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Azonto

Just like D’banj’s OLiver Twist song has gone viral in Nigerian circles, prompting an avalanche of youtube videos of Nigerians spontaneously getting jiggy with the beat, there is a song which has also gone viral in Ghanaian circles. It is called the Azonto song.  All over the place you can see people eagerly stepping or dancing to this gripping song and dance.

Try to dance to that song and see how well you can replicate those dance steps, if you dare! Ok, let me get my dancing shoes and do the Azonto!

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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.

Who Needs The NYSC?

NYSC members:They may be dressed in paramilitary khakis and boots, but they are completely civilian and non-militaristic

Any Nigerian who is not intimately familiar with the political upheaval in Nigeria over the past 30 days should really sit up and start paying close attention. The reason is because we are dealing with life and death issues here; we are talking about matters so grave that they affect the very foundational structure of Nigeria.

As you may have noticed, April was the month that a multitude of Nigerians went out to vote for their leaders. The aftermath of that election was a most horrifying cycle of barbarity and violence as northerners faithful to the defeated Muhammadu Buhari of the CPC, took to the streets of the North, destroying the properties of and murdering hundreds if not thousands of Christians, Southerners, members of other parties like PDP, Igbos and a number of National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members in cold blood. Looting and destroying the homes, property, business or church centers of southerners in the North or in extreme cases, dismembering these southerners (especially the Igbo or Igbo-sounding southerners) by gangs of violent disaffected youth seems to be a fairly routine and cyclic episode in the North. However this time around, they also attacked their fellow Muslims who they suspected to be colluding with the PDP, or giving succor to Christian southerners. And worse, they also attacked and brutally murdered scores of innocent NYSC corpers!

For the benefit of any non-Nigerian, let me briefly explain what the NYSC is all about. Nigeria has a compulsory, nationwide youth service program for people graduating from the various universities and polytechnics. These fresh and inspired young men and women, who have graduated from their various universities, and are thus ready to face a challenging world first have to show their dedication and patriotism to the fatherland. To do so, these fresh graduates will be dispatched by the NYSC government to towns, cities and villages far removed from their local environ for one year. In this space of time, these corpers are expected to mingle with people of other ethnic origins (tribes), social, religious and family backgrounds. They are expected to learn the culture and possibly the language of the indigenes of the place to which they were posted. This will help in the development of the country as these corpers form part of (if  not the majority of) the educational, health, administrative and business sectors of the communities they find themselves.

It is no secret therefore, that in the Nigerian equation, the Northern half of the country urgently need the invaluable service of National Youth Service corpers every year. Let us just face the facts: in terms of physical development, the Northern part of Nigeria is sorely lagging behind despite the fact that it continues to swallow a disproportionately larger slice of the national cake. It has produced most of the presidents or military rulers that Nigeria has had in its 50 year history; it (the north) has a disproportionately larger presence in the Nigerian military; the north has more local governments and thus more senators and representatives in the Nigerian National Assembly—an observation which invariably stresses the lion share of Nigeria’s income which go directly to the North and her politicians. Yet, they are lagging behind in practically all socio-economic indices because of the unmatched greed and incompetence of the North’s elite political class.

Members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) at an orientation camp

If you like, you can blame it on the feudal and hierarchical structure of the Muslim-dominated north. The incontrovertible fact is that a huge portion of the wealth secured from the southern half of the country over these many years has gone directly to fund development projects in the North—even if such projects come at the expense of projects in the south or close to the very areas where the nation’s income-accruing resources are found. If that were not enough, an astounding portion of state revenue has gone to line the pockets of the north’s own political and cultural administrative class. The result is that the North’s elite class turns a blind eye and a deaf ear to the blighted, poverty-stricken, illiterate and disease-prone masses. With a high unemployment, life does really appear gloomy and depressing judging by the standard of living obtainable in the south. This is why the North desperately needs Youth service Corps members every blessed year.

In many of these remote, dusty and impoverished villages in the north, these corpers run the ramshackle health clinics treating and helping the masses of the poor and diseased denizens of these places. They rely on the corpers to teach in their primary and secondary schools. Needless to say, many of these children in the North do not want any formal western-style education—a fact discernible from their general lackadaisical approach to their studies. Perhaps, it helps that these northern school administrative boards have a policy of passing every child on to the next higher grade whether or not such a child demonstrates a mastery over the curriculum. And oh yes, they have to be very thankful of something called “Federal Character” whereby possibly unqualified or less than qualified northerners have to be hired or considered for any national duty or employment—all for the sake of “fostering peace and unity amongst Nigeria’s many ethnic nationalities. It is the Youth corpers that are relied on to work as election registrars—registering the people who intended to vote. They are the ones who handle the delicate election computer equipment and were to serve as Election Day poll officials to conduct the elections. As a matter of fact, the roles of these corpers in the communities they find themselves are virtually inexhaustible.

In the south, the corpers are not quite as visible, or as crucially needed. The difference is very clear. Most of the things which corpers serving in the North have to do to help their villages and communities already have people doing them in the south and possibly making a living doing so. The technological, social, and economic infrastructure needed is already in place in many parts of the south coupled with a very strong capitalist work ethic. In the south, people wake up each day and struggle hard to make a difference in their families because, unlike the north, the people in the south (especially southeast/southsouth) are not beneficiaries of massive Federal government presence or largesse.

Having said the foregoing, I will not hesitate to note my sickening bewilderment and gut-wrenching disappointment over the recent events in Bauchi, Kano, Kaduna, Abuja, Niger and many other parts of the Muslim North. There were horrifying stories of NYSC members that were beaten and maimed and forced to fraudulently register underaged people; some were forced to thumbprint for the CPC to ensure that CPC won overwhelmingly in those polling stations; some female NYSC were groped and physically violated during the exercise; and ultimately, when Jonathan Goodluck won, gangs of bloodthirsty northern youths started hunting down and killing innocent youth corpers! I am not talking about simply harassing or beating up people as a crude means of intimidation—I am positively saying that they went on a murderous spree, and with terrible blades they hacked away and cut unlucky NYSC members to bloody pieces and burnt everything they had with fire! There are harrowing stories of near-escapes from certain death as terrified NYSC members sought refuge in the bush or in barracks. Fleeing from these unprovoked attacks, some hid in the houses of their muslim neighbors, but they weren’t all lucky when the vicious mobs came around. The ordeal was real and every bit as gory. Yet, these are the young men and women who only a few weeks ago were doing everything in their power to help the illiterate, underprivileged and relatively destitute people in many villages and local governments up in the North!

The saddest thing about this is that it is a yearly or regular occurrence in Nigeria and there seems to be nothing that can be done to effectively stamp out the menace of religiously or politically-motivated violence in the North. Whenever the spate of violence kicks off, the state and federal governments mouth empty promises or at best, send a few soldiers to calm down the situation and all is promptly forgotten! Nothing is tangibly and credibly done to arrest and punish the depraved brutes that fomented the carnage; as a matter of fact, if any were caught and jailed, the local authorities will protest and demand their release. Above all, nothing is usually done to give these dislocated and maimed Christian southerners any comfort or medical care and attention. Usually, none of them are to be compensated by the state governments. If they are dead, nothing is done to remember their deaths or celebrate their lives that were barbarically cut down by the rampaging hordes of disaffected northern youth. No state burials, no flags flying at half-mast, no one-minute silence in schools to remember or honor the hapless dead, no finely sculpted memorials, no reparations to grieving families, not even the barest acknowledgement that some unspeakable crime had been committed. This should offend the sensibilities of any decent person—especially when this narrative plays out again and again to the same predictable end.

This is why I am asking a few questions for your consideration: Do we really need the NYSC?  Why can the rules of the NYSC not be amended to permit people serve in their own localities? Why must people send their loved ones to die every year in the killing fields of the north for the sake of some perverted idea of national unity? What in the world is it going to take for the governors of northern states to guarantee the safety of NYSC members? What will it take to severely punish the perpetrators of this crime to the extent that such terrorism begins to look like an unattractive prospect for other would-be terrorists?

I am tired of asking these questions every time. The time to be proactive is now. To that effect, I’ll never allow any child of mine, or indeed any relative or acquaintance of mine to go up North for their youth service period. I’ll further advise every sane Christian or Igbo southerner to abandon the North permanently. They can reside and earn a living somewhere in the south away from the sporadic specter of violence up north. This is just not negotiable as far as I am concerned—until a time comes when there is sufficient security for non-northerners in the north. To be frank, relative security in my mind, suggests that there are still terror-inclined masses around who may be keeping their violent constitutions in check because of some overwhelming presence of state security officials. Even if this situation were suddenly available, I wouldn’t be moved. That is because there will still be a toxic and combustible mixture of xenophobia and religious fanaticism which could potentially explode. Such an uneasy calm is not attractive to me. The only way I may be persuaded to change that view is when it becomes crystal clear to all and sundry that the masses in the North are unilaterally against the violence being perpetrated in their name, and as such rise or speak with one voice to condemn these homegrown terrorists; and exceeding that, they have to take actions to crush them completely as well.

Cheers.

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On Muammar Gaddafi and Libya

The issue in Libya is gaining so much steam now and is being covered everywhere. Well here is our facebook discussion on the matter. After watching the clip below, a few people had something to say.

Bones opines:

He speaks the truth you know

Aero Max says:

this is a non bias truth in a transparent form… i subscribe to this all the way, those people lack nothing, if nigerianz enjoys half of what libyans are enjoying from their goverment, i am very sure non of us will complain even if they stay for the whole generation.. the funny thing is that even at its worst .we are not doing anything about it.. who gives a damn about DEMOCRACY ? when it cannot deliver basic amenities. ALL we need is A Government that can deliver to its people what their basic needs are. who cares if it is AUTOCRACY or WHATEVER.

Willy says:

Aero I am damn with u…If Nigeria a democratic country where the government is been change every four or five years they dont enjoy up to half of wht the Libyans are enjoying in their country,then they call Gaddafi tyrant. Equatorial Guinea,formerly Spanish Guinea.In that country they make money from oil just like in Kuwaite, the population there is not up to one million,they dont have hospitals there,no good schools,last week my friend that went there on an ong works say they weren’t there eggs to buy.their president Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo assumed office 3 august 1979,I am sure the Eu and United States dont know that country exists,but they buy oil from them.

Hans:

I mean what is this business of America to the world? This country is going through a lot already. This man is a man of truth. I sometimes get buttered by his words, because at one point I fall into it. Why is Obama allowing these people to push him. Obama should be smart enough to know to get this statement that Hillary Clinton said and I coauthor ” I will not be a secretary of state any more if Obama wins”. now you are invading Libya, what for? I was saying on buni the other time that, the people of Libya are very stupid… and I will say it blank here, Qaddafi is trying to unit the whole of Africa and he is moving in the right direction. And this is a treat to the western world. When the conference was held in Ghana, almost a common conclusion came into agreement, until ivory coast opted to send a concern letter to it’s allied to before they could do something. What happened? Aint they into tribal war over governance? Until when shall the black man learn. But I am telling you, this is all a aim at Saudi Arabia…but if America wants, they should try and see… it’s very sad… but God is our helper… Long Live Africa, Long live Ghana.

Buni says:

HANS, I started nodding my head while reading your post and I continued nodding it till I reached a certain point. Please Sir, how is Ghadaffi trying to unite all Africa and how is that a threat to the Western world? This man has been in power for 42 years and has not united anything. Now that his overthrow is imminent, you tell me he is trying to unite the world?

Buni says:

AEROMAXX, I agree with you. It began an argument yesterday where I told them that it is better for your country to return to military rule. It seems the other side of the fence (civilians) are not better either.

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Nollywood Vs Ghollywood: Let The Feud Begin

A Scene From The Movie "Hot Fork"

Sometimes, you cannot help the feeling, if you are a Nigerian or a Ghanaian, that there is some unspoken but serious rivalry between the two nations. In previous decades, Nigeria had the upper hand in issues that concern the West African region: this makes sense considering that the country has the largest population in the region and in the continent as a whole. Also, when you consider Nigeria’s comparatively larger economy and her oil wealth, you may begin to understand some of the reasons behind the superiority complex that Nigerians manifest when speaking to or about other West Africans.

In recent times however, Ghana has improved her image and standing on all fronts; indeed so clear and focused has Ghana’s ascent up the West African totem pole been that citizens of both countries and interested third parties have often found themselves comparing the two nations. And if the truth be told, despite having six and a half times the population of Ghana, and nine times the size of Ghana’s GDP, Nigeria cannot by any means boast of being so much better. Not even twice better by any serious metric of comparison. This is not to disparage the citizens of any country—it is just an attempt to show that at the moment, neither of these two countries is a clear winner or a clear favorite by an extended analytical comparison of socio-economic indices. I am sure that some partisans may disagree with me at this point, but let’s not miss the forest for the trees.

Be that as it may, one area of comparison between these two regional powerhouses is emerging, nay has already emerged—the indigenous or national movie industry. One only need say a few things about the movie industry of both countries to generate a supercharged furor.  Sometimes, a discussion on this subject matter is marked by unadulterated Ad-hominems, but I guess that’s sometimes the mode of argument when the topic becomes sufficiently infused with primitive passions or provincial loyalties.

Let’s cut to the chase here: What do you think of the Nigerian movie industry or Nollywood, as it is popularly called? What are your thoughts on Ghollywood—presumably, Ghana’s movie industry? Would you say that one was better than the other—if yes, what are your reasons? What about their local movie super stars?

Okay, I get it—you absolutely love these African movies. Yes, it is hard to deny but in recent years, the quality of African movies in general has been improving—albeit, I’ll contend that it is not improving fast enough. It is difficult to look at movies from 15 to 20 years ago and not notice how much has improved. I think kudos is in order for the hard-working men and women who have persistently striven to elevate and refine their craft. Who knows how long it might be from now when some African movies might begin to command global interest and even be forced onto the American movie scene? Alas, I digress.

Coming back to African movies, I am left scratching my head at some of the movies that are making the rounds in Ghana these days. I am talking about movies like Hot Fork, Heart of Men, 4play, Kiss Me If You Can, Shakira, Sex Game, etc. Many Africans who have seen these movie trailers and/or bothered to see the entire movie have marveled at how unoriginal, unconvincing, and vapid the movie plots have been DESPITE the exaggerated use of sexually explicit scenes. Indeed, some of these movies, seem to be little more than poorly-produced soft porn—teasing the audience with all manner of sexually provocative imagery.

What exactly is going on in the Ghana movie industry? I realize that in this present day and age, sex sells, but surely, this is not the best that Ghana’s movie producers can offer is it? Questions will arise because for good or ill, it seems that Ghana has uniquely captured the erotic, smarmy, carnal, and prurient corner of the African movie market. And it seems that this is going to be here for a while because it is hugely profitable. Yes, let’s not kid ourselves: there is a huge demand for these movies by active and passionate lovers of African movies.

Let no one be tempted to wax too puritanical about general decency in African societies. The truth is that even if people might criticize these movies in respectable or religious settings, a great number of them still watch it in private or relaxed circles, I suspect, if for nothing else, to see what jaw-dropping sexual stunts African movie stars now have the confidence to show on the silver screen.

Now, this would not have been so awful for many if the plots of these movies weren’t somewhat stale; or the characters’ lines weren’t so predictable; or their acting lacking certain finesse; or the sex scenes weren’t so tastelessly shot or depicted. Is it really the case that these tasteless nude scenes enhance the story? Is it really necessary to show in near graphic detail some of these sex scenes—surely, some can be left to the imagination yes? If these movies are not to be misconstrued as Grade B Pornography, is it such a huge deal to ask for acting that advances a solid narrative or plot instead of the random and pointless caressing, groping, kissing, stiff and clumsy foreplay and awkward sexual intercourse that one sometimes gets?

Notice that in these objections, I have intentionally avoided the hot rod of morality which seems to be the default weapon that Africans employ in denouncing some of these movies. Personally, I could care less what sorts of movies become the norm on the African movie scene. For one, I am thoroughly fed up of the ritual-money theme prevalent in Nigerian movies. Secondly, I am far more interested in African music than I am in African movies. Lastly, I think I’ll be the last person to intentionally support a stifling of creativity and imagination in the African movie industry. If that creativity and imagination takes expression in movies that are generally deemed by Africans to be overly sexually explicit, then hey, that’s the way the cookie crumbles. My objection is based solely on the quality of content of these semi-trashy pieces of adolescent lasciviousness.

I am surprised that so far though, Nollywood has not yet caught the bug. But I am not such a doe-eyed optimist. I am willing to bet that as these “smutty” films continue to rake in huge profits for Ghana’s movie producers, it will not be long before Nollywood joins the game. It’s all about the Benjamins, baby! Perhaps, at that time, many critics of the Ghanaian movie industry would drop the annoying pretensions to a moral higher ground.

Give us better movies or market these movies for what they truly are: porn with obnoxiously loud histrionics!

Congrats, Super Falcons!

LETS GO DANCING-•••Super Falcons are not only champions in women football. They are also champions in dancing. The girls showed off their stuff in dancing after tearing Equatorial Guinea to shreds 4-2 to reclaim the AWC trophy in South Africa.

It was less than a month ago that I was informed by Super Falcons defender, Ms. Onome Ebi, that she was finalizing her plans to travel from her base in Sweden to Nigeria. She was going back on a national assignment – the biennial African Women’s Championship. Before that, she had immersed herself in tough physical and mental preparations for the female version of the African Cup of Nations.

 

Onosky – as she is popularly known by in Bunibuni, a fast-growing internet community of diasporan Africans and friends of Africa – has one charming trait that always struck me. It is her general humility and quiet resilience. Each time we spoke as the days got closer for her departure to Nigeria, I couldn’t help but notice her unwavering patriotism, her sense of devotion to both club and country, and the ease with which she dealt with what must have been a very physically, mentally and emotionally challenging time.

Then she traveled. I contacted her briefly when she went back home and when she was getting ready, with the rest of Nigeria’s Super Falcons, for the flight to South Africa. I made the conscious effort not to call her during the tournament so as not to to become an unwanted source of distraction. I wanted her to sink all her energy and dedication, along with the rest of Super Falcons, into reclaiming the top prize. And, I am glad, to discover, as I was reading today’s headlines, that my bet paid off.

The Super Falcons are Champions again! Yes, they defeated Equatorial Guinea just yesterday!

They have demonstrated superlative football dominance in Africa. As a matter of fact, if the Nigerian male national team, the Super Eagles, were half as dominating as the Super Falcons are in these biennial African tournaments, I am sure that would be a great source of pride for Nigerians. To put it in proper perspective: the recently concluded female African cup of Nations is the 7th edition of that tournament – and the Super Falcons have carried the gold in 6 of those 7 tournaments. The 2008 winners Equatorial Guinea defeated the Falcons to win the gold. So, as you can tell, it was sweet revenge for the Falcons when they met with and beat Equatorial Guinea 4-2 in a most exciting finale.

Sadly, not too many Africans in the diapora knew that this tournament was going on; an even smaller number got to see any of the matches. I searched really hard and could not find anywhere on the air or on the web to see any of the matches. Nevertheless, my well-wishes were with Onosky and the Super Falcons. And indeed, they have done the nation proud. I cannot wait to call her with my profuse gratitude.

Bravo Falcons – keep flying high, keep your dazzle!

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