Archive for November, 2013

Of Drink Problems and Disorderly Writing

By

Noel A. Ihebuzor

The caption of the article “If Jonathan has a drinking problem” is framed in such a manner as to convey some uncertainty. Reading it however, one is confronted by Mr Adelakun’s not too concealed confirmation that the Nigerian President has such a problem. Journalists have their sources and lay people like us are expected to lap up whatever they dish out. Who are you to doubt their sources when they present these sources thus “I have interacted with associates that have also interacted with Jonathan at close range and they say, indeed, he has a blooming relationship with a certain brand of wine.” It should not matter that the evidence for this very weighty accusation is of the type I describe as “I saw a man who says he saw a man who claims he met a minister who saw the queen.” Mr Adelakun has his sources and his sources must be accurate. To doubt is to be disrespectful and one must never disrespect journalists.  It is also risky to conclude that Mr Adelakun does not drink – after all, among the irate crowd gathering to stone the woman caught in adultery to death in the Christian Scriptures were certainly some of her regular clients. Those without blemish and vices can hurl stones at us lower mortals with our frailties and foibles. Journalists are the conscience of the nation and spot sins which only their fine senses can behold. I have nothing against this – every profession has a right to some self-deceit.

 

But my questions are these – must an op-ed whose clear intention is to nail a president and diminish him also trade in stereotyping? Could Mr Adelakun not have clinched his case against the president without resorting to conveying and reinforcing damaging, outdated, irrelevant, demeaning, inaccurate ethnic smears/slurs and generalizations? Are paragraphs 6-8 of his article really necessary? What is the import of these paragraphs? Beyond revealing Mr Adelakun’s own biases and ethnic affiliations, how relevant are these paragraphs to the poorly veiled and politically motivated expose on a man’s supposed drinking problem? I was hoping that Mr. Adelakun would stop and challenge the whole basis of stereotypes, show how dangerous, damaging, divisive and unhelpful they are but that hope was in vain because he needed stereotypes to caste his slur on the president and the president’s ethnic group. And, by the way, how accurate is this statement by Mr Adelakun – “Please note, stereotypes are not always devoid of reality but the problem is that they turn into self-fulfilling prophecies”. I am reluctant to challenge Mr Adelakun’s familiarity with stereotypes but if this comment reflects that knowledge, then that knowledge must be severely limited. Journalists should be familiar with the intimate links between stereotypes, prejudice, ethnophaulism and harmful actions, but not Mr. Adelakun.

 

And how more offensive can a journalist be in his comments on other ethnic groups? His insult on women from the SS is in very bad taste and deserves an instant retraction and apology.  And how more uncritical and biased can a writer be – the stereotype for the Yorubas is slick! Slick indeed! Notice the polysemy of the word “slick” and you will understand why he chose the word in this his sad role of purveyor of stereotypes. Slick! Mr. Adelakun’s effort itself is slick – could it be that this word which drips in deliberate polysemy is the best group descriptor for his people and the one he is most at peace with?

 

Having exercised his stereotyping wizardry in its fullness, Mr Adelakun then turns his attention to alerting his readers to the disastrous consequences of the president’s supposed drinking problem for the nation! But how convincing is Mr Adelakun’s effort to link this supposed problem to some governance gaps and goofs by the presidency? I find the effort unconvincing but overdone because of Mr. Adelakun’s quest for the over-kill. Over-kill has a trade-off in life.  That trade-off is balance. If Mr. Adelakun had adopted balance as one of his guiding principles, the arguments in his last two paragraphs might have been less puny. Assuming even that Mr. Adelakun’s accusations against the president and his people are evidence based, is mockery the mature and appropriate response to it?  It certainly is not. The abandonment of balance is clearly responsible for this grossly inadequate response. Balance would have encouraged him to remember that a mature and professional response to alcohol abuse, and to any substance abuse for that matter, is compassion and empathy, not the thinly veiled rejoicing and mockery one meets in his write up. Certainly to ask a journalist to recognize that substance abuse results from the interaction of public policy, biology, sociology and psychology and for him to reflect that recognition in his write up on such a sensitive issue is not asking too much. Indeed, it is to invite such a journalist to move beyond facile and simple narratives and to embrace depth. One does not need to remind Mr. Adelakun that the absence of depth in journalism leads to its death.

 

Journalists are the conscience of the nation. In this role, we lay people have certain expectations of them. Writing as if they were punch drunk is certainly not one of such expectations. Otherwise, we may also begin to suspect that journalists who display such traits either in their logic or choice of examples or lack of empathy could have even more damaging personal problems than those they “deign” to show up and castigate!

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Tortoise, famine and the other animals

By

Noel Ihebuzor

Once there was famine in the land of the animals. Animals starved. Every animal was emaciated. Hunger played music on their empty stomachs. Hungry played tricks on their minds. Things got more desperate with each passing day. The tortoise, the wisest and most cunning of all the animals, suggested that each animal kills his/her mother. If they did this, the gods would be struck by the enormity of the sacrifice that the animals were making and perhaps end the famine. Besides, by eliminating their mothers, the heroic animals would be reducing the number of mouths to feed during these hard times, tortoise persuasively argued. Some of the animals – the cock, the dove, the elephant and the bat initially objected but gradually tortoise wore down their objections.  In the end unanimity was reached. Difficult times required difficult decisions; special situations demanded special sacrifices, tortoise had argued and real heroes and nationalists never hold back from making tough decisions and carrying them out. Only cowards and the short-sighted hold back when destiny beckons, tortoise pontificated. The animals all agreed. Fiam, gbam, gbum, kagbum – each animal went home and fell on his/her mum and killed her. Matricide became the sign of courage and belongingness.

Unknown to the other animals, tortoise had hidden his own mum in the skies. He had designated a spot on a hill where his mum would send a rope from the skies to enable him climb up to visit her, chat with and enjoy all the joys of a mother’s love and care. And he would go up in most evenings to send her portions of choice meat from the slaughter below.

One day, the rest of the animals found out what the tortoise had done. A mixture of shame, regret and anger took hold of them and they set off to go and capture the tortoise. On sighting them, tortoise took off and started racing to the spot where his mother would normally let down the rope. As tortoise’s mum sent down the rope for her son to climb up to the skies, the other animals caught unto the rope and the agile ones – the cheetah, the leopard, the chimpanzee – all started climbing up and chasing after the tortoise. Soon they were catching up with him. When tortoise saw this, he shouted to his mum to cut the rope. The mum cut the rope and all of the animals came crashing down to earth, including tortoise. Tortoise broke his back in the fall. He also got a good beating from the rest of the other animals for his deceit. His back had to be patched and stitched together in hundred places as a result of the fall and the beating that he got. This is why the back of the tortoise looks so patched up always.

The morale of the story is that people should always be very suspicious of the person or group of persons who tell you to kill your mum whilst they secretly keep theirs safe, alive and very healthy. As with Tortoise and the animal kingdom, so with contemporary politics, and those politicians who invite you to commit matricide whilst their own mothers are safe and alive.

No Principles but New Principals

By

Noel A. Ihebuzor

I am sharing two documents we must all read. Both articles were signed by Nasir El-Rufai.  One was written to President Obasanjo and the other was written to President Yar Adua

These two articles are also published in the Village Square and the link lines to them are appended below –
In one paper, El-Rufai must have assumed that he was the front runner  of all OBJ successors and that OBJ would thus  so annoint him. He came up in this paper with such democracy destroying suggestions that would even make a Stalin shudder.
Read this

“The use of the unutilized power of federal electronic media in the propaganda war is unavoidable being a weapon that is readily available in the arsenals of the ruling party and therefore all obstacles to its deployment must be anticipated and removed immediately. 

A strategy should also be evolved to snatch away the international wire services from the opposition. Equally important is the need to cultivate FM radio stations for effective deployment against the enemy whose dirty deals and shameful conducts the print media has been largely paid to conceal. All stringers of the international wire services resident in Nigeria and their editors abroad should be identified for engagement, neutralization or deployment against the enemy that has used these effectively.

Condition survey needs to be conducted in a good time to ascertain the PDP’s popular support in all the senatorial districts before the national convention of the PDP. This exercise would pave way for the ranking of such constituencies on scale A, B, C, D and E.”

In another paragraph, he stops just short of actually saying how elections are best rigged! Read this –
“The function of the core-group is to systematically coordinate the use of Police, SSS, EFCC, ICPC and other state organs as per their respective roles before and during elections based on new approaches which subject matter will be detailed out subsequently”.
 In the second document, OBJ has by-passed him and selected UYA and the clever Nasir is now struggling to ingratiate himself with Umaru –

“Presidential Burdens and Qualities

We learnt that you were reluctant to run for President. It is quite understandable. No normal person who understands the burdens of the office will be eager to aspire to the Nigerian Presidency. But it is vital that decent people run for the office so that the nation is not destroyed by some of the vagabonds that ran around the country ‘aspiring’ and annoying the sensibilities of the people. Most of the eager and early aspirants saw only an expanded domestic treasury and foreign reserves ready for looting, rather than the heavy responsibilities of running a country containing one out of every 40 human beings on earth. And in a positive sense Nigeria needs the very best leadership if we are to become a great country; you have the opportunity to provide this leadership.

We were therefore relieved when you joined the race. You have emerged clearly as probably the most honest state governor in the country. John Steinberg (1966) in writing about the American Presidency said “The President must be great, but not better than all”. As Governor, you are probably better than all the governors, so what remains is for you to become a great President.

Early in this process, some of us – Tanimu Yakubu included got into real trouble because we made suggestions that you should be the sort of person to be drafted to run for President. We were essentially guided by lessons learnt at the Georgetown Leadership Seminar 2000, wherein Paul Begala, an aide to President Bill Clinton listed four qualities of a good President” 

How desperate can one get? How more obsequious can we get? The same character is now strutting around, fawning and trying to ingratiate himself with GMB and APC all in the hope of landing a post for himself should the GMB/APC ticket win the race! How low can one go? El-Rufai is nothing else but a chartered and certified political jobber. Hoha, no more needs be said about him. His principles do not change. His principals may change.

Noel

 

“Riding the Tiger” – Kingsley Ewetuya’s Thoughts on #SoldiersofFortune

Nigerian History Channel

 

Image

http://theswordofdamocles.wordpress.com/2013/11/04/soldiers-of-fortune-riding-the-tiger/

Soldiers of Fortune- Riding the Tiger.

Kingsley Ewetuya read Soldiers of Fortune and was kind enough to write this review of it. Read the full review below…

During his inaugural speech in January 1961, barely  three months after Nigeria attained independence from Britain, President John Kennedy said “To those new States whom we welcome to the ranks of the free, we pledge our word that one form of colonial control shall not have passed away merely to be replaced by a far more iron tyranny. We shall not always expect to find them supporting our view. But we shall always hope to find them strongly supporting their own freedom—and to remember that, in the past, those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.“ That quote, particularly the highlighted portion kept running through my mind as I read Max Siollun’s latest…

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No to NaNoWriMo

Must read!

Druid Life

In January, everyone should try and choreograph a ballet. In March we should all write an opera, and in June everyone should paint a fresco. Sounds ludicrous, doesn’t it? And yet the idea that everyone could write a novel in November gets a good deal more acceptance. Why do we assume that, while these other forms would require skills, knowledge and practice beyond most people’s experience, anyone can write a book? It drives me round the bend.

Getting people to explore their creativity is something I’ve always considered important, but I think that should begin with a respect for whatever form you are working in. To start by assuming the form is easy, requires no study, research or insight, is to set yourself up to fail. I don’t think that benefits anyone. So, here are a few counterarguments.

Fifty thousand words is not really a book; that’s rather short. Seventy…

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How to Spot and Overcome Manipulation

I sing dandelion seeds

lines that breathe, words that perfume the ear….prose poetry!

Susan Daniels Poetry

My chrysanthemum/daisy/buttercup bouquet in a shoebox is a love poem.  I open it for you, smiling, but you see only the yellows, not the asters that are my eyes.  I sing dandelion seeds, each note touching your face.  You brush it away, this music that is felt, that tickles, that tangles in your hair.  I bring you violets and call them haiku.

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