Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Check out tAB II

The AfroBeat II

(back by popular demand, tAB 1.0 demise attributed to a wretched virus and a general lack of initiative to engage with the blogosphere; tAB II is born due to the return of that need to share random findings with the world at large, while resisting the phenomenon that is twitter ;))

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

UK Expats Learn Nigerian Culture

Encouraging to see that first-generation Nigerians are trying to learn more about their roots. It's a great business opportunity - culture/language/cooking classes for expats en route to Nigeria, first generation Nigerians trying to discover their roots, and general public interested in learning more about the country. Hopefully, other enterprising Nigerians like Ms. Nwosu, will find more innovative ways of showcasing our culture to the outside world. Love the quote, "If you want to marry an Igbo man, you've got to know how to cook egusi soup"...really?!


UK Expats Learn Nigerian Culture - Ellen Otzen, BBC News

A tiny restaurant on a north London high street is not where you would expect to go to learn about traditional Nigerian culture.

Sandwiched between coffee shops and bowling alleys, the Nigerian Kitchen is easily missed.

But on Saturday mornings it is turned into a training school in the customs of one of Nigeria's largest ethnic groups - the Igbo.

In one corner of the room, a bespectacled teacher, Alex Tetenta, talks lengthily about Igbo political customs.

Mr Tetenta is a radio presenter and politics graduate currently writing a book on Nigerian democracy.

He is surrounded by a handful of attentive young men, all Igbo, who have grown up in London.

Michael's family hails from Abia state in south-eastern Nigeria.

He is here, he says "because learning about my own culture gives me a sense of pride, something to hold on to, instead of just the Western stuff".

At the other end of the room, the school's founder Ebere Nwosu instructs a group of women in cooking egusi soup.

Dried chicken bones sizzle in a pan of palm oil. Red pepper, bitterleaf, and ground crayfish are laid out on a large steel table.

Lack of pride

Ms Nwosu, dressed in a striking yellow traditional dress, is a legal practitioner.

She grew up in north London and says she set up the school to resolve a lack of pride in African culture.

"I think a lot of us who have migrated from Africa to the UK or the United States tend to neglect our culture and adopt that of where we are, which is wrong."

Does she think the neglect happened as newly arrived immigrants tried to assimilate?

"My father is a solicitor and my mother a social worker. Not an ounce of Igbo was spoken to us as we were growing up. They spoke it between themselves, but never spoke it to us children. We were the victims of a 'pro-education' drive," she says.

Igbo culture and what sets it apart from the surrounding Nigerian culture is stressed again and again on the course.

"Egusi soup is a very common soup amongst Nigerians. There's a way in which the Igbos prepare it in comparison to the Yoruba - we don't put as much oil in our food, and we use more vegetables," Ms Nwosu explains to her students.

Each course lasts six weeks and comprises Igbo custom, history, arts and crafts and, of course, cuisine.

"If you want to marry an Igbo man, you've got to know how to cook egusi soup. If you can't cook anything else, at least have that under your belt and you're through the door," laughs Ms Nwosu.


Igbo culture has given rise to many great names.

Olaudah Equiano, one of the most prominent Africans involved in the British movement for the abolition of the slave trade, was believed to be an Igbo.

Other famous Igbos include Nigerian writers Chinua Achebe and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, as well as British athlete Christine Ohuruogu.

Kate Njoku has been following the course for six weeks.

"I wanted to learn more about my roots and my culture. I grew up in London and I've only been to the village in Nigeria where my family comes from once, when I was very young. It's a full course that teaches the language, the arts and the history - so I thought it would be perfect for me."

But not everyone here is Nigerian. Students come from the Caribbean and southern Africa as well.

Diana is from Zimbabwe but is going out with an Igbo man.

"It's time I learned how to cook Igbo food. That's the food my boyfriend eats. We've been coming to this restaurant for two years, buying take-aways. It's best I cook from home," she says.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Africa governance prize finds no winners

Thanks for sharing this article Kome!

Not surprised at the Africa Governance Prize Committee's decision to not award the prize to any candidate this year, I really can't think of anyone who qualifies. Maybe when Rwanda's Kagame or even our dear Yar'Aadua, decides to step down, then we can have some potentials worth debating over. Thoughts on whether they got it wrong this time?


Africa governance prize finds no winners - Financial Times

Mo Ibrahim, the Sudanese telecoms magnate, will not award his $5m African leadership prize this year, a decision seen as a rebuke to the former presidents of Nigeria, South Africa and Ghana, among others.

The prize, now in its third year, is given to heads of state who rule wisely and hand over power to elected successors.

Mr Ibrahim launched the award, along with a related index on African governance, after concluding that poor governance was the biggest impediment to Africa’s development, and deciding to devote the fortune he made selling Celtel, his telecoms company, to the promotion of leadership.

He intended the prize, which he has no say over, would stir debate on governance. This year it has, on cue.

Thabo Mbeki, the former South African president, Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigeria’s leader between 1999 and 2007, and John Kufuor of Ghana were all eligible, having stood down within the past three years.

The decision not to reward them was made by a panel including Kofi Annan, the former United Nations secretary-general, Salim Ahmed Salim, former chairman of the Organisation of African Unity, Mary Robinson, Ireland’s former president, and Mohamed ElBaradei, the outgoing director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

On Monday, Mr Ibrahim said people could draw their own conclusions about the decision.

In a statement, the prize committee “welcomed the progress made on governance in some African countries while noting with concern recent setbacks in other countries”. It added that after an “in-depth review the prize committee could not select a winner”.

The three main candidates played prominent roles mediating conflicts and building pan-continental institutions. They were far more influential on the international stage than previous winners, Festus Mogae of Botswana and Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique.

However, Mr Mbeki and Mr Obasanjo were divisive figures at home, with the former Nigerian leader losing the battle against corruption and sacrificing credibility with a last-minute attempt to prolong his rule. Mr Mbeki drew fierce criticism for his controversial stance on the HIV/Aids crisis.

Mr Kufuor was considered by supporters at home and abroad to be the obvious winner after presiding over a rare peaceful transfer of power to his party’s opponents. However, in recent months his record has come under scrutiny and there are growing concerns about Ghana’s role as a conduit for cocaine during his tenure.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

“In most sub-Saharan African countries, only 5 percent to 10 percent of the population is at the top of the income pyramid”

Interesting statistic on the number of "rich" in Nigeria (in red below) Nigeria, it's less than 0.1%. And of course, shout out to Arise for showcasing African Style on the international scene.

Putting African Style on the Page


Sub-Saharan Africa doesn’t bring to mind the image of a woman with perfectly manicured nails flipping through glossy magazines in search of the latest handbag or celebrity haircut. Yet such women are there, and in far greater numbers than the media’s portrayal of Africa might suggest.

In wealthy neighborhoods of Lagos; Nairobi; Luanda, Angola; Dakar, Senegal, and the like, ladies of leisure, successful businesswomen and aspirational middle-income housewives make up an attractive demographic that, in the past, relied on international fashion magazines for style and beauty information.

But in the past few years, while Condé Nast, Hearst and Hachette Filipacchi were expanding throughout Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East, a handful of African publishers was busy staking claims to this publishing territory. The result has been a wave of new glossies, like Arise, Haute, Helm and True Love, that put an African spin on fashion.

“Honestly, upwardly mobile African readers are crying out for this magazine,” says Helen Jennings, editor of Arise, a monthly style title started late last year by the Nigerian media tycoon Nduka Obaigbena, who also owns the country’s leading newspaper, This Day. “Because the local magazines aren’t as high end or progressive, and no other international titles speak directly to an African readership, Arise has really caused a stir.”

Arise occupies a unique position among magazines in English-speaking Africa as it alone packages both pan-African and global content, producing a provocative blend that Ms. Jennings calls “afropolitan.”

With a reported circulation of about 60,000 and averaging about 140 pages a month, the magazine is distributed to seven other African countries and around Europe and North America. In its no-expense-spared fashion shoots, clothes by African designers are paired with global brands like Yves Saint Laurent, Loewe and Ralph Lauren using popular black international models like Oluchi Onweagba and Rahma Mohamed.

But Arise’s embrace of glamour and celebrity is tempered by a nod to the underground and an appreciation of irreverent reportage. A recent issue included a saucy exposé of African WAGs (the British acronym for wives and girlfriends of soccer players) that appeared alongside quirky items about Ugandan skateboarders, a multimedia prodigy from Ivory Coast and the leather-wearing biker subculture that grew up in Soweto after apartheid.

African publishing has progressed in recent decades, but some major obstacles to real success still exist, including isolation from key business partners and underdeveloped distribution networks.

Literacy rates are still appallingly low in many sub-Saharan countries, but parts of the population with enough disposable income to afford magazines and some of the advertised products have much better literacy rates than the national averages. And in Nigeria and Kenya, which have become regional centers for publishing, literacy is better than 70 percent and 80 percent, respectively.

Africa’s pockets of wealth also are often buried in gloomy macro statistics.

“In most sub-Saharan African countries, only 5 percent to 10 percent of the population is at the top of the income pyramid,” said Sakina Balde, an analyst for Africa and the Middle East at the market research firm Euromonitor International. “While this might seem insignificant, in highly populated countries like Nigeria, for example, it represents a large number of individuals.”

According to its 2008 data, there were 110,200 households in Nigeria with an annual disposable income of more than $75,000 — and last year the country’s 150 million residents spent $750.4 million on newspapers, magazines, books and stationery.

“Nigeria and Angola are both oil producers and many people made a fortune in the oil industry or through various businesses,” Ms. Balde said. “High- and middle-income earners in these countries have an insatiable desire for luxury products and this is not waning with the economic slowdown.”

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A Toast to the Plans We Made to Live Like Kings...

What can i compare you to?

A mother in whose arms I feel, "the world is my oyster"
...Countless opportunities and real impact for those who dared take the first step

A happy childhood full of hopes and dreams
...I pledged to Nigeria my country to be faithful, loyal & honest

A burnt house with ashes left behind to remember what once was
...Poverty-stricken masses who numb the sickenly rich into further greed

A fallen king whose castle was once alight with laughter and dancing
...An oppressed populace who has forgotten its founding values

A false start at the sound of the gun
...Is this what democracy brings?

49...Glory lost, history forgotten, future hangs in the balance.

Who will rewrite the sixth decade?

Take it from me...


HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY! Thanks to the Weepies for the title quote and a joint thank you to them and Shakespeare for the "what can i compare thee to" muse.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

And the Winner is....

So it seems China's about to beat Russia to the finish line for Nigeria's oil reserves, at a whopping $30bn+... And all this without the consent/ buy-in of the Nigerian people. God bless our country! Skeptics (of which there are many) doubt the benefits of this new deal with CNOOC will trickle down to the populace, and wonder whether this new regime of oil miners will be better than the last (given the Chinese' notoriety of importing their own staff into any venture they undertake). While Libya and Angola are currently pushing back on China's plans to take over more oil reserves in their countries, it is important to note that "more than $10 billion of contracts with Nigeria signed in 2006 -- including renovation of a railway, the refurbishment a refinery and the launch of a satellite -- didn't produce results." In the meantime, it looks like MEND is voicing its vote against the alleged deal.

So, what say you?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Y2Y Global Youth Conference 2009 Essay Competition

ESSAY: Youth Entrepreneurship in times of crisis
DEADLINE - September 22nd, 2009

Young people worldwide face difficult labor market prospects. Depending on the region, youth unemployment is easily 2-3 times higher than for adults. Especially in developing countries, the school-to-work transition can be a long and tedious process, during which young people leave school, become jobless and spend time moving between unemployment, inactivity and informal employment. In fact, youth have often been found to effectively act as a "buffer," absorbing shocks is proportionately during negative business cycles, but not benefiting accordingly during economic booms.

In the quest for strategies to boost employment for young people, entrepreneurship is often seen as an important means and a useful alternative for income generation. With most of the overall job creation usually stemming from small enterprises, supporting youth entrepreneurship is now often regarded as an additional way of integrating youth into the labor market and overcoming poverty. However, while it is recognized that the youth years are essential for generating ideas and acquiring the necessary experience to become a successful entrepreneur, young people themselves only make up a small share of all entrepreneurs.

The Y2Y Global Youth Conference 2009 Essay Competition invites youth to share ideas on:

What are the constraints to youth entrepreneurship in your country? Has the global crisis changed the dynamics? How can governments help young entrepreneurs to create and further develop their social and productive ventures?

Please try to answer the following questions in one consistent essay:

1. What impedes young people in your country or community to start their own business or organization? Think about the constraints in terms of socioeconomic conditions, culture, education & experience, access to finance & infrastructure, contacts & networks, and regulations. In how far are these constraints specific to youth compared to adults?

2. Did the global financial crisis reinforce some of these constraints? If yes, what are the dynamics?

3. What do you think governments can/should do to strengthen youth entrepreneurship in your country, town or local community? Think about the solutions in terms of the constraints identified above.

The Contest

Answer the question above in an essay of no more than 1500 words.

1) Winner will receive a $1,000 laptop sponsored by LAC Development Marketplace and the opportunity to be published in a World Bank working paper.

2) 2 runners-up will each receive a Y2Y bag and a copy of the film being showcased at the conference this year.

3) The best three submissions will be published on the World Bank Y2Y website.

Open to participants globally aged 18-30 (winners will need to provide proof of age)
- Essays must be submitted in English only

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Finally Tackling the Nigerian Banking Sector

Finally! The average Nigerian might just get to reap the benefits of another overhaul of the banking sector. The business model of Nigerian banks never ceases to amaze me - from faulty investments in areas they know nothing about (e.g. Oceanic Bank creating an HMO!) to aggressive short-term business lending that ends up constraining rather than stimulating SME growth. New CBN governor, Lamido Sanusi, certainly has his work cut out for him, but I'm hopeful that he will indeed be able to quell the vested interests that have run the industry for so long.

The Magic of Margin Lending - Ayuli Jemide, This Day

The new Central Bank Governor Lamido Sanusi has come into office with a bang. First, he questions the ambitious audacity of the President’s 7-point agenda, next he insists that banks should declare fully in their books the exposure on margin lending. With the second one, he has touched a very sore spot.

About Margin Lending
Margin lending in this context refers to investment loans that Nigerian banks give to customers to enable them invest in shares purchased on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. In most cases, the approved shares, became security for the loan. These types of loans are no longer available as you will see shortly.
I recall a conversation i had with a very entreprenueral former classmate of mine about two years ago. At that time it was the fashion to borrow money from the bank to buy shares and when i told him i could never take a loan from the bank to buy shares, he said he has met people who have a low apetite for risk, but never met someone like me who has “no” apetite for risk.
These were my points as we had this heated debate:
My argument was that the capital market was so risky in Nigeria, and as i heard stories of “quick spin” return on investment of 100-300 % in months, i thought it was getting even riskier. Why? Because in many cases the business fundamentals of the company whose shares just went up did not match their growth. A company share price on the floor of the stock exchange triples (300%) in 6 months but the company itself has not grown 20% in that period. Some “dead” companies were trading on the stock exchange with such high returns whilst their factories had not produced a stitch in 3 years.
I posited futher that from a bankers perspective i wondered how a bank could finance such an investment using the shares as collateral. I was made to understand that investment gurus have said time without number that you should buy shares with money you can afford to lose. Was it not evident that anything could happen on the stock market and that the shares held as security may become worthless if the not very unlikely worse does happen?
It is usually a lending tradition to ask a customer to make a contribution to a business venture while the bank advances a counterpart funding. Not so with majority of margin loans – bankers apetite for risk had risen so high that they could fund a share purchase 100%. Then I came to the conclusion that bankers being the “wise” men that they are must know something about the Nigerian stock market that many of us are oblivious about. This genre of thinking crystallised when i heard that Bank Managing Directors had crossed lent to each other millions of Naira in margin loans. Surely there is a diamond in this rough that only a “discerning investor” can see? And indeed many creamed home to the bank and got out just in time for Christmas.

The crux
Today, it is estimated that Nigerian banks are being owed about 1.4 trillion Naira by customers who took margin loans. This is about 13% of total commercial banking assets as at 2007. Whats more? Now that the share prices (value of the share certificates) held as Security have dropped (or become more realistic?), the customers have said to the banks – go ahead and sell the shares to recover your money. Many can be therefore aptly be classified as bad or doubtful debts, or partially so if they can sell some of the shares at today’s value in a bearish market.
Given this situation the Central Bank believes that a non disclosure of these margin loans in the annual reports of the banks would have the effect of painting the banks in better light than the actual. Which in itself is deceptive to customers and shareholders. The Central Bank therefore demands a full disclosure and herein is the crux of the matter.

What next?
Several trends are bound to follow:
Firstly, there is a likelihood that many banks will suffer an even greater drop in their share price when (or if?) they actually disclose the true state of their margin loan portfolios. The demand for their shares may drop invariably!
Secondly, it is very unlikely that banks will declare huge dividends and bonuses in this season to its shareholders.
Thirdly, it is already happening that banks are calling in more of their credits and there is a credit squeeze in the market because the banks need to beef up their liquidity to cover the deep gash margin loans have left in their books.

One newspaper article concluded that “The thirst to make quick and easy money drove margin lending”. Many banks will in the days to come rework their approach to banking - moving away from the quick to the sustainable - heading back to the traditional banking culture which has a medium to long term view founded on the tradition of customer service.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

PhD Opportunities, Media, Empowerment and Democracy in East Africa

In case you are interested:

PhD Scholarships: Media, Empowerment and Democracy in East Africa

The Danish-East African research project, "People Speaking Back? Media, Empowerment and Democracy in East Africa (MEDI/e/A)", funded by the Danish Development Agency (Danida), offers two full-time PhD scholarships (36 months) starting on January 1^st 2010, using ethnographic perspectives. One will be registered as a PhD student at University of Nairobi, the other at University of Dar es Salaam.

Funding follow provisions of Kenya and Tanzania universities.

About MEDIeA *
The overall objective of MEDI/e/A is to explore the role civil society
driven media and communication technologies potentially can have in enhancing participatory governance processes in East Africa, more specifically in Kenya and Tanzania. The core inquiry of MEDI/e/A grows from a concern about how young people are secured a role in both the local, national and regional development processes. The research project's analytical challenge is to understand the ways and means in which youth as ordinary citizens engage with such civil society driven media and communication platforms and what socio-cultural and policy related outcomes this may have.

MEDIeA comprises of a team of 4 researchers in addition to the two PhD students that are about to be contracted. In Kenya, the team consists of Associate Professor Norbert Wildermuth from University of Southern Denmark and Associate Research Professor Winnie Mitullah from University of Nairobi. In Tanzania, the team consists of Professor and Principal Investigator of MEDIeA, Thomas Tufte and Assistant Professor Datius Rweyemanu. In addition to empirical research, the MEDI/e/A project comprises of components of dissemination, capacity building and policy dialogue. The research program is hosted by /ØRECOMM - Consortium for Communication and Glocal Change /at Department of Communication, Business and Information Technologies, Roskilde University, Denmark.
Objectives of the PhD*

*It is the general objective of the announced PhD scholarships to strengthen the overall research efforts of MEDI/e/A in Kenya and
Tanzania. The PhD students are expected to provide *community based research which uncovers the synergies and communication relations between everyday life, media use, citizen engagement in social and political processes. *The announced PhD projects can be specified as follows:

*Kenya**:** *_Communication, e-participation and digital inclusion: a media ethnographic study._ See detailed description on

*Tanzania: *_Media use, citizenship and participatory governance: a
media ethnographic study in Tanzania_ See detailed description on

*Who can apply?*

We invite applications from students with an MA in social sciences or humanities and with experience in qualitative empirical research,
preferably in the field of qualitative reception studies, media
ethnography and/or participatory communication studies. Applicants should be prepared to work extended periods in the 'field', in close and prolonged cooperation with the non-governmental and community-based organisations selected as case studies by the MEDI/e/A team of senior researchers. Applicants must be able to communicate in the relevant vernacular language, besides English, as well as demonstrate the necessary 'social' abilities to do research based on a participant observation approach. Finally, it would be beneficial if applicants also have experience with survey-based, quantitative research designs or equivalent qualifications.

*Application procedure*
Deadline: 10 August 2009._

Please submit:
1. A research proposal of up to five pages
2. A curriculum vitae including list of publications
3. A writing sample/publication of 5-10.000 words
4. Official transcripts of undergraduate degree and Master's degree
5. Reference letters (optional)

Applications have to be based on the full advertisement of the specific PhD scholarship you are applying. As the descriptions both for the Kenya and Tanzania scholarship are already quite elaborate, the applicants are expected to provide their own theoretical-methodological reflection based on the initial outline as well as suggesting and justifying a research design for the actual study.
The selection will be based on both the relevant experience of the applicant and quality research proposal.

Successful candidates selected for interviews will be announced on 20 August 2009. Interviews will be conducted on 24 and 25 August at the University of Nairobi and on 1 and 2 September at University of Dar-es-Salaam. Final selection will be announced by 10 September.

Please send your application including appendices in one single pdf file to Kirsten Høffding ( ) at Roskilde University. Should you have questions regarding the content of the proposal, please contact the following: For the Kenya scholarship_: Norbert Wildermuth>
and Winnie Mitullah

For the Tanzania scholarship:_ Thomas Tufte(, offline 3-26 July) and Datius Rweyemanu(

Thanks for sharing this Whoopi!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Opportunities...The Gates Cambridge Scholarship

For those considering a return to academia during these tumultous times...

The Gates Cambridge Scholarship - Quick summary
Gates Cambridge Scholarships are full-cost awards for graduate study and research in any subject available at the University of Cambridge. A small number are also available for study towards a second undergraduate degree.
The scholarships are highly competitive and are awarded to citizens of any country outside the United Kingdom.
Scholarships are awarded on the basis of the candidate’s academic excellence, a good fit between the Scholar and the University of Cambridge, evidence of leadership potential and a commitment to improving the lives of others.
The Trust seeks to elect approximately 100 new Gates Scholars annually (although the exact number of awards may change from year to year). Approximately 40 of the 100 new scholarships each year will be awarded to US citizens.
All candidates shortlisted for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship attend a brief interview.
Decisions on awards are made on different timetables for different parts of the world. The majority of US Gates Scholars are selected in early February; Gates Scholars from all other countries are selected in mid-April.
The award of a scholarship is absolutely conditional on the student gaining admission to Cambridge through the University's regular procedures. The Gates Cambridge Trust is not able to admit students.
There are usually about 250 Gates Scholars in residence at any one time, about 100 of whom will be from the USA. While in residence, Gates Cambridge Scholars become fully integrated into the University and its Colleges and engage in full-time intensive academic work.
Upon graduation Scholars join Cambridge's widespread and influential alumni network. There are over 550 Gates Alumni spread throughout the world, all of whom are members of and are represented by the Gates Scholars' Alumni Association.
The scholarship programme is in its eighth year. Since the inaugural class of Gates Scholars in 2001, there have been 827 Gates Cambridge Scholarships from 85 different countries.

Candidates for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship:

- may be citizens of any country outside the United Kingdom.

- may apply to study any subject available at the University of Cambridge.

- must apply to pursue one of the following full-time residential courses of study:
Research leading to the PhD degree
- One-year post-graduate courses (e.g. MPhil, LLM, Diploma, MBA etc.)
- 2 year MSc degree
- Second Bachelor degree as an Affiliated Student
- MBBChir Clinical Studies

- must be admitted to Cambridge through the University's normal academic procedures. The Trust cannot admit students.

- must have a first class or high second class honours degree, or its equivalent, from a recognised university. For universities which work according to the North American pattern, candidates will be expected to have excellent transcripts with high GPA scores showing evidence of sustained achievement in study, together with the type of academic references which speak of the candidate's leadership potential, social commitment, intellectual ability and why further study at Cambridge is particularly appropriate. The Gates Cambridge Trust does not require candidates to take a GRE test, although some Departments in Cambridge may do so; candidates should check the relevant section of the Graduate Studies Prospectus.

- must be well prepared for the Cambridge course for which they are applying and must meet the academic criteria for admission specified by the University. Some courses may have particular requirements for admission, and details of these can be found in the relevant sections of the Graduate Studies Prospectus for graduate applicants, or the Undergraduate Prospectus for affiliated applicants.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Opportunities...The TED Fellows Program

A friend recommended this (Thanks Yemi!) as a worthwhile program to apply to. The TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conferences bring together some of the most remarkable change-makers in the world on a 4-day journey of knowledge/idea exchange. Attendance at TED is by invitation only, but this fellowship program provides the opportunity to attend multiple conferences (all-expense paid) and be part of the TED community, and, with its help, amplify the impact of your own personal projects and activities. Read on...

Unexpected connections. Extraordinary insights. Powerful inspiration.

The TED Fellows program is designed to bring together young world-changers and trailblazers who have shown unusual accomplishment and exceptional courage. The program targets individuals from the Asia/Pacific region, Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America and the Middle East, though anyone from anywhere in the world, age 18 and over, is welcome to apply.

Benefits to Fellows

Attendance to one TED or TEDGlobal Conference with all expenses paid (conference, travel, room and board)
Participation in Fellows pre-conference activities
Private social networking on
Potential to speak on the TED Fellows or TED University stage
Potential to have that talk posted on
Responsibilities of Fellows

Full attendance and participation at the Conference
Submission of a post-conference report
Regular posting on the TED Fellows Blog

Additional benefits to Senior Fellows

Attendance to five additional TED and TEDGlobal Conferences with all expenses paid (travel, room and board)
Participation in five additional Senior Fellows-centered pre-conference activities
Potential to deliver a full-length talk on the main stage
Potential to have that TEDTalk posted online
Additional responsibilities of Senior Fellows

Full attendance and participation at five additional TED or TEDGlobal Conferences over three years
Submission of a post-conference report after each conference
Regular posting on the TED Fellows Blog
Hosting annual TEDTalks viewing parties for 50-100 people
Giving a talk on the TED Fellows, TED University or main TED stage

How it works: four steps
1. Candidates apply to attend one conference in either Long Beach or Oxford. Individuals can apply directly or be nominated by others. We'll also directly recruit potential Fellows and invite them to apply. Applications for TEDGlobal 2009 will open February 23, 2009. Email to be reminded when applications open. Please include your name, title, organization, email address, and country.

2. We'll choose 25 people to attend each conference as Fellows (50 per year).

3. In 2010, after the 2009 conferences, we'll choose 20 from 50 of the previous year's participants for the three-year TED Senior Fellows Program, bringing them to five additional conferences (for a total of six).

4. We'll recruit 50 new Fellows each year, resulting in 20 Senior Fellows each following year. By 2012, we'll have 50 TED Fellows annually (split between Long Beach and Oxford) and 60 concurrent Senior Fellows.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


It's incredible how many opportunities to develop your interests/talents are out there. Over the next few weeks, as i discover some of them, I will endeavour to share them with you, and I hope you can help spread the word too...

Peace and Security Fellowships for African Women

Deadline Date
April 4, 2009

As part of its Knowledge Building and Mentoring Programme, the Conflict, Security, and Development Group at King's College London together with the Africa Leadership Centre (ALC) is offering the Peace and Security Fellowships for African Women. The Fellowships bring together African women at the early stages of their career. It is intended that this project will train African women to develop a better understanding of African peace and security issues in order to increase their participation in conflict management processes and other areas of security concerns for African women.

This is a one-year Fellowship, divided into two 6-month phases. The first phase will be based at King's College London where the Fellows will attend courses on conflict, security, and development. They will also study several United Kingdom (UK) institutions working in the field of peace and security. This phase will end with a simulation seminar during which a mock conflict management situation will be practised. In the second phase, Fellows will be attached to an African regional organisation or centre of excellence to undertake practical work in the field of peace and security including peace and conflict management processes.

Successful Fellows will have the status of full-time students in the post-graduate non-degree programme at King's College London, and they will be subject to the immigration rules of the United Kingdom. The position is based for the first 6 months in London and includes financial assistance with winter clothing and book expenses. Fellows will be able to apply for University of London accommodation although they can make their own accommodation arrangements. For the second phase of the Fellowship to be based in Africa, Fellows will have a monthly stipend, exclusive of medical insurance expenses, and a one-off allowance to enable them to settle in to their respective countries. Fellows are also expected to find their own accommodation during this phase. The Fellowship is a full-time appointment and Fellows are expected to make a full-time commitment.
Application Information

Applicants should:

* be female citizens of an African country, with valid travel documents;
* have knowledge or experience of women's rights, gender, and development issues;
* be able to demonstrate a commitment to contribute to work on peace and security in Africa;
* have a relevant organisational base and be sponsored by an organisation with which they have been involved for at least two years, though exceptional candidates without such organisational ties will be given special consideration;
* have a demonstrable plan for how to utilise knowledge gained in the Fellowship upon return to their countries and organisations;
* hold a Master's degree or Bachelor's degree with an equivalent level of professional experience, though applications from women with non-academic backgrounds are encouraged; and
* be fluent in spoken and written English.

To be considered for the Fellowship please email or post the following documents to the contact below:

* letter of application detailing your relevant experience;
* supporting statement detailing why you think that this Fellowship is important and future plans for engagement with peace and security issues (no longer than 2,000 words);
* 2 letters of recommendation (to be received directly from the referees by the deadline);
* recent curriculum vitae; and
* two samples of your written work (maximum 5,000 words).

All documents should be sent in as MS Word attachments in a single email message (separate emails for the same application will not be accepted) or as a single post package. The applicant's name should be indicated at the top right hand corner of every page of all documents submitted.

Click here or here for more information about the fellowship.

Eka Ikpe
Conflict, Security and Development Group

King's College, London
Strand Bridge House
138-142 Strand
United Kingdom (UK)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Spinning it Lagos Style

Hi All, we know it's been a bit of a long while, and we're not 100% consistently back, but just thought this was quite a positive article from the Mail & Guardian to share regarding the explosion of Nigerian music and entertainment across the globe. Be it in Brooklyn, or Brixton, Gongo Aso...

Thanks Shirley for sharing this article!


New York. The queue of stylish men and women, many of whom wouldn't be out of place in a music video, snakes around the block. It looks like a typical crowd for a New York hip-hop club, come to dance to Jay-Z or Lil Wayne. But it's not, and they haven't.

In fact, inside the club there's barely an American track to be heard because this crowd isn't particularly interested in listening to American music. Instead, the majority of the tunes the DJ spins are the latest urban hits from Nigeria and the punters, mainly young Africans, are hooked on every one. It's all part of the biggest boom in Nigerian music since the 1970s, with clubs from New York to Paris to London to Nairobi playing club hits from Lagos.

This new wave of Nigerian music, which has really only begun to take hold in the last five years, is a world away from the sounds of the pioneers of that first wave of exports -- the likes of Fela Kuti and Sunny Ade -- who helped spur the growth of world music as a marketable niche product in Europe and North America.

Listen to music by contemporary Nigerian artists -- 2Face Idibia, D'Banj, P-Square, Naeto C, Ikechukwu or eLDee the Don -- and you'll hear the smooth synthesised sounds of the latest US productions. Beats are no longer provided just by talking drums, but by 808s and sequenced kick snares.

Vocals may have been processed with vocoders and other studio tools to give them that commercial, MTV urban edge. "It's untraditional," says Alex Okosi, the senior vice-president and general manager of MTV Networks Africa. "It's not your middle-aged African artist [making music for] your middle-aged European audience."

Leaning more towards hip-hop than high life, the latest breed of Nigerian artists fuse American urban sounds with Nigerian influences to great effect. "Hip-Hop and R&B -- that's the foundation of my sound," says Nigerian rapper Naeto C, who was recently named best new act at the MTV Africa awards. But even though this music uses the urban sounds of America as a launch pad, it is marked with a distinctly Nigerian stamp.

In the 1980s and 1990s, American hip-hop became the staple musical diet for an entire generation of Nigerians. American rappers flooded the air waves and young music-makers around the country began shaping their music to sound like what they heard from the likes of Biggie, Tupac or Puffy.

Many tried, unsuccessfully, to mimic the lyrics, beats and sounds of American hip-hop. Some would rap in English, not necessarily the language they were most at ease with. Others would adopt fake American accents and use slang that originated from America's inner cities but bore little semblance to the reality of modern Nigerian life.

The hyper-sexualised and materialistic nature of hip-hop was also seen to be at odds with conservative Nigerian culture and was rejected outright in the northern part of the country, which is Muslim. It is not surprising that Nigerian urban artists found themselves ridiculed as poor imitators of American hip-hop.

......Nigerian musicians are no longer trying to ape the lifestyle, culture and language of American urban artists. Switching between English, pidgin English, Yoruba and Nigerian slang as they rhyme and sing, they have realised that success depends on ensuring that their music reflects its place of origin and that it resonates, in as authentic a way as possible, with their audience.

.......So how popular is the new Nigerian music? No one really knows. Firstly, music piracy is rife in Nigeria and secondly, accurate sales figures are hard to come by. However, a distributor recently told Naeto C that his sales in 2008 hit at least three million -- and that's just in Nigeria. Those figures do not take into account the fact that Nigerian urban music is well established in the rest of Africa and has a growing fan base internationally. ElDee, meanwhile, claims to have sold 10-million records during the course of his career.

............ Indeed Naeto C isn't alone in having lived outside Nigeria -- so have eLDee the Don and singer/songwriter Asa, who released an album in the United Kingdom last year on Mike Batt's Dramtico label. Asa, who has been called a Nigerian Tracy Chapman and sings in English and Yoruba, acknowledges this mixture of influences is what defines her as an artist: "I listen to a lot of people and have been influenced by Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, Fela Kuti. I had the opportunity to come to Paris as an artist and I saw all this freedom of expression, colours and music everywhere -- on the metro, on the street -- stuff I didn't have back home."

But none of that would matter without some means of getting the music to its audience, which was provided when MTV Base launched in Africa in February 2005. Although it wasn't the first major music TV channel on the continent -- the influential South African music channel Channel O has been broadcasting since the early 1990s -- the introduction of MTV's glossy aesthetic had a significant impact on audio and video production standards.

Its arrival, says Ogunyemi, "has made Nigerians say, 'We need to make better videos; we need to up the ante.' It's almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy: the more you put into it the more you get out of it and that's really what's happening."

Industry observers think the Nigerian music scene could become as successful as Nollywood -- Nigeria's film industry, which is now rated as the third largest in the world. As with Nollywood, there's a ready-made global audience in the Nigerian diaspora (Nigerians make up one-fifth of all Africans in the world), as well as other Africans, and with better production values there is the increasing likelihood that some of these acts will cross over to a non-African audience. The internet, naturally, helps.

"Even if you are just targeting Nigerians [with your music], you're not just looking at Nigerians in Nigeria, you're looking at Nigerians everywhere because you can put a video up on Facebook or you can put it on YouTube," says Ogunyemi. "In the mid-1990s I used to produce an African hip-hop group based in New York and you couldn't reach people elsewhere because there weren't that many multimedia-friendly ways of reaching people."

Nowadays websites such as and are helping Nigerian music's march towards global recognition.

And elDee is hopeful the march will continue. "Nigerian music already has its uniqueness and I believe people from all sectors of the world will accept it because it is great entertainment, period." -- © Guardian News & Media 2009

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Interesting Perspective on the Size of Africa

HAPPY 2009! Thank you for sharing your views in 2008; may 2009 bring some progress across the many issues in the Motherland.

Thanks for sharing this Kome!

Monday, December 1, 2008

MOI: The Metamorphosis of the African Woman

So I know we all have a view on this one. I feel strongly about the mistreated woman who suffers/endures all for the sake of her children because that is what she is programmed to do - to LOVE and SURVIVE, to MEND and MAKE DO, to HEAL and MOVE ON. Half of the time, the "Mike" Okechukwu Ofili references in his article, is as much the product of a "managed" marriage as it is of a broken home. Every woman knows her threshold for emotional and physical abuse, and often, the children (or religion) are used by the African community to convince her to stay in an abusive marriage. Interested in hearing your thoughts on Okey's question: WHAT IS BEST? or rather, what is least damaging to woman and child?....

MOI: The Metamorphosis of the African Woman

The words hit me like a ton of bricks! Mike had what! I exclaimed
...Mike was the quintessential kid, everyone wanted to be like him. Unlike us Mike lived a liberal life; his stories were filled with sultry tales of adventures on the streets of Lagos. As a young teenager his stories sparked our interest. I got to know Mike personally as a student at my Mum’s after-school tutorial program. He always arrived in the latest car models and his clothes exuded richness. I often wondered why we didn’t have the same cool clothes as Mike or the same liberal freedoms as Mike. It was okay for Mike to stay up past midnight, but for us it was two death sentences in one. Firstly a beating from Mum and the other a sharp lyrical onslaught from Dad. But behind all of Mike’s riches lay scars invisible to our eyes. Product of a broken marriage, Mike was a victim of artificial love from two warring parents. Parents that substituted discipline with liberalism. Liberalism that left a wound hidden in Mike’s heart for years…
I heard the words come out from my Mum’s mouth, but I was too shocked to understand any of it. Mike had killed his father and committed suicide days after being arrested for drug possession. What pushed a child so sweet and so lucky towards these acts? I remembered the times I stayed up in bed early cursing at my parents for forcing us to go to bed early, but as I lay in bed that night, my heart heaved a painful sign of appreciation. I had what Mike never had, a strong and loving family.

Quoting “statistics show that only 1 out of 100 Indian marriages end up to a divorce…in comparison 50% of America’s marriages turning into divorce [break ups].” Due to the large rural population and incomplete records, the divorce rate in Nigeria is largely unknown, but I would estimate it to be close to the figures reflected in India. In Nigeria divorce is not an option, it was taboo looked down upon by religious bodies and traditional cultures. In our eyes marriage was permanent and I could understand why. Many times dissolved marriages created more and more Mikes in the world. Children groomed in an atmosphere of artificial love who ended up losing out on the defining lessons of life. So Nigerian couples tended to stay together in a bid to maintain an artificial family atmosphere for their children. Even when the husband was physically abusive to his wife, the woman held on to the marriage. A sacrificial act perpetrated to eradicate the creation of more Mikes in the world. But was the sacrifice necessary?

According to the September 19th Washington Post article, the divorce rate in New Delhi, the capital city of India has almost doubled. The main reason being the western cultural influence. An influence absorbed by thousands of immigrants that empowers its women to speak out against injustice “[In Korea] 66.7% of divorces in 2003 were initiated by women, compared to 30.6% by men.” Injustice that in Nigeria would typically have been looked at as a necessary sacrifice. A sacrifice that Elizabeth made for years as she was physically abused in her own home by the very same man that promised to love her for better for worse. But Elizabeth stayed. She fought hard but could never overcome the strength of her monstrous husband, who in unpredictable but intermittent emotional rage proceeded to beat her night after night. An act that occurred in the full view of her children and a nation slowly awakening to the rights of a woman. For nights she cried but culture and religion chose to keep quiet. Family members wandered around like they never saw the bruises or heard the cries…a norm in Africa now frowned upon by legions of Nigerian re-immigrants. It was in that same state that Mary found herself. What started out as an American dream for Mary turned into a nightmare, like Elizabeth, Mary was exposed to nights of physical abuse. But unlike Nigeria her new community chose to listen to her cries, chose to see her wounds and chose to stand up against her injustice. Using the power of divorce, Mary opted out of her nightmare. Taking with her a two year old child. Mary had overcome her abusive husband, but now had to overcome the world as single mother faced with the gargantuan task of raising a child. Mary tried her best, but like Mike another child was bred confused and lost, a cultural embarrassment to the elders of Nigeria and another ubiquitous by-product of a western culture saturated with divorce.

What should Mary have done, should she have sacrificed herself for the mirage of a quasi marriage? That question is answered with a startling “no” by Nigerian female immigrants to America. Who frown at the thought of staying in an abusive marriage. A thought that is often preceded with the mindset of an independent woman. A woman whose idea of marriage is one in which both husband and wife are equally responsible for the financial and social aspects of the family. But in the traditional definition of marriage that has never been the case. The man has always been marked as the head of the household with a woman there to support him. But this trend of female independence is fast engulfing the Nigerian landscape as the typical definition of an obedient African woman is now replaced with that of an empowered woman or as Fela Anikulapo Kuti would say an empowered sophisticated lady. In his upbeat hit song “Lady,” Fela takes a satirical look at this trend comparing and contrasting between a typical African woman and the newly evolving westernized African woman. In his song he portrays the African woman as one willing to accept the man as the master, but the “Lady” on the other hand is soiled with western influence and believes the man should wash plates and share in the household chores.

Excerpt’s Of “Lady” by Fela:
African woman go dance she go dance the fire dance
She know him man na Master
She go cook for am
She go do anything he say
But Lady no be so

So what is best? A woman that sacrifices herself to uphold a family, or a woman that speaks up against palpable injustice. I don’t know the answer, I wish I did. But as I stare at that girl swaddled in the warm linen of blankets with that glistened look in her eyes. I can’t help but think about Mike. Who shall we produce what shall we become? I don’t know but in the cold of the night I come to realize that part of the solution lies in me. The man.

Okechukwu Ofili
Copyright © 2008 Ofili Speaks, Inc. All rights reserved

Thursday, November 20, 2008


A somewhat positive ranking for a change. But as much as Nigeria has been ranked the least vulnerable economy in the world by Merrill Lynch, we do have to think about the implications of being an oil-dependent economy (a very vulnerable resource in terms of pricing). Oil contributes 20% directly to the GDP. Given the recent decline in oil prices, one can expect that a further decline will contract our GDP causing government revenues to fall. Now, of course not everyone's as pessimistic as I am about this ranking, if the recent run on the Nigerian Stock Exchange is anything to go by, Nigerians should proceed with caution at this seemingly good news...

Nigeria: Merrill Lynch Ranks Country World's Safest Economy -

A major boost was given to Nigeria's quest for foreign investment inflow at the weekend as the country was named the least vulnerable economy in the world, according to a report, Global Economics, compiled by a team of experts from Merrill Lynch.

The report, a copy of which was made available to THISDAY at the weekend, was compiled following several data requests from clients of the investment bank for key risk indicators for all major economies including Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

According to the statistics, the world's 10 least vulnerable economies are Nigeria, Mexico, Phili-ppines, Colombia, Egypt, Oman, Indonesia, Peru, China and Russia.

Also, the report identified Australia, Switzerland, Korea, Romania, Hungary, Sweden, Bulgaria, Euro area, United Kingdom and the United States of America as the highest risk economies in the world.

The risk ranking was based on seven indicators and they are - current account financing gap, foreign exchange reser-ves/short-term external debt ratio, private credit-to-Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio, and private credit growth, loans to deposits and banks capital-to-assets ratio. Merrill Lynch said the report also addressed all the requests in 62 indicators of the 60 world economies.

According to the report, Nigeria, with a population of 141.41million, was able to record a 7.3 per cent growth in GDP, with its Consumer Price Index hovering at 11.5 per cent, its current account balance, fiscal balance and public debt at 6 per cent, 6.3 and 10.4 percentage respectively.

To determine its external vulnerability, Nigeria's external debt position was put at 12.9 per cent of the GDP, while external debt /exports ratio was put at 9 per cent. Her forex reserves totalled $60.8billion.

The percentage of Nigeria's total external debt in relation to the GDP was put at two per cent, total foreign claims is $15.3billion while international claims stood at $13.1billion.

The report stated that the percentage of Current Account Balance plus net Foreign Direct Investment of the Nigerian GDP was 34, Forex reserves/short-term external debt totalled 41, while percentage of export of the GDP was 38 point.

The percentage of private credit of GDP was 43, while the percentage of bank capital to assets, according to Merrill Lynch was 41.

The 10 most vulnerable countries, which are mostly European countries, were said to have exhibited worse balance of payments positions, stretched external debt service ratios and overleveraged financial systems.

Explaining further on how it put the report together, Merrill Lynch states that: "While we believe that our country risk ranking produces plausible results, one needs to be aware that, as any ranking of that type, it is highly sensitive to the selection of indicators employed. For example, developed countries can probably sustain higher external vulnerability indicators than emerging markets; some Euro area country statistics are possibly misleading given there is a monetary union."

In their reactions, the leadership of the Nigerian organised private sector said the various investment-friendly programmes put in place especially in the past five years largely gave Nigeria a pride of place in the ranking.

Immediate past Director-General of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), Dr. Mansur Ahmed said the latest ranking has confirmed that Nigeria is indeed an investors-haven. The feat, he said, should be traced to a regime of consistent and sustained improvement in the nation's fiscal management.

Speaking with THISDAY in a telephone interview yesterday, Ahmed acknowledged that Nigeria has been able to maintain a healthy foreign exchange management, low budget deficit and heavily low external indebtedness, which he said have combined to grossly reduce the nation's level of risk. He said those indices have also endeared the nation's economy to foreign investors.

According to the incumbent DG of the NESG, the key indicator to the safety of investment in Nigeria is the freedom to invest in any part of the country without government's intervention. He maintained that issues like hostile acquisitions, or government take-over is not common in Nigeria, explaining that even in cases where government reversed policies, it is always limited to government investments.

"In Nigeria, people can invest anywhere without hindrance. Other important considerations are the sheer size of the Nigerian market and underlying macro-economic issues," Ohuanbuwa said.

He noted that although investors in Nigeria are still complaining of high cost of doing business, the level of risk is far lower than what obtains some other economies of the world.

On measures to improve on the latest ranking, the experts were unanimous in their call for the sustenance of investor-friendly policies by the government.

Ahmed emphasised the need for effective management of the nation's foreign asset especially in the face of the dwindling prices of crude oil at the international market.

Ohuanbuwa charged the government to liberalise the economy by removing all hindrances to the economy.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Ken Saro-Wiwa, Jerry Useni And A Forgetful Nation

One of the things that touch a raw nerve in me regarding Nigeria(ns) is that we forget easily. We forget our heroes, our villains, our collective experiences and the lessons we shoulda/woulda/coulda learned from them. We therefore do not question when our media airs such stupid (for lack of a more creative word at 1am) comments made by government sycophants, as that made by Useni (below). We are too interested in where our next meal is coming from that we dare not be bothered by whose memory is being tarnished for whatever reasons. 13 years on, as Britain remembers 90 years of brave soldiers who fought and died for their country, I hope that we as Nigerians in our respective hustle and bustle, will take a moment or two to remember a great Nigerian hero - Ken Saro-Wiwa - who paid the ultimate price for the justice that still eludes the victims of the Niger Delta's pillage, who died for his country, for OUR COUNTRY.

Ken Saro-Wiwa, Jerry Useni And A Forgetful Nation - By Reuben Abati

"I'm in good spirits...There's no doubt that my ideas will succeed in time, but I'll have to bear the pain of the moment...the most important thing for me is that I've used my talents as a writer to enable the Ogoni people to confront their tormentors. I was not able to do it as a politician or a businessman. My writing did it. And it sure makes me feel good! I'm mentally prepared for the worst, but hopeful for the best. I think I have the moral victory" - Ken Saro-Wiwa

The nation-wide excitement over Senator Barack Obama's victory in the US Presidential election, almost allowed Lt Gen. Jeremiah Useni to get away with some of the silly things he has been saying lately about federalism and even more offensively about the late Ken Saro-Wiwa who was executed by the Abacha junta, of which Useni was a principal member, 13 years ago. Indeed, it will be exactly 13 years tomorrow since we lost Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight others who were hanged on trumped up charges of murder. The timing of Jerry Useni verbal diarrhoea could not have been fortuitous, it comes across as a pre-determined attempt to rubbish Ken Saro-Wiwa's memory and to diminish the significance of the struggle that he championed. But Jerry Useni is wrong, and he needs to be told so, clearly and in no unmistaken terms.

Permit me to note that Jerry Useni is one of those conveniently forgotten figures of Nigerian history. In a more disciplined society, a man like him would not have the gumption to speak up with such reckless confidence, he would be in self-imposed hiding out of shame and contrition. But in Nigeria, we forget so easily, so quickly and so readily, that some of the architects of past pains can now come forward to tell us how to run our lives and we are forced to listen, because the media, fighting a battle against censorship, can also not afford to censor the views of others even when they seem unreasonable. These days, surprisingly, even General Ibrahim Babangida, the man who annulled the democratic elections of June 1993, also gives lectures on democracy and his views are given air-time!

It is a sad comment on the capacity of Nigerians to remember and reward and sanction past conduct that a Jerry Useni would still be able to stand up in the market square and pontificate. He was Abacha's side-kick, and one of the main promoters of military tyranny. His dismissal of Ken Saro-Wiwa as a traitor who deserved to be murdered by the Nigerian state is therefore in character, but it is such a lie that should not be allowed to stand.

On October 28, Lt. Gen Jerry Useni showed up in the day's papers as having uttered the following tosh at an encounter with journalists in Jos: that the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa and others in November 1995 was in the "country's best interest" because "the Nigerian state was under Western threat"; that "Saro-Wiwa was a surrogate of the West. Executing him at that time was to save the Niger Delta from his terror;" that a film was made available to the Abacha government which showed Saro Wiwa using crude methods to torture his kinsmen; that the creation of the Niger Delta Ministry is likely to worsen the situation in the Niger Delta, and that Nigeria is not yet ripe for federalism because federalism might lead to the country's break-up". Useni with these statements confirms the long-held and widely affirmed view that Nigeria suffers from a crisis of leadership. Useni, by the accident of history is supposed to be a national leader, but see how poorly he reasons!

Ken Saro Wiwa did not deserve to die in the hands of Abacha's hangman. He was not a traitor, he was a patriot. He was not a saboteur, he was a nationalist. He was not a villain, he was a hero. He was a martyr and a victim of military tyranny and the sadism of the military elite. His murder was certainly not in the nation's best interest, and Useni should know as Ken Saro-Wiwa's ghost continues to haunt the Nigerian state in the Niger Delta. Ken Saro-Wiwa wanted for his people, the Ogoni, in the Southern part of the country what every Nigerian desires for his or her own people: dignity, better life, humanity, equity and justice. But the Ogoni, 500, 000 of them, whose land supplies Nigeria with the bulk of its oil wealth, lived and continue to live in abject poverty, their land despoiled, their farmlands laid waste, their air polluted due to oil exploration activities.

Ken Saro-Wiwa, author, writer, polemicist, entrepreneur, television personality, accomplished public affairs analyst, decided to wake up his people and mobilise them to fight against the injustices of the Nigerian state. He was a rich man of means who decided to sacrifice it all in order to lead his people and raise their voices. He was a class-rebel who chose to defend the truth. In 1990, he set up the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP). The accent on survival is worth noting, it speaks to the threats faced by the Ogoni. In October 1990, an Ogoni Bill of Rights was launched and "presented to the government and people of Nigeria". The Bill noted in part:

That in over 30 years of oil mining, the Ogoni nationality has provided the Nigerian nation with a total revenue estimated at over forty billion naira, thirty billion dollars.

That in return for the above contribution, the Ogoni people ahve received NOTHING.

That today, the Ogoni people have:

(i) No representative whatsoever in ALL institutions of the Federal Government of Nigeria

(ii) No pipe-borne water

(iii) No electricity

(iv) No job opportunities for the citizens in Federal, state, public sector or private sector companies

(v) No social or economic project of the Federal Government.

These, among others, were the injustices that Ken Saro-Wiwa and others chose to rebel against. But Ken Saro-Wiwa, the leader of the struggle, was not a nihilist. He preached non-violence, he ran a struggle driven by ideas. He simply wanted a better Nigeria and a better deal for the Ogoni. He wanted his people to be treated as "equal members of the Nigerian federation".

In 1993, General Sani Abacha siezed power and became Nigeria's Head of State. The country was on the boil over the annulment of the June 12, 1993 election. The Ogoni struggle was in full ferment. AbaCha was a typical soldier, he could not handle arguments. He turned the gun on every subject and anything that moved.

It is a long story that cannot be made better by cutting it short but for the moment, it is enough to state that in May 1994, Ken Saro-Wiwa and fifteen others were arrested and accussed of having had a hand in the murder of four Ogoni chiefs. Ken Saro-Wiwa and the others denied the charges. On November 2, 1995, Saro-Wiwa and eight other men were sentenced to death. Eight days later, they were hanged at the Port Harcourt prison, in spite of appeals from all over the world. The trial was an abuse of due process and fair hearing, in the course of the trial, the accused persons were not allowed the right to fair trial and an appeal. Indeed, the defence lawyers at some stage had to withdraw in protest! The government's eventual open display of wickedness earned Nigeria a suspension from the Commonwealth and sanctions from across the world. Saro-Wiwa and others were buried in unmarked graves and there were reports that Saro-Wiwa's body was doused with acid, to be sure that he would not suddenly ressurect. Jerry Useni and his friends were afraid of Ken Saro Wiwa even in death. Thirteen years later, it is instructive that they are still afraid. Truly, conscience is a wound.

But the truth, I hope Useni gets to read this, or hears about it in case he is one of those Nigerians who are too big and too rich to read newspapers, is that Ken Saro-Wiwa has long been vindicated. Stupid Nigerian leaders have forever postponed the evil day by refusing to listen to ideas and by refusing to engage voices of reason. The evil day that Saro-Wiwa sought to prevent is now upon the Niger Delta and the rest of Nigeria. The present-day militants are his children but they are also not exactly his children: they are his children because they are fighting for change and justice and hope for their people, but they are not his children because they have opted for violence; in that regard, they are the children of Nigeria, the children of a nation that is forever seeking an embrace with evil by postponing a dialogue with the present.

Ken Saro-Wiwa has been vindicated because what he fought and died for has become the issue in Nigerian politics: the need for equality, justice and equity. But Jerry Useni doesn't get it. Ken Saro-Wiwa and other revolutionaries of the Delta sowed the seeds for the emergence of the Niger Delta Ministry. They made the argument afresh for federalism, but Jerry Useni does not understand, so he says a Niger Delta Ministry is unnecessary and that federalism is undesirable. He lives, we can see, in the past. If Useni were an American, he would have voted for McCain and he would have lost his vote. Ken Saro-Wiwa has been vindicated because he has liberated the minds of his people and brought them recognition. It was the fashion not to take the Ogoni seriously, but through MOSOP, the people have shown their capacity for resolve. Shell, the arch-villain of the Ogoni struggle had to close its wells in that area, 13 years later, it still has its tails between its legs in Ogoniland.

Tomorrow, it will be 13 years to the day since Ken Saro-Wiwa and others were murdered by the Nigerian state, Jerry Useni and his friends may remember the day with joy, but those who cherish the truth, justice and equity, and all who love Nigeria will light a candle in remembrance of the fallen martyrs. Ken Saro-Wiwa lives. The Ogoni Four and the Ogoni Eight also. Tell that to Jerry Useni, please.

Rest in Peace Miriam Makeba:


Still trying to find out the locations of the London and New Jersey demonstrations.

Dear All,

I was with Uzoma Okere in Alausa yesterday and at the Ministry of Justice therafter where we edited the petition to ensure it was explicit about what we want.But let's not celebrate yet. The battle has just begun.It ends when we justice has been served. And we will keep at these protests until justice is administered on these monsters.

If you want to lend your voice to the injustice, please come to 14 Muri Okunola Street, Victoria Island, Lagos at 12.30p.m on Sunday November 9, 2008.We will be there till 3pm with a video camera to record the faces and voices of incensed Nigerians.From there we will proceed to University of Lagos where filming will continue from 4pm - 7pm in front of Moremi Hall.

Similar filming will take place on Sunday in London, New Jersey and Beijing.We all have a responsibility for what happened. We permit the brutality by not speaking out.We intend to broadcast the footage on local and international television in order to inspire shame in each of us as individuals, and in our government for failing in its duty to protect us from such attacks.We will continue to air the clip on rotation until justice is served. Please spread the word.

We look forward to seeing you there on Sunday and please send this to all your friends on facebook.

Ebun Olatoye.-----------------------------------------------------

For details on the Uzoma Okere story, please copy and paste the following links into your web browser:

To see the video of the assault, please click here:

We are counting on your support to make this effort a success. If you have any questions or need further information, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Best regards,

Kemi Ogunleye

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

"YES THEY CAN" - Armed Nigerian Naval Men Abuse Power

Two days ago, on Monday, November 3rd, 2008, 6 armed naval officials attached to a Rear Admiral, identified as Harry Arogundade, severely beat and publicly disgraced a young woman, identified as an employee of Price Waterhouse Coopers. Uzoma Okere was assaulted for not moving over quickly enough for the navy convoy as it tried to tear through traffic on Muri Okunola Street, Victoria Island, Lagos.

During the course of the violent public confrontation, she was beaten with gun butts and horsewhips, ripping off her clothing. When the navy men were done dealing with the young woman, they "forcibly handcuffed and dragged" her into a private residence on the street. She was left with "a battered face, blood-shot eyes and bruises all over her body" and later on admitted to a hospital nearby.

The Nigerian Navy has tried to shift responsibility for the actions of its officials by assigning blame to the victim, who they say provoked the incident. This official response accused the victim of making up stories to "embarrass" the Admiral.

(The information above has largely been drawn from an article published by Punch newspaper today, Wednesday, November 5th, 2008.)

I heard about this incident today, on the same day that the world's most powerful nation elected it's first black President. Throughout today, i have heard people echo the slogan, "Yes We Can," over and over again because they have been inspired and believe that Nigeria can grow and develop into a strong democratic nation with a booming economy. Many have talked, argued and debated over the possibility of attaining Vision 2020 - a vision that sees Nigeria as one of the top 20 leading economies in the world by the year 2020.

Most of us stayed up throughout the night to witness history in the making and as a result are more convinced that "yes we can" reach Vision 2020. However, having seen the video of this incidence, I question whether our country can progress if the civil liberties of citizens such as Uzoma Okere can be publicly violated in such a manner. How can we boast to be a democratic nation if public officials can publicly commit such an act and remain unpunished. Over the past few years, we have talked about corruption and hoped that institutions such as the EFCC will clean up our society. However, we are still waiting. This incidence proves that little has been done. If our leaders are unable to act appropriately and responsibly, we must take matters into our own hands.

Please take a look at the link below and join me by lending your voice to this note so that we can raise awareness and draw the attention of those who are in the position to do something about this.

Aisha B.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Is Nigeria Addicted to Bad Leadership?

Letter to Nigeria: Happy Birthday Nigeria! Wow, 48 years old!! I can't believe it. You've come a long way, but still have a longer way to go. On this 48th anniversary of your independence, i can't help but look to the future, as the present leaves so much to be desired. The Guardian article below addresses the issue of your addiction to bad leadership. Through the Babangidas, Abachas, Abdusalamis, Obasanjos, you have endured. Your people have endured but we are none the wiser.

There are certain things to rejoice over in today's Nigeria - civil peace, for one - but we are still very far from where we ought to be. As we celebrate our Independence today, let us think yet again about what values we subscribe to as a nation. Currently, I believe the value most nigerians subscribe to is the almighty dollar/naira/sterling/owo/kudi. This needs to change. Question is: How do we instill in the current generation, the value of Hard Work and Integrity? Is it too late? Do we carry on and just hope that economic reform and private sector investment will be enough to get us where we need to be, and therefore focus our efforts on that? Or do we stop in our tracks, look inwards and examine the Nigerian follower and what we have contributed to Nigeria's regression thus far, and therefore seek the solution from within?

"Yet, in the midst of this national catastrophe, declining life expectancy, insecurity of life and property, grinding poverty, destitution and hopelessness, our leaders continue to act as if things were normal; as if Nigeria will remain "one indivisible nation" whether we like it or not. Created in 1914 at the behest of British colonialists and granted independence 46 years later, the patchwork that is Nigeria has managed to survive for so long, but time is running out. The more our rulers prevaricate, the closer the country inches to implosion. " - Rethinking Nigeria By Chido Onumah

Is Nigeria addicted to bad leadership? By Tosan Okotie
BAD leadership has ensnared Nigerians to a point that, most of the leaders have no laurels on which to rest any skills. Rather, the leaders' skills are derivatives of revenue from oil/gas, cocoa and groundnut, and not of any management technique. This is a shame because there are dozens of Nigerians that have done well individually in their various professions at home and abroad. Unfortunately, these same people are unable to come together to accomplish an objective that is cohesive and coherent. Indeed, anyone is correct to say that, being progressive has eluded the country. So why the distrust among these successful individuals who are adept in management?
The great ideas of the few people with unusual idiosyncrasy are being truncated by the vast majority of evil people who parade themselves as power brokers or community leaders.

Leadership in Nigeria is as simple as understanding the differing and conflicting needs of Nigerians in creating a value-based umbrella large enough to direct the human and natural resources in pursuit of a common goal of independent and sustainable development. Nigerians are saddened with their improvident leaders who are unable to buoy the people; as such, those with historic minds are compelled to be evocative of the likes of late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, a benign person, and a scrupulous leader who brought so much progress to the West of Nigeria. If other regions had developed the way the West did, Nigeria would have been recognized in the comity of nations today. As Nigerians continue to experience bad leadership, the more people extol Awo, who has virtually become a paragon in Nigeria.

Pa Awo, was never in ambivalence. He was always focused with a clear vision to move his community forward. Most interestingly, Awo never lived nor died as a poor man despite his good leadership. Thus, he was a man with vision and foresight. Indeed, many believe that, when you embark on good leadership, you remain a poor person. That is a fallacy. Be that as it may, does it now mean that, without late Awo, Nigeria cannot progress? No, there are still dozens of Nigerians out there with good leadership skills ready to serve the nation. Retired Justice Ilori, who used his vision to improve the Lagos State judiciary and himself after retirement is a good example.

People with vision are not likely to steal or be corrupt because they are confident of their tomorrow's bread/butter and water. Furthermore, people of this nature are not lobbyists you will see parading the vicinity of Aso Rock canvassing for Ministerial positions. Therefore, to curtail persistent bad leadership, an intrepid president, should step out of Aso Rock and look for them. Sitting within the confines of Aso Rock makes the president fall prey to the "charms" of sycophants who present themselves in Abuja as potential leaders. Any occupier of Aso Rock should be worried that, with all the revenue for the past years, there is nothing meaningful to show for it due to bad leadership.

It is ignominious to note that, quality leadership was not in the lives of most of Nigeria's leaders. General Babangida's leadership style was divide and rule coupled with secret killings. His successor, General Abacha, was a dragon who combined open killings with the use of Willie Lynch's strategy of sowing seed of distrust among slaves in America. Apparently, Willie Lynch was a slave owner in America who sowed the seed of distrust among the slaves as a way to have absolute control over them. In Nigeria, Abacha adopted the same style in order to control the country. It has been reiterated severally that good leadership is facile. Confusion started in the Niger Delta in the era of gawky Abacha who sowed seeds of distrust/hatred among the Itsekiris and Ijaws. The reality is that Abacha, being an overseer of Nigeria's government succeeded in sowing the seed because the community leaders were not oblivious of the danger of hatred among the people of the entire Niger Delta region. On the other hand, the community leaders in the Niger Delta who were positioned to uncover the ugly trend sold their conscience for Abacha's deceitful token naira.

When you analyze the issues on ground, you are likely to agree that, the generation of present day active Nigeria's followership is ignorant of true leadership. They have never had a functional government because of the disconnect between the various government's agenda and the masses. To say that Nigeria is addicted to bad leadership is an illusion because it is not as if this same group of followers has experienced good leadership at a time but is tolerant of subsequent hopeless governments. Nigeria needs inspirational leaders with empathy. It is only when the leaders take advantage of the myriad of opportunities that exist to make a difference that the nation would attain her destiny.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Congratulations Mr Prime Minister

The honeymoon was over before it began but i wish Morgan Tsvangirai luck as he embarks on his new partnership with Robert Mugabe. As he says, he will be watching his back, and so will we.

Sorry for the radio silence folks, but do watch this space, as Independent day approaches...

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Nigeria in 20-08

I remember getting so excited as a child when my dad would bring home those One-Year Diaries that Banks gave their clients at Christmas (back in the day when corporate gifts were modest but useful) sister and I would get so excited going through the maps at the back, adn trying to figure out where in Victoria Island or Ikeja we could recognize on them. It gave you a sense of the "smaller world" around you. It's a shame that we are celebrating such a universally trivial accomplishment in the 21st century...but better late than never, eh? tAB congratulates the NTDC on this first step to improving (creating, really) the nation's navigation system. I hope we continue to hear of other feats being IMPLEMENTED by various federal, state and local agencies to improve the lives of everyday Nigerians.

As Reuben Abati puts it in the Guardian article below:

"Tourism can only be part of a wider and better articulated package; the key element of that package is good governance. Navigational aids: maps and all that, information flowing from the NTDC like the Niagara Falls can only be useful when governments: federal, state and local, focus on such urgent challenges as security, public infrastructure, and an enabling investment framework and so on."


A Journey Around Nigeria - By Reuben Abati

For the benefit of those who are looking for good news from Nigeria, here is something to crow about: the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), led by Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, has launched what it calls "a world class road network navigational system." I attended the media launch, in Lagos, two days ago. What Runsewe, former General Manager of the New Nigerian now since 1999 a public official, introduced to the public, is a set of navigational aids: a personal, in-car travel equipment which can be fixed to the windscreen of a car, maps which can be downloaded from the internet into cell phones which can be used to navigate one's way around the city, city maps covering all Nigerian state capitals and the Federal Capital Territory, and an online tourist market which can help provide tourism information about Nigeria. Runsewe was understandably beside himself with excitement: "Oil is exhaustible", he said. But "tourism is sustainable." "Tourism is life," he intoned.

And he cited the great example of how in the last 22 years Dubai, to which Nigerians now flock like termites, was transformed from desert into an international business destination. His main argument is that as part of Nigeria's Vision 20-2020 project, namely Nigeria's plan to be one of the 20 best economies in the world by 2020, a major entry point would be tourism.

Since he assumed office as Director General of the NTDC, Runsewe has brought fresh dynamism and innovativeness to the tourism sector. He has a bagful of publications to show for this: special publications on Nigeria which advertise the country's tourism potentials, in 2007, he had organised the Abuja carnival and for the first time, all Nigerian state capitals have been reduced to maps that can be picked up on the shelf for free. No one was surprised when Runsewe reported that many of the state Governors were impressed when the NTDC presented maps of their state capitals.

What's the big deal? Such travel aids are used elsewhere in modern cities across the world. In Nigeria, maps are only studied in Geography classes in schools. An ordinary Nigerian in a new town or city does not look for maps, because these are non-existent; to get around, we all more or less rely on word of mouth, and increasingly on the ubiquitous okada cyclist. When you are lost anywhere in Nigeria, just call a commercial cyclist. But it is not always that motorocyclists know the geography of the immediate environment, nor are they always good men.

Ladies have been lured to hide-outs and raped. Persons have been led to criminals, and turned into victims. In some instances, persons who were stranded who could not find their way around a Nigerian town reportedly went to the neraest police station to ask for assistance or to ask for permission to wait there till morning. Many of such persons were robbed by the same police to whom they had run for safety and support. Nigeria is also not the best place to park your car by the roadside to ask for directions. You could be misled. Nigeria is a tourist's nightmare, even for the citizen, it is like a jungle.

The NTDC initiative on navigational aids is helpful. It is forward-looking and encouraging. It is achievable, its advantages are many. It is likely to have the same effect as the GSM revolution particularly among the educated who can read maps. But the test of it all is in the implementation and sustainability. Runsewe had admitted that the mapping of Nigeria and the introduction of the navigational aids is a work in progress. He is right. He and his team would have to provide public enlightenment on a number of issues: where and how can the navigational aids be accessed? Which cities are covered? And cost? And what are we going to do about our many streest which have no names, or whose names change every season, and our unmotorable roads which impede access? The NTDC is a federal agency, how well is it interfacing with state and local councils, tourism after all being the responsibility of all levels of government? This can only work if states and local councils buy into it.

Runsewe spoke about the importance of tourism. Quite true. Countries like the UAE, South Africa, Kenya, Ethiopia, Ghana, Sawziland, and the countries of the Caribbean islands have turned tourism into a strong national branding mechanism. Nigeria's tourism income is negligible, the industry is under-developed, our cities are no destinations of choice, even for the people. Why? There is a lot more that needs to be done beyond the provision of navigational aids. The NTDC and its Director-General are showing much enthusiasm; they want to make a difference, they want to move Nigeria closer to 2020, but 2020 has become such a magical, whimsical creation. Tourism can only be part of a wider and better articulated package; the key element of that package is good governance.

Navigational aids: maps and all that, information flowing from the NTDC like the Niagara Falls can only be useful when governments: federal, state and local, focus on such urgent challenges as security, public infrastructure, and an enabling investment framework and so on. European tourists flock to Ghana because they can move about without any hindrance in Accra and elsewhere at any time of the day. To do that in Nigeria is to take a serious risk. Runsewe's NTDC has played its part, but the country is still a long way from 2020. We may all be excited about navigational aids but that is not enough. However, this is not Runsewe's headache. The Yar'Adua administration has been busy pursuing the Vision agenda as if it is an isolated, disjointed effort, with each department of state, acting on its own, and federal agencies dictating to the states, but this is not what vision is all about; what exists at the moment looks like 2020 gambling.

If the NTDC gives us something this week to be optimistic about, the same cannot be said about the government of Zamfara state, where Bashir Gusau, the Managing Director of Legacy, the state-owned newspaper, has been fired for writing an article titled "My fears for Yar'Adua" in which he argued that "the past one-and-a-half-years of Yar'Adua's Presidency were marred with indolence, ineptitude, violence, kidnapping, armned robbery, communal clashes, power blackout, and succumbing to the whims and caprices of a cabal holding the nation to ransom." In a two-page statement, the state Commissioner for Information, Ibrahim Danmaliki accussed Gusau of being "Insincere." He added that President Yar'adua is the "de facto and de jure head of the country and we shall never associate the government and people of Zamfara state with any attempt to run him down".

Subsequently, the state Government organised a special prayer session for "peace, good health and God's guidance for the Yar'Adua administration and the nation in general." In fact, the state government has now decreed that no civil servant must say, write, hear or see anything that is remotely bad about or critical of the Yar'Adua government, the punishment for a breach is instant dismissal. The stupidity of this action is so obvious, it requires no further comment, but let the point be restated that the sycophantic censorship at work in Zamfara state is a violation of the Constitutional right to free expression, duly articulated in Section 39 of the 1999 Constitution and in international conventions on human rights.

It is in addition a violation of the profession of journalism: section 22 of the 1999 Constitution grants the media oversight roles over government, and whether Yar'Adua is de facto or de jure head of state, Gusau's article is a fair comment, written in the public interest, and it can be easily justified. Do we not all have "fears for Yar'Adua"? One other point: the same Yar'Adua for whom Gusau has now lost his job has been "missing in action" for more than a week. Nigerians are not sure whether he is in a hospital in Saudi Arabia, or attending the lesser hajj, ill or well. Gusau wrote about kidnapping, armed robbery aand communal clashes. What is insincere about this? Is the Zamfara state Governor living in outer space?

In journalism, facts are sacred, opinion is free. Gusau was expressing an opinion. The Zamfara Governor is an ANPP Governor, a party in the opposition. Who should encourage criticism if not the opposition? But we have the likes of this Governor who see democracy as a mechanism for self-promotion by any means. You are wrong sir. Gusau has since been replaced. He should be re-instated, and the dictator of Zamfara should be told that this is a democracy where state Governors must not behave like drunken sailors. And what was that about sacking any civil servant who criticises President Yar'Adua? Criticism, sir, is the oil of the demcoratic wheel.

Shall we now go to Bauchi state where an idle state House of Assembly has just passed a bill into law, banning co-education at all junior and senior schools in the state. The lawmakers argue that this law has become necessary in order to check teenage pregnancies and poor performance. They note that teenagers have difficulties controlling their sexual urges. Again, stupid. Private religious schools are however exempted. But stupid all the same. If the Bauchi lawmakers are looking for ways to reduce adolescent sexuality, they should not do so by enacting laws that will not make any difference in the long run.

If they are interested in better academic performance, they should seek the reasons for poor performance elsewhere, and enact laws which support Governor Isa Yuguda's expressed determination to transform Bauchi state into a leading centre of education. But obviously a legislature with sex on its mind, cannot think that far. Co-education is not what is responsible for sexual urges: people don't get sexual urges simply by seeing the opposite sex, law-making should be informed by greater rigour not speculations.

And in Bida, Niger state, one Abubakar Bello Masada has been under fire for about two weeks now, for marrying 86 wives. All kinds of custodians of the Islamic faith including the Jama'atu Nasri Islam (JNI) have ruled that Bello is not a true moslem and that his battalion of 86 wives is far in excess of the maximun of four wives prescribed by the religion. There were intial reports that the JNI had issued a fatwa on the man. The JNI later denied this insisting that it is only interested in restating the doctrine and that it is not true that the octogenarian may be put to death this weekend. There is so much mystery suroounding what the old man is supposed to have done or not done. But what is certain is that he has been ordered by the JNI and the Etsu Nupe to divorce 82 of his wives and keep only four of them or leave Nupe land.

On Thursday, the man was subjected to a three-hour trial. The Etsu Nupe had also ruled that the man's safety can no longer be guaranteed. Does that mean he will be stoned to death? Kidnapped, amputated, or what? Bello's ethnicity is even been questioned as the Etsu Nupe reportedly pointed out that Bello cannot be a Nupe man.

In Nigeria, the distinction betwen an indigene and a settler is sensitive, it could make a lot of difference in traditional commnuities. At the end of his trial, Bello reportedly asked for two weeks of grace to decicde which of his wives he would do away with, many of them about the age of his great-grand children. But the court of the Etsu Nupe has ruled that the choice must be made within two days. What is Mallam Bello's offence? Did he marry any of his wives under the Ordinance, for which he could be guilty of bigamy? Even if he is guilty of bigamy, only a court of law can determine his guilt, not the JNI, not the Etsu Nupe-in-council. No one has accussed Bello of incest, only that he is too much of a polygamist. And if the issue is that he no longer reads the Quoran as he claims, he is entitled to the freedom of choice. Looked at closely, it may even be said that other men may be envious of this old man. In some other countries, his virility and feritlity would be a subject of scientific inquiry.

But here the Etsu Nupe says Masada should undergo psychiatric examination. And there is an element of hypocrisy involved. Many of those who are condemning Mallam Masada are probably serial polygamists or serial monogamists. What for example is the difference between four wives and 86 wives? The Etsu Nupe, the JNI, and the Niger State Government should take responsibility for Mallam Bello Masada's safety. The police should protect him from the gathering mob.

Finally, a report in The Herald of Zimbabwe quoted in an article in The Nation of Kenya by Kitsepile Ngathi on August 18 indicates that some African leaders including the leaders of Zambia, Botswana, and Tanzania have since apologised to President Robert Mugabe for allowing themselves to be misled by the opposition. After the June 27 re-run Presidential election, Botswana, Nigeria, Kenya, Liberia, Zmabia, Tanzania and other African countries had refused to recognise Robert Mugabe's victory. But now Ngathi writes: "the biggest surprise, however came from Nigeria, which sent a high profile emissary to South Africa on Sunday to seek a meeting with President Mugabe and offer apologies for taking an "uninformed position" on Zimbabwe's electoral process during the last AU summit in Egypt." Apologies also came from Zambia, Bostwana, and Tanzania. Did Nigeria apologise to Mugabe? The Ministry of Foreign Affairs owes Nigerians a clarification, if not explanation.