Monday, December 5, 2011

My first memories of the name 'Ojukwu' involved a scandal. All I knew was that his girlfriend was very young and it was a very bad thing.

I later learned about Ojukwu's role in Nigeria's civil war. The creation of Biafra and the millions who died as a consequence. I learned about the pain felt and left unaddressed by many over 40 years later. I also discovered a family secret that my grandfather almost died at the hands of Biafran soldiers who lined up Abonema's villagers because many refused to recognize the new country they were forced into.


It was not until Ojukwu's death on November 26th, 2011, that I decided to truly take the time to think about the circumstances that forced the creation of Biafra. Of course, the cards were stacked against the 30,000 square mile-wide nation: former colonial controller Great Britain supplied the Nigerian military with an even greater tactical advantage than it already had in the form of weapons, strategic advice and more. And Egypt provided military planes.

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Friday, November 4, 2011

I know it has been far too long since I have written here, but, I needed a break from Nigeria and Nigerian issues to focus on other things. This was essential, in my opinion, to eventually look at things with "fresh eyes" as one would say.

I continue to have many thoughts about Nigeria and hope to share them over the months to come. Until then, please view the following short piece "Nigerian Fake Pastors and Church Business Exposed". It is voiced by Seyi Rhodes and as the title indicates, it is bound to be an explosive topic.

Religion is a sensitive topic and as history shows, it has been the cause of war and bloodshed. From the Christian crusades to the current fight against Islamic extremists, religious belief has a hand in many a conflict. And in Nigeria, that is unfortunately evident in Jos, Plateau state, where religion frequently combines with poverty and a fight over resources to cause the deaths of men, women and children, both Christian and Muslim. Then of course, there is Boko Haram, a group that claims western education is evil and apparently wants Islamic sharia law for the entire country. Thankfully, religion has also brought great solace and grace to  people for generations, but sadly, like anything else, it can and has been bastardized by some.

Sticking to Nigeria, there are churches and mosques on almost every corner. In a country where poverty is high, the saying that religion is the opiate of the people, has never been truer. Some sadly see religion as a business and have created churches and mosques to make themselves rich. Mega churches preach the word of wealth to congregations that see pastors in flashy cars and aspire for the same. I for one, am suspicious of such outfits but understand that what works for me may not work for others and since people have a right to practice their religion (or not practice at all) as they please, I generally avoid the topic of the religion hustle.

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Monday, April 11, 2011

After the disappointing and embarrassing postponement of National Assembly elections on April 2nd, Nigeria managed to conclude legislative polling one week later as promised. Some of the results have been interesting and may indicate a change in Nigerian politics that could prove beneficial for the future of the country's democracy.

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Monday, April 4, 2011

The only word to describe my personal reaction to news of the recent election postponement in Nigeria is disgust. After receiving a budget that was arguably the highest ever for a similar election, the Independent National Election Commission (INEC) announced on April 2nd, that previously planned National Assembly elections would be postponed. The explanation given was that necessary paperwork and materials failed to reach many voting centers around the country. Now, National Assembly elections will occur on April 9th, pushing presidential elections to the 16th and state government elections to the 23rd of April. Why INEC waited until April 2nd, which was election day, to inform the country that it was unprepared is a mystery, but it does raise very interesting questions about where power lies and the future of Nigerian democracy.

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

At the beginning of every year, I take the time to reflect on the year before and consider who or what could be considered the Nigerian curiosity of that time period. The title can be given to anything or anyone that had a tremendous impact on the majority of Nigerians.

2010 was a momentous year in many ways. Amid much confusion, President Yar'adua died leaving his vice president, Goodluck Jonathan to be sworn in as president on the day of his funeral. And in earnest, the campaigning for the 2011 elections began with politicians juggling for influence and more power.

2010 was also the yer when the nation's constitution was considered for the first time since it became law in 1999. Similarly, the nation's Electoral Act also came under review after years of simply collecting dust under late president Yar'Adua.

While these and many other things were an important part of what made 2010 a distinct political year, neither of these incidents are to be the Nigerian Curiosity of 2010. Instead a more sinister reality will be recognized for it's influence on citizens. 

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Monday, March 7, 2011

Jessica Tata is a 22 year old American who was born to Nigerian parents and lived in Houston, TX. There, she ran a daycare center from her home and took care of several children while their parents worked. She received her license on March 1, 2010 and was once cited for not having a working carbon monoxide detector. On February 24th, Jessica Tata left seven children in her home and went to the supermarket. While gone, the children were left alone in a house with a pan of oil that was on the fire. Tata returned to a house full of smoke, with babies in it. Four innocent children lost their lives in the blaze.

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African Bloggers Statement on David Kato and Uganda

Monday, February 28, 2011

"We the undersigned wish to express our deep sadness at the murder of Ugandan human rights defender David Kato on 26th January 2011.  David's activism began in the 1980s as an Anti-Apartheid campaigner where he first expressed a strong passion and conviction for freedom and justice which continued throughout his life.   David was a founding member of Sexual Minorities Uganda where he first served as Board member and until his death as Litigation and Advocacy Officer and he was also a  member of Integrity Uganda, a faith-based advocacy organization. 

David was a man of vision and courage. One of his major concerns was the growth of religious fundamentalism in Uganda and across the continent and how this would impact on the rights of ordinary citizens including lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered / Gender Non-Comforming and Intersex  [LGBTIQ] persons.   Years later his concerns were justified when the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill backed by religious fundamentalists was outlined in 2009.  David was also an extremely brave man who had been imprisoned and beaten severely because of his sexual orientation and for speaking publicly against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. 

Many African political and religious leaders in countries such as Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Zambia, Gambia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Malawi and Botswana, have publicly maligned LGBTIQ people and in some cases directly incited violence against them whilst labeling sexual minorities as “unAfrican”.  

In October 2010, the Ugandan tabloid, Rolling Stone published the names and photographs of "100 Top homos" including David Kato.   David along with two other LGBTIQ activists successfully sued the magazine on the grounds of "invasion of privacy" and most importantly,  the  judge ruled that the publication would threaten and endanger the lives of LGBTIQ persons.    

The court did not only rule that the publication would threaten and endanger the lives of LGBTIQ persons but it issued a permanent injunction against Rolling Stone newspaper never to publish photos of gays in Uganda, and also never to again publish their home addresses.

Justice Kibuuka Musoke ruled that,
"Gays are also entitled to their rights. This court has found that there was infringement of some people’s confidential rights. The court hereby issues an injunction restraining Rolling Stone newspaper from future publishing of identifications of homosexuals."

Every human being is protected under the African Charter of Peoples and Human Rights and this includes the rights of LGBTIQ persons.   We ask the governments of Uganda and other African countries to stop criminalizing people on the grounds of sexual orientation  and afford LGBTIQ people the same protections, freedoms and dignity, as other citizens on the continent."

molisa nyakale,                Molisa Nyakale
Anengiyefa Alagoa,            Things I Feel Strongly About
Anthony Hebblethwaite            African Activist
Barbra Jolie,                 Me I Think
Ben Amunwa,                Remember Ken Saro-Wiwa
Bunmi Oloruntoba,             A Bombastic Element
Chris Ogunlowo,                 Aloofaa
Eccentric Yoruba,                Eccentric Yoruba
Exiled Soul                    ExiledSoul
Francisca Bagulho and Marta Lança,    Buala
Funmilayo Akinosi,            Finding My Path
F. F. John,                Nigerian Curiosity
Gay Uganda                    Gay Uganda
Glenna Gordon,                 Scarlett Lion
Godwyns Onwuchekwa,             My Person
Jeremy Weate,                 Naija Blog
Kayode Ogundamisi            Canary Bird
Kadija Patel                    Thoughtleader
Keguro Macharia,                Gukira
Kenne Mwikya,                Kenne’s Blog
Kinsi Abdullah                Kudu Arts
Laura Seay,                    Texas in Africa
Llanor Alleyne                Llanor Alleyne
Mark Jordahl,                  Wild Thoughts from Uganda
Matt Temple                    Matsuli Music
Mia Nikasimo,                MiaScript
Minna Salami,                MsAfropolitan
Mshairi,                    Mshairi
Ndesanjo Macha                Global Voices
Nyokabi Musila,                Sci-Cultura.
Nzesylva,                    Nzesylva’s Blog
Olumide Abimbola,            Loomnie
Ory Okolloh,                 Kenyan Pundit
Pamela Braide,                pdbraide
Peter Alegi,                     Football is Coming Home
Rethabile Masilo,                 Poefrika
Saratu Abiola,                 Method to Madness
Sean Jacobs,                 Africa is a Country
Sokari Ekine,                Black Looks
Sonja Uwimana,                 Africa is a Country
Spectre Speaks,                Spectre Speaks
TMS Ruge,                  Project Diaspora
Toyin Ajao                    StandTall
Tosin Otitoju,                Lifelib
Val Kalende,                Val Kalende
Zackie Achmat,                 Writing Rights   
Zion Moyo,                     Sky, Soil and Everything in Between

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Monday, February 14, 2011

After almost three weeks of fits and starts, Nigeria's election commission, INEC completed a voter registration exercise. The commission sought to register 70 million citizens and managed to register almost 64 million. INEC also announced that it will continue to add names to the register after the April elections in an effort to give even more Nigerians of voting age the opportunity to get on the voting register.

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Friday, February 4, 2011

The video below is a funny analysis of some of the issues everyone is talking about in Nigeria. As the April elections approach, and as the voter registration exercise continues to unfold, there are questions about whether the elections will make a difference. And in true Nigerian fashion, a video has been made to capture some of those feelings.

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Monday, January 31, 2011

Nigeria's election commission, the Independent National Election Commission (INEC) pledged to register 70 million eligible voters within a two week period. That period was to end on Saturday, January 29th. But as of that date, people across Nigeria were still seeking registration centers with equipment that worked. Sadly, this registration exercise and the incidents that occurred during the period looked like a farce and call into question the upcoming elections in April 2011.

People wait in line during a registration core in Abuja, 15 Jan 2011.
Source: Reuters

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Friday, January 28, 2011

I must admit, kidnapping is very serious and unfunny business. I detest the practice and have seen how it can destroy lives and cause incredible pain.

Yet, like any painful part of human existence, Nigerians have managed to take something so troubling and find some light in it.

Not sure how that is possible? Please watch the video below.

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Monday, January 24, 2011

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is the main political party in Nigeria. Its members hold many political positions at both the state government and the federal government level, including the executive office. And on January 13th, 2011, the party conducted it's primary elections to determine which individual would represent the party during the April presidential polls. While the event, which was televised and streamed live online was entertaining, especially with the one dimensional tone of a gentleman counting ballots, the main thing missing was the element of surprise. Meaning, it was clear to most that only one person would walk away with the ticket, which is what happened. This lack of surprise is a troubling aspect of Nigeria's road to true democracy. Depending on which angle it is considered from, it can be either negative or positive.

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Nuhu Ribadu, Nigeria's former anti-corruption czar, has a campaign video under his belt. While his competitors like Goodluck Jonathan have wasted no effort getting as much press as possible, Ribadu took some time to organize his team and prepare a strategy. The end result was that he won the ACN presidential primary unopposed on Friday, January 14th.

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Monday, January 17, 2011

Nigeria commenced its voter registration exercise on Saturday, January 15th in anticipation of upcoming elections. The first two days of registration have featured highs and lows. These first days also raise questions about the preparedness of the Independent National Election Commission (INEC) and its ability to not only register voters within the time alloted but also conduct free and fair elections in April.

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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Voter registration day is here and Nigerians have taken to their closest center to get their names on the registration list. The Independent National Election Commission (INEC) has provided a map which highlights the various centers across the entire country.

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Monday, January 10, 2011

The new year has been full of election happenings in Nigeria. From re-run elections in Delta State that left at least two dead, to complaints citizens that schools will be closed until after the voter registration period. There have also been political party primaries for the Action Congress of Nigeria party and the Peoples Democratic Party. And there has also been bit of the hilarious with the Witches and Wizards Association of Nigeria warning one presidential aspirant to drop out of the race lest he be "disgraced". All in all, things seem to be going according to plan.

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Monday, January 3, 2011

According to the World Bank's Migration And Remittances Factbook 201121.8 million Africans left the continent in 2010. That number represented a total of 2.5% of the continent's population. Nigerians apparently left the country in large numbers as well, representing the 6th largest group of emigrants.

Africa Map

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