Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Taking Over Nigeria

Please read this post by a young Nigerian who has a passion for things Nigerian. Even if you don't agree with him completely, you should be impressed with his 'Can Do' attitude.

Even to the Naysayers, we say it is possible.

There is a groundswell going round the country and the resolve is for us to take our country back.

The post is even written in most part in the past tense. It has already happened!

When your children ask you: 'Mummy, where were you when it happened?'

How will you answer?

Are you game?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Did You Know?

--- William Shatner and Nichelle Nichols, as Capt. James T. Kirk and Communications Officer Lt. Uhura, shared network television’s first interracial kiss in the Star Trek episode "Plato’s Children." The revolutionary segment aired in 1968.

That means so many things really happened in 1968. I can't believe it took that long for a white man to kiss a black girl on screen. Or vice versa.

This really makes Obama's election, forty years later, all the more significant.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Gadsby: Champion Of Youth

Gadsby: Champion of Youth is a work of fiction that puts forth an account of goings on in a fictitious city, "Branton Hills." It primarily has to do with a transformation, through youth's vigor, of this moribund and slothful community. John Gadsby, its protagonist—a man of fifty or so—calls upon his town's girls and boys to aid him in his plan to bring activity and vitality back to that vicinity.

Thrust onward by a can-do spirit, this organization campaigns for original civic construction, and Gadsby soon gains a post as mayor.
If youth, throughout all history, had a champion to stand up for it; to show a doubting world that a child can think; and, possibly, do it practically; you wouldn't constantly run across folks today who claim that "a child don't know anything." A child's brain starts functioning at birth; and has, amongst its many infant convolutions, thousands of dormant atoms, into which God has put a mystic possibility for noticing an adult's act, and figuring out its purport.

Gadsby, first paragraph

So what is so important about this?

I know you did not notice that up till now, the letter 'e' did not appear in any of the words or sentences above. That was the primary significance of the story.

Wikipedia says:

'This story of about 50,000 words is most famous as a notably ambitious lipogram, in that it painstakingly omits a most common glyph from all of its paragraphs. Gadsby
is famous for its particular innovation: for all its 50,110 words, it is a long lipogram, a composition avoiding a particular glyph throughout.

A lipogram is a form of artistic constraint that arbitrarily limits an author's vocabulary. Gadsby, skips from "d" to "f" in its vocabulary of around 4,000 valid words... '.

In his introduction to the book, the author, Ernest Vincent Wright writes:

' As the vowel E is used more than five times oftener than any other letter, this story was written, not through any attempt to attain literary merit, but due to a somewhat balky nature, caused by hearing it so constantly claimed that “it can’t be done; for you cannot say anything at all without using E, and make smooth continuity, with perfectly grammatical construction—” so ‘twas said.'

The first chapter of the book and indeed the whole book is here.

See if you can find an 'e' anywhere in there.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Fundamental Human Rice & Other Stories

Have you heard that President UMYAwn has started distributing the 10 billion Naira Rice Development Fund established by the Federal Government as part of his efforts in ensuring the Fundamental Human Rice of Nigerians as enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria?

The money is to be made available to rice farmers in Nigeria to empower them 'offset the deficit of over two million tonnes currently being imported annually; boost local production; create employment and conserve the nation’s foreign reserve.’

I know that the price of a bag of imported rice has gone up but even at that the price of the local rice (ofada/abakaliki) is still double that of the imported one. By simple economics, the local rice farmers must be making a killing.

If you have ever wanted to collect your own share of the National Cake, this is your best chance. Did I mention that being a card-carrying member of the 'biggest party in Africa -PDP would help greatly?

Rating The Navy
It appears that the Nigerian Navy is going through some troubled waters in recent times. Its ratings in the opinion of most Nigerians would be at an all time low by now. And this is all due to the activities of its Ratings.

After six Naval Ratings beat up Uzoma Okere for not leaving the road for their oga last week, another set of two Naval Ratings again went on rampage in Ota, Ogun State this time leaving one policeman dead and another in hospital after a scuffle over a girlfriend.

Our people say that when a drum wants to tear, it starts sounding high notes.

Is Obama A Blackman?
This question was asked by Mr. Bisi Ojediran, a columnist with ThisDay Newspaper. But it was really a question I had asked myself during the events immediately preceding and since November 4th 2008. In the article, the writer argues that President-elect Obama is more the product of his 'white' upbringing than his Africanness.

Personally, I believe that the world did not seem to recognize nor appreciate enough the contributions of two 'white' women in the molding and making of the man who becomes the next President of the US - his mother and grand-mother. It appears that people give too much credit to the largely absent parent in this configuration - the Kenyan father.

My Kenyan friends argue that the father contributed the genes (the dominant Y in this case) and you could see the Africanness in his skin color, his respect for elders (he never insulted McCain even in the face of extreme provocation. OK, maybe he tasi Sarah Palin once or twice but na she start am; he no be her mate) and you could see the self-assured cockiness of the Luo in him.

We must also not forget that he spent a few years in Indonesia which would have rubbed off him one way or the other. Don't also forget Michelle, she's been working at him for 16 years now!

I think its a continuation of the Nature-Nurture Controversy that has been on for centuries now. I believe it all contributed to making the unique individual we have come to know.

What do you think? Is Obama a Blackman?

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Song For The Canary

Born Stephen Oladipupo Olaore Owomoyela in Oshogbo in 1932 to a part-time musician father who never wanted him to become one based on his own sad experiences as a musician. The young Orlando did everything to please his father, including completing an eight-year apprenticeship in building construction but eventually went to Ilesha to earn his Standard Six certificate.

His kind of music, which he called 'Toye' music has its roots in the local music of the riverine areas of the old Ondo and Bendel states. You would notice the common strain in his music with those of Sir Dr. Victor Uwaifo, Osayomore Joseph, the late Chief (Mrs.) Comfort Omoge and lately in the music of Daddy Showkey, Father U-Turn, African China and Stereoman.

As Western production electronics began to infiltrate the music of other bands, Owoh stuck to his low-tech approach; his music sounds distinctly rootsier than that of other highlife bands and strongly evokes the music's traditional base. He also generally remained true to the small guitar-band format of highlife rather than adapting his style to the huge, kinetic ensembles of the juju genre of King Sunny Ade and others. He sang mostly in Yoruba but recorded music in English on occasion.

On October 19th 1986, foremost Nigerian journalist, Dele Giwa, was killed by a parcel bomb sent to his home. The whole nation was shocked and Orlando in 1987 sang a tribute song to Dele Giwa; in the song 'Ofo to Se Naijiria' ('The Calamity That Befell Nigeria'), he lamented the security situation of the country and made several accusations which the government of General Ibrahim Babangida considered 'provocative'.

It was common knowledge that most musicians lived rather Bohemian lifestyles and encouraged anti-government rhetorics at their shows and concerts. The use of drugs - particularly marijuana- was common in these musicians enclaves. Until then, the 'provocations' of musicians like Orlando, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti and others had been largely tolerated by the government but the newly formed National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) provided a new front to their cat-and-mouse relationship.

Orlando and Fela basically shared the same fate. They were the scapegoats of successive military regimes in their contrived fight against the drug trade. They were both jailed on the crime of 'possession'. He spent 8 months in the infamous Alagbon Close Detention Centre by the Narcotics Division of the Nigerian Police. If you know Alagbon, its a fate you will not wish on your worst enemy.

On his return from prison, he released what became a monster hit, though it was just released on a whim. It was called 'The Message': It was based along the lines of the hit of the same name by the Everly Brothers and for me the genius of this song was in the peculiar lyrics as compared with the Everly Brothers' original.

E j'ise mi fun Folashade mi Take my message to my Folashade
E ma so fun pe mo wa l'ewon o But don't tell her I'm in jail
E j'ise mi fun Folashade mi Take my message to my Folashade
E ma so fun pe mo wa l'Alagbon But don't tell her I'm in Alagbon
E so fun pe mo ti rin jina Tell her that I have gone very far
Mo to d'eja oju omi That I have become a fish in the ocean
Amo b'ori ba yo mi l'owo Narcotics But if I ever get out of the clutches of Narcotics
Ao pade 'ra pe l'ayo We shall meet again with joy

In 2006, Orlando Owoh suffered two strokes and also lost his wife within the same year. A couple of months ago, I read in the newspapers that he was admitted at the General Hospital, Agege for some ailments on the bill of the Lagos state government as directed by the Governor Tunde Fashola SAN.

On Friday night, I was at the annual 'Yinka Ayefele Night' at the Ikoyi Club 1938, when the musician started belting out some of Orlando's tunes, apparently in tribute. That was when I learned that the Canary has ceased to sing. He did not survive a third stroke on Wednesday night.

What do we do when the Canary ceases to sing?

We shall
We shall sing
We shall sing a
We shall sing a song
We shall sing a song for
We shall sing a song for the
We shall sing a song for the Canary.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

My Father's Eyes

My father always loved debates.

He spoke with a stutter so he was not what you would consider an eloquent speaker or debater but he had a way of putting his points across so clearly such that unless you have superior arguments, you don't dispute his views. Back then, he usually has his friends come in for drinks usually at the weekends. He was not much of a drinker himself, but he always enjoyed the company.

Growing up, whenever I was home from boarding school or university, I was privileged to observe and later, to be part of these gatherings. These men were mainly UK trained and the gatherings could be as large as eight to ten men or as few as three. And you know what happens when men gather with drinks; they talk. They talked about women, sports and politics. What else do men talk about?

From these men I learned about history, particularly Nigerian history of which they were a part at one point or the other. Of course, I also learned about women. They were that experienced.

I remember one day, twenty years ago, in 1988, I think it was July/August. As a university student by then, I was allowed to make contributions to discussions once in a while. This time was during the presidential primaries of the US Democratic party and it was significant because a black American, the Rev. Jesse Jackson was a front runner in that race.

The debate was along the lines of the prospects of a black American winning the nomination of his party on one hand and then going on to win the Presidency of the United States of America. As with most African students back then, the candidacy of Jesse Jackson was an inspiration and we believed that he could go on to win the Presidency. I was the sole proponent of that position in that debate.

I remember my father saying that the chances of a black man becoming the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom was brighter than that of a black man becoming the President of the United States. To him, the UK society was more racially integrated than that of the US and that the Americans were 'racists' while the Brits were 'racial'. In his words, the Brits would still tolerate a good man (black or white) as PM, but the Americans just plain 'hated' the black man.

By some alcohol-induced prophetic ability, they arrived at the magical figure of a minimum of 300 years after the death of Abraham Lincoln, who somehow was the most significant index for a black man to ascend the presidency of the US according to them. By 1988, that meant another 175 more years.

He was wrong. They were ALL wrong!

Just twenty years later, Barrack Hussein Obama, a black man IS elected to be the 44th President of the United States of America!

I wish my father were alive to witness today. Maybe he would have shed a tear or two. Maybe he would have bawled. Maybe he would have just looked on incredulously because you see, a black man is yet to be Prime Minister of the United Kingdom!

He would have been 72 years old today (11/6). He would have popped a bottle of champagne to celebrate. He would have graciously conceded he was wrong and while it would not have dampened our celebrations, I am sure he would probably have looked for a reason why his prediction failed.

Of course, I would still have done my Obama Victory Dance in his face.

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