Sunday, October 5, 2008

OJ Simpson: Karma's A B_itch

Who can forget that memorable low-speed chase of OJ Simpson’s white Ford Bronco by LAPD officers in the summer of 1994?His ex-wife, Nicole and her close friend Ronald Goldman had just been found murdered in her apartment and OJ was the prime suspect. I easily recollect the lengthy televised trial that had millions around the world following the daily goings-on in the high profile case. The late, well-respected Johnny Cochran was the head of Mr. Simpson’s defense team at the time and was largely responsible for getting the celebrity off the hook. The main swaying piece of evidence that helped the jurors reach their ‘not guilty verdict’ was the dramatic moment when the defendant, OJ tried on the black gloves that was central to the prosecution’s case. And the outcome: the gloves didn’t fit.
So on verdict day that October of 1997, the 12 members of the jury found Mr. Simpson not guilty of both murders, basically because there was reasonable doubt.Many across America and in many parts of the globe felt the U.S justice system had helped save a murderer. Some were of the opinion that yet another rich celebrity had being let off the hook because he could afford the best lawyers who capitalized on legalese to aid their popular african-american client.However,I had told a friend after the verdict that OJ had to watch his every step afterwards as most law enforcement officials would want payback in some way, based on the general view that he carried out the horrific stabbings of both victims.
So when I heard the news, in September last year, of Simpson’s arrest in Vegas for alleged kidnapping and robbery in a Palace Station hotel room, I told people he was screwed. Even though he repeated claimed that he was only trying to retrieve sports memorabilia that belonged to him, I had a gut feeling that it was possibly karma in motion. I agree with a good friend who feels that he was to blame for making such a silly move that day, especially when constantly aware of the controversy his acquittal caused across his home country. I was further convinced of the severity of his legal problems when I read that none of the 12 jurors was black.Yes,the absence of a fellow ’brother’ or ‘sister’ meant, for me, that chances of a potentially hung jury were quite unlikely.So after a far less popular 4-week trial than the Nicole/Ron Goldman case 13 years earlier, the Las Vegas Jury (made of 9 ladies & 3 men) found the controversial ex-football star guilty of all 12 counts of kidnapping and robbing two sports memorabilia dealers at gunpoint on that fateful September day. For some, this was justice finally catching up with a criminal who was only fortunate the last time.On the other hand,it's expected Simpson's team would start making moves for an appeal of the verdict.
For me,at least 3 people know for certain what happened that June night at Nicole Simpson's Los Angeles condo in '94. Sadly, 2 of them are long deceased while the possible third witness could be ordered to spend the rest of his life behind bars,come sentencing day on December 5th.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Our Political Office Holders:Synonym For Mediocrity

I’ll admit it straight away,dear friends. With Nigeria, I’m a cynic most of the time.Why? Well,I guess most of us know the answer to this. It’s simply because so many times I’ve seen the same thing happen over and over again, as far as the type of leaders we churn off the production line, and our government in general, is concerned. Be it those dressed in uniform or trad, there doesn’t seem to be any sincerity and/or ability of majority of our political leaders to right the ills of our beloved nation.’ Man Know man’, mediocrity, corruption and disregard for the masses consistently seem to be the order of the day as far as our politicians are concerned. And deep down, I’m sure many of you agree.However, the particular reason why i, as at this moment, remain deeply cynical was already mentioned a few lines earlier: MEDIOCRITY….of our leaders. And that, my fellow Nigerians, is a fundamental hindrance to significant progress being made in the so-called ‘Giant of Africa’. Have you had a conversation with, say a Director of a FG parastatal, a special adviser or an average House of Reps member? I understand if you haven’t, but I’m sure you’ve seen them speak on TV or read their interviews/comments in magazines or the national dailies. I don’t know about you, but I normally nod my head in equal measure of disbelief and sadness. These are people empowered to carry out very important & sensitive duties in their various areas of public office & they don’t seem to know ‘what’s up’. That’s my honest assessment of most of them. The more painful thing is that they seem stuck in their attitude/perspective & yet, feel strongly they are competent enough to perform.
Just to help buttress my standpoint, I’ll share with you what I saw (with my own 4 eyes) on NTA yesterday during one of my regular channel-flipping moments. It was a recorded session of goings-on in the National Assembly. While an ex-military colonel who’s presently a Senator was discussing a bill meant for consideration by his peers in the Senate, I noticed the place seemed a bit disorganised. Courtesy of the camera angle, I noticed some senators in the background gisting and laughing amongst themselves. I was surprised because I logically assumed that they would have been a bit interested in what the honorable senator was saying about the bill. As these jokers behind him kept on gisting, one brought out his cellphone and was apparently checking or sending a text. I also observed that the noise in the background was distracting me from audibly hearing what the Senator who had the floor was trying to say.Thankfully,the Senate President(I presume) had to smash his gavel on his table, while at the same time shouting ‘ORDER..ORDER’ at his colleagues. This action helped to bring some sanity. Now,can you imagine such behavior??. In the nation’s ‘revered’ Senate. An assembly of ‘honorable’ grown-ups, not kindergarten.We all know that most of these members of the exalted Assembly were fortunate to being ‘elected’ because they had either had money or political godfathers...or most likely, both.How many of them can impressively discuss the economy, social welfare issues, global events or even political history in Nigeria? Without any statistical study, I’m sure the answer is close to zero (give or take the few learned ones).While I admit that some of our public office holders have tried by bringing in bright young people into their administration to help move us forward, the problem still remains as majority of these leaders are either archaic in their reasoning, incompetent or below par in the ‘smartness’ arena.
On a related note, I remember hearing, some months ago, someone say to his gathering of friends that he voted for Pat Utomi at the 2007 Presidential Elections. The laughter this assertion brought from his friends was in proportions regularly attained at a Julius Agwu event. No kidding, guys. As if, Mr. Utomi wouldn’t beat most Nigerian politicians hands-down in the ‘brains, knowledge & manifesto’ departments. Or isn’t brightness an ‘unofficial’ prerequisite for political office seekers? Or was it because he could never have won in this corruption-filled country we call home, where one being in the right ‘setting’ is absolutely compulsory for success? Wonders would never cease, indeed.Sometimes I wish the private sector were responsible for guiding this nation’s development. At least there are ‘modern’ thinking, intelligent and hard working men & women there.
On a serious note though, I honestly feel things can’t continue this way for ever and inevitably things are bound to get better across board. My worry is this: with the leaders we keep having, we may never get to experience it in our lifetime.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

7 years after 9/11

Time does fly indeed. Can you believe it’s been 7 years since the world stood still? The day most of us across the globe were solidly behind America in their most trying time since Vietnam. That Tuesday morning in September, terrorism took a new dimension and a powerful group called Al-Qaeda was firmly in its driving seat. The impact was costly. Over 3,000 american souls were gone, courtesy of daredevil terrorists who brought an innovative plan to disastrous fruition.They didn’t need bombs,rocket launchers,AK-47s or sophisticated arsenal. In fact their weapons were already provided for them, in the form of american commercial jets.I remember first hearing the tragic news at a friend’s small cybercafé. He was browsing randomly when he stumbled across the ‘breaking news’ on reports stated that a plane had ‘accidentally’ hit the World Trade Centre in New York. It wasn’t till the 2nd airline crashed into the same building that the world suddenly realised it had all being cleverly orchestrated.
As I had a brother living in the Big Apple, my family had tried unsuccessfully,and desperately,to reach him. We kept on dialing the States but we just couldn’t get through. Our main worry was due to the fact that he worked in downtown New York and the jets had struck just past 9 a.m that weekday morning,a time when most workers would have been at work. We panicked, and at the same time, watched the horror on CNN.I doubt i would ever forget the shocking images of people jumping from 40 stories up,in a desperate attempt to preserve their existence.The screaming,the tears,the smoke,the mayhem,the brave firemen,a heroic mayor called Rudy Giuliani(who i now strongly dislike,by the way) etc.
Fortunately,we finally got through to my sibling several terrifying hours later and were ecstatic to hear he and his family were all fine, safe & sound.That Tuesday, the Osama Bin Laden-led Al Qaeda had brought the world’s sole superpower to its knees. And the U.S was humbled. It’s accurate to say that since that infamous day, the world (and the States) has never been the same.Actually,it may never be. President Bush had to show executive toughness and send a message to terrorist cells across the planet, especially to Al-Qaeda,easily the most powerful of them all. The organization being controlled & inspired by a long bearded, rich Saudi Arabian & ex- U.S ally from remote caves in Afghanistan.
George W. Bush ordered an invasion of the asian country using state-of –the-art military equipment to pound the Taliban-controlled region. Sadly for Bush, it’s been 7 years since the tragedy and America’s full scale reprisal,but the most wanted man on Earth is still alive and free. One doesn’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out what the main reason behind the delay in catching the US’s no.1 enemy has been. That reason was Iraq, a country led at the time by Saddam Hussein, a sworn enemy of George Bush Snr.Maybe it was the oil, or maybe President Bush Jnr needed to help Daddy finish the Iraqi dictator once and for all. Irrespective of the motive, it distracted America from their main target and so, Bin Laden & his lieutenants continued/continue to co-ordinate activities from his hide-out in the dangerous regions of Afghanistan.Today,Al Qaeda is still a force with several cells and splinter groups wrecking havoc in various locations across the globe(however, excluding the US).
As Presidential candidates Obama & McCain stand together, with partisanship put aside, at Ground Zero(the place where the Twin Towers once stood)today, two things are clear. First of all, one of them would be the next Commander-In-Chief come January.Secondly, that person has to do his best to complete the job their Texan predecessor sadly couldn’t finish.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Enough Of This Mental Slavery

As I write this, I remember a song by Jamaica’s biggest musical export, the legendary Bob Marley. One of the reggae prodigy’s best known tracks was the deeply inspiring composition ‘Redemption Song’.A line from this classic went thus: ‘’Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds.’’ So, how’s this relevant?, you may wonder.Well,I’ll tell you how.
I’m sure most of you would easily agree that the current US presidential race has kept millions across the globe glued with passionate interest. We have seen history unfold in our eyes, as an African-American and a strong woman fiercely battled it out for the nomination of a major American party. On the republican side, we have witnessed the first ever female VP nominee ever to emerge.
Now, I must admit that I was one of many who was initially apprehensive about Senator Obama’s chances in getting this far. And it had a lot to do with his colour.However, my naïve & somewhat primitive views changed after his remarkable victory in the first democratic primary in Iowa back in January.Guys,the state of Iowa’s population is over 95% white. In that race, he won clearly and left the previously ‘favoured’ candidate, a stunned Senator Hillary Clinton, in 3rd place. Well, his unexpected success there got me interested in the 47-yr old man from Illinois. I started reading more about him, his career, his beliefs, his remarkable background etc.And so I became hooked. As time passed, the skilled charismatic orator continued to rack up more victories as the primaries continued, to the disbelief of many still entrenched in cynical times of the past (His 10 consecutive victories during the electoral calendar were a significant highlight of his applaud-worthy progress earlier in the year).So, despite Senator Osama’s history making nomination as the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate, many cynics still believe the chap can’t win. On what basis? Because he’s black and blacks have never ruled? Isn’t there a first time for everything? After all, wasn’t Obama the 1st African-american to be nominated for President by a major political party? By the way, he needed and received the votes & support from millions white people to get there.It’s true that there are those americans who would never(ever) vote for him primarily because of his colour.But there aren’t many of such people still affiliated to those racist(& pathetic) philosophies of their forefathers. And if one delves deeper, you’ll see that they tend to be members of the other political party(an association with a 93% white membership, by the way).Like I have told a few friends, Barack Obama getting the nomination was evidence of the changing times & mindset of America. Black people alone didn’t give him the ticket. As I mentioned, it was courtesy of millions of white folks. So why are some of the cynics in our midst still basing their argument on the Caucasian Americans who have clearly acted otherwise, by voting for Barack in dozens of American states this year?
Now, only God knows who would be elected to this most exalted of public offices later in the year. And it may not be Barack Obama.However, that may be due to american voters’ views & priorities vis a vis the way they perceive the candidates on various issues such as their take on the economy, health care,trust,foreign policy and so on. It could even be based on the votes of the ‘currently undecided’/independents out there. For me,& based on the occurrences I’ve observed in the exciting US political race this year, Mr Obama stands as much of a chance at victory as Senator John McCain, come November 4th.And to those who say colour would still be his downfall, I recommend you listen to Mr Marley’s Redemption Song once more.
Remember,you are as limited as your dream.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Tales From Walter Carrington Crescent

Have you paid a visa-seeking visit to the American Consulate in Victoria Island,Lagos lately? Well, I have and it was an interesting experience. From the time I arrived the nearby Napex parking area about 6.30 that weekday morning, there was one thing or the other catching my attention almost every couple of minutes. Since I strangely forgot to come along with the pre-requisite passport photographs for my application form, I was referred, by some hustling young men, to a busy place by the lagoon where chaps with digital cameras were busy turning the place to makeshift studios by quickly snapping those in similar circumstances as me. It was funny seeing how one person held a white cloth behind the applicant (since pictures with a white background were compulsory requirements from the Embassy) while the photographer did the needful.After obtaining my overpriced passport-sized picture,i then stood in line till it was time to enter the US territory.While there,we were entertained by a newspaper vendor who joked that buying a paper was a key requirement for entering the building. He also mentioned that no sharing of newspapers was permitted at the Consulate(his comical ploy to get every interested person to buy his/her own copy).This guy with a great sense of humor pleaded that applicants should kindly not go in with any charms,as a simple prayer was a better option in their pursuit of the coveted seal. The other funny observation was the variety of services being rendered by the large number of hustlers outside the consulate building. There were even those who offered to hold your mobile phone for you (for a fee, of course) while one was inside conducting his/her affairs within, since the embassy strictly forbade all applicants from going in with them. This service comes in handy in cases where the impending traveler didn’t come along with a car and had no other choice. That said, and apart from the few people who tried to be typical ‘Nigerians’ by attempting to jump the queue, there wasn’t any other significant incident noticed while waiting.Oh,i actually forgot something else.A s we queued,i enviously watched most of the foreign staff get to work via speedboat/ferry.A smart way of beating the legendary island traffic.
While inside & seated, I noticed the young guy beside me was taking no chances in his quest and had even included pictures from his wedding day (an extra effort to show the Americans that he had important ties in Nigeria).Then there was this Ibo man with his wife and 2 kids who had told a security guard, with whom he had a little confrontation, that he wasn’t desperate to go to ‘God’s own Country’ and, as such, should be treated with respect.Therefore,I was understandly quite surprised to see his eyes water when the interviewer told him later that she couldn’t grant him the visa as she was unconvinced he and the family would return after their intended ‘visit’.
I did feel sorry for one of two tense siblings who were hoping for student visas. They each saw a different interviewer.Outcome: the girl was given, while the brother was denied. He stood motionless for close to a minute after the lady had informed him of her decision. I wondered what the mood in their home would be later in the day.Bittersweet, to say the least. I also easily recollect a fair-skinned young lady who was denied barely 30seconds into her interview.
As for me, my interaction with my blonde-haired male interviewer was brief as well. And luckily, it ended with a positive result: 2 years, multiple.
By the time I was driving away from Walter Carrington Crescent, it was just past noon. I was hungry and a bit tired.Nevertheless,like i earlier mentioned,I enjoyed the experience.
Obama Country,see you in the near future.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

D'Banj,An Eatery & A Raised Voice

As some of you may know,the artiste D’Banj struck a deal with UAC to exclusively release his music some months ago. The 'Mo Hits Compilation' CD was the first album to be released under the arrangement between both parties, as the disc was solely available at Mr. Biggs outlets in a bid to curb piracy of his hard work. As a big fan of the Kokomaster’s, I was eagerly anticipating the release of his much-hyped new release, ‘The Entertainer’. Since the official 2-part launch of this effort was just held this past weekend, I felt there was the likely possibility that copies would be available to buy at various locations of the popular eatery.So,on my home, I decided to quickly check at the Mr Biggs outlet near my home. Since I wasn’t certain that the CD would be available,i decided to save my time by asking the security guard at the entrance(while still in my car) to kindly help me find out if the album was being sold in-store. The nice chap returned about 30 seconds with the ‘good’ news of the item’s availability. So, innocently trying to take advantage of his helpful demeanour,I then asked if he could quickly help me purchase a copy. When he expectedly obliged, I handed him some money. He quickly returned with a CD and my change. As I was about to thank him and tell him to keep the remaining money for his pleasant attitude, I noticed that he had bought the 6-month old Mo Hits compilation album(which i already owned instead.
Understandly,I told him that wasn’t what I wanted and that he should help return it and bring back my dough.Surprisingly, he didn’t come back as quickly as the first time. About 4 minutes had passed and I was about to exit my car to find out why, when he suddenly returned with the same CD and change. He mentioned that the staff had refused to take back the CD because it had already being registered into the machine as a sale. When he saw my instant visual expression, he suggested that I come in to see the shop supervisor myself.I entered to see a petit lady who I quickly figured was the person in charge. When I expressed my displeasure, she told me the exact thing the security guard had relayed to me. According to her,it had already been registered and therefore, was ‘impossible’ to accept it back.’ See me see trouble o’,I said to myself.
For those who know me,I didn’t disappoint. I started to rake. What did she mean?Was it my fault that their security guard gave me wrong information? It wasn't as if i returned a day later with the item or something.I told her that registering the sale didn’t stop her from adjusting/reversing the transaction.Afterall,the item would be back in their custody and would therefore not affect any accounting records. As accountants would say, it(the CD)was still ‘stock-in-hand’ at the end of the day. This ‘Madam Tiny Manager’ still wasn’t budging. Well, neither was I.I then asked her what happened in cases where a cashier mistakenly overbilled a customer at the till. Would the client be told ‘Sorry, but the items have already being registered. So it’s your loss,sir’’?It was when she subtly insinuated that it was my fault for not coming in myself to make sure it was the actual copy i was buying that I erupted. By now, most people across the floor had noticed our back-and-forth display. A shameful situation in which the ‘king of a customer’ was being treated in a typically naija way by a company’s person of assigned authority.
I guess it was when I told her that I was ready to take this matter to the highest level at UAC if necessary that this 'lady in desperate need of customer care schooling' decided to have a change of heart (it could also have been because she noticed my vocal range was reaching an Opera tenor’s level).She asked me to hand over the CD and, seconds later, sent one of the till girls to hand me back my money. I must confess I was pleased that my tough stance had yielded fruit.However,I felt disappointed in what this episode showed about our customer service culture in this country. Or rather, lake thereof. So many times I have observed customers being treated by company staff as if they (the customers) were beggars or being given the product/service free of charge. Like I tell some friends, the main reason why this sad situation continues to thrive is because many accept it.On several occasions, I’ve seen staff of supermarkets, fast food joints etc practically raise their voices at customers. Yes, the ‘victims’ may have been annoying, illiterate or slow but since when did that give anyone the right to talk down on them or treat with disrespect?They are paying for the goods/service,arent they?People fail to remember that without clients’ patronage, there would be no revenue and logically, no salary or jobs available to this rude set of employees. While the complete eradication of this ‘customer care’ problem in our homeland may be a long time coming, the short term fix lies in our hands i.e. customers. The solution: Never accept crap from any of these people especially when you know you haven’t been treated properly or courteously. And please don’t relent. NEVER.
Afterall, you all saw how it paid off in my battle with the Mr. Biggs lady.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Time To Whistleblow

Let me start by acknowledging that I, quite realistically, expect a large number of guys to be mute after reading this piece. Some may be defensive, while others could act as if they don’t fall into the category of men i’m about to comment on. Without trying to beat about the bush, I’ll jump straight to the crux of the matter. Yours truly is referring to the shockingly high volume of men (whether black, white, gay, straight etc) who, as a normal habit, fail to rinse their hands after taking a leak. While I subconsciously always knew that many dudes failed to do the needful after easing themselves, it wasn’t till a female friend of mine joked about it months ago that I took notice of the magnitude of the situation. She told me that she stopped shaking guys’ hands a long while ago (especially in bars/clubs).This friend added that she preferred to hug a guy she barely knew than shake hands with him. When I, understandly, asked her to shed more light on this, she expressed it was because of the unhygienic practices of chaps in the Gents. As such, hugging was a better option for her. Even though we both laughed about her non-handshaking policy with the opposite sex,I thought about it a bit further after she left.
So,I decided to take a detailed note myself by randomly observing the habits of my fellow gentleman from thereon. Since then, I’ve observed the ways of chaps in places as diverse as my office bathroom, bars, hotels, training venues etc.Both home and abroad. Sadly, the feedback hasn’t been good. Even in public bathrooms where expensive handwash was flowing like it was going out of fashion, dudes haven’t been tempted.Inclusive of the rich,poor,educated,illiterate and enlightened.Even in places where there has been enough tap water flowing to drown 100 Goliaths, my guys would not budge. They simple go in, unzip, do the needful,shake the stuff,re-zip and walk right out the door in a routine so orchestrated, they would be world champions if the process was an Olympic event. Even in cases where they noticed me taking time out to wash mine,many just walked right past. Like I was an efico or something that had too much time on his hands. I must admit that some guys have a rethink and are ‘inspired’ to do the hygienic thing when they see my humble self doing as is proper.
Now,I obviously don’t know what happens in the female bathrooms but I hope(no, pray) to God that it’s nowhere near what occurs in ours. What actually baffles me is that it only takes about 20 seconds to take some liquid, rub hands together and then rinse (add another 10-15 seconds in places with functional hand dryers).My fellow & dear Gentlemen, this is not a case of ratting out because as I mentioned earlier, my female friend & many other women in our midst already know the ‘koko’ of what happens in our toilets. Or rather in this context,what sadly 'doesn’t happen’.
The ways things are going, I might have to adopt a ‘hugging only’ stance as well.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The L Word

I probably hadn’t seen a black man sweat so profusely since Kunta Kinte in ‘Roots’. Although this chap wasn’t in such a dire situation as the aforementioned character, he was evidently tense. I noticed as I was driving to work along the slow-moving morning traffic on 3rd Mainland Bridge that I happened to be behind this male learner in a small Japanese car. Even though I had observed that the guy was driving a bit too indecisively for a typical lagos motorist, it wasn’t until his car’s engine went off that I decided to swerve out of this sluggish lane. As I drove past the gentleman, I noticed that he had someone with him in the front passenger seat who was voicing out instructions and encouragement in apparently equal measure.
Looking through my rearview mirror shortly after, I observed that other drivers behind this ‘troubled’ line had started changing lanes also when it became clear to them that the occupant in the Nissan was in anywhere but a hurry.
I then started to think of my own days as a learner, and putting into perspective the fact that everyone on the bridge was probably in a similar state at the start of their driving career. I recollected dreading to ever have the ‘L’ sign at the back of any vehicle I was commandeering, for nothing but male ego’s sake.
Actually, my own learning experience behind the wheels wasn’t derived through conventional means. I didn’t attend any driving school/s or take lessons from my dad’s driver, as was the case with many experts today.In my case, I practically schooled myself by the age-old method:trial and error. Yes, I had stolen a car from home before, but only to get instant payback for it by scratching the side door as I was driving of the house gate. As time went by, my driving skills expectedly got better and better(less life-threatening, rather).I know many guys/girls who started driving in their early teen years while there are those who still don’t have the ‘liver’ to dare take sole control of the ‘almighty’ automobile, especially in a crazy country for driving such as ours.(To give an example, as at a few years ago, reputable movie director Spike Lee, still couldn’t drive due to his phobia for it).
I do feel though, as many would agree,that driving in Naija (especially in our mad Eko) is far from easy and those who can do it flawlessly here can certainly handle the wheels in any other part of the globe. In fact, even in Mars.Abi there’s sand there?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A Truly Prized Possession

Friday afternoon.My office.2nd floor.When it made contact with the tiled surface below,it seemed like i had just been stabbed.Even though i haven't experienced that before(thankfully),i'm sure it felt just as painful.So what was 'it'?My beloved Nokia E61i falling more than 20 feet with incredible force after it had accidentally slipped out of my pocket as i was re-clipping my ID card onto my jeans.As i rushed down to see what damage had just occurred,i was understandably worried about the consequence of the device's impact.Fortunately,most of the phone was assembled with some ease by fellow colleagues who had witnessed the 'horror'.Sadly though,the screen had broken and as such,i couldn't see anything on my screen.For those who know me well,that was close to a tragedy.What would happen to my frequent mobile browsing,mobile office application for my emails as well as my regular texting activity?And last but not least,i was unable to see any caller's ID/messages.
It wasn't until i was rescued from my dilemma about 24 hrs later,courtesy of the kind people at I-Cell:Nokia's official handset repairs/warranty centre,that i finally had peace of mind(My special thanks goes to their wonderful employee,Victoria,for understanding my 'visible' trauma & attending to my desperate situation even though they had closed by the time i got there).The time in between incident and repair had been nothing short of a terrible discomfort for me.I was just not myself,was restless and felt so inconvenienced.That's when i realised how attached i had become to my precious mobile phone.The 7k cost of a new LCD screen for my E61i was a small price to pay to have my 'life' back.Seriously.Also,it was much cheaper than buying a new smartphone.It's obvious,now more that ever to me,that mobile phones might have become a priceless part of our daily lives.After all,it seems like it's one of our closest friends since we are practically with it all the time.And it took friday's unfortunate event to show just how important this special tool has become to us.
Like the saying goes,'you don't know what you've got till it's gone.'Well,thankfully in this case,it was only a 24-hr absence.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Height Of Xenophobia

At first glance,the word 'Xenophobia' seems complex.However,it's definition is quite straight forward & easy to understand.'A fear or contempt of that which is foreign or unknown,especially of strangers or foreign people'.Many nigerians may easily remember our own 'Ghana Must Go' era in the 80s when our Ghanaian brothers were peacefully asked to return to their own country.Unfortunately,the situation in recent weeks has been anything but pleasant.The disturbing and largely fatal attacks on foreigners(mainly Zimbabweans)which emanated in the Gauteng townships of Johannesburg have been received with shock across the continent.Gruesome attacks on foreigners were reported in the mainly poor townships of the nation's commercial capital.As at today,over 40 people have been killed and there's further bad news of the violence spreading to other South African cities like Durban and Cape Town.The grouse by the unruly locals are that the foreigners are competing with them for the few available jobs & housing and are also responsible for the rising crime wave in their communities and cities.While actual proof of their claim may not be readily available,it's easy to understand why the suffering masses in the once racially divided nation are venting their frustrations,what with the hardship the country's predominantly black poor currently face.Nevertheless,the cruel and fatal attacks on their neighboring brothers can't in any way be justified or rationalised.
Even though President Mbeki has summoned the army to assist with quelling the escalating violence,there still seems to be,in the views of many observers,displeasure with the way the government has handled the crisis.On another note,many of our fellow Nigerians make up a significant amount of foreigners residing in the beautiful african country.Expectedly,the developments there have become a major cause of concern for their friends and relatives back home.I've heard that many nigerians there have taken refuge in churches,police stations and the Nigerian Embassy building.I sincerely hope the mayhem and riots end in the shortest possible time as no one with a conscience can be happy seeing the disturbing pictures & footage of fellow africans being beaten,raped & burnt alive.
Lastly,from the PR perspective,the situation could have a devastating impact on the country's booming tourism industry(67% of tourists in SA are africans) especially with the upcoming 2010 World Cup & the enormous economic benefits football-loving visitors would definitely bring to the nation.