whether what we heard was true.

We really could not believe it when the information got to us so we called the press to squelch it but found out we really had been out-manoeuvred – we felt kept out.

It is not that the party is against what the Acting President has done; but in the past, the party was always in the know.

Usually, the party decides what the president does, we make the decisions and tell him what to do, the president is not supposed to have the initiative – we have really been locked out here.

The buck used to stop with us

He is the Acting President and Commander-in-Chief, the buck stops with him.

This is a new development we no more have control of the agenda, this is serious – we are off the gameplan.

We certainly will not control him on how he does his things; he is in charge, but it is fair to let us know, at least for an input.

We are busy thinking of how to deal with putting the Nigerian Constitution above party interests, we used to control the President and dictate to him what he did, we were in charge, it is so unfair to take away our interfering, unpatriotic influence on the government. An input really should read our orders – this is disastrous, maybe Nigeria now has an independent President.


[1] The Punch: Cabinet reshuffle catches PDP unawares

Thursday 11 February 2010

Nigeria: The hope for an FEC with backbone

Just for the record

At this time one has the opportunity to question, maybe blame and probably castigate the current Federal Executive Council of the Federal Republic of Nigeria but one should leave this to another time.

However, it must be noted and put on record if the debate should arise at a further date because it is an indictment of the people given the responsibility to help the President implement his programme and his aspirations for Nigeria.

Knowing but denying

The Federal Executive Council is made up of ministers and officers appointed by the President and in some ways they would have been well aware of the condition, health and abilities of the President whilst he was present at their weekly meetings and when he had to be carted off by reason of his failing health.

One would have hoped that in their swearing-in ceremonies after having been approved to take their posts they would have been well aware of their portfolios and other constitutional obligations they had to ensure the ship of state ran on an even keel.

Misplaced loyalties of self-preservation

That part without much exegesis would have been ascertaining or confirming to the Nigerian legislature that the President who happened to be their boss and by whom they had grace and favour to serve Nigeria was fit and able to function in his office having taken ill and been laid low in a hospital in Saudi Arabia.

Somehow, in some sort of absurd loyalty to the President either in self-serving preservation or under duress of Machiavellian machinations of persons yet to be exposed for their calumny they refused to rise to the lowest standard of truth, honesty or reality about the President.

They continued in befuddling denial of the evidence and fact that a person taking leave from duty for up to 10 weeks had by default indicated that he was incapable of performing in the office that he held.

It was dangerous to realise that for a good 79 days they maintained this façade of continuity as the nation became a laughing stock of the world, it really beggars belief that these people would still remain in the Federal Executive Council to carry out programmes that would benefit Nigerians rather than their own selfish interests.

Forced to act by default

This was no doubt a dereliction of duties and abdication of responsibility that would have attracted punitive sanctions if they were accountable to a higher authority that had the vested powers to assess or supervise their activities – the need for proper checks and balances for the arms of government in Nigeria needs to be revisited in the light of this abuse of power by the Executive.

So, yesterday they met after the resolutions of the Nigerian legislature to appoint the Vice President as Acting President not to follow the constitutional procedure that should validate they purpose and existence in this kind of impasse but to rubber-stamp something they had been railroaded into accepting by default instead of through initiative and understanding of their responsibilities.

As reported in the Nigerian Guardian online newspaper [1], “The Council also resolved to accept the resolution of the National Assembly, which mandated Jonathan to act as Acting President.

They lacked the balls

One would be tempted to say the Council lacks resolve, lack initiative, lacks an understanding of their responsibility and in the language of the street, they lack balls – or like many have said, only one of them a lady had the balls to want to talk about the truth that the President was indeed incapable not only of holding his office but possibly incapable of anything by reason of his health.

One would then hope that under the leadership of the Acting President Goodluck Jonathan who now has the substantive powers of the office of the Executive President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria the Council would rediscover its function, purpose and objectives working for the good of Nigeria.

Crudely but importantly, maybe the men who have so suffered severe scrotal hernias would have finally had their balls descend into their normal positions, their spines stiffened, their dysfunction palliated and their incontinence cured – we really cannot afford to have the misfortune of a presumably bed-ridden President and a comatose cabinet.

And so, Good luck Nigeria – you need a lot of it, indeed.


[1] Guardian Newspapers - … Moves Aondoakaa, Kayode, Kazaure

Wednesday 10 February 2010

Acting good

And I ended my blog yesterday with a clause requiring this – “it must start with the Attorney General of the Federation and must not exclude the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

It does seem to have started with him, the man who was yesterday the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Michael Kaase Aondoakaa has been redeployed [1] to the post of Minister of Special Duties.

This action was taken by the Acting President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, Dr. Jonathan Ebele Goodluck having been approved [2] to assume and exercise that authority by the Nigerian Legislature yesterday.

Acting right

It is interesting that the act of the legislature was novel in that they decided to take the supposed President Yar’Adua radio interview of the 12th of January 2010 as a notice of taking medical leave giving them the necessary reason to invoke the appropriate elements of the Nigerian constitution for the transfer of power.

There is the mere formality that the Federal Executive Council comprised of ministers and other officers of the executive accept the leadership and authority of the Acting President whilst recognising the incapability of President Umaru Yar’Adua to serve in that office.

Acting tough

Many observers might consider the redeployment of the Attorney General as a sacking, it probably is, but the redeployment is good enough, it means he cannot be the source of as much damage as he would have caused if he retained his position.

For some people the fall from grace might well be the slow descent rung by rung down the ladder than a catastrophic and disastrous fall – if the man retains any self-respect he will find the honourable and right thing to do.

Acting up

Dr. Goodluck Jonathan is now twice lucky, elected as deputy and by circumstance elevated to the substantive post by reason of the unfortunate luck and lot of his bosses both as state governor and now as president.

The “Acting” qualifier on the title of President does not make him any less the President now and for all the silence and seeming inaction that accompanied him until he was vested with authority yesterday, we need to give him time to right the ship of state.

Maybe a class act

We probably have someone in charge that does not have to bother about his kidneys and his heart whilst steering the leviathan mass and burden of Nigeria – he should be given the time, the opportunity and the support to despatch his duties to the best of his ability.

Maybe and just maybe, we might just have a good President and the good luck in his name brings good fortune to Nigeria, maybe, we can hope, maybe, we can dream, maybe, we can expect, maybe, we can realise – A New Nigeria.

Good Job Jonathan!


[1] 234Next - Aondoakaa Sacked!

[2] Guardian Newspapers – Jonathan, good luck!

Tuesday 9 February 2010

Nigeria: After 78 days of buffoonery, progress

For 78 days

In June 2009, I wrote a blog entitled Nigeria: On transparency about Yar’Adua’s health, I would not consider myself prescient but in it asked who held the levels of state and this is what I surmised.
“The concern is, if indeed there is cause to believe that the President can be incapacitated by an ailment such that he cannot perform the calling of the office of the President of the Federation of Nigeria and we do not see the effective transfer of articles of power and responsibility to the vice-President as required by the constitution, the whole ship of state falls into the hands of faceless mandarins, cohorts and handlers who are not accountable to the electorate and possibly cannot be called to order by other arms of government.”

For 78 days we have indeed had the whole ship of state fall into the hands of faceless mandarins, cohorts and handlers who are not accountable to the electorate and were not called to order by other arms of government.

Now they talk

That this untenable situation could have lasted so long is incredible to say the least given that this thinking had been published for 5 months before the President was carted off to Saudi Arabia and has seemingly lain incommunicado since then.

Today and finally, both houses of parliament have realised that this travesty can no more continue, there is no way any employee or leader can be absent without leave for 78 days and maintain the impression that every responsibility under the purview of the said person is taken care of.

Party over Nigerian constitution

The President was supposed to perform one simple task on the 23rd of November 2009 when he left for Saudi Arabia on the pretext of performing the Hajj and opening a Saudi Arabian university – he should have indicated to the Nigerian legislature that he might be away for an indeterminate period and for that time the Vice-President should act in his stead.

The constitutional provisions were clear about this exercise but the ruling party foisted its party constitution above the Nigerian constitution because of their inimical power sharing provision of alternating power between the Northern and Southern indigenes of the country.

Over the last few months there has been extensive lobbying, pressure, cajoling and probably bribery to maintain this rotten charade.

Having balls

It is a shame that the Federal Executive Council made of ministers of the Federal Republic had continually been gutless about declaring the President unfit to serve, in fact, the only person who seemed to have balls of the lot was the Minister of Information, being a female with a once enviable reputation probably found a slight redemptive outlet for her character.

Unfortunately, she was unable to persuade her colleagues of the truth that the power vacuum could no more be allowed to continue to the detriment of Nigeria for the sake of saving their skins and statuses – I would hope there is a way to sanction and punish the invertebrates that slither slimily in slovenly sycophancy.

The man cannot

Only last week, the newswires were ablaze with the news that the President will hand over power to his Vice-President, but as one quipped in a number of Twitter exchanges, the President might not be able to lift a hand to write or sign the letter.

I am still of the view that the so-called radio interview with the BBC 4 weeks ago was a hoax perpetrated by an impressionist to fool Nigerians, for over a month many have asked for the President to be broadcast on television to prove that he is around and capable – one can conclude that President Umaru Yar’Adua is no state to be displayed to a global audience.

The best we can expect is another forgery, a letter purportedly written by the President handing over power – the provisions for a effective handover of power need to be revisited and reformed to prevent a repeat of this debacle ever again.

No transparency still

Meanwhile, we still languish in suspense and obscurity about the current state of health of our President, there is still no transparency, the circumstantial evidence is simply that our inability to see him for 78 days simply means he is in no state to be seen and God forbid, probably dead.

The let we have had might also be that the faceless mandarins, cohorts and handlers who are not accountable to the electorate have completed the rape and loot of the country’s treasury that they have been sated in their thirst for money even if they no more have power to manipulate issues from the background with their filthily acquired lucre.

Justice must be served

The only reprieve we might have from this appalling saga would be that we have been a global laughing for so long it had become an embarrassment beyond expression and defence, something had to give.

The enemies of state that brought this rotten situation upon the great country called Nigeria must at one time or the other see justice and retribution for their actions – it must start with the Attorney General of the Federation and must not exclude the Minister of Foreign Affairs.


[1] Nigeria: On transparency about Yar'Adua's health []

[2] | Senate asks Goodluck to takeover

[3] Nigerian vice-president to take over from absent premier | World news |

[4] BBC News - Nigeria assembly urges ill Yar'Adua to transfer power

[5] BBC News - Sick Nigeria President Yar'Adua 'to hand over power'

Monday 8 February 2010

Almost in vain for a vein

Making it to the hospital

I made it to hospital with just 5 minutes to spare, I had checked the public transport route guide to determine how best to get to the hospital in the East of Amsterdam from Saint Barbara Cemetery in the West – interestingly my ideas were quite different from their suggestions which appeared to be better.

As I entered the chemotherapy ward the nurses wondered why I was dressed up to the nines with bowler hat and all. I told them I had just returned from a friend’s funeral, they commiserated and I volunteered that they might even know Dick.

One of the nurses who I did not think I had met before had in fact attended me when I had my very first chemotherapy in my hospital bed on the 5th of October 2009, she said I look so greatly improved and well compared to then – well, you can say that again nurse – I am thankful and grateful to God, my doctors, the nurses, my friends and well-wishers to the way things are today.

More about Dick

They did and they were quite shocked at his death, the main consultant also was shocked and surprised, none could clearly say that his death was impending anyway and one nurse said they still had the newspaper article on Dick which was published on the day he defended his thesis.

For all his affable and amazing life we should not forget that Dick was an intellectual, an academic and was at one time the Chief Librarian of the Netherlands Institute of War Documentation, he was well published and respected in that field, the nurses wondered if I was a historian, well I am not – Dick met with people from all walks of life.

Cold and hiding veins

I settled in one of the reclining seat and made ready to get my chemotherapy infusion but they could not get a vein however hard they tried, in my left hand I had the first prick and the access was not good enough so it had to be taken out.

The nurse suggested I wash my hands in warm water for a while to help the veins show up, I knew it was dreadfully cold outside but I did not know it was 6 under zero – that is cold, I sometime wear another pair leather gloves over my normal gloves.

The nurse made another attempt on my left hand and still was unable to get a useful vein, the cold makes veins contract and even though my hands had been warmed up there the vein appeared but could not take the full length of the needle so she removed it and asked the other nurse to try it out.

Another hand another try

A few minutes later, I offered my right hand, one good vein was moving around and there was a lot of tapping before a vein near the thumb phalanges was found, after insertion, she was not sure it was right, I then injected with saline solution to check if it was through, it appeared to work.

She said the glucose solution that goes in with the chemotherapy treatment would have been painful if she tried to determine whether she was through to a vein. However, she was only fully satisfied after she connected the glucose solution and lowered the bad to see if gravity would make some blood flow out.

The chemotherapy Caelyx solution was then connected and set for an hour of infusion but with that feeling of being unsure she said I should try not to move my hand just in case the flow was disturbed – I reclined my seat and fell asleep through the period of the infusion.

When the infusion kit was removed, I asked if I could still submit blood for tests in readiness for the meeting with my consultant in 9 days, I could not do those tests on Friday because they were a special set of tests. I was informed the blood could have been taken through the infusion system, well, now I know.

Four pricks in a day

I left the chemotherapy ward for the blood clinic where I warned that precautions be taken because I had just receive chemotherapy, the bloods were taken in 4 vials and that was it. A whole 4 needle pricks in one afternoon, sometimes I feel I am going to be irrationally truculent a scared of the needles and then try to think nicely about it to help things happen – I surprise myself.

I tried to see the priest but he was out today and I made my way home.

That was the end of my 7th chemotherapy session, I now only have one left. Thank God.

Seeing Dick Off

The events for today

I had to prepare for two events today and made them fit in without either running into the other, Dick, my friend, was to be buried in the morning and I was having chemotherapy in the afternoon.

My preparations were for both but that for the hospital was not as elaborate, taking a flask of tea around for hours would not be that nice.

I arrived at the Saint Barbara Cemetery and signed in my name, I was recognised by a few people but this was a big crowd, probably 300, maybe more, of all ages and races to bid Dick a final farewell.

We all gathered in the chapel and there was just about enough room to stand, the chapel was filled and brimming when the pallbearers arrived with Dick’s body.

The service

For 65 minutes we heard lots of music, some classical, some contemporary and even a few from Francophone Africa, probably Senegal, his tastes were broad and varied all signifying the types of music Dick loved.

In that time too, many speeches were given by friends and colleagues all through Dick’s life, I was lost in the whole thing, my language ability was demonstrably so poor that I did not catch the humorous bits, but it was all well and good that we all had the opportunity to see him off.

After the funeral service which was the speeches and the music he was taken to the cemetery to be buried and though I walked up close to where he was finally committed to earth, I did not go to the grave, I was conscious of the fact that I had to make away for my hospital appointment and also aware that I might be able to handle the emotions of dust-to-dust.


So, once the closest relations had paid their respects and started to walk out of the cemetery, I left too not being able to attend the reception which was soon after the ceremony.

One summer day, I will go in search of the resting place in remembrance of my wonderful and dear friend. Goodbye Dick, farewell.

Friday 5 February 2010


Times looking good

These are no times of lack, they are times of plenty, not times of want but times of availability and in these times of need I have indeed got friends, many friends.

I am blessed with friends so many, some I have known so long, some I have met before, some I have hardly met and others I have never met but they all have blessed me, favoured me, supported me, lifted me and saved me in desperate times especially.

New shoes to fit

Once I found it difficult to deal with sick friends but when I fell sick I knew just how much I needed friends and many came to my aid in my vulnerability and frailty – I could not have done anything without them, without family or relations, friends were all I had.

Did I think the almost impossible for friends at one time in the hope that it was great encouragement, I probably did, but when I wore different shoes there was much encouragement but beyond the pace at which I could move things did at times seem impossible.

In all, friends have called and visited, they written and spoken, they have prayed and encouraged, they have done much more too, they have become practical and involved, felt my pain, felt my need, assuaged my pain and met many needs.

And so I have received many gifts, gifts for all sorts of situations, very useful, very handy, very needed, very now, I cannot be thankful enough that by friends my blog remains active, by friends I eat good meals, by friends my major communications needs have been restored – I spoke, they heard, they listened, they acted and offered practical, useful and timely solutions.

If he knew why

In one place, the world seemed such a small place, the tiller just returned from where I was born, how uncanny that it would happen where a friend was meeting one need, at another the tiller shook his head with disdain that I had not paid a bill for five months – it probably never occurred to him that there might be reasons, but those reasons he would never appreciate.

His advice however lead me back to the first tiller who again attended to me with concern and sympathy, he probably knew there were reasons why some bills do not get paid for months, young as he was, he definitely was wise so my final words to him were, cherish good health and guard it well.


As the day closed, services once lost got restored all because I have friends, people who chose to stand with me and walk with me in my time of great need. Thank you and may I be more a friend to you in gratitude, in truth and in love, it is an aspiration and I am challenged by your generosity of spirit and selflessness.

To all my friends in need who really have been friends in deed. Thanks and God bless you.

All cares with chemo number 7

Getting out to hospital

It was another hospital day today, a Friday morning appointment that almost had me rushing out of the house and then wondering if I had picked up my hospital card as I saw the tram I am planning to board park at the tram stop just before mine.

I once told my cousin, if you could see the tram moving you have probably missed it, thankfully it was held up, I just about made it and I got to my appointment with a couple of minutes to spare.

As I got to the oncology counter, the young doctor who has seen me 4 times out of the last 5 visits was chatting to the receptionist and he appeared to have a sidekick, he recognised me and said once I was booked in he will be out to get me.

All feelings expressed

In five minutes, he returned to get me and introduced me to the intern, his sidekick, a young lady probably training to be an oncologist. The office had that interesting hierarchical feel I once talked about. The doctor in a swivel chair with arms and a high back rest, the intern on a stool, a type of alertness therapy, I suppose.

We launched into how I was feeling and how I felt after my 6th chemotherapy session, physically, I felt fine, emotionally, well I talked to them about Dick who would have been a patient in their department, they commiserated expressing condolences and we moved on to the topic of the day.

The anti-emetic medicine worked a treat, I told them, I did not once feel any nausea and I hope I could have that drug again. He willingly obliged, the drug is quite new, quite expensive and the prescription is engraved in a rubber stamp – making it easy for the doctor to prescribe without error and with great simplicity – that is marketing for you.

Numbering the footwork

They then had a look at my feet commenting about me wearing winter socks that come up above the knees, well, they were football socks, one does not approach winter carelessly, this winter has been exceptionally cold.

After all the prescriptions were given I tried to combine all my blood tests into the express access to the blood clinic but I was told one of the tests could only be done on either Mondays or Tuesday – crumbs!

I now have 4 more appointments at hospital, the 7th chemotherapy session on Monday, seeing my main consultant the next week on the Wednesday, my last oncologist appointment in three weeks and the 8th chemotherapy session in 4 Mondays.

At the chaplain’s

As usual, on oncology days I call on the hospital chaplain, the Roman Catholic priest who has been so supportive and helpful in his ministry to me. My face was like an open book; he looked at me and surmised I had been through a lot. I bared my soul to him about all the events of the last three weeks as things unravelled and took shape in meetings, conversations, negotiations, commitments and the loss of a friend.

Even more, we talked about my concerns, my deep conflicts and much more, he listened, comforted, advised and encouraged, he was such a blessing, I probably spent an hour with him before he had to attend another appointment.

He assured me that there was much to talk about, the issues covered could not be fully managed in one session of talks, it would appear I would maintain contact with this priest long after I have exhausted my appointments at the hospital – I learnt a great deal, there is much more to learn and understand as one tries to get one’s life back on an even keel.

Teaching a drowning man to swim

It could not be a water baptism but an analogy exists somewhere where he must have fallen into dark murky waters, having not learnt to swim he was drowning and flailing around for help, some froze with fear, others tried to lend a hand and get him out, surely, this is not the time to give swimming instructions – a drowning man is not at the point of learning how to float.

What great practicality comes from pulling the man out of the water first, ensuring he is fine with resuscitation techniques and any other means that ensures he will be well. When he is up to strength, the first lesson learnt is not to fall into murky waters again the further lesson to be taken is probably taking swimming classes.

I do appreciate the ministry of ministers, priests and chaplains, as I unburdened myself, I found succour and comfort, the therapy of talking really does go a long way to helping you resolve many dark areas of life and living.

Monday will be an interesting day.

Wednesday 3 February 2010

Dick: As he lay

The visit

Even more memories come rushing back as I think about Dick my friend who just passed on, he was there when I moved to my new apartment and a number of times offered help to go shopping at furniture and equipment stores because he had a big car.

As soon as I heard the news, I wrote my tribute blog and made for his home, Ous had said he would be there all day, so I thought it was the least I could do.

I had planned to take the tram and the bus, the bus however could not run because there was an accident in the tunnel, so I took the ferry to the north bank of the IJ river and got another bus from there – I tried hard to remember how this particular bus ran and just about got off at the right bus stop.

As he lay

I got in the door, took off my ruck sack and hat, shook Ous’ hand and went upstairs to see Dick.

He was laid in his bed, silent, serene, peaceful and still, he had died in his bed and really did not want to see anymore of hospitals so Ous persuaded the authorities to let him lie in his bed until his burial.

Still, he was, the blanket halfway up, dressed in a jacket with a nicely tied cravat, arms by his side and hands placed just over his abdomen on the blanket – a most respectable poise.

I had not seen a dead person since July 1977, I was not too sure of myself as I wept and sobbed, I paused and whispered some words to my friend, I stepped out and was comforted by Ous as he closed the door.

I composed myself and went back in to see Dick for the last time, I stood at the foot of the bed, looked at him and then left the room – a man had died.

To honour the man

He will be buried on Monday and all of us who knew him will be gathered to give him a wonderful send-off, in all the sadness we will celebrate his wonderful life. Dick spoke so many languages he so easily switched between them amongst his company of international friends; I am told a good few of them will be there.

The visit was for about an hour when other friends came to say their condolences, I hugged Ous thanking him for caring for Dick and being a good friend – the young man must have been overwhelmed with grief, he had just made tea for Dick and packed him a bag as if he was going on a journey and Dick left just as he went to make a second cup of tea.


My phone rang, I did not get to it in time before it switched to a missed call, a familiar number, I thought it was my friend, I had been thinking of him for days, if not weeks.

I immediately rigged up my Skype and called the home number, his lodger answered, he used to clean my apartment and he told me the news – it did not sink in at first, when it did, I cried and cried.

We met in Paris some 14 years ago and became friends, he always kept contact, a well travelled man who was a World War II expert, friendly, affable, reserved and understanding.

When I moved to Amsterdam, he was at the airport to collect me and he lodged me for the first month of my stay whilst I found my feet – he was always like that, ever able, ever helpful, ever concerned, ever involved and quite practical.

We met up for social events and meals a few times a year where I met other friends of his he had met somewhere on his many travels, they were always pleasant evenings.

We last met the weekend after I left hospital, he was to take me for dinner at Castells the steak restaurant – I just did not have the strength so we had tea at my place and talked – we last had a meal at Castells in July where we reminisced about friends long gone and experiences shared

On his 50th birthday in 2002 we all met up in Paris and my treat for him was brunch at Café Beaubourg, the wonderful life expressed in enduring friendships and fun.

Late in December 2009, he called to say he had been diagnosed with a type of lymphatic cancer they were still trying to determine, he was being put on a very strong chemotherapy regime, I commiserated and we thought one of our appointments at the hospital might clash and we meet up at the chemotherapy room since we shared the same consultant.

We never did, on the 21st of January, he was to defend his PhD thesis, he had called me the week before about it and said he would call later about invitations and so on, that was when I last heard from him.

That Thursday came and went, I was still delirious from the chemotherapy I took the Monday before, I should have called to find out how it went but I procrastinated, I thought I would do it soon but did not, so when the call came in this morning, I thought maybe I was going to get an update.

The chemotherapy was too much for him, he already had been very ill and this new treatment did not help – he died yesterday.

That was really my one true Dutch friend – gone.

Dick, thank you for being a good, loving, concerned and affectionate friend – I will not forget you – may your gentle and kind soul rest in perfect peace – you will be sorely missed, really sorely missed, my dear friend – Goodbye!