Monday, April 25, 2011

Fela, water and Women

I have never understood Fela's music, revolution and life style the way I did after seeing the Fela's show at Eko Hotel, Lagos. I was glad to make Fela's show today and it has transformed me in a greater way. I have more respect for Fela, his ideology and music. I commended the effort of the cast crew. They were awesome! And just one or two are Nigerians! Jayzee, Will Smith and Jada Pinket idea of show-casing Fela goes beyond a business idea for me, it is a remembrance of a change maker, a believer of human rights and a thorn in the flesh of corrupt Nigerian leaders!

I was transformed beyond what I ever thought possible within a short period of seeing Fela's show. The immaculate appearance of his strong feminist mother (Funmilayo Anikulapo Kuti) and her contribution to the tangible changes in Nigeria, her unfair and cruel death in the hands of the Nigerian military and the torture and rape of many women at Fela's Kalakuta's home during the military unlawful raid in 1978, all sent different messages to my soul. I had mixed feelings and eventually a very clear vision.

I thought more about a particular song of Fela 'Water no enemy' ( water has no enemy) and I started reflecting on this. Water! Trully, water can be seeing as a simple and natural product, that should be free and readily available most importantly in a clean and safe manner. I realised how this notion has changed over the years. Water, a natural resource yet scarce in many places in Africa has caused dispute between people, and countries and has also countributed to health hazards. There is now conflict over water, women especially suffer more over water scarcity in some countries, my visit to Kenya in 2009 helped me understood to some extend the danger of water scarcity.I remembered so well, how I had to struggle to get water for my family from a far distance and as early as 6am before I could get ready for school; those moments that were never pleasant.

Water is essential and without immediate and effective access to clean and safe water women, children, and men willl be further affected in many places espcially in Africa. It will lead to widespread of diseases and can further fuel violent conflict. Many organisations through humanitarian efforts are providing water for people in places that we do not even imagine exist or where we never have an inkling of how people are suffering on a daily basis to get water for their use, their business or for their family. Water, its link to safety of women, health of women and efforts of different organisations world wide, will be my focus in the subsequent posts. How can we strategise and develop innovative ideas to make clean water accessible to all? We need to asnwer this question!

Friday, April 22, 2011


The recent occurrence of violence, killings, rioting and burning in the northern part of Nigeria (i.e Bauchi, Abuja, Kaduna, Kano, Maiduguru and Zaria) that followed the 2011 presidential election is both appalling and heartbreaking. The North has been made fragile and dreaded for so long due to religious, political and other sources of violent killings in the past. On the internet I sought desperately for news and opinions on the terrible situation and got the following answers.

“…am a corper in Bauchi, we were attacked yesterday and our lodge burnt down…most of us got really injured… We’ve been waiting for security to come to our aid, but we have not seen any yet… Please I will be grateful if you know any security number we can call ….they burnt all our clothes the only thing I have now is my phone and my uniform…I want to go home…” An outcry of a corper serving in Bauchi.

‘I went for a conflict resolution workshop, and on discussing issues from northern Nigeria it was resolved that among many deep rooted issues, extreme poverty, cultural mindset and some rich Mafia’s are all behind this, not religion like they make us believe, uninformed teenagers and infants are brainwashed by the Mafia’s to cause violence’. Olubunmi Osinuga Shonde

‘I am seriously against politics of religion and ethnicity. Of course this is to some extent a problem in the North. So, for me the religion and ethnicity of whoever wins the election is not an issue. As for the killings and burnings in the north the reasons are cumulative and complex. Northerners, like all other Nigerians, are fed up with the sorry situation of the country’. Aminu Tukur
‘… Most of those who participated in the horrible riots were young people whose future had been circumscribed by poverty, illiteracy and wanton neglect’ -234Next News.

This killing has left beautiful states like Jos in a state of ruin. Destructive violence is never a thing to dismiss as it claims many lives, properties, and inflow of refugees to abode of endurance, mourning and heartache that many would not recover from.
The cost of violence is far greater than we can ever understand. It’s however safer for many people to trade blames and not put effort to understand the nature and sources of many violence and killings and how this can be resolved. Little wonder that over the years violence persists in the northern part of Nigeria, kidnapping and rioting are not uncommon in the southern and eastern part of Nigeria due to many complex issues of leadership, resource control and distributions among others. What are really the reasons behind the endless cycle of violence that Nigeria has witnessed in the past decade?

Salaudeen Nafisat Funmi, a resident of Kaduna in her word said ‘many innocents are being killed, houses are being burnt and many women cannot go out to find food’. The effect of any violent is always having double effect on women. Women who are still the major home makers and providers of care for children, husbands, loved ones as well as their extended families and communities do not only get killed, they often live in perpetual fear and discomfort. There were many shocking images of children and women killed violently in the last riot in Maduguri and Jos , occurrences that the nation is yet to recover from.

Aminu Tukur believes that the Northern unrest and chaos is more complex in nature, it is beyond General Muhammadu Buhari talking to the CPC supporters to stop the violence. It is beyond 2011 election, it is a face of poverty, hunger, illiteracy, the over the years neglect of the leaders to invest in human development of its citizens, the failure of the leaders to provide job opportunities, invest fully in sustainable development as wel as embracing diversity of ethnicity and religion in politics.
This is the time for our leaders to show sincerity of purpose, time for the newly elected President Jonathan, who has a chance to make a huge difference in the next four years, to get it right.
Laws that are conflicting with the rights of people have to be repealed, provision of health care services, education at all levels, infrastructural development, job provisions, alleviation of poverty, provision of electricity, empowerment of all and sundry, respect for the rule of law, respect for diversity and inclusion of Nigerians in how they are being led will go a long way to help the complexity of violence and human rights abuse and gross inequality in Nigeria.

A 50yr old Nation should not be in perpetual mourning be it due to hooliganism, protests, politics, religion, or poverty.

This article was originally posted on Free2run website.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Corruption in Nigeria...Beyond What We Think

I am not going to mince words in saying that it looks like everyone is corrupt in Nigeria. I am no longer sure if I am not corrupt myself because after looking around and seeing no way out of paying the money I ought not to pay, I saw clearly the decadence in the system we are running!!! I saw how easy it is for anyone to aid and abet corruption or get the desire to trade in corruption!

When my friend was charged to court in January by her company who accussed her of misappriopration of funds- an accusation father from the truth - but because she has implicated herself in the statement made to the police, she needed surety or go to jail. Before we could rally round to organise all the necessary requests by the court, she was in Kirikiri prison!

That was when I start understanding how deep corruption is in Nigeria, how I no longer see it trickling down from politicians but trickling from other sectors to the politicians. The system is rotten. I am afraid that it will almost be impossible to get rid of corruption in Nigeria. Elections are here and am voting but there is still this feeling at the back of my neck; the feeling that corruption may be here to stay as part of our existence while another part of me is looking inward for innovative ways to curb this bane of our society.

To digress, when I recounted the experience that am about to share to my cousin, who is a journalist, he wasn't surprised, he infact told me that when we are looking at the most corrupt establishments in Nigeria, the politicians are no longer leading. He said we should look into Business, Sport and the Press before we even touch the politicians. But with what I have seen, I will put the judicial system at the very top of this list!

I went to arrange the release of my friend and I was forced to part with money that was not justified but I had to because I could report this to no one! I had to because my attitude that would have being considered sanctimonious would have left her in jail for longer than seven days! We went to visit her at the prison, they made us pay before we could see her. I went to secure her bail, the prosecutor charged illegal fee of N20,000/$130 before doing her job of following the two guarantors including myself to access our houses! We complained, we said we did not have money, and she said nothing would be done if we did not pay! She even added another 5,000/$32 fee as the payment to the police officer whose job was to go get my friend out of the prison! And of course, we still needed to provide a car to pick her to our houses and back to the office!

All these payments are illegal and they are not new and are very normal. I complained to a lawyer who only 'help' as he said was to negotiate reduction of these illegal fees. he claimed nothing can be done. Then I realised that (some) laywers are in this too. I called another lawyer for a second opinion and he warned that we should take extra money to the prison for her release. How worse can this ever get? How far worse? If you have to pay through your nose for all illegalities, how can there ever be justice? What system is ever good enough and ready for the protection of the people of Nigeria. Should we even dare to trust the EFCC? NDLEA? Who can we trust? How many more people will take a cue from this to start their own chain or network of corruption?

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

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