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What Does the Bible Say About Easter?

In ESSAY on March 19, 2013 at 11:43 am

The Bible’s answer

The celebration of Easter is not based on the Bible. If you look into its history, though, you will see the true meaning of Easter—it is a tradition based on ancient fertility rites. Consider the following.

  1. Name: The Encyclopædia Britannica says: “The English name Easter is of uncertain origin; the Anglo-Saxon priest Venerable Bede in the 8th century derived it from the Anglo-Saxon spring goddess Eostre.” Others link it to Astarte, the Phoenician fertility goddess who had the Babylonian counterpart Ishtar.

  2. Hares, rabbits: These are symbols of fertility “handed down from the ancient ceremonial and symbolism of European and Middle Eastern pagan spring festivals.—Encyclopædia Britannica.

  3. Eggs: According to Funk & Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology and Legend, the hunt for Easter eggs, supposedly brought by the Easter rabbit, “is not mere child’s play, but the vestige of a fertility rite.” Some cultures believed that the decorated Easter egg “could magically bring happiness, prosperity, health, and protection.”—Traditional Festivals.

  4. New Easter outfit: It was considered discourteous and therefore bad luck to greet the Scandinavian goddess of Spring, or Eastre, in anything but fresh garb.”—The Giant Book of Superstitions.

  5. Sunrise services: These have been linked to rites of ancient sun worshippers “performed at the vernal equinox welcoming the sun and its great power to bring new life to all growing things.”—Celebrations—The Complete Book of American Holidays.

The American Book of Days well describes the origin of Easter: “There is no doubt that the Church in its early days adopted the old pagan customs and gave a Christian meaning to them.

The Bible warns against worshipping God by following traditions or customs that displease him. (Mark 7:6-8) Second Corinthians 6:17 states: “‘Separate yourselves,’ says Jehovah, ‘and quit touching the unclean thing.’” Easter is a pagan holiday that those who want to please God will avoid.

culled from jw.org

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2013: A POETIC INSIGHT INTO A NEW YEAR

In ANYTHING on December 12, 2012 at 2:14 pm

2013

by Bayo Akinloye

Staring but not seeing…

Are there clairvoyant eyes

Peeking into Nostradamus’ cauldron

Of concocted tomorrows

I behold twenty colours of confusion

And thirteen of convolution

Pessimistic!

Isn’t 2013 a magical era

Fireworks, tongues of fire heralding it

Billions keeping vigil just for a sight

While eternity passes us by

2013

At twenty why are we still acting like a blasphemous teen

SEX AND POLITICS: Oiling the Promiscuity Industry

In ESSAY on May 16, 2012 at 11:06 am

Politicians and promiscuity

Iain Dale thinks politicians tend to be more promiscuous than most individuals but he’s not sure why. He should read (or re-read) Matthew Parris.

In Chance Witness, his autobiography, Parris claims that MPs have a higher than average chance of being philanderers – and he has two explanations.

First, he thinks that the people who end up getting into parliament are people with a higher-than-average appetite for risk.

Nobody without a gambling streak, a taste for uncertainty and a belief in his own luck would embark on a Commons career. Statistically most must ‘fail’ within their own terms, which are (usually these days) the achievement of high ministerial office.

The hours and conditions are arduous and the salary no more than what the majority of politicians could have hoped to attract in a career outside. For many it is less …. However regular a guy a candidate may present himself to his electors as being, no unadventurous family man in search of security is likely to want a career in politics.

Second, he thinks that once people become MPs then the sheer powerlessness that most of them experience encourages them to do something reckless, out of frustration.

You know you are there only because your party association chose you and few have ever voted for you as an individual, or ever will. You know, too, that your power at Westminster is almost zero, the whips humiliate you privately and your influence in the constituency derives not from your skill or the real respect you command, but from the portcullis on your notepaper …. It is not surprising that [MPs] sometimes try to escape this, sometimes in a manner that to the rest of us looks desperate.

When I first read this a few years ago, I thought Parris was spot on. Reading it again, I think he’s definitely on to something, although I don’t think his theory is complete.

Regarding Parris’s first explanation, it may be true that the people who become MPs have a higher-than-average appetite for risk. But if they are willing to spend 10 years or more hunting for a seat and struggling to get elected they also have higher-than-average willingness to tolerate rejection.

Is there a link here with promiscuity? If a man makes a pass at one woman, she’ll probably say no. But if he makes a pass at 20, someone’s likely to say yes. What MPs and philanderers may have in common is the capacity to cope with rejection.

And regarding Parris’s second explanation, I’m just not convinced. For every MP driven to promiscuity by the pointlessness of their job, there may be just as many who are cowed into good behaviour by the fear of exposure.

A more obvious explanation, if Dale and Parris are right about politicians and promiscuity, may just be the old one about the aphrodisiac effect of power. Alan Clark, I seem to remember, referred to the central lobby of the House of Commons as the best pick-up spot in England and I think that’s why.

Incidentally, if you haven’t read the Parris book, you should. He never held high political office, but he writes brilliantly about political psychology, and particularly what it’s like to “fail” as an MP.

BUSINESS AS USUAL IN NIGERIA?

In ANYTHING on April 13, 2012 at 12:12 pm

BUSINESS FORUM

Dangote Cement’s Ibese Plant Kicks Off

“We are marking the closing ceremony of cement import in Nigeria with the coming on stream of our Ibese cement plant, which will be producing a combined six-million tons per annum from its initial two lines while additional two line will be added immediately to increase its production to 12 million tons per annum”.

Anthony Chiejina, Group Head, Corporate Communications of Dangote, also noted: “Considering that Nigeria’s cement need is between 17 to 19 million tons per year, by implication, with the coming on stream of Ibese, what Dangote Group alone will be producing will be far more than the country’s demand. That will set the pace for exportation of our products, which will lead to increased products, more revenue for the company and better returns for the shareholders.”

Flour Mills Invests 7 billion in Edible Oils

Flour Mills Nigeria Plc has concluded arrangements for the establishment of an edible oil manufacturing plant in Ibadan, Oyo state.

The plant will have a daily capacity of 500 tonnes of edible oil and will serve as raw materials input for the company’s Animal Feed Mill operations.

Paul Gbededo, Head of Flour Mills Agro-Industrial Division, stated that this investment is a phase in a larger N 20 billion investment campaign focused on the cultivation and extraction of edible oil from soybean and palm.

Phase 1 consisted of the expansion of soybean cultivation capabilities in Kaboji, Niger state and the acquisition of an existing oil extraction and refining company in Ibadan.

The new plant, to be commissioned in this second stage, will more than double the extraction capacity to 500 metric tons per day of Soy and 300 metric tons per day of palm kernel. The extracted crude oils will be refined in 400 metric tons per day state-of-the-art multi-oil refinery to be established on a new site purchased for this purpose.  100 metric tons per day fractionation plant will split 100 metric tons per day of the refined palm oil into Olein, which will be bottled for retail consumption, and Stearines for industrial use.

The third stage of the company’s investment in edible oils will be the establishment of palm plantations to augment local raw material supplies, and the establishment of an additional 750 metric tons per day multi oil refinery and margarine packaging plant at Agbara Industrial Estate, Lagos State.

VACANCY: FINANCIAL REPORTER – LAGOS

In LATEST JOBS IN NIGERIA TODAY/ CAREER OPPORTUNITIES & DEVELOPMENTS on February 17, 2012 at 11:22 am

Financial Reporter- Lagos, Nigeria

Mergermarket – Nigeria

Job Description

Mergermarket, the world’s leading M&A news service, is looking to appoint an experienced and hardworking freelance reporter based in Lagos, Nigeria. The post involves writing exclusive news stories on mergers and acquisitions across all sectors, interviewing senior executives and attending conferences and meetings in the country.

The ideal candidate should have experience in financial/business reporting and have excellent spoken and written English skills. Candidates must have previous work experience in financial journalism in order to apply. Candidates should be willing to travel within the country at times and must comply with mergermarket’s strict ethical guidelines.

The post will suit reporters who are able to regularly deliver quality copy while working independently and with reporters and editors abroad. Part-time freelancers will be accepted as long as there is no conflict of interest between their other jobs and our product.

 

Please contact our senior reporter in West and Central Africa, Kimberly Johnson, kimberly.johnson@mergermarket.com if you are interested, or can recommend someone who is. A professional CV and at least three copies of published articles should be submitted with a proper cover letter to be considered for this position.

Desired Skills & Experience

Print reporting and writing skills

Business and economics journalism skills

THE TOP 100 AFRICAN UNIVERSITIES: NIGERIA’S RANKING

In ESSAY on February 16, 2012 at 12:19 pm

The latest ranking of world universities has been released with South African universities dominating the African regional ranking. Egypt, Algeria and Morocco are other countries with strong ranking.

The best ranked West African university is Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology at number 18 while Nigeria’s University of Ilorin occupies the 20th position.  Egypt leads North Africa at number 11 with Algeria at number 19.

Below is a summary of the ranking of the top 100 universities in the African region.

Rank University Country
1 University of Cape Town South Africa
2 University of Pretoria South Africa
3 Stellenbosch University South Africa
4 University of the Witwatersrand South Africa
5 Rhodes University South Africa
6 University of Kwazulu Natal South Africa
7 University of the Western Cape South Africa
8 University of South Africa South Africa
9 University of Johannesburg South Africa
10 Makerere University Uganda
11 Cairo University Egypt
12 American University in Cairo Egypt
13 Ain Shams University Egypt
14 Mansoura University Egypt
15 University of the Free State South Africa
16 North West University South Africa
17 Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University South Africa
18 Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology Ghana
19 Université Mentouri de Constantine Algeria
20 University of Ilorin Nigeria
21 Al Akhawayn University Ifrane Morocco
22 Polytechnic of Namibia Namibia
23 Durban University of Technology South Africa
24 University of Khartoum Sudan
25 Cape Peninsula University of Technology South Africa
26 University of Botswana Botswana
27 University of Nairobi Kenya
28 Assiut University Egypt
29 Faculté des Sciences Rabat Morocco
30 Université Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar Senegal
31 University of Zimbabwe Zimbabwe
32 Tshwane University of Technology South Africa
33 Université Abou Bekr Belkaid Tlemcen Algeria
34 University of Dar Es Salaam Tanzania
35 University of Mauritius Mauritius
36 Sudan University of Science & Technology Sudan
37 University of Namibia Namibia
38 Strathmore University Nairobi Kenya
39 Université Cadi Ayyad Morocco
40 University of Zululand South Africa
41 German University in Cairo Egypt
42 University of Jos Nigeria
43 Helwan University Egypt
44 National University of Rwanda Rwanda
45 Université des Sciences et de la Technologie Houari Boumediene Algeria
46 Zagazig University Egypt
47 École Mohammadia d’Ingénieurs Morocco
48 Addis Ababa University Ethiopia
49 University of Ghana Ghana
50 University of Garyounis Libya
51 Kenyatta University Kenya
52 British University in Egypt Egypt
53 Université Mohammed Premier Oujda Morocco
54 University of Nigeria Nsukka Nigeria
55 Université de Batna Algeria
56 Université Virtuelle de Tunis Tunisia
57 Universidade Eduardo Mondlane Mozambique
58 University of Lagos Nigeria
59 College of Medicine University of Malawi Malawi
60 South Valley University Egypt
61 Université Abdelmalek Essaadi Morocco
62 Fayoum University Egypt
63 Obafemi Awolowo University Nigeria
64 Université de Ouagadougou Burkina Faso
65 Université d’Alger Algeria
66 Vaal University of Technology South Africa
67 Université M’Hamed Bougara de Boumerdes Algeria
68 University of Tanta Egypt
69 Ahmadu Bello University Nigeria
70 University of Zambia Zambia
71 Arab Academy for Science & Technology and Maritime Transport Egypt
72 Université Ferhat Abbas Setif Algeria
73 Université Djillali Liabes Algeria
74 Pharos University in Alexandria Egypt
75 Université Ibn Tofail Kenitra Morocco
76 École Supérieure des Communications de Tunis Tunisia
77 Université Mohammed V Souissi Morocco
78 United States International University Morocco
79 Alexandria University Egypt
80 Universidade Jean Piaget de Cabo Verde Cape Verde
81 Université Mohammed V Agdal Morocco
82 Université Saad Dahlab Blida Algeria
83 University of Fort Hare South Africa
84 Université d’Antananarivo Madagascar
85 Université Hassan II Faculté des Sciences Ain Chock Casablanca Morocco
86 National Open University of Nigeria Nigeria
87 Mauritius Institute of Education Mauritius
88 University of Technology Mauritius Mauritius
89 Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology Kenya
90 Moi University Kenya
91 Mekelle University Ethiopia
92 Université Hassiba Ben Bouali Algeria
93 Jimma University Ethiopia
94 Université des Sciences et de la Technologie d’Oran Mohamed Boudiaf Algeria
95 University of Agriculture Abeokuta Nigeria
96 Minia University Egypt
97 Université Abdelhamid Ibn Badis Mostaganem Algeria
98 Central University of Technology South Africa
99 École National Supérieure de l’Informatique (ex-INI) Algeria
100 University of Malawi Malawi

Courtesy: Webometric Ranking of World Universities 2011.

GSM ROGUES: MTN, GLO, AIRTEL AND ETISALAT

In ESSAY on February 8, 2012 at 3:51 pm

THE GREAT GAMBLERS

How telecom operators swindle unwary Nigerians of several billions of Naira via promo sham.

Bayo Akinloye

The incessant short messages (sms) sent to subscribers’ phones are too promising to ignore. The game-show prize-money is so stupendous to jettison. Thus, ubiquitous media glitz spun by various telecoms firms through wild sales promos, tempting game (gambling) shows, and misleading sms solicitations has continued to catch in its webs unwary and greedy subscribers.

As early as 4:00am almost every weekend, Saturday or Sunday, scores of youths and a mix of adults troop to Murhi International Plaza, in Ikeja, Lagos, to put down their names in a register, as audience-participants in a game-show. At about 7:30am, the about hundred early birds are given a tag each, by personnel Ultima Ventures – producers of the show -, as pass to enter the game auditorium. With keen eyes and palpitating hearts each one in the audience sits, hopeful of sitting on the ‘hot seat’. Welcome to the most popular TV quiz-show in Nigeria: MTN’s Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. To participate in the studio-play, a subscriber sends an SMS with his name and phone number to 132 and a question is sent to him. Then, the subscriber sends back an answer through SMS. SMS charges are: N 200. If the subscriber is successful he will be notified through a confirmatory message inviting him to participate in the studio programme. Usually, 120 subscribers are invited to the studio from which eight will be short-listed for the ‘hot seat’. The remaining 112 people will form the in-studio audience. The eight short-listed subscribers take turns on the hot seat. Questions are asked and as the participant gets the right answer to each question, he wins prize money. The biggest prize is N10million. The remaining 112 people invited to the studio are left to contest for the twenty N20, 000 slots.

The audience participation part of the show, called fastest fingers, illustrates this. The winner of this segment gets N20, 000. Well, almost. To get the N20, 000, however, National Standard investigations revealed that the winner must present an MTN SIM certificate (to prove he is a genuine subscriber), a photocopy of his identity card, passport photograph and his birth certificate. The winner is also required to buy recharge card up to the value of N1, 000. Two weeks after the show has been aired, and then the winner will be contacted on further steps to collect his cash prize. This magazine also found out that rather than MTN Nigeria, the bank form issued to its game-show beneficiaries has Ultima Ventures, producers of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, as account holder.

Little wonder it was a shocking and disappointing experience for 21-year-old Sola Emmanuel, a student, and one of the fastest fingers winners, when he went to the bank to withdraw his N20, 000 cash prize. “When I got to the bank to get my cash reward I was surprised when told that 5% withholding tax, 5% Lagos state gambling tax and other bank charges would be deducted from my N20, 000. This is baffling. If it is a game show or promo why would they be deducting 5% gambling tax? I felt cheated and used as a puppet in a gambling show,” Sola narrated. At the end of the day, Emmanuel left the bank with the sum of N17, 895 instead of the N20, 000 he won. But there is more to the show than meets the eye.

Each week, MTN Nigeria rakes in N1.665 billion, N6.660 billion each month and N79.920 billion each year. This is based on the conservative estimate that at least a quarter (8,325,000) of MTN’s 33.3 million subscribers send an sms each (costing N200) to participate in the TV game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. With the home-play version, using the same estimate, the firm makes N39.960 billion each year. With the combined figures (excluding proceeds from other promos), MTN Nigeria grosses at least N119, 880, 000, 000 in a year. That is just the tip of the iceberg.

Adegoke, an elderly man, had a nasty experience with Globacom Bid2Win promo. Lured by lucre and the unrelenting text messages that bombarded his cell phone, he expended N420, 000 in the hopeless bid to become a millionaire. “I got frequent sms from GLO, encouraging me to continue playing. They said I was near to winning N1 million. So I continued playing till it dawned on me that it was all trick. I had already spent over N420, 000,” Adegoke said. As proof of his extensive elusive investment in Globacom Bid2Win, he made a public display of the many GLO recharge cards he had purchased to participate in the GSM company gambling game referred to as a promo. Zain and Etisalat are also involved in what has become sleazy, corporate gambling.

Then enters GLO. With a subscriber base hitting more 25 million as at June last year, Wale Adenuga’s telecom giant is also eating deep into the insufferable skin of its customers. Take for instance its text-to-win promo. In that promo alone, Globacom grosses N30, 000, 000, 000 on the approximation that only a quarter of its more than 25 million subscribers play in the gamble a la promo. Thus, every month, GLO pockets at least N2.5 billion. That is discounting the fact that the GSM firm has other gambling gimmicks from which more money are effortlessly raked in. Not to be over-looked also are one-off subscribers – who get on the network just to participate in any of the promos. If all these are factored in what will be revealed would be a staggering sum.

But, there is no letting up in the telecoms industry as all the firms hold sway in a field that appears devoid of a regulator. New-comer Etisalat, Nigeria’s fifth GSM operator is feeding on the promo fever too. Since its arrival, Etisalat has stormed the industry with mouth-watering offers such as, Exactly June 17 last year, the GSM firm claimed to have hit a subscriber base of 1 million. To qualify for the express ticket to the grand finale in the critically acclaimed 9jillions one million dollar game show, customers who had spent up to a thousand naira within the month just needed to text the state they live and their full name to the short code 5123. Multiple entries are allowed. With an estimated figure of 250, 000 subscribers participating each month, with at least double entries for six months, Etisalat would have netted N1.5 billion. You can go on and on multiplying that amount by number of greedy fingers the Nigerian population can proudly produce.

“Confidential information!” the text message from Zain Nigeria said. “Text WIN to 222 now and you fit win N2 million cash from Zain. Costs N100/sms,” the text pitched. Another came in a hurried, secretive fashion, begging: “Abeg, your name don come out to win N2 million. Make you no tell anybody. Just text WIN to 222.” Welcome to Zain Nigeria – the most erratic, in terms of management, GSM operator in the country. As many times it had changed name, it had also changed management. But, that is a story for another day. That is Zain’s Wake up To Be a Millionaire.  The above-quoted text messages are apparent testimony of the mad dash by Zain to defraud Nigerians of their hard-earned money, by hook or by crook. Not satisfied with its six-week Zain Naira Rain promo, Zain in its current text-to-win N2 million is mind-boggling. Zain Nigeria executives will be smiling and patting their rotund bellies as at least N500 million naira is realised in a week based on the rough estimate that 5 million of its over 20 million subscribers forfeit N100 weekly.

Typically, though there has been talk of sanctions, there is no regulatory agency wielding the big stick on the telecoms companies defrauding their subscribers in the name of promos and game shows. But the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, was quick to absolve itself of any complicity in the defrauding promotions being done by the GSM firms. “Our business at NCC is to regulate service provision and not sales promotions but the NCC, CPC, Lottery Commission, will meet to look into who regulates what. Operators should have a code that can allow a consumer not to receive unsolicited SMS,” said Ernest Ndukwe, erstwhile executive secretary of NCC.

Unlike the lukewarm response of NCC to the raging issue of wanton gambling by the GSM operators, the National Lottery Regulatory Commission, NLRC, expressed certain degree of concern at the 55th edition of Telecom Consumer Parliament, where subscribers have opportunity to air their complaints. “Our concern is that you do not tell customers that you are rewarding them when you are ripping them off by engaging them in a game of chance. You do not expect customers to load their phones to reward them. Operators should not tell customers they are rewarding them when they are doing sales. You do not have to tell a consumer to load certain amount of money with certain code to qualify for a particular scheme. What many service providers are doing is a game of chance. They lure customers through unsolicited text messages to enter into sales promotion. If any operator engages in lottery in the name of sales promotions, the National Lottery Regulatory Commission will get interested. We are more concerned when a reward scheme becomes lottery in the name of promo,” said Barrister Osa Uwadiae, the Assistant Director, Enforcement & Compliance of National Lottery Regulatory Commission. Great sound bite that was.

Section 7(c) of the National Lottery Act says, “[the commission shall] promote transparency, propriety and integrity in the operation of national lottery;” and (d) maintains that the commission shall “ensure the protection of interests of players, stakeholders and the public in the national lottery.” And section 17 adds, “…the operation of the business of a national lottery or any lottery, by whatever name called, shall be subject to a license granted by the president upon recommendation by the commission and compliance with the provisions of this Act or any regulations made pursuant thereto.” The questions are: did the presidency grant these GSM operators the licence to engage in lottery in the guise of promos? Is the National Lottery Regulatory Commission ensuring the protection of interests of subscribers? Is the commission promoting transparency, propriety and integrity by feigning ignorance of the ‘gambling in disguise promos’?

While it is instructive to note that the National Lottery Regulatory Commission, NLRC, by its enabling Act (2005) is empowered to authorize and supervise promos, many subscribers have found it perplexing that it has not come to their aid. According to the telecoms industry observers, the National Lottery Regulatory Commission cannot feign ignorance that the ripping off of GSM subscribers has been going on for a long time before now. In 2009, the Consumer Advocacy Forum of Nigeria CAFON and the National Telecom Subscribers of Nigeria (NATCOMS) raised an alarm over frauds called promotions by Nigeria’s GSM firms. According to CAFON, “what many companies do is lottery not promo as they rip off Nigerians because they know that many Nigerians do not know their rights”. The Forum accused regulatory bodies of ‘having been bought over by the companies as they look the other way when subscribers complain’.

This is no doubt a matter of urgent public concern, as it is worrying that GSM companies, employing deceits and sometimes outright lies, are fast becoming gambling institutions treating their customers with impunity. Even more disquieting is the fact that the concerned authority has yet to call for refund to all swindled subscribers. Maybe, as always, the GSM consumers are being taken for a ride and the hand of the law is too short to protect and make restitutions for them.

NIGHTS OF THE CREAKING BED…part II

In ANYTHING on October 28, 2011 at 8:30 am

I never met my father.

By the time I was old enough to recognise faces and tell one from the other my father had disappeared wherever vagabond husbands and vagrant fathers fade into. He was gone and my mother had wiped him off her mind.

She never spoke of him. She kept no pictures, no keep-sakes to remember him by. I was the only reminder that there had been such a man in her life.

People who say absence makes the heart fonder never knew the kind of absence I knew. It was absolute. One that did not seem to exist because the presence that had been looked vaguer than the absence I lived with. I know nothing about my father. And I can’t tell whether the bed used to creak when he went in with my mother!

* * * *

We lived at No. 56 for so many years that I came to see it as home and even after we moved, because my mother couldn’t stand the crowd of memories that assailed her, I came to see the other places we lived in as strange abodes. I felt and continue to feel like an alien in a foreign land: a radicle in search of its own clump of earth.

No 56 was large and like all big houses had it s fair share of gossips. We lived in front, in a two bedroom flat. A tenement building stretched out behind us like a tail.

Everyone saw us; Meze, my mother and I as the rich ones. We were the ones who had a garage and could park a car if we bought one. We were the ones who never missed school because of unpaid fees and we were the ones who always had light when others didn’t because we could afford to pay our NEPA bills on time.

Our neighbours had conceived a perfect life for us, one that was free from want or lack. They knew the truth had a different face but the over-bearing misery of their own lives had blinded them to that other reality. So, to explain it away and bear up under the burden of their own lack and want they concocted a lie which served as a palliative for what ailed them.

But it was a fragile reality. One that came crashing the moment we stepped out of line or deigned to live as citizens of that world they said we belonged to.

Unsheathing their tongues they would flagellate us with verbal strokes that left lasting scars.

Their anger, like Jehovah‘s rage kindled at the enemies of the Jews, burned against us at long intervals because linked closely to their awe was an incipient fear peculiar to all poor people, that sense of dread that leaves you feeling naked because you have nothing.

Then one day a neighbour’s wife had unsheathed her tongue and told my mother things that made her quake.

Her child had taken ill at a bad time (not that there is a good time for falling sick). Doctors were on strike, which meant that government hospitals were shut.

The lab diagnosed typhoid fever and the doctor at the private clinic demanded a deposit of two thousand naira. It was evening and rushing home from the hospital it was our door she knocked on first.

“Your mama, nko?” She asked.

“She’s not back from the shop,” I said and she had sighed, a drawn out expiration of air that seemed to drain the life out of her.

“What’s wrong?” I asked watching the tears escape her lids and slither down her face. “No worry,” she said and turned.

By the time my mother came in, her trip round the fourteen rooms in the compound had dredged up a miserly five hundred and twenty – four naira. She needed more if her child was to live.

Then my mother came back laden with provisions and food stuff.

Her plea was desperate and when my mother said she had no money her eyes had turned to blazing coals rescued from a smithy.

“My son dey for hospital. If I no carry dis money go, the boy go die. Abeg, help me.”

“Mama Chisco, I have no money on me. I have just finished shopping. I have only two hundred naira left.” My mother explained but her words only served to fan the embers of our neighbour’s desperation.

“Abeg, Mama Andrew. I take God beg you, save my pikin.” The woman cried.

“I can’t. I have no money, true.”

As we watched a change came over Mama Chisco. She took a step backwards. She dabbed at her eyes and then she loosened her tongue and spoke words that sent sharp darts into my heart and almost killed my mother. Words that echoed Damian’s words at the play ground. Words that spoke of old scorn curdled to hate. But it was her final words that packed the most bile.

“Okay, make I ask you one question, wetin you go do if that man wey you dey fuck, if im wife come here come catch you, eh Mama Andy? My pikin dey die and you no wan help me, eh. Why?” The woman wailed and crumpled to the floor.

My mother looked across at me. Our eyes met and I could read fear and desperation and shame in her’s. Then without a single word she walked out of the compound.

She was gone for less than ten minutes and when she returned she gave the woman a wad of naira notes; five thousand naira in all.

Her child survived but she never forgave herself. It took them six months to raise the money but my mother refused it and for years until we left they took to giving me money, small change, at well chosen intervals. They hadn’t become rich, they were merely making expiation for that sin.

And it was from them that I learnt that, some times, the verbal pains we inflict on others can scar us for life.

VIOLENCE ERUPTS AGAIN IN NIGERIA

In ANYTHING on October 18, 2011 at 3:59 pm

At least 15 persons, including pregnant women and children died and 60 houses burnt during a fracas that broke out between rival political parties in northern Benue state of Nigeria today. Supporters of ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and opposition Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) clashed at Ugba community when the latter learnt of the killing of their two party leaders. Police spokesman, Ejike Alaribe confirmed the incident adding that the situation has been brought under control with investigation launched to find out the cause of the fight. The state has witness several politically motivated violence in recent times and was fingered by security agents as being targeted for further violence after the post-election attacks that saw more than 500 people killed in northern Nigeria. Riots broke out in the north after Jonathan, a Christian from the south was declared winner on in April after a landmark vote that exposed regional tensions and led to deadly rioting. Meanwhile, two men who were picked up by soldiers in Nigeria”s restive city of Jos during a raid that followed the killing of an officer were found dead with cuts on their body. The two men, a community leader, Ahmadu Ali Kazaure and Babangida Ibrahim Yusuf were traced to mortuary of the Jos University Teaching Hospital by relatives. An elder in the community, Shehu Masalla said the body of Kazaure, a retired soldier, had deep cuts on the head. Soldiers arrested people at random when their colleague, Sergeant Baba Wuya was hacked to death by an unknown assailant in Kazaure Ward in Jos. Military unit in the area has refused to comment on the incident but later issued a statement confirming the death of the soldier. Eyewitnesses said the men dumped at the mortuary died before they reached the military cantonment where they were being taken to due to injury they sustained during repeated beating by the army officers. Jos, the capital of Plateau state in central Nigeria has been bedevilled by internecine clashes causing the country”s government to send a Special Task Force (STF) to police the area. More than 2,000 have died in these clashes since since last year. Late January, a raid carried out by assailants suspected to be from Fulani ethnic on Bere village led to the death 18 persons including the alleged leader of the attackers.

Wilderness of Whirling Winds- poem by bayo akinloye

In ANYTHING on September 20, 2011 at 11:28 am

I’m the Voice

imagery of a lone voice
in the jarring symphony
of loneliness

in the wilderness
of whirling winds of indifference

i am the voice
languid and frigid
lonely and oddly
till i find you

impressing on the sand of time

the footprints of our togetherness…

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