Africa Awake


Western media & entertainment is beginning to show its hand more prominently in the white washing and image laundry of its governing national powers. There had always been this predominant perception that the west was the good guys and anyone who they held up gun against were the bad guys, so much for such a notion now considering what has transpired over the past nearly two decades of invasions and illegal bombings in places such as Iraq and Pakistan.

Traditional media in the west have come under threat from the unorganized body of the internet and social media which has created a new window for the rest of the world to see what really goes on behind the scene. Wikileaks’ Julian Assange and Mr. Snowden have now become the new faces of unprecedented scales of whistle blowing as well as the exposure of never imagined state secrets. America’s true paranoia has been ignited before millions of faces and everyone imagines them as men in bright blue and red suits sitting in dark rooms with those blood shot eyes sifting through millions and billions of personal data.

The questions that now require an answers is ‘what really is freedom’? What kind of media have we held to such high standards? If the real research and investigation was to be done, you would realize that newspapers and magazines were largely if not totally owned by corporate America, the same corporations who own the military and oil companies that have benefitted from these conflicts and instability.

So western media tilts and manipulates the perspective and shows us the news from an angle which completely favors them. What about entertainment? That’s where it gets even more distasteful, with the elevation of the reality TV stars and the constant coverage of mediocrity to the constant presentation of beauty as being embodied in a slim or well built mostly white male/female. Talent is now second on the priority list. A sex tape might get you started but a good PR team with the right string of endorsements will help you conquer the world as well as the hearts and minds of adolescent young women/girls.

From the African perspective I think it’s time we stopped before it’s too late. We need to turn off the cable and ask ourselves if this is the kind of content we want to be immersed in on a daily basis, if this is the kind of material we want our children being raised on. At some point we really have to be able to define what constitutes African content because to be quite honest I can’t stand what is being paraded as western pop culture these days. Africa needs to look within herself and find that true personality, list of values and principles that are self defined not brought about by what is now largely termed western culture.

Africa has an opportunity to break this cycle of misrepresentation and help define what the truth is, how misguided the news is and what real values truly are. We cannot continue to embrace both junk and the nurture equally.

A New Age


The proper information age dawned on us over a decade ago when the dot coms initially came and went, then properly thought out internet platforms and portals started springing up. Today things have taken a step further with the ease people can access different forms of information, redefining what proper media used to be. The changes are no longer at breakneck speed for sure but one is guaranteed to miss out if they don’t jump on the wagon soon enough.
The information age came along in a period of pretention in retrospect, a time where it was widely believed that the world had finally learned the true meaning of equality, just after the official death of apartheid and obvious racial discrimination, or so we thought. The next phase which we have unknowingly stumbled upon is a most revealing and disturbing one, one which coincides with several upheavals in market dynamics and economic recessions, a period of dishonesty and bailouts.
Racial tensions never went away apparently; they were just hidden in the background by controlled media, now the world gets a front seat view of its own fuck ups as God’s own country struggles to understand how word got out that a significant portion of its population is made up of bigots and harmful pacifists. The civil wars and proxy wars in the middle east has forced mass immigration from Syria, South Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Iraq into Europe exposing more intolerance amongst Europeans. It had been an accommodating world all along, a world dynamic based on the mantra ‘as long as you don’t bring it to my door step’.
How did the world get so selfish? Who made us all forget how important it has become to be more open to helping the helpless? Have we all become so insulated from the tragedies and strife? I thought the advent of cable and 24 hours news made people more aware of the harrowing tales in troubled regions. Images of Bob Geldof and live aid singing their hearts out mean nothing to me now when I juxtapose them against immigrants trying to make it into the UK via the channel. All of a sudden Geldof and Live Aid have gone quiet.
It’s easy for these charities to beam images of themselves standing side by side with starving children in Sudan and Somalia talking about raising money for food and clothing but shining a light to the greater international community on desperate migrants stranded at sea or being mistreated in migrant camps doesn’t really help the shock value and rating clearly but luckily these issues are in the news being reported along with updates of reality show stars doing their own fair share of nothing.

I should be Dead


The phrase keeps repeating itself in my head; “I should be dead..”, along with visions of the crash, me sitting there, almost as if safely cocooned in the driver seat surrounded by chaos.

Throughout the next day moments in between the beginning of the crash and the point at which it all became a deathly silence flash in my mind, the loud bangs as the car hit pole and concrete , dust and debris flying all around me.
It’s hard to explain how I’m still here, unhurt and still in mild shock.
How I got out of that wreckage without much of a struggle.
Most people will say it is God and I am in no position to offer objective explanations of me surviving such an accident; watching helplessly as the vehicle you were driving loses control and spins across two lanes and over a eight foot wide gutter before stopping, waiting to burst into flames just minutes after you step out.
I stood there, in the rain, not bothered if I had sustained any injuries, watching the tongues of fire consume the wreckage, not realising that if things had happened differently, I would have been in that wreckage.
I should be dead.
Yet here I am, without a single scratch, not even a slight complaint that a little pain lingeres. I walked away from that burning heap feeling mostly guilty, feeling I should have been more careful driving in such poor weather. The idea that I am by far luckier than most has only begun to sink in.

Fiction: Of The Night


There are moments at night unknown to us men, when time freezes for an eternity and something else takes reign over the elements and fates, something dark and mysterious to the knowledge of man but I have seen it. How this happened I do not know, all I do know is my life has never been the same again. I have come to dread the night for it brings with it my hunters, those who have been dedicated to ending my very existence for this perceived misstep they believe I made. Now I am forced to fight, for almost endless nights I face these creatures of an unknown world, battling for my own survival. There have been nights where giving up has been at the forefront of my thoughts as the hour approaches, to end these battles and embrace this death that I seem to continuously postpone.

I curse the day I stumbled upon this world, the day I was discovered as not being of that unknown and unspoken world. It has robbed me of all forms of normalcy I once boasted of, ripping me away from family and friends, leaving me without the normal routine I was meant to embrace as I grew up. Now I am forced to hide while the people who care for me have searched me out hopelessly wondering what has become of me. I am sure I would be endangering them the minute I am honest with them about what has been happening to me over the past 4 years. I remember trying to tell my older brother about the attack when I had managed to fend off attacks for a fifth time, he really didn’t believe me but something just felt weird after I told him, by night fall on the same day I knew I had made a big mistake, the attacks were stronger and they didn’t seem to come for me alone, fighting off these creatures as they tried to take me and my brother away was far worse than fighting them off merely because I wanted to live, I would never have been able to live with myself had they succeeded that night. To him it was merely a terrible nightmare and my heart sank as I watched him hug his bible closer every night for the next 2 weeks, I overheard his hushed whisper as he prayed so hard for Angels to come and watch over him, what he didn’t know was that for those two weeks I was the one who watched over him, battling these creatures that were so hell bent on taking him all because of me.

I remember the last night they tried to come for him, how after a terrible fight I had screamed through blood and tears in another tongue I never knew I could speak before that moment “He knows nothing of us!!!”. Even they froze in shock, staring at me through their unimaginable eyes, somehow I had managed to learn their tongue because the next words I heard were crystal clear and understood by me; “You are still not safe….Mazael…your brother will outlive you..”. They had even given me a name, or was that what they called my kind? There was no fight that night, they merely lurked in the darkness watching me, probably observing me, maybe wondering where my weaknesses lay. The battles soon resumed days later but at least they no longer bothered my brother.

Mazael…they knew me..or whatever it was that name meant- they knew my kind- for I have no other explanation as to how I have been able to see them or fight them. Why they seek to hunt me and destroy me is still a mystery to me. I accept I have always been different, not particularly bright but different, seeing things almost everyone around me did not. Physically I grew different, having a higher threshold for pain and an unexplainable increase in strength whenever I felt threatened. It might read like I’m some sort of super human being but considering the things I have faced and the life I have been forced to live it feels nothing like that. The creatures; vile, horrid eyes, burning sulphuric breaths and grotesque postures still haunt me long after I have vanquished them.

Nothing in my dreams or visions has been revealed to me about my true nature, all I know is that I dread the night. It’s approach brings the dread of death and the unknown here after, abandoning my family feels like I have blessed them with a longer stay in this world, yet again I fear they might be sought in reprisal.

Day 09: Survival


Jeremiah's Scribbles

I asked @griffinstreaks for something bodied with gore

And he gave me something that will make writers of The Walking Dead jealous

So beautiful.

__________

‘Society’s survival is not based on decency or morality but on what
the collective is willing to agree on as being acceptable.’

-Teniola Soyebo

Survival

I lie on my back in the black
charred dirt staring at my hands,
covered in charcoal and blood, the chill around me grows stronger as night creeps into
everything. My belly is full from the dinner we just tore through by the fire place and for a few moments my mind wonders to the hour preceding this very moment. My eyes flutte in both shock and satisfaction as a part
of me that used to be so human
recalls when what has just
occurred was considered unthinkable. I lift my hand up to my face and feel around my…

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Change don Jam go slow.


Change has come they said. It’s going to get better they said. Look at our National Assembly now. It’s a damn circus.

I don’t have to flip the papers or channels too far to catch up on hilarious intrigues and power play which I personally find embarrassing. Why are we even complaining or hurling insults. Why are my even bothered to feel embarrassed. We clearly elected people from the same pool of filth and horse dung into the representative chambers of government. I wonder why we thought things were going to be different from top to bottom. April fool came quite late this year but it seems it was worth the wait even though the joke is on most us.

As someone who has never really seen any difference between the APC and PDP I am just glad the only significant incident so far has been the attempted removal of a Mace (visions of chairs being tossed just flashed before my eyes). We all must understand that our pseudo-esteemed senators and house of rep members haven’t come across the proverbial change just yet. The main reason they are  jostling for these leadership positions are purely selfish and will remain so for quite sometime. Men and women who seek to make a difference in a nation like Nigeria don’t simply suspend plenary sitting for a month yet tell us they are working for our best interests.

The economy and financial situation in the country requires a heightened level of attention and supervision our senators and reps cannot seem to provide. Only two committees have been formed while we still wait for them to approve ministers as of the writing of this post (not like PMB has sent them his list any way) yet a month into the 8th NASS and all we have seen is tomfoolery. This means our work as the electorate is far from done. Who is that big man in your senatorial district? Has he made any direct or indirect impact in your ward/district except for piecemeal gifts and empty promises? The next elections mean added work; closer monitoring of personage and character. It’s not going to be funny if the 9th NASS starts with this sort of poor man’s House of Cards.

The truth for Buhari supporters is for the President to make any form of difference during the next four years he needs a far more credible, selfless and focused legislature. One which is constituted largely of men and women who know the task ahead is not about wardrobe allowances or budget allocations but about ensuring the constituents they represent derive the maximum benefit from the existing administration.

For the next four years I am sorry to say I have very little hope for the Saraki/ Dogora led legislature. I foresee a continuous state of upheaval and disgraceful market square behavior because to add more salt to the wounds the monies the previous legislatures have tended to enjoy will not be so easily forthcoming owing to the present economic difficulties. I say we stomach this insult for the time being and let them serve their time. Calling for #UndressNASS or #OccupyNASS will barely scratch the surface of whatever form of change needs to come to the hollowed chambers of the legislature. In the meantime I say we embark on a proper enlightenment exercise, one which will be focused on informing the greater masses of what a senator or house or reps members true duties and functions really are.

Targets and expectations need to be set for individual senators/reps, the same things need to be done to geo political zones and caucuses. We must let future senate/representative hopefuls know what they are aspiring for and the clear terms on which we shall elect them. The real work is in getting a larger portion of the populace aware of these things so that whenever the ‘bigman’ wheels into their village or neighborhood they know the right questions to ask and are sure they are listening to what they ought to be told. It has become imperative at this point because we can’t continue to leave the hope of the future generations to chance and thuggery.

Nigeria’s future is supposed to be debated by intellectuals and men with far reaching vision, not short term opportunists.

Letter to President Buhari


Mr. President from May 29th.
Mr. President from May 29th.

Dear President Buhari, how have the last few days been? Hope like the rest of the citizenry that you will be ruling for the next 4 years you have felt the discomfort of fuel scarcity & power outages. I hear you are away in England at the moment attending to matters abroad. I do hope for all our sakes that these matters concern the key issues you promised to address while you campaigned extensively across the nation.

At the moment a lot of us cannot wait for the 29th of May any longer, this has become such a concern owing to the near total system shut down by the outgoing administration as evidenced by the inactivity around state house, the lack of directive or statement from the administration regarding the current fuel scarcity and power failure. Mr. President, businesses are shutting down and daily livelihoods are being taken away because of this seemingly two pronged attack on the masses. The masses are truly the ones feeling this pain the most as a result of their meager income and their dependence on fuel and electricity to get them through the day. Not everyone can afford high capacity generators, inverters or solar panels, while efforts to get to our places of work are near impossible due to the increase in transport fare or the lack of enough means of transportation at the moment.

The people have asked questions Mr. President and the answers we have gotten haven’t been pretty. Oil marketers, oil transporters, the NNPC & co have decided to hold the country to ransom for one reason or the other; none payment of certain fees and costs, uncertainty about the incoming administration, sale of NNPC stake in certain assets, etc.  These reasons have not justified how a handful of people and organizations will cause the major nerve centers of this country to come to a near halt.

Banks are now working half days, Media houses can no longer function 24/7, airlines have stopped being fully operational, telecommunication companies have warned of shortages in diesel supply affecting optimal operations. Let’s not now talk about hospitals and industries that need constant power supply to function efficiently. Hospitals require stable power supply to keep certain people alive like babies in incubators and people on life support machines or patients undergoing kidney dialysis.

It is unbelievable how all this can be permitted to happen. In a country that is supposed to aim for constant improvements in processes and systems this is totally unacceptable. It has been accepted for a while that improving power generation in the country is a herculean task and will take a while to get right, this has seen most establishments, organizations, individuals and families rely on alternative power supply in order to get by and all those concerned have managed the situation despite the climbing cost, watching as the cost of living in a developing country goes up without any improvement in the standard of living.

I am not one to point an accusing finger at anyone when things go wrong but in this case I am forced to make an exception. I have for almost a decade watched NNPC conduct itself like an imperial house which most of the time answers to no one. For long periods since the inception of the 4th republic I have often wonder what exactly this parastatal has succeeded in accomplishing over the years; no working refineries, lack of foreign investment, no significant improvement in local content or human capacity, continued gas flaring and unabated oil theft throughout the years. Forget the ones I have just listed, skimming through dailies over the past 5 years will reveal even more incompetence and that is before you decide to cast your eyes on the recently released Price Waterhouse Cooper’s audit on the NNPC. One which wasn’t fully carried out but still showed a most appalling level of ineptitude and corruption. Mr. President, Nigeria has had four refineries for over 2 decades yet all of them have ceased to function for the past 16 years. These refineries are under the care of the NNPC and have gone through over half a dozen Turn Around Maintenance yet we still hear they are not functioning while Nigeria relies heavily on the importation of petroleum products to keep its economy afloat.

In many ways this is heart breaking and gut wrenching, when you read about it while realizing that these issues are still ongoing. The byproduct of these issues has led to the creation of a close knit group of oil marketers who themselves have become so emboldened and empowered that they are significantly responsible for the current situation in the country. Or how else did we start hearing the word Oil marketers if not for the obvious inability of the NNPC to first and foremost properly manage and operate its refineries and then secondly properly handle crude oil lifting processes.

The NNPC’s international counterparts are miles ahead of it in terms of autonomy, the practice of international business practices, brand recognition, foreign investments, efficiency and productivity. Yet the NNPC leadership has no qualms with where it finds itself today; lagging behind and highly compromised. This shows a clear lack of leadership or vision implementation because based on my experience with the NNPC it has a clear plan of where it wants to be in a matter of years though that has come into question considering how poorly it has been run.

During the Obasanjo years the BPE was part of those charged with looking into better ways of making the system which over saw the oil industry much more efficient. An Oil & Gas reform paper was produced which I was fortunate to get my hands because I spent my youth service years working in the Oil and Gas department of the Bureau of Public Enterprises. What I came across was a most interesting document which I prayed would be implemented. Unfortunately that is not the case as several interest groups and self serving individuals have made sure the NNPC stays as it is free of reform because their bread and butter is derived from its present state.

In my honest opinion the NNPC has to go, to be replaced by a semi autonomous Oil Company, one who’s objective will be to create and exploit opportunities for the Nigerian people and will be built on Efficiency, Sustainability, Accountability & Transparency. The wastage must stop.

It will no doubt be a daunting challenge to make this happen seeing as the people who currently benefit from the current status-quo have significant political power and will go to great lengths to ensure things stay the way they are. It doesn’t mean that it is impossible. Mr. President, it is difficult for me to see you as the Change we have been yearning for owing to the current make up of your political association; people who I consider opportunist and land grabbers populate your current party rank and yet I understand that yours is a marriage of necessity but it still will compromise a lot of your earnest efforts at trying to clean up the system. It still does not mean you shouldn’t do anything. There is significant ground work to be done, ground work that can be helpful to subsequent administrations.

Seeing as oil marketers have decided to hold the country to ransom along with NNPC staff members despite knowing how vital the work they do is to the overall economy of the Country it is imperative the Presidency creates a parallel and unregulated market, purely funded by cooperative and/ or pension funds, one which can begin to exploit available resources such as the stretch of land along the Ondo state coastline or simply personally overseeing a proper Turn Around Maintenance of all refineries and restoring them back to peak performance levels. The challenges in undertaking these tasks are daunting considering the kind of opposition you are certain to face which is why the need for true transparency and accountability cannot be overstated. Once the intention of the task at hand is clear to all and proper information is presented to the public in the right way and at the right time, detractors will be left powerless and without a choice but to fall in line.

The power situation is one which I would love to comment extensively on but not properly versed on to delve into, despite that I know enough to say that there is much work that needs to be done in this sector and the future of our nation depends on how well you do in this regards. I wish you a fruitful and fulfilling 4 years in office sir and hope that challenges will not dampen your spirits for they will surely try to. May you live long Mr. President, Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria. May the struggles of our heroes past never be in vain. God bless.