Monday 28 November 2011

Thought Picnic: Wearing an Incredible Smile to India


There probably is a prayer that should cross one’s lips even you are not a spiritual person. “May my face continually light up with a smile and laughter fill my mouth with all the joy that it brings.”

That is the way I felt when I collected my passport this afternoon from the agency that handles visa management for the Indian Embassy in the Netherlands.

As I had written before in a blog about my experiences without directly mentioning India, I am planning on attending courses in India before the year runs out.

It means nowt to them

Now, by holding a British passport, I thought I would be insulated from the bureaucratic insurmountables (sic) of other citizenry but I learnt a good few things in the process.

I do need a visa to visit India, no matter what I want to do there, I do not get treated like a European citizen even though most Indians visiting mainland Europe would in terms get a Schengen visa.

However, what really got to me was the idea that my British citizenship by birth along with a British passport could count for almost nothing if your parents are Nigerian.

Head spinning hoops

Whilst one can appreciate their need of ancestral facts with regards to people of Indian heritage seeking to acquire Indian citizenship, it should really not extend to those whose countries have already processed and affirmed the status of their citizens.

Apart from the hoops that one had to leap through with regards to the right visa to apply for which for me started as a tourist visa, then a business visa until we settled on an entry visa, all of which included 5 visits to 3 different locations trying to ensure all that was required was done, I had to fill in a supplementary form and pay an extra fee predicated on my ancestry.

Of days, months long

Altogether, the processing an entry visa according to the website site could take up to 8 weeks, the filling in of the supplementary form, another 10 days and there was every reason to think one would be marooned in the Netherlands without papers for a good two and a half months – some bordering on the untenable.

I wrote to our consulate about the matter of my citizenship and I did get a reply; something along the lines that it is good to know that this is happening and that it will be forwarded to some department. My response is still in the draft folder; I really could not be bothered any further.

Yearning, waiting, hoping

What I knew I want to happen beyond where I had control to influence things was the abundance of favour spiritual and temporal, there wasn’t much time left and the closer we got to the time, the dearer the flights become.

Each day, I checked the online tracking service not sure of what other status to expect apart from the fact that my application had been sent to the Indian Embassy in The Hague. Late on Friday, the status had changed signifying I should come to collect my passport but no indication as to whether I had been granted the visa.

One did suspect, if the who process took 6 working days, they probably had looked at all the documentation I submitted and decided there was no need to pursue the ancestry issue.

Phew! That was a race

In some cases, I could content I had one of the most complete applications for my type of visa, besides all the documents of self-cognisance and a local government document indicating when I arrived in the Netherlands, the training firm sent a letter of invitation, their certificate of incorporation and their licence to trade with exceptional status.

The visa is like none I have ever seen before; it looks like my passport identity page with machine readable information and my picture with particular detail about my mission – not for the faint-hearted.

Now, I have just a few days to get things ready for a month-long trip which would be intensive training and examinations in readiness for 2012. I had better start packing; at least, I have already been to the pharmacy to replenish my supply my pills.

In all, I am thankfully for how this burdensome process is looking hitch free and putting a smile on my face.

Friday 25 November 2011

Editorial: Taking Medicine and Talking Miracles

It is an outrage!

There are very few occasions that I am so utterly incensed about some situation and those are usually with reference to child sex abuse, injustice to women, homophobia and religious abuse.

To varying degrees, I could either submit a whole range of opinions on Twitter or in the heat of the moment craft a blog on the matter.

This morning I overheard on SkyNews that some churches had been advising people with apparently incurable and sometimes terminal illnesses especially those infected with HIV to come off their pills because they had been healed.

I believe in miracles

In the interest of full disclosure, I was brought up a High-Church Anglican but converted to Evangelical Pentecostalism almost 3 decades ago. Within this setting we have a whole range of belief systems that allow for supernatural intervention in natural circumstances in matters of prayer, confidence and miracles.

However, I subscribe to that leaning that engages the intellect fully, demands deep religious scholarship and mixes all the vicissitudes of faith with an abundance of reason.

I am wont to using a very basic analogy on the matter of the interaction of medicine and miracles. If you need A wheelchair and after prayer you cannot verifiably discard of THE wheelchair, you still need THAT wheelchair. In essence, you cannot pretend you can walk if you cannot walk.

When it comes to the miraculous healing by reason of faith and all the ceremony that could include the laying on of hands and other obscure activities beyond the understanding of outsiders, some things are self-evident.

The use of medical opinions

Before the person seeks healing, that person would probably have obtained a medical opinion, will most likely have a confirmed diagnosis and usually have begun a treatment regime.

The desire for healing is not an alien thing to human-beings; people need succour, respite, palliation and possibly cures for their illnesses – some of these can be achieved through medicine over a period of time, if medical science offers that prospect or the good grace of a miracle may offer either accelerated improvements in welfare or a sudden change for the better.

The most important thing to know is that a medical opinion remains the certified opinion until a new medical opinion is sought signifying a change for either the better or the worse accompanied with the particular instructions of the medical expert, the condition is technical still the condition before the "miracle".

Medical science must validate miracles

The faith healer, no matter how sensational, amazing, wondrous or even magical the performance that suggests a person has been healed is NOT a medical expert and as such because the same cannot offer certified confirmation of changes to the physiology and state of health of the person supposed healed – the faith healer MUST NEVER assume the role of medical expert and offer medical advice like stopping the usage of medication.

The faith healer can trust that a person is healed, the person may feel in themselves some change either real or imagined but this all must be verified (to fulfil all righteousness) inconvertibly by the medical profession even with the option of a second and third opinion for the certainty and assuredness of the supposed miraculous healing work.

Unconscionable religious irresponsibility

In terms of the news story - Church Tells HIV Patients To Stop Treatment [1], the church after having engaged in their esoteric activities assumed the role of a medical expert service advising those infected with HIV that they had been healed and urging them to stop using their medication.

The story suggests that six such persons who presumably had received healing had needlessly in my view died because the church in a callous, irresponsible, outrageous and reprehensible egregious extension of influence overstepped its remit as an unregulated religious organisation to become an illegal laboratory for guinea-pigs of snake-oil miracle healings.

The law must act

The church failed woefully in its duty of care to its flock and the health of those concerned to ensure that those who they considered healed should first sign-off with medical advice that allows for such people to then come off their medication.

In an ideal world, such an organisation should be proscribed forthwith and the cop-out that they do not heal but God heals cannot hold water if they as intermediaries between God and man portend to speak in God’s name when projecting themselves as a faith healing organisation and then shirk from responsibility when faced with scrutiny for practices that are at best fraudulent and plain deceptive or murderous at worst by reason of the fact that people had placed their lives in the trust of leaders of those churches.

Miracle happen, medicine works

Now, there are records of people who have obtained amazing miracles in this modern age but they all have medical proof of the changes and the medical advice that allows them to discontinue medication because the need for such had been miraculously removed.

On the matter of medicine and miracles, medicine is NOT evil, it is NOT witchcraft and it serves a purpose in the management of illness. Many people of faith have combined their beliefs and medicine to have accelerated results from the use of medical science.

There are amazing advances in medical science that allow for people with HIV to live productive lives with the virus in the blood diminished to undetectable levels, there is no particular reason not to use medical science and religious beliefs in the finding solutions to illness.


Reading the detail of the news story, the said pastor suggested persistence of diarrhoea and vomiting show the virus is leaving the body – Bunkum! That is probably evidence that the condition of the person is rapidly deteriorating and such a one is in need of immediate medical attention.

I will to God there was a law of the land to bring those people to book and punish them severely for being quacks, charlatans and dishonestly assuming roles of a qualified medical practice.

These people give Christianity a bad name, pervert the gospel for the spectacular and they are sepulchres for the macabre masquerading as churches – their cultist activities must for all that is good, safe and tolerable in modern society be shutdown with immediate effect.


[1] HIV Deaths: Church Tells Patients To Give Up HIV Drugs After Claiming They Were 'Healed' | UK News | Sky News

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Thought Picnic: Appreciating emotional needs

Separating the morality from the need

I was involved in a discussion early this morning on the matter of relationships and infidelity with a good friend of mine and he suggested I espoused a perspective he did not really consider when he first got wind of the circumstance he shared with me.

I suppose there are people who will consider my views liberal and they probably are but within that thinking I hope to expose some fundamental issues that we fail to pay good heed to.

Now, in my view, relationships can be composed of any gender pairing, the matter of love is just too complex to be constricted to the moralisation that allows for a seemingly religious majority to tyrannically abrade those who do not subscribe to a particular norm.

Relationships are diverse

The norm can only be derived from the freedom of adults to do what to the participants is the pursuit of happiness and the freedom to associate for the emotional comfort each needs of the other.

From marriages, through civil partnerships to love affairs and casual encounters, there is every possibility that the emotional need is partly satisfied with a sexual encounter – I do not intend to moralise about that apart from say that innately we are all sexual beings after a sort too.

One can only feel for the pressures that companions are under when their partners are not near or a relationship is a long-distance one – much as the fondness and longing is there, either party for all the moral muscle they can exercise is not completely devoid of the need for a cuddle, an embrace, a listening ear and the unplanned encounter leading to error.

Provision is not love

Many can expect their partners to keep themselves but absence cannot be fully compensated for by reason of the bond that is not constantly renewed and rekindled with proximity, presence and physical feeling of your mate.

The theory is simple and valid that a partner who is highly-sexed might seek temporary succour not to establish a parallel affair but in casual encounters that some might call “sleeping around”, it is unfortunate, but in every sense natural and probably should be expected.

However, how the other partner deals with knowledge of that situation is a different thing and that brings me to another issue that needs a bit of analysis.

Too often, partners in a relationship tend to think provision is the equivalent of love, by extension; there are settings where the provider supposes the provision of shelter, food, education and clothing is the full expression of love to their children. The honest truth is that whilst it might be an expression of love it is fundamentally a responsibility.

The emotional need

Love in and of itself ministers to a more ethereal need which is to the emotions, to the feelings, in the expression of concern and in attention to needs that are rarely material.

Sadly, the warped use of provision as a substitute for love schools the thinking into a materialistic mind frame where the provider by listing the material things done automatically expects loyalty, love, chastity and obedience to be the purchased bundle they have acquired by money completely absent of emotional input.

That is not to say that material things are not good and needful but the foundation on which most relationships is based is emotional and to let that pale into insignificance by buying allegiance through gifts or nominal responsibility will not satisfy emotional longing and obligations partners have to each other.

Recovering our emotional quotient

The point is we need to discover better our emotional selves, recognise better the emotional needs of all our relationships; be they marital, familial, casual or any construct where those are intertwined to the pursuit of our mutual happiness and work to ensuring that our obligations are fulfilled.

Where such is not possible, then we need to appreciate that our moral rectitude might not necessarily be as strongly expressed in our partners, our inabilities to satisfy their immediate or long-term emotional needs might well mean they seek that elsewhere.

I will hate to see this read as a license to lasciviousness but the sooner we realise the needs of our humanity and the strengths individuals have along with the disappointments that might ensue, we will better be able to make the best of the times we have together and save many a headache or heartbreak.

Sunday 20 November 2011

Happy Birthday! My dear friend

Once my love, always my friend

A love I once had that I was infatuated beyond comprehension maybe it was when I was 7, emotions welled up within me as I looked at the beauty and saw those eyes, there was a longing for an embrace that never came.

Nineteen years on, there came within my view, another, eyes met and the scribe; pen to hand, began to write our story.

It was a station concourse, I was returning home, my quarry on the way to watch a musical seeking succour from a university life that had but consumed that soul to weariness.

We somewhat knew but were not sure as I unusually made the move, mustering courage I cannot say I had much of in those circumstances to say Hello.

From that point our souls were knit and for 7 years were we partners in life, in change, in growth and in love, till we sadly parted ways, out of love but still friends.

We have remained so, good friends even after we have moved on, I have not had a new beau and the other now happily married, my joy not diminished for the love we once shared – the holding of hands, the kisses, the hugs, the embraces and much of a love that dare not speak its name.

Travelling down memory lane today is about celebrating a birthday – blowing kisses and a bouquet of the best wishes for more wonderful, beautiful, healthful and joyful years.

Happy birthday! You are a friend always – Mwah!

Wednesday 16 November 2011

Thought Picnic: Cowed by the Land of the Sacred Cow

Almost counting for nothing

Sometimes one forgets or fails to appreciate the privileges of being a European citizen and even worse still one of having a purely Western world heritage.

For as long as I know, I have been a European and that is by birth rather than by naturalisation, it has been my core identity to be English but of Nigerian heritage and I make no apologies for that.

However, in the last few weeks I have run the gauntlet of a bureaucratic morass of pedantry that will give the hierarchy of Sicherheitsdienst a run for their money.

The deal that draws

In terms of training, certain countries in Asia offer good value for money at up to 50% savings on similar courses in Europe. Intensive training that allows for courses to be bunched up, examinations to be taken with full-board included are a bargain not to be missed.

So plans were afoot to embark on one of those courses only to find that the hurdles for acquiring a visa were a requirements minefield.

On the part of the course provider, they suggested I get a Tourist Visa and then as if they had not done this before they sent me an invitation letter for the course. I first visited a visa franchise service and there I learnt I needed to get a document proving I was a resident of the Netherlands even though it was clear that my passport indicated it was issued in Amsterdam some 8 years ago.

A tourist on business training

I got all the pieces together with regards to the published checklist and headed for the main visa office with my arrival well before 9:00AM putting me fourth on the list. When as I was submitting my papers, I noticed an error, the system had automatically assumed my nationality and that of my parents were the same.

In any case, it was important to go through the interview process to ensure that on my next visit I will have all that was required.

As they checked my documents they concluded after consulting the manager that I needed to get a business visa, provide letters of invitation, the certificate of incorporation of my company and that of the training provider, declarations, bank statements and evidence of my long-term residence in the Netherlands.

All documents sorted

So, I first went to the library and had all the documents I could processed, then I called the training provider about my experience before sending them an email detailing what they needed to provide.

At the same time, I decided to call their representative in the BeNeLux and he quite helpfully gave me what supposedly was all the essential information to process my application.

Yesterday morning after my visit to the hospital I went to my local government office to obtain the proof of residence in the Netherlands, my arrival and departure did not last 30 minutes and I had the document required – all was set for filing my application this morning.

Not business but entry

Once again, I arrived to be the third in line and submitted my papers for review, the confusion between IT Business seminars in a training company and going for a period for some 19 days suddenly meant I could not be going for a business trip but rather I had to have an Entry visa.

Besides, even though my passport gives no indication of whom my parents are, the visa application requiring that information meant that my Nigerian progeny mattered despite the fact that I am wholly and entirely a British citizen.

My British passport will not suffice they said, I will have to fill in a special form as if I was Nigerian. I had the good mind of calling the British embassy to complain that a subject of the majestic Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland was being treated as less so by an old colony of theirs.

Entry at the back of the queue

In any case, containing my exasperation, I returned to the library, updated my visa application, rewrote my supporting letter and had them printed out before returning to the visa office where I had to join the queue again from behind – I am hopeful that this whole thing will be resolved but I can most assuredly say that I have never felt so frustrated by a process that could be so easy if there was the will and the inclination for that.

Beyond that feeling, this is a country that broadcasts international adverts of its incredible tourist sites and wonders of nature, you will be drawn to visit and suddenly you are met with these hurdles like never leaving base camp when your plan is to scale the mountain.

Patience, I have, favour, I need and luck or better still all the goodwill and blessings to get through this and get it done but this experience could not go undocumented, there is no need to mention which country it is, it should be obvious already.

Tuesday 15 November 2011

Nigeria: Compounding our National Awards with Shame and Disgrace

An instrument of patronage

The Nigerian National Honour Awards 2010/2011 season over the last couple of weeks became a hot topic with international dimensions that now requires a review because it brought to the fore some serious issues about Nigeria.

The first controversy that arose came from the House of Representatives Minority Leader Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila when he rejected the offer [1] of the Order of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (OFR).

In discussions that ensued on social media forums, many were quick to question his motives being a member of the opposition ACN party, that is powerful in the South-West of Nigeria, it is however sad that the political landscape of Nigeria is so tainted that politicians with seemingly altruistic ideals get lumped together with the political benchwarmers and jobbers that constitute the rent-seeking class of leeches inimical to progress in Nigeria.

However, it is sometimes important to separate the message from the messenger and sieve the message for the gems whilst discarding the dirt; at least that seems to be the only way to gain insight into the workings of Nigeria.

Mr Gbajamiabila in his letter of rejection opined that the awards process had been abused, the bill he sponsored to review the process did not get sufficient parliamentary time and that the awards should reflect incontrovertible meritorious service rather than it being used as a vehicle of presidential patronage. “This has reduced what otherwise was a well-intended and noble idea to a national joke.” He said, and many would agree.

Things still falling apart

Soon afterwards, the highly esteemed Chinua Achebe rejected the offer [2] of Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFR) which he had once rejected before in 2004. Uncharitably, one can say the government was lacking in imagination in offering the same title rejected 7 years before as if the awardee had not distinguished themselves the more since the first rejection.

Paying back the government in the hand he was dealt, Professor Achebe contended the issues he raised on his first rejection were still present, unaddressed and unresolved. His rejection lit up the international newswires as he is literally the foremost African literary luminary; known for especially for his 1958 novel, Things Fall Apart.

Again, on social media forums, the discussion was quite divided as some were livid with rage at the professor whilst others could recognise the views expressed by him but the most important reaction to his rejection [3] came from the Nigerian Presidency.

Having had their gift horse rejected, they proceeded to damn the man with praise making a clear inference that Professor Achebe was oblivious of the great changes that have taken place in Nigeria; citing the elections which in general appeared free and fair but in all fairness and honesty, those elections whilst appearing to be the best ever held did not mean they were the best that could be held. The government could not point to any other amazingly inspiring changes that could have persuaded the professor to reconsider his views. Meanwhile, one must note that the professor was already an OFR.

Records of degeneration

The Presidency might have been given the benefit of the doubt with regards to a Minority Leader or a Professor in exile but back in Nigeria was Professor Grace Alele-Williams who was the first female Vice Chancellor of a major university in Sub-Saharan Africa.

In her case, her rejection or rather consternation [4] was piqued by the fact that she was being awarded a national honour she had already received 10 years before; she was awarded an OFR.

It goes without saying that there will be a general consensus to honour Professor Alele-Williams again with a higher award and she did not mince her words excoriating the system that allowed for what one should term an unforgivable error.

In what should be Nigeria’s premier award scheme, one would have thought the best brains would apply all due diligence and meticulousness in selecting the awardees, researching their history and sounding them out before making public their decisions.

Professor Alele-Williams had the following to say, “This says a lot about record keeping in this country and it is disheartening to see the country we strove to build degenerate to such level.” And she then went on to, “enjoined Nigerians to collectively stand up to the cankerworm of corruption, which has eaten deep into the fabrics (sic) of the nation.”

Comparing what Professor Achebe abroad said about there being no change in the last 7 years and what Professor Alele-Williams in Nigeria said about degeneration measured over presumably 10 years or more, you might be persuaded more of the opinions of the professors about Nigeria than what appears to be the fallacy of the Presidency – but maybe that is just an opinion too.

A really dull speech

So, Monday the 14th of November was the day of the investiture in which 355 “esteemed” Nigerians - taking cognisance of Mr Gbajamiabila’s objections were – honoured.

President Goodluck Jonathan gave a long and almost rambling speech [5], @jongambrellAP live-tweeted the speech which included trivia like, “I am informed that since the inception of the Award Scheme in 1963, a total of 3,924 persons have received National Honours.”

I got so exasperated that I tweeted, “Who writes these President Goodluck Jonathan speeches? They are so uninspiringly pedestrian as a catalyst for terminal depression.” That got retweeted another 19 times indicating there was probably some agreement with that view.

Deviating from his prepared speech, the President from paragraph 24 of the published text took time to educate us in the nomination process noting that very young people were confused about the awards system and even dared compare the National Awards Committee with the Norwegian Nobel Committee that awards the Nobel Peace Prize whilst also differentiating the Nigerian National Honours Award from the Nigerian National Merit Award. The President should have kept to the script, in my humble opinion; a lacklustre prepared speech embellished with uncharismatic ad-libbing makes for an even duller presentation.

A kakistocracy of incompetence

As if that was not bad enough, the President ran out of medals [6] to present the awardees, some tweets suggested they were more than 50% short and like the professors and the legislator had said, there has been no improvement considering the same President was embarrassed last year for the lack of medals [7] to award some of the present awardees during the even more auspicious 50th Independence anniversary of Nigeria.

Though the Secretary to the Federal Government spared the President some embarrassment it was just as embarrassing that knowing there were so many recipients, not enough planning and preparation went into ensuring that the occasion was as auspicious for the awardees, not to talk of the international community present to witness another unpalatable narrative of Nigeria in transformation.

We cannot continue to excuse and tolerate the rank incompetence that permeates every sector of our society that the organisation of such a premier event honouring the best and most lauded of Nigerians in the eyes of the government be served with breath-taking cack-handedness that will sap even the most optimistic Nigerian of hope for progressive change, whilst adding grist to the mill of the critics, but the government and its organs are justifiably deserving of scorn and excoriation for this debacle and show of shame.

In the end, history appears to have already sided with Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila, Professor Chinua Achebe and Professor Grace Alele-Williams; we Nigerians are once again caught in the merciless iron grip of a heartless and unconscionable kakistocracy – a government indeed by the worst of men.


[1] House of Reps Gbajabiamila, Minority Leader rejects national award | Transparency for Nigeria

[2] Chinua Achebe rejects an honor from Nigeria -

[3] Achebe’s rejection of national honour regrettable | Nigerian Presidency

[4] National Mirror - National award: I’ve an OFR already –Alele-Williams

[5] President Jonathan’s address at the 2010/2011 National Honours Award investiture ceremony

[6] Insufficient Medals as President Jonathan Decorates Nigerians at National Awards - Nigeria Business News

[7] The Nation - Shortage of medals mars national award ceremony

Thought Picnic: I am a medical subject

Preparations at pace

Today was the day again, an early morning, the preparation that started from the night before – ensuring that my hospital identity card and appointment book was in my bag, I did not want to miss my appointment as I did miss my last therapy session just because I got the wrong dates fixed in my mind.

I was last in hospital some 4 months ago to see my consultant and then I was between minds about returning to the UK or staying in the Netherlands; I decided to stay.

In any case, before such meetings, at least two weeks before I had to have gone in to give some blood for tests that could take well over a week of analysis and be presented to my consultant and readily available for call-up on the computer system when I went in to discuss my condition.

Foggy riding

I was hopeful that the results would be an improvement over the last time, but bloods do tell tales you can never really know until someone checks.

Leaving home on my bicycle with 15 minutes to spare, it was quite foggy, we’ve had that weather condition for the past few days, maybe the most appropriate meteorological word is misty too, you never know with all these terms.

Halfway, to the hospital, I realised I had forgotten my wallet at home but there was nothing to it, I would not be needing it but I will have to return home to pick it up for another requirement.

Recalibrate those scales

At the hospital, I registered at the counter and was called in to have my weight and blood pressure measured. The scales seemed to be reading a good 3 kilogrammes more than I expected, not that I am obsessed with my weight, but I have always liked it to settle in the mid-70s but it was a smidgen too close to 80 though for a height of 183m, 6 foot in imperial measures, I am quite good for it at 45.

My doctor would be happier that I was heavier, there is something about the body having a bit more on it to fight disease especially when some rather drastic measures like chemotherapy are required, the battle remains the between the vanity of trimness and the medicine of bulkiness.

Blood pressure, looked fine, sitting between the ideal and the just pre-high blood pressure, maybe there is a bit on my mind, the Lord is my strength.

I am a medical subject

Soon my consultant came out to get me, apologising for keeping me waiting but I would hear none of it, as far as I was concerned, I was fine with the situation and we entered his office where I was introduced to a medical student who gave me a warm handshake.

Some banter ensued, I said I was not a medical student, to which the doctor responded that I was quite knowledgeable about my condition and I said well in all honesty I was more a medical subject.

Then the topic moved on to my plans for the future before we returned to the matter of my health, the blood readings looking good, the immune system much improved and the fact that I had stopped using a cane.

We talked about taking a flu jab, I thought with a struggling immune system I did not want a vaccine that introduced even a deactivated virus into my system – his view was it was really left to me if I wanted the jab but there are no studies that I will have any appreciable benefits from taking it.

Four months hence

Besides that, the whole conversation was pleasant, as our meetings always are, it also suggests why I still want to remain in the Netherlands, there is much with having medical concerns so well cared for.

We arranged to meet 4 months hence in March 2012, I could come off the antibacterial medication at my convenience and now was the time to take my Vitamin D supplements, I took my new prescriptions and we bid ourselves goodbye.

I think it was all over in under 25 minutes, I did not get to see my treatment consultant, she is somewhere in Nepal doing something silly that should only be watched on National Geographic, climbing mountains and the catholic pastor was visiting patients.

That began the day of good and wonderful things for which once again I am thankful and even more so to my well-wishers on Twitter and Facebook, your prayers and messages all redound to me strength and giving me the courage to share my story.

Thank you and God bless you all.

Wednesday 9 November 2011

Nigeria: Nigerian Religious Junk and Hedonist's Constitution

Nigerian Religious Junk

As I rode my bicycle home this evening I began to turn over in my mind the article I read earlier in the about a perversion of the Christian Gospel that a Zambian Baptist pastor termed Nigerian Religious Junk.

Conrad Mbewe wrote Nigerian Religious Junk! [1] in February but I came about it through a tweet that led to a whole scale dump of that blog on the NairaLand community forum.

The pastor addressed some well-defined themes that appear to be common to evangelical or more particularly Pentecostal church branches exported out of Nigeria in what he called a personal-to-holder construct.

Witch doctors in the shrine

He noted most of these establishments had become personality cults to the founders with church taking second place to the conglomerate of the ministry with the moniker “International” appearing to give those arrangements more credence.

Interestingly, he showed similarities between the African witchdoctor in animist religions with that of pastors whose related activity was to offer deliverance, the articles of ritual were not too dissimilar with money being common.

Then he lamented the suspension of reason and intellect of followers who in adulation and subjugation to the leader who appears to be answerable to no one as a Sangoma holds power to the dread of the people.

By the time he ends the piece, he has addressed the obsession with titles, the milking of the flock, the tolerance of corruption, the hedonism of the “clergy”, the absence of the gospel and no grounded Christian teaching.

The hedonism of religious leaders

Now, as he said, this was not to say that all Nigerian missionaries were planting churches of this perverted ilk of the gospel, but a trend and pattern had emerged that was being copied by those with connections to Nigeria.

A few days ago, I wrote a blog titled Nigeria: The spectacular gospel of Mammon [2] which pertained to a documentary on The Making Of … Nigeria’s Millionaire Preachers [3] aired on Channel 4 in the UK about Dr Sign Fireman whose mesmerising services mimicking a form of Shamanism featured his outlandishly ostentatious tastes leading a people that appeared vulnerable rich pickings to make the leader rich.

At one point, ladies of the “shrine” since church would be too generous an artistic license danced to welcome him as he cruised in with his Yellow Hummer calling him “Daddy” where it was clear that he probably was closer to their son – now, there is nothing wrong in according religious leaders respect and reverence but fawning obsequiously in the display of false humility and hyper-respect has to be altogether sinful.

The Hedonist’s Constitution

However, the more concerning part of this matter is the underlying fundamental that drives these movements called the Prosperity Gospel though it is closer to the Hedonist’s Constitution which carries the refrain that Jesus Christ was a rich man, he had a treasurer, he wore special clothes and all other contrived interpretations to support this call to wanton ostentation.

So, as I meditated on my way home, I decided to check every reference in the Gospels where Jesus Christ used “rich” in His utterances just to see if there was any alignment with what teachings we have today.

Jesus and the rich

There are 18 occurrences of “rich” in the Gospels, 3 in Matthew, 2 in Mark, 13 in Luke and none in John, off all these, using the red letter edition of the King James (Authorised) Version, Jesus uttered “rich” in 13 verses all of which appear below. My comments are in parenthesis.

Mat_19:23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Mat_19:24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

[Here, Jesus expressed the view that the rich will have difficulties towing the Christian path, there must have been reason why He felt he should repeat Himself on this topic.]

Mat_27:57 When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple:

[This was after the Jesus was taken down from the cross, this rich man provided the burial place for the body of the crucified Jesus Christ.]

Roping a camel to a beam

Mar_10:25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

[This common saying does have certain scholars in dispute about the translation from Aramaic which was the tongue of Jesus Christ in His day, the Aramaic word gamla means camel, a large rope and a beam – contextually, it would appear rope is the more appropriate thing to go through the eye of a needle. Study]

Mar_12:41 And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.

[This was Jesus observing the offertory just before the widow put in a mite, which was all she had and in context, Jesus suggested she had given more than all.]

Luk_1:53 He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.

[This was the Virgin Mary prophesying when she visited Elizabeth, her cousin and the mother of John the Baptist.]

The rich in earth and in hell

Luk_6:24 But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation.

[Here, Jesus suggests the rich seem to have no need for consolation.]

Luk_12:16 And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:

Luk_12:21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

[In this parable, Jesus talked of how a rich man had schemed out things for his life only to be told he will die that night.]

Luk_14:12 Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee.

[Doing good deeds for the rich is not seen as selfless or generous.]

Luk_16:1 And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods.

[The power of the rich to endow, reward and punish on earth was illustrated in this parable.]

Luk_16:19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:

Luk_16:21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.

Luk_16:22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;

[Jesus uses this parable to illustrate the realities of heaven and hell, indicating the poor man went to heaven and the rich man went to hell.]

The rich and charity

Luk_18:23 And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich.

[When Jesus advised a rich man to sell all his goods and become a disciple, but it showed how attached to his riches and status, this gave rise to the statement Jesus made about it being easier for a camel to go through the needle’s eye.]

Luk_18:25 For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

Luk_19:2 And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich.

[Jesus went to dine at Zacchaeus’ house, he give up half his goods to the poor and offered to restitute fourfold those he might have defrauded.]

Luk_21:1 And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury.

[This was just before the widow cast her mite in the treasury]

Jesus had sufficiency

From the foregoing, it appears the labour to be rich is a distraction from following the Gospel, they find it hard to part with their riches and because they are more mindful of money matters that Jesus called Mammon, some never lived to enjoy their riches and some died and ended up in hell.

There is no doubt that the rich are comfortable and powerful in life, in the case of Jesus Christ, I believe He had sufficiency with contentment. As an itinerant preacher and prophet there were people who would have supported his ministry; so it would have been necessary to retain one of the disciples as a holder of the bag that just happened to be Judas Iscariot.

2Co_3:5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; [That aligns with the real prosperity concept.]

2Co_9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: [Sufficiency is there for us to distribute not hoard for show.]

The love of money

Is it any wonder than the guy in charge of the money was the same that was ready to take a bribe to betray Jesus – but it is pertinent to note that it is not money that is the root of all evil, rather it is the love of money that is the root of all evil.

1Ti_6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. [Being driven by the love of money, people have erred from the faith and the gospel and encountered many misfortunes in the process.]

The need to return to the tenets of the Gospel is pertinent, there is a pervasive perversion out there and many are being led down the path of great error. I am sure we all have the discernment to see if these are issues in our religious communities and we should have the courage to divorce ourselves from such settings and seek teachers of the true gospel.


[1] Nigerian Religious Junk! Conrad Mbewe

[2] Nigeria: The spectacular gospel of Mammon

[3] The Making Of … Nigeria’s Millionaire Preachers

Friday 4 November 2011

Nigeria: The NEXT awards expose an unconscionable kakistocracy

Our pride

It is always heartening to read of Nigerians winning awards or receiving international recognition for their work most especially if they are resident in Nigeria.

At the best of times, it is not the easiest country to set up business in and going from the experience of some, it is even harder to be a newspaper and a quality newspaper at that.

A few weeks ago, we were informed that the NEXT newspaper will no more appear in print, many lamented the prospect whilst opining about the course that newspaper charted that made it a pariah to advertising agencies thereby starving it of essential revenue to thrive.

NEXT was the best

This blog is not being written as an exegesis to those failings; those issues are for others to ponder. However, accolades have been raining on the newspaper like Noah’s flood; last week, Dele Olojede the founder won [1] the 4th John P. McNulty Prize and the citation read “in recognition of his ground breaking work to deliver unbiased information to the Nigerian public, demand government transparency and advance journalistic standards in the country.

On Tuesday, at the FAIR [2] (Forum for African Investigative Reporters) African Investigative Journalism Awards in Johannesburg, South Africa, NEXT reporters Peter Nkanga and Idris Akinbajo emerged as African Investigative Reporters of the Year for their joint work, entitled “Last Minutes Oil Deal that Cost Nigeria Dear” whilst the editor Musikilu Mojeed carted away the Courage Award.

Courage in the abyss

It is important to recount the citations that accompany these awards; in the case of the reporters, “The report is one of the six-part ground-breaking series which catalogued a courageous journey into our heart of darkness, the oil industry, as we investigate brazen attempts by our senior officials, including petroleum minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, to corner the oil industry for themselves, openly demanding bribes, and using cronies and fronts to grab oil blocs in secretive deals.

Having compiled their report, it was left to the editor to weigh the consequences of the age-old saying, “publish and be damned,” he courageously published the report and for that he “was honoured for demonstrating rare courage and providing the right kind of leadership to get the stories published in spite of high-level pressures, police harassment, attempted monetary inducement and threats to his life.

They never cared for corruption

From the analysis that followed awarding these prizes to the now eminent personnel of NEXT, it was suggested that in any other country less corrupt and less tolerant of malfeasance, prebendalism or neopatrimonialism, the minister will not only have lost her job in disgrace, she would duly have lost her freedom too, having to go to jail.

Sadly, it is Nigeria where with all the incontrovertible facts and evidence presented to all that matter, the President with his transformational agenda re-nominated the minister for her old position after the elections and the Nigerian Senate being derelict, irresponsible and nonchalant about these rotten allegations barely questioned her but ratified her appointment thereby granting a seal of approval to a corrupt enterprise that reeked to the high heavens.

The award corroborates the reports

Now, there is no reason for FAIR to wade into the political quagmire of Nigeria and expose the sows with their snouts deep in the trough of corruption, they could easily have adopted other less politically inflammatory pieces to grant their award.

Each entry would have been judged on more than its merits for good reporting but would have been reviewed against the kinds of pressures militating against such activity being exposed to public knowledge.

It automatically lends a lie to the idea that everything that constitutes this government we now have in Nigeria with the majority PDP ruling party have a desire to tackle corruption at any level. They instigate, promote, espouse and embrace corruption as their modus operandi suborning as many as can be bought to that same cause.

They are a corrupt lot

Where the President might have had the backbone to stem the tide at the top, he acquiesced and celebrated the epitome of corruption as the lifeblood of his regime and in swearing-in the minister gave license to impunity, the minister probably continuing from where she left off knowing nothing will come of the investigations of the puny inconsequential reporters of the moribund NEXT newspaper stable.

With this award, one will hope the whole Corrupted Industrial Complex (CIC) that makes up the totality of the Federal Government of Nigeria is duly exposed to the world and our foreign partners that they have no consideration for good governance, probity or transparency and sadly, Nigerians thinking they have a democracy are in fact, caught in the merciless iron grip of a heartless and unconscionable kakistocracy – a government by the worst of men.

For the salvation of Nigeria – woe betide them all.


[1] | Olojede wins John P. McNulty Prize

[2] | NEXT editor, two reporters win African investigative journalism awards

[3] | Last minute oil deals that cost Nigeria dear

Thursday 3 November 2011

Thought Picnic: Mansions, Rooms & Windows

Life as a mansion

Life is an amazing mansion with cellars and attics, back houses, stables, gardens and much else showing the wealth and status of the occupant.

The most important parts of the mansion that may not define status but are essential are the rooms and the windows, on the many floors that one will traverse by staircases; some grand, some steep, some spiral and others on the verge of making the climber levitate.

The halls and corridors leading to bed chambers or conveniences or those that cater for means of liveliness whilst there are forbidden places rarely troubled the haven of arachnids yet to be documented into a known genus.

Rooms as experiences

This mansion I have lived and retired in to have some doors open into rooms so stale that my opening the windows brings in a breath of fresh air, some doors have opened to other rooms that must be gutted harbouring garbage rivalling the muck of Aegean stables.

Other doors are locked shut and the keys are lost, in some cases locksmith have helped gain access to those rooms, in other areas of the mansion, they are hermetically sealed, no kicking will make the doors budge and those rooms remain a mystery.

All those one can deal with, you find alternative routes around the mansion and they least bother you if you can do what you need to do around the house.

Doors as opportunities

The worst times in this mansion have been when the door was opened, you could see right into the room and everything seemed welcoming enough to draw your gaze and your footsteps and just as you got to the door, it was slammed shut in your face and you know it was not the gust of the wind by reason of open windows.

At that point, you feel helpless, not like you will immediately turn the knob, but for a while you’ll be stood there trying to determine why, what, whether, where in wonderment that more represents shock.

Then you turn around as and find another room where there might be more pleasant company, it is impossible for every door in a mansion to suddenly have the mind of slamming shut in your face – time makes for the ebbing away of shocking memories, soon that old door will yield to your gentle opening and whoever slammed the door in your face might well have gone with the wind.

Windows as settling down

There are doors and many to open, the one that will not yield access to that room meant other rooms will get occupied and what about a new room in an unexplored part of the mansion – it just feels new and comfortable there – I’ll just open the window and let in some air, look, I have company; we’ll have tea.