ajagunna

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

Category: History

Mr. Omoyele Sowore, 2019 Presidential Aspirant Visits Berlin for Townhall Meeting with A Breath of Fresh Hope for Nigeria

Convener of #TakeItBack Movement and Nigeria’s 2019 Presidential Aspirant Mr. Omoyele Sowore In Historic City of Berlin as A Breath of New and Fresh Hope In Nigeria Political Space. It was a full hall yesterday as #TakeItback Presidential Aspirant, Founder of Online Media Platform, Sahara Reporters, Mr. Omoyele Sowore came to Berlin the Capital of Germany to meet with Nigerians in pursuit of the race to Nigeria’s Presidency in 2019. It is worthy of note that the election and handing over to a new administration in Nigeria is less than a year from now. Therefore, Mr. Omoyele Sowore’s plans are in high gear to ensure no place is left unturned or untouched. Prior to the BErlin Townhall Meeting, he had been to Italy and several other cities, towns and villages in the North, South-South, South-East and South-West of Nigeria with Townhall Meetings. He continued to Barcelona Spain from Berlin Townhall Meeting spreading the #TakeItback Movement to Nigerians in every part of the world.

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Presidential Aspirant and Converner of #TakeItBack Movement Mr Omoyele Sowore with Ms Abigail Okorodus, A Current European Union-Scholar(ERASMUS) and Alumnus of the Obafemi Awolowo University Ile Ife Nigeria. Impressed by the intelligent multifaceted questions of MS Okorodus on pathways to financing and successful implementation outlined agenda in the manifesto acronymed SPICER-HEAT, Mr. Omoyele Sowore answered the questions with great indepth and analysis, and also agreed to take a selfie upon Ms. Okorodus request.

Prior to the powerfully attended Townhall Meeting in the historic city of Berlin, Mr. Omoyele Sowore met with leaders of Nigerian communities in Berlin, business leaders and entrepreneurs of Nigerian heritage. Also Nigerians with passion for social and community works were duly represented to dialogue and discuss matters and issues of the Nigerian state and Nigerians at large with Presidential Aspirant Mr Omoyele Sowore.
Nigerians with professions ranging from Doctors, Lawyers, Businesswomen and men, Traders, Musicians, Factory Workers,Teachers, Students, also Children and Parents came out in large numbers to attend.

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L-R (1) Mr. Omoyele Sowore, Converner of #TakeItBack Movement and Nigeria’s Presidential Aspirant, (2) Mr. Okejimi Segun, A DAAD Scholar in Germany and (3) Publisher of http://www.ahjotnaija.wordpress.com Blog, Mr. Ibukunolu O. Ajagunna aka Ahjot Naija in Attendance at The Berlin Townhall Meeting

Nigerians all over the world tuned in online to join in on the Facebook-Live handle of the movement. The show of love and the daring power of hope was visibly represented among the people yesterday as Mr. Sowore thanked Nigerians for the strong faith and hope they have in the country and in the potentials of our people as a nation. He noted the historic importance of the Berlin visit pointing out that in 1884/85 was when Africa was divided up without the presence of Africans at the table to discuss and negotiate their own future. The #TakeItback Movement, having convened in Berlin is therefore a historic moment as it seeks to discuss and dialogue on the future of Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country and to see that it stays united and draw up new pathways for a successful administration of the country. “If Nigeria gets it right come 2019, Africa will get it right”, says Mr. Sowore.

Mr. Sowore listened with rapt attention and discussed matters arising with participants in manner worthy of a president giving indepth analysis of and into issues without mincing words on the urgency of the task at hand. In the Townhall Meeting, he addressed Nigerians and answered questions. He touched on his manifesto which is summed up in the acronym SPICER-HEAT, that is Security, Power, Infrastructure, Economy, Restructuring, Health, Education, Agriculture and Technology. He discussed in details each of these agenda and pathways to realize them, funding being a major factor that he left nobody in doubt will be taken care of.

He emphasized that his Presidency will not be business as usual. A great wind of positive renewal and intervention is about to happen in the Nigeria political and national space come 2019. He stated that Nigeria will have its pride of place once again among the comity of nations. Not only did he categorically state that Nigeria Airways will be brought back to alive, but also pointed out the economic loss the absence of a national carrier is to Nigerians, the Nigeria state and businesses.
Job creation was top of the discussion as he dived into the core of his agenda for the country. In the Power Sector alone, when solar and wind energy is properly harnessed and developed, it has the potential to employ over 2 million Nigerians, young and old alike. Agriculture, Health Sector among others will be rediscovered and new ways to tackling long standing problems in various sector of Nigeria’s daily life will be introduced.

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Mr Omoyele Sowore, Converner of #TakeItBack Movement and Nigeria’s Presidential Aspirant at the Berlin-Schönefeld Airport with Mr. Victor Ayog, Coordinator of the Berlin Branch of the #TakeItBack Movement.

All in all, Mr. Omoyele Sowore is a breath of positive fresh air into the otherwise discredited political landscape in Nigeria. Nigerians in Disapora and Home are proud once again as the look forward to the emergence of Mr Omoyele Sowore as President of Nigeria in 2019. Many participants, both online and offline all around the world have continued to spread the message that there is hope after all for Nigeria once again.

The Black Burden by Ola Dunni

One day,

My nephew arrived from school

Tapped his mum and asked in a very innocent voice

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Ms. Oladunni Talabi is a beautiful and wonderful addition to the AhjotNaija!BlogFamily. She is a Doctoral student resident in Germany, young and very-full-of-life. She experiments with different forms of writing; this is one of them: Entertaining while strongly pushing for deep self-discovery/identification and cross-cultural dialogues among other interesting themes

Are Africans stupid?

Are we stupid mum?

Were we shocked at this question?

No

Wary?

Yes

We needed some more time before we had to do the whole black stereotype discussion

We wanted him to be innocent for a few more years

To grow up like every other kid

And not be weighed down by the black burden we all have had to carry for centuries

He was just 7 years old

7 freaking years old

Why do you ask this?

His mum inquired

My classmate Bobby said all black people are stupid

With further digging and prodding,

We realised Bobby’s mother was the origin of this statement

Bobby’s mother told Bobby who called my nephew stupid

 

My nephew is the only black kid in the school

A very smart kid who has been promoted twice

But he questions his intelligence because a white kid said so

Unfortunately, that is just the tip of the iceberg for him

I am not pessimistic, simply realistic

He is gonna encounter far worse as he ages and leaves his cocoon

All we can do is arm him with tools to navigate a world which has been tilted against his kind

Educate him on history which was scripted to subjugate his kind

While stealing from him

Got us convinced we are not good enough

Got us convinced our religion is paganistic

Our way of life is far from the ideal

While stealing and raping our culture

Got us convinced our culture should take a back seat

While we embrace another whole heartedly

For yours is the standard of civilization

The bible was given to us in exchange for our freedom

And now you want me to continue to pray to a god which looks nothing like me

Believe in a fairy tale which paints an image of my kind as never do well slaves

You wear my hair as wigs during your carnival

While I am still struggling to wear mine as they grow from my head

Without being subjected to regulations on the definition of beautiful hair

 

My flatmate once called Kenyan food smelly and disgusting

With her nose scrunched up at me

Probably wanting me to apologise on behalf of Kenyans

Me shrugging my shoulders and retorting

Yours too stink and taste like rubber

The smell of cheese makes me want to puke

But the difference between me and you is understanding that identity is a construct

And no one chooses to which race, country, family he is born into

And that whatever you are,

Your taste, favorite food, fashion, culture is largely dependent on these 3 factors

What one chooses however is how you treat another human

How you don’t assume your own normativity should trump another’s

I am no longer going to be defensive

Apologizing for my culture, food, hair, body and colour

I have a right to own my narrative same as you do

I do not owe nobody an explanation either

For I am tired of smiling to the camera

Like some props to be displayed at the market square

 

Ask every black person

And you would hear the same story

How we subtly double check ourselves at every store

Before walking out the door

Making sure no article is tagged to our body mistakenly

We all sadly make fun of this

But it is a worry that plagues us all

That even if we got nothing on us

The alarm would still ring and we would be doubly embarrassed

So we pat ourselves stylishly

Because we are always automatically guilty until proven innocent

Who decides the innocence?

You

How do you then decide my innocence

If you are already plagued with your stereotypes of me

That I am a good for nothing criminal

 

The young guy who screamed monkey from his car

While high-fiving his friends

All laughing drunkenly

The doctor who requested for my asylum card

Automatically assuming my identity

The checker who came directly to my friend

And asked for her ticket

While the white dude who minutes before told his friend on the phone that he had no ticket was ignored

But of course he’s white so no one assumes he would drive black

Only black people drive black

The bouncers who refuse us entry into the clubs multiple times

The people who try to justify this act

The girl who dug her hand into my hair without my permission

Giving me her unsolicited opinion on the texture of my hair

Like my existence desperately needed her validation

The guys who ask to date me to satisfy their fetish

According to them,

Black girls are this and this and that

I was just some black face to them

And still told me I was the racist one for not throwing myself at their kind

The old woman who dragged me to her living room

To show me pictures of black kids she helps back in Africa

Oblivious to my discomfort and mechanical smile

All I wanted was a room to rent

The people who say we are all one when it suits their narrative

And scream go back to your country

At other times

The problem is not our difference

The problem is the interpretation of our differences

How we are narrated as not good enough

By the one who has the structural power

A proverb says,

Until the lion is able to write

The story will always glorify the hunter

 

So I told my nephew

Do not let society own you, shine so bright it dims the one who tries to stifle you

You are not intelligent, beautiful in spite of being black

You are all these because you are black

Embrace an undiluted image of you

Love yourself unaplogetically

But remember,

You have to be twice as good as them to get half of what they have

Standing tall in a world that has been programmed to proclaim your negatives

And impose their narratives on you

 

So when you say All lives matter

I ask you

Will your kids die with the world on their back

For mine will.

BreakingNews: MIN Ambassadors Visit President Buhari in London!

“Agba to so agbado modi, lo so ara re di alawada ediye” Yoruba Proverb

Buhari is clinically dead. No, Buhari is dead. No, Buhari is dead and his handlers wouldn’t let us the people of Nigeria, we voted for him overwhelmingly in the last presidential election, mourn a good man in peace. He actually was an evil man, but one doesn’t talk ill of the dead. He deserved all the good and badwill, he worked his life off gathering them in tons. He was part of Nigeria civil war by the war, a repeat of which Nnamdi Kanu is not calling for, but this same president is encouraging with all his body language and actions, right from Nigeria to London in his dying hours.
Meanwhile, two people from MIN, don’t ask what that is, just Google, (MIN is a very powerful group feared by the Aso Rock Cabal on and off Facebook, if that description epps)they visited Buhari in London, the same Buhari that the Cabal prevented our Dearest Aisha, the wife of our dying president, from seeing. The two MIN ambassadors saw him.

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President Muhammadu Buhari

First of all, he’s taking his Nigerian drugs, I mean Buhari is taking his drugs, no fears, the ones that our doctors packed in his aeroplane parked in London hanger, very expensive place to sleep for a Nigerian aeroplane and strange too. No sun, no rain, nothing, nada for the poor aeroplane. We will come to that later.
Meanwhile, Nigerians, knowing what hell the poor creature is facing, have been calling for his immediate retrieval home, I mean the aeroplane, not the person it carried across the ocean, but Femi Adesina, the mouthpiece, whose son is now a pilot, not that the son flew Buhari to London o, he’s not involved, but his father has been talking about him plenty of times these days since Buhari absconded office, it was this Adesina who said Buhari is not dead, as if we needed any confirmation of his being alive, and that tje aeroplane should wait there, not considering what the people are saying. He said many more things which this book cannot contain.
Back to MIN, they saw him and laughed out loud, with the president of course. Who wan die laughing at a sick president! One of the MIN ambassadors is a man disguised as a woman, the president didn’t notice, he’s so sick. If not, he would have been wondering who brought a kitchen material into a hospital space. No respect. Our president is that tactless, no respect for Angela Merkel, Germany’s powerful Chancellor. It was in her presence Buhari shamed his own wife, the wife he married in the right way, Yoruba will say, nisuloka, with yams and yamflower. Poor Aisha I cried when I heard the news and saw the video for myself .
Anyway, this is not about my emotions, back to the president matter. He’s hale and healthy, even Asiwaju is short of words at the moment, Asiwaju The Great. Yoruba oni gbagbe e lailai! It was Obasanjo who gave us Yaradua. Asiwaju topped that in record time. Another dying president sold to us in a beautiful package! APC! The packaging powerful! How did we buy the elephant in the house?! Just how?! All our great people, the intelligentsia in America and Europe and the abroad, they are now calling it what it is, a bad market, but before now, they swore on their own lives that we had no better alternative at that moment.
Meanwhile, one MIN member back then was shouting so loud he lost his voice. He said and I quote: “my people, vote for Jonathan and go and vomit thereafter, it will not kill you if you vomit early enough.” He said so many other great things, like, let me quote again : “APC and PDP are latrines, my people, I advice you as a proud MIN, choose the latrine with two P in it, the one that featured Jonathan as president.” End of quote.
Not that Jonathan was the best Nigeria had to offer, but this MIN member was sincere enough to admit we were already screwed and Jonathan would screw us slower than this unlimited screwing we have been enduring from Buhari since that we can’t take it no more. As I was saying, many many quotes, check them out yourselves on Google, they are everywhere. They littered everywhere some Cabal blocked this selfless Nigerian self for the great effort to save Nigeria from us. That’s history.
Now back to the visit. Buhari spoke not in Hausa this time. He was polite he chose Edo, the language of the Gods, a dialect of The Great Yoruba Language. Alright. Alright. Is alright. No quarrel, yet is not about language or dialect that is not dialect or important, that discussion will come later. For now, it’s about the body language of the president. He’s suffering from speech impairment. Sahara Reporters don’t do fake news. They are real. To be sincere, the president is in bad shape. I have known and seen people in his condition. He deserved all the pity and prayers in the world.
The latter will help no more though. He cursed the Gods too many times they have chosen to ignore any of the latter that involved the name of our president. A tip: When saying a prayer for him, do not mention his name. I repeat, avoid mentioning his name. Just pray.
Some badbelle people are saying the photos from the MIN people are photoshopped. Others say, and so what?! We are okay with them like that. All we are saying is for President Buhari to come home hail and hearty. We love him that much. Dead or alive, just bring hin home, his family doesn’t deserve this shame. Let a good man be brought home with dignity. President Buhari is not like this. It’s people who have been laundering his image since he happened to our public consciousness decades ago. And till today. Lies! Lies!! Lies!!! Imagine how quick bad names stick. Only that in this case, Buhari did all the bad bad things people said. At least, this presidency is a nightmare already, and people are saying this is even childsplay, it pales in comparison to the terribleness of Buhari’s first coming. Is like, the more we are screwed, the juicier it gets for the old and new brigade alike. The politicians and their sidekicks, the people.
I am speechless but not speech impaired. Thank goodness. Anyway, before we lost thread of the conversation, we are still looking for our President, someone said he’s in hiding, seeking asylum in London, some said he’s dying. We are not sure sha, but we know he’s dying. All our Great Dibia from the North are not seeing good things. Imams from the East are speaking with one voice, not seeing anything different. According to Ifa priests from where they are from, there’s tunnel at the end of the darkness. The Babalawo of Osborne is at rest, he believes the Imams and The Dibia and The Ifa priests. Nothing evil, no evil shall happen to our president. Ten thousand shall fall by the right, tens of thousand by the left, none of this shall befall him. I believe too, like the #halleluyahchallenge, Nigeria will survive it. Let us pray.

Alhaji Raimi Street

Growing up. We were not poor. And by this, I mean every word of it. I will be clear from here: I am talking about me, about myself, about those that gave me life, it’s about us, and about all those who can identify with my story. It’s not fiction. Our happiness was real, it’s still real. The memories are beautiful, of a childhood well spent, of fulfillment and of good tidings. Thanks to my mother, and my dad too, who made it possible. Dad was, and still is, a great guy. I am sure he never would have wished for a different wife.

Let me begin with my MAT memory. MAT is a multimillionaire. He is a business tycoon, he is one of the first major distributor of Nigerite Asbestos roofing sheets before many many other distributors caught wind of the business and flooded the market. MAT owned big trucks. All of them very big. We children called them Trailer MAT. And this is what they truly are! We would stand by in awe counting all of them as they retired to our street in Orile Agege to sleep for the night. The day’s work was done and their big big rocklike tyres walked into our world to complete our expectations before we ourselves retired into the night on our mats spread out in the nightly moon in attempt to escape mosquitoes and heat of our binukonu house.

Many of the trucks arrived before nightfall, so that Brother Peter could still wash them. Bro Peter was a giant, very tall, his mother was one old woman, whos face and beautiful look I still have in my memory till today. She sold pepper in lambebe and other aworobo in front of her house. She was such a gentle woman. A complete contrast to Bro Peter’s loud nature. Bro Peter was loud but not ruly nor unwarantedly rough. He would fight nobody if the fighting partner had not first found his trouble. I remember one case like that when we saw some new people washing the trucks that were normally carwashed by him. That was one day I will not forget in a hurry. His rage came with such loudness and roughness the people did not wait to see it land on tthem before they disappeared into thin air.

Later news spread that some people, apparently his foes, had gone to MAT to badmouth him there. They said he did not carwash the trucks clean enough. We all knew this is a wicked lie. Is it not Bro Peter who would collect Omo from his mother and fetch water without end to carwash these trucks? Trucks that drove intoin our streets very dirty and after which Bro Peter would carwash them so well that we see our pictures glister in their newness!? Why would anyone tell this kind of lie against our giant? Bro Peter was all tears as he carwashed his beloved trucks that evening. I never saw him cry like that, not before that time, and not again thereafter. We even heard that these new people did not even wait for MAT to decide the matter before they set out to begin carwashing the trucks that particular evening. It all infuriated Bro Peter even the more. It hurt him too much.

Many times, it was after Bro Peter finished washing that MAT himself drove into our street. Our street led to Abeokuta Street. Ours was Alhaji Raimi Street. He preferred connecting his house via our own street because it was wider than Abeokuta Street. He had a Jeep. His name was the platenumber. I am not very sure now, but I think he drove with a peculiar sound. We children knew this sound way too well. We needed no reminder who it was when MAT appeared around the corner into our street. All of us children on the street would burst into jubilation, praising him, shouting his name. I am sure he saw us through the fully tinted glasses of his Jeep. His driver always drove with extreme care because we were everywhere on the road, busy with all types of children games of our time.

We played Suwe. We played soccer. With unripe oranges. We played Rubber. We did TenTen. And we sang ChiChi O Emego! The bigger ones played table tennis and some of us hung around the table tennis table watching them play to win big bet monies. There were enough games to busy all the roads and streets so that the sound on MAT’s Jeep was actually a good thing, and the slowness was to safe us from accident. In anycase, we loved him so well because he was our multimillionaire. He lived among us. He was one of us, just like us. We would gather behind the Jeep shouting MAT! MAT!! MAT!!! How I so much enjoyed these times.

His first wife, Alhaja, was a friend to many women in the street. We heard his wives don’t work. And this is true. Because I was there once when Alhaja told my mother she had to go home before Alhaji returned from office. His wives called him like that. For us, he was MAT. She had come out of the house to tell my mother she would be buying a very expensive cloth that the women chose for an occasion. They talked about other trivialities before she left. I could not cease looking at her face. She was old and young at the same time. Her skin was fresh and she was softspoken. We used to know that MAT’s latest wife followed him in his Jeep in the morning and that they returned together in the evening. Each time when he drove past, different kinds of new rumour about him filled the air, passing from one mouth to the other, before we finally settled back into our many disrupted games on the roads and streets.

His fame only grew stronger when he single handedly pursued thieves with his double barrel gun out of our streets. The legend had it that MAT jumped down from the penthouse built like watchtower ontop of his storeyed house. He jumped right into the midst of the thieves and scattered them. The thieves could not wait. They took to their heels and he pursued them! He chased them all out. That was before he relocated to his new house in Okekoto Area. He left the old house for his first son, so we heard. He moved into a much bigger house. In my child mind, I agreed he moved into a mansion. And a big house it was indeed. We used to see the light from faraway Okekoto in our street.

Lest I forget, it was because of MAT that a powerline was brought into our area. So, those of us who were sure of the thickness of the wire that carried the powerline on the electricity poles would point them to those of us who did not know. I was awed when I finally recognised the thick powerline. Each time light went off, and MAT’s house was well lit, I concluded it was the powerline that gave him light. Also, when the other line in the powerline gave up light, standby generators took over, keeping the supply of electricty constant in MAT’s house. A legend had it that he left because the thiefraids on our streets were becoming too many and a nightmare for his safety.

Let me spare my first time experience in the hands of armed robbers for awhile and tell of many other blissful times in Orile Agege. There was one unforgettable one like that. It happened at Ile-Osa. We were a handful playing football on this open space, undeveloped because it was a sacred space. Its sacredness notwithstanding, we had not been able to deter people from turning this space into wastedumpyard. So, when we saw that day somebody coming with a big bowl on his head, we were all tensed, waiting to pounce on him if he dared to dispose his waste right before our korokoro eyes while we played. He pulled a smart trick on us though.

So, he came, and before our own eyes, removed the big bowl from his head and placed it on the floor. At once we gathered around him to tell him to carry the dirt immediately. We had barely gathered when he pointed our attention to something none of us had noticed before then. He shouted: “Look! Look!! Look!!!” And pointing his fingers while he did. We followed the direction of the fingers in surprise at this new thing we could not figure out. Out of curiosity, our gaze removed from the wastebowl in the floor, focused on the new unseen threat. Then, like play like play, this wastecarrier took to his heels in the direction of his fingers. We were still not sure what he saw there it was pointing at, but we were carried away long enough for him to run away leaving us with the wastebowl. When our consciousness returned back into our body, we were left with the stranger’s wastebowl. The stranger had long run out of sight. We could not stop laughing at our own stupidity. He got us was all we could say!

So, talking about the nightly moons. Those were beautiful times. I swear they were!  If I ever was born again, I swear I would not hate it if I came back to that same street. At about 7pm, depending on how soon night broke or which family was first to bring out its mats, we all would sweep different spaces in our frontyard, spread our sleeping mats, and laid on them. We children moved from mat to mat, playing all plays imaginable, shouting our voices coarse for excitement. We told stories and sang songs. We recaptured the day’s occurrence, individual or common experiences. If there was any act of valour, we relived them again in the night, we talked and laughed about how many of us lost their afternoon food to the game of Kelegbe.

I bet, nobody would think it fun when a friend just happened on you and caught you and your afternoon food pants down! Imagine this: your friend caught you with your favourite food in your hand, or anything valuable, and you must give it up, because you both had an earlier gentleman agreement that either of you, who in that moment is caught without a piece of broom hidden somewhere in his hair, so that he can counter you with “Motayo!-response” when he charged at your possession with a Kelegbe!-declaration. So much fun we had playing our fun games. This and many more busied our night. We jested, we fought, we smiled, we laughed and told Ijapa stories abd many more. All under the moonlight.

I am coming back tomorrow to tell you of the story of The Dog who hid His Mother in The Sky although it was agreed that all animals kill their mothers for meal due to the famine in the land. But let me tell you first of our deep freezers. The joy that entered our whole house when the deep freezer arrived. It was on one afternoon like that. None of us children suspected mother was going to buy one. We would have been caught unprepared all the same to welcome such a huge change in our room, but our surprise would have been lesser. Mother caught all of us unprepared. It was not a Tokunbo. It was brand new ThermoCool Deep Freezer. It was a playmate who pointed my attention to mother stepping out of the transporter and the people dragging something towards us. The whole house erupted into ecstatic jubilation. Mother was being praised from right left back front and centre. The next day, I carried my books to school in the packagebox which had housed the electricity stabilizer. The stabilizer was bought alongside the deep freezer so that irregular power supply doesn’t spoil it. I placed it proudly on my head and walked to my primary school.

It was in this same house we shared our sorrows together. Like when Wasiu died. It was like we all died. We sorrowed like there was no tomorrow. Same way we jumped and ran to the hospital when we received news of Aunty Muji’s accident, or when we heard Bro Nojimu had fallen off a bus. He was a busboy. We were more than happy to receive him back into our midst. Our love and attention nursed him back to health. We were immeasurably happy when the wife of the younger brother of Bro Semiu put to bed. We all went to the hospital. We all trekked, talking loudly. We were happy. Very happy. We were simply being us. She brought home her baby and she became part of us, growing up with us in who we were!

Before I forget these two, let me drop them here: (1) the night we heard the bakery at the other end of Abeokuta Street invented a new bread. Solo Bread. We stormed the bakery, bought so many, ate them. And bought again. And ate them all. Because we could afford them. It was such genius. The Cocacola Company had just brought a new product into the market. The Solo Coke. The name and price inspired the new bread. We enjoyed the hotness and freshness of the bread. And we enjoyed the idea even more. I am not sure how much a piece sold for, but I bet it could not have been costlier than one Naira. (2) The night an adult brought the new one Naira coin and other coins in lesser denominations home. They were new. Babangida had just killed our beloved one Naira note and many more. We comforted ourselves in the newness we held in our hands. We passed them around. We all wanted to have a look.

It was not all fun in Alhaji Raimi Street. We had our differences. We fought each other. As in bitter fights o. But our bitterness never outlived the night. We resolved them. And I mean every word of that. The adults did. The children did. We all did. We were bigger than our bitterness. We never allowed that to destroy us. How else could our unity despite our differences be nade evident other than 1991/1992. The years that preceded the Hope ’93 project. Iya Funlola was the SDP in the house. She was the lead vanguard of the people’s party. We couldn’t have enough parties in the house. Whenever Iya Funlola returned from The Airport where she worked for FAAN, the whole house would be agog with praise and singing of all songs imaginable in support of Chief MKO Abiola and The Horse, the symbol of the party.

On the other hand, Baba Shamu, the man in charge of NRC in our house, not to be outdone, would roll out songs, invite more than enough people from other streets to join us in celebrating the victory of The Party with The Bird as its emblem. Chants of Egbe Eleye loni competing to outdrone voices of Egbe Elesin! In the middle of all these were us, children, living our happiness right there as it happened. We did not know the difference. We were only happy. And we lived it.

End of the year. I remember two spectacular occasions. One was super cool, one was not. The bad one first, and that very short. We went for a watchnight service. On our way back home, the high tension wire on poles began this terrible spark. We did not know what triggered this sparkling. Thank Goodness we escaped. I held mother’s hand as we ran away from the sparkling high tension. It was such a thin escape that we were not struck. Now to the good one. I dont know how it started, it sha started. We were at our backyard in our street. Was it Iya Tope or Iya Omopenu who had killed a chicken and we were all gathered to look at the defeather-ing process, to be followed by the careful cutting into small pieces. Someone fetched water to fill his empty drum somewhere close to the kitchen. Some bathed their children while some did nothing in particular. Iya Funlola’s voice joined the song blaring from a stereo in one of the rooms. It was the traditional end-of-year-song. Then, one of us joined. Another joined. Yet another joined. Until we were all singing and rejoicing that we were going to see the new year! The revival that descended on the househouse lasted hours. Iya Funlola only stopped us at imterval to feed us with more reasons why we must be thankful. And we indeed were. We raised our voices and sang even louder. Our religion never mattered. We were just all happy and thankful for the new year.

I can continue to tell of many many beautiful times while I was  a growing. They were great times, for real. But I don’t want to bore my readers so I will stop here for today. I will continue tomorrow. Then, I will tell of that armed robbery experience. It was a trauma, no doubt, but many other memorable moments far outweigh it. Times that cannot wait to be told. I will tell of these good times and memories. And many many more. Tomorrow.

Meet Solomon, My Dad

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Old and young Solomon

Meet Solomon. Solomon is my father. He was in Dortmund weeks back. With my mother. To welcome the birth of their latest grandchild. My sister had put to bed barely a week prior to the visit. And here they were to see the baby, the mother, and of course to see all of us. This is what they have always done each time a grandchild is born. Solomon was born on 30th July 1942.
After the grandchild-visit came the confirmation of the Job-message via telephone. He was diagnosed with cancer, cancer of the kidney. The stage had not been clearly explained on phone. Really, there are some things that can never be explained good enough for anyone to understand. Cancer is one of them. How do you explain to me that my father might die anytime soon because he is sick? Well, I never will understand. In that state of denial, we started discussing treatment options available to us. The top on the list is chemotherapy. “This terrible word”, I said to myself.
So far, we had only talked on phone, the conversations had always been among me, my brother, my sister and my mother. My mother informed me later she had also informed her sister-inlaw at the time, to which she responded with the highest form of sadness imaginable. It was via the telephone, and yet the sadness couldn’t have been better packaged and shipped on to London.
Back to our telephone conversations. “Did you see my Whatsapp message?” That was my mother to me on a Whatsapp call. “Yes. I saw it. What is that?” “Well. You saw what is inside. Abi o ri ni?” “I did. I will call you back.” I rang up Tunde, who confirmed he received same message. And my sister too. Apparently, they had been discussing the sickness. “Well. Chemotherapy ni won ma se.” “No way. They want to kill him. He is too old. For his age. No. What did he say? Has he agreed to undergo the treatment?” “That is still being discussed. If that is the only option he will have to, at least a chance of survival is still there if he went for it. If not, he is good as dead.” “So. What do you suggest? You sha cannot be against one without bringing an option to the table.” “I don’t know. Has he agreed to it? It’s his life on the line here. What are we saying here? Is she that excited to become a widow!? Listen, if he doesn’t want it, then let him be!”
The conversations went on for days unend. I read up on chemotherapy. I read up on kidney cancer. It all sounded so terrible a sickness as I had imagined. Chemotherapy is not great either. The side effects almost made me throw up. Abi iru ki re!?
I returned from work one evening like that, I met Mrs Brinkmann, my good old neighbour. We greeted. She opened the housedoor. Sisi, her old dog entered, she struggled with the dog-rope and getting her key out of the doorhole. I helped, as much as I could. She valued her independence. We were in the staircase.
“So, Ibu, how are you?” “I am not fine, Mrs Brinkmann. My father has got cancer. Kidney cancer.” Her countenance became sadness. “I am so sorry, Ibu. He is such a fine man. See how he hugged me when last he visited you. Telling me everything will be fine, as if he knew I had problems. He is such a kind man. So sad he has been caught by this terrible thing. Ibu, I am so sorry.” She continued, “Ibu, did I tell you our neighbour has got brain tumour?” “Yes, you did, Mrs Brinkmann. I was about asking you if she was getting any better. How is she responding to treatment?” “Ibu, forget it. She’s 87. Age is not on her side. Plus, that’s brain tumour we talking about. She’s got brain cancer, Ibu! Right in her head! Poor woman.” “No wonder she had such terrible headaches almost everyday. She used to tell me each time we meet on her dogwalks.
By the way, what will happen to her dog? Will he be taken to a home? I hope he is not killed for lack of anyone to care for him”. “No. No. No. Ibu, that will not happen. The last time I spoke with Heidi, she told me the children had come for the dog. They did not bring him to the hospital because they feared he might be traumatised. He is too young to see his owner in such a sickly condition.” “Oh. So sad. Did you not say it was Heidi who called the emergency when she discovered her condition needed immediate attention?” “Yes, Ibu. She informed the children too.”
She continued. “Thank Goodness for Heidi. What would have happened if not for Heidi! Even me, she helps out alot. Oh, by the way, Ibu, thank you for spreading my clothes on the line. You needed not do that. I thought I told you so.” “Yeah. I know, but I felt I could do that for you too. I brought it up from the washroom, I checked my time, it was not too late yet. I quickly spread and pegged them before I went in. I jumped into my bed almost immediately to catch some sleep.” “Oh. Thank you, Ibu. You are such a darling.
I returned to the dog. “So, the dog was not taken to the hospital?” Mrs Brinkmann spoke about the woman. “I heard she refused to be touched or given any drug or treatment whatsoever. I guess she is bent on leaving us. So sad, Ibu. I pity her.” “Yeah, so sad. She’s been through alot.” “She might be brought to the hospice anytime from now. I am not sure she wanted the hospice in Mengede. I was told it is such a terrible hospice. But what can she do now? In her condition, she will definitely be brought to the nearest hospice. She couldn’t be part of the decision where to spend her last days. She was unconscious, you know, when the emergency arrived. I am not sure she’s coming out alive.” “She lived a good life.” “Yeah, that’s true. Ibu, I am so sorry about your father. Chemotherapy is the only option, even if terribly feared, you might have no choice than to let him do it. It’s his chance. He should take it.” “I don’t know, really. I don’t know. Good night Mrs Brinkmann. Thank you for your time.” “Good night Ibu.”
We will have to visit in London. To show moral support. He’s been such a good father. He needs us in this difficult time. I was as busy as hell. My brother too. My sister had just put to bed. How shall we get to visit him? I was decided in my mind to pull off a visit, no matter what. Few days before my leave, I submitted my application for a UK visa. It was granted. One thing led to the other, and the next day I was standing at Shifford Path where my parents live. I knocked on the wrong door for a while. When nobody opened, I called my mother’s mobile.
“What are you saying?… Open the door biti bawo!? The door is open. Come in… Did you say you are at our door? This is London number you are calling with… Ah. I thought Jumoke was joking when she said you were on your way. Olorun a gba e. What kind of child are you… Number 21. Where are you knocking… The neighbour. Ah. He has a giant dog… Come over to Number 21. The door is open…” I dropped the call, walked over to Number 21, and there she was standing at the door to welcome me home. I greeted. My brother-inlaw greeted. My nephew was fast asleep. “Where is daddy?” “Upstairs. In the bed. Not sleeping though.”
I went upstairs to tell him I have arrived to spend Christmas with him and his wife. He jumped out of the bed to welcome me. He was full of smile. I saw happiness. More than that, I have come to meet him. I want him to tell me everything he knows about his family. The next day we started with his mother.
She was a gentle woman, loving mother and the epitome of beauty. She was the best mother anyone could wish for. She must have been born between 1918 and 1920. An exact year of birth was not easy to arrive at. In the course of our discussion, I decided to place the birth of my paternal grandmother around the started years. The reason being this: When she got my father, her first child, she probably was 21 years old. According to Solomon, my father, it was usual for women of that time to be married off early, around 21 years or younger. Allowing that she was married at 19/20 years, depending on how soon she became pregnant with my father, then she must have been 21 years old when she gave birth to Solomon in 1942. Of course, she could be older if we allowed in our calculation that she suffered delays in becoming pregnant. So, if we insist that she was 21 when she got her first child, then add the possibility of delayed pregnancy, it will be that she was married much younger than 21. If our calculation was right, minus delayed pregnancy, then it must be that she was married around 20/21 years of age. In any case, according to Solomon, his mother could not have been 100 years old if she was alive today.
She gave birth to other children. She had four children in all. In this order: Solomon(born 1942), Dada aka Jonwo (1945), Iyabo aka Iya Mushin(1947), Modupe aka Iya Ketu(1949). She died of cancer of the uterus. According to Solomon, if only he knew earlier he could have arranged for the uterus to be removed. He explained further. It was not as if she could still give birth. She was done with child bearing, so the reasonable thing to do was to remove the uterus, at least if that would have saved her life. The cancer was found out too late though. So, my paternal grandmother had little or no chance of survival. She died in shortly after Solomon’s return from the UK. It was in part due to the sickness of his mother he decided to come home in that year. He had left for the UK in 1964 with a work/study voucher after he finished from Yaba College in 1963.
He must have loved his mother so well. I could hear it as he talked about her. He said these things about her:
“Mama used to be my bank. I was the treasurer of our football club back then at Arokolaran. I was chosen to keep the moneybag because my integrity was proven. I am a disciplined person, not given to nonsense of that time. So when money was given to me, I took it to Mama. (Solomon referred to his mother as Mama during the whole talk between us both. I could practically touch the love in his voice for the woman as he spoke about her). And when we needed the money, Mama brought it out and gave it to me. I then took the money to my club. There were banks back then, of course. Standard Bank, Barclays Bank, now First Bank and Union Bank respectively, but we did not own a bank account with any of these banks. Mama kept the money for us.”
When he talked about his younger stepbrother, he came back to talking about his mother, to underline the kind of pure love this woman embodied. This is what he said:
“You won’t believe it but it’s true. Do you know when I told Mama that I will not be responsible for Tunde’s education anylonger, she broke down crying. She was crying and begging me not to withdraw my financial support for her stepson. This is a child, who apparently was unwilling to enjoy education, his mother said nothing, although she heard Mama crying and begging me, when I brought Tunde’s report card which a family member had fished out from the dustbin. He had thrown it into the dustbin because he did poorly in school. Mama was such a simple personality, full of love for all. Such a pity you did not get to know her.”
We went on to talk about his father. Solomon’s father worked with PWD, the Public Works Department in Lagos. My grandfather had moved with his parents, my great grandparents, to Ijoko-Ota in present day Ogun State from Igasi-Akoko in search of greener pasture. Solomon said it was for the same reasons people moved from Nigeria to London these days that informed the decision of my great grandparents moving to Lagos. Lagos was London back in those days. At first, they settled in Ijoko-Ota. A farm settlement was founded, from where they later moved to Arokolaran and Mushin Akala Area in Lagos. Both Solomon’s maternal and paternal grandparents had strong roots in these places. They settled there. It was there in Lagos he was born.
His relationship with his father was cordial. Just like that of any father of that period in time. Solomon talked of fathers of this period as being ‘terrible’. They were like Gods. He narrated of a father who cursed his own son, and the son ran mad. The said father was angered that his son, who had forgotten him when things were rosy, dared come to him to tell him that fate issued him a bad card at that point in time. The father placed a curse on the ungrateful son.
What prompted this narration? I asked him why he did not prevail upon his father to not marry a second wife. Solomon’s response was great shock. I could see it on his face and hear in his voice the abomination I wanted him to commit. He said: “That would be pushing too much insult way too too far!” He then narrated of the father who cursed his own son.
Solomon loved and took care of his father. He ensured he was operated when he had health issues that necessitated surgery. He pleaded with him to give up drinking, which his father did not do. His father died not long after. According to Solomon, he was a good father. He probably would be around 110 years old or older if he was alive today, but certainly younger than 120 years. I placed his birthday around 1905.
There were many pictures. Solomon stood up from the couch, looked somewhere under the shelf in the living room and brought out pictures, well wrapped away in big papers. He started showing them to me and we kept talking. More sturves to talk about came up. We happened on a picture of his grandfather, my great grandfather. We talked about this man. From my calculation, if Chief Sajowa, my great grandfather gave birth to his first child when he was about 30 years old, he must have been born around 1867. This is what Solomon said about him:
“That is Ajagunna. Ajagunna is the family name. It’s a chieftancy title and the family name. He is Sajowa. Chief Sajowa of Igasi-Akoko. He came from a Muslim background. There was one of his sons named Jacob Aliu. His family moved from Ikare-Akoko to Igasi-Akoko to settle there. He had six children. My father was one of his children. He was buried in Igasi-Akoko when he died.”

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Chief Sajowa of Igasi-Akoko, Solomon’s grandfather, born around 1867.

Solomon met his wife, Mercy, when he brought the corpse of his mother to Igasi-Akoko for burial in her ancestral home. He saw the young woman and decided he was going to marry her. She was reluctant at first. Solomon said he wasted no time in moving on to other ladies to try his luck. Then Mercy came back to him and agreed to marry him. We had a good laugh about ‘wasting no time’. Both were married in 1981. The couple had their first child in 1981(my brother Tunde), the second child was born in 1983(my sister Jumoke) and the third and last child was born in 1985. That’s me.
Solomon is grandfather to six grandchildren. He lives in London with his wife.

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Above: Solomon in his office as Technical Manager, BEWAC Construction Company. Below: Solomon at his engagement/marriage ceremony in Igasi-Akoko.

Fulltext: Nigeria’s 55th Independence Speech by President Buhari ON  THURSDAY 1st OCTOBER 2015

October 1st is a day for joy and celebrations for us Nigerians whatever the circumstances we find ourselves in because it is the day, 55 years ago; we liberated ourselves from the shackles of colonialism and began our long march to nationhood and to greatness.

No temporary problems or passing challenges should stop us from honoring this day. Let us remind ourselves of the gifts God has given us. Our Creator has bequeathed to us Numbers – Nigeria is the ninth most populated country on the planet. We have in addition:

• Arable land

• Water

• Forests

• Oil and gas

• Coastline

• Solid minerals

We have all the attributes of a great nation. We are not there yet because the one commodity we have been unable to exploit to the fullest is unity of purpose. This would have enabled us to achieve not only more orderly political evolution and integration but also continuity and economic progress.

Countries far less endowed have made greater economic progress by greater coherence and unity of purpose.

Nonetheless, that we have remained together is an achievement we should all appreciate and try to consolidate. We have witnessed this year a sea change in our democratic development. The fact that an opposition party replaced an entrenched government in a free and fair election is indicative of the deeper roots of our democratic system. Whatever one’s views are, Nigerians must thank former President Jonathan for not digging-in in the face of defeat and thereby saving the country untold consequences.

As I said in my inaugural speech, I bear no ill will against anyone on past events. Nobody should fear anything from me. We are not after anyone. People should only fear the consequences of their actions. I hereby invite everyone, whatever his or her political view to join me in working for the nation.

My countrymen and women, every new government inherits problems. Ours was no different. But what Nigerians want are solutions, quick solutions not a recitation of problems inherited. Accordingly, after consultations with the Vice President, senior party leaders and other senior stakeholders, I quickly got down to work on the immediate, medium-term and long-term problems which we must solve if we are to maintain the confidence which Nigerians so generously bestowed on us in the March elections and since then.

President Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari

As you know, I toured the neighboring countries, marshal a coalition of armed forces of the five nations to confront and defeat Boko Haram. I met also the G7 leaders and other friendly presidents in an effort to build an international coalition against Boko Haram. Our gallant armed forces under new leadership have taken the battle to the insurgents, and severely weakened their logistical and infrastructural capabilities. Boko Haram are being scattered and are on the run. That they are resorting to shameless attacks on soft targets such as I.D.P. camps is indicative of their cowardice and desperation. I have instructed security and local authorities to tighten vigilance in vulnerable places.

On power, government officials have held a series of long sessions over several weeks about the best way to improve the nation’s power supply in the safest and most cost effective way. In the meantime, improvement in the power supply is moderately encouraging. By the same token, supply of petrol and kerosene to the public has improved throughout the country. All the early signs are that within months the whole country would begin to feel a change for the better.

Preliminary steps have been taken to sanitize NNPC and improve its operations so that the inefficiency and corruption could be reduced to a minimum. Those of our refineries which can be serviced and brought back into partial production would be enabled to resume operations so that the whole sordid business of exporting crude and importing finished products in dubious transactions could be stopped.

In addition to NNPC, I have ordered for a complete audit of our other revenue generating agencies mainly CBN, FIRS, Customs, NCC, for better service delivery to the nation. Prudent housekeeping is needed now more than ever in view of the sharp decline in world market oil prices. It is a challenge we have to face squarely. But what counts is not so much what accrues but how we manage our resources that is important.

We have seen in the last few years how huge resources were mismanaged, squandered and wasted. The new APC government is embarking on a clean up, introducing prudence and probity in public financing.

At an early stage, the federal government addressed the issue of salary arrears in many states, a situation capable of degenerating into social unrest. The APC government stepped in to provide short-term support to the owing states and enabled them to pay off the backlog and restore the livelihood of millions of Nigerians.

Fellow Nigerians, there have been a lot of anxiety and impatience over the apparent delay in announcement of ministers. There is no cause to be anxious. Our government set out to do things methodically and properly. We received the handing over notes from the outgoing government only four days before taking over. Consequently, the Joda Transition Committee submitted its Report on the reorganization of Federal Government structure after studying the hand over notes. It would have been haphazard to announce ministers when the government had not finalized the number of ministries to optimally carry the burden of governance.

Anyway, the wait is over. The first set of names for ministerial nominees for confirmation has been sent to the senate. Subsequent lists will be forwarded in due course. Impatience is not a virtue. Order is more vital than speed. Careful and deliberate decisions after consultations get far better results. And better results for our country is what the APC government for CHANGE is all about.

I would like to end my address this morning on our agenda for CHANGE. Change does not just happen. You and I and all of us must appreciate that we all have our part to play if we want to bring CHANGE about. We must change our lawless habits, our attitude to public office and public trust. We must change our unruly behavior in schools, hospitals, market places, motor parks, on the roads, in homes and offices. To bring about change, we must change ourselves by being law-abiding citizens.

Happy Independence Celebrations. Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria. God Bless

Inaugural speech by President Muhammadu Buhari of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

President Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari

I am immensely grateful to God Who Has preserved us to witness this day and this occasion. Today marks a triumph for Nigeria and an occasion to celebrate her freedom and cherish her democracy. Nigerians have shown their commitment to democracy and are determined to entrench its culture. Our journey has not been easy but thanks to the determination of our people and strong support from friends abroad we have today a truly democratically elected government in place.

I would like to thank President Goodluck Jonathan for his display of statesmanship in setting a precedent for us that has now made our people proud to be Nigerians wherever they are. With the support and cooperation he has given to the transition process, he has made it possible for us to show the world that despite the perceived tension in the land we can be a united people capable of doing what is right for our nation. Together we co-operated to surprise the world that had come to expect only the worst from Nigeria. I hope this act of graciously accepting defeat by the outgoing President will become the standard of political conduct in the country.

I would like to thank the millions of our supporters who believed in us even when the cause seemed hopeless. I salute their resolve in waiting long hours in rain and hot sunshine to register and cast their votes and stay all night if necessary to protect and ensure their votes count and were counted.  I thank those who tirelessly carried the campaign on the social media. At the same time, I thank our other countrymen and women who did not vote for us but contributed to make our democratic culture truly competitive, strong and definitive.

I thank all of you.

Having just a few minutes ago sworn on the Holy Book, I intend to keep my oath and serve as President to all Nigerians.

I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody.

A few people have privately voiced fears that on coming back to office I shall go after them. These fears are groundless. There will be no paying off old scores. The past is prologue.

Our neighbours in the Sub-region and our African brethenen should rest assured that Nigeria under our administration will be ready to play any leadership role that Africa expects of it. Here I would like to thank the governments and people of Cameroon, Chad and Niger for committing their armed forces to fight Boko Haram in Nigeria.

I also wish to assure the wider international community of our readiness to cooperate and help to combat threats of cross-border terrorism, sea piracy, refugees and boat people, financial crime, cyber crime, climate change, the spread of communicable diseases and other challenges of the 21st century.

At home we face enormous challenges. Insecurity, pervasive corruption, the hitherto unending and seemingly impossible fuel and power shortages are the immediate concerns. We are going to tackle them head on. Nigerians will not regret that they have entrusted national responsibility to us. We must not succumb to hopelessness and defeatism. We can fix our problems.

In recent times Nigerian leaders appear to have misread our mission. Our founding fathers, Mr Herbert Macauley, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Malam Aminu Kano, Chief J.S. Tarka, Mr Eyo Ita, Chief Denis Osadeby, Chief Ladoke Akintola and their colleagues worked to establish certain standards of governance. They might have differed in their methods or tactics or details, but they were united in establishing a viable and progressive country. Some of their successors behaved like spoilt children breaking everything and bringing disorder to the house.

Furthermore, we as Nigerians must remind ourselves that we are heirs to great civilizations: Shehu Othman Dan fodio’s caliphate, the Kanem Borno Empire, the Oyo Empire, the Benin Empire and King Jaja’s formidable domain. The blood of those great ancestors flow in our veins. What is now required is to build on these legacies, to modernize and uplift Nigeria.

Daunting as the task may be it is by no means insurmountable. There is now a national consensus that our chosen route to national development is democracy. To achieve our objectives we must consciously work the democratic system. The Federal Executive under my watch will not seek to encroach on the duties and functions of the Legislative and Judicial arms of government. The law enforcing authorities will be charged to operate within the Constitution. We shall rebuild and reform the public service to become more effective and more serviceable. We shall charge them to apply themselves with integrity to stabilize the system.

For their part the legislative arm must keep to their brief of making laws, carrying out over-sight functions and doing so expeditiously. The judicial system needs reform to cleanse itself from its immediate past. The country now expects the judiciary to act with dispatch on all cases especially on corruption, serious financial crimes or abuse of office. It is only when the three arms act constitutionally that government will be enabled to serve the country optimally and avoid the confusion all too often bedeviling governance today.

Elsewhere relations between Abuja and the States have to be clarified if we are to serve the country better. Constitutionally there are limits to powers of each of the three tiers of government but that should not mean the Federal Government should fold its arms and close its eyes to what is going on in the states and local governments. Not least the operations of the Local Government Joint Account. While the Federal Government can not interfere in the details of its operations it will ensure that the gross corruption at the local level is checked. As far as the constitution allows me I will try to ensure that there is responsible and accountable governance at all levels of government in the country. For I will not have kept my own trust with the Nigerian people if I allow others abuse theirs under my watch.

However, no matter how well organized the governments of the federation are they can not succeed without the support, understanding and cooperation of labour unions, organized private sector, the press and civil society organizations. I appeal to employers and workers alike to unite in raising productivity so that everybody will have the opportunity to share in increased prosperity. The Nigerian press is the most vibrant in Africa. My appeal to the media today – and this includes the social media – is to exercise its considerable powers with responsibility and patriotism.

My appeal for unity is predicated on the seriousness of the legacy we are getting into. With depleted foreign reserves, falling oil prices, leakages and debts the Nigerian economy is in deep trouble and will require careful management to bring it round and to tackle the immediate challenges confronting us, namely; Boko Haram, the Niger Delta situation, the power shortages and unemployment especially among young people. For the longer term we have to improve the standards of our education. We have to look at the whole field of medicare. We have to upgrade our dilapidated physical infrastructure.

The most immediate is Boko Haram’s insurgency. Progress has been made in recent weeks by our security forces but victory can not be achieved by basing the Command and Control Centre in Abuja. The command centre will be relocated to Maiduguri and remain until Boko Haram is completely subdued. But we can not claim to have defeated Boko Haram without rescuing the Chibok girls and all other innocent persons held hostage by insurgents.

This government will do all it can to rescue them alive. Boko Haram is a typical example of small fires causing large fires. An eccentric and unorthodox preacher with a tiny following was given posthumous fame and following by his extra judicial murder at the hands of the police. Since then through official bungling, negligence, complacency or collusion Boko Haram became a terrifying force taking tens of thousands of lives and capturing several towns and villages covering swathes of Nigerian sovereign territory.

Boko Haram is a mindless, godless group who are as far away from Islam as one can think of. At the end of the hostilities when the group is subdued the Government intends to commission a sociological study to determine its origins, remote and immediate causes of the movement, its sponsors, the international connexions to ensure that measures are taken to prevent a reccurrence of this evil. For now the Armed Forces will be fully charged with prosecuting the fight against Boko haram. We shall overhaul the rules of engagement to avoid human rights violations in operations. We shall improve operational and legal mechanisms so that disciplinary steps are taken against proven human right violations by the Armed Forces.

Boko Haram is not only the security issue bedeviling our country. The spate of kidnappings, armed robberies, herdsmen/farmers clashes, cattle rustlings all help to add to the general air of insecurity in our land. We are going to erect and maintain an efficient, disciplined people – friendly and well – compensated security forces within an over – all security architecture.

The amnesty programme in the Niger Delta is due to end in December, but the Government intends to invest heavily in the projects, and programmes currently in place. I call on the leadership and people in these areas to cooperate with the State and Federal Government in the rehabilitation programmes which will be streamlined and made more effective. As ever, I am ready to listen to grievances of my fellow Nigerians. I extend my hand of fellowship to them so that we can bring peace and build prosperity for our people.

No single cause can be identified to explain Nigerian’s poor economic performance over the years than the power situation. It is a national shame that an economy of 180 million generates only 4,000MW, and distributes even less. Continuous tinkering with the structures of power supply and distribution and close on $20b expanded since 1999 have only brought darkness, frustration, misery, and resignation among Nigerians. We will not allow this to go on. Careful studies are under way during this transition to identify the quickest, safest and most cost-effective way to bring light and relief to Nigerians.

Unemployment, notably youth un-employment features strongly in our Party’s Manifesto. We intend to attack the problem frontally through revival of agriculture, solid minerals mining as well as credits to small and medium size businesses to kick – start these enterprises. We shall quickly examine the best way to revive major industries and accelerate the revival and development of our railways, roads and general infrastructure.

Your Excellencies, My fellow Nigerians I can not recall when Nigeria enjoyed so much goodwill abroad as now. The messages I received from East and West, from powerful and small countries are indicative of international expectations on us. At home the newly elected government is basking in a reservoir of goodwill and high expectations. Nigeria therefore has a window of opportunity to fulfill our long – standing potential of pulling ourselves together and realizing our mission as a great nation.

Our situation somehow reminds one of a passage in Shakespeare’s Julius Ceasar

There is a tide in the affairs of men which,

taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;

Omitted, all the voyage of their life,

Is bound in shallows and miseries.

We have an opportunity. Let us take it.

Thank you

Muhammadu Buhari

Finally! Mr Muhammadu Buhari is President!

President Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari

President Buhari is Inaugurated. For the first time in 16 years Nigeria will today inaugurate a president who emerged from the opposition in the March/April 2015 General Elections. The hithero ruling party PDP will occupy the opposition- a role it has thus far despised as being responsible for badmouthing Nigeria’s huge achievements while the party ruled the country into the mother of all ruins. The realization of a dream it is for the new president, but a larger dream come true it is for Nigerians because they worked tirelessly to vote out the incompetent incumbent. The till yesterday incumbent President Jonathan was the worst president to ever happen to Nigeria by all standards. We congratulate President Buhari on his inauguration and wish him a successful first term in this historic presidency.

Merchants-of-Memories (MoM): This Is Growing Up

cropped-upload-gq9u7q43rfm1ntpe2aaaj4rj30397680-final.jpgThis Is Growing Up. I was playing outside, playing ball with other friends, I can’t tell how many exactly now or who they were. Of course, if I had to guess I would immediately think of Jelili, Biodun aka Agbako, Saburi, Wasiu et al, who played with me on that day. We had an unripe orange as ball, and we kicked it around until it was no more playable, then we got another or engaged in other activities.

I am sure what I did exactly at the moment mother came to call and informed we were moving. I had both my hands on the ground, rested firmly on my palms, I wanted to sommersault, I laughed while I did, apparently enjoying myself. I saw mother coming from behind through my bent head which could see what went on behind. ‘Come, lets go’, she said. I did not ask why. I followed.

I changed into another clothe. Mother had cooked beans, not exactly my favourite, but since I did not have to eat immediately, I was less concerned. She packed it into a bag, we carried few bags and set out for our new house. I made the journey with mother, my sister and an aunt my age. I am not sure now if my brother came with us, but this I am sure of: Mother did tell me what would happen to our clothes, furniture and other things in the room that had housed us since I was barely five. I know for sure now because I asked her what would happen to our loads. She responded: ‘Akin and Alfred will bring them tomorrow for us.’

We walked to the bus-stop, about three kilometres from our face-me-I-face-you-house. We had always walked this way to connect omnibuses when we had to go to church, to LBSS, to General Hospital or to visit friends and families who lived faraway. We walked this route again so we could enter a bus to Oke-Odo. The buses queued in rows of two, waiting for passengers to fill up their empty seats. We walked past Orile-Agege Primary School, Saka-Tinubu High School and past Orile Agege Baptist Church, in front of which was a transformer. That transformer used to be like a giant each time I walked past it. Maybe it still is, I think my child-size magnified it in my eyes. Even now in my memory I still see it as the giant transformer.

We walked past the poffpoff seller. She had her market not too far-removed from the transformer. Whenever we walked to church on Sundays, I was sure to hold on, patiently hoping mother would buy us some hot poffpoff. If she did not, I wept the rest of the way. If she did, my joy knew no bound as I devoured the delicious sugar-fried flour-balls as if nothing else ever mattered.

We crossed the busy road and walked the few metres, barely 300 metres, into a waiting bus. There was a Y-junction just before we reached the yellow-with-black-stripes omnibuses. On the left were the omnibuses, the road on the right led to the palace of Oba Orile. I looked with wonderment each time I went past the palace gate. Memories. Memories. Memories. I hope I would be patient enough to tell you all. I must not forget to tell you this very quickly: Just opposite the Baptist Church, on the other side of the road was Ile-Esu-Orile. The small shoplike room housed a particular deity. The deity is sacred and must not be moved or destroyed, so she stood at that spot gidigba. Any construction work that had to be carried out must find a way to accomodate her space. Well, lest I stray too far into many things I want to tell you, thereby killing you with too many unstraightened memory, let me return to the journey at hand. I will tell you later of Igbale Egun sited three houses away from our house. I will tell you too of Ile Osa right beside our house, which doubled as our communal football field and mini waste-dumpyard.

Boarding a bus was not always fun especially when we had to maximize a space of one to accommodate four persons. One needed be prepared to meet the anger of the busboy. We met that of our busboy, but with the help of other passengers, we succeeded in calming him. So, one passenger carried on her lap my sister, my aunt sat on the engine in front of mother. I sat on mother’s lap. I am sure I was very excited to sit on mother’s lap. With this arrangement, we paid a fare for a passenger. After this, we had two other buses to join before we reached our destination. The story was not less different- unfriendly and angry busboys who thought, and that rightly so if I may add in retrospect, that they were being unfairly cheated.

It was night when we reached our destination, our new house. Once again we walked from bus-stop home, this time around, it lasted less than three kilometres. Unlike busy roads and bustling activities of Orile Agege, Ijoko welcomed us with a nightly serene I have come to cherish till today. This is in no way to say I cherish any less the ever bustling life we lived in Orile Agege before we moved. If anything can be relied upon to remind how much I enjoyed growing up in these two places, then my memory is.

Now, let me talk of our arrival.

We arrived. There was a burning shakabila two plots away from us, it was from Baba Ile-Keji who henceforth with his family of eight became our only close-by neighbour. His house was a modest hutlike one room house, he was sure to build the house big enough to accommodate his big family. More on Baba later.

Mother, accompanied by my aunt made their way to Baba Ile-Keji’s house. In what happened to be a coincidence, Baba had called one of his sons to follow him to our house. He said he heard unusual movement and sound from our wallside of his house, so he wanted to check that it wasn’t thieves. He was pleased to come out into mother’s arm and that of my aunt. ‘Ma’a Sunday, it is you’. He had a bush cutlass in one hand, a torchlight in the other, his son had a lantern. They all came over to us. We greeted. Bringing out the cooked beans, Baba sent his son home to fetch gaari. He came back with his mother and Sister Basira, Baba’s eldest daughter. When it was time to eat, the gaari leebu they brought was a perfect match for the beans we had brought all the way.

Before food, we lit candles and spread clothes on the floor. The breeze of the night behaved like a good breeze, it cooled our traveled body. Once in a while, lizards in the ceiling broke the silence that ensued when no one talked. They ran here and there in that part of the house. Later, we believed they were no more lizards but runaway cats who have grown into big dangerous wild cats. Baba and his wife and his two children left after we ate. They were visibly delighted a neighbour arrived. We thanked them for welcoming us. The tiredness from our journey returned, sleep overtook our overwaka-limbs, we laid on the spread clothes and slept. I woke up in my own pool of pee when morning broke. It was such a night!

So, before I continue with Ijoko-Ota, I will tell you of the three or more memories I touched on already. Fairness demand I do. I love and hate suspense like kilode 🙂

Palace Oba Orile. The palace was right in the middle of Oja-Oba. Two market kiosks away from the palace were chicken sellers. I was always delighted to see the chicks. They looked beautiful and innocent. The joy in my eyes made my heart race fast whenever I saved enough to buy one of them. There was even a time I was able to buy two! Double joy!! Come and see my happiness!!! I (actually, not only me) would raise the chicks to become real big chickens. Anyone who cared could touch the pride in my eyes. So strong was my sadness too whenever we had to go throwway dead chicken because gutter rats had chosen to kill them with their sharp teeth when the chicks slept at night. Really, we tried all we could to keep the rats away, but like any human endeavour, success was not always guaranteed.

Past the palace led a road to Mrs. Siwoku’s house. Mrs. Siwoku owned a post office box. So mother would send Tunde to go collect Dad’s letters from London. I used to be very excited whenever he allowed me to follow him.

On the doorpost of a one-storeyed house was an inscription, it read: ILE ABENI ILORI. I was sure to look at the inscription each time we went past the house, as if to be sure it was still intact. Years later when my Yoruba subject-teacher taught us the importance of sign-placement in order for our written-thoughts/sentences to be so understood as intended, I could not stop laughing; my mind brought back the inscription on the doorpost of that house when I used to accompany Tunde to collect Dad’s letters.

The road to Mrs. Siwoku’s house was gully and rocky, the earth was mud-red. So, enough about the palace and its memories. At least for now.

The only thing I remember about Ile-Esu-Orile is this: Close to it was fruit-tree. People sat under for shade. I passed the shrine to deliver mother’s errand to her friends.

Ile Osa was sacred land. It belonged to the gods and must be left undeveloped. We did not only play football here, we sometimes dug out old bottles and metals which fetched us good money from merchants who dealt in this business. Once in company of friends, we attempted to make money from lizard-head. There was a myth that lizard-heads dey turn money, one only had to do the ritual well. When after three days nobody talked about the lizard-head we buried for money-sake, I concluded the ritual did not work for us. To be sincere I thought one of us probably outsmarted the rest in that he went earlier to dig out for himself alone the money we had all wished on the lizard-head when we severed it from the rest of its body. We had buried the head not too faraway from the goalpost, the body we threw into the smoky fire that burned wastes dumped in that space which was meant to house the gods.

Igbale Egun. Apart from being the spirit-yard from where human beings, turned masquerades, emerged in colourful costumes with scary heads of different shapes and sizes, we were often told anyone who entered without permission go die mysteriously. This held my curiosity under control. The closest I got into this yard of ancestral spirits was few steps past the open gate one day like that. It was masquerade festival period. I was damn scared to go beyond the gate. It was horrible enough that the masquerades scared the hell out of us when they moved around streets with whips and sticks. The whips, we used to believe, were poisoned, anyone beaten with it, would need special intervention to avert ominous end. There was a rumour that one Alfa, once beaten by a masquerade, stood his ground, beat up the masquerade, and unmasked this rude masquerade. The story had it that the spirit being disappeared when it became impossible to prevent Alfa from desecrating him. I did not witness this event. I wished I did each time this adventurous encounter was narrated.

So, now that I have unburdened these memories, I will tell you what happened after I woke up in my own pee. E ma ba mi ka lo.

I packed my wet sleep-clothes, changed into another and went outside. I heard mother and aunt talking at the backyard. Looking up, I saw guava tree. Birds chirped at ripe fruits. I breathed in fresh air, the freshness was touchable, the air smelled strongly of it. I walked to the tree. On the sandy path were guluso-moulds, I scattered some with my legs, some with my hands, I let others be. There were neatly dug holes too, small, and plenty. Aunt showed us later we could trick out the caterpillar-like insects that lived in these holes. So, when we saw any, we cut juicy yet-to-mature part of this yeriyeri-grass and inserted it into the holes. The caterpillars in this earth always bit the thing and we dragged them out without delay. Sometimes we killed them, other times we let them be, at times we simply looked on in wonderment.

On the guava tree, I spent a pretty good part of the morning. The birds all flew away when they saw me. I sat on a branch and helped myself to as much I could. I plucked and filled my pockets. When they filled up, I let them fall on the ground. I was going to gather them when I got down the tree. I went home when mother called out that food was ready. I adapted to my new life seamlessly.

In the afternoon, Brother Akin and Brother Alfred arrived with our loads. Two more uncles accompanied them. They began unloading at once. We helped them while they did.

New home. New life. New friends. New families. New memories to make.

Pastor Akinleye was a carpenter. I got to know before we reached his house. He had helped with carpentry work in the new house. That was how mother happened on him. Since, he has been very supportive. The road to his house became the road I walked very often in my sojourn in Ijoko-Ota. It led to the houses of my new friends. Mother took me along to pay him a courtesy visit. Following Sunday he came with church members to pray on our house. That was a week or two before the house warming ceremony.

I have told somewhere of the sacrifice mother offered when we moved in. It wont be out of place to repeat it here. It confirms the Yoruba proverbial saying of faith/Western religion not forbidding participation in the traditional Oro cult. This is what I was able to spin from the little hearsay I remember today: Mother was afraid, or rather unwilling to move into our new house. She thought she had it too easy! Imagine a woman building a 3 bedroom flat with such a big expanse of land to join! That was 1995. Unbelievable! So, for fear of this-or-that ills, she did not want to move in fiam like that. She confided her fear in her brother, who in turn told their father. Baba Igashi acted swiftly. ‘Iyabo, it is bad omen to finish a house and not move. It is not good!!! Have you forgotten Lagbaja Omo Lakasegbe who built a house and refused to move on time!? You have to move into your house, even if not complete yet. We shall consult the oracle to know if need be for a sacrifice.’ This way Baba Igashi was able to convince mother it was time to move. The oracle advised we sacrifice a big goat. We slaughtered a big goat when we moved, so people had enough to eat during the house warming ceremony.

If I had thought religion was a big part of my life in Orile Agege, then it became my very existence in Ijoko-Ota. The church and her members did not only play a very active role in my growing years, the mosques in and around our street contributed in no little way to my interculturalness and acceptance of you-for-you- you might belong to a different religion, but you are first human! How else does one survive in a community with a potpourri of all possible religious confessions and colourations. Of particular interest was Baba Laila. We did not know his real name, he got his nickname because he would say this word times without number when he talked. He was a Muslim. Many thought he was not completely sane, but I wondered what yardstick we measured sanity with. If the words Baba Laila spoke were a yardstick for sanity, then he was not mad. In his many rants it was clear he detested hypocrisy and intolerance. He spoke good English too. For me, Baba Laila was neither Muslim nor Christian, he was a bit of both and a traditionalist at the same time. This old man spoke wisdom almost all the time. So, when we returned from church, it was the mounted loudspeakers of the muezzins’ call to prayer that welcomed us. When Mukadam, the young Muslim cleric beside our house began holding night vigils in his Quran school, I began to rethink many things I had hitherto thought were only common to the Christian faith. I will still talk about Quran recitation feasts celebrated to showcase successful attendees of the Quran school; it was a necessary rite of passage for devouts of the Muslim faith. I witnessed many of them. Just be patient with me, I will tell you all about them. Trust me, I wont forget to tell you too of many Baptismal classes and Holy Ghost Services plus Special Services held to eat The Lord Last Supper; they were all part of me.

There was this big fight between Baba Ile-Keji and a land-urchin, popularly called Kwara. Among land-urchins, he was least-liked. He could be loud and unruly. Overtime Baba Ile-Keji became a land-dealer too. One thing one thing, it happened that Kwara felt Baba’s landbuyer was a former potential landbuyer that Baba snatched from him. I did not know how it all began but it became real messy at the end. I saw Baba Ile-Keji high up, bourne in Krawa’s hefty hands, landed on the bushy footpath. I am not sure if he intentionally dropped him at this spot so he did not get killed. Baba Ile-Keji sprang on his feet and ran home while two of his sons scratched and tore at Krawa’s flesh. He pushed them off with fists thrown in all directions. Baba’s voice did not stop being heard on his way home, he shouted instruction to his children not to let Kwara escape. Apparently, he was coming back. And back he came! He came with a small chord. I saw him held the thing to his tongue, licked and spat at Kwara, then cursed! The curse-words were better left unsaid, I swear. Kwara would take none of this charm-shakara! He dashed at Baba Ile-Keji and landed him a hot slap on the head, then back-sent the curse. This were his words: Igi ti arigisegi base ori are re lo fi nru!

When we saw the fight was not going to end in peace and on time, we dispersed one after the other. With nobody to voice-separate the fighting duo, the fight ended.

Another crowd-puller was when Alfa was caught red-handed in the act. I was coming from Thursday Revival Hour when I noticed this strange figure on the rooftop of a church in front of Orolu’s house. That strange figure, silhouetted by night’s darkness became Alfa when street people gathered to see the face of our rooftop-thief. We did not know what to do with this familiar thief. Alfa was once an influential landseller, his family owned our street before he and his sibling sold the whole land plot by plot. Mother once told of a time when Alfa and family whisked away large chunk of money in baskets, and when there was not enough baskets they wrapped hard-earned monies in their dansiki and carried them away. In short, Alfa was rich until another family won a court case and claimed Alfa’s gold-shitting donkey.

We were children and women who had caught Alfa. Pity almost rescued him until Baba Anu appeared. I had seen him running towards us, he must have heard that his distant relative was caught stealing roofing sheet. With a tight fist, he went straight for Alfa’s face. Successive fist punches landed on the thiefman-face. Alfa was heard shoutcrying for mercy under this fistrain. ‘Shanu mi! Shanu mi!! Shanu mi…!!!’. This is the truth: Where I grew up, a thief is not among creatures to be pitied. We beat them till they bleed or die! I will tell you why. Just hold your breathe first 🙂

I was barely 7 years old when thieves came to Alhaji Raimi Street. The following day, different stories filled the air. One story in the mouth of all was that of Omo Alhaji. She had returned from Mecca few weeks. They wanted gold. Some version had it that she had first flown to London, then routed her flight to come home via Mecca. In short, news of her expensive trip must have reached the thieves who held us hostage in our own houses that night. Not to long the talk sha, Omo Alhaja aka Madam Custom died two months later from post-thiefvisit trauma. Doctors confirmed that her condition could not have survived such a shock! She was pregnant, she died with her foetus.

The drama that accompanied this thief-night was horrible and funny. Imagine. Married men shat in their trousers, toddlers clamped to their mothers howling their throats dry for fear. Different scenarios of thief-stories stared me in the face. I was terrified! Scenes of rape, handcutting, correct beating, outright killing, Naija-style humiliation, all of them flash-flash my head in an instant! I died and ressurected, all the nightmares came rushing back! We were cramped in the passage and rooms. Mother scooped the money she had and gave Brother Bayo. ‘Tie it inside nylon and drop it inside drinkwater-drum. Stomach dey turn me!’ Our hell hot hotter with bullets. Only when day broke were we sure of our safety. Such a nightmare!

Tanimomo’s Piece of Mind (TPoM): Three-And-A-Half Thoughts

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 thoughts on my mind, all seeking for attention, I will develop them into something more elaborate in the future, but in the meantime, these thoughts outdid others.

Thought 1: Nigeria is not a bad country because we are bad people, Nigeria is bad because we have no structures. This thought seems trite but let’s look at it this way. As a student at Obafemi Awolowo University, someone who looked like a professor chided us for trying to cross a lawn through a clearly cut footpath around the faculty of Social Sciences. He took us all the way to America and Germany; places he claimed he had visited and he did not find such footpaths on lawns. So today I saw on German soil, one highly organized country in the world and I am like ‘this professor can lie for Africa sef!’

It proves that as humans, we all want the fast route. What sensible governments have done is to place rewards and punishments for law upholders and law offenders respectively, at least to a very large extent. It has not been as easy as getting LaCasera in a hold-up though – it’s a process that has undergone trial and errors, re-workings and adjustments.

Thought 2: Let the search for an alternative opposition party begin; the PDP is a bad party bereft of initiatives and sound arguments. Innovation is as scarce in their meetings as finding a man of integrity is in their party. Since after elections, they seem to have lost their voices until the president-elect took a wrong step by barring AIT from reporting his activities. Nothing on the PWC report, not that APC was that constructive as the opposition but you could find an atom of constructive criticism and intelligent hooliganism in their oppositions.

In the light of this, the All Progressives Congress needs close monitoring. I don’t know about other states but Lagos, which has the poster-boy of APC’s good governance (Gov Fashola) as its governor, has on several occasions experienced the high handedness of the bespectacled barrister-governor. Apart from the LASU fees which was rescinded after the party lost in Ekiti, the government has not been known to withdraw on its decisions. Think of the toll gates.

Thought 3: Can we talk about this ethnicity business? It is an open-secret that the various nations that make up Nigeria have not seem themselves as one yet. The last elections are testimony to this. So, should we revert to regionalism or form our own system of government the way we like it not necessarily within the scopes of what Western powers call democracy. This system of government and federalism should be built to recognize all the nations that make up Nigeria.

Also, the pretense and hypocrisy around the civil war has lasted a long time. In my opinion, there has been no other period in our collective history as a country when an overwhelming number of Nigerians have followed a conviction to that extent. So we have been thinking that the horrors of the civil war that saw extra-intelligent minds like Christopher Okigbo could be wished away General Gowon’s 3 R’s a la Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and ReCONciliation (You google that! 🙂 ).

The recent reference to this horrific event by a number of opinion writers and intellectuals is a reminder of what is wrong with us. The war has no closure, the earlier we accept and retrace our steps the better. We are one big pretentious country! I read that at least 10,000 books have been written on the American civil war. We run away from our past praying it won’t catch up with us. I shake my head.

Thought 4: Why do girlfriends ask their boyfriends (and vice versa) to scream ‘I love you’ in crowded places? Most times, ‘victims’ of this emotional bullying know it is not for affection but a stamp, a roar to scare intruders away!

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