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Archive for October, 2010|Monthly archive page

BARE-BREASTED BELOVED

In Uncategorized on October 27, 2010 at 9:10 am
BAYO AKINLOYE

the colours are bright and shining
the crowd crazy and compounding
the carnival fiery and confusing
ladies half-nude women and girls
bare-breasted and beautiful
flauntingly roaming the streets
booze-boys in sagging pants and knickers whistling in bewilderment

 

it’s the season
the pastor’s cup is full and filled with both rich and poor’s offerings
halleluiah rings in the air like crazy chorus of ‘ori o 4kasibe’
old hags and yuppies’ romps occupy the cathedral space
young clique of choir break dance in their alloted corner
rapping their praisesongs in the most accomplished hip-hop style
it’s the season filled with the disease of abandonment
and merriment all for the lord’s sake and birth
would he approve?

it’s boisterous and fearful
as motor park touts, agberos, conductors, drivers
and other official hooligans unite to celebrate the new year
and xmas
broken bottles of green bottles mingling with torn satchets of chelsea drinks
shouts of ‘chelsea for millionaires’ and ‘gunners for life’ rend the air
as men orgiastically drag women from the backsides
and women lustfully throwing themselves to them
on top of stationary automobile bonnets, boots and backseats
realities of coitus surpass the wildest imaginations
thick thick smoke of tobacco and banger pollute the already damaged atmosphere

the church’s cacophonous chorus flirts freely with the area deejay’s ghetto blaster tunes
‘4kasibe’ caresses ‘seven days of xmas’ in the most sacrilegious style
as pastor and his wife assistant pastor take to the dance-floor urging more money
to be be donated in the tray and basin being passed around
on the streets, ‘shepe’ flows freely everyone giving and sharing
it’s the xmas spirit it’s the xmas season
a young boy teases a young girl on the tip of her nipple
tonight provides a perfect period of puberty to be fast tracked

somewhere nowhere the nativity is portrayed
hapless helpless baby jesus looks on in vain
a baby bastardized and brought to shame on a birthday
is this the same mighty lord of lords?
clergymen shrug their shoulders…and say ‘let’s just celebrate’
‘ogun-lakaiye osunmole’ a masquerade-like man blabs
spitting incantations meaningful and meaningless endlessly before
unwilling recipients and on-lookers
iya-osun too was present in white buba and iro with worn-out beads round
the neck to match
‘osun a gbe wa o’ she enthuses

the aladura the alufa and the lemomu
struggle in prayers to bestow blessing on the new year
prophesying in public what they all claimed to have heard in private
january 1 2011 looks on speechlessly as the wanton rape of its before-existence
proceeds
the prophecies are numerous with each month
january to december having its fair share of woes and wins
‘but as for you’ the alufa, the aladura, the aboruboye speak
as they gaze into their crystal-ball of lies and deceptions
‘calamities shall before you’
battered 2010 gaunt and breathless looks on in disbelief
that these ones are doing to the next year what they’ve done to her

shameless prostitutes of paradise
insatiable like the depth of sheol…

 

 

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FIRST DIARY

In ANYTHING on October 26, 2010 at 11:01 am

Bayo Akinloye

First-week…, “It’s 5 o’clock,dear!” My mom announced. She switched on the light in my room and left. “Oh,no!” I muttered, rolling off the bed. “omo wase, omo rise!” Ayo, my younger sister sang from her room opposite mine. “Wait till I get my first salary…” I replied. In no time, I was in the bathroom. From the bathroom to the gents. Back in my room. What do I wear? Black suit, white shirt- I learnt is formal. It took me ages to get dressed. “Let’s say a prayer before you go”, dad said. Everyone was excited: Junior is starting is first job….As I stepped out, all the confidence in the universe deserted me. Anxiety suddenly became my companion.

Soon I was lost in the throng of some faceless majority- hustling and bustling. And I hated Lagos again for the  uncountableth(sic) time. “Mr. Ben Tiwa,jnr?” Yes, no other birds are the hawk- I nodded in the affirmative.”Please, come with me”, the well-structured feminine figure said. Without querying her, I followed like a lamb being led to the slaughter. Who wouldn’t? “Welcome to First Foundation…”, a sonorous voice announced after taking me on a guided tour of the organization’s facility. “Thank you. It’s a pretty place,” I said. “The faces I saw are lovely too!” “Come see your office…” the voice requested. Really, am getting used to the voice like a kindred spirit. From the 5th floor, we soon arrived on the 1st floor- my domain. “So have a nice day ahead!” she said and shut the door.

I was now alone- with question and exclamation marks hanging over my head-in my first office ever…Suddenly, I began sweating profusely in the air-conditioned office- instead of shivering. Has work already started? This is just the firs day-can’t they see? I pondered sheepishly. Soon I was placed on attachment to get acquainted with the organization’s six companies. It was an inspiring exploration…First-Week faded out.

SECOND-WEEK…Sunday. My folks were calling me on the phone from everywhere:”Junior, congrats. You have done it again!” “Ah Jay-I thank God for you o!” “ol’ boy, you are always the man- just believe…gbabe!” The calls came in different shapes; from the sublime to the ridiculous. “Don’t you think our friendship shoild blossom this season”, Aisha suggested. “My man,better get down with one slim-shady or is it slim-lady!”Said Titi. “Ah Jay, this is the time to enjoy what you sorely missed on campus and in camp. Am sure you’ve got pretty birds in there-your office men!” Jide advised.

Oops! Where did these crazy folks drop from? I was still wondering when another voice popped up from phone: “Congrats! Big boy. Jay, don’t forget to send me MTN #3000 recharge card. And here’s my bank account …sweet day!” What on earth is happening? Monday. I got to office with more confidence than anxiety. Last week during my attachment I learnt about some high-sounding words like: fluoroscopy, angiography, accuson sequoia, sonoline g-20 and the list  was endless.

It was a moment of learning new things. Tuesday- Saturday. I was still learning the nitty-gritty of my employer’s awesome organization. All the employees are understanding,friendly,patient and hardworking. The smiles on their faces reassured me that: I can…Now I felt a gusto of ease surrounding me. When Duke, my good pal visited my workplace- First Foundation Place-, he was overwhelmed by what he saw. Wow!(apologies to Ngozi), it is a delightful aesthetics’ masterpiece.

“Junior, I love this place!” Duke said.” You are pretty fortunate. First job- First Foundation!” He paused for what seemed like eternity and asked:”Can I stay here forever!?” I looked at him in surprise; he sure knew he could not. How I wish he could! I thanked him for coming. Or what can I do without you well-wishers out there- praying, fasting and fantasizing on my behalf? “But,” he said as he was leaving, “don’t forget your guys o!” What a Parthian shot….

THIRD-WEEK…Home-front has begun to fade out. More time now spent in the office. I was privileged to be drafted into the organization’s editorial board. There were articles to write and submit. I tried hard- very very hard to put pen to paper. Nothing surfaced. I scratched my big contorted fragile head the very way a fowl would scratch a clean concrete floor for bits to peck- how futile! O is this my first fumble for First Foundation? I hope sey I no go lose my job for this.

I began to say a silent prayer: Holy Father, begotten Son, take this cup from me- I no fit drink wetin dey inside!” “ Wetin dey inside-olodo”, a voice boomed. “ No be mass comm you read?drink am- and be ready for more.” I began to whine: unholy Satan, why hath thou cometh here to look for me- dem send you? Get thee behind me, now now. It was a tough moment. My entire internal system was in a feverish disarray. I had to go unwind in the gents. How I wish Ab was around. Oh why! Why has everyone forsaken me? Thursday-Saturday. I began facing reality- the present reality-more than ever before. I was getting involved fully…how inspiring to work with loving hardworking employees. Yahoo!… “Hello?” I picked up my phone saying. “Bawo wo ni dear? Asked the voice at the other end.”Who’s speaking please?” “Phoebe lo nsoro…” “Phoebe?” “Why are you sounding like Thomas,” she retorted. “ I just want to tell you…it has happened o!” “What?” “Ti e serious fun one minute jo…am pregnant for you!” she gleefully announced. “Wrong number!” I ended the call. Imagine, how could I impregnate someone I have never met before- my brother, tell me.

FOURTH-WEEK… Oh la la…Pay-day approaches! The first day dragged on like one over-bloated dragon breathing smoke instead of fire. Yet, it sure dragged over-am became yesterday. Day-two was tough and tempting…Third-day was ok. Pay-day appeared very much on the horizon. I was in total ecstasy, body and soul. Then my cell phone rang… “Y’hellooo!” I responded. “Hey, smart guy…”, the voice began. “Who you?” I asked. “It’s Phoebe. Am coming down to your office tomorrow!” First, I was enraged. Then confused…what adjectives could I use? My vocab failed me. I had flung my cell phone-o mercy! It landed safely in a bin. “It wasn’t me. It wasn’t me. Phoebe-it wasn’t me!” I said sobbing. And tomorrow arrived…. Phoebe would soon arrive. I was stone confused. But, who is this pest pestering my life? God knew I did not know… 6p.m., ready to go home. Phoebe never showed up. Indeed, she called the wrong number.

Back home. “ Hey, kaabo-bawo ni office?” “Where’s the bullion van that brought you home?” “Is it Ghana-must-go-bag that you used?” “Pleasssse, can everyone just relax-what’s happening?” “Wey ya salary?” my little nephew finally asked. Salary? Could you believe-I forgot to collect my first salary ever in life! A month has just ended…but, the future lies ahead….

FROM PARADISE TO PRISONS

In ESSAY on October 25, 2010 at 8:54 am

The lure of lucre has drawn many Nigerians, not to the fabled greener pasture, but to the dingy cells of foreign prisons.

Bayo Akinloye

With blaring noise from a recorded tape, a voice booms repeatedly from a loud-speaker: “Hurry now! Come and register for American VISA Lottery. Direct online at Winners Café. Hurry now to beat endtime server traffic,” the advertisement teased. “We go fill your VISA Lottery form online for your korokoro eyes and give you instant letter of confirmation!” It is just a cyber-café –decrepit and without any trappings of modernity except for a few computers in the rented space, huddled in a nondescript building along the hustle and bustle street of oriyomi in Ikeja, Lagos. There are not a few hands obtaining a form that costs only N500. Away from Ikeja, along Acme Road, Ogba-Lagos is Jonathan King Travels, also making stupendous claims to be experts in travel arrangements, especially emigration to Canada. Asserting its authenticity, Jonathan King Travels says it is affiliated to Jonathan King Incorporated in America; the travel agency claims 99 percent success rate in helping its teeming clients achieve their travel dreams to Canada and other developed countries.

 

But a few scary headlines would suffice. More Nigerians deported from Spain; 734 Nigerians deported from Libya; 732 Nigerians languishing in Chinese prison; Indonesia Hangs Three Nigerians. Beware of a false dawn.

 

Yet, in the most accomplished Hollywood stunt-action style, two Nigerians, Ndubisi Ohaneme and Emmanuel Okoro, jumped out of the window of a six-storey building in a bid to escape arrest by Chinese policemen in the province of Guangzhou. The daring escape attempt hit the headlines but left the duo bruised and broken. These are not the only Nigerian casualties in foreign prisons. With more than 23, 584 of its productive citizens in foreign prisons, the re-branding mantra – good people, great nation- does not seem to be working for Nigeria. From India to Britain; from Libya to Singapore; from Thailand to America, hundreds of Nigerians are being hounded down like ferocious animals that can only be consigned to the dungeons. The pride Nigerians take in themselves as being great travellers –with the claim that there is no where in the world one will not find a Nigerian- is fast turning into a nightmare.

In August this year, the Nigerian foreign affairs minister, Ojo Maduekwe expressed his angst of frustration over what he described as “noticeable and considerable increase in the incidence of consular problems of diverse nature posed by Nigerians to the nation’s various diplomatic missions abroad.” That would be a phrasal euphemism for the unenviable records of Nigerian citizens imprisoned for various offences all over the world. According to Maduekwe, “reports from our missions abroad and other agencies show that there are too many of our young people in prisons abroad arising mostly from their status as irregular immigrants.” Demonstrating the disturbing nuisance some Nigerians in foreign lands are constituting themselves to, the foreign affairs minister wrote the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to “immediately” begin to make plans for evacuation of more than 3,719 “Nigerians awaiting deportation in several parts of the world”, and also asking for an annual budgetary allocation in the sum of N200 million to be made for the ministry to enable its various missions abroad effectively meet their consular obligations.

He put the number of Nigerians in European prisons at 20,000; with 1,491 of them in Britain. Maduekwe also disclosed that 47 Nigerians were recently held in New York for credit card fraud. This brings to mind the ongoing manhunt for Tobechi Enyinna Onwuhara, a convicted felon (according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI), wanted for his alleged involvement in an elaborate scheme that defrauded the American financial industry of tens of millions of dollars. Onwuhara, according to the FBI, is a key member of a group of Nigerians who allegedly have been conducting fraudulent banking activities from Florida and Texas, since 2005. The FBI alleged that the group has been using online Internet databases to steal victims’ identities. Once acquired, they allegedly use the victims’ information to gain access to their credit accounts and wire the money to accounts mainly located overseas.

In view of this, not a few Nigerians are wondering whether the re-branding project by the federal government is not a silly effort. Some have argued that no PR stunts will bail out an organization reputed for bad products and lousy customer care service. Obviously then, in the face of daunting economic environment, political instability and breakdown of education, health and manufacturing sectors, re-branding the nation should not come to mind. Till date many Nigerians presume that the roads abroad are paved with gold and that currencies like dollars, euros and pound sterling float freely in the air. Many soon find out- often too late- that their new environment is much more demanding physically, mentally and morally. They have to joggle jobs like balls in the hands of a circus entertainer. They have inclement, freezing weather with frost bites to contend with and the uncertainties of breaking through. In their fight against all these elements, their hopes begin to thin out and become entrapped in a frustration to “make it” by hook or by crook thus going into petty stealing and high-tech robbery. Like Majek Fashek sang, what these Nigerians see in foreign lands is “illusion”. “There cannot just be an excuse for the illegality and criminality of these Nigerians imprisoned abroad,” said Jumoke, an accountant with a medical engineering company. While admitting the nation’s failure to cater for its own, she added that “each citizen’s destiny is in his own hands”.

In the view of Ayo Idowu, the lingering crisis of Nigerians littering foreign prisons is a testament to the fact that “we hate our own”. He was echoing the words of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the Edo state governor when he was confronted with a figure (10,000) of Edo indigenes languishing in jails: “We all know what the American or the British government can do when one of their citizens is suffering abroad. This is not for the state government; it is a federal responsibility and I cannot accept that the Foreign Affairs Ministry is handicapped on this matter. The Federal Government controls over 53 per cent of our national income so if they do not have the resources to take care of these people who will have it?” The Edo state governor expressed the minds of many when he said that “even though they (detained Nigerians in foreign prisons) went there illegally, they are still our citizens. And this thing is not all about bringing in two or three of them back home, it is about bringing all of them back home and additionally sustaining the campaign about people recognizing that poverty is not an excuse to send our children to slavery.”

The Nigerian government seem to be heeding this admonition when, through pleas and diplomatic meetings, wrested 19 Nigerians from the jaws of Libyan death-row through the efforts of the African Rights Commission and the House Committee on Diaspora. In September, the African Rights Commission with its headquarters in Banjul, The Gambia, had implored the Libyan Government to suspend the execution of the Nigerians, citing African Treaties on Human Rights and Death Penalty of which Libya is a signatory. Though Ms Abike Dabiri-Erewa, chairperson of the House Committee on Diaspora, said that there are still 13 other prisoners on death row yet to be released, further appeals both to Libya and the Nigerian embassy officials in Libya “to step up this campaign for these hapless people to regain their freedom”.

Those yet to be released include: Stanley Okor, David Shedrack, Chidi Adam, Edmond Ojo, Chinedu Orji, Valentine Okoye, and Ismail Monday. Others are: Abdulazeez Babajide, Solomon Chukwu Francis, Ibrahim Olawale Jimoh, Adewale Adeoye and George William Emmanuel. According to National Standards checks, an estimated 700 Nigerian citizens in Libyan prisons are usually subjected to brutal beatings and torture, and in some cases, female prisoners are raped and subjected to all manners of indignities. Similar experiences were reported in other lands. It would be recalled that between September and October this year 1, 064 Nigerians were deported from Libya. In May 2008, Libya deported about 314 Nigerians classifying them as illegal immigrants, after serving jail terms in that country. These ones according to their accounts were hoping to travel to Europe. Many of them were accused of engaging in prostitution and trafficking narcotics. In June 2007, there was a stunning report that Nigerians were among the largest prisoners in India -primarily on charges of drug abuse and peddling. Also in July 2008, it was reported that 23,584 Nigerians were in prisons abroad for immigration offences. On October 28, 2008, it was reported that 20 Nigerians were on death row in Indonesia for drug trafficking.

While Nigerians may feature prominently amongst people who want to “check out”, recent polls result revealed that “700 million people worldwide want to permanently move to another country.” That figure is more than all the adults of North and South America combined. The polls conducted in 135 countries between 2007 and this year by Gallup also show that residents of sub-Saharan African countries were the “most likely to want to move abroad permanently”. Africans top the list in highest percentage of adult looking to change their homeland, if provided a chance. Around 165 Million people or 38 percent of the adult population in Africa said they will change their homeland.

Is there a way out of Nigeria’s emigration quagmire? Dr. Alabi, a consultant opined: “It is incumbent upon the government to enter into diplomatic talks with countries where its citizens are unjustly treated. It should know the status of its citizens in foreign jails and assist those awaiting deportation to come home. Besides, Nigerians travelling abroad should adhere to visa regime of their intended destination. They should stop travelling without valid and adequate travel documents. They need to know that fabled greener pasture isn’t as green as they are quick to believe.”

In spite of the emigration woes, the queues at various foreign embassies continue to elongate, while travel agencies and cyber-cafes are feasting on the frustrations of thousands of Nigerians bent on leaving the country. Will there be anything to stop these potential “Andrews” from checking out? Maybe that will be possible when the President Umaru Yar’Adua Seven-Point Agenda delivers on its promise. Till then, the current sojourn of many Nigerians to foreign lands remains largely flights to fetters.

LAWLESSNESS, INDISCIPLINE, IMPUNITY AND BRUTALITY OF ‘KAI’

In ANYTHING on October 25, 2010 at 8:50 am

 

Social and Economic Rights Action Center

May 11, 2010

 

The Illegal Demolition of Makoko Community

 

The Social and Economic Rights Action Center (SERAC) is deeply concerned about the recent acts of lawlessness, indiscipline and brutality perpetrated by officials of the Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) Brigade.  Between Monday April 19 and 22, 2010, officials of the KAI Brigade assisted by heavily armed policemen invaded a section of the Makoko community, in the Yaba Local Government Area of Lagos and forcibly evicted the  residents by destroying their homes, properties and livelihoods. As a result of this action, over one thousand people, including women, children and the elderly were rendered homeless and pushed deeper into chronic poverty. This action was carried out without adequate notice, consultation, compensation or the provision of alternative accommodation in violation of the rule of law and the fundamental rights of the affected residents.

 

The residents have lived on the land in question since 1962.  The forbears of many of the residents acquired fee simple legal interest on the land through some of the ancestral land owing families.  It is also important to mention that the question as to the ownership of the underlying land has been and remains a subject matter of a pending lawsuit  Madam Ayinke Ajayi V. Mesu Moses (No. LD/3010/97.)   Until the communmity’s demolition by the KAI Brigade, a large and prominent sign board publishing the case stood in the center of the community.  The demolition carried out by the KAI Brigade constitutes a brazen disrespect of the judicial process and contemptuous of a subsisting order of injunction of the Lagos High Court made on November 3, 1998 restraining all parties “from going or doing anything whatsoever on the land, including passing of any interest on the land…”

 

Our investigations reveal that the KAI Brigade acted without lawful authority.  Officials of the Brigade informed SERAC that they carried out the demolition in order to rid the community of miscreants and criminals.  Since the demolition, one Captain Paul Rheas (Rtd.), claiming to be a  representative of one of the families (Delfino Miranda Eleiye family) contesting the title to the land in question has openly used the KAI Brigade and armed soldiers to terrorize, intimidate and harass the residents in his bid to commence the fencing of the land in question.  On May 3, 2010, 6 soldiers that accompanied Captain Paul Rheas shot sporadically into the air causing panic and stampede in the community and adjoining neighborhoods.

 

The active connivance of the KAI Brigade, an agency of the Lagos State Government with private actors to undermine the rule of law and violate the human rights of Makoko residents is unacceptable in a democracy.  This is a dangerous precedent that private individuals that have scores to settle can simply hire KAI Brigade to perpetrate illegality, fraud and hope to hide under the cloak of officialdom.

 

Makoko is one of nine host communities of the Lagos Metropolitan and Governance Project (LMDGP), a 200 Million US Dollars World Bank-funded project.  Under the terms of agreement between the Lagos state government and the World Bank as well as the Operating Guidelines of the World Bank, demolitions within the project’s host communities must be carried out strictly in accordance with the Bank’s operating policies and guidelines that stipulate safeguards standards.  The Bank’s Operational Guidelines obliges the Lagos State government (LASG) to ensure that proper and reasonable notice, genuine and effective consultation, fair hearing, institutional responsibility, community participation, replacement cost for loss of asset or income, financial assistance to aid relocation are observed and respected. Acts such as perpetrated by the KAI Brigade can undermine the implementation of the LMDGP with far reaching consequences.

 

We would like to use this opportunity to call on  His Excellency, Governor Raji Fashola to call the KAI Brigade to order, and cause a full investigation to be carried out to establish the circumstances of the demolition of Makoko and to bring erring officials to justice.

 

Signed:

 

 

Felix C. Morka

Executive Director

Social and Economic Rights Action Center (SERAC)

“IT’S BEEN DIFFICULT SQUATTING AT EVENTS”

In INTERVIEW on October 25, 2010 at 8:27 am

Hushed tones fall over the room as guests take their seats. Legs are crossed, red-soled stilettos bob up and down as the lighting is dimmed and all eyes focus on the only visible light.  Nigerian photographer, Tyna Ezenma, readies herself at her tripod to capture the first model to take the runway. She is at Fashion Week in New York, September 2009, and with seemingly endless energy, she invokes the ability to virtually make time stand still. Her view of the world and how photography fits into it is quite poignant.

“The awareness of the importance of photography in the African society is so disappointing. Most people here have not come to realize that photography is an Art, and that people actually studied it as a course. As a female African in a profession dominated by men, I have to work extra hard to prove myself relevant,” remarks Ezenma. Her quest for excellence in this area has certainly been worth the sacrifice.

While in South Korea, relevance was not an issue especially when she had her first photography exhibition. She was the only female and the only black person in the group; this certainly made the experience special, she admits.

“As a female it has been difficult “squatting” at some events to take photographs.”  But being a minority has its advantages. When you find unique angles with which no other photographer might have thought about, you stand out. So the obstacles can become the sole inspiration for finding one’s niche.”

And many have taken note: Several accolades including three international photography awards in the U.S. as well as published works by the International Library of Photography. While in Korea for a year, her work was featured as part of a group exhibition in Ulsan, South Korea, in November of 2007.

Who inspires Ezenma, you may ask? There are too many to note here, but celebrity photographer Matthew Jordan Smith has special meaning to her. “I love his passion and creativity for photography.”

Ezenma, in her own right, has developed a unique style that demands a double-take. She adds: “To me, photography is an art of observation, it’s about finding something interesting in ordinary things, most importantly, the way I see things. I love playing around with light. Studying light has been one of the difficult challenges I’ve faced in photography.”  A quick study of her work tells you that this challenge has become one of the special nuances of her images.

A mellow-toned voice via phone confirms Ezenma’s humble spirit.  But do not be deceived, she does not mince words when expressing herself.  This grit, however, does not turn you off – it makes you want to know her more.  Just read her blog, or check out the entries on her Facebook page.  It seems almost as personal as sitting across the kitchen table from her.

She elaborates: “My mission is to continue to grow and develop as an artist, and person, using my photography in all genres, fashion, advertising, portraiture and landscape, as a medium for inspiration and a means to understand the world. I have no desire for self-aggrandizement. If you want to know more, just ask.”

One could deduce that it takes far more than talent or just passion to make a great photographer. It is about knowing thyself and the impact one wants to make in the world. Ezenma seems to have managed to amass both.

But wait. Being a globe-trotting photographer is not the only thing on Ezenma’s ‘To-do” list. In this life everyone must discover the things he or she was placed here to do. That discovery, aside from natural abilities, can take one on an unplanned journey for self.  Adopting a baby girl and opening up a motherless babies’ home are a few of the ways Ezenma would like to give back to society.  Starting a fashion line one day is also on the list. If anyone could accomplish such tasks, it is Ezenma. Her tenacity and focus are inspiring to say the least.

What is her loftiest goal as a professional photographer? Ezenma states: “I would like to be one of the most sought after photographers in the world, and would also like to be featured on CNN “Art of Life.”

So when asked who she would most like to photograph, Michelle Obama is Ezenma’s pick.  “She is so intelligent and beautiful.”

And as Ezenma’s craft continues to evolve and mature, the world may one day get to see just that. Tyna Ezenma lives in Lagos, Nigeria, with her husband and four little boys (Shawn, Joel, Kachi and Chinedu).

By Eboness Belin


THE STANBIC IBTC FRAUD (DIARY) STORY IN NIGERIA

In ANYTHING on October 22, 2010 at 1:02 pm

20/1/09 – Je je ni mo joko – me and my sleep driving self. I’d arrived Court early and chose to wait my turn by seating it out in my car. Why not, wasn’t I was No. 7 on the Cause list?

Road still far, or so I thought!

There I was, armed with all my evidence – proof that I left paid employment legit – just in case Almighty PENCOM had proof I hadn’t heard of – e.g. a Video of me fleeing the ever grasping embrace of a doting employer (laughs).

But that was not to be?

My lawyer and one other located me. They admonished I leave my evidence behind as my matter was not quite as it used to be… an out-of-court settlement was the new way…was I game?

Okay.

To be on the safe side, my terms and conditions were routed through to both defendants within 1 week of the Court directive.

Not too long after that, we all got a chance to talk, some more than others, but we talked; and throughout this talking session, not once was I advised of my penchant to forget ‘…small details… or, more troubling, my tendency to sleep-drive. Not until yesterday.

REVELATION
So, for almost 10+ months, my PFA who knew me so well hid this important exonerating detail – even when I uttered such calamitous words?  – Very kind people.

Me, sleep-drive for 30 minutes straight?

I don’t think so.

The paper-trail from 20/12/06 – 9/11/07 is as follows:-

20/12/06 – I filed a request for the release of 25% of my savings with the local office of my PFA at 1st Artillery in Port Harcourt

Since proof of my post-employment status was a requirement, a copy of my employer’s acceptance letter was attached to my written application.

21/2/07 – a copy of my Passport was filed with my PFA in Port Harcourt – my bank a/c details were also reflected thereon.

About early November, I and others like me got a text message. The message from our PFA requested that we visit its local office with:-

a)   a copy of last Pay slip
b)   a passport-sized photograph

Having mentioned that my employer only issued e-copies of Pay slips, my PFA agreed to accept a copy of my Letter of Appointment instead.

9/11/07: A copy of my letter of employment was filed alongside the requisite passport photograph. No other documents were filed because I wasn’t asked to file any other.

10 months after I started raising dust, my PFA graciously advises that:

i) on 10/10/07, I filed a fresh copy of my 20/12/06 letter with its Port Harcourt office.

ii) less than a month later (on 9/11/07), because I just loved its interiors, I returned with a copy of my employer’s Acceptance of Resignation letter and, a passport-sized photo.

Some one’s been eating a lot of Smarties…

But seriously, if you were that smart, in the name of all you hold dear:-

a)   when are you going to file your Statements of defense?
b)   Why have you kept this exonerating piece of information under wraps until now?
c)   Why attend a settlement meeting if there was nothing to settle?

Another thing, CAMA requires that a corporate office is properly identified by its company name. But since January, I noticed that your signpost/name has been taken down. Was it …a thunder storm or street football?

Stuff happens – even at the 1st artillery axis.

You may want to chat with your Oceanic Bank neighbor – ask them about the guys who put up their sign post/name.

But then again, if it is an office move, do tell.

Isn’t LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL?

———–

POINT OF CORRECTION (updated 18/3/09):

Yesterday, I located my file copy of a letter dated 10/10/07.

This letter –which was addressed to my PFA, was furnished as an update to the information I had already filed with it.

My letter dated 20/10/06 was listed on the face of this 1-paged letter as an ATTACHMENT thereto.

Q: What does this mean?
Ans:

a) on 10/10/07, I visited and filed a letter (to update my records) with my PFA.

b) My letter dated 20/10/06 was specifically identified and filed as an ATTACHMENT to the letter of 10/10/07.

c) Following from the above, my PFA’s claim that I gave it an additional copy of my 20/12/06 letter is not incorrect.

What they have not said is that the document (stamp-marked 10/10/07 & 12/10/07 respectively) was the second page of the 2 paged document I filed on 10/10/07.

Going by the multiple endorsements on the ATTACHMENT, it would be interesting to confirm that the primary document has as many.

This document has since been filed with my lawyer.

About the document stamp-marked 9/11/07: This document did not originate from me, and I refuse to take ownership of its grainy and very broken text.

Who wants to doubt the scion of such an impeccable union – IBTC/STANDARD BANK. Thankfully, because justice wears a blindfold, it can’t quite see the impeccable antecedents of this ‘…darling (?) creation.

However, PENCOM honestly (?) believes that the 2004 Act authorizes it to tamper with my Constitutional right of choice. In fact, dis source of all overriding power (aka the 2004 PENCOM Act), also authorizes them to override its provisions.

So again, we (at the tax payers’ expense) will allow the Judiciary tell them what they already know.

Actually…, I was mindful to talk about forgeries, so here goes.

——————–

According to the records my PFA so graciously released to me – copies of which were forwarded to STANBIC-IBTC Pensions and PENCOM in the 2nd quarter 1987,

a) my letter dated 20/12/06 was actually received on 12/10/07, whilst the copy of my Employer’s Letter of Acceptance was received on 9/11/07.

But now, going by my PFA’s updated version of the facts, I submitted:-

b) second copies of both documents on 12/10/7 and 9/11/07 respectively.

Okay, that being the case why does the document (stamp marked 9/11/07) have such a grainy appearance?

Is this because the former document was copied from the original, whilst the latter was copied from an updated photocopy of the scanned document that I filed on 20/12/06?  Those of us who have tried to use photocopies of photocopied documents would understand.

As for me, if my PFA had requested a copy of my Employer’s Acceptance letter, I would have printed them a copy from my Computer.

Then, their updated version of what happened would fly. Not to worry, allz well that ends well so:-

a) the photocopy of my Passport (stamp-marked Feb 2007) is clear proof that I visited before 12/10/07.

b) The Acceptance of Resignation letter (stamp-marked 20/12/07), confirms that my PFA received my documentation on 20/12/06 and not some strange date in October and/or November 2007.

c) The grainy document – with its fragmented text (stamp-marked 9/11/07) did not come from me.

d) Stamp marks are as dependable as the hand that authorises them.

THOSE WHO WILL NOT HEAR QUIETLY WILL HEAR THROUGH AMPLIFIERS.

You cannot fool with my mind.

THE LOST LOVE OF LOKOJA

In ESSAY on October 22, 2010 at 12:51 pm

DIARY OF A DESTINATION

A DRIFT IN AND OUT OF LOKOJA, KOGI STATE

“Lokoja-Kabba! Lokoja-Kabba! Lokoja-Kabba!”

The “agbero” called out into the empty chill air of the dawn; with the remnant dew drops wetting what seemed like a long, long dry day ahead. “Lokoja-Kabba! Lokoja-Kabba! Lokoja-Kabba!” the coarse voice [no thanks to ‘shepe’ drink] rang, hollered and trumpeted with tingling reverberation. Sooner than later, other “agberos” began to shout out their vehicles destinations.

I turned and turned in my seat as the feeling of the unknown and unmeasured distance pricked me so intensely. I was, for a moment that seemed like eternity, lost in time and space.

“Oga, shift please”, brought me back to life – the life around me as it were. No more day-dreaming; no more wishing. After almost two hours of waiting for passengers to fill up the 504 station wagon, the driver was ready to move.

The driver known as Afa turned the ignition key. The car gave a grumbling cry. Most of the passengers murmured. Afa tried again and the engine started. Everyone sighed a relief. I said a prayer silently. Only God knew I did not know where I was heading. And vroom! Afa’s 504 station wagon zoomed off.

Destination was Kogi state; I must heed the strident call to national service: the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC. The date was March 3, in the year of our Lord Two Thousand and Three.

I sat straight looking forward through the car’s windscreen, trying to find meaning to the journey that appeared unending; the only answer the sun-scorched road could offer me was a deluge of mirage. I heaved. I sighed. Yes, life continues. I told myself. Kogi…Kogi, the name sounds like one caustic soda soap used for washing [kongi]. I hoped Kogi would not turn out to be caustic like Kongi…

The journey continued: as Afa’s 504 wagon entered Kogi terrain, I was greeted and welcomed by some scenery of greenery of hills and rocks of all ages. Whoa! The sight was breath-taking and inspiring. I paused to give praise to the Creator and Designer of these magnificent creations. And at that point, a gush of tranquility filled me. God is here too! I happily concluded. Till today, I am not a letter wrong about that conclusion.

Welcome to Kogi state. Welcome to the Confluence State where everything seems to meet; come follow me – I will take you around the state in brief [you can call me your “corper” guide.

Kogi state as it is now known was a geo-political unit called Kabba Province in the northern region of Nigeria under colonial rule. It comprised Igala, Ebira, Kogi and Kabba divisions with its headquarters in present state capital, Lokoja. In 1967 [I was not born then], the Kabba and Ilorin provinces merged to create Kwara state. As more winds of state creation blew across the nation in 1976 [I was yet to be born!], the then Igala division was married to the Benue Province and Benue state was born.

Kogi state came to be on August 27, 1991. The eventual creation of Kogi state underscored the peaceful co-existence, of a people, within a common policy for over seven decades before they were separated. The state shares boundaries with Kwara, Ondo, Ekiti, Niger, Benue, Nassarawa, Anambra, Enugu, Edo and Abuja.

It may not enjoy the best of economy [presently], the state boasts of potentials in mineral resources yet to be exploited. What about the fresh fish? The potentials for fish production is equally high with over 2,000 fishing ponds and 200 fishing villages sustained by the River Niger and Benue that form a confluence in Lokoja – the state capital. Have you seen a confluence before? If you answered in the negative, then you must visit Lokoja.

The state is a thrilling place. Is it about the expansive Mount Patti, the Egbabeja warm spring or the Koton-Karfe cave? Or you may want to check out Lord Lugard’s first residence in Nigeria; and the first primary school in northern Nigeria…

The undisputed King of Juju music, Sunny Ade once sang that “people have become my garment. People are my garment of honour in which I enwrap myself”. Yes, the inestimable beauty of Kogi state is in its people. Kogi is a microcosm of Nigeria, with heterogeneous tribes. There are the Ebira, Igala, Okun and Nupe; others include Oworo, Kakanda, Bassa, Ogori-Magongo and Egbura Koto.

And I have come to enjoy a rich association with a group that cuts across these ethnic divides: they are Jehovah’s Witnesses in Kogi state. The people of Kogi state generally have shown love, hospitality, tolerance and generosity to corps members serving in their state.

Oh, it is a year now!

After we met at the motor park – remember? And now, I have got to go. I can imagine the Lagos-bound Kogi Travelers bus driver urging me to conclude my write-up…tears welled up my eyes as I remember the sweet melody of “going” [from bike riders] as well those I have come to love and those I would yet love.

To say goodbye, rather, bye for now: sanjima, o digba kan na, adijo and tugba-tugba.

“Corper! Are you going?” a beautiful, gentle voice called out in question. Will I stay or not? Only time will tell. We don’t say goodbye. Do we?

BEATING THE PATH TO ADEYIPO VILLAGE

In ESSAY on October 22, 2010 at 12:42 pm

WHERE IS THE WORLD GOING NEXT?

DR. ADEBOWALE: OUT OF HIS MIND?

“Very soon the world will know about Adeyipo Village.”

That was the optimistic and futuristic utterance of Dr. Bayo Adebowale, former Deputy Rector of The Polytechnic, Ibadan. Why not The Polytechnic, Ibadan? Why Adeyipo Village – a seemingly insignificant rural community, existing in near-obscurity on the terrestrial terrain? A village some kilometres away from Ibadan, capital of Oyo state with the road connecting it to the city demanding much resilience from visitors in its rough surface?

Every dawn, a throng of local farmers at Iyana-Irefin in Ibadan board buses going to Adeyipo through Kupe, Idi-Igba, Idi-Ogun and Akobo; the landscape presents a commune of rural centres where farming dominates daily activities. The only diversion is the one created by Dr. Adebowale. Why? Adeyipo houses the first rural community-based African studies research library. And its director and founder is Dr. Bayo Adebowale.

The African Heritage Research Library located in a typical African village is gradually expanding to become the most profound centre of information on Africa and its people. The library prides itself in three existing large halls lined with over 10,000 books and other materials. It is apparently a centre committed to research works on the African continent and the blacks in the Diaspora; it stocks material on subjects as diverse as arts, history, law, government and politics.

The research library is a product of flurry of efforts spanning a decade plus four years. According to The News Magazine “Adebowale was then a lecturer at the former Oyo State College of Education, Ila-Orangun, Osun state. One fateful day in 1988, he sat before his desk, going through an academic journal. A particular article fascinated him. In the write-up, a foreign writer made a lot disparaging remarks on Africa and Africans.”

He portrayed Africa as a continent on an endless rat race. The conclusion was most alarming. The writer insisted that most African countries were not yet ripe for independence. Adebowale saw many contradictions in the article. He, on his own, concluded that the writer must have been a victim of sincere ignorance. But Adebowale was not going to cast aspersion on the article and its author. He realised that the most appropriate solution to the problem of the writer and many others in similar shoes is enlightenment.

There and then, a project was conceived towards proper education on Africa, its history and ways of life of the inhabitants in its book acquisition policy, albeit its special interest is in African studies. It stocks books by writers from all over the world and exposes its researchers to all views leaving them to draw an informal conclusion. Music – being the soul of life – receives adequate attention; the library is a well-stocked store of materials on living and dead music legends. A section of the library has pictures and audio-tapes of jazz music greats of African origin; the musical audio-tapes are being assembled to teach the history of Africa. The centre has a demonstration farm to inculcate in local farmers alternative technique in crop cultivation and control of pests.

The library has a Board of Advisors constituted by eminent scholars from Nigeria and abroad which include Professors Niyi Osundare, Akinwunmi Ishola, Femi Osofisan, Sam Asein, Elechi Amadi and Goke Adeniji from Nigeria. Foreigners on the board include Ngugi Wa Thiong O of Kenya, Oliver B. Johnson and a host of other African American intellectuals.

Adebowale, the celebrated author of The Virgin, Out of His Mind and Lonely Days, himself is a veteran in the field of research. Presently, he spends 70 per cent of his earning on the research library and his dream is that everyone will come to Adeyipo to drink from the “fountain” of authentic African research centre situated in the heart of the continent.

Definitely, Dr. Bayo Adebowale is not Out of His Mind; definitely, no more Lonely Days studying Africa and Africans outside Africa. Why? Africa Heritage Research Library is The Virgin the whole world will chase, praise and embrace!

BETWEEN GBENGA OGUNDARE AND BAYO AKINLOYE

In ESSAY on October 22, 2010 at 12:35 pm

WEAVERS OF WORDS

THE GENESIS OF TWO POETS

Books are the legacies that a great genius leaves to mankind which are delivered down from generation to generation of those who are yet unborn

—Joseph Addison

Words cannot diagram fully how it all began. Imaginations, dreams, memories – the reservoir of our deepest yearnings, the vault in which we keep and from which we take naturally our recollections of happiness or sadness, of delight or fright – do fail us at times.

However, Bruce Lockerbie expounded that a complex vision lies dormant in the artist’s unconscious, neither indexed nor catalogued in the verbal manner – nebulous, random, and unnamed. This vision, called forth inexplicably, permeates the artist’s memory, or dreams with such persistence as cannot be denied, until with an exhalation of joy, like a mother in her final pangs of delivery, the artist releases his vision in an objective form. Objective form? What the artist has created in actuality is not truly original: he has reshaped, reconstituted, redefined.

The making of these two poets: Gbenga Ogundare [a.k.a. Ab] and Bayo Akinloye [a.k.a. Junior] – is not out of the ordinary; it all started as an idea, the fusion of thoughts from two like minds. These two creative minds from the department of Mass Communication, The Polytechnic, Ibadan, stay together, walk together and study together…they play together. Some even call them the “dangerous pair”. But, how did their creativity all begin?

“Like play, like play, it all began,” Gbenga and Bayo disclosed. “We were scribbling words from the ridiculous to the sublime. From lines recitations on to writing on chalkboards to papers. Every action, every word, every thought was poetry to us. It was like we were on the edge of sanity –as many of our colleagues observed. As the poet Standley Burnshaw puts it: a creative artist inhales the surrounding world and exhales it, whatever the creative mind has taken in is given back in altered condition; our words will soon occupy the atmosphere!” they seem to boast.

As the duo disclosed, humility and simplicity have really helped them in getting this far. They showed virtually all their poems to friends, colleagues and anyone who cares to read, before they thought of going to press. “We must confess words are not enough to express our profound gratitude to persons like Funke Daramola, Tinuke Akande, Dimeji Sanusi, Margaret Ibakpa, Uche Nduka, Abdul Babajide, Constance, Sola, Sakirat Abiade and others, who were part of our struggle somehow,” the poets acknowledged.

But Gbenga and Bayo did not stop at their colleagues and friends’ opinions – they went further. They sought the creative assistance of a mature artist: the author of The Virgin, Out of His Mind and Lonely Days.

About their book, Dr. Bayo Adebowale, the Deputy Rector of The Polytechnic, Ibadan, could not hide his delight. He called them “talented young writers. He wrote in the preface of their book, GENESIS –AN ANTHOLOGY OF POEMS, “I must confess that I have not come across a more committed group of writers at a Polytechnic setting than Akinloye Adebayo Apollos and Ogundare Adeleke Gbenga. They possess superlative creative ebullience which they have both demonstrated in this poetry anthology (GENESIS)…and I am very sure that the sky is the limit for these highly talented young writers…and feel highly honoured to be identified with these up-and-coming Poly, Ibadan writers.”

Gbenga and Bayo have not only succeeded in having their words/ideas in cold print, their book has become a study material in their department. It is hoped other departments will show similar appreciation and encouragement to the creative ebullience demonstrated by these highly talented young writers. This creative effort has not only put these young men on a lofty pedestal, it has also, by extension given The Polytechnic, Ibadan –the citadel of technological innovation –a place in the hall of creativity when compared with other academic institutions.

GENESIS is a collection of poems bordering on issues that matter must in life – relationship, love, spirituality, nature, moral decadence. Albeit this work of art may not be considered great for the fact that the poet are emerging voices, the poems it contains are not the products of shallow minds – they are the products of two young minds activating the bard in them. Young minds whose pens are impelled as much their hearts as by their heads.

A most distinctive feature of their poems in this anthology is the rhythm and rhyme embellishments. In the final analysis, the two poets said they have just begun: Bayo has perfected another poetry collection titled LILY IN THE VALLEY, and Gbenga is putting finishing touches to his prose work FATAL INHERITANCE. You have seen the genesis of these young talented writers, the exodus of their works will be in earnest; the revelation of their literary prowess is yet future. We can only wish them the best: more inks to their pens and more thoughts to their craniums.

“When two people are of the same mind, their sharpness cuts through a steel.” This Chinese maxim is dead right!

10% OF NIGERIANS ARE HOMOSEXUAL

In INTERVIEW on October 22, 2010 at 12:06 pm

Ten Percent of Nigeria’s Population is Homosexual – Dr. Gerard

Dr. Gerard van der Weijden is the inventor of the Reading Passport (used in more than 30 countries). He used to smoke 40 cigarettes per day. He strongly feels Nigerian homosexuals should not be chased underground. Then without mincing words, he touches on marriage and being childless. What are his thoughts? In this interview with Bayo Akinloye, Gerard bares his mind on issues bordering on the personal to the professional.

What will you like Nigerian newspapers and magazines to improve on?

My work mainly consists of helping magazines and newspapers and other publications to get more readers and users. You will see, all over the world that the media do not do very well. They do not put the readers and users in the first place. They are busier with themselves and with what message and idea they want to convey than what interests the reader. But, that’s not what many readers want: pages about politicians talking about their plans, their excuses for failure, blaming other people, never saying sorry to them etc.

Unless I am wrong, that is not what the Nigerian public expects from their media. Everybody including Nigerians wants a better and happy life. The media has to be of great help by helping the public to buy the best and cheapest vegetables, to participate in traffic, so they do not get hurt, helping parents and youngsters with their education, help them. They need to help the public to check and to control the people who spend their tax money, etc.

So bottom-up approach instead of top-down approach.

Before coming to Nigeria what impression did you have about the country?

Of course, I am also guilty of thinking in cliché of what I know of Nigeria. So yes! I expected to be approached for some beautiful projects I have to invest in and expecting 300% or more return on investment – this did not happen. I did not expect to walk around on my own in the streets – I did and I enjoyed it. I expected Lagos traffic jams but not in the way I experienced it. I expected people not to be very humorous but they were. I expected Nigeria not to be careful with their cultural heritage – and I was right.

What impression do you now have about it?

A week is too short to give a well balanced viewpoint – who is interested in that anyway? One observation I can share. I experienced many Nigerians turning what I see as a problem, even a big problem into an opportunity. In a restaurant, when the order of my wife was served I had already done with mine. The waiter told me “I am very sorry sir, the kitchen could not cope but now you have the chance to co-taste the food of your wife”.

What was life like to you growing up?

Very, very normal. I was one of ten children. We always had food and a roof over our heads and clothing. And, we all could go to school and study afterwards. This is partly because my parents were very thrifty and partly because our political system provides everybody with that kind of help

Marriages are collapsing all over the world, what’s the trend like where you live?

Same here. For very many reasons many marriages break up and there are, of course, people who see this development as very positive: people who are not happy, who are very unhappy in a relationship, who are hindered by their marriage to go forward, can now more easily and with less shame get rid of this ballast.

Do you give your wife house-keeping/food allowance, as men do here in Nigeria?

My marriage is personally and legally based on equality: what is mine is yours, what is yours is mine. That means there is no giving any kind of money anyhow. My wife and I discuss how much money we can and must spend on food, housing medical and savings. Before anyone of us wants to make a big purchase – a car, a TV set, etc – that has to be discussed in advance.

Why don’t you have kids?

For the very simple medical reason: it was not possible

How does your society view childless couples?

Childless couples are not seen as a special group of people. We meet people who share with us that having no children is missing a lot of joy. And we meet people who share with us that having no children saves us a lot of worries and miseries.

What do you think about homosexuality?

Personally and constitutionally nobody should be treated differently because of his or her looks, colour, religion, profession, sex, handicap, etc; also, not because of their sexual preference.
Two adults by mutual consent must be able to form the kind of relationship they want to have. Roughly, ten percent of the population, also the population of Nigeria is homosexual: lesbian or gay. This sexual preference has to do with the genes. You are born with it, so let it be.

Also, if we exclude all the people with handicaps, other beliefs, etc., we short-change society because if we discriminate against them. They cannot put their energy in bringing Nigeria forward. But they have to use all their energy to hide and protect themselves while living a life they do not want.

Do you smoke (in Nigeria, people feel almost every European smokes)?
No not anymore, I used to smoke around 40 cigarettes per day. I tried to quit three times and the last time, 25 years ago, it worked. The amount of people in Europe smoking is all the time gradually stopping; but of course, not fast enough. Indeed that was something I expected to see in Nigeria: many drinks and many smokers, but not so! Compliment.
What do you think of the politicians?

Polticians who do what they promise and work for the people I like? How many of them are around?

What childhood experience do you cherish till now?
One action of my father. At school/parents evenings he always had only one question for that teacher: “Is my child doing his/her best?” So he did not ask about achievements.

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