ajagunna

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

Tag: Europe

Home! away-from Home! H!aH!

The question to ask is this: Why must people give me reason(s) to connect good things with bad. And it seems they often do. At least, each time I enter Afro-shops in Dortmund. Home away from home. I am not missing home. Good?! That exactly is the problem! There are things I definitely want to miss about home, some of them prompted my departing after all. Top of the list is dirt!

The other time I went to buy okro. My sister followed me. I was thankful at first the usual close-to-badfish odour did not welcome us. The thankfulness was short-lived. The pay-counter was beyond dirty. The young oldwoman attending us was unkempt. Yes, she is young, but must have chosen to age herself faster. She hit the rickety scale. Then tried to type in something. The machine did not respond. She hit again. When it finally answered, I paid for my two plantains. My sister handed over her fish. The woman put her fingers into a small transparent cup beside the scale, punched in something to tell the price of my fish. I already mentioned the pay-counter was beyond dirty, allow me spare you the details. In short, the whole place is a successful mess.

Skin-bleachers are everywhere, in Germany too! I was lucky my own laughter did not choke me when I read someone said she was not bleaching, that she was only toning. Was it Yvonne Nelson or another actor like that. Yes, this is how good our sense of comparison and humour is. It sounds perfectly cool, init?! Crazeman-logic.

In there I had attempted to strike a conversation with my sister.

Me: Iya Bukunmi, have you heard?

Iya Bukunmi: What?

Me: I heard our people now use shampoo toner cream to “tone” skin colour to yellow! I read it on a blackberry thread.

We continued our conversation outside the Afroshop. I began the shampoo toner talk because I saw a woman who must have been a user of this terrible method of skin degradation. She left too soon for my sister to notice what I saw. Her whiteness yellow pass palmoil. But why are our people like this?, I asked my sister.

Apparently, self-hate would stop at nothing to kill her victim. That was how the other day I saw this teenager who overnight turned mulatto; she is now a mix of bad yellow and spot-stained black around neck, fingers and wrists! I almost screamed at her! ALMOST! She used to be black. She was beautiful. We used to enter (enter!) the same metro and tram, so I knew her well. What desperation could have driven her to damage her skin this bad?! I will not pretend to know.

Bad role models? Maybe. Talking of bad role models reminds of a black couple I saw last year in Bochum. I was sure I set my eyes on them, saying nothing until they disappeared into their parked jalopy. I was beyond thankful Ibukun did not follow me out that day. She would have asked why I looked on with so much pity and disgust. The mulatoness of this couple showed they are unrepentant bleach cream users. The husband has a burnt back neck. The redness lay between deep-pink and light-lila. The wife looked more terrible. When the young lady I was with told me they had actually come to buy more bleaching cream from the Indian shop-owner, I could not be more surprised. I remembered the Yoruba logic of that proverbial cough-victim who but would not stop biting at coconuts and chewing dry-corn. This stubbornman-story was the only explanation I could find for the couple’s addiction to bleaching.

Now think of children birthed by these parents and the picture of a shampoo toner offspring is perfect. I told a friend she could consider our friendship over that day if she ever shampoo-tone herself. Abi? Even if I hate myself, I will not be foolish  enough to teach my children to self-hate. Lailai!

I think of using the toilet in a “normal” African church somewhere in Europe to see what is wrong with anything communal in Africa. If the toilet is not being cleaned non-stop (yet stinks of piss plus uncomfortable to use), then the water-pipe is leaking. I might even have to pour water using a bucket to flush my business. Scratch that, I exaggerate a little. The last time I was in such a toilet in London, memories of Iza-antiseptic tormented me. I missed and I did not miss home in that short moment. I was sure to keep my bladder under control till I got home. Each time I entered a good toilet, say Mc Donald, I was sure to tip the toilet-boy/-girl well after I finish. And I think of say many of these boys/girls (read MEN/WOMEN) are good churchgoers.

Yeah, it is that bad, so I avoid at all cost being haunted if I could. Hear a nightmare: I once heard a slab covering a pit-latrine gave way under the feet of a toilet-user. That was long ago. Each time I squatted, remembering the fate of the unknown fellow scared the hell out of me. If you don’t understand why I was that scared, stop trying, you never would!

Hell is real! At least for those who chose to live in the hell they left behind. The last time I showed up in that congregation was on my second visit. I went with Tumi. I throw-way face when he first complained the mounted loudspeakers were deafening. Our own noise as fellow-singers only increased the whole thing. He began to cry. Ibukun pinched me. I took a walk, away from the noise. We met a bird on the green grass and I was sad we had no food to feed the beautiful companion.

Some worshipers walked past us into the congregation of hell-believers. A woman was shout-talking. When we returned, the pastor was cursing himself to prove he told nobody secrets left in his custody by counsel-seekers who had visited during office hours! During prayers he saw some of us had trouble sleeping because a python pursued us in our dreams; the python spirit was in our midst, he concluded. When service ended, he prayed favours for those who shall visit government offices the next day. His declaration confirmed my fear all along. I was (back) home!

EuroSpot: It’s (not) the Greeks again!

It’s (not) the Greeks again!

Lets end before we start: Greece is bankrupt! So crystal clear is this truth even a blind man sees the broke-country is finished. Think of the Nigerian Pidgin proverb: Dem no dey tell blind man say rain dey fall! It is raining thunderstorm in Greece!

A backjump. September 2006. Newspaper served. On a KLM cityshopper from Amsterdam. The title on the front-page: Greece Fiscal Misery! Same old topic; a bizarre submission that Greece had lied to the European Union Common Currency Zone (Eurozone) to gain entrance. In short, she was a cheat, the report concluded.

Greece Prime Minister Tsipras

Greece Prime Minister Tsipras

There are reasons for admitting this proverbial broke-vulture into the Eurozone. The least believable is to blame a Greek-manipulated fiscal report. Long before Greece admission, politicians in Europe were acquainted with the truth that Greece is as corrupt as any country in Sub-Sahara Africa, for example Nigeria. The political nepotism and economic irresponsibility of Greece far outweighed anybody’s imagination. So, a claim of being a cheat could not be tenable to have neglected doing the needed if Greece must be admitted into the Eurozone.

At the other end is one of the strongest aims of Greece admission, which is, the ‘Big Fishes’ of the Eurozone were out to make a ‘permanent’ financial-quickie of a country double-killed by her own potpourri of corruptible tendencies. Admission into the common currency market only catapulted a comatose country into her own abyss.

Therapies to bring back Greece to fiscal sanity long before 2008 economic meltdown had not worked; attempts by finance-czars to halt her continual fall after 2008, if it worked at all, amounted to near-killer suffocate-dosage. Greece became to Europe an economic nuisance.

The blame is not solely on the doorstep of the bigger Eurozone countries. Greece had her problems before admission. I need not remind that longthroat is a perfect character of leaders running a corrupt state. These leaders forget most times there is a singular winner in a quickie-affair; except parties involved are clear about their intention from the word-go. Anything aside this is pretense. Greece and her leaders were never smart to have hidden her financial woes because her yansh was never covered. With this action, I could only think of Greece as an ostrich hiding her head in the sand.

Trust politicians, they are always spot-on with all sorts of rhetoric to whip-in maximum gain for themselves. The ensuing fiasco as to (non-)implementation of the austerity plans is a good chance. Think of recent gain by various right-wing parties in the last European parliament election and the picture is complete; Greece’s problem was a good selling point. A comparison of Greece prime minister and his finance minister to a second-hand car dealer from whom no one would want to buy a car is the least of jabs shot at Greece in recent times. When a bigger suffering befalls a man, smaller and hitherto below-status insults will begin to show face. Such is Greece misfortune at the moment.

Prime Minister Tsipras and his Finance Minister Mr. Varoufakis

Prime Minister Tsipras and his Finance Minister Mr. Varoufakis

Hurling insults at Greece will not make the problem leave us, we must discuss issues in ways that construct solutions. To begin with, Eurozone’s insistence on pulling through the hard austerity measures for which successive governments in Greece had been voted out by angry Greeks is an indicator of a failed policy. Latest protest in Athens against Tsipras Leftist-led government is an indication of what shall happen should Greece be pressed further. Reason given thus far that other countries have gone through same and returned cleaner is nothing but a hoax. European politicians know.

Reality check is a confirmation of contrary claims that financial sanity cum structural stability has returned to Italy. Spain’s (youth) unemployment rate is a clearer pointer to a looming problem waiting to explode. The Irish idyll is what it is at the moment: a sham. That Ireland and Portugal were able to payback billions as scheduled does not prove austerity measures are working. Sarah Warenknecht, German Leftist Leader in the Bundestag, said the obvious in a recent debate: The giant/stronger p(l)ayers in the Eurozone have thus far only been paying their own bills. They send money to broke-countries only to disburse/return them in installments as agreed in the austerity plans. The much needed structural reforms are not achievable (and cannot be) within a short period. The imminent collapse of the house of cards only need time to materialize. And we are confronted with the next crisis.

By the way, one cannot cease to wonder if Europe’s strongest woman-politician Germany’s Angela Merkel is this bereaved of ideas to rescue this house from collapsing. Only if in self-denial, the current austerity measures as put together will help only to postpone the next crisis to a later date. Speculation is that she wants to sit out her current/last term as German chancellor managing an European crisis she helped create with far-from-reality policies and disillusioned politics.

Talking about collapsing house of cards, a related Yoruba proverbs sheds light on the next issue. Ile ta ba fi ito ko, eri ni o wo! A house built with saliva is bound to be demolished with the first dew. That the Eurozone has only moved from one financial turbulence to the next confirms a foundation-fault. Think of the Leftist position upon the introduction of the common currency, which is that many countries outside Germany and countries with comparable strong economies and stable structures were not ready to introduce the Euro. Weaker countries may be allowed at a later date but not without having put in place crisis-proven structures and good economies.

Europe failed to listen. Many European countries, particularly the volatile members would not have listened anyway. They were bent on catching-in cheap monies. The immediate benefit of reaping now to sow later was too alluring to be ignored. Either way, Germany will always benefit from the arrangement, she too was interested in the immediate economic gains. This way, the countries with the Euro plunged themselves into spiraling crisis.

Were there intelligent political managers at the helm of affairs in countries like Greece, they would not have agreed to an all-importing economy; beyond farm produce Greece hardly exports anything tangible to/outside Europe. Same goes for Spain and Portugal. They are of course holiday paradise, a booming branch so long people come to their shores. Not to forget, Germany, Holland, France etc are also strongly represented in this branch, so the earnings are not going to the South alone. Add to that was the crazy unsustainable house market-price boom. The crash of the utopia could not have been louder anywhere than in Spain. House worth millions depreciated beyond redemption. Truth is, an economy built on market speculation and abracadabra economic theories cannot survive tomorrow. Germany’s Economy Minister summed-up the woes of these countries when he emphasized in a speech only an economy based on trade, handwork and industry is that which last the test of time, not one established on finance speculation and non-existent money/gains a la hedge-fund trickery etc!

Not only must Greece be enabled to start a new country by canceling a larger portion of her debt. If she must remain in the Eurozone without being caught in the next crisis, she must put structures in place, no doubt, but not under the scrutiny of current austerity measures. Here is the reason: Like Germany would never survive a day with a Greek-led economic package, same way can Greece never survive a Germany/Brussels-led economic package. Think of Germany’s ways and you inch a step closer to understanding the logic. Greece is not Germany, and Germany is not Greece. For instance, Germany’s Wirtschaftswunder was made possible not only for the Marshall Plan but because of Germany’s cultural understanding of the work concept. Greece will rise again within the Eurozone, if allowed to stay, but at Greece’s own pace and as acceptable within the purview of her cultural understanding of the same concept. Forcing them to work on a diet of rationed “dictatorship” from Brussels will not work; it will at best lead to successive Greek government being “toppled” at the polls even before her election!

On a final note, some are of the opinion the much talked-about wrong-footed take-off of the Euro is an issue we ought to be done with. I disagree. The mistake was made because political optimism was prioritized against commonsense economic choices. The current crisis is an opportunity for the Eurozone to correct these foundational faults. The fingers on the wall at the moment, particularly in Greece, point unfortunately to hurry-hurry politics that helped made the crisis possible in the first place. How else does one explain the initial no-renegotiation-stance by the Eurozone upon Tsipras’ election as Greek’s prime minister as if there was a singular correct perspective to resolving Greece fiscal problem. Think of Germany’s chancellor unwarranted meddling in Greek’s internal affairs shortly before election with soft threat that voting a party other than one which follows through on the austerity plans might spell doom for the tiny country. Few weeks after, the Bundestag voted with a resounding majority to temporarily extend Greece credit; an indication for other European countries to follow suit. Desperate moves would have been unnecessary were the package humane/good enough for any country to begin with.

Greece exit is in nobody’s interest. Of course, the Eurozone will survive with(out) Greece, but a stronger Greece in the Eurozone will benefit both Greece and the Eurozone. Like the adage goes, when two elephants fight, the grass suffers. At the moment, we must not forget the worst sufferer of the crisis is the common (wo-)man in Greece. They must be relieved.

Mildred-Ides-Aziegbe-Speaks(MIAS): I Never Knew I Was Poor

Mildred Ides Aziegbe (MIA) is a Nigerian youth and a very strong advocate for political tolerance, women and minority rights among many other issues. She comments and writes on many issues, particularly Nigerian and the world at large. She can be connected/followed on Facebook and other social media.

Mildred Aziegbe is a Nigerian youth and a very strong advocate for political tolerance, women and minority rights among many other issues. She comments and writes on many issues, particularly Nigerian and the world at large. She can be connected/followed on Facebook and other social media.

I attended a private school. It was one of the best in Ughelli. I grew up in this small town. Father loved education. He believed it was his only way to escape poverty. He ensured we got it.

I did not get a new uniform termly or every session, but my uniform was well maintained. I trekked to and back from school daily. For me and my contemporaries at that time, this was not strange. We enjoyed the trekkingtrips. We chatted and played mischievous games.

We ate only breakfast. No lunch in school. Yet, we were perfectly fine. Lunch and dinner was at home. Most neighborhood kids lived pretty much the same way. This was considered normal.

Father’s love for education was evident in success. Everyone with his surname- Daniel Ighalo Aziegbe excelled academically. I was no exception all through my education.

After university, my preoccupation was to get a job. I wanted (1) to work and (2) leave Nigeria for further education- a Masters Degree. With a Bachelor Degree, I got the best Nigeria could offer. I wanted something else. I craved the international exposure.

In 2013, after four years of working, my dreams came true!

I received a full fellowship in a USaccredited institution in Europe. All I had to do was get myself to the university. Every other expenses was covered. I was thrilled. My excitement knew no bounds. Education is truly one most-tested mean to escape poverty!

Then, came the shock of my life!

For the first time, I realized I was Black! Whatever that meant, I later figured out. I am from Africa. This meant I was poor and must be helped. I always knew Africa was in bad light, but I probably knew *too little* until I arrived in the Western World.

Every talk on poverty and disease found its way back to Africa. Sometimes , people represent a sorry state of poverty or suffering with a black face, even when the focus was not on Africa. I visited France on my birthday. In the restroom was a poster of an African Child that needed help and education– “Help feed an African child. One Euro will go a long way!”. The black skin color used in a negative light.

I had many questions- for myself. Was it the same continent I am from? Is Africa that poor? Do we really need help?

At first, I was furious. I countered every argument in class that depicted Africa as a continent that needed to be pitied. How dare one say I should be pitied! My childhood was normal. It was the best. I saw nothing wrong. However, the longer I stayed in this society, the better I understood the concept of poverty.

First, there are good paved roads. No dirt. Anytime I walked, my legs are not messed with dust or mud. I could plan to go anywhere in a bus, tram, metro or train. Arrival was punctual! Transportation was uncrowded. I sat comfortably. Most times, I stood because I WANTED to. Not because I HAD to. In Nigeria, I stood in buses because there was no seat.

There were large shopping malls, where I was spoiled for choices. Food varieties are unlimited. I could buy milk skimmed or unskimmed, organic or inorganic, flavored or unflavored! What about eggs? I only knew eggs as eggs in Nigeria! Alas, in my new world I saw different types with many names. Then, there was the rice– short, long, whole, brown, organic, basmati andsoon-and-so-forth rice! In my head, I questioned why they did not simply make these things easier for people like me, who are accustomed to RICE! Rice is RICE! Period!

In Europe, I developed a new life- a life of choices. I did whatever whenever I wanted. I only needed to plan.

I am currently in the US, where the array of choice is worse, sorry, better! Sometimes I stand at a supermarket shelf more than ten minutes to figure out what tomato-type to buy. There are simply too many types.

When I returned to Nigeria upon completion of my studies in Europe, I saw the country differently.

In the market, I wasn’t presented with different kinds of tomato. There was only one tomato. There was no organic or inorganic chicken. Chicken was chicken. I finally noticed the potholes and bumps on the road. I could no longer ignore the garbage on the street. “But why can’t Nigerians just dispose waste in bins?” I asked quietly. Why are there open drainage? And why are they filled with muddy water, dirt and large swarms of mosquitoes? Why can’t the government clean them up?” And being a passionate waka-about, I wanted sidewalks so I could walk comfortably. I wont have to dodge okadas and car drivers in permanent hurry.

Did I consider myself poor before I left Nigeria? Did I ever feel I missed out on something? Did I know I need to be pitied? Never for once! Why then do people say Africa is poor? With these questions and counter questions, poverty took on a new meaning. The only explanation I found is CHOICE.

In USA, I walk to work daily. I do not take bus. On my way, motorists do not stop to lift me. They don’t think I walk because I own no bus or car. Generally, it is considered that I walk because I choose to. Especially when I wear work/formal attire.

I choose to buy only what I need and in this case, what I was accustomed to in Nigeria. For food, I don’t venture out of my comfort zone. I choose not to buy the cheaper American food. Sometimes, I skip lunch or even dinner. In a day, I choose to have fruits as food throughout. I cook my own food and don’t eat out. I want this way of life- I CHOOSE it!

In most parts of Africa, people live the CHOICE-LESS way because they have to. It is the ONLY way life present them. Unlike these people, I am (now) not poor because I (can) ignore choices! At work, colleagues eat tiny food pieces in a bid to keep fit. Sometimes I am tempted to ask if the food was enough. To me, they look (very) sick. If they were in Nigeria, they would look that way because they had little food to eat and NOT because they CHOSE to be skinny.

This is my conclusion. If one lived this kind of lifestyle out of necessity, then one is poor.

Now, that lack of choice can be interpreted differently. Limited infrastructure or lack thereof, few jobs, poorly equipped government hospitals, badly maintained schools etc are signals of poverty. For if these were available, we would have a choice to either take a bus, tram or metro from Oshodi to Obalende. I could decide to quit a job in UBA to work for Oando PLC. I could choose to cook with beef, goat or pork instead of only ponmo or kote-fish. These choices are missing. I HAVE TO TAKE THE OPTION THAT STARES ME STARKLY IN THE FACE! This is (Nigeria), by extension, all of Africa.

MidweekSpecial: In Quest of a Terrorist-Free World by Isiaq ‘Deji Hammed

Isiaq 'Deji Hammed is a passionate Social Media commentator and contributor on various world issues, particularly those of Nigeria and Africa and Middle East interests. He bares his mind on issues objectively and engages dissents with civility. He is a Scholar presently based in the Middle East and guestblogs for AhjotNaija

Isiaq ‘Deji Hammed is a passionate Social Media commentator and contributor on various world issues, particularly those of Nigeria and Africa and Middle East interests. He bares his mind on issues objectively and engages dissents with civility.
He is a Scholar presently based in the Middle East and guestblogs for AhjotNaija

The issue of terrorism has become a recurring decimal in our contemporary world. For over a decade now, It is mostly the dominant news items in every breaking news on mass media. This bothers the mind and elicits questions. Who are these terrorists? What factor(s) explain(s) their terrible acts? How did we get here? Is there any hope of an end in sight to these unending bloodsheds?

I will address these questions not as a security expert or scholar on terrorism and terrorist groups, but a passionate observer and a peace-lover. I have been following terrorist activities around the world with keen interest and analytical mind. Without minding whose ox is gored, I will concentrate more on Jihadist related terrorist acts. I shall see beyond the various propaganda peddled by groups with vested interests and the hollow, almost empty attack and counter-attack rhetorics from different people of different faiths.

In trying to proffer answers to our earlier-raised questions, we observed that of the greatest calamities that have befallen our world or the human race is to see evil not as evil but to see it from a diversionary or delimitational prism. Somebody engages in theft, the next thing that comes to our mind is to find his name and categorize him. Oh, Chinedu. He is an Ibo thief. The Ibos are like that. Oh, Paul. No wonder, he is a Deeper Life Christian. Oh Umar, he is a Muslim terrorist. Muslims are just like that…

Unfortunately, such unwarranted preconceived notions, assumptions and generalizations have done us more evil than good. By threading that diversionary path, we have not been able to put a halt to social vices plaguing our common existence. Remove the adjectival appellations (ethnic and religious colorations) and we could have collectively dealt with Chinedu -the thief, the extremist Paul and Umar-the terrorist. Better still, the most honorable and effective reaction that would have yielded optimal result for our collective humanity is our unity against the forces of evil. Let’s dare to even care less about the names. We must all deal with this thief, this extremist and this terrorist in our midst.

Having said that, who are these so called *Islamic* terrorists and what could their motives be? Who backs them and fuels their annihilating machinery? Needless to state here that terror or terrorism is not, has never been and will never be the exclusive preserve of a faith or race. A simple Google search will reveal the terrible terrors in Fascism, Nazism, Apartheid, Holocaust and atrocities perpetrated by groups like the Seleka forces, the Anti-Balaka Militia, The Lord’s Resistance Army etc.

Don’t mind the dichotomy rhetoric between terror and terrorism, between religious and non-religious terrorism. Terror is terror, and terrorism is terrorism. Just as evil is evil. It has no two names. Without digressing from the nucleus of our discourse here, *Islamic terrorists* can be classified in to four.

The first category are those who are being described as “Les fous de Dieu” in the French editorials. These are those who have radicalized and who believe that they must spread their own version of Islam through violent means. Their every act goes against the very basic tenets of the religion they seek to impose on others. Qur’an 2 Vs 256 states: ” There is no compulsion in religion”.

Commenting on his official Facebook page, Tariq Ramadan, the grandson of Hassan Albana, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt, and Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at Oxford University has this to say about the ISIS in Iraq and Syria:

What the Jihadi extremists are doing in northern #Iraq is hateful and anti-Islamic. Mistreating Christians and removing crosses from churches is a clear betrayal of Islamic principles. These men, supposedly acting in the name of Islam, must be confronted, first, by the Muslims from around the world, determined to denounce them (and those who control them), condemn their behaviour and resist their actions, in the very name of Islam. This is our dignity, this is our duty. And, of course, we must also condemn what they do to their fellow Muslims and all the people of other faith, without exception.

The second category are the State-sponsored or -tolerated terrorists. A mere critical analysis of the ammunition, coordination and sophistication of some so labeled *Islamist* terrorist organizations reveals the financial and logistic backing, tacit support and approval they get from some Western powers and their Arab allies. We all watched probably without questioning when some Syrian rebel groups were being armed by foreign nations in other to topple Bashar Assad’s regime.

The ISIS, Al Nusra Front and some other radical groups benefited directly or indirectly by laying their hands on these dangerous weapons. Hillary Clinton confessed in an interview sometimes ago the CIA created the Al-Qaeda network in Afghanistan to counter the Russian influence. In so doing, they even funded, trained and armed the Mujjahidins.

The third comprises of the ignoramuses Muslims who are easily brainwashed and manipulated. They are as gullible as they believe there is a *shortcut to make heaven*. In a funny picture that a Facebooker posted sometimes ago, a supposed *Islamist* suicide-bomber wore a metallic underpants so as to protect and preserve his manhood for the seventy virgins when he arrived in heaven. The simplest understanding of Islam should have revealed to that ignorant suicide-bomber that our physical body on earth and the one in heaven are not the same. And that any Muslim who commits suicide in Islam is liable to go to hell, not to talk of killing innocent people unjustly.

The last category are those I tagged as *The-Pushed-to-the-Wall*. A number of times, we push people to react violently by being unjust and oppressive towards them. And again, this has no religious undertone. It is simply natural. Even animals in the jungle are not left out. We resist with whatever means or technique we could amass. Just like the Yoruba proverbial goat that turns back and bite when pushed to the wall, the Niger Delta militants, the black South Africans during Apartheid (remember that Mandela’s ANC used to be on the US terrorist blacklist) and just like the Al Qasam Brigade and Hamas (of course they are more or less entirely Muslims).

Hypocritically, the West-dominated mainstream media tag some people *Islamic terrorists* when they are Muslims but *Freedom Fighters* when they are whites or non-Muslims. The Israeli Government even equates Palestinian fighters in Gaza with ISIS in Iraq and Boko Haram in Nigeria. Gideon Levy, an Israeli journalist who has written extensively on the brutality and inhumanity of the Israeli occupation affirms in a documentary:

Terrorism is a weapon used by the weak. It is a terrible weapon and I am completely against it. But I understand where it comes from. It comes from despair.

Muslims must as a matter of urgency and divine responsibility engage the redeemable members of various Islamic sects in intellectual discourse as regards the true and acceptable ideals of Islam. And this is in line with the Qur’anic injunction:

Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best. Indeed, your Lord is most knowing of who has strayed from His way, and He is most knowing of who is [rightly] guided.” Qur’an 16 Vs 125

As for those who are irredeemable, it is incumbent that we fight against them, just like the first Caliph of Islam, Abu Bakr, fought against the sect which entered into heresy by denying and refusing to pay Zakat, one of the pillars of the Islamic faith. This is because they are hydra-headed evil that does nobody any good. They destroy even the name of the religion they claim to defend, they destroy themselves and they destroy innocent human beings.

Muslims and non-Muslims alike must rise up together above double-standard and hypocrisy and unite against the forces of evil (both the instigators and the instigated) that seek to always put the human race at loggerheads through falsehood and deceit. Fairness and justice must also be upheld for humanity to know peace. Verily, the terrorist’s bomb does not discriminate. It destroys us all.

 

 

SundayStarter (SS): Personal Thoughts In Quest for Self-Discovery! by Oladapo Ajayi

Mr. Oladapo Ajayi is Nigerian and Master student resident in Germany. He is the initiator of the TACTProject, a NGO practically committed to giving poor children a fair chance at education in Nigeria. He is an activist and a grassroot political and community organiser

Mr. Oladapo Ajayi is Nigerian and Master student resident in Germany. He is the initiator of the TACTProject, a NGO practically committed to giving poor children a fair chance at education in Nigeria. He is an activist and a grassroot political and community organiser

I have come to realize that one difficult matter to write about is oneself, especially if it must be in a bad light. The idea comes readily available but the point of admittance is just too tedious. For long, I always had reservations talking about me.

Caution! Do not excite too soon to read part of my secret! Keep calm and read on!

Actually, it is still not time to *divulge* myself for even the self in myself is bigger than me. I may not be capable of divulging it!

This bigger self houses personal history, the self that brings relationships to the forefront; I mean that self that travels through ethnic leanings to the country of birth, daring even to the continent itself. Behold, it is this complex self I am ashamed to write about!

Earlier this year, there was a wave of controversy on the African continent- Homosexuality was criminalized! It is needless to remind I strongly felt it was a shame for us to have convinced ourselves we had done the right thing. Yes, even when we justify it by the God of Abraham, whom I serve too. Even when we use our colonial science mind to define gender. We simplified it with a tag; it became *That Western Phenomenon!* In our mind, we un-african it!

In following divergent views, what was shockingly consistent was the manner with which we were quick to repudiate the act of homosexuality as a Western import and imposition on our pure culture. We therefore thought that criminalizing it would be a perfect cure to the Western ideological disease we dared to be healed from. In short, many say why do we need the West in the first place? So simple right? This is a question I wish I could ask.

Unfortunately, the truth is different. The slave-master relationship cannot be wished away by unknotting the neck-tie with the leg placed on sofa and hands on the iPad-machine! Africa need realize/accept it is *not yet uhuru*.

To help you get into my small thoughts, I will use my fears and realities as example.

First, let us imagine what we have so far read about Ebola virus and its manifestation; the fatality and the incurable state of the epidemic. Will it be smart of us to imagine the virus manifestation as something very tech-like, experimental, which is created or deliberately designed by some freaky scientists? A response in the affirmative is not impossible.

For me really, I suspect the Ebola virus could be manmade, planted for a purpose. I know of hypertension and stroke, I know of many stages of cancer, I know of malaria fever, I know of cholera,even typhoid. The symptoms seem familiar. Has anyone ever wondered how and why even a corpse becomes more contagious than the living? As suspicious as HIV/AIDS could be, it does not spread like gasoline fire! My un-scientific picture of Ebola virus sees a complete hybrid virus with very high toxic nature, potentially explosive and extremely difficult to contain.

A good/plausible question is this: why should/would a master use a dangerous medium to teach the slaves a lesson of their lives? At his point, it would be helpful to demarcate established hierarchy in the relationship of master and slave; this is paramount particularly when a forgetful slave is involved. A master enjoys a god-like nature. He has exclusive right to life and death of his slaves. Once the master is angry, a slave must be prepared to pay the utmost price for any act of disobedience.

In economic sense, I will unashamedly admit that people from my part of the world are permanently in an imbalanced state. Our labor and resources are best at creating a generational wealth that outgrows the first slave-owners to the modern day corporations. Fact is, corporation dictates the direction of every government. For Nigerian readers, this is what this translates into: the Aliko Dangotes, the Otedolas and the Adenugas dictate government policies to the president and his cabinets. It is never a mistake to see these business tycoons in economic management committees. Corporations exist even in our small slave world.

Now, connect the picture to a Western corporation and its operation? Yes, you will be helping me if you imagine a corporation that will be able to provide Ebola treatment drugs, the vaccine, the gloves, the sanitizers, the protective gloves etc. The truth is, (un-)knowingly the Ebola crisis is a business blessing for some people/nation. Like the saying goes, one man’s loss is another man’s gain!

America and the West are not called super-power for nothing. They watched while we rebuffed them during the anti-gay marriage bill. They knew we would soon come begging, cap in hands asking for a help or the other – and voila here we are. We need them to help find our girls or as we have it not, fight Ebola.

So, it is shocking to notice how *godly* Nigerians, who were arms up against the *ungodly* West following the signing into law of the homophobic bill, have a tongue-check, racing back to the West for help! We probably need be reminded some of these scientists are gays and lesbians. We can only hope very earnestly that these *ungodly* scientists quickly come to our aid by providing ZMAPP or just any vaccine.

I sometimes tell myself that we are sick as Africans. Unfortunately, I cannot diagnose our sickness. Many would always trace our sickness to the trauma of slavery, colonialism and imperialism. Should we probably accept that we have disappointingly under-performed and did not take the bull by the horn in areas of development?

Talking about elections in Nigeria and Kenya for example, the citizens managed to successfully elect some wanted politicians as president and vice-president respectively. Of course, these are independent and sovereign countries, so why would USA interfere? I believe in this light, Mrs. Clinton announced to Kenyans before elections that choices come with consequences. Mrs. Clinton, an American who has been consistent in her messages to Africans and African leaders recently talked again of “hard choices and convenient choices”.

Personally, when people warn about choices and consequences, one must beware they are likely privy to some exclusive information; they have what you don’t have, they wield that which you lack! If this is the case, then a Whitechapel-relationship is inevitable. Whitechapel is a character in the novel The Longest Memory by Fred D’Aguiar. This character is a slave with an unfortunate maneuvering skill. He has a fair share of his privilege from the master.

My fragmented thought points at a big offense African leaders have committed against the master in recent times, namely our re-engineered focus towards Great China. Africa wants China’s form of development. We are however less diplomatic about it though. We think it is our destiny after all, so we want it our way! Big and small loans, soft and hard loans…so long it is Chinese, we take it! Do I need to remind us that our new Tower of Babel, i.e. The New African Union Secretariat was built from Chinese loan? In fact, our leaders took their beautiful jets to the Assembly of China Economic Summit!

Now, the master seem to say, *Thou ambitious slave, have your Chinese funded Tower of Babel, have Ebola, have Terrorism and even Religious Crisis and Remain in Perpetual Confusion!

Beyond the homosexual war, the master’s corporations are technically running out of business. The business of the master and his corporations are threatened because the slave is getting too ambitious. The apparently too ambitious slave seemed to have thrown all caution to the wind.

I have always written about the fact that we lack leadership. Equally, the followers are docile. Africa must re-evaluate her decisions and manner of approach and realization of goals and objectives on many issues and fronts. Take for instance, sexuality is a private matter, and so should it remain. This thought is a difficult one to pencil down for me, but that does not change the fact about the truth. There is a link between Africa’s relationships with the outside world and her daily realities. If Africa learn and work with this fact, she will survive and rise. The world is divided, the world is separated, and the world is entangled. The world is a global project anchored on former and current masters. Africa will only be able to sail successfully the stormy terrain by seeking knowledge and discover herself.

Patrick Sawyer’s Plague and the Panic-Marabouts’ Solution

At least, now we know that some Nigerians actually bathed with saltwater solution in an attempt to save/rescue their skin from the fast and wide spreading killer Ebola virus. In a country where ignorance is strongly present, things like this are come place. Besides, it is a known fact that the epidemic has presently no known cure. Thus, any rumored solution or near-efficacious medication shall be a welcome idea, news of which would run faster than wildfire would in a terribly hot summer. Panicking would then become the order of the day. The people are desperately in search of a viable savior in the face of a deadlier than HIV infection. One has no choice than to resort to the most-called-on being in Africa, namely God to come to the rescue of his faithful children. I hope he would.

In what seemed to be a coordinating effort by the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) to combat this terrible virus, the President put together a research team and earmarked over a billion naira for research purpose. Truth be told, this effort is as good as medicine after death. The FGN is known for this lazy and near-populistic approach to matters of high importance. Definitely, the virus was not discovered yesterday nor since the recent outbreak. It has been in the West African subregion since the 1970s. It needs no telling that the decision of the FGN is a move too late. Lest I forget, the renowned Professor Maurice Iwu is on the team of appointed researchers! On reading the breaking news, I could only scream: God save your people!

It need no reminding that Professor Maurice Iwu is a political tool in the hands of the People Democratic Party (PDP). Nigeria is yet to fully recover from the elections conducted by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) under Professor Iwu’s supervision as chairman. Just like the presence of a he-goat cannot be unnoticed, hardly was the research team announced that we heard of a possible kolanut-therapy for the raging Ebola virus. Professor Iwu was credited with this therapeutic abracadabra. It is very sad that anyone would be ready to con his own people as always! It needs no soothe-telling that the fund allocated is a booty already shared among the faithful researchers!

I read on a Facebook wall where it was jovially asked if the so-called wonder serum, which *healed* the two US-Americans and which is probably being applied on the infected Spanish priest is not good for *Negroes*! Can anyone blame USA or Spain for caring for their citizens? As usual, the only place Africa, and particularly the West Africa subregion look to right now is the West- the developed world for solution to a virus that is said to have originated from Africa!

Well, I understand the panic caused by the terrifyingly dangerous Ebola virus as it kills almost assuredly once contacted. With no cure in sight, anybody would panic just as bad. Allow me to ask though, if Africa is not already being hit by a more catastrophic epidemic and crisis of catastrophic heights. Talk of malaria and tuberculosis. They kill in millions! Talk of child mortality and women death during childbirth! The numbers are alarming! Talk of lack of edible water and food for starving children! Talk of anything bad, it can be found on that continent!

I must be swift to add at this point that this is not self-hate or wanting to show only the bad-side of Africa. This is the naked truth. Besides, if there is any good-side to show, then certainly not good enough so long there are hungry children with no shelter over their head. Mind you, hungry children are even the least Africa’s problems. The list of our woes is endless!

African leaders have always abandoned the continent to her fate. The people suffer thus very greatly when there is a health crisis of this capacity. Beyond usual rhetorics, announcements and setting-up of research teams, there is no serious moves from the African continent to finding a solution. I oftentimes wonder when Africans shall turn on their true-oppressors- the African leaders! If not now, then probably when there is a plague as terrible as the Black Death! One can only hope the USA or any other country in the West finds a viable cure on time. Of course, a cure shall never be found by the research teams put together by various African countries.

Talking about saltwater solution again, only anyone who is un-sincere would be surprised that there are those who fell for it. There are posts making round on Facebook on how stupid any educated person is, who actually bathed with the farce of a cure. To say the truth, it is not shocking that the farcical cure was proposed and believed by many Nigerians (West Africans). After all, we must not forget too quickly we live on a continent where people were told to eat grass and they did. I recently watched a television report where people bathed in a dirty and muddy river because it is believed it can cure them of their infirmities! Really, the saltwater solution is the least of terribly unfathomable fables that we fell for as Africans. We might have fallen too far to be saved! I terribly hope it is not too late though!

About Patrick Sawyer, the Liberian who successfully transported the virus to Nigeria. For once, I would agree with President Jonathan. He called it madness and pure craziness on the part of Patrick Sawyer to have chosen to fly to Nigeria of all places! The Liberian President was sorry he escaped surveillance. Of course, according to her, Liberia would never have wanted him to escape! There are those who believe Sawyer was an agent of evil. I do not subscribe to this opinion, but the people who hold it, might not be absolutely wrong in their belief. So many questions begged for answers, really. Anyway, I think it is best left at that. It makes no sense crying over spilled milk. Either way, the virus would still have reached Nigeria, by flight, by foot or any other means. Our borders and various control posts are as good as non-existent in the eye of corruption! Even death-in-person himself would have found a way through them if it can pay!

The issue is now this: a reasonable government would have, for precautionary purpose, wanted all those on that particular flight from Liberia be tested and quarantined until certified they are Ebola-free. I doubt it if the passengers’ list can be provided. Beyond a passengers’ list that will not surface, in a saner society, those on the flight would have turned-up willingly for a check-up. This is a matter of life and death and the possibility of killing more people with infection! Come to think of it, the poor nurse who attended to the Liberian is long dead! To run into hiding is the stupidest thing to do. Yet, I am almost sure none of these passengers have shown up, whereas they are not unaware that it is already too late once Ebola symptoms are visible. One cannot but ask this troubling question: what exactly is wrong with us Africans?

In the news, a 51-year old Romanian turned himself in when he suspected on returning from West Africa he might have contacted the dreaded virus. He was tested and placed under observation. That would have been a major case on the European continent after the Spanish priest who was moved home. The case of a West African who was suspected in Hamburg has been cleared. He is not infected. Canada and Hong-Kong tested two suspected cases of Ebola, both negative. Many countries are now very alert. This is a good thing to do pending the discovery of a viable anti-Ebola drug. We await the result of a German student in Rwanda who is being quarantined on suspicion he might have contacted the virus. Until his blood-test result is received, fingers are still crossed. If confirmed, that would be the first case in the East African subregion. We hope it is not. Tonight at the Lagos Airport in Nigeria, panic almost took over when a passenger slumped and died. Of course, the first suspicion was Ebola. According to report, those around the passenger fled. Thank Goodness he tested negative.

With reports like this in and around the world, it clearly shows that the deadly virus might be mainly present for now in Africa, it takes no time however for its effects to be felt around the world with dire consequences. It is no more an African problem, it is an international problem. The world will certainly win the battle against this deadly virus, but at what cost. This cost implication remains presently uncertain.

True that so far, people in the West African subregion live in constant fear and near-resignation, but it must be said that if the heaven must fall, then it is no more the problem of a single person; therefore the whole world must prevent this heaven from collapsing on us all!

In the meantime, West Africans and certainly the wider world keep hope alive that an effective cure/therapy is found soon enough.

on a final note, I must not but salute the many doctors, nurses, aid-workers and many volunteers, who are diligently committed in their chosen field of saving lives even at risk of loosing their own lives! Respect! Many thanks to them for doing a real great job in this trying period particularly for West Africa and the world at large. Your selfless service makes the world a better place with each passing day. We love you!

!Simply-Dunni-on-Spot !SiDoS: Palava-Series-1

Ms. Oladunni Talabi is a beautiful and wonderful addition to the AhjotNaija!BlogFamily. She is a Master 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

Ms. Oladunni Talabi is a beautiful and wonderful addition to the AhjotNaija!BlogFamily. She is a Master 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

Lookit me!!! Methink I’m becoming germanized ooo…! Or why should I get pissed because a guy knocked on my door without prior notice through email or whatever that he would come knocking! And that while I was sleeping like i-don’t-care in the afternoon. He wanted me to describe the heimleiter’s (housemaster) house.

Come to think of it, how did I sleep in Nigeria in noonday through the screams from my mum to get her something, which is right in front of her! Then she would be like *oh sorry you are sleeping, but still call again in five minutes thereafter!

And there would be my cousins too on the other hand doing their waka-abouts searching for God-knows-what like in a Gulder Ultimate Search (GUS) on my own side of the room.

By the way, having your own room doesn’t mean it’s yours. Anyway, I had MY OWN BED I could lay claim to. That was enough for me. I no be OLIVER TWIST who’s always asking for more..

There were mum’s spontaneous visitors too knocking on the door and you were expected to leave everything with immediate alacrity, including your *sleep* and attend to them till they leave! Who born you to do otherwise!

I must not forget to mention our dog barking for reasons best known to her. By the way, Yoruba-Nigerians believe dogs bark when they see evil spirits, witches and wizards flying to their afternoon-meeting. So our dog probably always see them flying because she never stopped barking. I wish I knew better, but since I am not a dog, how do I know.

The cocks who have decided to make your window an abode of worship-to-God would be busy making a call and finally the generator making its own kinda noise…

In these times, my patience was never stretched to its breaking point oooo… and oh, if you were pissed, or squeezed a fraction of your face or eyelid…. hehehehehe *smiles aloud*. Pity betide you! You would be making the greatest mistake of your life allowing mum see it on your face, as in you putting on a *poker-face*

If you’ve been wondering why I smile or laugh even when nothing is funny… now you know! The outcome of your *poker-face* is this: slaps that would make you see stars in broad-day light and you’d also feel like you are on a roller-coaster.

If she was not in the mood to dash you free slaps, then you were gonna have to stand for an hour while she tells you stories of all bad and disobedient children in the bible e.g. children of Eli. They ended up in Hell!

Come to think of it; I don’t know why my mum took a fancy to Eli’s children – Opheni and Phineas*Please confirm spelling in the bible and read the detailed story while you do*.

She talked to my brother about Samuel, David and the good children; and when it got to my turn; it was always these same people- Opheni and Phineas, the disobedient Eve who ate the apple, the proud Goliath who got killed by the dwarf David, Absalom who got hung on a tree by his hair!

In fact, I’m beginning to wonder if Absalom had such extremely strong and tough dreads because I still don’t understand how a tree carried someone up from the horse with his hair! I doubt this could happen with this slick oyinbo-hair o. Anyway, that is none of my business o jare! *just saying though while I go back to sleep*

World-Situation-Report Personal Perspectives (WoPP): Peace in a War-Plagued World

As of today there is conflict in virtually every region of the present-known world. This is disturbing for an astute observer of world politics. One would however not begin to wail. The reason is not far-fetched. It has nothing to do with being sadistic or possessed by any particular evil. To begin with, how many of these conflicts shall be bewailed? This is a very pertinent question to answer. Long before one sad occurrence is fully bewailed, hits another sadder and more terrible one. So many are these human-induced conflicts of catastrophic qualification, that one is absolutely at a loss as to how to correctly bewail them. Even if this could be helpful to conflict resolution or soothing those hurt in the conflicts, then pops the next question; no more on the appropriateness of bewailing, rather on how loud would one cry to have rightly *cried-out* a conflict.

Actually, a Yoruba proverb comes in very handy in this instance to help out of this obvious vicious circle. When a particular occurrence occurs, that which is so bad that crying is simply inappropriate, the only alternative is to laugh. Now, it should not be misinterpreted as though the laughing individual is glowing at the misfortune of the conflict-ridden countries/regions of the world and their people. On the contrary. The proverb underlines the complexity and radicalness of the situation. Radical, stubborn and apparently would-not-just-find-an-end occurrences in and around the world could and must be helpfully approached if possible in strange but unique ways. We live in strange times.

Talking about strange times, there is no clearer indicator of the strangeness of present times than this: everybody wants to be and believes (s)he is right. If it stopped at that, it certainly would have been strange all the same, but probably less-strange. The trouble is, those who believe they are right (namely everybody) believe every other person (or at least those) who do not share their opinion/are of a different opinion is wrong. This stance justifies therefore the approach of every dissent with zero tolerance. The problem is, since everyone believes (s)he is right and every other person is most certainly wrong, it becomes practically impossible to find who is right and wrong! Pray Goodness save us from attending disaster(s) of an irrational stance taken too far.

The world as we know it has come a long way. She survived two big wars in recent history, not to talk of other countless conflicts and wars, which are only remembered in museums, books and archives around the world. The world has always survived and would survive again if there must be yet another catastrophic conflict or war. It is only humans who live therein that need entertain fear if they might survive (in) the world. It is not all bleak though.

From ongoing crisis/conflicts/wars around the world, current world politicians show commendable determination and commitment to avoid irrational decisions of the past. Considering the fact that the Great War, later rechristened First World War, was directly triggered by the assassination of Crown-Prince Ferdinand would lend credence to how positively better the world has fared in tolerance and deep-thinking before striking/taking world-changing decisions. This is further evident in the latest plane-crash, shot down by the Ukrainian opposition, ably assisted by the Russians, or at least by a Russian-made machines. More on that later.

Many take less time to ruminate on this singular truth: The world cannot and shall never speak as one on all issues. I would give up my shirt if this claim about our world is wrong anytime soon. Positive disagreement at various fronts and on various issues should in fact be encouraged. Plurality of opinions and world-views can only better the world. It must not be forgotten that one can dissent without becoming forceful or violent. It would be strange to have been less disagreeable in a world populated with over 5 billion people!

This does not mean that the world should be left without rules or that everyone should be allowed to do as it pleases. That would throw the world into anarchy. This had certainly been envisaged in the establishment of the United Nations (UN), the world body responsible for world peace and regulation of inter-country dealings with each other to guarantee that for example no one country is too powerful to deem it fit to invade the other. This goal is yet to be fully realised as there are apparently double standards in its application. In fact, some would even talk of standards more than double! The unbiased achievement of the objectives of the UN is the paramount duty of all.

On to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Speaking as though no one is listening, many would immediately loose interest the moment this seemingly eternal conflict is mentioned. The battle for the soul of the Holy-Land is clearly far from being over! As far as I can remember, the conflict has always existed, I doubt it if it would be over in this lifetime. Having said that, the ongoing war must be condemned; it is shameful and should have never happened. It is a fact, it takes two or more parties to quarrel. It is irrelevant for now which party started/triggered the fight. In fact, a mission to point fingers in this current Israeli/Palestinian conflict is as good as chasing the wind in an attempt to resolving the war. More children and women would suffer, men would die and the conflict would still not end! Both parties involved are best advised to end this war and return to dialogue at once. The world has seen enough bloodshed. We know the demand of the sides and the I-am-not-the-aggressor-tactics of both camps! Both sides see themselves on the receiving end! We are by now so used to them that we need no more be told that Hamas is a terrorist group and that Hamas consider Israel a country that is best removed from the face of the earth! Put simply, the world wants to keep as much of her citizens alive as possible. She wants to see no more children and women, and men too, used as human shields from enemy fire! She does not want both parties crying wolf on international media while still biting as hard as anybody can imagine!

Truth is, the Israeli/Palestinian agelong conflict is a political conflict. It requires a political solution. Glaring is the obvious truth as well that the political will is lacking to resolve this endermic monstrous conflict. Possibly accepting that Israel as a country has the right to exist and that she is here to stay would help move the search for a solution forward. Meanwhile, it must be stated in clear terms that the Palestinians deserve a country to call home, a place where they can live in peace. This is very basic to moving the dialogue positively forward. Accepting this truth has never been a problem actually, the difficulty is only in the practical implementation when both parties seem bent to have it their way or no-way at all! May the God of the Middle-East whom the larger world population serve, deliver us from this vicious circle in that part of the world.

On the ongoing war in Ukraine, I once submitted that there can be immediate peace, once the bigger parties involved achieve an understanding that they shall keep their noses out of their neighbor’s backyard. This submission still holds. Peace in Ukraine is relative, really. An Ukraine with a strong course to the West is to Russia not peaceful. That way, Russia’s backyard is on fire. In light of this understanding, a destabilized Ukraine is not necessarily un-peaceful to Russia. In fact, that is the height of peace in that part of the world as far of Russia is concerned. Look at it this way: Imagine China militarily present and wooing the (poorer) North and Central American states; those countries right in US-America’s backyard! Trust the USA would not sleep with their backyard on fire! USA and the West are best advised to thread this murky path with caution.

A portrayal of Mr. Putin as the singular evil wrong with our current world is an attempt at chasing nothing. It is never the right political tactics. Of course, I understand those who seem to believe, and that strongly so, that once Mr. Putin is out of the picture, then Russia would belong to the West again, as if she had ever been. The earlier we finally realize Russia has a different world view/agenda and thus approaching the matter with the highest form of diplomatic negotiations imaginable, the better for our world. By the way, in recent times the international media is awash with the use of that dreaded word, namely MAD, i.e. Mutually Assured Destruction. Ukraine crisis must not be allowed to degenerate to MAD level. It must be nibbed in the bud. The excesses of both conflicting sides and those of their paymasters must be curbed.

Apropos nibbing a crisis in the bud, Boko Haram, the dangerous anti-human sect in Nigeria has finally gone full-haywire! By now, those who see Boko Haram as a religious sect must have realised this is not the case. This beyond-barbaric evil-group bombed over 90 Nigerians this week alone. The possibility of another strike in the coming weeks is surer than the latest bombings. Boko Haram kills indiscriminately. Boko Haram does not kill conventionally, it has moved beyond bombing alone! It slaughters people in open-day light! It slighters throats open! it clubs Nigerians to death! Most troubled is the Northern part of the country. However, all other parts suffer the inconvenience.

The latest Kaduna bombing did not kill only Nigerians of Northern origin! Kaduna is known for its metropolitan status. Those killed in that bombings are Nigerians! Lest I forget to mention, Retired General Muhammadi Buhari was almost assassinated in the bombing that led to the death of over 90 Nigerians. Underlining the assassination-attempt on the Former Head-of-State is not to say that his life is worth more than those who died, but pointing out the political implication of a Buhari-death for Nigeria, both locally and internationally. In fact with this, it is clear that anybody could be Boko Haram’s target. The dangerous sect has no particular target. That makes it more dangerous. It targets all and sundry. May we never walk on a day when the devil-in-person decided to visit an open market.

It cannot be over-said that Boko Haram is not a Nigerian problem, it is a problem for the world. The earlier the world attend to this menace practically, the better. For those who prophesied that Nigeria will disintegrate in 2015, their vision might not be far from becoming reality. I would not doubt the ability of this in-human sect to hijack an American-airline or -bound plane. That way, the road is finally leveled for the final butchering and pounding of the Nigerian state. I hope it never come that far.

Speculations are rife that Boko Haram is made-up of more components than the ordinary eyes can see. Apparently, the terror sect has (inter-)national links through which finance is channeled to fund its activities. Even a blind person knows that sophisticated bombs are not manufactured in Nigeria! Even the guns in used are definitely not made in Nigeria! To top it, the money spent by this menacing monster is not even fully-Nigerian. Directly, Northern Nigeria is on fire, but indirectly we are all in this boat, so should it sink, we sink together as a country! A word is enough for the wise.

Talking about the mourning countries, top on the list being Holland with over 100 casualties in the plane-crash. The falling of yet another Malaysian Airline Flight is another tragedy too bitter to swallow. Of course, it would have been just as bitter for any carrier to deal with, but a double tragedy within a space of 4 months is an occurrence anybody would never want. It is sad enough that the victims of the first crash are yet to be found and might probably never be found! Then came the next Job’s news from Ukraine. Word would fail anyone to comfort the world for these tragedies.

Comforting the victims families and loud call for sanctions against Russia and the Ukrainian separatists seem to be the logical reaction. Here comes a proverbial question: How does one comfort enough a (wo-)man whose mother was killed and eventually eaten-up completely by a lion?! This is another Yoruba proverb which brings home the inadequacy of any form of comfort that might be offered in these difficult and trying times for the world. One can only hope that time would heal the wounds. In a time like this, our emotion must not be allowed to control our (re-)actions. So far so good, politicians and diplomats alike have shown restraint in compounding already complex problems. While the war in Ukraine continues, the Russians and other involved seem to be cooperative thus far in the inquiry and investigation into what actually went wrong with the downed civilian plane. This is a step in the right direction; another step in comforting the bereaved. We await the outcome.

On a final note, rounding-up on a positive note can be very comforting for readers and the world at large. As I posited already, it is not all bad news. The present time is not the worst-troubled since human existence. In fact, the present world inhabitants have it far better than their predecessors. Our constant quest for peace confirms this truth. Even amidst raging conflicts and wars on all fronts, the calls for peace could not have been more deafening than now. Calls and rallies for an end to the Gaza War are being held in many places around the world. Even Russia want peace in Ukraine, even if under its own terms and conditions. The Americans and their allies in the West want peace too. Israel and even Hamas talk of peace, so far their conditions are met, partly or fully. Recently, the leader of the movement for the actualization of an Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was caught on video with an expensive wristwatch from the Western world to adorn his outfit! Various internet and news platform had a good laugh. Looking at it from another viewpoint, that part of his attire is an indication that he might not be an impossible task to win over to the side of peace after all.

While accepting that the current state of the world is real disturbing, I believe that the constant hope/possibility for (quicker) resolutions on many fronts where these conflicts are being carried-out is one unique achievement of present times. That way, it confirms the present civilization/world is convinced that there cannot be a better alternative to a peaceful co-existence with and among each other. That is the better angels of our nature!

The Strongest Economy in Africa

Mr Abiola Oladimeji is a scholar resident in Germany and guest-blogs for www.ahjotnaija.wordpress.com

Mr Abiola Oladimeji is a scholar resident in Germany and guest-blogs for http://www.ahjotnaija.wordpress.com

The Federal Government and some Nigerians, who regard any critic of President Goodluck Jonathan’s (GEJ) administration as being sponsored by the opposition, argue that the announcement of Nigeria as the biggest economy in Africa is something to celebrate. I, like tens of millions of Nigerians refuse to be fooled with these new figures. The masses did not and will not benefit anything from this abracadabra economics!

However, some blind optimists describe those who refused to be fooled as pessimists and instrument of the opposition. They did not stop there: they refer to us as tribalists among other derogartory names to bring home their point. I do not take such people serious, because they always leave the substance and chase shadows. In fact, I see them as the tribalists and instruments of the ruling party, because they always emphasise that the President is from a particular ethnic group and defend the policies of GEJ, as if they were cabinet ministers. I care less where a president or a political/public office holder comes from, so far (s)he does the job very well.

These blind optimists keep repeating a sentence like a litany, namely this: “the new figures will attract foreign investors to Nigeria!” I laugh at them. I ponder on what the problem is: is it that these people are (1) so gullible, (2) cannot think or (3) do they even believe that prayers without work and saying nice things about Nigeria is the panacea to our problems? Beyond this litany, they put forward other arguments.

Firstly, the foreign-investor-attraction-argument is lame. Nigeria has crude oil and these foreign investors do not have oil in their countries. Let me ask this very rudely, probably that will awaken these optimists from their slumber: what the hell can the foreign investors do, that we cannot do for ourselves? Foreign investors are not philanthropists! They will not solve a percentage of our problems, it is our duty. If someone has the temerity to put up such arguments and many people truly believe that crap, then we should declare a state of emergency!

I am happy to present to the Jonathanians (die-hard supporters of President Jonathan), that Tobias Zick wrote a commentary on this same topic in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Thursday/Friday 17./18. April 2014 Nr. 90 page 4. Sueddeutsche Zeitung is the largest German subscription daily newspaper and has a relatively high circulation outside Germany. We should remember that Germany has the strongest economy in Europe and fourth in the world, thus German investors are also expected to rush down to Nigeria and start investing. I will quote and translate some lines from his article, in which he presents the growth of the Nigerian economy to German audience as well as Western readers. Whether the view of Tobias Zick is right or wrong is not my preoccupation. What he presented is my key/singular interest.

I will start with this: ‘’…man habe Südafrika als stärkste Volkswirtschaft des Kontinents überholt…’’. Tobias uses the reported speech in that sentence with his choice of the verb form ,,habe‘‘. This is what that is meant to pass across: he does not want to state if he believes in those figures or not! He continues: ‘’…doch die Kontraste zwischen den Jubel- und Schreckensmeldungen der vergangenen Tage deuten, dass etwas tief im Inneren des Systems faul ist…’’. Tobias reported earlier about the Nyanya bombing and he compares the celebration of the new figures with that suicide attack. He submits that something is wrong with the Nigerian system. He goes further‚ ‘‘…ein starkes Wirtschaftswachstum mit Zahlen, von denen Europa kaum mehr zu träumen wagt…’’. Tobias describes the whole declaration as an economic growth based on figures. Europe would hardly dare to believe such anymore.

My emphasis goes on two words here: Europe and anymore. The thesis statement goes thus: o ye gullible Nigerians and blind optimists, Europe does not believe those cool stories anymore. I have left the government officials out, because they should know better, that the world does not believe them!

He ends his commentary with a note of warning to investors: ,,wem Afrika am Herzen liegt, für den sind die reinen Wachstumszahlen nur ein bestenfalls sehr oberflächlicher Indikator‘‘. He states that the statistical economical growth can best be described as superficial indicators. Now that we have felt the pulse of one of the opinion leaders from the West, I expect the die-hards and the sycophants to bring other arguments.

One does not even need any foreign comment in order to know that the pronouncement of Nigeria as the biggest economy in Nigeria is meant to serve as propaganda rather than portraying the true situation of Nigeria. I chose to use Tobias’s commentary, because it is targeted at the foreign investor that President Jonathan ostensibly intends to lure to Nigeria. Germany has the strongest economy in Europe and the German government does not need to broadcast these figures, once you find yourself in Germany, you will know that Germany has the strongest economy in Europe.

Let me end this piece with a comic relief. I swear Tobias Zick was sponsored by the opposition party, that is APC to damage the image of President Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan! That would be a likely statement from the boot licking sycophants of Mr. President.

Caribbean Self, African Selfie by Professor Pius Adesanmi

Prof. Pius Adesanmi dressed with a Baba-Awololwo-styled cap.

Prof. Pius Adesanmi dressed with a Baba-Awololwo-styled cap.

(Keynote lecture delivered at the inauguration of Connections Week of the Caribbean and African Association of the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, March 10, 2014)

I bring you warm greetings from Accra, Ghana, where I am currently based. I understand that winter has been particularly brutal this year. You could use some of the warmth I brought from Africa in my hand luggage. I am told by the organizers of this event – to whom I owe immense debts of gratitude for inviting me to deliver this keynote lecture – that “loud and proud” is the theme of your Caribbean-Africa Connections week this year. In other words, the Caribbean and African Association of the University of British Columbia has decided to scream the cultures of Africa and the Caribbean from the rooftops this week. You want to proudly highlight what connects Africa and the Caribbean in the arena of culture – and in defiance of the Atlantic Ocean. You want to inscribe your so-called otherness loudly and proudly on this beautiful campus of UBC. When I thought about your theme on receiving the invitation for this lecture, it evoked a sense of drama. How do you proclaim Caribbean and African connections “loud and proud” without being dramatic? I have therefore taken the unusual route of plotting this lecture as a one act play in five scenes. At any rate, on my way here from Accra, I did get into some drama in London…

ACT ONE, SCENE ONE

Date: March 6, 2014. Location: Terminal Three, London Heathrow airport. Mission: awaiting an Air Canada connecting flight to Ottawa en route Vancouver for this lecture. I was coming from back to back keynote lectures in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Accra, and Lagos. Although I was jetlagged and tired, I already had a draft of this lecture in the bag. Nevertheless, there was something I wasn’t quite satisfied about. I was trying to look at the Caribbean-African thing beyond the routine of memory. Must the ties that bind always be about memory? I wasn’t sure that what I had in the first draft had satisfactorily answered that question. I had seven hours to kill at Heathrow. I decided to shell out sixty pounds to rent a room and shower cubicle for three hours in one of the “capitalist” lounges of the airport. I needed that space and time to continue my reflection on what lies – or what ought to lie – beyond the horizon of memory-making and memory-reliving whenever Africa and the Caribbean actuate a handshake across the Atlantic.

In essence, I did not need anything or anybody to remind me of how memory ties the Caribbean and other parts of the black Diaspora to Africa. I wanted to move conceptually beyond that paradigm. As I moved wearily through the familiar mass of fatigued bodies dragging a cornucopia of hand luggage through the malls of Heathrow, making my way to the F Lounge, I bumped into just the one thing I wanted to avoid: memory. It came in the exact body shape, height, skin tone, facial features, and even dressing style of Professor Ato Quayson. I am sure you all know Professor Quayson? If you don’t know him, you have a very urgent problem that only google can help you resolve.

In the engaging business of theorizing Africa and her diaspora in academe, Professor Quayson has been one of my formidable mentors in the last decade and a half. I had not seen him since the African Literature Association’s meeting in Dallas in 2012. I’d been to his University of Toronto base to deliver lectures on occasion but he’d always been out of town. And there he was before me, like an apparition, in a crowded airport lounge in London. I screamed and grabbed him in a hug that certainly wasn’t a bear hug. Loads of back patting. Deft feet movement and shuffling that you could call some kind of esoteric dance. Strings of jazzed up sentences delivered in a mishmash of English, Pidgin, and West African slang intrusions. These happened in seconds.

In other words, I was performing, right there in the open in London, an unscripted and impromptu reunion ritual which I somehow expected Ato Quayson or any other African brother to connect with and respond to appropriately. “I’m not Ato”, screamed the bemused figure in my arms, struggling to set himself free from my black hug while laughing in bemused acknowledgement of the accompanying semi-dance rituals. Remember, all this was happening within seconds, a succession of quick-paced actions and events. I realized to my utter embarrassment that I had grabbed the wrong man! The guy I grabbed and held in such a warm embrace was not Ato Quayson, just his Siamese look-alike!

I was going to start apologizing profusely when my “victim”, very friendly but obviously relieved to be released from my grip, assured me that no apology was necessary. In fact, he was very intrigued by my enactments of recognition and the effusive ritual of warmth I enacted when I thought he was Ato Quayson. According to him, everything about that instinctive, unplanned, impromptu but ritualized performance was also native to him. He would have done exactly the same thing in my shoes, he reassured me.

“And where are you from?” I asked. “Trinidad”, came his swift response. At this point, ladies and gentlemen, I knew I had to offer the brother a beer. I mean, here was my Nigerian self thinking it was engaging Ato Quayson’s Ghanaian self in ritualized modes of African warmth and connection only for those cultural enactments to be claimed by a Trinidadian also seeing himself, his people, his culture, his story, and his memory in those moves. On my way to an airport lounge to think beyond culture and memory in terms of how best to reconceptualize African and Caribbean modes of engagement, culture and memory beckon, saying, “Ogbeni Pius, we’re not done yet!”

ACT ONE, SCENE TWO

Maybe I should have known that memory and culture wouldn’t lend themselves to the easy glossing over I was going to do at that airport lounge before I received a Trinidadian jolt of reality. After all, another place, another time, memory and culture had served me notice of their power of persistence in any evocation of the linkages between the Caribbean and Africa. That other place is none other than this lovely city of Vancouver in this beautiful Canadian province of British Columbia. That other time was the 1990s when I pursued my doctoral degree right here in this very University.

padesanmi_large-carleton-uBack in those hectic days of doctoral work, some of us needed the occasional escape from the cast of French poststructuralist thinkers who, in the hands of North American academics, had turned postcolonial and postmodernist theory into an obscurantist terror machine. In a good week, your migraine was limited to struggling to blend the impenetrable prose of Judith Butler, Gayatri Spivak, and Homi Bhabha into a deconstructive paradigm for the novels and cultures of Africa and the Caribbean. In a bad week, you had to add Jacques Lacan, Louis Althusser, Michel Foucault, Jean Baudrillard, Jacques Derrida, Julia Kristeva, Helene Cixous, Luce Irigaray and so many other usual and unusual French suspects to that mix.

To reinforce that overdose of high theory, you were required on occasion to rent a few names from the Frankfurt school of theory. You completed this theoretical cocktail, which left African and Caribbean novels struggling for oxygen, with Antonio Gramsci and a necessary throwback at Karl Marx. In preparing one’s theoretical paradigm for African and Caribbean fiction, one often felt like Getafix the druid preparing the magic potion for Asterix and Obelix. We threw so many names into the pot of that theoretical magic potion. Trust me, ladies and gentlemen, when you have spent a week trying to foist Foucault’s power/knowledge combo on Chinua Achebe and Mariama Ba or attempting a Derridean deconstruction of Edwige Danticat and Patrick Chamoiseau via différance-speak, you needed to unwind desperately. Ah, the good old days of graduate school!

For those of us in the African and Caribbean communities, unwinding twice a week happened ritually in one watering hole: the Anza Club, close to Main and Broadway here in Vancouver. That night club was not just the place where we went to booze and do all the wild and unmentionable things that students do in their riotous twenties, just before other realities of life set in, it was also for us some sort of pilgrimage to a location of culture and memory. The Anza was the only night club in Vancouver at the time dedicated to African and Caribbean music. We went there to swing to reggae, calypso, zouk, soukouss, makossa, and soca. We went there to subject our waists to rhythms of high life, afrobeat, juju, and the kora and balafon offerings of the sub-Saharan African sahel.

Whatever we danced to, the cut was in how we all danced and what we all recognized. Recognition of source and of origins. When the Caribbean students danced, we, their African cousins, would marvel in recognition of rhythms, styles, and movements that took us all the way back to our respective villages in Africa. And when we, Africans, danced, our Caribbean folks remembered. They just remembered. Like the Trinidadian reacting to my reunion rituals at Heathrow, Caribbean students of my day at UBC watched us, Africans, dance at the Anza club and remembered their respective homes in the black Atlantic. “Ah, we have this dance in Saint Lucia!”, you would hear somebody exclaim if I was enacting variations on the “elele kure” shoulder dance of the Okun people in Kogi state, Nigeria.

Whether it’s in the passenger mall of an international airport or on the dance floor of a Vancouver night club, the Africa-Caribbean nexus, spelt out in terms of encounters between continental Africans and their cousins in the Black Atlantic, has spawned imaginaries of the self rooted in memory and culture since the historical moment of separation. If you are from the continent, you frame narratives of source-culturehood around these issues. If you belong in the black diaspora, you weave imaginaries of cultural survivorhood around the same issues. What lived, what survived, and how you produced newness from the old become, for you, the loom of identity-making in the present. But, mostly, you remember in order to re-member.

ACT ONE, SCENE THREE

The literature and discourses of both sides are rich in constructions of the self rooted in the politics and memory of remembering. For the Caribbean self, return narratives are crucial to the architecture of remembering and re-membering. The business of remembering and re-membering sometimes involves, among other gestures of reconnection, symbolic voyages to Africa to visit the sites of memory. Those voyages to the Atlantic slave coast of Africa, those emotional narratives about returnee sons and daughters breaking down in tears in Gorée, Elmina, Cape Coast, and Badagry, are all part of a multilayered ritual of reconnection. For the Caribbean self and other black diasporic selves, the return narrative, especially its 20th century enactments, was one way of trying to answer the query in Countee Cullen’s famous poem, “Heritage”. The poem speaks for itself and we need not remind ourselves more than its first stanza here:

What is Africa to me:

Copper sun or scarlet sea,

Jungle star or jungle track,

Strong bronzed men, or regal black

Women from whose loins I sprang

When the birds of Eden sang?

One three centuries removed

From the scenes his fathers loved,

Spicy grove, cinnamon tree,

What is Africa to me?

Not all return narratives romanticize Africa like Countee Cullen and our friends in the Negritude movement did. Some, like Henry Louis Gates, belong in the dirty linen school of return narratives. They return to Africa to see the faces of the descendants of the greedy ancestors who sold them to slavery. Their problem is not with the white slaver but with my ancestors who sold their ancestors. One model of return narratives romanticizes Africa and demands reparations from the descendants of the white slaver, another criminalizes Africa and demands an apology from me for the sins of my ancestors who sold their ancestors. However, both models meet at the crossroads of meaning. They share a desire to make Africa mean. The question thus arises: what exactly feeds the impulse of these return narratives on the part of the black Diaspora and their modes of actuation? Why were return narratives so crucial to the making of the Caribbean self in the 20th century?

ACT ONE, SCENE FOUR

The answers are myriad and complex but I think we should focus here on one possible reason why the 20th century offered us the return narrative as one of the major routes to identity-making by the Caribbean self. Despite disagreements on modes of engaging the continent as source-culture – were we stolen by white slavers or were we sold by our heartless African cousins? – there can be no denying the fact that, before the mourning after independence set in, the 20th century was the moment of Africa’s heroism and African heroism. It was the century which saw Africa successfully challenge, undermine, and overcome some five hundred years of truth claims by modernity; five hundred years of placing a question mark on the humanity of Africans and black people elsewhere. It was the century of political and cultural nationalism, of decolonization, of the anti-apartheid struggle, of coming into peoplehood, of coming into postcolonial statehood.

Indeed, the 20th century was an extremely auspicious time for black people all over the world to plug into this African spectre of global heroism. Your source-culture was heroic. What is more, the making of this grand narrative of heroism – that is, the challenge to and dismantling of colonialism – was not an isolated enterprise undertaken by continental Africans behind the back of their cousins in the black Diaspora. In fact, the intellectual, cultural, and political bases of these forms of African heroism were mostly born in the Diaspora and devolved from an organic collaboration between Africa’s emergent political, nationalist, and intellectual class and their counterparts from the black Diaspora.

Pan-Africanism and Negritude are two good examples of the collective contributions of continental Africans and the Black Diaspora to the making of Africa’s 20th century anti-imperialist heroism. A great deal of the intellectual energy that later went into African nationalism was honed in London and Paris in collaborations between the nascent African nationalist class and their counterparts from the Caribbean and black America. So formidable and far-reaching were these collaborations and joint efforts that two of the most famous theorizers and chroniclers of Africa’s 20th century heroism were from the black Diaspora. I am thinking here of the Frantz Fanon of The Wretched of the Earth and the Walter Rodney of How Europe Underdeveloped Africa.

If the pervading sense of having participated in the heroic self-recovery effort of the mother continent was a contributory factor to the flourishing of the return narrative, the principal mode of African heroism in the 20th century greatly enhanced it. The struggle for cultural and political freedom yielded the persona of the nationalist-statesman as a towering African hero. He was that colourful and charismatic character, that brilliant and powerful orator who became a transcendental African moral and ethical figure (before tragically becoming other unmentionable things in a good number of cases). The magic of this figure made association with Africa as home, memory, and source-culture very appealing to the continent’s sons and daughters in the Diaspora.

Think of the magnetic charisma of Kwame Nkrumah and how many Diasporic Africans made their first pilgrimage to Ghana largely or partly because of him – the Ghanaian trajectory of W.E.B du Bois can hardly be discussed outside of the politics, appeal, and charisma of Kwame Nkrumah. Think of the beehive of black diaspora activism that was the Conakry of Sekou Toure. Stokely Carmichael and Harry Belafonte stoked the fires of black cultural and musical internationalism with Mariam Makeba and Hugh Masekela when they were all in Conakry. Think of Leopold Sedar Senghor, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Patrice Lumumba and so many others in their league whose leadership and praxis of heroism made Africa such an appealing proposition to her children in the Diaspora in the 20th century.

This model of African heroism, I believe, found its culmination in the praxis and brand that was Madiba Nelson Mandela. This global icon made return narratives very compelling and irresistible for the black Diasporic self. Ladies and gentlemen, please don’t tell me that you do not know that Oprah Winfrey’s emergency discovery of her Zulu ancestry back in 2006 had a great deal to do with the Mandela magic and appeal. Ms. Winfrey was not alone. We need not run through the list of African American celebrities who discovered their South African ancestry because of Nelson Mandela.

If you look at things closely, the discovery of African ancestry tended to move to wherever the star of a great, transcendental African nationalist hero and statesman was shining. All roads of ancestry discovery once led to Accra before the fall of Kwame Nkrumah; then the roads made a detour and led to Conakry before Sekou Toure became what he became; then the roads migrated to South Africa because of Madiba. If, tomorrow, Nigeria gets her act together and produces a towering global leader of impeccable ethical stock, I wager that many Diasporans will discover their Yoruba, Igbo, or Hausa-Fulani ancestry.

ACT ONE, SCENE FIVE

The passing of Madiba Nelson Mandela to a glorious African ancestorhood has a special significance for our purposes here today. Mandela’s death effectively signals the end of the era of the modes of personal, transcendental nationalist heroism and statesmanship which his generation had held out to Africa and the black Diasporic world. His exit effectively closes the era of those who gave Africa and the black world such affirmative praxes as “African personality”, “black pride”, cultural nationalism, and political nationalism. These were the people who were so instrumental in providing the justification for the Caribbean self to seek psychic and cultural anchorage in a matricial idea of 20th century African heroism. When Countee Cullen and 20th Century black Diasporans asked, “what is Africa to me?”, Africa’s nationalists and statesmen and women provided answers in their words and actions, especially during the era of the anti-colonial struggle. You saw Kwame Nkrumah and Julius Nyerere and you had a pretty good idea of what Africa was to you.

But Mandela’s death also came on the cusp of a very significant moment for Africa and the rest of the world. Mandela made his exit at a time when what has been described as “the selfie generation” was taking over the commanding heights of global culture through the formidable power of social media. Charles Blow of the New York Times has appropriately defined the selfie generation as folks between the ages of eighteen and thirty-three. In other words, the selfie generation comprises young people. I am assuming that the members of the Caribbean and African Association of the University of British Columbia who invited me here to deliver this lecture today are all generation selfie. Ladies and gentlemen, is this true? Ok, Mr. Blow asserts, also correctly, that one defining characteristic of the selfie generation is that you are the first generation that has not had to adapt to the internet, to social media and allied technologies. In essence, you are citizens of the internet by birth. You are the original owners of what I suggest we call ‘appsland.’

If you are tempted to think that Mr. Blow is stretching things a bit by saying that members of the selfie generation are the only authentic natives of the internet who have not had to adapt to anything, just think of what happens to you when you are not a member of that generation and you try to do things like them without first learning the rules of engagement. Let’s say your name is Barack Obama. You go and take a selfie with the beautiful Prime Minister of a European country and you get into a load of trouble.

But taking selfies is not all they do in the selfie generation. Members of the generation are driving global culture and agendas in significant new ways. They are asking questions and raising issues. With them, the revolution is televised live in your living room. You saw them in Tunisia, Egypt, and the rest of the Arab world. You saw them in Turkey and Brazil. You saw them all over the streets of America in the Occupy Movement. You saw them live in Ukraine during the orange revolution and more recently. I live in Ottawa. I see them carrying placards in front of Parliament all the time. I saw them in my own country in Occupy Nigeria. One foolish aide of the Nigerian President who has tragically fallen into the wrong column of history even described them as “the collective children of anger.” All over the world, the selfie generation is the new cool.

I think it is unfortunate that the rise of this generation coincides with the collapse of that particular mode heroism that is tied to the praxis of genuine nationalists and statesmen and women in Africa. What is Africa to me? For the Caribbean self in the 20th century, that question was answered significantly by the quality of leadership that the continent had to offer especially in the context of political nationalism and the struggle for freedom. If the selfie generation in the Caribbean and elsewhere in the black Diaspora asked the same question today – what is Africa to me? – what sort of answer would they get? Just what is Africa offering them?

This is a question that has detained me since I delivered the keynote lecture at the International Leadership Platform Conference of the University of Johannesburg and the Africa Institute of South Africa a few weeks ago. Among the many issues raised by the brilliant and generous discussant of my lecture, Professor Peter Vale of the University of Johannesburg, was the question of leadership and role modelship for the youth of Africa after the demise of the continent’s nationalist and statesmen and women generation symbolized by the passing of Mandela. “Where are the leaders and role models that Africa is offering these young people?”, Professor Vale had queried. We kept citing dead African statesmen and women…

As a teacher in the classrooms of North America, I encounter variations on this question all the time from Nigerian students of the selfie generation. These are undergraduate kids born in Canada or the United States. They’ve never been home. When they pronounce their Yoruba or Igbo or Ijaw or Edo names, those names end up looking like mangled victims of a terrorist attack. They are Nigerian kids of the new Diaspora. And they stop you after class and ask: “Professor, tell me, why should I have a stake in Nigeria? Why should I visit Nigeria? What’s in Nigeria for me?” There are selfie generation kids from the fifty-three other countries in Africa torturing their Professors in Canada and the United States with such questions. There are African American and Caribbean kids of the selfie generation asking these questions. Whether they are Africa kids of the old or new Black Diaspora, the selfie generation is not asking – what is Africa to me? – for that is so old school, so Countee Cullen and his generation. Rather, these kids are now asking: what’s in Africa for me?

In essence, the selfie generation of the old and the new African Diaspora asks questions that cannot be answered easily. The nationalist, the statesman, the orator, the charismatic leader, the philosopher king – all that ended with Nelson Mandela. Today, the leadership landscape in Africa is so abysmal that you dare not tell the selfie generation to look up to the current crop of heads of state and heads of government across Africa as credible role models and heroes. To the Caribbean and black Diaspora self, Africa is currently offering a selfie of abysmal, uninspiring, and disgraceful leadership.

You only need to look at the current leadership of the two major states in Africa – Nigeria and South Africa – to appreciate the full extent of the tragedy. In South Africa, the current President is a certified clown, a huge joke. In Nigeria, aides of the current President consider an extraordinary achievement the rare moments in which he successfully places one incoherent sentence after another incoherent sentence in scripted or unscripted speeches. He is a dour, uninspiring, and corruption-friendly man.

Elsewhere, the news is not any better. Omar Bashir of Sudan and Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya are customers of the International Court of Justice; Faure Gnassingbe of Togo and Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon are scions of Presidents for life who may continue that continental tradition; Yayi Boni of Benin and Alassane Ouattara of Cote-d’Ivoire are offsprings of the financial philosophy of Bretton Woods. And we have not even mentioned the Paul Biyas, the Teodoro Obiangs, and the Blaise Compaores of Africa. There is just no leadership worthy of our attention at the moment in Africa. Among the current crop of African Heads of State, I’m afraid there are no transcendental statesmen and role models worthy of recommendation to the youth of Africa and the black Diaspora as worthy role models. Luckily, there are stateswomen in the ranks but their inspirational stories are the rare exception and not the rule.

In essence, in the absence of the Mandelas, Nkrumahs, Senghors, and Nyereres of this world, the selfie generation in Africa and the black diaspora is the first generation to stand in real danger of having to accept Justin Bieber, Kim Kardashian, and even George Zimmerman as heroes as Africa fails to offer them credible heroes and genuine role models in the public sphere. The selfie generation is growing up in a celebrity culture powered by American TV. Yesterday, as I prepared to fly here from Ottawa, George Zimmerman was on CNN signing autographs at a gun show somewhere in America. Occasionally, Africa has the good fortune of being able to ward off the danger posed to the selfie generation of Africa and the Caribbean by the globalized reckless celebrity culture of America. Africa tells those kids: don’t look at George Zimmerman, look at Lupita Nyong’o. But, like the female Presidents, these luminous examples don’t come in nearly enough numbers.

What’s in Africa for me? Perhaps the search for an answer is what has led Africans of the new Diaspora in the selfie generation (born in Europe and North America post-1980s) to Afropolitanism, the new cultural fad on the block. This is not the place for me to go into the debate on Afropolitanism. Google it. Beyond Achille Mbembe’s philosophic-discursive take on Afropolitanism, pay attention to what Taiye Selasie and her followers say it is. Pay attention to why Binyavanga Wainaina says he isn’t an Afropolitan. That is your google assignment.

What is of interest to me here is that Afropolitanism seems to be the last refuge of a new African Diasporan selfie generation in search of ways to log on to a continent that is offering very sparse cultural wifi access in terms of credible role models in the public sphere. But at least they’ve got Afropolitanism, those selfies of the new African Diaspora. What about the kids of the old Diaspora in black America and the Caribbean who cannot describe themselves as Afropolitans and who do not belong in the generation of those going to weep at doors of no return in Cape Coast, Goree, and Badagry? What’s in Africa for them?

Perhaps they and their Afropolitan peers ought to look in the direction of the collective cultural heroism of their peers in Africa. Out of nothing, their peers in Africa invented and developed Nollywood into the world’s second largest movie industry. Nollywood to a great extent has broken the monopoly of Western modes of representing Africa for the black diaspora. And out of Ghana, Africa and the black Diaspora is swaying to the rhythm of Azonto. Transcendental nationalism heroism and statesmanship of the Mandela type may be dead in Africa, Nollywood and Azonto, with all their warts, are powerful selfies of cultural heroism that Africa is offering the world as a window into the regenerative power of what Kwame Nkrumah once famously referred to as “the African genius”. The genius of the selfie generation is also taking over the African street and making very loud statements. I know that the Anza nightclub is still open in Vancouver. I know that it is still the place where Africa goes to meet the Caribbean on the dance floor twice a week. Perhaps, after listening to this lecture, some of you are going to make your way there this weekend to sway your hips to Azonto. I expect to see your selfies on Instagram!

I thank you for your time.

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