Organised religion and the need for individual liberation

This is one of the most honest and enlightening talks on religion that I have ever had watched, because it is about one of Nigeria’s major religions, I wish all Nigerians could watch this.

The way people understand and practice religion, as with most things changes with time, people get wiser as they rightly should, hardly any room for progress if inclusiveness of a section of humankind is suppressed just because that was the case in 400 years ago.

As far as Nigeria is concerned, it actually doesn’t matter that this talk is about Islam, it can easily be applied to christianity as well because what we have going on in the country whereby we placed more emphasis on religion more than being human has never benefitted the majority ’till date.

And to have government getting out of their way being biased on religion wasting limited resources by listening to the scholars on what to do – do not benefit the citizens, the only people it benefits were the religious leaders and the ignorant government officials.

12:15 to 16:16 analysed the idea of selective religious scholars’ claim of ‘know all’ brilliantly. I do appreciate and respect amazing works of scholars but the same way I get a second opinion for health issues, I will not rely on one person to make absolute decision on my life when I have the power to read the same texts and see if it suits my needs.

This quote sums it all, I don’t see the need to be defensive about religion where there are plenty of ways to get to the same destination.

“I have to play based on human rights they would say that they stand for human rights as well they just happen to believe islam is the truth as a critic of truth but I do believe Christians and plenty of jews and plenty of other people including atheist who do not believe that their truth, their particular truth is the one and only truth that is available to humankind anybody who believes that is a supremacist a dogma kissed of some kind.”  Irshad Manji 30:58 – 31.24

This 3 minutes is worth the time: 28 – 31

Here’s where the lady in the crowd nodded along to suppression of women’s voices in just about any important decision-making process. I agree with her, it doesn’t kill us to be honest about oppression solely based on gender in the name of religion.

Everyday should be Children’s Day

May 27th is Nigeria Children’s Day whereby office workers are off work to attend events with their children. How I wish everyday is Children’s Day in Nigeria whereby we no longer tolerate another story of helpless children abuse and maltreatment.

In Britain for example there is National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), they work with schools and community – open everyday and ready to hear children’s concerns and step in to mediate especially when the safety of the child is not certain.

NSPCC visited my girls’ school a few months ago, they had assembly with the children – basically to let them know that they are never alone, they encouraged children to report any concerns they may have with adults around them to lighten up the burden and to get necessary help before it gets out of hand. And if adults around them are the ones given physical or emotional discomfort, the children were advised to speak with their teacher who has the responsibility to inform appropriate bodies.

I thought that was incredible to have a neutral support system where little children can run to if adults in their lives become abusive.

From January till date, we’ve had to take Yeye to A & E more than I care to remember now and a few subsequent follow-up for X-ray and MRI scan results and consultations. She tripped on her toe on the stairs at home so had scratched up proximal phalange. That was the beginning and by the end of the April, somehow the ankle and knee of the same leg got injured in separate occasions.

The school is informed as she was not able to participate in sports for sometimes. In one meeting as we were updating the school on pain relief schedule during the day, I learnt that each time a child is admitted to A & E, the school received a note stating briefly what the visit was about.

Really? A society that has learnt that adults/parents as loving as they are towards their children can sometimes ‘flipped’ and if that happens, the most important cause of action was protect the children from further abuse – that is great, I thought.

When UK PM David Cameron, said Nigeria is Fantastically Corrupt – this is one of the instances that popped in my head.

Let’s take for example the case of two year old Musa Murtala whose mother has divorced from the father. The toddler is being looked after by his step mother and paternal grandmother in Kano.

His tongue, private part was severed and one of his eyes poked, reportedly by the stepmother and grandmother. One wonders what the sin of a 2 year old could be?

What is obvious in Nigeria is that parents and guardian often have absolute authority on their children, parents can successfully do whatever they liked to their children without anyone knowing – easy explanation would be that they have travelled.

Murtala’s case is not an isolated one, similar news are in our newspapers daily and often perpetrators get away with it. We have grown used to this type of news that people deliberately tuned out of it as another ‘negative’ news.

Nigeria and Britain have completely different social welfare programs, so not comparing apple and orange here, however since we are all human if Kano could spend large amount of money on people to re-marry, procreate from young age and praises polygamy, maybe it is time to emulate others who spend their resources to look after existing children’s welfare.

Maybe this Children’s Day we can all give voice to those children whose cries needed our echo.

Happy Children’s Day!

Between fighting elephants

Listening to governor Fayose’s message to the people of Ekiti today, I was not too surprised by his violent preach – eye for eye; if you see Fulani herdsmen, kill them before they kill you was his message.

He has made promises to the people, to supply them with arms and vehicles to carry out jungle justice so the land can be rid of grazing.

In the north, we have another equally violent man, Alhaji Bello Ardo, former President of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders’ Association (MACBAN) saying governor Fayose does not have a right to ban grazing in his state, claiming that there are grazing routes in all of Nigeria states and that Fulani are free to rear their animals anywhere they chose.

Now we have two supposed leaders who have absolutely nothing to lose if this threats of eye for eye materialised, my question is what are the Obas and the elders doing to intervene before it gets out of hand?

This case of Fulani herdsmen assuming they have the right to graze anywhere they wanted is not an isolated one, it is part of the bigger problem that Nigeria has been shying away from defining for a long time – land ownership.

Governor Fayose is a nuisance, now he has a perfect excuse to recruit youths to his cause. The only people I pity here are the farmers whose livelihood is at risk of ruin. I hope before long someone will speak sense to the people to hold their peace and find a better way to resolve grazing issues once and for all.

I don’t think PMB is going to perform a miracle to satisfy the entitled herdsmen, however, it is important that the government intervene before another conflict ensues.

 

One Chibok girl reunited with family

A friend was super excited, she wrote three halleluyahs before expressing her joy that she just heard all Chibok girls have been rescued – Oh well, that is a wishful thinking that most people with blood running through their veins would have wanted.

It was one of the missing Chibok girls, Amina Ali Nkeki – a 19 year old and her four month old child, good news for all.

chibok girl

Looking at Amina’s photo with the Nigeria army officers, almost emotionless. Hope there’s a process in place for proper counselling and healing schedule – just 19 with a baby born in captive, unfair world.

Just thinking about Amina going through pregnancy in the forest gives me a shiver and opens up some puzzling questions – how many of the remaining girls now with a child? According to Amina, out of the remaining 219 in the forest, 6 were killed. Are all the remaining now with a child, and if significant number of them have given birth, how did they get at least some care during pregnancy and childbirth?

I really do hope right questions are asked to lead to rescue of the remaining others and most importantly so our government could learn a lesson or two – it is all well to think poor people are unlucky but when you take the little that could have educated them away, they remain the most vulnerable ones and the cycle continues.

At least Amina’s family have a closure now, hope she receives love and support she undoubtedly needed.

For the goodness of Jerusalem and Mecca

I am rejoicing in small baby steps. I know this will take a long time to get people to see, however, it is comforting to see that states are now talking about one of the misplaced priorities Nigeria government has orchestrated for a long time.

Niger governor Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello said his administration will no longer sponsor trips to Hajj and Jerusalem due to insufficient fund.

I don’t think Nigeria as a whole given the state of our schools, roads, hospitals has ever had sufficient fund to warrant state paying for grown adults’ vacations – it would have been a bit better to swallow if our attitude has changed for better since the infamous sponsorship started, too bad the opposite is the case.

Nonetheless, it gives array of hope that more state leaders are now listening and owning up to doing their job here on earth, while leaving the heavenly ones to individuals.

Kaduna state governor, Mallam El-Rufai cancelled state pilgrimage sponsorship late last year saving his state a tidy sum.

I really hope my state governor, Ogbeni Aregbesola is reading all this. I know he has been doing well restructuring primary and secondary schools but it makes no sense whatsoever that the state is struggling to keep up with workers’ salary but yet have money to sponsor tourists to Jerusalem and Mecca.

The whole pilgrimage state sponsorship is bad on so many levels – how could you genuinely pray to God when you knew the money could have educated, fed, treated millions of people?

And given how much money we have wasted on this, is Nigeria after so many years not ‘holy’ enough to have their own prayer ground – especially now that we are crusading ‘Buy Nigeria goods’?

As much as I am excited about this, Vanguard News quoted Alhaji Bello saying for now he will still continue to sponsor government officials to “to meet its obligations to the governments of Israel and Saudi Arabia for a hitch-free pilgrimage.”

What obligations is Alhaji talking about? That we have entered agreement to take food, education and health away from your own people so Mecca/Jerusalem could maintain their own?

Happy anyways that this is out for discussion.

Fantastically Brilliant Nigerians

In today’s Nigeria, to be patriotic is to step back and understand that the only way Nigeria has any chance of ‘redemption’ is to kill corruption by all means, and bring many people to book. Anonymity will not do.

Many of the things that have been returned by the corrupt officials are mind-boggling. Yesterday when the British PM said Nigerians are Fantastically Corrupt, some people were offended, many blamed the British for harbouring corrupt politicians – all well and good.

President Buhari agrees PM David Cameron was telling the truth about Nigeria politicians. Here, President Buhari made it clear that there will be jail time for the looters – that’s comforting.

For those Nigerians who have issues with the ongoing EFCC investigation, think about this:  Uganda with population of  39M people had one radiation machine. Bad news, that broke down last month, hence it was on the news. I hope they have fixed it.

(This is not about Uganda, but to put Nigeria corrupt sorry case into perspective.)

Meanwhile, in Nigeria when a public figure (his or her name hasn’t been revealed) was completely bored of their mind, he chose to have one MRI scan at the expense of the public for his own private clinic – what do we say to that?

 

This is what PM David Cameron said yesterday that prompted the above video, basically to show that DC said what Nigerians are well aware of.

 

Royal Panama, yet no one questioning

“… no one questioning” bits of this post title come from Rev. Samuel Johnson The History of the Yorubas: From the earliest times to the beginning of the British Protectorate. Pg 525.

The above book is arguably the most thorough book ever written on Yoruba history. First published in 1921, it was at one point a recommended book in western Nigeria schools.

Rev. Samuel Johnson, an Anglican Vicar, whose thirst for documenting Yoruba history arose during his many travels to Europe from seeing how Europeans have preserved theirs through written texts.

I was gladly surprised that his book, though last reprinted in 1960, is available on Amazon – credit to amazing people working behind the scene to make sure all Yoruba history is preserved.

Rev. Johnson’s work details Modakeke-Ife crisis. It comprises of dates, names and Yoruba royals and elders’ involvement in settling tiring disputes.

Going back to “… no one questioning” This is what Rev. Johnson had to say when he was recounting what he thought was Ife’s act of animosity towards their neighbours.

What I read to that three words was “How could we as a collective turned blind eye to the crisis in same region and pretended all was well?”

History matters for many reasons, for one, to shed lights on recurring events that are not so obvious to current generation. Hopefully, they’ll learn and change tactics if different outcome is expected.

The late Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuade was said to have many honorary and academic qualifications, so in a way I believe he must have at one point come across Rev. Johnson’s book on the history of the towns’ difficult relationship.

And if Oba Okunade Sijuade did read this book, I wonder what his reactions were after reading vivid reports of page 526 that stated 12,700 people from Ife were captured and how they were subsequently released and elders’ involvement in reconciliation.

Here is what I found astonishing in the attitude of the late Ooni Okunade Sijuade; prior to 1854 when Ife was rebuilt due to self-inflicted ruins, lots of women who were captured by the Modakekes during the crisis got into relationships that produced children.

Over hundred years later in 1980, one can easily assume that except for *some royal compounds and chiefs, most people in both in Modakeke and Ife are practically cousins.

So we had a king who was supposedly was educated but refused apply lessons from history? He spent the whole 35 years threading on the same path as his own father with no consideration to many changing factors around him. Below is page 648 of the same book.

IMG_3835

On Panama papers, newspaper from last week listed this same late Ooni, Oba Sijuade as one of Nigerians who kept accounts offshore to evade taxes.

While Tax evasion for big corporations is fashionable in Nigeria. It is not too surprising that the poor Nigerians are the ones paying most taxes. We have 110 of them in total – from politicians, to royal father and even a miracle pastor made the list.

 

However a royal father evading tax is something that just show to prove once again the type of person that late Oba Okunade Sijuade was.

Now, are people going to still refer the late Ooni Okunade as the Custodian of culture and tradition?

“… no one questioning” Rev. Johnson first wrote this in 1920 (or thereabout), it is now 96 years later, yet no one questioning if this man even in death has ever for once represented Yoruba in a good light.

It wouldn’t kill us to be truthful even if for once.

 

*Ooni Aderemi married a Modakeke from Modakeke. 

To speak for justice is to prevent reoccurrence of a disaster

“… so a disaster like this could never happen again.” When the BBC Newsround got to this point, it sums up so many thoughts in my head. I thought to myself, “that’s it, that’s why we share stories, the not so good stories so that they’re open for debates, so we can identify the culprit/s, so that law of the land could be enforced to teach lessons and to discourage the unwanted behaviour.”

I have heard about Hillsborough disaster many times before, it is always on the news. I didn’t know much about all that went on after these footie fans were crushed to death, but I read about the families and their cries for justice, for closure.

Most importantly, they wanted all that failed to do their job properly to be identified and held accountable. Almost three decades after 96 people met their untimely death, the relentless campaigners can now see the light at the end of the tunnel: jury rule that fatality was due to police errors.

Hillsborough case reminds me of Nigerian immigration staff recruitment that left 15 applicants dead across the country in 2014 (7 Abuja, 2 Minna, 5 PH and 1 in Benin City). 520,000 people paid ₦1000 each to secure application for non-existent jobs.

The closest justice for the families in this stampede was that the government promised to offer jobs to victims’ family.

As for the Oga at the top the ex Minister of Interior, Abba Moro – his case is still at the court, he blames the stampede on the job seekers and the incompetence of the centres.

Prior to 2014 immigration saga was another stampede at St Dominic’s Catholic Church, Enugu whereby 28 people were trampled to death after a night vigil. The church was filled beyond capacity to begin with, then they had a local politician joining with his entourage.

Most of the people at the church were there to show their gratitude for being alive and to ask God to protect them from all the devils of the day – May their soul rest in peace.

Justice for them? God giveth and taketh at will.

For the Owambe politicians, they were warned not to attend church services anymore.

If we can stop and think about these issues, maybe people outside don’t think too much about us anyway, it is our actions to certain issues that speak volume.

I am glad that Hillsborough victims and families received justice they worked hard for so that this sort of disaster never happens again.

As for my Naija people, I really do hope we learn that the reason we sometimes talk about disasters and the need for justice isn’t really to just ‘pick’ on something, it is more that in the absence of punishment for perpetrators, we are in for more of the same.

 

Less contagious virus, yet kills more Nigerians than Ebola

Ebola campaign was the biggest citizens’ awareness campaign I have ever witnessed in Nigeria. The response after the Liberian man fell ill was timely, efficient and it worked.

Across the country, from cities down to our villages, information on what to look out for and what to do in case of any unexplained symptoms were fantastic. Media and word of mouth used extensively.

As highly contagious as Ebola was, Nigeria has only 7 (or 8) fatality. Death of 8 people is too many but it could have been worse given it is a highly contagious virus plus what has happened in the neighbouring countries.

Lassa fever, relatively easier to control infection than Ebola with higher chance of survival if diagnosed and treated early,  yet from January 2016 to date has killed more than 130 people why?

One would think Nigeria ministry of health will take Lassa virus as serious as Ebola, but that was not the case.

The difference is that Ebola started from Lagos, the commercial capital so a bit hard to ignore. The pressure on Nigeria government to do the needful was enormous, more so from the outside.

Lassa virus apparently since 2012 has seen increasing number of infected people per year, this year has the highest recorded fatalities, infection so far, also it has spread to many states than ever before.

So questions were being asked why the spike in number of infected people this year? And how can we best inform people?

From a non medical perspective, endemic such as this deserve the same awareness as we did for Ebola, not just within affected regions but it is important that everyone is aware and armed with information on how to stay safe.

A few days ago a lady asks ‘this Lassa virus they are talking about, is it real? People have been eating rats for a long time and are always fine, now they try to scare us with all these talk of a new virus when we are just recovering from Ebola scare.’

It was because of this question that I read up a bit on Lassa virus, first discovered in Borno in 1969 when two nurses died from the infection.

Rat infestation is a big problem in market places and homes – this is no surprise as our waste disposal in public places encourages that.

I don’t have any reason to doubt Lassa virus is real as there are enough evidence tracing the virus to its origin. I am aware that most of our people die needlessly and often in time the closest family may not be able to tell specifically the cause of death – this is one of the reasons we probably haven’t heard about it a lot in the south.

Even when the illness is properly diagnosed, it is still very common to hide the nature of sickness as we are creatures that stigmatised just about everything as shown in this video clip 2:14 where the man recovering from Lassa virus infection hides his identity for fear of being outcasted even when no longer contagious.

To the lady who doubted Lassa virus outbreak news, I sent her this wikipedia link as well as this video link below as it is a bit more detailed.

I don’t think we all have to be at the danger of Lassa virus to see the need to dispose our household rubbish more responsibly.