Advertisements

Monthly Archives: July 2011

My Happy ‘Beti-day’

I like to think that I have a very practical mindset. That means that there are many beliefs and practices that people adopt uncritically which I really do not have the inclination to adopt. One of such things is birthday celebrations—and the whole fuss that goes into planning one or else alerting people to that fact so as to get presents and things of that nature.

Inasmuch as I understand the desire by people to remember and cherish the particular day of a particular month on which they were born, I see very little practical value in the way some people go to ridiculous extents to make the day seem extra special. Trust me, I am not trying to be cynical here—I suppose that for accounting purposes, it is useful to remember how many years one has managed to spend on this third rock from the sun.

But when you consider the way some spend outrageous sums to host their own birthday parties, often borrowing in the process, it makes me wonder if such people realize that with each additional day, with each additional year, they are hastening rapidly to their eventual demise. Each birthday celebration serves as a reminder of how age is creeping up on you steadily, and how you are on your sure and irretraceable march to your own death.  But then we are creatures of emotions and shifting passions; we crave creaturely comforts and we are also social creatures—thus, it is often the case that people do not wax philosophical on these matters. Any opportunity to meet with friends and well-wishers; and to eat, drink and be merry, is certainly going to be welcomed in these trying and uncertain times.

It was with this thought that I decided to get together with some friends and family to celebrate my birthday—especially since I have not really done so in over 20 years. Yes, the reason was that big birthday celebrations were not my thing. I’ll not mind attending another’s birthday celebration if I was invited, but for my own birthdays, I usually do not give them much thought. There were years that I completely forgot my birthday—didn’t take off from work, didn’t tell a soul, didn’t get any presents (lol, I wonder what they give as birthday gifts these days), didn’t even remember to say a prayer. The day just rolled on by and I remembered that my birthday was gone weeks later.

It was a little different this time. I gathered together a few people and we had a good time and I daresay it was deeply touching. We feasted sumptuously, and I got some gifts which frankly, I totally didn’t expect. A few of them gave some heartfelt words of encouragement, and they even offered a grand prayer of continued success on my behalf—it was all a very touching gesture which I must say touched my heart. It is a good thing to have good friends and family.

But the gesture which completely shattered my usual stoic and cast-iron control over my emotions was the tremendous show of love and appreciation that I got from my Bunibuni family. I did not tell anyone that my birthday was near, and I would not have even mentioned it at all on that day or the day before. But somehow, someone got wind of it, and that set off an avalanche of goodwill and well-wishes on my Facebook wall. I did not have the chance to read them all because I was completely occupied yesterday (my birthday), but today, when I got the chance and went through them, I was completely shaken by the warmth and affection I received.  Like the proverbial Grinch, I suppose I could say that my heart got 2 sizes bigger than it usually is.

God shall richly bless you all. As you have spared a kind thought and word for me, so shall others spare gracious thoughts, words and deeds for you. I want to sincerely thank each and every one of you for making my birthday even more memorable than I can ever remember in over 20 years. May the good Lord remember you all and lift you up in your time of great need.

My deepest gratitude goes to these following people:

Gaelle: you are an absolute darling; gracious and kind. I won’t easily forget the depth of our friendship. You know that I am always proud of you and the way that you have navigated life’s stormy seas. God is your rock, and I want to assure you that even greater victories lie ahead for you. Just believe it.

Siarani:  I do not need to say much, but you know we have something like a telepathic connection. You have been sorely missed, but I fully understand the circumstances surrounding your absence. As soon as you are back in full force, you know we have some important business to discuss. Thanks for making it to my wall despite your episodic access to the internet. I loved that birthday mixer by the way. You have a knack for finding the right beats for every mood.

Juubsie & Simplyymee:  No father has ever had more loving daughters than you two. That is why I am more than happy when I think about you two. I am not blind to the genuine care and concern that you’ve shown. My prayer is that my God will continue to dwell with you richly.

Molade: Of course this will not be complete if I do not mention the bubbliest firecracker of them all. To know Omolademiowon is to know a swirling torrent. It is to know a vivacious damsel. She is a delightful rollercoaster. I really appreciate that song you did—indeed words will fail me to express how touched I was by that act of charity. Do not lose that voice my dear. I’ll always be near whenever you beckon or call.

Journee: Crystal, I was more than shaken when I watched your video. It took the last ounces of manly resolve I had in me to avoid a wet eye. When I told you (upon knowing you better) that you have turned out to be one of the most mature and sophisticated ladies I’ve met on Bunibuni, I surely wasn’t mincing words. You are indeed an oasis in the desert; an island of tranquility in the midst of stormy seas. Keep being the radiant angel that you are. Thanks a lot for that awesome birthday gift.

Bruno, Sota and Bones: Bruno, one lovely attribute you have is the way you choose to do great and endearing things privately so as not to be seen by others. That humility and generosity is a magnet for more of God’s blessings on your life. My God will be with you in all things. Sota, you’ve continued to show yourself to be more than just a friend to me. Like Bruno, you chose the private route to express deeply stirring words. I knew you had the soul of a poet, but I’ll just have to say that you are now more like a brother to me. May heaven reward your efforts richly, and may your own day be even more blessed than mine has been. Bones, you surprise me every day with your versatility and talent. Just when I think I have you pegged, you up the ante. So, not only can you sing and play the guitar, it turns out that you are pretty good with a keyboard too. Have you considered doing some collaborative work with some of these great singers we have on Bunibuni? Thanks for that wonderful birthday gift my dear.

Once again, I thank you all. I cannot possibly speak of everyone here, but suffice it to say that you made one old man feel 18 again. It is the day after, and I am gradually getting back to an even keel.

Advertisements

Contra Boko Haram!

It may come as no surprise to any Nigerian following the political winds that the country has been seized by increasing panic and fear over the general security of lives and property ever since Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was declared the winner in this year’s election. At first, people were content to dismiss the mass killings in the North as a temporary but fixable orgy of violence designed to let off collective steam over the North’s failure to produce the president. But it is becoming increasingly clear now that what was once thought to be a momentary but manageable spike in violence in many parts of the North has indeed metamorphosed into a full-blown and persistent scourge of terrorism.

Yes, Nigeria is now a hotbed of terrorism; marinate on that for a minute.

There appears to be many groups that could at a moment’s notice visit unspeakable cruelty to the minority in the north. By minority, I mean Christians, Southerners or perhaps members of the National Youth Service Corps that hail from southern states. Of the lot, one has managed to come to the fore by the sheer ‘success’ of their frontal assault on not just the minorities in the North, but also visible symbols of state or federal administrative power. This group is known as Boko Haram.

First of all, it would be necessary at this point to remind non-Nigerians about the tenuous nature of Nigeria’s constitution. Nigeria is roughly divided along religious lines into 2—the predominantly Christian South and the predominantly Muslim North. This does not to suggest however that there are no Muslims in the South or Christians in the North; indeed as the case may be, there is a healthy 10% of Nigerians who are adherents of indigenous pagan religions. To effectively govern a country like Nigeria, it made a lot of sense that the highest law of the land, the Nigerian Constitution, should in fact be secular in nature and tone; pandering neither to Christian or Muslim sensibilities, but nonetheless cognizant of the fact that people might on occasion allow cases to be settled in customary, less secular, or even religious courts.

As the case may be, the North decided that it was not going to recognize the secular Nigerian constitution as the final arbiter on matters of justice. As if to give weight to that general sentiment, as far back as the first term of President Olusegun Obasanjo, 13 core Northern states in the Nigerian Federation unilaterally chose Sharia law as the preeminent law in these states. Such bold and reckless decision by these Northern states should have been grounds for concerted Federal action, if for nothing else, to demonstrate how seriously the Obasanjo administration takes any affront to the [fictional] unity of the federation. Suffice it to say that the Obasanjo administration did nothing to rein in these excesses with catastrophic consequences to the religious and cultural minorities in Northern Sharia states.

What followed was a season of anomie as people genuinely wrestled with Sharia’s prescribed punitive measures for crimes like petty theft and adultery. The world watched in horror as the predominantly Christian south railed at Sharia’s requirement of amputations for petty theft and stoning for adultery. This only consolidated the xenophobic attitudes of many extremist Northerners who chose to see the outrage as a direct attack on Islam and their religious identity. This gave rise to many resistance groups like Boko Haram, who swore to remove or kill the pesky Christians and Southerners and vestiges of Western education and civilization from core Northern states. That struggle, to sanitize the North as it were, and rid it of the non-Muslims opposed to the dictates of the Quran, goes on to this day. It is against this backdrop that one has to now weigh the escalating terrorist activity of Boko Haram at this time. One thing is undeniable though: they have managed to grab not only the attention of the present occupant of Aso Rock but former occupants as well. As a matter of fact, people who were formerly complacent about the ugly menace of terrorism are beginning to wake up to the fact that Boko Haram really means its sinister business.

So, we are no longer just talking of routine massacres of innocent North-bound southern travelers who are waylaid, ordered off their luxurious buses, robbed at gun or machete point and then eventually slaughtered or set ablaze. No, our homegrown terrorists are now going after big game. If you were unmoved when ordinary civilians were butchered for no crime other than they were minorities, – if you maintained your peace when patriotic NYSC corpers in many parts of the North were beheaded and mutilated during the past election, – perhaps you would sit up and whistle now that Boko Haram has proven that they could recruit more foot soldiers from places like Chad, Somalia, Niger and Sudan to commit even more daring atrocities. In recent times, they’ve threatened politicians and murdered some (as a matter of fact the current Vice President Sambo is on their target list), they have targeted the IG of police and came close to killing him when they detonated a crude bomb at the Abuja Police Headquarters. Boko Haram has put great fear into youth corpers when they bombed an NYSC Orientation camp in Maiduguri. The feeling of insecurity in Borno state was so pervasive that the University of Maiduguri, Borno’s state university, was forced to close and dismiss students indefinitely—presumably until the Nigerian state finds a way to arrest this terrorism issue.  They have also attacked and bombed Businesses and Banks with crippling effect to the local communities.

The time has come for all peace-loving Nigerians to wake up and smell the coffee and denounce Boko Haram and all her sister terrorist outfits. If Nigerians do not want the country to become another Pakistan or Afghanistan, paralyzed and ruled by discrepant extremist guerilla groups, the time for concerted and brave action is now.

I do not want to place all blame squarely at the door of the various security agencies in the country like the very incompetent Nigerian Police Force simply because one needs no crystal ball to see that they are simply ill-equipped to handle this menace. Many policemen do not have the requisite training nor the motivation required for the task of uprooting terrorists. In like manner, I do not want to simply blame President Jonathan for not taking a bold and decisive action earlier. He is still settling into his job and at any rate, the task of providing local security should be under the purview of state governors and local police. But we cannot afford to be lethargic now because Nigerians are paying the price of administrative ineptitude with a senseless and a needless loss of innocent lives.

We are talking about a well-funded terrorist network in Boko Haram. I am not normally in favor of governments turning their country’s military loose upon the local population, but Nigeria presents a unique case. The Nigerian military is perhaps the only organized force with the adequate firepower and training required to stake out Boko Haram hideouts and defeat them in any ensuing firefight. It is precisely because the local police and other security personnel have shown themselves severely overmatched by Boko Haram that I welcome any future move to send soldiers into any suspected Boko Haram enclaves to tackle this incipient menace fully and frontally.

Down with Boko Haram and all their diabolical, murderous accomplices! The sooner this is nipped in the bud, the better for everyone. It is regrettable to read or listen to commentary which amount to nothing more that cuddling and pacifying brazen killers. If Nigerians perceive that to get the attention of the president and others straddling the corridors of power, all one need do is become part of a heartless murderous extremist group, I’ll predict that we shall see rival, ethnic-based, armed bandits spring up in other geopolitical zones to compete for government attention and largess. I do not need to point out that what will ensue is a furious race to the bottom; a horrific dance of death played out in a ghastly theater of innocent blood.

Jesus Is Love

Jesus is love—’nuff said.

Salut, South Sudan!

Another country emerges:

 JUBA, South Sudan — South Sudan celebrated its first day as an independent nation Saturday, raising its flag before tens of thousands of cheering citizens elated to reach the end of a 50-year struggle.

U.S. President Barack Obama called the day a new dawn after the darkness of war, while visiting dignitaries offered both congratulations and prodding for South Sudan and its former ruler, Sudan, to avoid a return to conflict over serious and unresolved disagreements.

“The eyes of the world are now on us,” said South Sudan President Salva Kiir, who was inaugurated during a scorching midday ceremony. Kiir stressed that the people of South Sudan must advance their country together, and unite as countrymen first, casting aside allegiances to the dozens of tribes that reside here.

Saturday meant that South Sudan and its black tribesmen would for the first time be linked politically with sub-Saharan Africa. Kenya and Uganda are already laying strong economic ties with their northern neighbor, an oil-rich country that may one day ship its oil to a Kenyan port, instead of through the pipelines controlled by Khartoum.

“From today our identity is southern and African, not Arabic and Muslim,” read a hand-painted sign that one man carried as he walked through the crowds.

South Sudan first celebrated its new status with a a raucous street party at midnight. At a packed midday ceremony, the speaker of parliament read a proclamation of independence as the flag of Sudan was lowered and the flag of South Sudan was raised, sparking wild cheers from a crowd tens of thousands strong.

“Hallelujah!” one resident yelled, as other onlookers wiped away tears.

The U.S. and Britain, among others, announced their recognition of South Sudan as a sovereign nation.

“A proud flag flies over Juba and the map of the world has been redrawn,” Obama said in a statement. “These symbols speak to the blood that has been spilled, the tears that have been shed, the ballots that have been cast, and the hopes that have been realized by so many millions of people.”

South Sudan’s story is particularly touching when you consider the senseless loss of millions of lives for an issue that could have been decided as simply and as peacefully as it eventually was. In the end, it all paid off. Those lives, in a way, have not been lost in vain.

There is a lesson here for other maltreated, bullied, shackled and impoverished but vocal ethnic minorities in many African countries. The lesson to pick here is that the tyrannical ruling majority ethnic group will never give you the much sought-after economic emancipation nor the political freedom that you crave as long as the prevailing status quo continues to disproportionately favor the ruling class or as the case may be, the dominant ethnic group. To achieve economic and political freedom from the oppressive clutches of the ruling majority, and to exercise your right to self-determination, divested of the shackles of the prevailing European imperial contraptions, which were so inelegantly forged in the dark past, your kinsmen must be ready to shed their blood and lay down their lives for it.  Only a sustained struggle against the tyrannical impulses of a close-minded majority would suffice to induce a rethink of their hardened positions.

After 50 years of struggle, on July 9, 2011, you now have your freedom and your own country South Sudan. I salute you all but this is just the beginning. Hopefully, with your oil-wealth, you will set upon the task of an aggressive nation-building with the requisite degree of urgency that it demands. One only hopes that what would eventually emerge would have the semblance of democracy, and that the long-suffering people of South Sudan will not once again find themselves under the jackboots of consanguineous overlords.

Happy 235th

This great land is 235 years old today. Happy Independence day, USA!

I woke up rather glad that today was going to be another free and relaxing day for me. After a while, I turned on the television to see and hear patriotic preachments and songs.  The US national anthem is a beautiful song especially if you listen to a great delivery of the song. Indeed, in the past, I had already assembled a few performances from some popular names. If you scour Youtube some more, you will undoubtedly come across other excellent renditions of the Star Spangled Banner.

However, I am in a light-hearted mood as of the moment—of course this does not mean that I had not already affected the right amount of staid gravity when  the national anthem was being delivered. But I was driven, if I may be so bold to say, to search Youtube precisely for those scenarios where a song of such supreme import to Americans was royally mangled in a crass bumbling manner. Yes for laughs–and why not? Today seems as good a day as any to watch people make a total fool of themselves to the utter consternation of a horrified public.

Please check out these comical butchering but nonetheless pathetic renditions of the Star Spangled Banner.

And finally, I know this is a parody of Aguilera’s mistake, but it is hilarious all the same:

The Color of Music?

Have you ever come across someone who could, or who claims to be able to see the color of words, or the color of sounds? Or what if the person claimed to be able to smell the sound of words? What if they said they could perceive the smell of colors? Or taste on their tongues different tastes for different numbers? Would you find that absolutely incredible?

As a matter of fact, this condition is real and is being studied actively by neurologists. It is known as synesthesia. It is a neurological condition in which the stimulation of one sensory organ or pathway leads to an involuntary and automatic sensation by another sensory organ or pathway. I find this condition very interesting to explore. Can you even imagine the ramifications of this condition? It means that every sensory input to the brain is layered on top of other sensations. Thus most sensory data becomes melded with other sensory data and becomes more impactful than they ordinarily would have been. When one hears phrases like ‘bitter wind’, ‘ salty reply’, ‘red rage’, ‘dark nine’ etc, we may not just be talking of some fanciful or rather poetic use of language. We might actually be talking about synesthesia.

 If you hear the sound of good music, and at the same time see a flicker of gracious and alluring colors blending into each other rhythmically and disappearing softly as the music fades or as the sounds waned, mark my words, that is likely to vastly increase your appreciation of that music more than a lay listener. What if hearing some crude and insulting language leaves a bitter taste in one’s mouth? Can you even imagine how forcefully or viscerally such a synesthete would react to such words? The same would go for all the other sensory information that happens to become intertwined with other sensory information—the end result is a world of far deeper meaning, of grander perception, of weightier sensations.

There are far more interesting things out there than we know or can possibly know. It is refreshing to note that as the days go by, we keep uncovering things and ideas that were hitherto unknown to us. Some may consider synesthesia to be some kind of abnormality or defect, but I prefer to think of all the amazing things we are beginning to discover from a deeper study of brain, neural pathways and consciousness.

Personally, I know I want to see the color of music. Ok, I want to see the color of The Sound of Music.

Back On The Saddle

Hello Dear Reader:

I have been tied down severely over the past month and as such I did not get to update this blog as often as I would have preferred. Please, do not worry as I am back at the steering wheel now. Please check in regularly or subscribe so that you can receive the regular updates.

How much are you paying for gas  this summer? It is approaching $3.59/gallon here. With the bad shape of the economy, this is an added burden on many people. One may have to start thinking seriously of alternative means of transportation now—carpooling is beginning to look attractive to me now.

Two days ago, on a day we had well over 93 degrees of intense scorching heat, I entered my car to find out that the A/C just wouldn’t work; and for no discernible reason. I struggled in vain with the control knobs, hoping that I was just not fiddling with the correct knobs. How was I going to sit in this oven of a car?  Nothing worked at all and with deep resignation, I decided to take it to the mechanic this weekend.  It was with great joy however, that i discovered, upon my entering the vehicle today, that the problem had somehow been fixed. Yeah, that sounds crazy but my A/C is working again today and I couldn’t be anything but pleased. Now, I know I am going to burn even more fuel by using the A/C, but when you consider the oppressive heat inside this car, baked as it is by the daytime sun, you would not mind paying the extra bucks to keep the insides of this metal horse cool and comfortable.

In any case, who would agree to add you to a carpool if your car doesn’t have air-conditioning? Has the increasing cost of gasoline affected you in any way?

%d bloggers like this: