Sunday, October 31, 2010

Nigeria @ 50 - Day 31: A call to duty that can no longer be ignored

Day 1 on Nigeria @ 50 was OluSimeon. cent. I' m using this opportunity to say a wonderful birthday to all October born bloggers, especially Myne Whitman, many more years of success in you. .writings .

It's being 31 days of interesting postings from 31 committed and progressive Nigerian Bloggers on the theme, Nigeria @ 50, an initiative of Rethots. What happened when you are the last to make a post is the danger of having any more ideas. All has being said from the hurt, the betrayers of our leaders, the wrong mentality prevailing in our society to leadership and civic duty to the efforts, hope and the joy of being a Nigerian. Many drew from their personal experiences in a way that speaks to the urgency of what we need to do as individuals. I therefore do not really have anything different to say but remind us that we all should fulfill or continue to fulfill our part of the bargain, we need to keep acting out our NATIONAL ANTHEM/pledge for real. In it is every stance of change, duty, commitment, respect for others and ourselves to mention a few.

Of a great importance was the reference made by many bloggers in their posts, the call to duty, our ‘ National Anthem’. It was surely a call to duty,a call to do what is necessary to develop our nation and respect the rightsof its people. A duty that have being failed many times but that we cannot permit anymore, if the next 50 years means something to us all. We have to act for it is not too late for us all to do “something” about this. We have enormous challenges and enduring strengths as many bloggers pointed out. We need to tap to our individual strengths for the change we seek to see. This is not the Nigeria we desire and we can all be part of that crusade of what we want.

Talking from personal experience one would see that we have all being through what poor leadership is doling out and many of us surviving without the State but if we truly want to carry on hoping things will change, we have to contribute to the State. Yes, it is tough and seems impossible. In Myne Whitman post, she emphasized the importance of ‘policies’ to have effective institutions and structure, I agree! I ask us now, what are we all doing about this? The political terrain is tough but how are we lobbying in our own little way to see that those in leadership do not forget what matters? What do we do with our votes? What are we doing do not forget what matters? What do we do with our votes? What are we doing to get into that leadership seat and make a change?

How are we above all, as individuals in this country that houses us all behaving for a change? Do we embrace ourselves as people and not as tribes or ethnic groups Do we constantly stereotype against ourselves or have we seen pass that substandard belief? How well do we tolerate one another, what do we know about diversity, do we embrace it? Have we changed the attitude of condemning our own very beloved country by saying that is Nigeria for you”, “ Nigeria cannot change”, “ Na Naija be that”, “ What do you expect from a Nigerian”. No, that is not Nigeria for us! We need to see what is rubbing us of our development as a vice and call it what it is! We need to start acting now in our own little space. We need to fight corruption by not being part of it. We need to stop religion intolerance by loving our neighbours no matter their religion belief, we need to love and respect ourselves for being individuals in our great Nation. We need to be a part of ending injustice and not a part of aggravating it!

This is the time for all of us to say no matter how hard it is, I will not throw waste on the street but I will look for a way to have this done properly. No matter how hard it is, I will not steal from my boss….If my mentality is wrong, then I need to fix me, so I can fix Nigeria. We all have to keep doing something or continue to seek change. Remember Rosa Parks did something that started the revolution aimed at ending black segregation. Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream that never died...God bless us, God bless Nigeria! One love, One hope, One call to duty!

For day 30, visit Rita's mind.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

DO something, SAY something - Original Article by Fungai Rufaro Machirori

Note: This is a recirculation of this post by a Zimbabwean Blogger Fungai- Visit her blog
This shouldn’t be happening in 2010.
In fact, it shouldn’t be happening ever.

When I saw the images of this woman’s plight, I felt my heart plummet into my bowels. I felt the anger seeping into my blood. I asked myself if it was possible that a man could be so heartless as to inflict such pain onto another human being, especially since in my last post, I so fervently celebrated the joys of having men in the world.

Over the weekend, I received an email from the Zimbabwe Gender Forum about a young woman who was recently attacked by her husband. In the physical battle that ensued, he plucked out her hair and caused so much damage to her abdomen that she needed an operation to reorder her intestines which had premusbaly unravelled and torn due to the impact. The same woman was hospitalised at one of Harare’s hospitals while her husband was remanded in custody. And the story only gets worse. The hospital where she received treatment detained her for failure to pay her medical bills. Only through the efforts of Musasa Project (an organisation working to end gender-based violence) did she finally receive assistance.
What kind of a health system is that anyway? What has the world come to when those who have already suffered oppression at the hands of an individual must also suffer oppression at the hands of a system?!!
What would have happened to this woman – also the mother of two children below the age of 5 – if no one had been there to help her? Does anyone care?! I am very worried by this situation on many levels because it just reflects the ugliness of our society. Zimbabwe has had a Domestic Violence Act in place for over 3 years now but implementation thereof is still a massive challenge due to lack of financial and political commitment. Men still get off scott-free if they know the right buttons to press within the system. A bribe here and there and a whole docket of information can disappear from the police records.

What social protection do we as women therefore have? In June, I was at Harare’s ONLY adult rape clinic and learnt with shock, anguish and fear that the centre is facing severe funding shortfalls and due to to this cannot expand its services to become a 24-hour service to provide full attention to rape survivors. For now, the clinic only operates on week days from 8am-4pm. This means that if you are raped on a Friday evening, you can only get assistance from the clinic the following Monday morning. And because the nature of a rape investigation entails the survivor keeping evidence of the incident on their body, one must not wash off the traces of semen and sperm from their body until they can be examined.

A woman at the clinic had to endure that plight – just take a moment to imagine how horrendous that would feel. The shame, the reminder of it all, the smell, the feeling of filth covered all over you.By the time she could be attended to on the Monday morning, the staff at the clinic described her as “stinking”. What protection do we as women have from our men, from a patriarchal society that keeps telling us it’s all our fault for not being good enough women, that we deserve a bashing every now and then to keep us one th straight and narrow?

Men, you are both the problem and the solution. Value us as human beings. Respect our bodies as the vessles that house our souls, our creativity, our womanhood.
Do not invade us.
Do not kill us.
We are your sisters. And you are our brothers.
I began this post with a story that shouldn’t be told in 2010. The pictures of this tragedy shouldn’t exist. I shouldn’t even be writing this all.
But I am.
Are you going to do anything about it? Or are you just going to close your eyes and walk away from it all?
Do something! Say something!
Help spread the word that this is not acceptable.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The highway of life- An Esther Ajayi-Lowo's Reflection

Life is a highway, and we are all drivers. You live the way you drive; you drive the way you live. are only safer when u are learning...the better u become, the more risks u take Sometimes we choose a new lane and we are either contented or disappointed. Some stay put while others would change again and again, bearing the risks associated, if and when there are any. Some would even regret. When u change a lane, u never stop to monitor others who maintained it because you want to be sure that your choice is wise. You somehow keep a track of your colleagues to measure your achievements...on the highway of life.

We are not able to choose people who drive around or ahead of us....a likeness of our inability to choose our parents or relatives. But we have the choice to overtake, balancing the pros and cons, and taking responsibilities for outcomes...good or bad. Beware of envoy, but it can be pleasantly fast. The choice is yours. Always watch your back. For a good driving habit...the back is as important as the front.

We sometimes batch people around us or get brushed by them. There could be accidents....and it may be due to no fault of ours but of someone we are unfortunately sharing the highway with. Patience can sometimes be a virtue or vice: you need to be sure that time and space is best for it You have to think for other drivers. Sometimes your pace is determined by that of the driver in front of u. You just may have no choice! But to follow on- even if grudgingly and frustratingly.

If he/she is stupid, u may be doomed....He may even escape the calamity which he caused! People cause trouble for people...on the highway of life.Your vehicle type has a part to play. You may be given ‘SHIT’ or be respected for it. No one cares it if is hired, borrowed, on loan, all you have got, or the least u chose to drive....

No matter how accident may be its end. Even beautiful ones die in accidents... on the highway of life. Sometimes the old rickety ones last for just too long....and you can only wonder...Some would drive a 'big' car when a balanced meal is a luxury that they can't afford. The value we place on fancy things of life is sometimes ironically hilarious.

You are only a good driver when u get home safely...your story is only history. Can some drivers be on a suicide mission? Nothing is impossible. You are just the way u drive! I dislike to say that some people who are afraid to drive are afraid of the highway of life, but I am almost convinced.

On the highway of life, we should beware of drivers without destinations, trying to figure out their destinations/or just driving for fun....They will always hinder those who have a focused destination and need to arrive there in record time. Drive along only with those heading same destination....Birds of a feather, flock together. Who you marry is a key factor to destiny/destination... on the highway of life.

Breaks are very important...on the highway of life. It is the best caution that you should use with caution. Now I think of my mouth and ability to slow down when need be. May my break never fail...on the highway of life. How good are your shock-absorbers? The highway of life is far from been only smooth...expect to be shaken...on the highway of life.

Beware of drivers ahead who may divert too much for little obstacle- pot holes...they may mislead you. Remember too that that which works for the driver ahead may not work for you: time and chance always come to play...on the highway of life.

On the highway of life are not only drivers, but also pedestrians. Be careful to consider them.You may be in no way better than they are....Time and chance can also change for you, and for them. The unusual/abnormal/reverse happens every now and then... You may see a vehicle move the driver...Situations in life do take the control of peoples’ lives. Do as you would be done by. Give someone a life/ride, but beware...on the highway of life.

Caution at every bend: quality decision is best. Take care at every junction to avoid those who may not consider your coming. Always expect them even at unexpected times....You do the thinking. You cannot always be right, even when you have the right of way. Compromise is necessary when it actually costs you little or nothing...on the highway of life.

We desire forward ever on the highway of life...yet reverse is possible, and may become necessary for further forward movement. Some several routes lead to some same destination: You are sometimes as fast as the route you know or choose. Sometimes, there are just no shot-cuts on the highway of life!

There can be only one driver in a vehicle. Sometimes, you are left with no choice than to be driven. You entrust your life to a driver: you seat, sleep or snore...taking all the risks. You may choose to control or alert your driver, but this also may either make you safe or open you up to more dangers....on the highway of life!

The highway of life is not an island....You cannot always have your way! You cannot always retaliate....There may never be an opportunity for it, or it may simply bring more harm. If you do not care, it is your choice. It pays to obey the highway rules. Assume the possibility of everyone breaking the rules, and then you have assumed the ‘state of nature’ where there is but only CHAOS...on the highway of life.

A reflection of Esther Oluwashina Ajayi-Lowo;
© September 2010

Friday, October 1, 2010

Nigerian at 50: what is worth celebrating?

It is no gainsaying that we have come a long way as a country and as citizens. We survived countless of military rules, we are still surviving the “militocracy” system of government in existence with the elections that we can hardly call free and fair. Numerous Nigerians in their adaptive life style have learnt to survive without any form of state protection or provision. Some have taken the violation of their human rights as the norm. Crime prevails, children are now getting kidnapped and held hostage for weeks for random. Nigerians still have to contend with our dented image as 419s, fraudsters, law breakers, corrupt entities even when these negative images do not in any way represent half of the population. However, If you live in Lagos like I do, you will learn to cope with hard knock life. Thanks to Fashola, the Lagos State governor for his relentless effort to rebrand Lagos.

The effort Fashola is making cannot be said for other states. Ekiti state had witnessed electoral problems in the past and towards this anniversary for example, they are organizing golf tournament and football competition. Is that what we need really? In fact, let’s focus on Federal government. How do they really fare? How do we really fare in their hands? How far do we fare in Human Security, Human rights particularly women’s human rights? Poverty alleviation? Implementation of different treaties, legislations, instrument to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals? Do we ever make use of the African Chartered on people rights and protocol on women’s rights? Women still can’t give citizenship to their non – Nigerian husbands and that is still where we stand @ 50. Inequality thrives and we are out their spending money to celebrate! We still depend on aid, we owe money, and we have not resolved the Niger delta case. Our Economic situation is dwindling; Agriculture is zero, light minus zero. We do not have our refinery and citizens are still not benefitting from our resources. We have not found lasting solutions to religion conflicts especially in the north.

Shouldn’t we make this 50 year anniversary a public forum in different states in Nigeria and let people talk? Let people say what they want, let many Nigerians be heard talking and asking for accountability and their rights? Shouldn’t we be abolishing our long standing police act of 1958 and embracing Security Sector Reform? Shouldn’t we make this anniversary a turning point in the history of our country? Are we going to ever have regular electricity? Are we going to ever feel safe in our country. Are we going to ever feel protected and not fear for our safety for daring to speak out? Is there ever going to be sound education and good life for the multitude of the Nigerian children?

Many have being killed unjustly, many lives have being lost to crime and criminal activities, many more have yet died through conflict and crisis. Many youths are out there with no jobs, many families languish in poverty in a country blessed with honey and bread. I am not saying we should not celebrate but to what end? For more money to be squandered and embezzled in the name of celebration? Let us even say, the celebration will be to spend this money or electricity, aren’t we going to have something to rejoice about?

The status quo of how different countries are celebrating need not be copied; we can dare to be different. We can celebrate differently by taking time to look back, ponder, reflect, consult and act. We can learn from different countries that are thriving. We can be a good example to other Nations if we are genuinely committed to transforming our country and closing the gap between potentials and fulfillment as was said by Prof. Wole Soyinka. I wish we will not wait another 50 years before there will be a tangible change…

My Passion, my focus, the change that I want to see in the world - is my propellent factor.

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