Thursday 31 October 2013

Good Samaritan Values - The Renewing Of Your Mind

A new realisation
There are times I have said things or written things that could make people question my beliefs, especially my professed Christianity, the truth is I express my religious beliefs as a journey rather than a destination.
I cut my teeth on the King James Version (KJV) of the bible, written in the English parlance of the Jacobean era, following amazingly strict rules of grammar and expression, it is easy as it is inscrutable to read, but I love it.
The following verses from the Epistle of Paul to the Romans is often quoted, but it was not until the last weekend in church that it dawned on me that the clues what to do were embedded in the text itself.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12:1-2 (KJV) From
From conforming to transforming
As Christians, we usually take the first verse as a given, after sacrament, ritual, liturgy and prayer, we assume a sense of piety and humility, the open show of which is sometimes too hypocritical for words.
The second verse however requires some work; the choice is either to remain conformed to the norm of doing things are be transformed. This transformation is a process of renewing the mind, and that is where I found some startling revelation.
This time, rather than use the somewhat obscurantist word-for-word King James Version which follows the formal equivalence translation method, I will use The Message which is a paraphrase of the bible on the right side of dynamic equivalence. See the diagram below.
Courtesy of Comparison of English Bible translations - © Mark Barry 2010
Acts to transformation
What I observe in the highlights that follow show the differences in listed in Romans 12 between being conformed and being transformed; you implicitly see how the transformation renews the mind, the thinking and the mind-set to live an exemplary Christian life.
1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
3 I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.
4-6 In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvellously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.
6-8 If you preach, just preach God’s Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don’t take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don’t get bossy; if you’re put in charge, don’t manipulate; if you’re called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.
9-10 Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.
11-13 Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fuelled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.
14-16 Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.
17-19 Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”
20-21 Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good. Romans 12 (The Message) From
Good Samaritan values
On hearing this whole chapter read out in church, I realised that the don’ts illustrate the being conformed and the dos illustrate the transformation that renews the mind.
Another version of the English bible you can review of Romans 12 is the New Living Translation which sits somewhere in the middle ground of translation models of the King James Version (KJV) and The Message (MSG).
More pertinent, this shows how to celebrate our humanity with the maturity that embraces everyone from friend to the stranger, from the attractive to the not so attractive and most of all, those we would naturally revile, hate, envy and treat as enemies. There is just no excuse to treat anyone badly, not one at all.
This is what I will call, Good Samaritan values and virtues, every one of us possesses them, if we try hard enough to be good to each other.

Wednesday 30 October 2013

The UK: Caressed by the dead hand of government protocols

Fill the will
Forms are what I encountered this afternoon, a meeting with officialdom that started with a convenient, but extraneous data-entry on my laptop just two days before.
Yesterday afternoon I received a text message on my mobile phone scheduling an appointment for today, just a 10-minute walk from where I now live.
On arrival, I was greeted and asked to take a seat and expect Irene attend to me, but instead a gentleman came round to get me a good 40 minutes after the appointed time without apology.
Sign and whine
After introductions and a number of printouts I had to proofread and other questions I had to ask, I scrawled my signature at least 15 times on all sorts of documents to gain access to a support framework.
He said there was a form I had to fill in; the instruction was everyone had to fill the form in especially if you had lived out of the UK for more than 13 weeks in the last two years.
However, logic escaped its function because out of 12 questions, there was none I could answer because I am British citizen and every option it presented pertained to Mainland European citizens and beyond.
Where I was to present an identity document, there was no requirement of a UK passport, yet, I had to bend the logic to complete the first part and the sign it before he registered me for another needless meeting with some other official.
Bureaucracy to make you crazy
It was the dead hand of government; forms aping formula without function, exercises that exercised your patience into frustrated resignation as apparatchik automatons gave the zombie of government exhausted of life, long before we were born purpose for existence.
I will not suffer too much in this, as I am on therapy, and I engage my hospital in my holistic well-being, anything untoward I will offload unto them to resolve. My mental state remains sacrosanct. I will not entertain the attempts of the state to sap every will out of the person in what they term encouragement to purpose by negative inducement.
Yes, bureaucracies are there to make you crazy, not if I can help it.

Tuesday 29 October 2013

The Memories of a Castaway

The farewells
One bright morning just four weeks after returning from a business trip, he returned to the airport, with a one-way ticket in his hand.
The check-in was easy, and the absence of that pregnant customs officer who seized his passport just six weeks earlier asking for a handout was a great relief. He wondered whether the corrupt during gestation brought forth more corruption upon the earth.
It took the wiliness of his travel companion then to retrieve the passport after he palmed her filthy grubby hands with illicit silver.
His friends gathered, and he recollects, "we hugged and shook hands before we parted ways waving goodbyes without tears."
Bye for long
The scheduled take-off time had moved, and it was another five hours before they finally took to the air and one last glimpse of home became a distant memory of almost 23 years.
The boy is lost to one home and found in another home, affinities split between homes of ancestry and homes of birth, the latter bringing more satisfaction.
However, the passage of time comes with the experience of events and the news from afar of tales make sad songs a refuge for a season.
Lost for good?
What the boy has not suffered too badly is nostalgia, he can be removed and be placed in another place and another time to adapt. He has learnt to bargain for the best deal than challenge for the indifference of a rotten deal.
His people are growing older, his links are growing weaker; weighted down at times in seething resentfulness left unaddressed by conflicts that go back decades, all fondness suffering a contemn.
Sometimes, he really cannot be that bothered anymore, they have parted ways for so long that technology is just a tenuous link leveraged for convenience.
The boy is lost and not looking to be found.

Thought Picnic: The tracks of a spider on my skin

Lumbered out of slumber
I have not accepted the fact that I probably suffer from insomnia even though some close friends have observed my erratic sleeping patterns.
My pill time is usually in the 2-hour window between 23:00 hours and 01:00 hours, suggesting I am awake until about 02:00 hours in the morning.
Once I am in bed, I polish off a few tweets, sometimes I get into a scrap many will consider rank floccinaucinihilipilification, but that is part of making light of a long day.
Sounds for bounds
Some music, a teaching, or audio lectures become the background sound of my descent into slumber that rarely stretches beyond 3 hours, if I do not wake up at least once in that period.
However, I have learnt to sleep with no background sounds and eliminated the fear of my mind wandering too far for me to control; the nightmares that feast on the agitated seeds of my imagination.
Lights, I still need, and that story is longer than I have time to tell or write about. I have somewhat found a way to sleep short, but rest well, even if I could do with a lot more sleep.
After my second short session of sleep that brought the dawning of the day, I said a little prayer and rolled over to interact with my social media community.
Derma arachnida
I felt a tingling itch asking for a scratch on my arm. And there, between the rational that saw a spider and the split second of the reflex of a flailed arm of its disappearance onto the camouflaged protection of the carpet; I realised I did not have enough information to ask for an antidote if I had been stung by the spider.
I guess that sometimes defines how we react to circumstances. The information we have acquired in the split second that requires the patience of another few seconds to make rational decisions based on getting better informed is lost to reflex and reaction that you are left none the wiser about the experience.
Surely, my spider moment is no exercise in floccinaucinihilipilification, is it?

Monday 28 October 2013

Opinion: How Zwarte Piet is a Subject of Culture, History, but Rarely Race

Some quaint traditions
A number of exchanges on Facebook regarding the Sinterklaas tradition which is the Low Countries' equivalent though contrived of Santa Claus had me rummaging through the memories of my almost 13 year sojourn in the Netherlands.
The topic concerned the helpers of Sinterklaas called Zwarte Piet (Black Pete). These are usually Caucasians with blackened faces in clothes of flamboyant contrasting colours somewhat modelled on the Moors as Sinterklaas is said to visit the Netherlands from Spain.
Much as I understand that the blackening of faces might present a culture shock to foreigners observing this tradition for the first time, it does not remotely pertain to outright racism apart from the general idea of a master-servant relationship between Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet.
Know your history
What bothers me is the tendency for certain people to arrogate to themselves either real or imagined histories of figures and traditions they have no affinity with and in the process they begin to personify the victim complex of those cultures.
On the broader issue of our humanity, we do recognise that we all have a responsibility to seek the institution and enforcement of broad human rights for freedoms and the pursuit of happiness.
However, it is also important that we recognise our core identities such that we do not appear to race ahead of the discussion that pertains to the rights of others in groups that we do not essentially belong due to many factors beyond race and residence.
Too diverse for colour to matter
My view of the black race is that it is just as diverse as any other race. Though we might have shared histories of oppression and indignities suffered through centuries, it is important that we recognise the differences in our history within the compendium of many histories in Africa, in the Caribbean, in North America, in South America and now recently in Europe.
Whilst centuries ago, Africans might have shared in the broader cruel history of slavery towards either the Middle East or the Americas, each destination developed a divergent history where the commonality of race is the only affinity between us after which we are all very different people.
In Africa, Blacks might people the Anglophone, Francophone, and Lusophone parts of Africa, but within those countries that make up these groupings, we are radically different in culture, tribe, tradition and histories that the artificially cobbled-together nations we belong to are mostly geographical expressions that we have learnt to live with.
How to join a struggle
We can identify with and join a struggle for the liberation of other oppressed members of our race, but we must be careful that in our identifying with a cause we do not lose our identity and history to complete assimilation, uprooted from the ancestry and moorings of who we are.
Other Africans joined together to fight Apartheid, but we fought as free people seeking the freedom of our brothers and sisters; we did not become South African and put ourselves under the influence of Apartheid to stand in the face of the shootings in Soweto.
Quite heterogeneous
In Britain, the tendency to see the black race as homogenous is dangerous. The majority Caucasian indigenous and growing foreign population though white, rarely identify that strongly along racial lines as Africans, African Americans, Caribbean or similar people of colour do.
They have their languages, culture, histories and strong identities linked to regions, customs, traditions and many other common traits that sets each grouping out as unique.
I sometimes fear that we coalesce and school together like fish on issues where we are essentially birds of a completely different feather.
Zwarte Piet is hardly the problem
It is why I could not countenance the apparent righteous indignation bordering on apoplectic rage, of African residents of England to Zwarte Piet. The debate is ongoing in the Netherlands about cultural and politically correct elements of retaining that aspect of the Sinterklaas culture.
It is healthy, interesting and robust, but it is nowhere near the zest for insurrection demonstrated by racial impostors from abroad, who might have found another roller coaster bandwagon to hitch a ride on.
We indeed must have debates about racism, racial equality, race relations, race history and probably revisit history for understanding, appreciation, recognition and reparation of wrongs of the past and present – I do not think that debate can be had with wrestling Zwarte Piet to the ground in either horseplay or mortal combat.
The fight for dignity is paramount beyond race, but we lose focus when we decide to take more offence on issues where our affinity with the people we presume are not liberated is tenuous at best.

Sunday 27 October 2013

Thought Picnic: Coming to terms with my stupidity

My stupid scars
Sometimes I wonder about the stupid things that I have done that has left deep and enduring scars.
Stitched up and left to heal, I tinker with the freshness of the wounds preventing its prompt healing whilst enduring the pain and itch as if they have become comforts of my existence.
Then I come to myself. The scars will remain but they must become stories, having their own long tales of how I acquired them, but having my body recover, recuperate, regenerated and restored.
Constantly, I have to alert myself to what is good for me and what militates against my health and welfare.
Scars of beauty and hope
Time to nurse my scars to health and deal with the things that so easily distract me, the quest to please myself, the need for approbation in attempting to please people and understanding that from a spiritual standpoint, my God is pleased with me; I just need to understand, honour and become more aware of that truth.
Loved, blessed and favoured beyond what I can find words to express, a rediscovery of spirituality brings grounding without which one is distracted, uninspired and listless.
I am learning new things, and this is offering opportunity and expectations. The story continues; we are on the up.

Saturday 26 October 2013

Opinion: Tackling the Culture of Blacks Handling Disease

The taboos we must break
I found myself nodding in agreement to literally every line I read in this article published in The Body magazine – The Complete HIV/AIDS Resource – titled Breaking Through: HIV and African Americans.
If we removed HIV and replaced it with cancer, diabetes, hypertension, or misfortune, we would have subconsciously listed a sliding scale in terms in growing confidence to talk about how certain issues affect us.
Someone dying of the complications of HIV might only be able to accept that they are dying of cancer, the visible signs and sometimes along with diabetes means, we never attempt to ask more probing questions.
Our false stories
As I read the article, the writer informed that he had lost three relations, presumably African American to AIDS; two women, including his aunt and a man who insisted he was a heroin user when it was quite possible he was gay.
We have never been able to approach the reality of our diseases for the so many factors raised in that article. It is not just an African American thing; it is particularly African and probably broadly affects all non-Western cultures.
When I write blogs like this, I am wont to excerpting generous portions of the source material to make my points. However, I have decided we need to get the courage to begin to face the many issues that plague our communities as we suffer in silence, perpetuate the stigma and look at disease as the otherness that will never approach our steads.
We shock to numbness
We cannot deny that HIV/AIDS and cancer cuts a swathe through our communities like a wild forest fire that we treat as if it is insignificant, as our silence becomes a coping mechanism of convenience.
This means we fail to access health options and healthcare early enough for radical and timely intervention until it becomes an emergency exceeding effective medical treatment leaving us with just one option of palliative end-of-life care.
The story then becomes one of hospital visits, close family in shock at the apparently sudden deterioration in health of their relation as life slowly ebbs away no one the wiser about the truth until a nurse pulls one of the most affected relatives aside to say exactly what the diagnosis was. AIDS? Cancer? Usually not enemies scheming in the backyard, held at bay with Psalm 35.
There and then, the world collapses around every loved one and the questions start to flood the mind with prefixed inquisitive phrases of how long, how bad, how did, what can, how much – we have experienced this many times and yet we willingly hop on the vicious cycle of the culture of blacks handling disease badly.
The signs we ignore
We ignore the warning signs in the cause of the worry about the loss of our livelihood and the economic distress that accompanies a disease. Then visit our temples hoping and wishing for miracles with mountain-moving faith that had moves nothing more than the air that comes out of our mouths in fervent prayer, because we are in the mortal grip of fear; we rapidly approach an avoidable expiry date.
We listen to stories and conspiracies, we search for Shamanist cures in grottos that have defied the onslaught of civilisation and logic, imbibing awful concoctions too rotten for a recipe list and yet the temporary relief presages a catastrophic relapse before it is passed off in an obituary as a brief illness or a sudden death.
No fairy tale
These are the facts, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, the “Nigerian multi-instrumentalist musician and composer, pioneer of Afrobeat music, human rights activist, and political maverick” died of Karposi’s sarcoma, and it is a form of skin cancer usually brought on by AIDS.
His brother, a prominent AIDS activist and former minister of Health could only talk about AIDS affecting his family after the man had died. Nelson Mandela’s son also died of AIDS, but we only learnt of that after the fact.
As a cancer survivor, I know how much I have revealed about my condition and the secrets that I still keep for the fears, the shame, the stigma and many other attendant issues that dog our cultural outlook to disease.
Yet, as the article states, and this I will excerpt, “Magic Johnson has not been cured by some medicine being kept from us.
Ignoring our possibility
We can expect better medical outcomes if we talk, if we act or react immediately and seek professional advice when things are changing in our bodies that we cannot account for in our daily routine.
Karposi’s sarcoma as a result of HIV/AIDS complications was already treatable in the 1990s, and anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs manage HIV to the extent that people living with HIV can live very productive lives.
We cannot ignore our way round reality, nor can we bargain away disease with the false comfort of vows and the sudden laying on of hands; we need to accept first by understanding what we have* and that will inform the kinds of interventions that medicine or therapy can help us with, in a timely fashion.
[*This includes, HIV/AIDS, cancer, diabetes, hypertension, depression, mental illness, misfortune – tag anything you want to the list.]
Medicine is not evil and churches are not hospitals, but the beginning of dealing with the problem that plagues our community with the poison of silence is to read an article in a HIV/AIDS magazine about respected black women in the family dying of AIDS in today's America.
Finally, go for that test, it is about your life and keeping it.
Click on the link and read - The Body - Breaking Through: HIV and African Americans

Thursday 24 October 2013

Thought Picnic: The Bloody Tales

Sorry about the title, it is not an attempt at blurting out an expletive.
A medical roll
For the past few months, the highlights of my calendar have mainly been a number of hospital visits, many not having anything to do with seeing a doctor, but handling the consequences of a life-threatening illness four years down the line.
I have seen nurses, psychologists, therapists, social workers and doctors, but the approach to my care has been to attempt to address all other attendant issues beyond check-ups.
I will not attempt to make comparisons between what obtains in England compared to what obtains in the Netherlands, though I felt more catered for in the latter.
Differently tardy
The journey to the hospital did not take as long as I anticipated which meant I arrived on time, but it was not another 50 minutes after my arrival before I got to see the consultant.
None of the preambles of weight measurement or blood pressure readings took place, rather, after leafing through my medical notes we discussed the results of my tests which barely budged towards better compared to the last time I was there.
Lab specimen or drug mule?
Another concern I had which had bothered me for almost a week as I relived the horrors of chemotherapy were put to rest though I was being offered the option of running a hamster cage like a guinea pig for some new Big Pharma idea.
Drug trials can put you in the forefront of avant-garde treatments or completely ruin your life; it could be scary. As you survive or expire, your contribution to humanity is the knowledge gained to help others, more pertinently; the experience helps write the prescription advice and the notes necessary for safe usage.
Whilst there is no need for an intervention, monitoring and assessment are of the essence to ensure there are improvements; where the indicators read differently, we could tackle the issues promptly.
For the first time we discussed costs, not so much of my primary medication but of the supporting drugs that I ended up with a cheaper version and later the pharmacist gave me all the drivel about costs, options and much else for mere calcium boosting mastication tablets.
As I returned home, overcome with fatigue and a rotten headache, it was as if I was coming down with something, yet, I have two interviews tomorrow that I have to prepare for.
The tale of the bloods read fine though it was not as if I felt any better for the meeting, the atmosphere, the discussion or the future. We scheduled meetings for therapy, social services and the next consultation before we parted not as friendly as meetings I had before in the Netherlands.
In this poker game of life, you can only play the hand you have; the card deck is just a future of possibility, though the smart might well bluff their way to take the pot.
It is well, I am well, and all is well.

Tuesday 22 October 2013

Nigeria: Football, Age Determination and Record Keeping

Page to age rage
As the FIFA Under-17 World Cup 2013 plays away in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) we find ourselves being ambivalent about the players my other footballing country of Nigeria has fielded. I support England be reason of birth and the Netherlands having lived there for 12 years. [Wikipedia]
We as fans of a football loving country are always taken by the amazing performance of our players, as somewhere in our minds we wonder whether the players are really as young as they state they are.
In 2008, David Moyes, then Everton manager made this comment about Yakubu Aiyegbeni, “He's only 25, albeit a Nigerian 25, and so if that is his age he's still got a good few years ahead of him.” [BBC News]
Whatever he might have been alluding to, he created the perception probably long held that some Nigerian players might well be many years older than the ages presented in their contractual documents.
Age fraud and overwhelming successes
Age fraud in association football is well documented in Africa and Asia, Nigeria was even suspended and sanctioned for fielding over-aged players in certain FIFA tournaments. [Wikipedia]
Nigeria is the most successful team in the U-17 World Cup tournament having been in six finals, winning three, followed by Brazil in five finals, winning two, but we must come to a stage where we are confident that we are playing on a level field without taking advantage of our opponents.
We must be in the eligible age range and what should show is our football talent and prowess in our taking the laurels. This however is not to take away from the successes of teams past and the pride we have in all their victories.
Some science to the rescue
In 2009, FIFA introduced the mandatory use of Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) which apparently has 99% accuracy in determining how old a person is up until the age of 17 after which it is difficult for medical expertise to determine the age that accurately. [BBC Sport]
The MRI system of age determination checks the grade of ossification/fusion in the distal radius [bones at the wrist] where fusion suggests the subject is above the age of 17 and thereby ineligible to compete in the FIFA Under-17 World Cup tournament. [NIH] [BBC Sport]
Courtesy of Wikipedia [Source]

Many African countries first rejected this age determination process, but it is the best science could do for countries that have poor documentation processes that have no proper trust or verification systems to ascertain the provenance or authenticity of birth certificates or declarations. [BBC News]
My scepticism is predicated on whether our kind of physiology is catered for and whether the scanners are calibrated to account to possible racial differences in bone structure, environment, diet and other factors. However, this is the best system we have to rely on now.
A poor record-keeping culture
We do not have proper systems to register life births in hospitals or maternity homes, our municipalities have poor record keeping systems for the registration of births, of marriages and of deaths; beyond which there is no centralised archiving system to maintain such information if acquired.
What we have adopted is a system of swearing affidavits, many of which are taken on self-recognisance given the weight of a notary public and then rubber stamped by the judicial arm of government.
These poor archiving systems permeate all works life; in government, in the private sector and in academia. There was an instance where a PhD holder from a reputable institution in the UK had to present all certificates he had acquired dating back to primary school after a 25-year career, with him approaching 50 to take up an appointment in Nigeria.
I dare say that white Africans are far ahead on the record keeping and documentation front; in another world, they would probably be able to produce enough documentary evidence to lay claim to anything even if acquired fraudulently by their forebears.
The fun in record keeping
I watch programmes on British television like "Who Do You Think You Are?" and I am always impressed with how researchers could trawl through archives going back centuries to piece together genealogies, ancestries and histories. We probably have just the adulterated and sometimes exaggerated or fabled oral histories to go by – we need to pay more heed to record keeping and documentation.
The idea that our sports ambassadors have to be herded like cattle through MRI scan turnstiles to determine the ages of the participants is degrading enough, if not disgraceful, but we brought this ignominious exercise upon ourselves.
We must address this now
The FIFA U-16 World Championship founded in 1985 and then renamed to FIFA U-17 World Cup has been running for 28 years. We should have learnt the lessons by now to ensure any new entrants to the competition have a good paper trail of birth certificates, medical histories, school reports and other supporting documentation not to have to suffer the indignities of an MRI scan.
This must be integral to our health policy, our education policy and other population census documentation and government planning policies. We need to get to a stage where the writing on any document emerging from our countries is worth the paper it is written on and accepted as authentic by any verification or certification organisation anywhere in the world.

Monday 21 October 2013

Thought Picnic: The quiet place

The place to be
Sometimes we need to know our quiet place, the place where within the turmoil and the disarray that surrounds we can steal away and find a place of safety.
The safety we seek is essential for making sense of life and finding perspective when things do not look right.
I find my quiet in many places, the best is when I am travelling, when I embark on a long journey, a calm descends upon me as if I am caught away halfway to paradise. I make time for travel when I can afford it.
Memories we must cherish
Through my life, I have also found milestones, times when I have apparently felt so good, so well, and almost too sure, without a care in the world.
A colour, a smell, some music and the memories convey me to a place to daydream out of the present and latch on to the affirmative.
I do this not to find reasons to regret, but to appreciate that I have had a wonderful and blessed life full of many things to be thankful for, and that is a good thing.
For wonder and awe
Nature also offers a great sense of awe and wonder, be it in a forest, listening to carefree birds chirping in the trees or watching the wash of large bodies of water ebb and flow against banks or shores; mysteries expressed in beauty that words will never speak, but the heart and mind will fully understand, poured into the senses like an elixir of life.
Know how to find your quiet place, your break away from the rat race, where you can leave that hustle and bustle that will nevertheless continue whether or not you are part of it because there is always more to life and more to live for than the endless quest for survival.

Sunday 20 October 2013

Storify: Turakin Mandate in Corrective Reluctance

Turakin Mandate in Corrective Reluctance

Turakin Mandate in Corrective Reluctance

This is a series of tweets where a suggestion to correct grammatical errors in English became a reflection of the Nigerian psyche. I lost my original notes. Please read, without prejudice.
    • But what about the Golden Eaglets win? 6-1! I just hope that score doesn't cause diplomatic problems #smile
      • Here Atiku Abubakar, Vice-President of Nigeria (1999 - 2007) tweets about the FIFA U-17 World Cup, where Nigeria beats Mexico 6-1.

        It looks like the "diplomatic problems" part would stir up something.
        • Atiku for President! SMH. "@atiku: But what about the Golden Eaglets win? 6-1! I just hope that score doesn't cause diplomatic problems."
          • Pa Ikhide as he is known, takes a dig at Atiku Abubakar regarding his ambitions to be the president of Nigeria.
            He takes no prisoners when it comes to Nigerian politicians.

            SMH = Shaking My Head.
            • @ikhide @manipeters This is all about Eaglets win over the Mexcans not about 2015 and @atiku Presidential bid.
              • Turakin Mandate?
                Aha! Turakin Adamawa is a chieftaincy title given to Atiku Abubakar, it would appear Turakin Mandate is a Twitter account setup as vehicle to seek the mandate of Nigerians for the presidency.
                Already, they left the I out of the word Mexicans.

                What else have they done?
                • @TurakinMandate @ManiPeters @atiku "The Turakin Mandate is an NGO meant to upheld the Strides of Alhaji Atiku." Pls correct that sentence.
                  • Pa Ikhide like any good Twitter user checks the profile of Turakin Mandate and finds grammatical errors.
                    Perish the thought.
                    Sorry, keep the thought, there are problems with that sentence in quotes.
                    I think the language in use is English, I believe the language has rules of grammar, common to anyone with a basic understanding of English.
                    He politely asks them to correct it like anyone would. Will they?
                      • Oh no. Turakin Mandate takes no corrections, certainly no grammatical corrections, they have their own English style and grammar rules.
                        I hope they send me a copy autographed by the Turakin Adamawa himself, I'll treasure it.

                        Or maybe, it is putting Pa Ikhide in his place. How dare he attempt to correct the grammar of a Nigerian big-man, you accept the errors of your betters and correct the errors of those beneath you.
                        The effrontery, the gall.
                        God save Pa Ikhide from the wrath of those who can act with impunity, I pray.
                        • @TurakinMandate @ManiPeters @atiku "Upheld" should be "uphold." The sentence is grammatically wrong. That's embarrassing...
                          • Pa Ikhide insists, yes, he insists very strongly demonstrating that the tenses are wrong and offering the correction.
                            A very kind and tolerant man, Pa Ikhide is.
                            At the risk of martyrdom, he fights to uphold standards of English so that errors are not upheld.
                            He insists the grammatical errors are an embarrassment.
                            I shiver, I quake, I quiver, I pass out .... I return to finish this narrative, I hope something happens, this is bad, really bad.
                            Pa Ikhide, are you OK?
                            • @TurakinMandate @ManiPeters @atiku And "Strides" should be "strides." You need an editor... Never mind!
                              • Pa Ikhide is on a crusade, he is a one-man militia upholding the right to bear arms against the tyranny of bad grammar in the public space.

                                Editor? Surely for just one sentence one must not waste scarce resources.
                                Nonsense, Turakin Adamawa not only has deep pockets, he has a university with I hope, a languages department that strives for excellence.
                                I think I am being facetious and Pa Ikhide is about to give up against an unyielding force of bad grammar.
                                Strides should never be written as a proper noun, but we need to see their rule book.
                                • @atiku @TurakinMandate The writer said "Meant to Upheld" I think both tallies @ikhide I think u meed revisit pry sch...
                                  • Christopher Okagbare? I wonder who he is.

                                    Gosh! He fell for that common mistake in English grammar on tenses, surely some mistake, but he did.
                                    Seeing the past tense of mean, he thinks it should be followed by the past tense of uphold.
                                    *Covering my eyes* I can't, I can't, I will.
                                    He also got his number agreement wrong, it should have been, I think both tally.
                                    Then, is that a spelling mistake or in praise of bad grammar? The use of meed instead of need, this is getting nasty.
                                    He sends Pa Ikhide back to primary school to learn bad English, I wonder if Pa Ikhide would take up that offer.
                                    • @ikhide d "Strides" used instead of "strides" as u suggested was for emphasis purpose. Teacher dnt teach me nonsense @atiku @TurakinMandate
                                      • Christopher belongs to the crowd, those accept the unacceptable and never question the questionable. Worse still, he appears to prefer error to correction.

                                        Gosh! The word arrangement is atrocious, I guess what he meant to say was, strides is capitalised for the purpose of emphasis. Really?
                                        "Teacher don't teach me nonsense." This is a quote of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti who according to Wikipedia "was a Nigerian multi-instrumentalist musician and composer, pioneer of Afrobeat music, human rights activist, and political maverick."
                                        Christopher is insisting Pa Ikhide is wrong, I guess Christopher needs help.
                                        • Oh ASUU! "@sheikokagbare: @atiku @TurakinMandate The writer said "Meant to Upheld" I think both tallies I think u meed revisit pry sch..."
                                          • Pa Ikhide is exasperated as he cries, "Oh ASUU!"

                                            ASUU is the Academic Staff Union of Universities in Nigeria, they have been on strike for months, in fact, they've been on strike forever and that tells with the quality of graduates hatched out of Nigerian universities today who are lacking in rigour, application or ability. Very sad indeed.
                                            Christopher is probably one of those half-baked graduands regurgitated like vomit from a third-rate university where English grammar has been given up for grunts and sighs.
                                            • Dear Mallam @atiku, Is this sentence correct? "The Turakin Mandate is an NGO meant to upheld the Strides of Atiku..," cc @TurakinMandate
                                              • Meanwhile, Pa Ikhide persists, driven by the desire for excellence and he appeals to the Tarakin Adamawa himself who like us received quality education in a Nigeria long past and part of history.

                                                I hold my breath. Will this work? Will change come?
                                                • @sheikokagbare You may be interested to know that the sentence has been corrected (partially). It is not your fault. @atiku @TurakinMandate
                                                  • Success! The errors were corrected. Laurels for Pa Ikhide and a turning up of the nose at Christopher.
                                                    I guess Christopher should now go back to a primary school where the fundamental rules of good English grammar are taught.
                                                    • @ikhide Per adventure you are right, so what's the big deal? The msg from @TurakinMandate is still passed across. CC: @atiku
                                                      • Per adventure? Excuse me! I give up!

                                                        Does Christopher need a radical lobotomy to accept the very basic rules of grammar? This is an emergency.
                                                        I thought the message was using the basic rules of grammar but Christopher is satisfied with error, it makes you wonder how many more errors he would allow for the sake of expediency, this is worrisome.
                                                        I hope Christopher is not a pilot. Perish that thought.
                                                        This is what we do, we celebrate mediocrity and tolerate incompetence as long as there seems to be any activity, that is accomplishment.
                                                        We face great peril in Nigeria with this kind of mindset and it is the prevailing one, the "what is the big deal?" mindset.
                                                        • @ikhide But how does one "uphold strides" of another ? Dem wan send metaphor go ICU. Lol.
                                                          • Use your imagination, like striding on the heads of the downtrodden, maybe that this a bit severe, let's try clouds.

                                                            The metaphor is in cardiac arrest, is there a doctor in the house?
                                                            • *dead* @atiku's boys are illiterate! "@OSoyombo: @ikhide But how does one "uphold strides" of another ? Dem wan send metaphor go ICU. Lol."
                                                              • Laughter! Within that effusive compliment is a damning verdict, illiteracy and obduracy.
                                                                The inability to take polite advice and make amends.

                                                                People associated with power who automatically think they are powerful too, assuming air and delusions of grandeur.
                                                                Moving on ...
                                                                • @OSoyombo Instead of thanking me, the olodos were beating their chests & raking! Ah, between ASUU & our rogue government, Nigeria is doomed!
                                                                  • Gratitude? Surely not.

                                                                    Olodos is a Yoruba-English construct written as the plural of dunces.
                                                                    Pa Ikhide takes no prisoners.
                                                                    • @ikhide Ah!, I swear. Upholding "the strides" of another grown man sounds like a ritual your Pastor wouldn't you to participate in.
                                                                      • At this rather bizarre ritual, it is time to end this narrative.
                                                                        May we find the grace to uphold what should be upheld and know when not to uphold what should not be upheld with humility and gratitude.
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