ajagunna

I discuss Nigeria and the world at large because I strongly believe MyOpinionCounts!

Month: October, 2014

A. Igoni Barrett, love, power, stories, living books, and all that jazz

Pa Ikhide

“There are other human experiences and emotions to write about beside anger. Poems are not only for gunning, for other people, no matter how pernicious they may be. Anger is a tiny bit of human existence and should never be over-orchestrated. I am very suspicious of ‘Protest Poetry’. Poetry can be redemptive without being a banal protest; without exuding forced righteousness. Shrillness cheapens poems. A nation that demands that the entirety of its poetry should only address socio-political ills must be delusional, hysterical, and uninhabitable. A poet should not only be wracked with the meanness of history.”

– Uche Nduka in an interview with Uche Peter Umez

Igoni Barrett’sLove is Power, or Something Like That is a good, albeit frustrating read, those who love good writing will enjoy the power, intellect and industry that Barrett brings to this collection of nine tales. The Kindle copy is published by Graywolf…

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Burkina-Faso on Fire. Protesters and Opposition Demand President Campaore’s Exit!

The demonstration and countrywide protests which kicked off yesterday in Burkina-Faso did not start yesterday. It began actually 27 years ago with the murder of the people’s captain, Thomas Sankara. France and her agent Blaise Campaore killed one of Africa’s prophets in Burkina-Faso.

The setting ablaze of parliament building etc is an explosion of people’s anger. President Blaise Campaore under strict watch of France had presided for such a long time over this keg of gun powder. It shall eventually explode, no matter how long it took. The demonstration is the beginning of the explosion.

In fairness, 27 years is a time long enough for any government to listen/fulfill the aspirations of her own people. Unfortunately, this is apparently not the case in Burkina-Faso, like in many other outright and demi-dictatorship across French-speaking Africa.

It is undeniable that France only gave her West Africa colonies independence, but refused to leave. France is the proverbial helicopter-parent; she is permanently interfering in the affairs of these countries, covertly and most times overtly. France would stop at nothing to *destroy* a disobedient child to have her way. France is such a merciless beast-parent.

Closely observing the wind of protest sweeping through Burkina-Faso, which culminated into this uncontrollable outburst of rage, I want to call for cautious optimism. I am much delighted Burkina-Faso finally gathered enough civil-courage to demand the exit of a killer-president.

However, we must be quick to remember that the exit of President Laurent Gbagbo of Ivory Coast did not necessarily translate the land into a people’s paradise. It is only a replacement of a disillusioned marionette with a better French-brainwashed puppet. An astute watcher of France (West) Africa’s policy understands that France’s support for these installed marionette-rulers in the phantom-independent French-speaking African states is an open-secret. Considering the French-Factor therefore, we must wait cautiously for the proverbial pocket-bird to be fully exposed to confirm its true color.

The main demand of the opposition in the name of the people is this- the exit of President Campaore, which is far overdue anyway. The opposition demands the constitution be respected. Besides, the people are clearly tired of President Campaore’s rule of 27 years. Saying he failed them woefully, is simply confirming the very obvious. Burkina-Faso is rich in poverty. The probability is very high that the uncountable life-threatening slums, hungry children and pictures of pestilential poverty of Africa shown in various international media could have been from Burkina-Faso. The president successfully ravaged and looted the country blind.

Could it be that President Campaore has stepped on the toes of her benefactor, so that France consider it is time to throw him out? Or is the countrywide protest indeed the brainchild of a people raped of the human-dignifying existence and taken for a shameful ride for over two decades? What/who will replace President Blaise Campaore? What does the future hold for the land in a post-Balise Campaore democracy? These and many more are questions that must busy us while the protest last.

The protesters seem undaunted in their demand. One can only wish them good luck. Burkina-Faso and West Africa shall definitely miss President Campaore if the people truly succeed to topple him in this countrywide protest. I am thinking of possible withdrawal symptoms already. Poor Burkina-Faso! 😦

Tanimomo’s Piece of Mind (TPoM): 2015 Elections: I Shall Vote the Peoples’ General, But…

Mr. Tanimomo is a scholar resident in Germany. He guest-blogs on http://www.ahjotnaija.wordpress.com He is author of the popular bi-weekly: Tanimomo’s Piece of Mind (TPoM).

Mr. Tanimomo is a scholar resident in Germany. He guest-blogs on http://www.ahjotnaija.wordpress.com He is author of the popular bi-weekly: Tanimomo’s Piece of Mind (TPoM).

Many Nigerians don’t pray for the return of the incumbent president as winner in the 2015 general elections. One doesn’t need look too far for reasons to wish him a landslide loss. His ineptitude with his shallow handling of national matters is second to none.

Under the present crop of leadership, corruption has reached an all-time high while insecurity has been the only reason we make headlines in the international media. Due to this, the alternative candidate, General Mohammed Buhari (GMB) seems to be the long-awaited savior. His anti-corruption stance has never been faulted and this claim has even been better-boosted with the Daura-born Politician’s ownership of ONLY two houses.

However as ‘morally upright’ as his presidential candidacy seems, the former Head of State (HoS) has questions to answer.  While his detractors beam the light on his age and alleged fanaticism, I have decided to look beyond these simple reasons as it is not so likely that anyone will complain of age if Professor Wole Soyinka, for example, decides to contest.

While his reign in the 1980s was as a military HoS, which prompted a sterner approach to governance, I still will not overlook his heinous crimes against humanity. The fact that he enacted decrees that supported the death sentence and imprisonment of dissenters leaves one worried.

Worse still, the bespectacled politician has never at any time explicitly apologized for these crimes. They are his crimes, after all. Similarly, GMB truncated an infant-democracy and a government, whose border he was entrusted to defend. His justification for the putsch might have been accepted, but for the fact that the end in this case does not justify his explanation(means).

Also the retroactive law he put in place which killed three youths also need clarifications and he should show some remorse for the vile act.

General Buhari is being touted as an anti-corruption crusader; that is one of the strong points of his campaigners, but the Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka in his memoir, We Must Set Forth At Dawn made some sterling accusations against him.

I have in times pretended to believe reports of the corrupt-free government General Buhari ran in spite of how apocryphal they seem, but as a young Nigerian, who did not live through the years of GMB’s dictatorship, I rely on books to relive the years of General Buhari’s iron-handed rule.

My questions to the presidential hopeful are:

First, Is it true that while GMB headed the Ministry of Petroleum under General Olusegun Obasanjo, 3.4 Billion Dollars grew wings and flew out of the coffers of the Nigeria state and that the same fate befell files of the NNPC on his assumption of office?

Second, what happened to the 53 suitcases that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar intercepted at the airport?

Third, did General Buhari actually fight against democracy by locking up the late activist, Tai Solarin for distributing pro-democracy pamphlets?

Fourth, why does he want to participate in a type of government, whose members, namely the press and other activists like Fela Anikulapo Kuti etc he detained?

Apart from the success of the War Against Indiscipline(WAI) campaign, what other achievements did the General record as HoS? Relating to the health sector, why did Dr Olikoye Ransome Kuti protest against his government?

In like manner, GMB should not forget to tell us in CONCRETE/CLEAR TERMS how his government intends to revive the torment/death centres branded as hospitals throughout the country.

In an election debate in 2007, when asked what he would do with the land use act if elected, General Buhari said his plans were under seal. Such a response is a disappointment. Considering the fact that Chief Gani Fawehinmi had endorsed him, made such a response even annoyingly disappointing.

Conversely, another candidate, Professor Pat Utomi took us on an intellectual ride to Latvia as regards his plans for our lands. Instantly, my admiration for that professor soared and my reservations for the General augmented. We do not want guess works; we deserve to know what will happen to our lands in case this former-handler of our petroleum-money wins!

In addition, General Buhari’s explanation for cancelling the Lagos Metro rail project is terribly insufficient, for this also, I believe GMB should show remorse; he must beg Lagosians. Tying his irate cum unfortunate decision to debt reduction/avoidance is a bad justification. The ubiquitous Lagos traffic might have been a thing of the past if GMB had not cancelled project.

To sum up, I believe General Buhari has more persuasions to make and he may, instead of carpeting the ruling party, explain his plans in realistic terms. Since he is not in government, he can do us some good by exploring all the time he has to help us see reasons to vote for him.

Instead of devoting so much time to exposing the already self-exposed maladroitness of the incumbent,  the presidential candidate should explain his plans, THOROUGHLY in as many press conferences as possible: on the economy, education, infrastructure, industry etc etc.

Late 2010, a friend and I designed a poster titled ‘Let the clean men clean the mess!’ It was our widow’s mite. Not as if I believed in General Buhari, it was his vice-presidential candidate I believed in. I had watched Pastor Bakare on TV and on other platforms making his arguments, I had read about days when he slept in prison, I had heard of him talk about turning resources into wealth, I had heard him talk about how Georgia was transformed within years. For a number of GMB-skeptics, the choice of Pastor Bakare boasted confidence in a GMB-presidency.

If elected as the APC candidate, GMB may do well to pick a credible running-mate like he did with Pastor Tunde Bakare; a Christian to be precise. The reason is of course indisputable: General Buhari needs to be denuded of the fanatism-narratives which presently envelope his person.

Pius Adesanmi – Guest BlogPost: For Whom is Africa Rising?

Pa Ikhide

By Professor Pius Adesanmi

Winner, the Penguin Prize for African Writing

Author of You’re Not a Country, Africa!

Keynote lecture delivered at the 8th MSU Africanist Graduate Research Conference, Lansing, Michigan, November 17, 2014

(We just lost Professor Ali Mazrui. May we please observe a minute’s silence in his honour?)

The best of times and the worst of times. No, I have not come to Michigan State University to conduct an excursion into quotable quotes from Charles Dickens. I am just taking the liberty – presumptuously, some of you might say – to put into words what it must feel like to wear that enigmatic title, “Africanist scholar”, in these most paradoxical of times for and on the continent. One would ordinarily have assumed that being privileged to be called a producer of knowledge about a part of the world which is said to possess the distinction…

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GMB or GEJ: If Nigeria had the choice!

Yes, it is no use to cry over spilled milk. But it can be very helpful to discuss how the milk spilled; and particularly what spilled it. The 2011 General Election is the proverbial spilled milk.

If there was a repeat of the 2011 General Election, given the same choice of presidential candidates, would Nigerians have overwhelmingly voted for President Jonathan (GEJ) or chosen to stake a bet on General Mohammadu Buhari (GMB), a man who overthrew democratically elected government? Understandably, the overthrown government was terrible, but fact is, it was elected and GMB coup d’etat-ed it!

The choices with which confronted the people in the election is best reflected in Oladapo Ajayi’s submission, when he wrote,

the voice of the people was clearly heard in a particular election where the winner won less than 45 percent of total votes cast. The other two contestants had lesser percentages, but the winner was clearly not popular enough to have carried the day, and the people were smart enough to confront him with the situation in that they did not vote overwhelmingly for him. The people knew who they did not want, but they did not know who to follow. (Paraphrased)

Same can be said of both presidential candidates in the General Election. President Jonathan would clearly have been nobody’s choice, even in the South-South (his region), and the wider South (South-West, South-East and part of the Middle Belt).

There are obviously uncountable alternatives. Presenting the people with GEJ as flagbearer from these regions was to say they had no better person to offer. It was more than a slap in the face! Southern Nigeria is indeed not so scantily populated with people who are mentally and otherwise better equipped! GEJ was not the people’s choice from the South.

The people had no choice in this matter! They made do with what confronted them. Especially since he was from that part of the country (South-South). The people voted for him singularly because he is one of them. It must not be forgotten that the influence of kinsman’s politics cannot be over-emphasized in the present political formation in the country.

GMB was no better choice/alternative. GMB recognized quick enough he had to sell himself to the Southern electorate (particularly South-West). This informed his choice of a running mate. Unfortunately, the controversial Pastor Tunde Bakare could not singularly win the South-West. By the way, many felt Pastor Tunde was an electoral liability.

GMB was clearly a choice in the CORE-North with mainly Hausa dominance. The North-Central and the Middle Belt were not necessarily fully in support of his candidature. Therefore, calling the two regions for him would be jump-conclusive. States like Adamawa, Borno, Yobe, Gombe and Taraba are not necessarily places one can call GMB’s stronghold. There are elements in those states, who would gladly run him down, if they had their way!

And they did, going by the result from these states. Of course, the abracadabra of PDP politics of election results to favor GEJ was clearly visible. The fact that GMB’s dwindling popularity in these parts of the country worked against him too is plausible.

Beyond opinions and permutations of politics, GMB’s past was (and still is) a liability too big for him to bear. It stands always in his way whenever he declared to run for the president’s office. His atrocities are always published in major national dailies when General Election was just by the door.

His political assailants always REMEMBER NOT TO FORGET. They remind the people of GMB’s true personalities. I would not blame them. Indeed, GMB’s brutality as military dictatorship cannot be brushed out of national memory that quickly. Not even when the sufferers of his brutality are still here to accuse him.

He was, like many other Generals, a looter of national treasure. (In-)directly, the looting was carried out under his very watch. Nepotism, double standards among many other vices were the order of the day during his time in the state house. That he declared absolute intolerance to corruption, while his cronies plundered the commonwealth, made his sins indeed too mighty to forgive.

I certainly would be unwilling to advise memory refreshers of GMB’s (moral) crimes and atrocities to stop. Thank Goodness, freedom of expression is assured. Not that alone, it is in the interest of the country. At least if nothing is achieved beyond contributing to GMB’s continuous loss, it has undoubtedly achieved something worth applauding. The sins of the General are catching up with him! If that might keep him from winning any election at all in the country, one would gladly want to keep doing just that!

Apart from a past as Achilles heel, Nigeria really has had enough of recycled leadership. The country needs fresh minds to occupy political offices; not necessarily the youth. The new leaders can be as old as any of the present household names in the corridors of power, but at least not any of these old criminals! The likes of GMB really have no more good to offer Nigeria. GMB had his chance and he blew it!

Now, considering GMB colossal incredibility, I return to GEJ. He is certainly not new in politics, but not old enough to be categorized as a relevant player in mainstream politics prior ascendancy to power. Of course, Chief Obasanjo’s calculation was to install a marionette. Notwithstanding his relative newness in national politics, he certainly learned enough from his benefactors to make him a terrible choice of a president.

Apart from the obvious handicaps, he is certainly a sell-out candidate, who would be ready to mortgage Nigeria to the lowest bidder. In trying to fight off being a marionette to old benefactor(s), he acquired new masters (more terrible than those he fought off).

For different reasons, some rooted for GMB, some for GEJ during the 2011 General Election. To be fair, the people had no choice. They certainly would have voted neither for GMB nor GEJ. It is not unimaginable that a President GMB would not perform differently than when he was a dictator. Yes, he now has a check (democracy), but Nigerians know better. The legislature as it is, is not a credible discharger of any check and balance. Those Senators and Honorables have too much to worry about than willingly do the job of a watchdog, not even when they can be bribed to keep quiet.

A GMB presidency might be as good a nightmare as a GEJ’s. GEJ’s woes need not be listed one after the other. They are too obvious, even the blind can see!

Now, of what benefit exactly is the point of the analysis so far? It is this: we might not have who to follow presently, but we certainly know those we do not want as leaders or show-er of path! Yes, the electorate is tired of GEJ’s leadership. It must not be left unsaid however, that GMB is no alternative either! The country needs somebody else.

The people know exactly who that person is when they see one. It must be clearly said therefore: WE WANT ANYTHING BUT FAILURE AS PRESIDENT COME 2015!

 

NOTE: This piece was written and published (not on AhjotNaija) over a year ago. This is an edited/bettered version. The original message remains unchanged

Moses Ochonu: Africa in Fragments and the limits and dangers of a single literary medium

A great review and must-read for literary intellectuals

Pa Ikhide

Reading Professor Moses Ochonu’s new book, Africa in Fragments: Essays on Nigeria, Africa, and Global Africanity was not an easy task. It was no fault of the book, a well-written engaging and eminently insightful book. It simply fell victim to my newly acquired digital ADHD,  I rarely read books these days, I do read nonstop, pretty much anything I can lay my eyes on online. The book as a literary medium is in many ways a distraction from what my detractors would call an unhealthy obsession with the digital world.  Yes, as far as I am concerned, books are fast becoming a distraction in the 21st century. Thankfully, Ochonu’s book was worth my time, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book and I whole-heartedly recommend it to all those who are interested in matters Nigerian and African.  It is a substantial contribution in the seemingly eternal battle to make the…

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WeekendStarter by Oladimeji Abiola: Felebrating the Enigmatic Fela

Mr Abiola Oladimeji is a scholar resident in Germany and guestblogs for AhjotNaija

Mr Abiola Oladimeji is a scholar resident in Germany and guestblogs for AhjotNaija

Sent to the UK in the 1950s to study medicine, Fela Anikulapo Kuti opted for music. He was a non-conformist. He spoke against bad government and infringement of human rights. This made him the man of the people. To the ruling elite and the clergy, he was an irresponsible fella.

In his song Shuffering and Shmiling, Fela denounced the exploitation of the masses by religious leaders. This assertion is valid. Thus, he was generally disliked by many Christians and Muslims. In 1989, his song Beast of no Nation criticized the composition of the UN Security Council. Each member of the Security Council has a veto-power that is is equal to 92 or more votes of non-permanent members.

The songs Look and laugh and Army Arrangement accused Chief Obasanjo of corruption and aiding bad leaders to power. Fela, aka Abami-Eda (Enigma), depicts contract awarding system of the Nigerian government and the non-realization of awarded projects. Fela faulted the judicial system too. He says,

go to court, na big big English. … Case of 1809 na him dem go bring to judge the case of 1980.

To him, language usage in courts was grandiloquent. He mocked the judicial tradition of using precedent in adjudication as archaic.

Due to his anti-elitist stance, Fela, alias Omo-Iya-aje (Son-of-a-Witch) chose Pidgin English to transport his songs. He wanted the man on the street to understand his music.

To be critical, Fela was too Afrocentric about certain issues. He supported any anti-imperialist African leaders, good or bad. Idia Amin of Uganda, a nepotistic,  corrupt and brute-dictator was Fela’s hero. He was apparently carried away by the struggle against imperialism, he ignored criticizing African despot so long they shared his anti-imperialist views.

Abami Eda experienced racism in its ugliest form when he studied in the UK. This explains his strict Afrocentrism. I celebrate virtuously Fela’s activism and deep appreciation of African cultural values. I subscribe to his emphasis on  the African origin of ancient civilization and the use of traditional medicine.

Fela could be as strange as unpredictable. He pulled out of a deal with Motown, an American Record Company. He said, Motown sounded “Mo ta ohun, the Yoruba translation of I sold my voice. To him, the word Faculty bred cultism on Nigerian campuses.

These utterances are unbelievable but true. Prof. Sola Olorunyomi, a Fela expert confirmed them in his book. Wole Soyinka’s Memoir You must set forth at Dawn confirmed Fela’s view of himself as a reincarnated Egyptian God.

Actually, upon his death, the people deified Fela; he became an Orisa (a deity). Lagbaja’s tribute song to Fela pointed to this, Abami ti di Orisa, i.e. the Enigma finally became a Deity.

Abami-Eda was certainly a hero, celebrated till today. This piece is written in the spirit of the ongoing annual Felabration to celebrate his life and works. As we felabrate, there is a lesson to learn. Criticism of foreign oppressors must not exclude homegrown oppressors.

Some vulgar Afrocentric rants on the social media feel Europeans have no right to criticize anomalies in African society. I disagree. If the criticism is factual, ridiculous updates on social media in defense is unnecessary. Prof. Niyi Osundare described such defense as newsance (nuisance).

Videos of hungry children in Western media are not fabricated. We need not be annoyed they are shown. Many in Africa need help. Arguments abound that such videos portray Africa in bad light and/or used to justify further interventions in Africa. However, many Africans still benefit from the awareness created by these media reports.

The love for African culture becomes problematic when one denies the lapses in African societies because Non-Africans pointed to these ugly sides. Afrocentrism can never be a response to Eurocentrism or any other ethnocentrism. It distorts reality. We should rather put the VIP Vagabonds in Power, Fela’s reference for bad African leaders,  on their toes.

If you still don’t know Fela, the words of Harald Sun might help: Imagine Che Guevara and Bob Marley rolled into one person and you get a sense of the Nigerian musician and activist Fela Anikulapo Kuti.

Love-On-Wheels

It was Love-On-Wheels-Campaign. The party knew the need of the people- practical love. The chairman mounted a lorry; a loudspeaker in hand. The crowd cheered endlessly. They never felt so loved. Many began to weep. For joy.

The lorry drove the streets. The Party of the People (POP) shared commonwealth. At every stop the crowd increased. The people noticed, the louder the cheer, the more money sprayed. So they cheered even louder.

The lorry drove on. Overtime, it became hard to discern if the people were cheering or crying. Desperate shouters hit stray dogs with thorny clubs. The animals whined for torments. Market women, whose trays were overturned, screamed and cursed. The throw-way markets, landing in the mud, increased the rowdiness. Babies strapped to mothers’ back cried their throats dry for fear.

More money.

To catch them, they trampled each other. Many caught the wind. Some jumped. Others landed in the mud. Angry thugs elbowed indiscriminately. Many women scrambled for money. It was not yet a mad scene.

*Ha! We were shaken o!*, many claimed. The shock was the death of the omnibus-boy, which crowned the campaign. It did not prevent more money-catching though. Actually, nobody cared.

Some sensed trouble coming when the boy hit the omnibus. He wanted his driver to increase speed. Having no mirror, the driver relied solely on his boy to negotiate sideways or increase speed. At the sign, he increased speed.

The driver sped past the POP lorry, when the boy made to catch air-bound money notes. He let go of the omnibus. The outcome was pre-programmed. He landed on his head and died on the spot. It was a horrible sight.

The driver did not wait; he sped off, unaware death had just harvested his bus-boy from the air. The POP lorry hurriedly drove out of the area before curious journalists arrived. The struggle to catch more money intensified. The wads of money that helped death kill the bus-boy landed and disappeared into thin air.

The front-cover photograph of the Daily Nuggets showed people crying. The paper reported, the crying people had witnessed the horrible death. The sight traumatized them. *Horrible death and trauma?!*, captioned the Peoples’ Pamphlet.

Beside the crying lot were those with money, stacked away in pouches, pockets and bags. They had faces plastered with wide smiles. *But why are they crying?*, a man at the newsstand asked. *Did they come too late to the Love-On-Wheels-Campaign ni or caught too little money?*

Nobody answered.

General Buhari Joins 2015 Presidential Race! They’re Serial Losers!- Dr. Doyin Okupe

 

General Muhammadu Buhari (GMB) declares to contest the 2015 General Election yesterday in Abuja. Clearly, he intends to flagbear his presidential aspiration on the platform of the APC, Nigeria’s strongest opposition.

GMB accused the president and the PDP, the rulling party, of presiding over the country’s decline. In GMB’s words, the government is unthinking. He went further, simply because you sell oil and steal part of the money does not entitle you to cook figures and announce phantom economic growth when all the major indices namely, employment, manufacturing, farming, trading are demonstrably on the decline.

He was particular, among other woes, of the state of power supply in the country. He bemoaned the failure of the invested 20 billion Dollar to yield positive result. He promised, we plan to do it differently.

Many GMB’s stalwarts and social media-soldiers have since taken over the internet, jubilant of the General’s declaration. GMB has, in the words of many, a messianic status. They strongly believe the General is the only alternative to Nigeria’s nightmares.

  ikd

SaharaReporters has since started an e-poll to determine a winner, if Nigeria’s presidential election was held yesterday. No doubt, responses from the poll with over 5000 participants favor GMB as many faithfuls plastered the poll result on their Facebook walls. Tweets swelled. Another confirmation of their wish to see the realization of a GMB presidency.

Meanwhile, Dr. Doyin Okupe, spokesman to President Jonathan and the president’s most-feared attackdog, voiced the opinion of millions of PDP supporters when he confidently said President Jonathan shall be contesting against serial losers. His reaction was in connection to GMB’s declaration of intent yesterday to join the presidential race. The PDP debunked GMB’s claim of a declining economy as misleading and untrue.

Nigeria’s prominent literary critic, Ikhide R. Ikheloa seems to confirm in a satiric post Dr. Okupe’s confident reaction and the unspoken fear of millions of GMB’s supporters, when he wrote on Facebook, I like that “General” Buhari, knows he is not going to win Aso Rock but he soldiers on. And at 85, he looks great! I’d love to look like that at 40!

GMB has contested at least twice for the office of president and lost on every occasion.

 

 

 

 

John Grisham Says Sentences Often Too Harsh for Child-Porn Watchers

John is one of my favorite thriller authors. What’s your take on his stance in this?

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