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The Royal Baby And The Rest Of Us – Dele Momodu

Fellow Nigerians, many of our citizens missed some of the great lessons to be learnt from the circumstances surrounding the birth of Prince George in London earlier this week. While the whole world was agog with the news, ours was the typical, and so what, fashion. A friend was so infuriated about the reticent Nigerian attitude that an argument soon ensued between us. Let me quickly warn that this guy is practically a white man in Black skin. We have had this running battle for years and all efforts to change his theory that ours is an accursed race have failed.

He returned to his old familiar terrain this week as the news of the Royal birth hit the airwaves like thunderbolt. He had forewarned me early last week, that the Black people lacked passion for such things, as we drove past the Paddington station and saw the way the world media had camped outside the proposed birthplace, some for over two weeks, like they were awaiting the second coming of Christ. My friend had pointed in their direction, and asked me rhetorically: “Please tell me, how many Blacks can you see among those reporters?” I deliberately kept mute so as not to ignite a debate I knew will not end as easily as it started.

“I’ve told you repeatedly that the Blackman can never comprehend how to turn the simple things of life into objects of substance,” he quipped. I knew he was in the mood to propound and possibly expand his usual notion and philosophy of the superiority of one race over another and I wasn’t prepared for his always volatile lecture. But he refused to give up as he fired more salvos from his throat with every ounce of energy in him. “The Black race can’t appreciate good things!” he concluded. At this stage, I could no longer take his tirades. “Our problems are different from that of the Whites,” I said in a Professorial voice. He did not let me finish before he pounced on me again, like a wounded lion:

“What do you mean? All of mankind went through similar problems at different stages of their evolution but they didn’t lament forever without doing something about their terrible condition. See all those journalists working under this heat-wave to await the birth of a child, they are not stupid. The hype around this child is creating employment and job opportunities but you blind people cannot see it. Go and check how much the monarchy is attracting to Great Britain every year. This feverish hype is what keeps it alive. Just imagine all those Americans and how many copies their papers would sell and the viewership on television. They are even paying money to anyone who can describe or get pictures of the Lindo wing at St. Mary’s Hospital in Paddington. They are cleverly clinging to all information available while you guys continue to wallow in your perpetual ignorance…” I stopped him there.

“Would you believe if I tell you I had all my children in that very St. Mary’s Hospital and in the same Lindo’s wing even as a refugee on the run from the military government in Nigeria?” I said matter-of-factly. My friend got even angrier. “Don’t tell me you didn’t take the pictures?” he asked as if my life would ever depend on it. I told him I didn’t. He then lectured me on a subject that is not very popular in Nigeria – History. “That is serious history you have wasted. Just imagine how many news channels would be happy to get those historic pictures from you now. If you were White, you would have taken pictures of the whole place inside out. Now you have to wait for your next life if ever you’re fortunate to go near the place.” He was beginning to sound like an outsider weeping louder than the bereaved. He was furious throughout the rest of our journey home but I wasn’t bothered a bit. When he had calmed down, I narrated the ordeal that made it impossible for me to record my experience for posterity.

We were deeply in the heat of the June 12 crisis when my first child was born. I could not travel at the time. The second was born while we were in exile and on the night I was busy producing the third issue of Ovation and we almost had the baby in a car. At the hospital, I had to stay with the first who was not yet two at the time. By the time we had the third, I had two kids to look after at the hospital. The last baby was particularly difficult as my wife was in labour for over 24 hours and the doctor even told us to prepare for the caesarean section until a Ghanaian midwife appeared miraculously and started speaking in tongues and the baby was delivered. How would I have thought of a camera in the middle of all manner of challenges? The story of my life is a stuff of fiction which must be told in several books for those who think life has been rosy. Even my friend didn’t know this side of me. But he still felt my journalistic instinct should have been sharper despite the odds.

At any rate, I really couldn’t understand what he was fussing about. Nigerians would never pay a kobo extra on those pictures if ever published. Celebrities are still too few and far between in Africa. You can count the authentic ones on your fingertips. We’ve had to create and manage a new class of newsmakers. Unfortunately, most of the so-called high-fliers are usually and almost all those in government circles and power blocks plus their cronies and associates. Most of them are purportedly hated with passion by the ordinary man on the streets who sees every successful man as the source of his misery. The youths who have become substantially frustrated and disillusioned cannot even differentiate or discriminate between the thieving class and members of the privilegentsia. They portray or pretend to resent and begrudge lives of opulence and ostentation while indeed most are searching for their own opportunity to join that elite class they attack with such religious fervour. I was soliloquising…

I knew the discussion won’t end there. The birth of Prince George was bound to take us back, and it did. My friend had promised to return to Twitter, after a long absence, when the baby is born. I had also promised to partake in the celebration of the new-born in the traditional giddiness of Europeans. I returned to Africa while he remained in London. Of course, my friend alerted me as soon as the news broke. He tweeted as he had promised and I followed soon. My friend would later call fuming and vibrating on the phone.

“What did I tell you about the Black people? he started. I asked what the matter was this time. “Haven’t you seen some guys on Twitter saying you were showing off by stating that your children were born in the same St. Mary’s Paddington? When did Nigeria become a country where a writer can’t recount his personal experience as example to others?” he retorted. My response was simple “My job as a journalist is to report reality and chronicle events from my individualknowledge. I’m sure they thought I was showing off some wealth and affluence not knowing I was a common refugee from Nigeria at the time. My family was at the lowest ebb in the name of fighting for democracy and the British Government was graceful enough as to treating us like her own citizens. No African nation would have welcomed us with such warmth and provision.” And the lesson I wanted to draw from it was lost in the cacophony of those who wait to pounce on such opportunities.

In our days at Concord newspapers, Travelogue was one of my favourite columns. I relished the adventures of Michael Awoyinfa and Nnamdi Obasi as they transported us to places we never visited. We prayed to God to give us such dream possibilities in life. Till this day, I savour the exciting reports of CNN’s Richard Quest from one world capital to the other, aboard new jumbo jets, and so on. But in Nigeria of today, you may be accused of blabbing and grandstanding.

I told my friend we must remain trendsetters for others and especially for those willing to lift up themselves from the doldrums of poverty and oppression. We were much poorer in our time and knew the solution was in acting positively than blaming others for our woes. We marched in protest over smaller problems than what we face today. But the times have changed. We can now hide behind our cellular phones and all manner of gadgets to attack real and imaginary enemies. We must learn to tolerate them except where they are downright rude and vulgar. It is normal for people to vent their anger on those they can see. Our leaders are too isolated to be hit directly. They hardly read anything not to talk of going on social media. They live on another planet obviously.

Unfortunately, my friend and I are not on the same page over this matter. He reminded me of the psychology of the African he told me about many years back. It was one of those tantrums I had tried to obliterate from my memory. He had narrated the story of a Shakespearean tragedy staged before a White and a Black audience separately. He said there were scenes in which some members of the White audience actually wept. Now wait for this, when the same scenes were shown to our Black audience, most people actually laughed. The import of this is that the Blackman has the proclivity to treat important matters as a joke.

The gentleman was trying to corroborate and justify the racist comments of a controversial but prolific English author, George Alfred Henty (8 December 1832 – 16 November 1902) whose perception of the Black race was as dastardly as that of his fellow author, Joseph Conrad (3 December – 3 August 1924; originally Polish, JozefTeodorKonradKorzeniowski, but granted British nationality in 1886). Both authors had written at a period of immense prejudice against those they called the Negroes. I think of the two Henty’s book, By sheer Pluck: A Tale of the Ashanti War was more caustic and acerbic than Conrad’s Heart of Darkness but both explored the theme of civilisation and enlightenment versus savagery and backwardness.

Now read what Henty had to say about us: “They (negroes) are like children… They are always either laughing or quarrelling. They are good-natured and passionate, indolent, but will work hard for a time; clever up to a certain point, densely stupid beyond…” My narrator believes not much has changed since then; that in fact Africa remains the heart of darkness; that the leaders and their followers continue to live in fools’ paradise while pretending to be insulated from the rest of the world.

My friend wished Nigerians in particular would see that what makes the British society what it is that their leaders try to give human face to governance: that a Prince would be delivered in Paddington, not a particularly posh neighbourhood; that the leaders owe it a duty to tell the people as much detail as possible on even their private lives; that the Queen walks on the streets with cheering crowds around her; that a Prince William found it necessary to compensate the expectant journalists and face a barrage of cameras; that he drove his wife and new baby to Kensington palace, and so on, are important instructions to a modern society.

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Posted by on July 29, 2013 in Thoughts

 

10 signs you’re about to get fired

Firing an employee is something that no one looks forward to and it’s just as awkward for management as it is for you.

It’s May and what that means for me and others in the non-profit struggle, is that the fiscal year end is quickly approaching. Management will review budgets and see who’s worth keeping and who’s just costing them money. I work in a small office so when someone is let go it doesn’t go unnoticed. Once I became familiar with the signs, they were easy to see; like “neon construction sign” easy to see. Co-workers who were let go had seemed unhappy with their jobs and communicated with management less and less. The little conversation they did have wasn’t exactly personal and more and more there was major shade thrown over minor things like who didn’t change the toner. And we can’t forget the team meetings to address problems that everyone knew were actually meant for that one person with a pink slip headed their way.

Sometimes it really is nothing personal and with budget cuts there is nothing you can do to stop the inevitable. But other times you have to be honest with yourself and question if you’ve truly been performing to your full potential and if you’re even happy in the position anymore. It’s understandable that any job is better than no job in an unpredictable job market, but no employer wants someone who is simply showing up and you shouldn’t have to spend 40+ hours a week simply going through the motions.

Your job may be in rough waters, but you don’t have to be left without a paddle. Here are 10 signs that you may want to refresh that résumé:

1. Your position was created for you or labeled a “trial position.”
Beware of positions that never existed before your employment. Smaller companies and non-profits are big fans of employees who can easily transition between departments and know a little bit of everything, but it can become tricky when your responsibilities aren’t complimentary. I once had a co-worker whose job title grew longer and longer because she believed she could make herself stand out by doing a whole lot of everything. Management allowed her to take on a number of responsibilities to see if someone could successfully manage two very different positions at the same time. She took the shovel and quickly buried herself and burned herself out.

There’s a reason why someone is rarely an “Administrative Assistant/Office Manager/Grant Writer/Program Director.” Inevitably deadlines will conflict and instead of doing one job well, you’ll end up doing a lot of jobs incompetently. Trial positions are just that: an experiment. If management sees it’s not working, soon you won’t be either.

2. There is a high turnover in the position that pre-dates your employment.
Do your research on the history of your position and how it came to be vacant in the past. Do people usually get promoted from it, are they often fired or do they resign? If there is a high turnover rate in a position it could be because job duties aren’t designed in a way that makes sense for the company or because they are especially difficult or demanding. Is the position set up in a way that will sabotage even the best employees or is that particular manager difficult to work for? Sometimes it really isn’t your fault. It’s not that you weren’t a right fit for the position, but rather the position isn’t a right fit for the company.

3. You can’t clearly define what it is you do (and why only you can do it).
You’re at a networking event and after revealing with pride your fancy professional title, you’re hit with the obvious follow-up, “So what does a (insert fancy title) do?” If you can’t easily ramble off three major job responsibilities you might be in the danger zone. It’s one thing to do a little bit of everything or get in where you fit in when your workload is light. But if you don’t have major designated responsibilities and find yourself regularly looking for tasks and end up watering plants, color coding the Outlook calendar event or labeling the cabinets in the employee lounge you may not be as vital to the organization as you think.
If you’re not given an important project, create one. When I noticed my agency’s Facebook hadn’t been updated in over a year when I started, I designated myself our agency’s social networking coordinator and began updating it frequently. I set goals to get more followers and web traffic and it didn’t go unnoticed when management noticed how much visibility they gained.

4. Your PTO is approved a little too easily.
Damn, you forgot to request off for your niece’s graduation which unfortunately falls on the day of the annual fundraiser. When you bring your concerns to your supervisor they sign off on your PTO request, no questions asked. That was easy, right? Either your boss in still in her “I just got a man” glow or your absence doesn’t make much of a difference because soon you’ll have a whole lot more days off. Most management will want key employees at special events to at least show their face and represent even if they aren’t assigned any major tasks. If your company allows you to skip major events , it could be because you’re not needed or there’s no point in having someone network who won’t be able to access their work e-mail in a week.

5. You’re given very little responsibility or tasks.
On one hand you have management with major control issues who would rather do all of the work their way instead of delegating. On the other hand they may have lost faith in you to do a decent job. If you find that your boss has been picking up more of the slack and doing tasks that would have otherwise been assigned to you, don’t be afraid to ask why. Firing an employee is something that no one looks forward to and it’s just as awkward for management as it is for you. Sometimes it’s best to get things out in the open so you both can better prepare for you departure instead of awkwardly avoiding the pink elephant in the room.

6. When you’re headed to the team meeting, you’re told, “You can sit this one out.”
Could you imagine if the Heat told Lebron James he could sit the championship game out? Or if Kelly and Michelle told Beyoncé at the Superbowl, “It’s cool, Bey. We got this.” When you are a valued employee, companies take your opinions into consideration. You may not have any hiring power, but you’ll be asked what you thought about the spring interns. Even if you’re not the star player, if you’re making any kind of significant contribution your coach will need you in that huddle. If you’re sitting on the bench it’s because, sadly you’re not needed and well , “they got this.”

7. You notice a lot of conversations are happening behind closed doors.
Consider yourself lucky if you work for supervisors who keep the lines of communication open and update you about any issues within the company, even if they don’t pertain to you. When you have this type of relationship you can rest assured that when conversations start happening behind closed doors, management is discussing you and/or your co-workers. I once had a co-worker who was already on management’s hit list because she revealed way too much about her personal life. When she revealed she was 4 months pregnant by her less than stellar boyfriend (information which she openly revealed to management), more and more meetings were held down the hall as opposed to in the office. Next thing I knew when she went to deliver, an “agreement” was worked out so she could part ways with the company.

Closed doors don’t have to mean they’re working on your severance package, but prepare for some kind of big announcement, because it’s coming.

8. Management is increasingly encouraging job-sharing or instructs you to train someone on your responsibilities.
Raise your hand if you’ve been tricked into training your replacement. Take a note from Breaking Bad’s Heisenberg: They’re not asking you to train the new guy to hold it down because you put in a vacation request, it’s because they’re trying to take you out. I personally think it’s a poor practice and that if you are managing anything you should know how to do tasks that are below your pay grade instead of asking your subordinates to pass on the knowledge that you don’t have yourself. Otherwise, why not train the new hire yourself and allow your employee to leave with some dignity.

9. You do your job a little too well.
It’s no secret that for every great manager there is one who is power-hungry, insecure and doesn’t really want to bring out the best in their employees for fear of creating competition. A supervisor that is confident in his or her abilities is not worried about cultivating a mentee to grow into a skilled professional. If you’re making more of an impression on your colleagues than your supervisor and co-workers are looking to you for guidance, a disgruntled manager may find any minor slip-up to send you packing for “insubordination.”

10. Expenses are cut.
As I mentioned earlier, lay-offs are inevitable and even if your bosses are still faxing and filing while the Titanic sinks, you should keep an eye out for the iceberg. Have your Del Friscos lunches been reduced to Dominos? Does your manager’s blood pressure shoot up whenever you print out anything in color? Cutting expenses doesn’t mean that you’ll show up to see an eviction notice, but it may be a sign that management has money concerns. Before they start skimping on the big things, find little ways to do your part. Try not expensing your parking everyday when you live 10 minutes away and don’t write off the McDonald’s you had while on a conference call as a “corporate lunch.” It may seem like nothing, but those $9.00 value meals add up.

Source: YNaija

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2013 in Thoughts, True Life

 

Pres. Jonathan’s State of Emergency: An Opprobrious Political Shenanigan – by Femi Olabisi

President Jonathan’s declaration of State of Emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states in the troubled North-Eastern Nigeria brought to the fore the myriads of hydra-headed problems and compounding leadership tragedy that have defined our democracy. While it may bring succour to the people of the area, it may also compound their problems. In a normal situation, the people of these states should enjoy a new lease of life and security due to 24-hour protection by the military. But would they actually have that peace? What becomes of this hapless people if the military boys turn around to become their worst nightmare through abuse of power as witnessed in the past?

In a society where it is a common trend for the powerful to lord him/herself over the weak, there is every possibility that the people of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states would eventually be at the receiving end of military brutality.

Just last week, I witnessed a very sordid, barbaric and inhumane treatments meted out to some young Nigerians at the hand of two young military men. Due to a misunderstanding between a lady (probably a girlfriend to one of the military boys) and the owner of a mobile phone shop, two military boys in army camouflage mercilessly beat up of those in the shop and locked up the shop in broad daylight.

Surprisingly, the shop is located beside a Divisional Police Headquarters; the shop actually belongs to the police. With all the beating, commotions and dare-devilry brigandage of the two military boys the police did not intervene; they exercised a very nauseating ‘I don’t care” attitude while these boys carried-on with their shameless acts.

It was a national discourse a few years ago when a military top brass ordered that a young woman be beating up and strip naked in broad daylight by his men just because the young woman had the audacity to compete with his convoy on the street of Lagos. Nothing happened. Life went on. This is Nigeria.

The incidences above are just a microcosm of the larger society. I have in the last few months being in constant skirmishes with some overzealous military boys. This is due to the proximity of my house and office to them — I have been lucky and spared brutality due to existing camaraderie between some ‘ogas at the top’ and myself. That is what defines Nigeria. It is not new.

I do not think the people of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states would fare better. Farmers, fishermen, market men and women and other commoners in these states stand no chance.

President Jonathan ought to exhaust every option available to him before declaring a state of emergency. He told the whole nation some months ago that he knew Boko Haram sponsors and they were — and maybe still — in his government. Are these Boko Haram sponsors too big for the security agencies to arrest? Why subjecting the people in the area to additional hardships? Is there a political colouration to Boko Haram insurgency? Who is the President afraid of offending? These and many other pertinent questions require urgent answers. Political shenanigan at the expense of the masses is at best opprobrious.

It is equally germane that the President exercise tactfulness and define clear line of authority in handling the issue of state of emergency and heavy military presence in these states. Licensing the military to ‘do and undo’ as wont by the military without suspending civilian administration may not go down well in a nation where politicians are mini-gods.

Desirous as the state of emergency in Borno, Yola and Adamawa is, it should be devoid of political colouration. Allowing the governors of the three states to stay during the period may not bring the anticipated peace. They have been there for years and Boko Haram menace waxed stronger under their watch. I do not think they can be of any good at this moment. Now is the time to be pragmatic, and now is the time to do all that is necessary to give succour to the people whose lives and livelihood have been shattered.

Posterity would neither forget nor forgive President Jonathan if the peace, joy and unity of Nigeria and Nigerians are sacrificed just for political survival.

The writer is on Twitter: @Femiolas

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2013 in Politics, Thoughts

 

WHERE IS NIGERIA HEADED FOR? – by Japheth-Omojuwa

“We the youths in this country don’t know our rights,” said a 55-year-old member of the “Northern Elders Forum” of Nigeria’s National Youth Council. If you noticed any anomaly in the previous statement it is because there is an anomaly. A 55-year-old man, old enough to be a grandfather, was complaining about the rights of Nigerian youths with himself depicted as one of the youths. This anomaly has come to define Nigeria. Elders have refused to grow because of what they will eat, fathers have sold their birthright to people their children’s age. Where you have a President that is supposed to offer leadership, what we have in Nigeria is a President who prefers to stain himself in the mud, without shoes, just like he claimed to be when he was supposed to be growing up. Only Goodluck Jonathan did grow up in terms of age but if his obsession with mud fights is anything to go by, then it will not be out of place to wish him “Happy Children’s Day” because the only difference between Jonathan’s recent actions and those of an average child without parental care is just that the President has an office to decorate his own “childishness”. One must, however, respect the office of the President whatever you think of the current office holder.

The other day, the President’s spokesman, Dr. Reuben Abati, tweeted about how Jonathan was not interested in what happened in the Nigerian Governors’ Forum. I believed him as much as I believe my grandfather died a virgin. Even if I were still a child obsessed with playing with dirt and mud and with little cerebral development, it’d be taking too much liberty with one’s expertise at telling lies to think that one would believe everything that has defined the shame of the NGF was not the game plan of Aso Rock. 2015 will continue to define Nigeria politically, socially and economically going forward. I should add morally but the major players are without any known morals so that’d be out of place. I understand Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau State is an old man. I used to equate old age with wisdom but we learn everyday and I am only glad people like the elderly governor have shown that anyone can be part of a morally devalued gang where power is involved.

Bamanga Tukur is a great man. He finds his greatness in his ability to trade anything for anything. Sadly, people like the PDP boss seem to have no meaning for principles and respect for rule of law. While he battles within the PDP for control, he is also currently foisting a 40-year-old man on the Nigerian National Youth Council. If you think the NGF election has become a disgrace, the election of the youth council has only been less of a disgrace because everything about this organisation has been about the fact that it operates like a secret cult, shrouded in secrecy and lost to the stranglehold of the PDP and post-50-year-old men fleecing an organisation that ordinarily should represent the best of the Nigerian youths. Why would anyone blame these old men when Methuselahs like Tukur are actively involved in the same National Youth Council politics? So you see Tukur is a great man, he cares about Nigerian youths. For him doing everything to suppress the voice of the youth council as 2015 arrives will certainly not rank close to the evil that prevented our amiable President Jonathan from delivering his transformation speech at the African Union. Some people say “give thanks for the evil you do not see” and I bet some of the Africans forgot to be thankful for the missed opportunity.

But then, it takes a blind opposition to say Nigeria has not been transformed. The Jonathan era has been nothing short of transformation. He was reported to have spent N1.3tn to run his 2011 election campaign. This is hard to believe and I wouldn’t believe it if I were you too. What is not hard to deny though is the fact that Nigeria spent at least N1.7tn for fuel subsidy that same year for what used to average just about N400bn per year at periods of rising prices. You cannot claim the money was stolen. If it was stolen, why don’t we have anyone jailed for that despite at least proving that the money was stolen and even getting to finger several government ministries, departments and cronies of the government. The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, oversaw this looting, no, not that she watched as others stole our national wealth. She did not watch. Hard to imagine a clean woman like her being involved in a dirty thing like that. Did she not even say, “There is corruption in Nigeria” on one of the recent editions of CNN’s Richard Quest. Until the much-revered Satan declares “there is evil in the world,” it would be hard for one to believe there is evil let alone imagine Satan himself as the fulcrum of evil.
Every day, people keep asking this question: “Where are we going in Nigeria?” and I am always left to wonder what they mean. Did we not choose the disaster that has befallen us? Did we not prefer Jonathan to the PDP? And now that Jonathan’s PDP has thrown away PDP’s Amaechi, we can begin to understand that we don’t understand anything. The biggest evil that has befallen this nation is that it has become an abandoned child. It has been left in a drainage not to die but to live long enough to provide a certain level of meaning to youths like Tukur, clean people like the petroleum minister and agents of transformation like Jonathan. The baby will not die because the baby’s death will mean many deaths so they will do enough to keep the baby alive. But while these ones are at the helm, the baby will only just be alive.

So, where is Nigeria going? You really want to know? These are the best of times. Our rulers have always danced naked, only now the deregulation of the media has exposed their nakedness to some of us. Most of us remain in the dark. What do you think Nigerians who watch NTA Network News think about Nigeria’s realities? They see transformation, they see a New Nigeria, they see the best President Nigeria has ever had. You really think a lot of Nigerians feel your pain? They can’t. They are not part of Nigeria’s reality. Yes, they are dingily poor but if they see every day their country is being transformed, they can only be certain that the transformation train will get to them before 2015 and you can bet it will. They will get packs of noodles and some naira notes enough to move to the next polling station to repeat the cycle of disaster. So, where are we going in Nigeria? We are not yet going. We never left the shore. There is movement but we are still at mediocrity’s equilibrium.

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2013 in Politics, Thoughts

 

HEDONISM AND THE WEST (“OLOWO FI OWO RA IKU”) – by Femi Olabisi

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Olowo fi owo ra iku” (the affluent seeks death with his wealth).

The above Yoruba adage came to mind in my search for what defines the Britons, Americans and some other Western citizens.  With daily reports of kidnapping, killing and incarcerations one could not but wondered why they have never relented in their search for trouble in the name of holidaying, sightseeing and other pleasures that have become part and parcel of their lives.

News headlines seem incomplete without the mentioning of skirmishes of Westerners’ abduction in Pakistan or Afghanistan; arrests on real and phantom charges in Iran, North Korea or Venezuela; killing and kidnapping by terrorists in Sudan, Mali, Cameroun, Somalia, Nigeria, etc.  Yet, they seem oblivious to all these dangers and never waver in their search for good life in most odious places.

It is understandable that some of these Westerners go to these ‘volatile’ spots because of the nature of their job (soldiers, humanitarian workers, etc.), but it is unfathomable that some, without reasonable excuse, do endanger their lives by going to places where they are not wanted or where they would become easy target.  It may not be appropriate to say that these people do not have adequate knowledge of where they are going.  On the contrary, they are usually well acquainted with the places they intend to visit.  It is just unthinkable that one should deliberately endanger his/her life because of pleasure. 

It is obvious that these pleasure seekers cannot hide their identity when in hostile environment.  For one, the colour of their skin will make them conspicuous; and second, their lifestyles would negate that of natives – theirs would show opulence in the midst of abject poverty as common in most Third World countries.  One then wonder why they can’t go on vacations where there are relative piece.

If our world is one beset with transnational conspiracy and rivalry, division between powers that be and emerging powers and unrelenting devilish attempts to undo one another, then it becomes imperatives for pleasure seekers to know where they are wanted and where they are not.  I cannot see why an American would go to Iran or North Korea and/or why a Westerner would pack his bag and go to some impossible places where war, kidnapping and killing are rife.

Whether real or phantom, scores of foreigners have been kidnapped, arrested, jailed and/or killed in hostile countries.  On Jan 6, 2011 Haley Talayan was arrested in Iran for spying; three Americans, Shourd, Bauer and Fattal, were similarly arrested on July 31, 2009 by Iranian authorities at Iran/Iraq border where they claimed to be hiking (I don’t know why anybody would be hiking in one of the most dangerous places on earth, except if are actually spies). 

Venezuelan government last week announced the arrest of an American filmmaker Timothy Tracy. He was accused of being a spy and charged with conspiracy to destabilize Venezuela (only God knows what would be his fate).  And few days ago pariah North Korea Republic announced that the American tour operator, Kenneth Bae, arrested on charges that he tried to overthrow the government of Kim Jong-un in December 2012 would not be allowed to appeal if convicted.  He has not been tried in any court till date and would definitely be declared guilty if eventually taken to court.  Same fate has befallen other Westerners who felt the comfort of their countries is not enough. 

Unfortunately, the trend will continue as long as some cannot distinguish between enjoyment and endangerment.  Few other Americans who had fallen victims of similar fate include Laura Ling, Euna Lee, Aijalon Mahli Gomes, Haleh Esfandiary, Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, Roxana Saberi, Kian Tajbaksh, among others.  Phantoms charges, kangaroo trials and unbelievably long sentencing have always been the outcome while death sentence is never ruled out.

More worrisome is venturing into danger-prone climes.

The Maghreb and some part of West Africa have lately become haven for terrorists with particular hatred for the Whites.  It is no longer news to hear of Westerners being killed or kidnapped, yet some pleasure seekers cannot think of a better place for holiday.  Just last week a French family of seven was released by their captors (I want to believe huge ransom must have been paid for their release).  They were kidnapped few months ago in Cameroon by the dreaded Nigeria Boko-Haram terrorist group.  This is just one of the few instances where those kidnapped were lucky.  Scores have not been so lucky.  Gruesome death is usually the outcome. 

These countries have arrays of disgruntled elements who have found criminalities as the opium to feed their hatred for the failures of their governments.  Aside from being thorns on the flesh of the people and governments of their home countries, they seem to harbour mutual hatred for anything Western.  Boko Haram, Ansaru – otherwise known as JAMBS (in Nigeria), Al-Shabaab (Somalia), al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and others are notorious for targeting Westerners.  One would think foreigner would look for better havens to feed their hedonistic needs but reverse is the case.

Pleasure seeking is not totally wrong, but it is baffling that some Westerners would leave the comfort of their countries and other peaceful climes and venture into hostile nations where deaths, persecutions, real and phantom charges, imprisonments, etc. have always been their lot.

Or is it the Yoruba adage “Olowo fi owo ra iku” (the affluent seeks death with his wealth) that is at play?

 

The writer is on twitter: @Femiolas

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2013 in Thoughts

 

Er… in Lagos, what we call madness is quite different o …

bellanchi

One of the things I love most about Nigeria is its differentness; that peculiar quality that is the reason why everything that is abnormal and unacceptable in every other place in the world is normal and acceptable in Naija, and vice versa. Without doubt, there’s a lot that is quirky about us. Let’s take four completely random examples: traffic, mental illness, potholes and ghost workers.

It’s not every town or city in Nigeria that has traffic congestion as a problem, but what we lack in traffic in the sleepy, rustic towns in the South-West or their far-flung counterparts in the North, is more than compensated for by the sheer monstrosity of Lagos traffic.

There’s no logic or pattern to the traffic in Lagos, for sure. Or else, how do you explain how an accident occurs on the Mainland-Island axis of the Third Mainland Bridge and the holdup is on…

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Posted by on March 21, 2013 in Comic, Thoughts, True Life

 
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Great Controversy!

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2013 in Thoughts

 
 
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