Friday, 16 May 2014

Boko Haram, Homophobia: They have same roots, hate and prejudice!

Recently, I was accused of being out of touch with reality for mixing and comparing the fear and plight of Nigerians due to the terror of Boko Haram with the plight of homosexuals in Nigeria due to the recently passed Nigerian anti-gay law. But am sorry, if you cannot see the connection I can see it clearly and my point is that what Boko Haram is doing today in Nigeria is terrorism just as what Nigeria is doing to Nigerian homosexuals is also called terrorism. Nigeria is inflicting a brutal act of terror on Nigerian homosexuals and Boko Haram is doing exactly same thing to all of us and we must condemn both. They are both acts of terrorism.

The activities of Boko Haram and the Nigerian government have same thing in common; terrifying the weak and the helpless. Boko Haram wants all of us to abandon western education and become Muslims or we shall all die. Their mission is not different from that of Nigeria Government headed by President Jonathan Goodluck: become straight or you end up in jail for 14 years. Do you not see the connection there? I can see it clearly.

To homosexuals in Nigeria, the Nigerian anti-gay law terrifies, dehumanises and puts them in daily and constant danger and fear of their lives and that is exactly how the terror of Boko Haram makes the rest of us feel. They are using numerous tactics including kidnapping, looting and suicide bombing to make us agree with them and be what they want us to be and not what we want to be. They want to reap us apart and strike ruthlessly at the core of our fundamental human right to freedom of choice, association, life and being who we are and not what others want us to be. But we should not allow them just as we should not allow the Nigerian Government to send our brothers and sisters to jail for committing no crime but being who they are.

I invite every well-meaning Nigerian to join me in condemning Boko Haram as well as the Government of Jonathan Goodluck who set this motion of hatred in progress. This is the right thing to do for you cannot condemn one terror leaving the other. You cannot condemn Boko Haram and yet continue to condone the persecution, imprisonment, lynching, victimisation, blackmailing and all sorts of terror against homosexuals in Nigeria. It does not work that way. You cannot have it both ways. If a Muslim wants freedom of religion, he must also grant that freedom to Jews and Christians and to everyone else, no matter how repugnant their belief maybe to him. If Boko Haram wants to abolish the western education in Nigeria and make all of us Muslims, fine but then they must allow the people to exercise that choice. They can always group as a political party and then give the people the opportunity to decide for themselves.

What Boko Haram is trying to achieve is impossible and that is to make every single Nigerian a Muslim, establish a Muslim caliphate and abolish our western system of education. It might also interest you to know that that is exactly also the mission of Nigerian Government of President Jonathan Goodluck: to forcefully ‘convert’ all Nigerian homosexuals into being straight. This is ridiculous! I am convinced some people are born gay but even if they are not, what is wrong with that freedom of ‘choice’? What is wrong with the ‘choice’ you made to become a Muslim, a Roman Catholic, an Anglican, an America, British, black or white or even an atheist?

Democracy is not about domination. It is all about majority for the protection of the minority. A man is strong and his strength comes out fully when he uses that strength to defend the weak, the poor, the helpless, and the minorities and in fact, whoever is in need of that help. That is exactly the reason the West has been saying 'Hey, you are getting it wrong! Do not victimise your brethren for what they do not choose to be. They are your brothers and sisters and blood'. But then most Nigerians including the Nigerian government of Goodluck Jonathan turned around to accuse the West of meddling in Nigeria affairs. This same people would shamefully turnaround and invite same West to help them fight Boko Haram! These people, do they not have a sense of shame at all?

I do not agree that the West is meddling in our affair. They are telling us the right thing. These people are smart. Ever wondered the reason the West is highly organised and today a dream of every single African to visit and live in? Ever wondered why these people were able to invent aeroplane, computers, trains, cars, television, underground travelling system, iPhone and loads of other sophisticated technologies? Ever wondered the reason the West is against the victimisation and persecution of homosexuals? They have invested millions, times, manpower and efforts before coming to that conclusion and we must respect them for that and accept that we got it wrong. There is nothing wrong in saying that someone is more brilliant than you are. In fact, it is a virtue to acknowledge that and that is exactly what Nigeria needs today. We must be humble enough to accept that we got it wrong and are still getting it wrong before it is too late. We cannot do without the West and their hugely relevant and important guidance and advice.

But then, if you cannot accept what the West is telling you about homosexuality and even telling the West to their face to shove their aid up their ass, how on earth could you still turn around all of a sudden to ask same West for help to fight Boko Haram? Has someone sold her shame in the market or is someone not thinking before talking. You cannot have it both ways.

In fact, whatever Nigeria thinks about her internal affairs and sovereignty, sadly globalisation has made the whole world look like one little village and what happens in Nigeria today is not just a Nigerian affair but a world affair. The West is therefore justified in guiding Nigeria to the right path and Nigeria in the spirit of humility and humanity must accept this guidance. The whole world cannot and should not keep quiet while Nigeria is busy persecuting her own minorities. But why on earth do you think that the West would ever leave Nigeria to turn into another Gambia under a lunatic? Nigeria should learn that hate does not pay; it actually breeds more hate and we should not allow this cycle to continue ad infinitum.

Elie Wiesel, a Nobel Laureate could not have said it better: “We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must-at that moment-become the centre of the universe”.

The situation in Nigeria is calling for an urgent action and response. Nigerian homosexuals are living in fear of their lives for being in the minority. But so are also the rest of us due to the menace of Boko Haram. But I must add that Nigerian government including the government of Jonathan Goodluck should be blamed for all these mess. By their actions and policies, they instilled in the mind of ordinary Nigerians the ugly concept of hatred and persecution of the minorities. Today we are reaping the bitter fruit.

Nigeria fired the first shot and once you fire the first shot of hatred you cannot stop it. It must complete its target. Nigerians hate homosexuals and I have issue with that and Boko Haram hate all of us and I do have issue with that too. Therefore, the solution lies in one concept: equality for all and the protection of the right of all without discrimination.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

The meaning of Islam?...

Is Islam still a religion of peace? Maybe, you should ask those caught up in the recent mall incident in Kenya or the victims of the recent Peshawar church bombing in Pakistan. Frankly, I am unable with this short piece to give a befitting and balanced response to this question myself, however I will leave the platform open for you to form your own opinion at the end of the day. But to help you out, I think it is pertinent we take another look at the events of the last few weeks.

The event at the Kenyan Mall is still very fresh in our minds. I will therefore leave that and jump into what happened at the same time in Peshawar, Pakistan. Some days ago, two Muslim suicide bombers entered All Saints Anglican Church in Peshawar, and slaughtered more than 70 Christians and maimed many more as they worshipped God and praised Jesus. That ugly incident occurred just at same time some Somali Muslims entered a mall in Kenya, separated the shoppers into Muslims and non-Muslims and to be sure those who claim to be Muslims are truly Muslims, they were asked the name of the mother of Mohammed. Those who failed the test were slaughtered alongside those who did not identify themselves as Muslims.

I am not sure if you actually know the situation of religious minorities in Pakistan but from my own little research about the country it is safe to conclude that if you are not a Muslim in Pakistan today, you are dinning with the devil! In fact, you have your house dangerously built in the midst of a drunken hungry shark, devil and a deep blue sea. There is no means of escape for everywhere you turn is equally dangerous. One blogger summarized it thus: "You have absolutely no idea how many Christians cower behind locked doors and boarded-up windows, living in terror of those who say they follow the example of Mohammed in cleansing the land of non-Muslims".

"Christians routinely have their houses burned, their schools and hospitals destroyed, and their churches desecrated and vandalized. In Pakistan, it is not uncommon for entire Christian families to be burned to death inside their houses. The crime is allegedly 'blasphemy' against Islam-invariably baseless, but the summary punishment is meted out by a baying horde-sometimes thousands strong-and there is no mercy from the clubs, sticks and stones", the blogger added.

In fact, situation on ground shows that Christian towns and villages in Pakistan are being reduced to slums even as poverty amongst these communities has reached an endemic stage. Christian children are often poorly educated (except in the private schools) and local politicians are corrupt and incapable of doing anything meaningful to safeguard these poor Christians apparently in fear of provoking the Muslim majority, the members of Taliban and Al Qaeda. These corrupt bunches also include some of the Christian leaders, who have little concern for social welfare, security, justice or human rights. But be aware also that not even some of these Christian politicians and others are safe from the hands of these mad Muslim extremists.

"Christians in Pakistan are hunted by complete strangers and haunted by fear. Muslims dare not convert or intermarry with Christians on pain of death. The pulpits whisper their sermons for fear of upsetting the mosques, and the graveyards are filling. There is social segregation, economic hardship and political disenfranchisement. Abduction and forced conversion to Islam are commonplace-especially among young girls. These are rarely reported to the police for fear of the consequences", noted the blogger.

This is sad and the fact that these happen in the name of God makes fun and mockery of the concept of God. Maybe, I maybe right after all after being vilified for suggesting that religion and hatred go hand in hand and that one needs a heart of darkness and wickedness to be a believer.

"To be a Christian in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is to be persecuted and oppressed. The Muslims who persecute and oppress the infidels are simply doing their job. Those who blow themselves up and kill Christians in their churches are martyrs for the cause of Allah and the greater glory of the Prophet of Islam", says the blogger.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

How Not To Tackle Dan Brown And ‘The Da Vinci Code’

I just finished reading ‘The Da Vinci Code’ by Dan Brown for the second time. I read it for the first time in 2007 while living in Rome, Italy. While reading the finishing pages of the masterpiece on my way to walk this morning, I had a chanced encounter with a Roman Catholic priest on Jubilee Line. He is a Nigerian priest of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer.  Apparently aware that I am of Nigerian origin too, he asked why I was wasting my precious time reading such a ‘nonsense’ book. Yes, he referred to the book as ‘nonsense’. Well, I expected this from a Nigerian priest, for anything that challenges or do not conform to the bible is nonsense to them. I can tell you that this priest has never gone beyond the cover of the book to know what the book is all about. He threw caution to the wind and judged the book by its cover and title neglecting that wise old saying: ‘never judge a book by its cover! But, I can assure you that this book is one of the greatest things that have ever happened to humans since the evolution. The effort and research put into the book is awesome and unprecedented. I doff my cap for Dan Brown and to tell how much I have come to love this guy, I have read all his works and will begin reading his latest work ‘Inferno’ in the next couple of days.
As I noted at the outset, the priest’s reaction never flummoxed me. I have been dealing with people for long especially on Facebook and Twitter to know how and why they react to issues and why they react that way sometimes or all the time. But the priest’s reaction brought back old memories of the reaction of the Roman Catholic Church when the film version of the book debuted. The film debuted at the commencement of the 59th Edition of the Cannes Film Festival and the Roman Catholic Church reacted like a wildfire. Even the Pope, who rarely comments on films, gave a reaction and that actually helped to sell the film.
The film is quite interesting from two angles in the sense that even though it is a very controversial film bordering on the faith of over 2 billion world Christians and about 1 billion Roman Catholics, it is at the same time a lesson on how not to handle a very sensitive issue that borders on the faith of the people. This becomes very important against the background of the then controversy surrounding the publication and republications of cartoons of Prophet Mohammed, which some Muslims claimed was offensive to them, their faith and the person of the prophet.
The Da Vinci Code due to what has been described as its sacrilegious and scandalous tone also attracted same criticism from different quarters of the Christian world. The loudest noise came from the Vatican and the Opus Dei; the two main characters or hinges upon which the door of the film revolves. But the fact is that unlike what happened with the Prophet Mohammed cartoon controversy, the Vatican and the Opus Dei were very diplomatic in their protests and criticisms. And I must add that it is exactly what is expected from whoever feels that his faith has been insulted or offended. I believe that sometimes two wrongs may not make a right. We may not right a wrong by committing another wrong. What happened in Nigeria during the cartoon controversy was a good example of why violence cannot and should not be used to send a message on how aggrieved one is an certain issues. The killing of Christians and burning of both their houses, businesses and churches met with reprisal attacks in the South especially in the Southeast of the country. A friend from the Southeast justifying the reprisal attack noted that nobody or religion has the monopoly of killing others. Is that not senseless and stupid of us all?
Even though I began by eulogising the Vatican and the Opus Dei on the diplomatic way they handled the film, I still had reservations on certain moves I saw as barbaric in that diplomacy which reminded one of the almighty Roman Catholic Church of the middle ages when men and women were wantonly burnt at stakes over flimsy excuses and ignorance. The persecution of Galileo and lots of others who suffered the same fate in the hands of the Roman Catholic Church is still fresh in the minds of the people. While the hullabaloo surrounding the film was still going on, some high ranking clergy of the Roman Catholic Church threw caution to the wind by covertly calling for violence. They urged the Roman Catholics to boycott the film or take a legal action. In fact one of cardinals asked Dan Brown the author of the novel to do such a film on the Prophet Mohammed and see how the Muslims would welcome it. This is a statement, I considered as taking the issue too far. I am just trying to figure out what this cardinal had in mind in making that statement. But whatever he had in mind, the Cardinal should have been openly denounced for taking it that far. The Church did nothing!
The novel whose film version featured some famous artists including Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou, Sir Ian Mckellen, Paul Bettany, Alfred Molina and Jean Reno, sold more than 36 million copies in 44 languages within months of its debut. The story line amongst other things claimed that Jesus Christ did not actually die on the cross but that after his ordeal, he later got married to Mary Magdalene and lived happily ever after in the present day France where his descendants eventually became the French monarchs and spawned a royal line. Also the Opus Dei, a famous religious organization in the Roman Catholic Church was depicted in both the film and the novel as an influential controversial murderous organisation taking lives wantonly in order to conceal the ‘fact’.
The Opus Dei has a special status of a personal prelature in the Catholic Church meaning that even though they are present in a diocese, they do not necessarily owe allegiance to the local bishop but to their own bishop who reports directly to the Vatican. This arrangement created a very complicated situation because most often the Opus Dei do not consult the local bishops before taking actions the local bishops should ordinarily be aware of simply because the Opus Dei and its members have been structured by the Vatican not to owe allegiance to them. This no doubt could be embarrassing and insulting to these local bishops.
The Opus Dei itself is also not helping the matter. It is no secret that in this age of globalisation and information technology the Opus Dei still prefers to keep most of its activities secret thereby opening up room for suspicion. To give a picture of what Opus Dei looks like to some Roman Catholics I would like to quote extensively from a letter that appeared on page 19 of an English Roman Catholic weekly, the Tablet of October 15, 2005. The letter was written by a Jesuit priest, James Martin SJ as a reaction to an article earlier published in that weekly. The letter was titled; ‘Opus Dei Secrecy’ and I quote,
“May I offer a brief but substantive correction to Christopher Howse’s review of John Allen’s book on Opus Dei (Books, 1 October)? In his review, Mr Howse recounts the story of my research for a 1995 article on Opus Dei for America. Mr Howse notes that although I reported that Opus Dei’s statutes were secret, in reality they are-and were at the time-readily available. But as John Allen accurately recounts in his new book, the truth is more complex and more revelatory of Opus Dei. When I first asked the group for a copy of their statutes, they said that they were not permitted to distribute them to non-members. After I spoke with a canon lawyer who disputed this claim, Opus Dei then replied that the statutes had not been translated into English and besides were in “church Latin”, whatever that meant. Eventually I obtained them from outside Opus Dei. (As for Mr Howse’s comment that Opus Dei’s statues were easily retrieved from the internet in 1995, I note for the record that Google, for example, started operations in 1998). The main point is how odd it was for a catholic organization, time and again, to withhold something as simple as their statutes from a Catholic writer interested in learning more about the group. It is this kind of secrecy, which Opus Dei now says it is trying to change, which has long frustrated and even angered so many Catholics”.
It was quite interesting and coincidental that this film came out at that time of history. As I pointed out earlier, shortly before the release of the film, there was a little air of panic round the globe as a result of controversy generated by the publication of the cartoon of Prophet Mohammed by the media. The dust generated by that panic was yet to settle down before this controversial film made its debut. The Vatican and the Opus Dei, the two main characters in the film fought tooth and nail to ensure that Christians especially Roman Catholics did not patronise the film. That reaction did more good than harm to Dan Brown; he sold more books and much more film was even sold. People were curious to know about this book and the film and they simply bought both!
At the time of the controversy over the film, I wrote a piece cautioning that the Roman Catholic Church should accept that the era of the Holy Roman Empire when the Vatican had the almighty power to dictate which books to be or not to read is gone. It simply had no more power to burn books or list them in the Index of Forbidden Books or issue imprimatur or nihil obstat. The Catholic Church should not have taken such a stand because that was being primitive. Dan Brown has the right to write whatever he wants to write and Christians have the right to read the ones they want to read. Dan Brown by writing The Da Vinci Code was as an American exercising his First Amendment right and Christians by refusing to read the book would also be exercising their own right just like the Vatican had also the right to criticise the film. But going a step further to cow the Catholics into boycotting the film was a step taken too far in the wrong direction.
On a very personal note, I never believed that Dan Brown insulted the person of Christ. If Christ really married Mary Magdalene, who cares?  According to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, marriage and sex are not sin. The church teaching is that premarital sex is a sin and if Christ really had children with Mary Magdalene it was within marriage according to the gospel of Dan Brown. I believe that the role of the Vatican here should be to inform the Catholics of dangers inherent in watching the film or reading the novel but by going a step further to ask for boycott and legal action against the film probably under the pain of moral obligation would not only be a violation of the fundamental human right of Dan Brown to the profit of his business but could also be interpreted as a sign of a church that is not in touch with her faithful.
The reaction of both the Vatican and the Opus Dei following the film did not help the matter at all. They only succeeded in making themselves a marketing medium for the novel and the film. In fact I was forced to buy the novel with three other of Dan Brown’s works after reading the reactions of both the Vatican and the Opus Dei and am quite sure that many others got to know about this film and the book through this way. Precisely, what gave impetus to my desire to buy the novels was when the Vatican directed the removal of a banner advertising the film in one of the churches in Rome.
Truly, the film has come and gone but the dust generated by the film is yet to settle. This may not be a good time for Christians but am definitely sure it is a better time for them to express what they believe in. Christians can choose out of belief not to believe the film or the book just as I do not expect Dan Brown to be bothered weather they believe his works or not. The Christians response to the book, the film and the author matters a lot. Do they kill him? Do they excommunicate him? Do they burn him at the stake? Do they murder him? All these would obviously be going to the extreme and clearly contrary to the teachings of the Christ who is the source of their faith and hope. Am not in doubt that some Christians thought of doing things like these but the simple truth is that there is no room for these thoughts in Christianity. Christians should not take up swords but love and prayer and leave the vengeance for the Lord!  

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Tell Them We Are Still Rising!

The December 23, 2002 publication in a Nigerian weekly magazine The Insider captioned 'Vengeance like the Wind' has once more proved that Oko Mass Communications and Journalism is still a force to be reckoned with in the media industry and training in Nigeria today.

The two-page publication which eulogised the effort of the twenty-six year old Greg Ugbaje whose maiden play was performed at the French Cultural Centre, Ikoyi Lagos is yet another sign that Oko Masscom is still maintaining its standard in the area of training capable and efficient communicators; a sign that it is still rising!
Ugbaje, a graduate of Okopoly Mass Communications and Journalism whose play’s  maiden performance drew many notable critiques in Nigeria like Professor Bode Osoyin of the University of Lagos, Chuka Nnabuife of the Guardian, Niji Akanni a veteran theatre director, Layiwola Adeniji of ThisDay, Ademola Olaiwola of the University of Lagos and host of others, opined that his maiden work is a result of his long and quality training at the Mass Communications and Journalism department of the Federal Polytechnic Oko, Nigeria.
For many who knew Okopoly as the seat of Mass Communications and Journalism in Nigeria and West Africa, this is not a surprise as it was not the first time the department has been praised or one of her products honoured for an outstanding achievement in the field of journalism. In 1989, the 21 year old department was adjudged by the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) as having the best studio complex in the West African sub-region. The studio complex commissioned by former Nigeria Head of State, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida is standing today as a beacon of academic excellence and professional prowess.
As part of a programme to immortalise the name of the late Rt. Hon. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, the first Nigerian President and Owelle of Onitsha, the department is in collaboration with the Howard University, Zik's alma mater, carrying out a process of establishing a Zik's Institute of Communication Studies which on completion will become a resource/research centre for communication for the entire black Africa.
It is also a fact that there was a time Okopoly Masscom was the only HND (Higher National Diploma) awarding department in Nigeria. In 1998, one of its graduate, Chinwe Ogbuka, a journalist with the Punch Newspaper in Abuja won a UCIP (International Catholic Union of the Press) award for an article on women plight titled 'The Plights of Women Journalists in Nigeria'. She received the award in Paris, France. Same UCIP award also went to Gasper John Emenyeonu in 2001. Emenyeonu, a graduate of the department was rewarded in Fribourg, Switzerland for an article in the same category of women plight titled, 'Africa Women, Victims of Culture and Convention'. Emenyeonu is with the Champion Newspaper. Also in 2002, Annette Edo formerly with the Newswatch Magazine and presently with the Tell Magazine clinched 2002 DAME (Diamond Award for Media Excellence) Award in Health Category for an article she wrote titled, 'The Death Peddlers'.
In the area of politics, Ben Nwankwo a graduate of the department was at various times Commissioner for Works, Environment etc. and at present Federal House of Representative aspirant in Anambra State, Nigeria. Donald Duke also an alumnus is on his way to becoming a governor for the second term in Cross River State, Nigeria. This is also the case with Tony Muonagor alias 'Tony One Week' who is a household name in home videos and gyration music.
It is also a fact that a good number of Police and Armed Forces officers were trained in the department. A recent research also proved that Oko Masscom graduates are competing favourably with their counterparts in the labour market. It is against this backdrop that the Polywall Weekly is giving kudos to the department and the chain of its qualified and seasoned lecturers. Their toils are never in vain for the students are untiring in upholding the honour and glory of this famous department.
The students and staff should therefore not relent in their efforts or be tired in their laudable achievements. We must ever be ready to tell them that we are still rising!

I wrote this piece as an editorial for a demonstration newspaper called 'The Polywall Weekly'. It was a partial requirement for the award of my Higher National Diploma in Mass Communications and Journalism by the Department of Mass Communications and Journalism, School of Information Technology, The Federal Polytechnic Oko, Nigeria. Note that it was written and submitted in 2002 and therefore the accuracy of most of the information is not guaranteed. Though I did a little editing on the piece, however I tried as much as possible not to alter the piece in such a way that it will become a shadow of its original. The inaccuracies in  the original piece was due to constraint posed by lack of internet and research facilities in the polytechnic during the period as well as time constraint.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Why I support same sex marriage!

This afternoon, I was asked a very simple question and I gave a very simple answer. I was asked if I support equal marriage and I replied ‘Hell Yes!’ I meant what I said and I said what I meant. The question and answer came against the background of two events, one recent, the other remote. The recent event is very obvious; the debate and voting this night that led to the passing of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill which will become law as soon as Her Majesty gives her assent to the bill. The voting itself was remarkable and a resounding victory for common sense; 400-175! I am very happy with that development and it is indeed a giant step for mankind!

However the other event I wish to comment on was the recent statement made by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Glasgow. In a rhetoric directed to the British Prime Minister, the Archbishop, Philip Tartaglia said: “You and your government need to be aware from the outset that the Catholic Church will not register civil partnerships nor celebrate same-sex unions: not now, not in the future, not ever, no matter what legislation or regulations your government enacts or endorses.”

I find this intervention very upsetting because am not quite sure the church is in a better position to tell the state how to conduct its affairs neither is it within her power to tell people who to love and live the rest of their lives with. This is purely a state and personal decision and has nothing to do with the church. We do not need the support or the endorsement of the church to fall in love or the sanction of the church to make that everlasting commitment. Two people who love themselves regardless of their sexual orientation have as matter of right to give a contractual character to that love and that is what marriage is all about. Marriage has nothing to do with the church. Philip Tartaglia will be my witness that of the entire sacraments only one does not demand the presence of a priest or the church; matrimony. The teaching of the church has been that the sacrament of matrimony is a covenant between two people; the couples. Priests are only there to solemnize it and that is not really necessary. The sacrament of matrimony cannot be voided if a priest was not there to officiate over it and that is in line with the teaching that it is a sacrament that revolves only around two people; the couples.

The church therefore has not right to question the state or dictate to two lovers how to live their lives. They are not being forced to marry these people but then they should not stop those who want to marry them. Live and let live and that is exactly the meaning of tolerance and common sense. If you do not want to move on, you must allow others. You cannot have it both ways! We have come a long way before arriving at where we are today and the church must stop being a cog in the wheel of progress. If the church is happy being in 13th century, I am quite sure I speak the mind of all when I say that we are happy being in the 21st century!

Once upon a time, it was a taboo for anyone to marry in any church in this country except in the Church of England but with time that became a history and the Roman Catholics, the Quakers and other denominations were allowed to marry in their own churches. The reason for that was because these other churches were being discriminated against and the dominant Church of England cannot imagine the popish Roman Catholics and others enjoying same right. There was also a time when it was unthinkable for black man to marry a white woman. For those who hold this view, a black man is dirty, smells and would pollute and corrupt what it means to be white; a blonde hair and blue eyes. The good news is that we are completely over that period though there are still pockets of diehards who still share this opinion. If you doubt me, ask of what becomes of the fate of children born to black and white parents in Eastern European countries like Ukraine, Latvia and Lithuania. They are simply being treated as second class citizens and nobodies for a fault that is not theirs. This type of illogical and irrational hatred and prejudice cannot be justified. It is very common amongst the less educated but I can also assure you that it is also very prevalent amongst the educated even in highly advanced western states like the United Kingdom.

Baroness Hale of Richmond could not have put it in better way in Ghaidan v Godin-Mendoza [2004] when she said; "My Lords, it is not so very long ago in this country that people might be refused access to a so-called "public" bar because of their sex or the colour of their skin; that a woman might automatically be paid three quarters of what a man was paid for doing exactly the same job; that a landlady offering rooms to let might lawfully put a "no blacks" notice in her window. We now realize that this was wrong. It was wrong because the sex or colour of the person was simply irrelevant to the choice which was being made: to whether he or she would be a fit and proper person to have a drink with others in a bar, to how well she might do the job, to how good a tenant or lodger he might be. It was wrong because it depended on stereotypical assumptions about what a woman or a black person might be like, assumptions which had nothing to do with the qualities of the individual involved: even if there were any reason to believe that more women than men made bad customers this was no justification for discriminating against all women. It was wrong because it was based on an irrelevant characteristic which the woman or the black did not choose and could do nothing about"

It is a frame of mind like this that is at the back of the opposition to same sex marriage.  Before I go into that, I will like to narrate two incidents that I witnessed in the last of couple of days. One was a cartoon I posted on my Facebook page. There was a man and a woman on a bed who had just finished having sex. As the man was reading a newspaper, he came across a story on a plan to legalize same sex marriage by the government and he shouted that it would make an absolute mockery of the traditional marriage and the woman replied that it is exactly what the husband will say. The meaning is that these two folks who finished committing the sin of adultery see everything wrong in same sex marriage and of course homosexuality but obviously not in adultery.

The next incident concerns a friend who is a product of a mixed marriage. The mother is English while the father is Ugandan. As we were lunching together he saw a story on same sex marriage in a newspaper and he shouted that the world is certainly coming to an end. I did not disagree with him; however I reminded him that there are still millions of people in the world who still think that it is an abomination for a black man to marry a white woman even as children of such mixed marriages are treated with scorn in many parts of Eastern Europe.

In a nutshell, the summary of my story is that there is nothing to fear about same sex marriage and the good news is that you can keep quiet because it is not your business! The fear, hatred and opposition are completely unfounded, irrational, illogical and bigoted. Let those who want to marry, marry and let others keep quiet for that is not their business. Let me once again put in context the outburst of the Archbishop I mentioned at the outset; What would have been your reaction if a Afrikaan in apartheid South Africa had said..."You and your fellow black people need to be aware from the outset that the Apartheid government of South Africa will not recognize that a white man is equal to a black man nor do we have intention of thinking of that: not now, not in the future, not ever, no matter what argument or reasoning you black people and your supporters endorses".

If you are a black person, I can read your mind. In the same way you cannot tolerate this statement so do men and women of goodwill must not tolerate Philip Tartaglia’s rhetoric. I am convinced that sometimes, it is good to reason from the both sides of the Atlantic. What this guy said is unbecoming of a cleric. It is tantamount to hatred and clearly against the gospel of love he was called to preach. Denying others their right while asserting yours is not godly; It is only godly when we live and let others live too. I have always asked myself, If it is all right to take tithe from these homosexuals why is it all right to ostracize them and refuse them that single moment to prove to the world that they can love and cherish each other? I am not a great fan of religion but am not oblivious of the fact that religion should stand for what Jesus Christ stood for; love and compassion and not hatred.

And since nobody or no religion is going to be compelled to perform such marriages, what is this hullabaloo all about? Religion should not be allowed to be a setback in this giant leap to human rights being championed by the state. If anything, religion should be in the forefront of the human rights advancement. That is my stand and it is not too difficult to understand it. It is very clear; there is a big difference between religion and state and that gap should be minded. Religion should mind her business-though of course they have right to give a reasonable advice-and avoid meddling with the state affairs. Since homosexuality is a bio-genetic issue, I still have doubt that religion is competent to speak about it. That is a privilege that should be left with science. When it comes to how many of us will inherit the kingdom of God or perish in hell, then religion should be invited to throw more light on it.

It is therefore absolutely ridiculous to hide under the cloak of religion to infringe on the right of others. I find it utterly despicable when theologians begin to pontificate on an issue that is the birthright of scientists. I find it also very uncomfortable listening to these beliefs and arguments that cannot be backed by science. It is not enough to believe it just because the holy book said it, it must also make sense and stand the test and demands of 21st century. You cannot use over 2000 years old theology to explain the 21st century science. We are enlightened enough to know our left from our right. It will therefore be ridiculous to tell our children in this 21st century to ascribe their ignorance to divinity. Hell no! We cannot allow that to happen. They have brains and should be encouraged to make better use of it. My argument does not in any way deny the existence of God but am quite sure no one has ever seen Him and if no one has ever seen Him, on whose authority then can someone begin to tell others who to love and live with?

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Some people so much love to misunderstand me and am loving it!

Sometimes, when I post something here some of us do not even bother to read it in detail before heaping mountains and oceans of insult on me. Though I am gradually getting used to those insults, it is important that I explain something. First, if you do not read my post, you can never understand what I am saying. It is not enough to read others reply and then go on attack. The best policy would be to read all the post before you begin your third world war on me. Secondly, I have a background in Mass Communications, Journalism and at the moment I am in the law school. These three disciplines demand a high level of reasoning and I mean a very deep logical reasonable reasoning not just that type of reasoning based on what my father, tradition, religion or culture said. It is a powerful type of empirical reasoning that takes into account facts as it is being witnessed, as it happens, as it develops and as it is being discussed.

Secondly, I have read a lot and I still read. At the moment, I have over thousands of collection in my library and reading hundreds of books, journals, magazines yearly is a pleasurable challenge to me. One big advantage I have acquired over the years is that I am able to learn from the way others think. I am also able to compare ideas and using empirical evidences I am able to come to my own conclusion. The implication of this is that I speak with audacity because I know that I will be right in at least 99% of the time. Yes! Because what I am saying has been subjected to scientific analysis and held to be nothing but the truth! There is no way many experts in a field will get it absolutely wrong. Two good heads maybe better than one!

I therefore do not understand why some people chose as a passion to deliberately misunderstand me. It is not actually a sin to misunderstand someone but I guess it is foolhardy and an idiotic not to subject other party’s opinion to research before heaping oceans and mountains of insult upon him; that is exactly what is meant by being stupid and idiotic and that is why I am so quick to delete from my friend’s list those who chose as passion to be stupid and idiotic. Even as a lawyer, I do not agree that freedom of expression also include the right to talk nonsense and rubbish. We are here to learn from each other. You cannot expect to gain from well researched opinion of others and when it comes to your turn you begin to insult others. You do not have to agree with everything I say here but then you owe me a duty to disagree with me in a very polite and educated manner and not in a manner that is very common to monkeys in the wild. If I wanted monkeys to be my friends here, I know where to find them but because am very eager to learn from you, I demanded and accepted you to be my friends. I wish therefore you do not let me down.

To get the facts right, I am not at all offended by this but am concerned that having been my friend here for quite sometime now, it is high time people began to appreciate the love of learning, the art of reading, the joy of disagreeing in an intellectual manner and the beauty in thinking with our magnificent, natural and God-given brain. It is quite interesting to note that I am actually not alone in being misunderstood in this way. In fact, many English judges have lamented on number of occasions that British journalists have either persistently refused to understand them or have taken leave of their brain. Twenty five years ago, Sir John Donaldson, then Master of the Rolls got so pissed with this deliberate lack of understanding by the British media that he deemed it wise to explain himself in detail in his judgement in (1) Nadarajah Vilvarajah, (2) Vaithialingham Skandarajah v Secretary of State for the Home Department [1990]. He said:

"This court has before it two applications for bail by Tamils, Vaithialingham Skandarajah and Nadarajah Vilvarajah. Before dealing with those applications I would like to try and clear up two fundamental misunderstandings about what it was that this court decided on 12th October 1987. Reading the newspapers the next day and listening to the radio and television (with, I am bound to say, the notable exception of Law In Action) as far as I could make out either no-one had read the judgment- this, I am bound to say, included the Secretary of State, who broadcast on the radio at one o’clock -or they did not want to understand the judgment. So let me make it quite clear what we decided-or rather what we did not decide.

We did not hold that any of the Tamils were genuine refugees. We did not hold that any of the Tamils were entitled to asylum. What we did do was to set out the scheme of the relevant immigration rules which, as we saw it (I am not sure how much dispute there is about this aspect), went in two stages. First the Secretary of State had to examine whether the applicant was a refugee, based on the formula to be found in the Convention of well founded fear of persecution on various grounds. Secondly, if he was a refugee as defined in the Convention, the Secretary of State then had to consider whether or not he was going to grant him asylum. The fact that he was a refugee did not entitle him to asylum. The only circumstance in which he, being a refugee, was entitled to asylum was if he could bring himself within Article 33 of the Convention, which adopted an entirely different formula related to fear of death or loss of freedom.

What we said was that when the Secretary of State said that none of the Tamils were even refugees, let alone entitled to asylum, he had applied the wrong test, and that each of the Tamils was entitled to have the question of whether or not he was a refugee decided in accordance with the right test, although it might very well be-we had no means of knowing-that, applying the right test, the Secretary of State would still have concluded (this time rightly) that the Tamils were not refugees. But it was not for us to decide that and we did not decide it. We certainly never approached the question of whether they were entitled to asylum, because that was the next stage down the line.

I hope, without any great confidence, that, having set it out again, it may be understood what it was that we were deciding. It is in the judgment, and nothing that I have said now is intended to modify one word of the judgment which we gave on that occasion. I am merely indulging in an effort at communication, but as I say without any great confidence that I have succeeded".

Thanks for reading and now you can behave yourself!

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Why an African may not be the next pope!

Let us be clear on this; Africa is not producing the next pope! I know you won’t like to hear this but then I do not owe you a duty to write only what you like to read. I am not under any duty of care under Tort to write what will make you happy just as you do not owe me a duty to read everything I am writing, however I bet someone somewhere would eventually appreciate the logic of my argument. That is if you actually agree it is logical at all.

My argument here is that Africa will never produce the next pope not that an African will never be a pope sometime in the future. That dream is still possible but then Africans must have to dream less, pray less and work harder like mafias. Being a pope has nothing to do with prayer and dream (Africans dream and pray too much, even more than the pope), it has more to do with machinations, politicking and Darwinian and Machiavellian principles.  To refresh your knowledge the Darwin principle is all about the survival of the fittest while that of Machiavelli is simple: the end justifies the means! For an African to be the next pope he must learn to live with these two principles!

The reason behind my argument is obvious. It is not because Euro-Americans have anything against Africa but because a lot of things are involved in being elected as a pope. The above mentioned points are some of them but then one must also appreciate the fact that half of the 120 cardinals that will elect the next pope are Europeans and I so much doubt these cardinals will be willing to give a go at an African pope. And if you follow this logic very dearly, it has an implication. The implication is that any pope who does not want an African succeeding him could easily do that. All he has to do is to appoint less number of young African cardinals or large number of old African cardinals. The reason behind this is that less number of young African cardinals will never have enough vote to support each other or to ensure an election of an African pope while a majority of old African cardinals are always likely to get old and go beyond the age of entering a conclave that elects a new pope.

But there are also other arguments too. The first is the thinking pattern of Africans in general. It is a fact that the environment plays a huge part in the way people think. For this reason, the thinking pattern of two six year olds would be different if they come from different parts of the world and if they don’t travel out of their various places of birth it will still be the same. Travelling will make a huge difference in their thinking pattern. This is in line with the theory that travel is part of an experience and of course the level of development in a given place plays a part in the thinking pattern of the inhabitants. For this reason while most Africans would like to settle scores with war, ethnic cleansing, fighting, smacking etc. most Euro-Americans would prefer dialogue and resort to war and fighting as a last resort. This differences lies with their environment.

In line with the above view, the thinking pattern of an African is quite different from the way Euro-Americans think. Often, Africans are very aggressive and violent in the way they think but Euro-Americans even though they exhibit same trait often moderate it along the line of public opinion, learning and discoveries. Ever wondered why Ugandans would want to kill all homosexuals in their country while Euro-Americans talk of their human rights? It lies with the fact that Euro-Americans have a space to accommodate changing environments and views, Africans often cannot because that will go contrary to what their fathers and forefathers told them. The meaning is quite obvious; their forefathers and traditions are better learned than they are. For this reason Euro-Americans cardinals are less likely to vote for an African cardinal. They would not like to be led by a cardinal from dark ages. Yes Pope Benedict XVI is a conservative but he never had it good with his Euro-American followers and the major reason he resigned is still far from the truth! Do not believe everything the Vatican tells you love!

Akin to the above point is that Euro-Americans would not like to be led by a person who is more holy than the pope. African cardinals come across as more holy than the pope. While Euro-Americans believe that they are sinners in need of God's grace, most Africans would not agree; they are holy indeed and it is of people like them that the kingdom of God was made. They are ever ready to point to the west as the reason for decline in faith noticed in the world today especially in the west. Euro-Americans so much hate this holier-than-thou attitude and little wonder two English Anglican bishops vehemently opposed John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York being the next Archbishop of Canterbury because 'he has a temperament of an African chief'.

And by the way, a friend told me that another reason Euro-Americans may not entertain an African pope is because most of the African cardinals had not played a vital role in opposing injustice, poverty, discrimination, corruption and mismanagement in their own countries and therefore may not be useful to the global church especially this time the church needs reform like yesterday. Same friend asked me to name one Oscar Romero in Africa and I named Anthony Cardinal Okogie of Lagos, Nigeria and he said he may not be enough to convince Euro-Americans that Africans can do it.

But on a very progressive note, this is not a time for a conservative pope. What the Church of Rome needs now is a progressive who can bring all the factions, side-lined, ostracised and forgotten under one roof. I am not quite sure an African pope can do that at the moment. The African church and culture is deeply immersed in discrimination, hatred, unhealthy competition and support for regimes infamous for human rights abuses. For instance, in Nigeria it would be hard for a Roman Catholic Church to take it lightly that one of them is going to marry an Anglican. This type of conservatism is very unhealthy for the region that wants to produce the next pope. I am very sure that Euro-Americans have seen loads of hatred to have more time for hatred and discrimination made in Africa.

I therefore do not see the possibility of an African pope now and stands to be proved wrong anyway!

Thursday, 13 September 2012

HIV Epidemic In Nigeria…A Good Example Of Nonchalant Attitude Towards A Serious Problem!

I am appalled by the fact that despite the continued rising threat of HIV and AIDS in Nigeria, the effort of the Nigeria government to match the virus is nothing to write home about. About 3.6 million Nigerians are living with the virus today and that is one out of every 11 people living with the virus in the world. It seems that the Nigerian government is not perturbed by these figures. The government seems very much interested in politicking and looting the commonwealth than taking a decisive, strong and confrontational approach to deal with the virus. This is a very bad way to tackle a pressing problem!

The implication of this nonchalant attitude towards the virus is that a lot of people especially the young people who make up the bulk of our population and work force and of course the future of our country are daily succumbing to the virus, not even in tens but in hundreds. I am scared that there will be a time in future when there will be no more young people to take over the mantle of leadership of this country but God forbid we will ever get there. This is scary indeed and that should scare a hell out of every living creature and right thinking person in Nigeria. The picture I am looking at now is very bleak. It is nothing to write home about and will become hydra headed and monstrous if this nonchalant attitude of the Nigeria government continues.

The implication of the poor quality of this picture is that Nigeria is today bearing one of the highest burdens of the virus in the world and that burden is still appreciating instead of depreciating and that is exactly what makes the whole story so sad. This is not good news and should be a source of concern to all of us and I mean it. The saddest part is that the Anti-Retroviral Therapy that is meant to manage the virus is nowhere within the reach of the millions living with the virus. Even the little in circulation is being hindered by injustice in the circulation and distribution system. This has led to the exclusion of those who are in genuine and urgent need of the drugs even as those who do not need them smuggle them and make thousands in profit in the black market. This is unfortunate, completely unacceptable and somebody must bury his or her head in shame!

It is scandalous and even sadder to know that patients still die of HIV today in 2012 in Nigeria. Elsewhere HIV could be perfectly managed to allow those living with it to live almost their full lifespan. In fact, in the United Kingdom today, you could just go online, request a free kit that will be sent to you, take a swab of your mouth and send it back in an included prepaid envelope and your HIV status result will be with you in less than a week! Why should this case be different in Nigeria? I have seen people living with HIV for over 25 years here in the United Kingdom and they are very healthy and doing their everyday normal job and even having babies born free of the virus. Would it be a sin for this bright picture to be exhibited in Nigeria?

And if you think that what I have been saying is very shocking, wait until you here the next thing I am going to say and that is the fact that 1 in 3 of those living with the virus in Nigeria today do not even know they have the virus. How would they know if they do not go for regular tests? Due to the ignorance of their serostatus, they will go on to infect others or get married and infect their wives who will in turn pass it on to their kids. This is sad and people should be encouraged to go out there and have the test even as the Nigeria government must make itself accountable to these people and pretend at least to be a responsible government for once. Those who are positive should take good care of themselves and ensure that they do not pass on the virus to others while those who are negative should strive to continue being negative and always having protected sex is the key!

Above all, everyone should play a part by ensuring that condoms are always used during sex and that should be the right condom size too.