Saturday, 26 June 2010

Homosexuality Is An Abomination: A Response To Olusegun Obasanjo

To say that I was disappointed with the recent statement made by the former President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo on the 14-year prison sentencing of two gay men in Malawi would be an understatement. I was not just disappointed; I was highly disappointed, ashamed and above all chagrined that a person like him could make such a statement. Initially, I decided to ignore his response but lately realising that ignoring such a senseless ranting would only go a long way to empower the oppressors, I took the bold step of responding to him using this platform. However, the good news is that as am writing this, the two men have been ‘pardoned’ and released from the prison; a move that lends credence to the fact that commonsense and human rights would always prevail over stupidity and ignorance. Obasanjo’s statement lacked every bit of prudence, intelligence and commonsense and does not even have a modicum of decency in it. Obasanjo was once a victim of phantom coup charges and spent many months in the prison. This incarceration which nearly led to his death led to the eventual Deus Ex Machina that saw his rise from the Prison to the Presidency. Therefore considering his position as a victim of a phantom coup charges, an elder and a statesman, his comments are very irresponsible, disgusting and unacceptable.

Tiwonge Chimbalanga and his partner Steven Monjeza were sentenced to 14 years hard labour for holding an engagement ceremony in Malawi in December last year. The sentencing generated a lot of outcry and international condemnation from all works of life including Barack Obama and Madonna who has two adopted children from the impoverished southern Africa country. The sentencing was described as an affront to the human rights record of the country and a great setback for the achievements made so far to advance the cause of democracy and human rights in the continent. The hostility shown towards the sentencing was taken to another level in the United Kingdom where the British Parliament nearly moved a motion to ask the coalition government to stop the £80 Million yearly aid Malawi receives from the people and government of the United Kingdom; a country where homosexuals rights are protected and homosexuals are allowed to enter into engagements and civil partnerships.

Obasanjo in his narrow-minded observation refused to agree with the voices condemning the sentencing. Frankly, I am no more pretending to be flabbergasted with his utterances. It was under his administration that an obnoxious bill to sentence gays to prison was introduced in the Nigeria Parliament. He and his friend Archbishop Akinola fought very hard to ensure that the bill made it into law; they failed due to external pressures from human rights groups. Arguing in support of the Malawi stand, Obasanjo opined that Malawi being an independent sovereign nation should be allowed to apply its own law as it deems fit without any form of external interference. He further alluded to the bible, culture, being unAfrican and the law of nature to defend his justification of the sentencing. Let me quote him: "I believe that God, who created man, male and female, is a wise God...who doesn't make a mistake. If he wants sexual relationship between man and man and between woman and woman, God will not have created them male and female. For me it is an abomination in my part of the world and if anybody practices it then he must be unbiblical and anything that is unbiblical for me as a Christian is not right”, he said

He continued: "If a country makes it a law then he should be punished according to the law of that country. If a law in my country says we shouldn't shake in public, that of course would be ridiculous, but let's say that is what the law says, until you can get that law repealed, you must not shake in public. If you say you will defy that law and you shake in public, and the law says if you shake in public you go to prison for three months, then you have to go for prison for three months."

I have taken my time to critically go through the arguments of Olusegun Obasanjo and in my views and with due respect to him, his arguments does not hold water and cannot stand the taste of time. I would not be too harsh on him if I say that he thinks like the men in the Stone Age. As usual, his utterances have every mark of a ranting from a short-sighted lunatic from a jungle. I have my reason for not agreeing with him and part of the reason is that no sensible person would ever think the way Obasanjo is thinking. His way of think is very myopic and does not reflect any iota of a person who has entered the four wall of a formal school. Every reasonable school of thought is in accord that the judgement is obviously a gross violation of the human rights of these two gentlemen. The issue of being gay is a no-go area since a state has got no moral ground to legislate on what happens between two consenting adult males in the privacy of their bedroom. Obasanjo does not agree with me on this point because to him once a country makes a law, it must be respected. I disagree with him. The fact that a country made a certain law does not make that law sensible and morally justified.

Just like he cited above, if a country makes a law that two people should not shake hands in the public, that law cannot be morally justified since it goes against all the ethics of human understanding and the masses are under a moral obligation to disobey the law. Obasanjo cannot be right because it would take only fools to condone a law knowing that the law is cynical and works against their welfare and interest. Does that mean that the story Obasanjo was telling us that he was roped into a phantom coup allegation is after all false? Under military decree that was used to try Obasanjo and his colleagues, the military court never relied on a concrete evidence to find them guilty. In fact the military tribunal relied on a ridiculous circumstantial evidence that never holds water to try them. One of these circumstantial evidence is what is a called accessory after the fact of treason and the meaning of this is that a person could be indicted even if he never plotted a coup but actually got information or heard about one. Obasanjo and his colleagues were found guilty and sentenced to prison under this cynical decree. We all knew it was wrong; even Obasanjo took all the time while in the prison and while out of the prison to defend himself and to assure the people of his innocence in the whole drama. He was eventually released from prison, pardoned and set in the path that led to his being the President of the fourth republic of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It is also interesting to note that most of the men and women who were indicted and imprisoned with Obasanjo using same phantom coup allegations never received this pardon. One of them is General Oladipo Diya and even while Obasanjo who was pardoned became a president he vehemently refused to forgive them; not even Diya.

It is therefore ridiculous for Obasanjo to justify the 14-year sentencing of these two men to prison with hard labour simply because the country made the law. That justification seems to me that as far as Obasanjo is concerned every law is good and must be obeyed so far it is still within the law book of the nations that made it. That is an extreme view and could as well mean that Nazism under the German Nazi is justifiable. So should also be the case with the apartheid system under the apartheid regime of South Africa because both were codified into the German and South African constitutions of the era. I do not have a doubt that there is a great lack of good judgement on the part of Obasanjo over that statement and bearing in mind the role he plays today in Africa, he should retract the statement publicly and apologise because he let many people down. Comments like this flares the embers of homophobia across Africa and gives support to tyrannical regimes like the one that passed that judgement in Malawi.

Meanwhile, Olusegun Obasanjo in the interview quoted above was described as a devout Christian; I do not know exactly what that meant. He is a serial polygamist and early last year was in the centre of a controversial court case when his son accused him of sleeping with his wife. That accusation is certainly not what is expected from a devout Christian. In fact am beginning to wonder the moral authority he has in judging these two young men when there is a log of wood in his own eyes. Obasanjo whose two terms as Nigerian President was tainted with human rights violations and allegations of corruption also said in the interview that he does not believe that two consenting adult men have the right to the freedom of privacy in their bedroom. That could be fair enough, because same idea was also used by Sani Abacha to imprison him for accessory after the fact of treason even though he might have ‘thought’ of that in the privacy of his bedroom.

He also likened homosexuality to bestiality and I wonder why he did that. Does that mean that he has gone blind and brainless at the same time to the extent that he could no more differentiate between animals and human beings? It is a shame that an elder statement like him could make such a cynical comparison of humans and animals. In the first place there is a world of difference between homosexuality and bestiality. Homosexuality involves humans of same sex while bestiality involves humans having sex with animals. Homosexuals do not have sex with animals; they are having it with fellow human beings. Two conditions are very important in sex. One of them is consent and the other is age. For one to have sex with another person there must be a consent between the two parties for the action to commence and when that consent has been achieved then the issue of age comes in. The older partner in the affair must ensure that the younger partner is above the age of consent. The age of consent for sex varies from country to country. Here in the United Kingdom it is 16 years. When any of these two are lacking, the state should be involved because there might arise a question of rape or paedophilia. In homosexuality the conditions I outlined are usually met and if these conditions are met before sex, I do not honestly think that the state has got the right to interfere in what happens between two consenting adults in the privacy of their bedroom. In bestiality the case is very different in the sense that the person having the sex with an animal is a human being who reasons while the animal does not reason and in fact the act should be seen as an act of aggression towards the animal. Since animals are helpless creatures, just like kids who cannot reason and cannot wilfully consent, the onus lies on the state to protect them.

In addition to the above explanation, the claim that homosexual act is unnatural and unAfrican smells of ignorance and exhibits every sign of a celebration of stupidity. The fact is that homosexuality is natural and getting the message right would depend to a larger extent on how you want to define nature. Homosexuality has been around from time immemorial as attested to by various writings including the bible. It has nothing to do with the west as many Africans claim. In fact in Africa it has been there too for a long time. The reason we do not have many accounts of homosexuality in Africa is because unlike European cultures most African cultures are oral in transmission. The cultures we have today in Africa were transmitted orally to us by our ancestors and because of that, along the line and probably by selective perception they consciously failed to document homosexual incidents in our history. However, we were lucky enough to have one such account documented in Uganda. Between 1884-87, the Martyrs of Uganda were burnt to death primarily for resisting the homosexual advances of Mwanga II, the King of Buganda. In 1964 they were declared saints by Pope Paul VI. This account is the only one to the best of my knowledge we have of homosexuality in Africa but the fact that it did happen in 1800 is enough to prove that it must have been happening before then. I am therefore surprised where Obasanjo got his facts from.

I really have a big problem with this unnatural issue of a thing. It is a virtue for a person to keep his mouth shut, if he is ignorant of a topic or a particular problem. Many people have been studying this problem for a long time and it is only fair that we allow them as experts in that field to come to that conclusion. When it comes to the question of human sexuality, it is only the psychologists that are well equipped to talk about it and they must in all fairness be given that chance to do just that. Obasanjo is not a psychologist and therefore does not have the competency to talk on this issue. Even the theologians are not competent to talk when it comes to human sexuality for the simple fact that they are not competent to talk about it. The area of specialisation of the theologians is the bible and they have right to arrive at any conclusion they like but are under a moral obligation not to give their congregation hypothesis in place of fact. The fact is that homosexuality is very natural and for us to see how natural it is, we need to look at how humans came into existence in the first place. I would have to rely only on science here and the reason is that it is the only field were we could talk using evidences to support our hypothesis instead of a mere say. I have pointed out on numerous occasions that the account in the bible of how man came into being is not clear enough and in actual fact it lacks a lot of facts to make it true. The biblical account is like a guide to what happened and never the fact of what happened. To claim that God made the world in six days smacks of insult to God for He never did that; the world and all its content came about through the process of evolution. And God is behind the process that set in motion this process of evolution.

On the other hand, the account given by scientists especially evolutionary scientists is more credible and makes a lot of sense than what is in the bible. In a nutshell, the account of creation in the bible was exactly not what happened and God never created man in such a way. The truth is that man came into existence through the process of evolution. In fact fish are the ancestors of the present humans. We share the same ancestry with animals like chimpanzees and gorillas and our DNA is a living proof to that. If we humans share the same ancestry or actually descended from these animals, then the simple conclusion is that we also inherited a lot of things from them including homosexuality which is very prominent in the animal kingdom. Homosexuality has been observed in thousands of animals but the one which am very much interested in citing here is one that is very common to Africa and the reason why I want to cite this animal is because I am very tired of hearing again and again the ignorant view that homosexuality is very unAfrican. The animal in question is the Bonobo Chimpanzees, an endangered specie and the closest extant relatives to humans. Homosexuality is very common amongst them.

Amongst the Bonobos, it is usual for the males to engage in various forms of homosexual behaviour. On one occasion experts observed two males hanging from a tree face-to-face while "penis fencing". This also usually occurs when two males rub their penises together while in face-to-face position. Another form of genital interaction called "rump rubbing", occurs to express reconciliation between two males after a conflict, when they stand back-to-back and rub their scrotal sacs together. Bonobo females also engage in female-female genital behaviour, possibly to bond socially with each other, thus forming a female nucleus of Bonobo society. The bonding among females allows them to dominate Bonobo society. Although male Bonobos are individually stronger, they cannot stand alone against a united group of females. Adolescent females often leave their native community to join another community. Sexual bonding with other females establishes the new females as members of the group.

This is what Carl Zimmer had to say about the female Bonobos in his book ‘Evolution: The Triumph Of An Idea-From Darwin To DNA’: “A female Bonobo joining a new community also enters a perpetual orgy. While female chimps have swollen genitals for 5 percent of their adult life, female Bonobos are sexually receptive 50 percent of their time. Their sex lives start early: young Bonobos start trying to mate long before they can possibly conceive. And Bonobos sex is not just heterosexual. Young male will fence with penises or give oral sex to each other. Female, meanwhile specialise in rubbing their genitals together until they reach orgasm...Among Bonobos, sex is not just for reproduction or even for protecting babies against angry males. It is a social tool. A new female will work her way into a Bonobo community by approaching a resident female and giving her lots of sexual satisfaction. This favour wins her alliance and as she makes more of them, she can make her way toward the core of the community”.

Having seen this behaviour from one of our ancestors, it becomes ridiculous to see people like Obasanjo using their position and not knowledge to sway public opinion towards their religiously held convictions and sentiments that lack any iota of evidence. If Obasanjo is relying solely on the Bible to prove that homosexuality is an abomination as he claimed, then he has a hardwork ahead of him to prove also that he keeps every single commandment in the bible and to convince those who do not share same faith and religion with him that the bible is the truth and not just a collection of books that contradict each other. I am therefore utterly disappointed that people like Obasanjo are taking advantage of the people. Due to the high level of ignorance in Africa people like Obasanjo who refused his people access to free education that would have enlighten them, are now pioneering a poisonous campaign amongst the people to engage in campaign of homophobia against their own brothers and sisters. It is therefore foolhardy to keep pretending that it is a shock to know that some humans are homosexuals. They are! Frankly, it is not a shock. The fact is that some men are gay, some are bisexuals while others are lesbians.

As for the religious aspect of the whole argument, I do not have the intention to discuss homosexuality and religion here. I have a plan to discuss that in detail in another article in future.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Homosexuals: Do They Have Rights?

I have to begin by quickly hitting the hammer on the nail. All of us have heard not for the first time but over and over again that some men like men, some like both men and women, some like to dress like women while others would prefer having a surgery to turn from a man into a woman and vice versa. When I say vice versa I mean some women fall into these groups too. There are others too, even though they are men are psychologically and emotionally wired to think they are women. There are women like that too. We all know about this and therefore let us not pretend to be shocked. Men who like only men are called gays. Their female counterparts are called lesbians while those who like both men and women are called bisexuals. Those who derive pleasure from dressing in clothes considered appropriate to the opposite sex are called transvestites while transsexuals are born with the physical characteristic of one sex but emotionally and psychologically feel that they belong to the opposite sex.

The summary of the above intro is that we have lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transvestites and transsexuals amongst us. They have been there for millions of years and will continue to be till the end of the world. We should get that fact straight! There are here and there and yonder. One famous maxim within the gay community captured it aptly: “We are here, we are there, we are queer”. I therefore think it is high time we began accepting that fact and accepting them for who they are for they will never go away. They are an integral part of the universe and God’s purpose here on earth. A recent Stonewall homophobic campaign put it appropriately, ‘Some men are gay. Get over it’, and that is the simplest truth ever told in the history of mankind. It is a fact that being gay-a term am going to use to refer to both gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transvestites and transsexuals in this article-cuts across all level and ladder of human existence. They are doctors, teachers, prison officers, politicians, pastors, administrators, scientists, musicians and any other thing you can think of including popes. Just like other human beings, they are good and they could be bad as well as ugly. They have talents just like every other person and breath and walk and have their being in the same God as every other person. They are in every country including Iran where President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denied they are and Nigeria where the former Foreign Minister Ojo Maduekwe told a group of learned audience in Geneva that they do not exist. He told lie and his audience knew that. Gays are simply everywhere.

The question here therefore becomes why some people are gay. I do not intend to answer the question here because that is not within the scope of this article. I intend to revisit that question later in another article. The main motive here is to argue that gays are human beings just like every other person and being human beings they also have human rights that should be protected and respected. My intention here is never to engage in religious lucubration; I am only interested in human rights and dignity after all religion has been playing a vital role in fanning the embers of homophobia. Many people are of the opinion that the ongoing homophobic attacks on the persons and dignities of gays are justified and should be tolerated. I do not share same opinion or sentiment. The world should have come of age to appreciate the fact that human rights are sacred and inalienable and that people should be allowed to live their life so far it is consistent with the law and does not infringe on the rights of others. It is very easy to condemn others but very difficult to proffer a solution and that is the reason I have chosen over a period of time to modify my philosophy of life and the core of my philosophy is that I will never remain silent or neutral when people are going through a difficult time as a result of their race, ethnicity, colour, language, sexual orientation, nationality or whatever other classifications unscrupulous people have invented to torment others.

People are going through hell today because they belong to a particular group or have certain features that are not as a result of their own making or consistent with what others expected of them or think they should be. Some white people still refuse promotion or employment to black people even in the UK simply because they are black. Due to equality law, they might end up giving other excuses for not employing them. UK is even better; other European countries could be a nightmare. Some blacks too are not even helping the matter. Some still have grudges against white people and Africans because of slave trade even though they are not directly affected by that evil trade. This is exactly the case amongst the Caribbeans who continually blame Africans for selling them into slavery. People are simply going through hell because of all these useless and baseless classifications and accusations. People are ridiculed all the time because their English is not as perfect as that of the Queen or because their table manners are not up to the standard of their host. The pathetic side of the whole scenario is that all these boundaries were simply man made. That is disgusting, appalling, pathetic and completely unacceptable.

Back home in Africa, my cousin's triplet would have been killed if they were born before the advent of white missionaries in the Igbo land of Nigeria. South African blacks went through hell during the apartheid regime because there were blacks and that was just barely a decade after the last major ugly racial incidents in the United States. The ethnic hatred that resulted in the Rwandan genocide just happened the other day and the massacre of Igbos in the northern part of Nigeria is not yet forgotten. Or have we forgotten so easily the sad story of the Armenian genocide by the Ottoman Empire, that of the Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Jewish holocaust under the Nazi Germany. It is purely against this background that I have agreed that every individual in all parts of the world should be allowed to live their life without fear of intimidation so far it has got no negative impact on others. The right to live is a fundamental and inalienable human right and should be guaranteed. We may have our differences with people's sexuality but let that not be a reason for us to remain aloof when people are going through difficult times because of who they are sexually. Each time we refuse to condemn acts like this we degrade our personality as humans. Something in us diminishes and dies!

Homosexuality maybe deplorable but to the best of my knowledge, it is not as deplorable as corruption ravaging Africa today which has led to millions of deaths and millions of Africans seeking refuge here in the UK, Europe and America. It is not as deplorable as stoning a human being created in the image of God to death. It is not as deplorable as murdering a person created by God in the name of God. How can we tolerate the fact that people are being stoned, hanged, decapitated, imprisoned, ostracised and tortured just because of their sexual orientation? We cannot continue to remain silent and neutral for silence and neutrality empowers the tormentor and ridicules the victim. I say it again, no one can claim to believe in God and yet in the name of same God kill his fellow human beings. Any religion that advocates violence including killing in the name of God is not a religion. Most of us who are strongly against the homosexuals are heavily involved in fornication, adultery, abortion, sex before marriage, corruption, stealing, cheating and many other evils condemned by the same Bible being used to condemn homosexuals.

Where is the wisdom in condemning others of being sinners when we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory and mercy of God? It is purely because of this that Jesus Christ asked the hypocrites who brought the adulterous woman before him to be the first to cast their stone, if they have not committed such a sin before. And what was their response? They are all chickened away! That is the way all of us would soon chicken away if we don’t change our views towards these brethren. How can a man who claimed that murdering people in the name of God is a holy act condemn homosexuals? How can those who perpetrated the 7/7 bombing and September 11 debacle begin to condemn homosexuals. Or are the homosexuals the reason for the ongoing corruption and poverty in Nigeria despite being the second in Africa and sixth in the world in terms of oil reserve and even the highest in gas reserve. Or are the gays, lesbians and the bisexuals the reason for the never-ending war in Somalia and Sri Lanka. Are they the cause of the ongoing credit crunch? Are they the reason for the war between the Roman Catholics and the Protestants in Northern Ireland? Did they cause the genocide in Rwanda? Are they responsible for the looting that has devastated the economy of African nations and rendered millions poor? Are they the reason why Nigerians do not experience uninterrupted power supply? Are they the cause of the bad roads, lack of potable water, insecurity, assassinations, high maternal mortality rate, lack of access to quality education and numerous other things taken for granted in the west.

I think we better begin to get our own lives and allow others to live theirs. The present day argument being used to suppress the gays, lesbians and homosexuals was used over 200 years ago to justify the slave trade and some are still using it today to justify killing in the name of God. Live and let live! I am a Christian, a Roman Catholic and come from a place very rich in history of oppression, suppression, corruption and injustice that ordinary water and electricity is a luxury. As a result of my upbringing, I see everybody as my brother. Gays, lesbians, bisexuals, white, disabled; all of them are my brothers and I love them and thank God for the spice and variety they are introducing into this world. God is capable of doing everything, if He does not want any of them, He could have wiped them off the face of the earth within seconds. And so far He has not done that, I am inclined to believe that they are still precious in the eyes of the Lord.

Therefore, let there be no more hatred. We have had enough of hatreds, bitterness, walls and wars. Love and Peace should be the watchwords. Wherever there is peace and love and unity and brotherhood, that is where I belong and that is my father’s land. Ubi pacem, Ubi patria! And wherever there is hatred, oppression and victimisation, please count me out! And when I die I would want to be remembered more as that guy who never sought the riches of heaven and earth, but the universal brotherhood, equality and freedom of mankind! The founding fathers and those who drafted the American Constitution were well aware of this issue hence the inclusion of the ninth and fifteenth amendments in that famous constitution.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Gordon Brown: Why He Was Hated And Loathed Like A Criminal

It is now more than 24 hours since the exit of Gordon Brown as the leader of the Labour Party and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom but I am still here wondering why he was hated and loathed by many like a criminal and pushed to resign like a village buffoon. He went through a very difficult time and was obviously lonely and alone as a Prime Minister. Even those he trusted so much deserted him when he needed them most. They broke his fragile heart and forced him to defy the law of nature by aging so far fast more than his age within few months. There were resignations and betrayals here and there as well as mutinies and campaign of hatred everywhere; even from within his own Labour Party. They loathed him, wanted to bury him alive and even concocted many reasons for this outrageous campaign of hatred. But the fact remains that those who accused him of these wrong doings cannot in actual fact intelligently say exactly what he did wrong; they often repeat what others accuse him of. One quarter wanted him to resign alleging that he is the main architect behind the recession. Their reason is because as a Chancellor of the Exchequer for over 12 years he must take responsibility for what went wrong in the financial system. The other quarter accused him of being arrogant and ambitious. But who is not?

I am chagrined by all these accusations because in actuality there are many elements of untruth in them. It is true that Gordon Brown was the Chancellor up till the moment we entered the recession but he was also the Chancellor when the economy was good and everybody enjoyed it. How then could he be suddenly accused of being responsible for the recession? That is what the British Conservative-controlled media conspired and agreed amongst themselves to give us as the main reason for the clamour for his resignation. But there is no element of truth in it. One thing we all know is that this present recession actually originated from the American housing sector. Or have we quickly forgotten how we partied and enjoyed during the boom when he was the Chancellor. We wined and dined with him when the going was so good and groovy, how then could we be so callous to abandon him now that he needed our support. I am therefore finding it very difficult to believe that Gordon was asked to leave simply because of the recession. There is a major reason for that and that is because of where he came from.

The simple truth is that the English voters are simply tired of Gordon Brown because he is Scottish and the idea of a Scottish man lording it over them is one last insult they do not wish to continue to bear. They wanted by all means one of their own and the events of the last few months has gone a long way to give credence to this fact. Many of his party members who are mostly English either abandoned him or obviously conspired with their fellow English Conservatives to resign from his government so as to weaken it and pave way for his eventual resignation and a general election. They succeeded. I am disposed to believe that it is conspiracy amongst the English voters, some Labour members in conjunction with the Conservatives to oust Gordon Brown from the office, “after all we are all English and he is a Scot”. The fact that the Liberal Democrats agreed to form a coalition government with the Conservatives says a lot because in the first place they do not have anything in common and suddenly having something in common to form a coalition government with them points to the fact that the conspiracy was not against Labour but against Brown.

Gordon brown never caused the recession. The recession simply happened in obedience to the law of economics. Boom especially the one fuelled by greed precedes burst and that is what the United Kingdom is facing today. But seeing that those he led into boom as the Chancellor have suddenly turned against him during the burst shows how callous and wicked we could be. Very wicked to the extent that members of his own party who are supposed to work with him and be there all the time come rain or sunshine and support him suddenly chickened out. This is a pure sign of betrayal and a good example of an anti-party activity. The Labour Party is like a family and when a family has got a problem, they have to come together and look for a solution to it. Chickening out is a sign of cowardice. The issue of some Labour politicians washing their dirty linen outside is completely out of question and should never be tolerated or accepted. It is not a good sign to abandon your party when you are supposed to be there to offer your shoulder for your party leader to lean on when he needs you most. What the Labour did to Gordon is not fair and that is an injustice that may come back to haunt them. Yes he is Scot and so what!

Once upon a time he was praised for the direction he was taking the UK in the battle against the recession only to be demonised few days later by the same people. But the fact remains that of all the leaders of the political parties in the UK, Gordon Brown would have been the only suitable candidate to lead this country out of this mess. He has been there for over a decade as the Chancellor and actually witnessed the signs of events that led to this recession and bearing that in mind, he will recognise the green shoot easily when they begin to come out. The Tories are pro rich and would never care about what happens to the common man.

Gordon may not be an epitome of humility but compared to David Cameron, he is above Caesar’s wife in humility and this is one thing I admired in him which David Cameron and Nick Clegg lack from every aspect. They are both arrogant. In actual fact listening to David Cameron speaking makes me sick while Nick Clegg speech makes me to vomit. They are arrogant and this is very evident from the way they addressed Gordon Brown with impunity during the house debates. With this I begin to wonder where David and Nick are going to lead us with this their level of arrogance. Gordon Brown may not be good, which I so much doubt, but David Cameron would be disastrous while Nick Clegg is likely to end up as congealed oil in a hot frying pan. Gordon sincerely speaking worked under a very difficult and different circumstance. He took over the government at a point in time when the Labour rating was irreparably damaged to the extent that they were a laughing stock before the voters. He took over from the very unpopular Tony Blair who led the nation into war in Iraq. This war was very unpopular and people transferred their anger to Brown. And the fact that he is a Scottish man in English heartland never helped the situation; it was like from frying pan into the fire.

Before the 1707 Acts of the Union that amalgamated the Scottish and English Parliament, both nations have been a separate and distinct independent government. That Union was actually opposed right from the day the idea was muted before it eventually took place in 1707. Scotland has always seen itself as an Independent nation with a very distinct culture different from that of their neighbours the English. Over the centuries there have been wars and hatred existing between the two nations. The Acts of Union helped to mellow down the whole hatred. The 1999 Devolution of Power to the Scottish Parliament with the ascension of the Scottish National Party reignited the quest for full independence. The devolution has been used by the Scottish National Party to make almost all services either free or affordable to the Scots. The English are obviously not happy with this because their thinking is that their tax money is paying for the free services being enjoyed by the Scots.

Against this background, one could perfectly understand the reason Michael Martins the former House Speaker was quickly sacked and then the pressure that eventually led to the resignation of Gordon Brown. The Conservatives are very good in what they know how to do best; creating confusion and scuttling the good intentions of the Labour Party. What a shame that the almighty Labour allowed herself to be thus used.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Funeral Oration For My Prime Minister Gordon Brown

Friends, Britons, countrymen, lend me your ears. I come to bury Gordon Brown, not to praise him. The evil that men do lives after them. The good are often interred with their bones. So let it be with Gordon Brown. The noble David Cameron told you Gordon Brown was ambitious. If it were so, it was a grievous fault and grievously did he pay for it. Here under leave of David Cameron and the rest-for David Cameron is an honourable man, so are they all, all honourable men-come I to speak in Gordon Brown's funeral. He was our Prime Minister, faithful and just to us and worked tirelessly to fix our poor economy. But David Cameron says he was ambitious and David Cameron is an honourable man. He brought many reforms home to the United Kingdom and who gained the most? Same people accusing him today of being ambitious! Did this in Gordon Brown seem ambitious? When that the poor have lost their job and home and cried, Gordon Brown wept and reduced the VAT from 17.50% to 15%. Ambition should be made of sterner stuff. Yet David Cameron says he was ambitious. And David Cameron is an honourable man.

You all did see how he toiled day and night, travelled round the world with Barak Obama, Nicholas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel in search of solution to the recession and all the hardships we are facing but he was insulted by all of us including Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats in the Commons. Was this ambition? Yet David Cameron says he was ambitious and sure he is an honourable man. I speak not to disprove what David Cameron said. But here I am to speak what I do know. You all did love him once and not without cause. What cause withholds you then to mourn for him? O judgment! Thou art fled to brutish beasts and men have lost their reason. Bear with me for my heart is in the coffin there with Gordon Brown and I must pause till it come back to me. But yesterday the word of Gordon Brown might have stood against the world, now lies he there and none so poor to do him reverence. Oh Britons, if I were disposed to stir your hearts and minds to mutiny and rage, I should do David Cameron wrong and Nick Clegg wrong who you all know are honourable men. I will not do them wrong. I rather choose to wrong the dead, myself and you, than I will wrong such honourable men.

But here is a letter with the seal of Gordon Brown. I found it on his table in Number Ten. It is his will. Let but the commons hear this testament-which, pardon me, I do not mean to read-and they would go and kiss dead Gordon Brown's wounds and dip their napkins in his sacred corpse. Yes, beg a hair of him for memory and dying, mention it within their wills, bequeathing it as a rich legacy unto their children. Have patience, gentle friends and fellow Britons, I must not read it for you cannot fathom how Gordon Brown loved you. You are not wood, you are not stones, but men and being men, hearing the will of Gordon Brown, It will inflame you and make you mad. It is good you know not that you are his heirs for if you should, something horrible would come out of it! Will you be patient? Will you stay awhile? I have overshot myself to tell you of it and I fear it would wrong the honourable men whose opposition led Gordon Brown to his death. I do fear it.

If you want to hear the will my people, then make a ring about the corpse of Gordon Brown and let me show you him that made the will. Shall I begin? If you have tears, prepare to shed them now. You all do know this office. I remember the first time ever Gordon Brown occupied it. It was about three years ago in Downing Street. That day he overcame ambition. Look at him now lying helplessly in that coffin. In this place ran James Purnell's betrayal through. See what a damage the envious Margret Beckett made. Through this the well-beloved Caroline Flint finished him off and as she plucked his acid mouth away, mark how Gordon Brown followed her as rushing out of doors to be sure it was Caroline Flint he knew from day one and made a Minister in his cabinet. For Caroline Flint as you all know should have been there for him because she was Gordon Brown's angel.

Now my fellow Brits, Judge how treacherous and unfaithful it was for the dearly beloved Caroline Flint of all to have done such a nasty act. Gordon Brown loved and trusted her! Her brutality was the unkindest of all for when the noble Gordon Brown heard of her resignation, ingratitude, more strong than traitors' arms, quite vanquished him and exploded his big heart and then our great Gordon Brown fell. Oh, what a fall was there, my fellow Brits! Then I and you and all of us fell down while bloody treason flourished over us. Oh, now you weep and I perceive you feel the dint of pity as well. Brits wait until you see the wounded corpse of Gordon Brown? Look you here, here is himself marred as you see by traitors.

Stay Brits! Stay good friends. Stay sweet friends! Let me not stir you up to such a sudden flood of mutiny. They that have done this deed are honourable and what pushed them to do this is what am yet to understand. However they are all wise and honourable men and will no doubt with reasons answer you. I come not, friends, to steal away your hearts. I am no orator, as David Cameron is, but as you all know, a plain blunt man who love and cherish his Prime Minister and that is why am allowed to address you. I have neither wit nor words nor worth, action nor utterance nor the power of speech to stir men's blood. I only speak the truth and I have told you that which you yourselves do know by showing you sweet Gordon Brown's corpse with his poor mouth and bid them speak for me. If this fate had met any of these honourable men, by now they would have stirred up your mind, body and spirit towards mutiny.

How I wish you all comprehend or can fathom how Gordon Brown loved and cherished you and this country. If you know, you will bear me witness that he deserves your love? Alas, you know not and I must tell you. Have you forgotten the will I told you of? Here is the will with his signature. To every British citizen he mandated to be given, as long as the recession lasts, their full salary from the coffers of the government till they get a new job. He has also bestowed upon you all his incomes, his private arbours and orchards. He hath left them for you and your children forever as a common wealth for your pleasures and recreations. This Gordon Brown, the son of a pastor and how do we get another like him so soon? Having heard me Britons, it is now up to you to decide what to do for your future lies in your hand. I am done and let Gordon Brown now rest in perfect peace!

Friday, 7 May 2010

Jacqui Smith: ‘Atrocious Barbaric’

One good thing I learnt from the embattled British Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith is that there is no way you could build legality out of illegality. Jacqui Smith was responding to the suggestion of legalising about 750,000 illegal immigrants in the UK when she used this expression. Jacqui has been a strong opponent of anything that has to do with legalising the illegal immigrants saying that they have to bear the consequences of their action which is to run away from poverty and persecution to pick menial jobs her own people are unwilling to do. She was passionate about this that she sanctioned the deportation of a woman dying of cancer in a hospital in Wales. Ms. Ama Sumani, a widowed mother of two, was deported while receiving kidney dialysis and treatment in the University Hospital of Wales in January this year. The drug-thalidomide-she needed to prolong her life is not available in Ghana. She passed away in Accra, Ghana, hours after being told that friends and family had found doctors in the UK and South Africa to treat her. They had also raised more than £70,000 from donations to pay for drugs which were not available in her home country of Ghana.

Sumani came to England as a student in 2004. Her lack of good English prevented her from taking up her course and she then sought work, which broke the rules of her student visa. With this scenario one begins to wonder who gave her the visa in the first place despite her poor English. News of her death re-ignited the controversy surrounding the decision to deport her in the first place. The Archbishop of Wales, Dr. Barry Morgan said her death was on the nation's conscience while an article in the respected British medical journal ‘The Lancet’ described it as an "atrocious barbarism". It is therefore with joy that I received the news of her intention to resign from the cabinet following serious allegations of misconduct levelled against her. Jacqui Smith is not fit to be a politician and she is an epitome of what wickedness is all about. She lacks an active conscience, humanity and compassion within her heartless heart and it was basically because of this that she used the taxpayer’s money to pay for adult movies watched by her husband. In a very simple term adult movie means pornography.

Putting into consideration her stand on no amnesty for illegal immigrants, one would think that Jacqui Smith is an epitome of law and order and respect for the tax payers but the event of the past few weeks suggested otherwise. Smith is not from any angle what she claims to be and right from the day she sanctioned the deportation of Sumani, I concluded that she will go the same way. In fact her intention to resign is just the beginning and I have no doubt that she will end up the worst way compared to this poor woman she killed. Jacqui has no sense of decency and respect for human life and not resigning after the deportation of the woman is a shame on all of us. It is also a very big shame that only few people raised their voices in protest over that ungodly decision. Democracy is a form of government that relies heavily on the voice of the people which is the voice of God and having the effrontery to heedless the voice of the people and God for her to stay, the Labour Party and all those involved in that barbarism must be punished by voting them out in any election. Politics without morality ends in the bin and that is actually where that of Jacqui Smith and her cohorts are heading to.

A person who has no respect for the sacredness of life usually does not meet a good end. Jacqui Smith in as much as she is resigning from the cabinet should also be forced to resign from the British politics and prosecuted for a gross misconduct in the office for what she did with the tax payer’s money. How the mighty fall. The rise and fall of Jacqui Smith! In as much as am not laughing over her down fall, I strongly associate with her downfall and hope she learns a lesson from her heartless heart devoid of human milk and compassion. I hope she takes a trip to Ghana to say sorry to the children of Ama Sumani for killing their mother otherwise she cannot expect to see goodness in her life for depriving motherhood to the two kids Sumani left behind.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Amnesty For Illegal Immigrants: How Nick Clegg And The Liberal Democrats Got It Right

The second election debate of the leaders of the three major political parties in the United Kingdom has once more highlighted the deficiencies of essential ingredients urgently needed in the British politics and leadership. The evaluation of the leaders’ responses-especially that of the clueless Cameron and brainless Brown-to questions posed to them especially that on immigration shows that they are very far from the reality and never in touch with the pace, thinking and plights of the British voters. They were very cosmetic, kept repeating themselves, bickering amongst themselves like kids struggling over a chunk of meat and at the end of the day succeeded in exhibiting high level of ignorance, idiocy and characters of Machiavellian politicians desperate to deceive and win an election by all means. They are still living in the winter wonderland and there is no doubt that it would be business as usual if any of them are elected. They have nothing to offer. Their main preoccupation is to say what the voters want to hear and then do whatever they have in mind once in Number 10. It is therefore imperative that voters look before leaping to achieve that change we are clamouring for. Giving chance to a new party and a new face would surely introduce the reform urgently needed in British politics.

As an immigrant, I was very much interested in the question of immigration and so was glued to the television like a fanatic when the three leaders were answering questions on the issue. I am sure, I was not the only one who tuned in to watch this epoch making event. In fact, over 9 million viewers tuned in to watch the debate in various channels. The Labour Party was represented by Gordon Brown, the incumbent Prime Minister who was once described by Jeremy Clarkson of the Top Gear as a ‘one-eyed Scottish idiot’. In fact his response during the debate nearly made me to completely agree with Clarkson for Brown’s response was more of a mantra being repeated by a blind fanatical idiot. There was no air of originality at all in his speech. He kept saying same thing over and over again and bored a hell out of the audience and viewers. One of the people in the audience ended up yawning like a hungry angry lion. David Cameron of the Conservative Party fared no better. In fact, for once he was in complete agreement with Gordon Brown and the Labour Party on how to address the immigration issue especially as it concerns the illegal immigrants already here in the UK. The only person who made a sense to the public was the leader of the Liberal Democrats who facing the camera uttered what has been adjudged as the most painful truth in the history of the British democracy. He deviated from tradition and using his common sense filled with air of originality said something that eventually portrayed him as a man you can trust with your vote.

I do not intend to beat about the bush over this issue. I would therefore go straight to the point. The debate took place in Bristol and the question came from a young black lady. She wanted to know what the parties intend to do to fix the immigration problem of the nation which is already at an alarming and embarrassing level. The first to reply was the clueless Cameron. He completely objected to any idea of amnesty for the illegal immigrants already here in the UK and added that if he becomes the Prime Minister, he would put in place a cap on number of people that would be allowed to come into this country yearly. When asked the number he intends to allow in the country yearly, he failed to answer and his failure is not because he has no answer to it. He could have said 10,000, 20,000 or even 50,000 but the fact is that capping immigration is the worst way to solve an immigration issue. We are in a new era of globalisation to the extent that the world is already a small village. There are skills elsewhere that are highly needed in the UK but which are not in the UK presently. The only way to get those skills is through immigration. But if you cap the number of people that could come in here yearly and all of a sudden there is an urgent need for an oncologist somewhere in Wales what would you do? It would be madness to say no because saving lives is more important than capping immigration. Besides, the fact that European Union countries are free to come in and live and work in the UK makes meaningless any plan to cap immigration. Immigration is evolving and it demands dynamic leadership to face it squarely; Gordon Brown and David Cameron are obviously the two people who cannot do it. Nick Clegg has got a clue and could do something. In fact, David Cameron is wrong with his idea of capping the immigration and his being wrong is a sign that he has nothing to offer; only lies and deceit just to win the election. He is desperate and could say anything to confuse the electorates in order to get their votes.

Gordon Brown also repeated same mantra as David Cameron. It seems same person lectured both of them before they came out to face the audience to exhibit their ignorance and stupidity. Anyway, I was happy to see the two men agreeing on one thing for the first time and that brings me to another issue; how could such brainless and clueless men lead the United Kingdom of the 21st century when they do not have a working platform on how to solve the most pressing and urgent problem facing the nation they want to lead; the immigration problem. Gordon Brown is fiercely against the legalisation of illegal immigrants already here in the UK and his reason which was also cited by David Cameron is because such an exercise is a push factor for illegal immigration. Really? If Brown and Cameron do not know what the push factors for illegal immigration are, then it is high time we hired a toddler from an Early Years Centre to tell them that the war in Iraq and Afghanistan is one of them just as the west-including UK-condoning of investments in the UK by corrupt African leaders is another. The west knows that the money these corrupt leaders are investing is looted from the commonwealth of their countries.

I am not alone in blaming the west for this. Professor Joseph Stiglitz, a former Senior Vice President and Chief Economist in the World Bank and a Nobel Laureate in Economics painted a picture in his book, ‘Globalization And Its Discontent’, to concur with me when he noted that “The issue of the moral responsibility of the creditors was particularly apparent in the case of cold war loans. When the IMF and World Bank lent money to the Democratic Republic of Congo's notorious ruler Mobutu, they knew (or should have known) that most of the money would not go to help that country's poor people, but rather would be used to enrich Mobutu. It was money paid to ensure that this corrupt leader would keep his country aligned with the West”. This is exactly what happens in Africa today. The west give these corrupt African leaders billions in aid, not to help the poor masses but to enrich the corrupt leaders in order for them to be loyal to them. Here it is apparent that the west in a bid to please corrupt African leaders end up impoverishing millions of the masses who in turn would look for a way by all means to run away from the condition orchestrated by the west. The end result of this is illegal immigration. One is therefore 100% right to say that corruption being condoned by the west is the main push factor for illegal immigration. In addition, the suffocation of the African and Asian Economy by the IMF especially with her imposition of loan conditions and economic models that does not suit the continents is another reason. It is therefore a sign of stupidity and naivety to say that amnesty is a push factor for illegal immigration. The fact that African and Asian leaders could loot the wealth of their country and invest them here in Europe and America, is the main reason illegal immigrants come here on daily basis. The money looted and stashed here by these corrupt Asian and African leaders could have built industries that could have gainfully employed these illegal immigrants or even give them a decent free education which is a step out of life of perpetual poverty. Therefore for Brown and Cameron to look the British voters in the face and tell them lies upon lies is a sign of what they would do to them in the next five years. They would continue to lie ad infinitum! They cannot be trusted and we do not need another mene mene tekel upharsin to know that this is a time for change; a real change.

The question of immigration is a big problem facing this nation today and an urgent and decisive action should and must be taken to nip the problem on the bud. It is not time for pretence or currying the favour of the voters to win their votes. It is a shame that Brown and Cameron, being intent on deceiving us did not get that message. Fortunately Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats got the message very well and spoke like a man, a politician of repute and somebody to be trusted with the future of this nation. He is a man to be trusted and that is why the United Kingdom would be safe if they entrust their votes and future into his hand instead of that of the clueless Conservatives and brainless Labour.

According to the finding of a recent report commissioned by the Conservative Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, and undertaken by the London School of Economics, there are about 750,000 illegal immigrants living in the UK; that is just a peanut compared to about 12 million living in the United States. Most of the illegal immigrants living in the UK work either with genuine or fake identities and pay taxes as well as contribute towards the National Insurance scheme. Most of them do not claim any form of state benefit because that could be a step towards early detection and deportation. They often live underground and avoid all forms of contact with the police. They cannot report to the police when robbed, raped, cheated or assaulted because that could lead to their deportation. Also, when they see crime being committed they are powerless to do anything because that could land them into trouble. Therefore, they have to live like men in stone ages; living in perpetual fear, squalor, poverty, ill health, hunger and anxiety. The weak and lily-livered ones among them would eventually join the crime syndicates and gangs to commit various crimes including selling of illegal drugs and banned substances. The ugliest part is that most of them go scot-free because since they are not documented, it would be difficult to get them to face the law; they have no identity and the state does not know about their existence or whereabouts. Also, some of them especially those in handiwork sector like handymen pay no tax and this cost Her Majesty’s Custom and Revenue billions of pounds in loss of income yearly. These are the people we should target by documenting them, taking them out of the criminal gangs and syndicates and putting them into the hands of the taxman.

This idea makes more sense because the cost of deporting them would be very heavy on the already tired-looking and epileptic economy of this country. There are about 750,000 of them and going by the present rate of deportation by the Home Office which they claimed is about 60,000 yearly at the cost of 11,000 for each person, it would take about 34 years to deport all of them and that would be at the cost of about 9 billion pounds. But, if they are documented and allowed to work and pay tax Her Majesty would surely gain by manifold. This is exactly the argument of the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg and it makes every sense on earth. This is called solving a problem and not waving it away with a back hand or sweeping it under the carpet. Brown and Cameron are evading the problem and I am wondering what type of Prime Ministers they would make in this time that demands an urgent action on this issue. It is only Nick Clegg who has a concrete answer and solution to the question.

It is true that amnesty would hurt the ego of some of us. It would make these illegals equal to us in status by converting their status from that of slave workers to legal workers. Whatever is the case, the fact remains that it is high time this issue is settled once and for all. The brainless Labour is introducing the National ID Card to stem the tide; that is very stupid and foolish. That money should be diverted towards providing more Border Police presence in the borders of the United Kingdom to stop them at the point of entry. I think the Labour is very desperate to cling to power just as the Conservatives are mad to taste the power once again after the power was snatched away from them about 13 years ago. But the idea of playing on the emotions and intelligence of the voters is very insulting, a bad politics, irresponsible politicking, very Machiavellian and therefore completely unacceptable. That is exactly what Brown and Cameron are doing. The voters are entitled to the truth; no matter how painful it may sound and no matter whose Ox would be gored. That simple and painful truth is exactly what Nick Clegg told us in the second debate and that is exactly what is demanded of a good leader and leadership.

I am not trying to encourage or support illegal immigration; I am only being frank and that is why I am approaching this issue from a holistic and candid point of view. In tackling this issue, it is pertinent to realise that we are dealing with human beings who evolved or were created in the same image as us and therefore should look at them first as human beings and then as human beings who broke the law. Illegal immigration is breaking the law and those who break the law should be punished and that is why even a conditional amnesty would be fair on them; conditional amnesty in the sense of paying back something to get that privilege. I would come to that in detail in another article but it would take the form of giving them something like initial 10 year visa on the condition that they must pay a fine or do a community service. They could be made to pay a fine of 5,000. This fine must be paid at once or by instalment. If, however the illegal immigrants choose an option of community service, they must do any community service of their choice for above 1000 hours. At the end of the 10 years, if they are able to live with all the conditions without breaking any law, being law-abiding, showing sincere respect to the Queen and the nation and learning English language and culture, they should then be put into the path to citizenship.

I will talk about this in detail in my next article.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Friday, April 9, 2010: Si Deus Pro Nobis Quis Contra Nos?

In the early hours of Friday, April 9, 2010, I had a near fatal experience. I was involved in a ghastly bike accident that left me in a shock for few minutes and set in motion series of events that culminated in the sharing of this experience with you. I had a fraudulent reason for leaving work that day by 7am on the dot. In fact, I lied to my line manager that I needed to meet up with my GP appointment in thirty minutes. The truth is that I had an appointment with my GP but it was supposed to be on Tuesday, April 13, 2010. The implication is that I told lie in order to leave work earlier to attend to other personal pressing issues. My plan was to get from Chelsea to Walworth within thirty minutes and to do that I had to up the ante of my speed. Upping the ante of my speed on this particular day does not necessarily mean that I was biking furiously; in fact I was still within a reasonable speed limit. I was doing something around 20 miles per hour and that is actually my normal speed.

To get back home to Walworth from Chelsea, I had to take my normal route. This route which is about 8 miles usually takes me about 25 minutes on the average to cover and the meaning is that I do 18 miles every working day. This is what the journey looks like; I begin from Walworth to Elephant and Castle and from there to Lambeth North Station, St. Thomas Hospital, the Big Ben, the West Minster Abbey and Cathedral and then to the Victoria Station. From the Victoria Station, I would head to Belgravia and from there to Chelsea. To go home, I had to do the same thing again. It was exactly what I was doing on that fateful day. In fact, I never prepared for this moment for I am not only a professional biker but also a very careful one; only that on this fateful day I was not using my crash helmet. In fact, I hated it with passion and cannot think of having used one in the last 5 years. The event of that day taught me a bitter lesson especially on the need for crash helmet every time one is biking and I must confess that I learnt my lesson. I couldn’t have been so stupid not to have known the importance of one. I admit I was being stupid, naive and reckless with my life but all the same am grateful that my life is spared.

Anyway, as I was riding back home on that day, everything was normal as usual; just like every other day. I had my iPod and was listening to various tunes. By the way, I have got about 10,000 songs in my iPod and the songs help me a lot in concentrating and covering those 18 miles. Meanwhile, as a biker, you should be aware of dangerous places that you must exercise extra caution to navigate. Every biker has his and I have mine too. Personally, the junctions of Elephant and Castle and that of the Big Ben are two monsters I have to avoid everyday to get to work and to get back home. Between the two evils the lesser one is that of Elephant and Castle. The junction of the Big Ben is a monster in the sense that a biker heading towards the West Minster Bridge from either the Trafalgar Square or Victoria is in a deep trouble; akin to being in between Scylla and Charybdis. There is no provision to give a pride of place to the biker. In fact you have to struggle for the same high road with both motorists and motor bikes and that was exactly what I was doing that day that could have led to the end of my life.

As I was coming from the Victoria direction towards the West Minster Bridge, I was on a high speed; in fact you have to be otherwise other road users would knock you off the road. And under a blink of an eye, just out of nowhere, this guy with a high powered bike-those types that make hiuge annoying noise-came out of a space between two big London buses just by my left side and knocked me off the road. He was trying to change into my lane but never thought a biker would be on that lane at that point in time. It was a spur of the moment decision and he could not have seen in that condition. Even if he sees me, he would not have done anything because it was too late. The only and best option would be to knock me out of the road to avoid being hit by the double decker London bus behind him. And that was exactly what he did and I was miserably left somersaulting in the air and ended up hitting the other side of the road with the back of my head. I was more than lucky because if the oncoming bendy bus driver was not fully alert to apply his brake, he would have simply crushed me like a tomato. But thank goodness that I escaped that ugly fate.

Hitting my head on that road was not a joke. It was terribly bad and hurt like the most painful thing in life. For a brief moment, my brain was just like a tabula rasa. It was virtually left with nothing and I could not have known my name or age at that point in time. However, as luck would have it, I regained my consciousness within couple of minutes and rushed to the guy on the motor bike to make sure he is fine too. He was and I was happy that none of us lost our lives even though as expected I was the only one left with some injuries. I had a small cut at the back of my head which was bleeding and that was exactly where it hit the road and then some bruises by the left side of my thigh. The other guy as I noted was fine except little damage to the chassis of his motor bike. The greater impact of the whole accident was borne by my poor bicycle. The impact of the crash on the back wheel bent it beyond repair. That was really painful for I just replaced that wheel and I love that bike to bits.

The impact of the accident on my head could have been minimised or completely avoided if I had my crash helmet on. In fact the health workers in the Accident and Emergency of St. Thomas Hospital where I rushed to ensure there is no injury to my skull made me understand that not many people’s brain are spared like mine was in this type of accident. They were chagrined that at my age and level of exposure and intelligence, I could still be riding a bike in the United Kingdom without a crash helmet. Frankly, I was ashamed that such an incident took place and the fact that it took place without my crash helmet made me to bury my head in shame. How can a writer who wants to change the world with his writing not be wearing a crash helmet while cycling? I am not unaware of the fact that an old English adage says that charity begins at home and if that is true why then did my own charity refused to begin at home? I am very ashamed of myself and cannot forgive myself so soon and easily for this gross lack of judgement, stupidity and being silly as a silly stupid cunt.

Honestly, I think I should consider myself very lucky and should be in the church now with praises and thanksgiving. If the accident had occurred at least a mile from where it happened, I would have be drowned because it happened just near the West Minster Bridge and I could have easily somersaulted into the River Thames and got drowned. I have never swum before. Even my luck where it happened still baffles me. I was thrown off from one side of the road to the other and in fact in front of an approaching bendy bus and if not for the alertness of the driver whom I was told applied his brake suddenly, I would have been crushed like a tomatoes.

It is therefore with a heart filled with joy that I remain grateful to those who made it possible for me to survive this ordeal that day. The motor biker should be thanked for not killing me. The London bus driver should be praised for being on alert and being cautious to notice my somersaulting body and applying the brake of his life that saved my own life. How about those fine gentlemen working with the West Minster Underground Station? They are angels. They took me as one of theirs and gave me the First Aid before I rushed myself to the Accident and Emergency of St. Thomas. In fact their kindness is beyond what humans can give. I do not even know their names; one black and another white guy. The white guy is such a living angel that he showed concern to the highest level by accepting to safely lock my bike in their locker room till I am fit enough to collect it back. I remain ever grateful to them and even to the bus driver who agreed to carry me and my bike despite the fact that it is not allowed. I thank him very much for making use of his good judgement, common sense and situation ethics to arrive at that wise decision. Most of them do not actually use their common senses most times. It is therefore a thing of joy to see a bus driver putting his common sense into use. Same gratitude must also go to the staff at the Accident and Emergency of St. Thomas Hospital. It used to be called Guy and St. Thomas Hospital. I was surprised to notice that on that day the Guy is gone. Anyway, I thank them from the deepest part of my heart. They are amazing especially the young white nurse that called me naughty for not using my crash helmet. It was very funny when she called me naughty because I busted into laughter and what made me to laugh was the way she shaped her mouth to say that; just like a dominatrix in a sadomasochistic orgy.

I am also not forgetting the doctor who examined me. She is young and black but I completely forgot her name for I was too preoccupied with admiring the fact that a young person like her is in such a position. Finally, I thank God for this second chance. If God is for us, who can be against us?

Friday, 2 April 2010

Blood And Oil: A Response To The Film

Couple of days ago, I took out time out of my tight schedule to watch a BBC Two film on the Niger Delta of Nigeria. It is a long film, about two hours and runs into two episodes. Without mincing words or beating about the bush, my verdict on the film is that it is awesome, very interesting and something to write home about. I am highly impressed with the talent, sincerity, research, balance, maturity and high sense of responsibility exhibited in the film. In fact the balance of the film especially as it pertains to apportioning blames to appropriate parties without minding whose Ox is gored is unprecedented. In this case, both Nigerians and the west were equally implicated and blamed for the problem with the Niger Delta of the country. These problems are multi-faceted and I am quite impressed with the way the brains behind this project were able to squeeze these problems into one film. Though oil takes the front bench as the main issue in the Niger Delta, this film was also right in acknowledging and highlighting the problems of prostitution, paedophilia, child labour, unfaithfulness, make-money-quick syndrome, oil bunkering and sabotaging of oil pipelines by those in high places. Abject poverty is also given a prominent position as another hydra-headed monster threatening the survival of the Niger Deltans and region.

In a nutshell, the film is about three expatriate oil workers who were apparently set up by their Nigerian colleagues to be kidnapped from an oil installation in the Niger Delta by the MEND. One of the expatriate oil workers is Mark Unwin whose wife Claire had to abandon their home in London to see to his release. She was very unlucky for despite the assurances from her husband’s employer, Krielson International that Mark would be released alive, he was released but as a dead man, an unfortunate event very uncommon with the kidnappers in the region thereby raising a strong sense of suspicion within Claire that somebody must have been up to something very fishy. Her discovery also of a clip recorded by an apparent distressed Mark in his laptop shortly before his kidnapping and death added more weight to her suspicion and set in motion series of events that made her to determine to stay back in Nigeria until the truth is told of what happened to Mark. Claire’s discovery opened a can of worm that revealed the duplicities of Mark’s infidelity and corruption surrounding the oil politics in the Niger Delta.

MEND, an acronym for Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, a local militant group that kidnapped Mark and his colleagues were later confronted by bold but terrified Claire but they assured her that they took the ransom money and released the men alive as promised and therefore had no hands in their death. In fact MEND would later tell Claire that the three expatriates were obviously murdered by the officials of the Nigerian government as a decoy to get both the US and UK military support to kill and silence them and by implication silence the plight of the poor Niger Deltans. A Nigerian and mercenary trainer who survived the ambush by the Nigerian military personnel corroborated the MEND evidence. Krielson PR executive Alice Omuka is given the task of managing Claire until her husband is returned. Omuka, a Nigerian by parentage was also weaved into the web. Her father, a onetime government official made his money corruptly by oil sabotaging and bunkering.

The film which features some notable Nigerian actors including Sam Dede, David Oyelowo, Chike Okonkwo, amongst others is frankly a true reflection of what happens in the Niger Delta today. Most of my friends do not share same opinion with me for they are strongly of the view that the BBC Two used the film to add more injury and insult to the already battered image of Nigeria. I appreciate their argument but the fact is that very important issues were highlighted in the film including the perennial issue of corruption which is the bane of Nigerian future today. This is not the time to defend our country. It is the time to be in solidarity with millions of Nigerians, about 80 million of them, living in abject poverty. It is a shame that being one of the biggest producers of oil and gas in the world, about 80 million Nigerians are still living hopelessly in misery, hunger, squalor and abject poverty. This is not the time to protect the rich and the image of the country. It is the time to feel pains and be part of the misery of the poor and the down trodden.

It would be a great injustice for anyone to criticise the film negatively or accuse the film of having a sinister or evil motive against the welfare of Nigeria and Nigerians. I refuse to see the film from that angle simply because the film despite its supposedly hidden agenda and ulterior motive was also able to highlight the plight of the common people and that has been what I have been preaching ever since I entered the world of journalism and blogging. Journalism should always be on the side of the poor and never on the side of the rich, the oppressors of the poor. This is my whole idea of Liberation Journalism. It is a corporate social responsibility on the part of the media. It would be a huge ethical and moral failure, if the media fails to carry out this function of being on the side of the poor and it is basically because of this that we must praise the film for using the medium to speak for the millions of speechless residents of the Niger Delta of the South South of Nigeria.

I have always maintained that the oil companies in Nigeria should not be solely blamed for the evils in the Niger Delta. You should therefore imagine my happiness when the film actually spoke in my own favour. The problem in the Niger Delta is principally with corrupt Nigerians especially the village chiefs in the affected communities who would take money from the oil companies meant for the development of their place and siphon it into their pockets. The government officials including the ministers and former heads of state of Nigeria were also implicated in the film. It is no more a secret that most of this corrupt Nigerians have private oil refineries outside Nigeria where they refine oil and gas illegally tapped from the sabotaged pipelines they masterminded. This is true and nobody alive on earth today would ever dispute this. These people are corrupt and the poor people are bearing the consequences of their glutton and corruption. That is what the film is saying and that is why we must support the film because it speaks our mind.

How on earth could a human being accuse the film of being anti-Nigerian? Are we not in the first place anti-Nigeria by the mere fact of sabotaging our own oil for selfish motives and not even speaking against it in the name of protecting the image of our country? Wealthy Nigerians pay poor Nigerians to sabotage the oil pipelines and illegally tap oil for them and at the end of the day they get richer while the poor suffers and we are here blaming the BBC Two. This is not acceptable. The problem is with us. People are dying and their futures are being gambled upon and sacrificed on the altar of greed and corruption. We therefore must use every available means including the use of films, facebook, twitter, YouTube and all of them to highlight the corrupt government officials behind this heinous situations; a situation that has demoted the Niger Delta to the status of one of the poorest and most dangerous places on earth.

Niger Delta is the main and only source of the oil and gas revenue for Nigeria yet majority of its people live below poverty level. The gains of millions of dollars being generated daily from the proceeds of the oil has not tickled down to the people simply because few unscrupulous elements in the government and communities in the region are siphoning the money meant for the development of the region into their pockets. This situation has led to untold calamities. The farms in the region are all turned into wastelands coated with oil, their source of potable water is also coated with oil while gas flaring which has been banned for long is still in use by some oil companies courtesy of corrupt Nigerians who take bribes and refuse to speak out against the evil. It was these notorious acts that Ken Saro-Wiwa was strongly against.

Prior to his hanging, Ken Saro-Wiwa had predicted that the evils being perpetrated by the oil companies in the Niger Delta would come back to haunt them. As the film is being shown here in the UK, the region is rehearsing another Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan combined with bombing, shooting, kidnapping and likes of them becoming the other of the day. The peaceful protests against the companies especially the Royal Dutch Shell strongly encouraged by Saro-Wiwa is now turned into a violent hell leading the oil companies to be recording annual looses of unprecedented level since their arrival in Nigeria. A clear case of had we known, we would have listen to Ken. Even the overall export of oil from Nigeria has since gone down almost by half. And we know the solution; get those past head of states, government officials and community leaders to answer one or more questions and everything would be okay.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

The Vatican And The Condom Conundrum

As a Roman Catholic and an African, I am already worried about what would be the outcome of the instruction being prepared by the Pontifical Council for Health on the use of condom by married Roman Catholic couples in the fight against STDs and HIV and AIDS. HIV and AIDS are already causing havoc in different parts of the world especially in Africa which unfortunately is bearing the highest brunt of these epidemics today. The Pontifical Council for Health is equivalent to the Department or Ministry of Health.

I do not want to pre-empt the outcome of the instruction but am very much afraid and worried that once again a very important issue bordering on human life would further be complicated by a verbose academic lucubrations from the Vatican. The fact that the final document is taking too long to come out is worrisome. The Pope, Benedict XVI, gave the instruction as far back as 2006 and up till today we are yet to have a document on this issue even as many are still succumbing to the threat of the virus. I am also afraid that the outcome may not be very far from the traditional views of the Roman Catholic Church. The instruction at the end of the day is likely to repeat the usual Vatican cliché and familiar tune of procreation being the essence of marital sex and that whatever goes against this would be considered obstruction to the Will of God and therefore not just a sin but a mortal one that can only be absolved by bishops. For conservative Roman Catholics the argument maybe quite plausible and understandable since they are wired to take hook, line and sinker whatever comes out of the Vatican. But we have to take a holistic view of this argument especially from the angle of the theory of lesser evil to grasp the reason the Roman Catholic Church should for once be liberal on issues like this; after all we are talking now not about contraception but saving of lives of millions of people.

I am just wondering what would have been the response of Our Lord Jesus Christ on this issue if He were still physically present here on earth. But before then recall that instead of outright condemnation He told an adulterous woman to go and sin no more. Recall again that when accused of breaking the Sabbath day by healing a diseased man He asked his accusers which is lesser evil to heal a diseased man on the Sabbath day or to abandon him in his suffering and sorrow. Bearing these in mind, I have no doubt that Christ would have sanctioned the use of condom by married couples in the fight against the spread of HIV and AIDS. He would probably have asked, “Which is lesser evil; to contract a disease and die or to prevent a disease and live?”

A conservative Roman Catholic who has not been to Africa or other parts of the world similar to Africa may not appreciate the tone of this argument. Still he is not likely to read further if he has not been privileged to know what it means to be poor or ignorant. An Italian friend once told me a story of his poverty. The story at the end of the day left me wondering if his mental state is okay. I was very much miffed because this is a young man who lives in a two-bedroom flat in the centre of Rome with a nice small car and has been touring the world each summer since the last four years. At the time of this conversation, he was 26, had a degree in Architecture and still has got a very bright future ahead of him; yet he claimed to be poor. I was a little offended because that statement was made in a midst of a very serious conversation. Well at the end of the day I concluded that this young man needed to take a vacation to Africa to see what the other side of the world is like. His idea of poverty is completely naive and I am sure that this also the case with many other Europeans and Americans who have not been to Africa. In fact if that is what poverty is all about I pray the Lord to bless Africa with more poverty.

My argument is not actually that Africa is poor as such. Africa has a lot of natural, manmade and intellectual resources to play a leading role in the comity of nations but as a result of injustice being condoned by the west, Africa may not enjoy in the next one thousand years what Europeans and Americans are taking for granted today. For instance, all the money looted from the commonwealth of my country Nigeria by our corrupt politicians past and present including the former President Olusegun Obasanjo and his fellow crooks are either in Swiss banks or in form of tangible assets in other European and American cities. As a result of this wanton looting of the commonwealth, Africa today has an unenviable record of being the world poorest continent with a huge population of the poorest of the poor and illiterates. From this picture it could be appreciated how African problems including health issues, terrorism, wars, conflicts and the likes are intertwined with poverty and illiteracy. It can only take a visit to understand this scenario well.

Therefore if the proposed instruction fails to take into consideration the African background and the role she plays in the 21st century Roman Catholic Church, it may end up being a decoy to ridicule the poor Africans. The possibility of not including African consultants in the framing of this instruction is very likely since most Vatican polices in the past have always been Ameri-Eurocentric in outlook with little or less contributions from Africa. This becomes very sad when one considers the fact that Africa today has if not the highest population of active Roman Catholics, the second largest in the world. I am also very much afraid that the Vatican might have been infected with this attitude of nothing good coming out of Africa; and therefore consulting them for their contributions may not be important.

The present Vatican stand on the prohibition of condom as a lesser evil in the fight against the virus is based on a 1968 document ‘Humanae Vitae’ issued by the papacy of Pope Paul VI. When the document was issued there was nothing like HIV or AIDS, therefore the document had no HIV and AIDS in mind in the first place. The crux of the document is that the essence of marital sex is procreation and any use of sexual device which impedes that goal of procreation, is immoral and therefore a sin. Good! But we are today talking about saving and prolonging that life.

When ‘Humanae Vitae’ was issued, there was no reported case of HIV and AIDS and I am certain that little or no African consultation was deemed necessary before the promulgation of the encyclical otherwise the Africa experts would have advised on the over technicality of the document and why it may not work in Africa. I have not also stopped wondering if that highly academic document is meant to instruct my illiterate parents, brothers and sisters back home in my poor small village in Nigeria. Having lived in Europe for quite some time now, I have no doubt that most Europeans are not just ignorant of what happens in Africa but lacks even the simplest basic fact about the continent. Sarah Pallin, former Republican vice Presidential candidate thought that Africa is a country.

Nigeria may be an exception to this argument because of our luck in having a reasonable number of educated citizens as well as families who live a little above poverty level. In fact about 60% of our about 145 million population live below poverty level. But then the twin issues of HIV and AIDS have not been very fair to us. Today with more than 3.5 million people living with the virus, we have the third highest rate of the virus after South Africa and India. These three countries have also noticed in the last few years the continuous depletion of its active population especially those between the ages of 18 and 45 and consequently the leaving behind of huge army of orphans with the virus as witnessed in countries like South Africa, Uganda and Botswana and of course Nigeria and India. In these countries, it is now a case of grandparents taking care of their HIV and AIDS infected grandchildren.

That is actually not the most pathetic part of the story. The most pathetic side is that these grandparents do not have the strength and the money to feed their hungry grandchildren; as a result they die by instalment of hunger and complications associated with these viruses. Let us not talk about the life saving Antiretroviral Therapy because it will expose a lot of corruption in the African health system. As of October 2005 out of about 3.5 million Nigerians who are living with the virus, it was only about 10,000 that were benefiting from the Federal Government sponsored Antiretroviral Therapy Programme. The Government had an ambition to raise it to 150,000 by June of the following year but the fact is that it is only the rich and those connected to the rich that have access to these drugs thereby leaving thousands of the poor masses behind. Due to the ignorance and low literacy level of the poor masses the cycle of transmission continues spreading, sparing nobody not even the riches who depend on the poor for their sexual gratifications in exchange for money, employment and other gratifications.

It is therefore completely unacceptable for one to stay in the Vatican and issue a highly academic instruction to poor dying souls in remote villages in Africa. This would not only be considered funny but highly offensive to Africans. It would not only tantamount to not appreciating our sufferings and plights but also ridiculing and scorning us while we suffer and die. Christ who refused to endorse the stoning to death of a woman caught in adultery and forgave those who killed Him would certainly have not kept Africans in a very difficult situation like this if He were still alive. I have the impression that the Vatican at the moment is busy debating over a cup of coffee while people are dying elsewhere. It could be very dangerous placing the faithful on a very high moral pedestal. May be it was because of this that Christ forewarned that we should first remove the log of wood in our eyes before looking for a speck in that of our neighbours.

Being a former health journalist with the Guardian Newspapers of Nigeria, I was opportuned to have almost a two year non-stop contact and interaction with people living with the virus especially women and children. Most women I met and spoke with told me that they contracted the virus from their husbands. Africa is a very patriarchal society and as a result women have little or no say in the family not even on issues that revolves around them including sex. They cannot negotiate sex with their husbands. To refuse your husband sex is considered highly offensive. In most African cultures, men do not sin and therefore a man having an extra-marital affair is considered normal while a woman could be publicly disgraced or even stoned to death for the same offence. This is just a little picture of how most women get the virus from their husbands. It is also how some women infect their husbands. However, it should also be noted that even though these women are aware that their husbands are already infected and that this situation could endanger their own lives and that of their children, due to societal pressure and culture they are forced to continue to fulfil their marital obligation by ensuring that their husbands are supplied with sex whenever and wherever he needs it.

Under this difficult situation the stand of the church is that they must not use condom otherwise it is a mortal sin. This has left many women in a dilemma and a very difficult situation. They are left with no option at all and for them to remain good and loyal Roman Catholics they must remain subjects to their infected partners.

I have been wondering what manner of love would make a woman to subject herself to her infected husband to the detriment of their children. That is not love; it is utter stupidity. I personally believe and think that what would be the right thing to do under this circumstance is for the partners to enter into an agreement that will put an end to sex within that marriage. A sexless marriage. But since this idea sounds angelic and utopian, I strongly believe that something must be done to save that marriage and protect those lives. It is therefore based on this ground that I strongly believe that the use of condom by the partners justifies itself as a lesser evil. Though some quarters are of the opinion that condom may not be highly effective in halting the spread of these viruses but experts are of the opinion that if well used condom could protect the transmission of STDs, HIV and AIDS to a reasonable extent. Couples therefore should be allowed to make a choice in this case and the Vatican could be of immense help by not placing a very big obstacle to this choice. A man who has never married, I mean a celibate, may not be competent to talk on this issue.

For that reason, the Vatican while still preparing this document should endeavour to let it have a human face and a realistic tone. If it sounds too utopian and angelic, it would put us in a very difficult situation and add to our already heavy burden. It may also force most Roman Catholics in Africa to follow their conscience especially at this difficult and trying time they are faced with only two options; life or death. As an African who has seen a lot of friends succumb to the viruses, I have no doubt that we are likely to choose life if the church refuses us that precious option of life. It is stupid and unreasonable for us to join in a dance step of a song we do not know its tune.

And what would the Roman Catholic Church gain if tomorrow our pastors open the church to see empty pews because we have all died of the viruses. God forbid we should get to that stage but even if we must get there the church should make hay while the sun shines. She must place herself under a moral obligation to act fast to save our lives and the church of tomorrow.