Tuesday 27 November 2012

Burning Up The Rapist's Manual

This is my contribution to 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Say No – Unite to end violence against women.
Loving rape
This topic always gets to me and it has become one of the ones I have returned to write about again and again.
The issue is rape but worse still, it is the justification of rape by reason of what some might call indecent, ungodly, improper or provocative dressing.
This school of thinking that included an Attorney General in Nigeria suggests that the rape victim is almost entirely responsible for their rape because their dressing provoked the rapist to act uncontrollably such that the rapist had to satisfy the jungle animal lust presented by sighting a provocatively dressed object of desire.
Animals, we are not
I could well agree if this happened amongst animals but out there in the jungle animals are not in clothes and essentially they are not human-beings.
In fact, even in communities where nudity exists as a matter of course, I doubt those societies violate the bodies of each other without consent, as human-beings we are civilised and one element of civilisation is self-restraint in the face of serious provocation.
We are equal
Another issue I want to address is that of relationships between men and women in society. From a moral standpoint there is a tendency to dehumanise and objectify our womenfolk with the idea that the male gender collectively and individually automatically have lien over all women to such an extent that men believe they should have control on all issues that affect women.
That is why we still have to content with issues of rights, rape, abortion, trafficking, abuse, harassment, dressing, mutilations and much else with the law almost giving perpetrators the licence of impunity without consequence.
Women have rights
I contend that beyond the primary sphere of influence if there be one that subscribes to the primitive view of the inequality of the sexes, the woman out in the street minding her own business in whatever state of dress she might be in is in her own right an individual, equal before the law and she should be able to make the decisions she deems fit for how she presents anywhere she have the right to be at.
We cannot because we are men attempt to control every woman as if we are husband, father, son, brother, nephew or relation to suit some preconceived notion of some play being honour and dishonour requiring violent sanction.
No licence to violate
Basically, no man by nature, by law or by divine instruction has acquired the right and licence to violate another person for whatever purposes they might want to use to justify that heinous act. This applies to rape, sexual abuse, physical violence or harassment and we need to address whatever allows us to condone any violation forthwith.
In a series of tweets that I have collated into a Storify titled The Rapist’s Manual, the total sum of my compelling argument is found in this tweet - Let me as categorical as I can ever be. There can NEVER EVER be any grounds or mitigating circumstances for rape.
If I were to leave my readers with one analogy framed in a question it would be this – If a woman is responsible for her rape because of her indecent dressing, are you responsible for an armed robber pointing a gun at you?
Further Reading

Thursday 22 November 2012

Thought Picnic: Gosh! I have a black face

Is it …?
Maybe there isn’t much to read into this but I do remember about 15 years ago planning to visit a young family and I found myself asking whether their two boys have ever seen or met anyone of my race.
I just had the feeling that they having lived in a somewhat expatriate community in the United States and then moving back to Suffolk they might not have been exposed. Those silly assumptions fed my imagination with pictures of two kids under 5 hiding behind daddy’s legs and stealthily coming round to poke me to see if I will react before scurrying back to the protection of daddy.
My makeup is permanent
That is what I think prepared me for an episode yesterday at Upminster station where I was waiting to board a train into London. The waiting room has a heater on timer so I always go in there to get some warmth considering it was raining cats and dogs with blustering wind to boot.
There, I saw a man probably in his late twenties and his son, maybe not even 3 years old yet, sat in his buggy. I switched on the heater and as I stood by taking in the warmth, I looked at the boy and this conversation between them ensued.
Son: Look, he’s got a black face.
Father: He’s a man.
The appropriateness of that conversation can be left to conjecture as I smiled pretending not to be shocked by it all.
In 2012?
The boy had just been picked up from spending a week’s holiday with his grandparents and Upminster for all intents and purposes is not entirely out in the sticks and completely beyond civilisation. If the boy lived anywhere in London and from whatever baggage they had, they were not travelling far; one can only wonder how and why the boy could not have noticed and realised that black faces are not all that rare.
Kids have a way of learning fast and learning well from their environments. I would hate to think that influences around the boy had negatively coloured his quite impressionable young mind. It is not like we are in the 1960s when the sight of a person of colour was so much a curiosity as to be cause for amusement, surprise and fear.
All the knowledge the father could impart to the child was that I am a man. It made me wonder if I had a red face or a green face, dare I say a yellow face or a blue face and by the time I have a grey face, I might well be a weather vane.
If anything, for the sake of the well-being of that child, they all need to get out a bit more and if they have been saying silly things, that child will be growing up in a society that will be radically different from what he has been hearing or been fed and maybe next time, I will roll up my sleeves and pull up the leg of my trousers just to show that I not only have a black face and it is not a paint job either.

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Ìyá - 70 and Strong

A word
Tenacious – That is word that comes to mind about a lady I have known all my life. A fighter, a warrior, a lioness and an Amazon.
As the middle child she was never a middling, from childhood despite all she went through; I heard stories that made my hairs stand on end but when I look back with deep reflection and I realise that I get my fighting spirit off her.
The day I was born, no one believed that she had been with child, she was back at work because the hospital had to keep me and they did not need to keep her – she never idled, she just got on with being resourcefully productive.
Facing countless storms
We walked into the ward 43 years ago, the bed was empty, where could her Diamond have gone? The worst could have happened; my dad had gone for an operation, between the confusion around and the distress I was having, she calmly located where they had moved him, it is the earliest I can remember of my mother tackling serious life issues.
A very religious woman, prayerfully withstanding every kind of opposition, I do not think we have ever fully appreciated her worth in what she has struggled to be and become for all of us. But today, I see a mother hen who has shielded us like an eagle to her chicks, a lioness to her cubs, a mother lovingly holding the hand of her child as we walk through the crowds.
Her greatest desire
That she always wanted the best for us was never in dispute, that we probably did not get that far was not her fault, she saw dangers we never envisaged and worked to ensure her premonitions never became our experiences.
Her love, her zest for life, the sacrifices made that I have seen of no other person, she is of inestimable value, a treasure we have sometimes abused, maligned or ignored but still carries the greatest worth of what we can ever possess.
Relentless, unstinting, dogged, determined and supportive, a peerless mother whose voice to me still comforts and says things are well.
70 with thanks
We celebrate Ìyá. Ìyá is 70 – Happy Birthday, woman of God, A. J., many happy returns, with love and affection, may you see more happy, wonderful, healthful, bountiful, joyful and fruitful days.

Tuesday 20 November 2012

Tough Parenting Truths Living in the UK

Nigerians in contrast
I attended a church function on Saturday where they were celebrating their fifth year anniversary and they had laid out a three-day event to commemorate the occasion. Having lived in the Netherlands for 12 years and now in the UK with the fact that I attended a very international church where the communication was bilingual, this setting was a bit unfamiliar to me.
I sometimes find myself in amazingly contrasting worlds and none could have been as stark as the Buddhist funeral I attended on Friday and this Pentecostal Christian event I was attending on Saturday.
Our affinities
My presence was by reason of my gracious hosts in the UK and by far my closest family in Europe, they are quite involved in the close-knit community of the church where, for the affinities of extended relations, my nephew and my niece are members of the choir apart from him being an accomplished artiste in his own right.
As we dispensed with the formalities of genuflection and greetings with every Nigerian attention to pomp, ceremony and pageantry, we were told the session would be a seminar on ‘Parenting’ and the main speakers were to be a judge and a social worker.
The judge - Justice Ola Omotosho was, I was informed, the first Judge of Nigerian descent appointed to the bench in the UK.
Views from the bench
Justice Ola Omotosho gave us an interesting perspective of life on the bench and the kinds of cases she has to deal with, along with the sympathies of being an ethnic minority with the duty of interpreting the laws that appear to change too frequently for anyone to keep up with.
However, addressing more pertinent matters, she clarified that having the status of “Indefinite Leave to Remain” in the UK does not confer British citizenship rights that when such persons enter the crime and punishment system, the presumption is to deal with them as foreign nationals and the status will be withdrawn in favour of deportation.
She also explained that whilst there might be extenuating circumstances in terms of the length of stay in the UK mitigating the appeal of a deportation order, however, these situations are rare and are dealt with on an individual basis.
The fallacy of proxy marriages
Being of Nigerian heritage, it is understandable that her fellow judges would seek her opinion on certain issues that they might not fully understand by reason of cultural, traditional or religious differences and they can expect that, as a judge, she will be forthright, honest and frank with her views.
One area she suggested is turning into a scam is the issue of proxy marriages, where the families and relations of the partners in the marriage gather in foreign lands to conduct the supposed marriage ceremony whilst lawyers in the UK print out certificates meant to facilitate the immigration regularisation process.
She said lawyers come up with tall tales to presumably help desperate people who easily part with their money and still end up with no solutions. The system eventually gets wise about all these tricks, the moment the numbers indicate something is amiss.
The plight of stateless children
Then she talked about the issue of stateless children who would have arrived in the UK as young kids and although their parents might have all the legal statuses to remain in the UK, the residence status of their children is left unresolved.
The problems emerge when, sadly, the child encounters the law or ructions in the family lead to the child being kicked out of their home. Without the necessary papers that give them a legal status in the UK, such children get caught in a legal status limbo where they can get no help and risk avoidable deportation.
Basically, she was saying above all else, confirming the status of your children should be of the highest priority at the earliest opportunity.
From discipline to abuse to jail
Then she touched on the matter of abuse and the fact that children have rights that are protected and defended by the state. Abusive parents who run afoul of the law will almost certainly go to jail and that the law was not partial to the idea that the purpose of discipline that became abuse was to preserve the family unit.
One last point she made was about spousal abuse, as far as she was concerned, regardless of being Christian, she had no sympathy for any circumstances of domestic violence and her candid advice was for the abused to get out of that relationship. By implication, there was nothing godly about a marriage where there was no mutual respect and the presence of abuse.
The right to well-being of a child
The Social Worker who is also a pastor addressed the matter of abuse defining it as anything that impacts on the well-being of a child and that included physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, emotional abuse, neglect and abdication of parental responsibility.
She was at pains to suggest that the authorities will get involved and investigate all claims, as the judge said earlier; no one wants a Baby P scenario on their hands again.
Unlike in Nigeria, a child's word has equal weight as that of an adult before the law and lying will not help the situation because the authorities will seek to determine root causes.
Provision is not love
I found the seminar quite refreshing and to hear establishment figures of Nigerian heritage be so forthright was quite a first for me.
The Social Worker stressed the need for parental involvement in all aspects of the child's development and most of all having a reward system as part of the discipline mix and that parents need to show more love to their children.
I would have liked for the issue of love to be dealt with better, especially clarifying that provision is not love. The provision of shelter, food, clothing, education, parental care and protection to the child are responsibilities the society expects of the parent or guardian towards their wards but these are outward expressions that do not necessarily fulfil a child’s need for love which is an emotional investment on the part of the parent.
Integrate or face disintegration
The subtext of the seminar was not lost on me, the tendency for ethnic minorities not to integrate and understand their host societies along with the differences between customs and laws leaves many learning very hard lessons that reach into the wider community.
There is no doubt that the pastors at the church wanted to speak to a particular demographic either directly or indirectly as the judge was even gracious enough to suggest that most of her advice might not pertain to the audience attending but to our friends.
Having heard what was shared at the seminar the more apt title of the seminar would have in my view been ‘Tough Parenting Truths Living in the UK.’
Acknowledgement: This is the first blog that I have engaged a ‘sub-editor’ to review before posting. He annotated the blog, made punctuation and spelling corrections whilst advising me to refine certain paragraphs for clarity and concision.
In view of that, I thank Mike Sutton for taking the time to review this piece and making it better than I could have attempted a few times over.

Saturday 17 November 2012

Thought Picnic: The farewell to Remi Lagos

To wit
Yesterday, I was persuaded of a simple thing, to do what friends are supposed to do without much prompting even though it took a while before I appreciated the basic “Be there for me” message.
Firstly, anytime I hear of anyone dying of cancer, my own vulnerability is expressed so vividly to me in stark reality that I become more conscious of how lucky I am, how blessed I have been and the so many things I needs must do before the end comes by reason of the cycle of life. It is for a reason that I was spared, I should make it count even if my folly tends to stupid fatalism at times.
Signs and directions
I was invited to attend a requiem which I only really finally decided to attend a few hours before and so I prepared and made for the venue. On getting to station nearest to the venue, I realised my bearings were not as sure as they should be and even though I got my navigator out to help the problem was the main roads did not have signs; as if visitors were just expected to know which road was which.
In circumstances like that, the smart thing to do is find a café and order both a coffee and ask for directions. Opposite, Golders Green station was a café offering free WiFi which also happened to be Persian. The cakes and sweet things as checked my love-handles; I just had a café latte and a coconut biscuit before asking for how to get to the Golders Green Crematorium.
The estimated trekking time was 9 minutes from the station, if I knew where I was going to but even that did not seem to be sign-posted from the station or maybe I was not observant enough. I finally, saw the signpost at the turn off into Hoop Lane and what a busy road it was. As I arrived, my friend was outside we hugged and then I was introduced before I was ushered into the sanctuary.
New realisation
The sanctuary had 5 funerals scheduled and ours was the fourth of the day. When I settled down the coffin was brought in to a chanted mantra – a revelation – in fact, many revelations, I was attending a Buddhist funeral in the midst of a majorly ethnic community that comprised mostly of Nigerians. Yes, to all the questions you might have.
Then we were welcomed and the whole proceedings were explained to us before the religious service began with solemn chants and the ringing of bells.
The eulogy spoke of an amazing wonderful lady whose life was a free spirit, full of excitement and its complexities blazing a trail that mentored, touched and refreshed others with creativity and buzz – for all the sadness we might have felt, her story was one of joie de vive, humour, laughter and great fun – I felt this was one person I would have liked to meet and know.
The service ended with the music of Frank Sinatra – My Way; the anthem if there was one of the unique, non-conformist, one of a kind and different person whose life can only be celebrated as one well lived a life worthy of emulation in the many amazing things she did.
A life well lived
At the reception, I learnt more about the lady who came to be known as Remi Lagos from the eclectic mix of friends from all around the world unencumbered by the strictures of myopic sententiousness that sometimes becomes people of our heritage or those who are indigenously non-Western, she never did the conventional not in life and not now in death.
It was reaffirmed to me that above all else people and relationships matter more than beliefs, creeds, traditions or customs – the daring and freedom to be ourselves is at first the greatest love of all and its expression liberates us to cultivate and nurture friendships even strangely long after we have departed.
Remi Lagos lives on in the fond memories recalled about her and in the light of that, I made new friends too.

Thursday 8 November 2012

Opinion: Phew! That Election Nightmare is Over

It’s over already
There will be a lot of analysis as to why Mitt Romney despite the supposed odds that had become political Shibboleth for the past 18 months lost the US presidential elections.
The mantra that combined jobs, healthcare, taxes, socialism, misogyny, homophobia, immigration and racism into a compelling conservative narrative was so shrill the world literally stopped to see what will happen as the 7th of November 2012 dawned on us.
I just wanted the whole thing to be over long ago as I watched cherry-pickers of Mitt Romney’s vaunted business qualities wilfully ignore the realities and the truth of what a Romney presidency would bring to the world.
Scary, it was
There might just be a third of a billion Americans but whoever becomes the president is literally de facto leader of the world, his ideas, opinions, utterances, actions and much else can determine the global outlook of the world in such unintended ways, it is scary.
The day after George W. Bush was elected by reason of that Supreme Court judgement, I said to my friends, this man will take us to war, I just did not know who with. If I had a blog then, it would have been documented, but there we are.
A businessman who became governor whose father was still alive that there would have been reason for him to come out of the shadow of his father, it does not to take much to realise something radical will happen.
The trigger was the Al Qaeda attack on the World Trade Centre and the course of world history was changed forever, two wars, economic policies that lowered taxes and cheapened access to money – the whole edifice of false hopes collapsed ruinously as he was seeing off the last few months of his 8-year rule and the world has in no way recovered from the crisis as we close the fifth year of economic turmoil.
We all know that the lower taxes idea does not really create jobs nor grow the economy, not in the Reagan times nor in the Bush II times and this was the crux of Romney’s grand economic recovery scheme, but I am no economist just an observer of the realities as the world suffered them.
False dawns
Romney as a Bain Capital executive in the clearest truth did create wealth but never created jobs, he was at best a corporate raider who both well, piled on debt and sold it off to other mugs who thought the fat organisation had been made so lean and efficient but at what real cost to every single component of the business; especially the people and the communities?
However, the irony of this presidential escapade is in the kind of money that was sunk into the campaigns to the point that it was looking like a black hole casino that would no doubt have fattened the organisations that pushed the advertisements of terminological inexactitudes – to be blunt, lies to an electorate that probably just got fed up with it all as fact checkers worked overtime trying to keep up with the next rotten untruth, half-truth, bending of the truth or complete absence of the truth – it almost made the Devil feel outwitted at his game.
I should expect the networks that ran the advertisements to declare eye-watering profits and walk away with vulgar bonuses, this was a bumper year that they will be looking to make this a formula for each election cycle an assured source of atrocious income.
Run a company like this
Again, let us look at the presumably amazing business machinery that Mitt Romney brought into his campaign for the US Presidency.
If this were a company, it would be a case of the CEO being known to have a clear vision, mission and set of values for the company that changed with the sentiment of the market that none of the company shareholders could determine what purpose the company was for.
Each time, it seemed there was the promise of great returns and shareholders ploughed even more of their money into the company just as others saw that the products were going to a niche market and alarm bells were ringing questioning the viability of the enterprise.
Where there should have been clear indicators of profit warnings, the investors were so locked into what had become a Ponzi scheme; they could not cut their losses and run.
For all that was invested, made, sold and accounted for, at well over $1 billion and management experience that made the niche market swoon at the genius of the Chief Executive, the company went bust.
Yes, for all the acumen that Mitt Romney brought to this business, he failed to get a sustainable market for his product, one that did not have enduring quality but was constantly recalled because of flaws and what we might uncharitably refer to as flip-flops.
Alas! No fault
The honest truth was that Mitt Romney was not able, not ready and not reliable enough to take the reins of America and consequently the world in leadership, direction and purpose – if anything, that was the economic solution for America that Mitt Romney had; truncated before it compounded the liabilities we are still contending with.
Sadly, because the quest for office was not like running a company, Mitt Romney rather than be charged with false accounting and running the company to ruin with all investors losing their money, he will return to the comparative comfort of being another footnote in history that will only come up when parallels are required for healthcare reform, hosting the Olympics or running the most expensive campaign that came to naught.
The best outcome
Without doubt from where I could observe things from, Mitt Romney had no business trying to be president and I am so glad that after the campaign revealed the character and substance of the man, not enough Americans were persuaded to hand him the keys to the White House – even though someone suggested a tweet I posted was the dumbest he had read with regards to that election night – whether prescience or just foreboding, I think wars are ending and the prospect of engaging Iran in a war might well have been kicked out of touch.
We need a world of accommodations on the pain of everything within our means, Mitt Romney never showed the foreign policy nous that would have kept the uneasy peace and détente and for that too I am glad that those who could decide stuck with what they already knew with the hope that change for the better is still possible.

Sunday 4 November 2012

2,000 Blogs at AkinBlog.NL

So, there
When I wrote my thousandth blog on the 31st of August 2008, I really did think I would reach the next milestone in a shorter span of time, I did but just by a few months and it has been hard going.
2007 was my most prolific year, I wrote 400 blogs, I have not managed to write up to 300 a year since then. It has not been for the want of trying, I just have my seasons. Sometimes I could write up to 5 blogs in a day and at other times I barely get the same written in a fortnight.
What has happened
Since then, I think I have been more introspective and expressive about my private life, the struggles of being diagnosed with cancer, the treatment, the recuperation and recovery to a status I once knew, it is an ever unfolding story of experiences many of which looked so insignificant when they happened but on recollection gets woven into dare I say, a riveting tale.
In 2010 to early 2011, I had to move my blog completely to Blogger because the company providing the service decided hosting a blogging service was no more fun for them, it was not an easy task and I lost quite a few pictures and all the comments that were posted there over 7 years - sometimes patronising the services of a local company is not the best option if you are doing something for the long term.
On the 8th of December 2012, I will have been blogging for 9 years, in that time, I have seen bloggers come and go, many left in abeyance or abandoned and sadly the loss of a friend who I persuaded to start blogging in 2006 in the Dana Air plane crash on the 3rd of June 2012.
I now consider this blog a body of work, a journal of views and a compendium of ideas that range from bizarre to acceptable, that is the nature of the beast. My Thought Picnics with their freeform sharing of thoughts and meditations, the rage and anger about Nigeria, the pulling down of altars of outrageous practices in customs, traditions, religion and creeds, my espousal of rights in all their ramifications as the critical to our humanity and much else along with my sometime futile attempts at humour make up what I hope will be the record of my footsteps in the sands of time.
Keeping my own faith
I wrote this in my 1,000th blog; I have tried to stay true to Akin playing on the English meaning of the word pertaining to likeness rather than the Yoruba meaning which is more like a heroic warrior, I don't do heroics just the occasional histrionics.
It is about things too concerning to ignore and it is still essentially similar to what is known, compatible to what is expected and related to the unexpected.
I must also note that since then engagements on Twitter and Facebook have recently provided material I have blogged about from the gentle interactions to the robust exchanges, I rarely if ever suffer fools gladly but never as the first resort.
In closing, I want to thank all my readers and followers who have through the years found interest in my views, shared them with others or left comments, you are all appreciated. I also must thank those who on reading my blogs reached out to help in innumerable ways to bless me in times of hardship and difficulty - you are all the wind beneath my wings.
For the gift of expression and the nurturing of the same by reason of the many influences in my life, I am thankful to God, to my parents, to my siblings, to my friends and even to the fiends who cannot stand me, to Nigeria of fond memories and the Nigeria that makes my heart ache, to England and what makes me English, to the Netherlands that gave me a new lease of life in so many ways and the adventure of life and to the vivid imagination that makes me wonder if I really did write this when I return to read it sometime in the future - this is the toast to life and with hope never diminished, maybe the 3,000th blog.

Saturday 3 November 2012

Opinion: Questions abound for Nigerians

Not suffering fools gladly
This week had a number of events lighting up Twitter about Nigeria, it got so serious that I was fully persuaded to block a cantankerous buffoon pretending to smarts and a busybody whose alignment with the former elicited the advice that she stop following me forthwith.
Life must be easier than walking into idiots on the street or even worse, engaging them online where one’s belief in the best of everyone challenges the better judgement of just ignoring them.
Allegations are tough luck
The first news story was about the alleged arrest of the wife of the Oyo State governor for money laundering in London. This probably was the low-hanging fruit dropping on our heads despite the fact that it all appeared to be malicious.
The governor immediately slammed a suit demanding atrocious damages of the newspaper failing to realise the subtlety in the headline, it was alleged, allegations are just allegations, even the courts would have agreed that allegations could be made however vilifying, that is just the nature of the use of the various forms of allege.
However, there were more substantive issues to discuss as to whether she did make 52 trips out of Nigeria in 17 months considering the wives of the legislators of the same state had months before visited London a few months before to attend courses to make them better politician wives.
On further scrutiny
As a Nigerian, I can be persuaded to believe that after a certain number of trips to the United Kingdom the immigration officials will have their interest piqued to at least ask a few questions as to why the frequency of visits, for what purposes and to what ends.
We are not particularly aware of what particular profession she has to make her such an enviable globetrotter but when a close relation of someone in public office who apparently had also made over 40 trips out of Nigeria in the 17 months of his tenure, some answers are required to pertinent questions.
Girl alone abroad
Along with the strident denials came another snippet of information, in the words of the governor’s wife, she has an under-aged daughter attending school in the UK; the obvious question to ask is whether the schools are not good enough in Nigeria but that will be facetious.
However, the poor girl has being shunted out to the UK since the age of seven with the aim of probably making her a dysfunctional high achiever being so devoid of essential family life but she might well turn out to be a tough cookie being reminded constantly that daddy and mummy are putting all they have into her education that poor grades will be untenable.
This is all conjecture and it could all be far from the truth, but in the age of the lack of transparency from our political leaders, imagination is one virtue of man that cannot be trammelled.
PhD in steering
Did we not get agitated when the richest man in Africa suggested he will be asking university graduates to apply for jobs as truck drivers? One can assume with all the sophisticated technology installed on trucks for tracking, logistics, navigation and so on, a certain level of aptitude is required to operate the trucks beyond mitts on steering wheels and feet on pedals.
However, when the news came that of the about 13,000 applications, 6 had PhDs and over 50 had MBAs, even if just for a second the world had to come to a standstill to appreciate what all this meant.
The plausibility
Now, there are many who said they could not believe that such highly qualified persons would apply for such jobs. I doubt the said applicant will come forward to tell anyone that they did except if years hence their circumstances changed so radically that they had a different story to tell.
The matter however should not be the believability of the story but that there could be any circumstances where such could be possible.
Why a seemingly growing economy like the one of Nigeria cannot absorb talent at the level where they can be challenged, utilising their acquired skills beyond the optimum becomes a pressing question.
The missing fundamentals
The stark reality is the growth is only in the oil industry and probably in the religious industry and nowhere else.
The fundamentals for real growth are missing – infrastructure, industry and education. I say education because I believe the best education one can get is primary school education that involves helping pupils be daring, adventurous, precocious, inquisitive, questioning, challenging, curious and interrogating – such an environment can make a whole lot of difference to the kind of outlook the adult will end up having regardless of academic achievement.
Our educational system is in a mess, and only today I saw a video of a vice chancellor of a university with a curriculum delivered in English who could not string together grammatically correct English sentences – we have a problem.
Do good with them
My hope is that Mr Dangote will identify these highly academically qualified candidates and put them on some fast track management program either for his industries or for export to other African countries needing such expertise.
The individuals themselves do need to look at African possibilities and it is not beyond the African Union to sign treaties that allow for easier migration of highly skilled personnel between countries. Europe and the United States already recognises the need to retain highly qualified people for growing their economies.
Greater concerns
There is no doubt that we do need the Chinese in Africa but one million of them is probably 900,000 too many, our governments need to see the emergency that this is – the inability to get qualified personnel for the basic jobs and the waste of amazing talent on somewhat menial jobs.
Wages do have to be earned but the downward trend that might make Africa’s middle class highly qualified truck drivers is too worrisome for words.

Friday 2 November 2012

The intrigue of a pencil in deft hands

A chance meeting
I am one to make conversation at the slightest opportunity if occasion warrants it.
At the station, I saw this rather handsome young man with what looked like a big folder portfolio of work; I had gone into the waiting room and turned on the heater; it is getting cold in dear old Blighty.
We got on the same coach and a momentarily loss of consciousness due to incidental slumber had my tablet fall out of my hands to the floor; he helpfully reached and picked it up then asked if it was OK, commenting they are usually made of sturdy stuff. It was fine.
Definition better than doodles
I apologised for my sloppiness and in minutes I saw that he had already drawn a few pictures on his pad; that caught my attention and curiosity as I asked by way of making a statement, you are an artist.
He responded, “I am an animator,” paused, then said, “or at least training to be one.” What I later read was this is a man who is now following his passion having had a career in reinsurance.
I caught the glimpse of a dog's head, one of the vicious kinds with the jaw bone structure to do you some damage as I quipped about whether he will like to work for Pixar. He did find that interesting enough to respond ambitiously, I by then had said a prayer of agreement in my mind without voicing out, I hope you do.
Imagination and play
We went on to talk about the vivid imagination that goes into animation and how it connects one's childhood with one's maturity as the pencil touches the paper.
By which time, I asked if he had a website, he said he didn't but he had a blog, one managed from his school. “I do have a blog too,” I said to him confessing I was still struggling to pen my 2,000th blog as I reached my ninth year of blogging.
As the conversation developed, I had obtained the link to his website, logged on to it, read a few blogs all with illustrations, saw how prolific he was and read his short biography where I learnt he liked Looney Tunes type characters.
My encounters with artists
A southpaw with a gift of artistic expression and I wondered whether I was about to relive history again because decades ago in school, I ran into a group of amazingly talented artists and it changed my life.
I told him I liked the Animaniacs cartoons which he did too, I then introduced myself, told him about what I did for a living, shook his hand; much smaller than mine but with a good manly grip.
The 30-minute journey was up but in meeting an utterly pleasant, handsome and talented man with the knowledge that I can follow his quest for complete genius that I hope will come with the recognition and success that would exceed the ambitions of his wildest imagination – I could see a world of new reality ahead of him much as I warned that he might get more visits to his website because I was going to write about our brief encounter.
What he did not know was that he had already set me up for the excitement of watching Skyfall later on.
Meanwhile, let me introduce you to Fox In Motion 2, it was started recently. Visit, appreciate and comment. Thank you.