The sound of hooting owls
The sound of hooting owls
Meet the bold Nigerians who are fighting to protect the worlds most trafficked mammal.
Fly little bird
Through this sky of whites
I want to watch
The green wings, flapping.
Fly high, even higher
Like the bar-headed goose
Your bod- blithe
As I kiss the Jasmine
Hugging from the sky.
With them I sit-
The people of
They tune in
Sketching a heart
Just for me.
A trice without
Them is a blain in my globule
For they are
Honey bunches I can’t do without.
No change at all
Nothing changes here. Even the nationwide protest that took many young lives didn’t solve much. I wonder what can change the mind of our leaders if the death of protesters won’t.
Each time I travel through this blessed state – I see nothing new; it’s heartbreaking that amid plenty, we can boast of nothing. I sleep most times on public transit, but today will be different. I decided to see what the so-called best governor in Nigeria is doing, so I carefully secured a seat close to the window to get a better view. The roads, as usual, are in a state of disrepair and an apparent death trap for commuters. Unworthy road vehicles still blast dangerous fumes as they ply about. At a point, raggedy road safety officials look on hungrily. There’s an environmental protection agency, but they are available when it involves their fee drive.
Apart from the tender palm tree shoots, nothing new emerges here. And lest I forget, it’s only in Nigeria that roads and bridges are built over a decade, and teachers owed salaries beyond a year in government guise that there’s no money. In Nigeria, these are tools of politics and propaganda. The tools aim to keep the masses under the leader. These wicked leaders forget that the populace pays schooling fees, rent, rate, and feed too. The worst is that as the cost of living rises, even the (seldom paid) salaries remain constant and in some cases reduced. Some leaders and their cabinet are wrong economists, and I wonder if they have qualified advisers at all. Do you see why there’s a regular increase in out-of-school children and a high unemployment rate? Is this not very shameful?
Sometimes I wonder what spurs the Nigerian leader on. How can one preach a corrupt-free society when the same is the head of corruption?
Hypocrisy is to ask people not to eat toad while one goes behind the scene to relish a dish made from toad.
I know that the people that run our government receive their salaries and benefits when due. But civil servants’ and retirees’ wages and pensions are withheld, some up to 20 months. No one can live in calm in such a situation. The most affected are medical professionals, and those in the education sector. I’m particularly pained that many pensioners die in pursuit of their entitlements. The only ones living above average are the government because they feed fat from the public purse.
These leaders take the commoners as toothless bulldogs that can only bark. Yes, the youth might have slept for years, but they are now interested in their nation’s governing process. Maybe another revolutionary protest will bring back our leader’s reasoning and make them act on much-needed reforms. I hope it won’t get to that point.
The protesting Nigerian youth is a sitting time bomb.
I type with trembling hands. These are trying times indeed.
This morning I saw a troop of angry protesters march through town demanding end to police brutality. Since its inception last week, the national protests had gained momentum. For days now the Nigerian youth protested in cities and villages, and everywhere you could find them. The government had ignored them for long, and now they want things to change. I mean to change for good. I hope.
It’s common to witness police brutality in Nigeria. Well, everyone thinks that the uniform of the armed forces grants ultimate power. The police are involved in extortion, extra-judicial killings, bribery and all manner of corruption; this is the unfortunate reality we live in. Worst, they are like puppets in the hands of the government which use them as they chose, especially during elections. I’m particularly annoyed with the extortion of bus drivers – this I have witnessed since I was a child. The roadblocks on our highways and other roads are their markets. This doesn’t paint our law enforcement or the nation right.
In some parts of Lagos and Abuja, protests turned violent. Reports of cars being set ablaze, of wounded or killed people, looting, make the coming days look gloomy. In Benin city, videos of prison breaks fill Nigeria’s social media space. In some videos, I saw crying prisoners, thankful for freedom, some police stations burning and of course, hoodlums who took this as an opportunity to rob innocent people. So I’m worried about many things. I’m concerned about the future of my country and about the gunshots I hear in my backyard.
Recently the army planned to resume the Operation Crocodile Smile, the second. I hope these smiling crocs do not stray into hot boiling water.
What the Youth Demand
All the youth demand is police reforms and an end to bad governance. Yes, and gainful employment, plus the provision of essential social goods. We buy water and electricity, while in some countries these are free. I had another thought: if the protesters had a good job, no one would have time to protest. Nigeria’s leaders must be informed again that Nigeria belongs to everyone and resources for all Nigerians.
Will the government and her army play this game? Will they molest and intimidate peaceful protesters? To our dear, highly respected armed forces note that the youth is not antagonistic towards you. We are just demanding a better future – one that includes you, the youthful soldier and your generations born and unborn. A word is enough for the wise.
I’m a worried Nigerian youth.
No one wants an army of ants patrolling around his front door or garden. But talk of an endless stream of army ants? That doesn’t sound so good.I saw a file of soldier ants (ólú-mba in Igbo language) yesterday night. I never imagined they would mobilize to a greater force. The following morning I witnessed the army ‘arrest’ a big mamba and some insects. In one raid they can strip a garden of living things. In West African soldier ants dwell in the forests and rarely come in contact with human beings.I’m impressed with the teamwork portrayed by army ants. It’s hard to break through a fortified line so when they descend on a prey it’s harder to escape. They march through cold nights and sun heat, building shelters to reduce any weather impact. When they go for a night raid they take sleeping rodents and insects by surprise. I’ve seen them construct bridges with tree leaves, sticks, sand and stones. Soldier ants are very intelligent and their leadership structure sound and competent. In fact, every ant has got a role to play and each has mastered its role! I’m particularly weary of ants with the biggest heads.When they march it’s swift like a fast flowing stream, drowning unsuspecting grasshoppers, bugs, worms, spiders, lizards, snakes, livestock and every life. The unfortunate victims are killed, stripped of flesh and then transported in pieces. Soldier ants are highly organized flesh eaters. They can take on any living thing and there are reports of attacks on vulnerable humans. It’s advised to avoid them.To keep these ants away: apply insect repellent dusts or petroluem products like crude oil or gas. Ash also can help keep them away.Indeed, no insect has such organizational ability like the soldier ant.
I sit outside my granny’s house, clad in blankets and a pillow. It was a rainy day and a very cold one. The cold extended into the evening and early night. The village is surrounded by streams and hills and this must have contributed to the extreme weather. I left town a few hours ago but the rain caught up with me.
One good thing about this place is it’s hilly countryside – it’s nested in-between ancient hills and surrounded by forests. So morning is a beautiful sight to behold. I remember how scared I was to walk through the path blanketed by tree branches. Trees stuck out their branches, covering the roadside and sunlight. During night time, I mistake those branches as ghostly fingers waiting to grab their victim.
One time I missed falling millipedes as they lost their grip and fell from tree branches. I won’t forget the funny scenario displayed by a friend when a pair of millipedes fell into his shirt. I have witnessed a monitor lizard slain. I also have seen several rodents and snakes disturb the bush. I have seen an owl hunt in the moonlight and soldier ants visit frequently. The hills are their playground. Even now as a young man I feel indifferent towards the hills and her numerous inhabitants. I am suspicious of any movement near the bush path.
Back to my lonely reflection: I feel welcomed by insect zithering. They sing a disturbing lullaby. Sometimes I wish them away. There’s no frog in the vicinity, thankfully. A crazy frog choir would have been worse. Some insects stroll into my room. Crickets hide in cracks. Moths marry my torch-light, sun-flies drive me crazy during the day, wasps and bigger moths buzz about, investigating the lamps around the house and other light craving insects play out their hearts. Indeed, insects are a restless bunch. I know a lot of them but not their names. My favourite is the handsome lady bird.
The cold hands of night grip this tranquil village. It’s very dark out here safe for few stars, which are dots imposed upon the dark sky. I’m familiar with this hilly climate.
Now lightning take images of the clouds and grassland. I see tree skeletons with each flash but the hills are invincible without much illumination. It seems it will rain again. It’s good to be home
On this day 60 year’s ago Nigeria got her independence. Things may not be right at the moment but our hope and faith will prevail. We shall rise above tribalism, intolerance, hatred and indiscipline.
Let’s celebrate Nigeria, the giant of Africa with her beautiful images.
Admitting imperfections are great ways to becoming a better person, people and leaders.
City of Talents and Resilient people
I was born and raised in Ogbor hill, a suburb of Aba, a city in Southern Nigeria. Aba is known for its industry and export of labour to many Nigerian cities and overseas. The city is full of talents and all manner of craftsmen and women live in it. As a manufacturing town, traders and private businesses such as leather works, pottery, brick, electronics, food processing, plastics, metal, cosmetics, distilleries, and fabric call the city home. Most of these factories are owned by private residents. Many foreigners also trade in the city’s large markets and the enterprising spirit in Aba can be likened to none in Nigeria. The city itself is a big market. Aba youth is highly skilled. It’s common to see graduates turn to business as means of livelihood. This enterprising spirit led many to pick up different skills and develop talents to fit in with Aba’s resilient business environment.
Little is done to encourage the budding enterprise which has been in the city for decades. Yet Aba can contribute to Nigeria’s economic growth if her potentials are well harnessed.
Sadly I remember dead startups and factories and even more on their way to moribundity.
Like most African cities, government neglect is common. Lack of proper economic planning and public infrastructure kept the city running in circles. With no visible economic plan on ground, Aba records low growth and decline in economic activities each year. In civilized economies, a city that shows promising private ventures involved in wealth creation and industrialization is aided by the government. When government steps in, it should be to create an enabling business environment. But this is not always so. There are key areas to focus on should the government decide to fix Aba’s unique economic landscape. First and foremost, good road network and stable electricity should be in place. Sadly, Aba’s road and drainage systems are in a state of limbo and contributes to road accidents recorded each year. In Aba electricity distribution is epileptic, or let me put it in milder words: not consistent. This push away investors and increases cost of production as businesses resort to generators for power.
The Way forward?
The two best ways to start government intervention is by bringing uninterrupted power supply and building good roads in Aba. This two can go a long way in encouraging businesses and startups. Providing clean water, markets, tax incentives and holidays, patronising local content will help too.
Not only will good road networks encourage inter state trading, it will enable access and more businesses to thrive in rural places where electricity is cheaper. If steady electricity is achieved, government can work to reduce the electricity rates paid by startups and businesses.
Despite years of government neglect, the city’s people had grown thick skin to negligence and the saying that life must find a way vividly applies to the city’s hustle and bustle. Aba will continue to live because it is a city made resilient and popular by her own people.
This is to respond to your requests for a clearer, easy to read Igbo Alphabet, and we’ve come up with this which we believe is simplified. It’s important to take your attention to the structure of the alphabet because it’s the key to unlock your understanding of this beautiful language. Basically 27 distinct letters are contained in this whole 36-letter alphabet, so in every word we can say or write in Igbo language we only use 27 letters. There are times however we need to make certain meanings but the 27 letters on of their own cannot deliver unless one letter tag itself with another (diphthong) for example ‘g’ for ‘gaa’ = (go) and ‘w’ for ‘wete’ = (bring) and ‘gw’ together for ‘gwakota’ = (mix). Also ‘n’ for ‘nata’ = (receive) and ‘y’ for ‘yiri’ = (wear) and ‘ny’ together for ‘nye’ = (give), etc.
Igbo alphabet = 36 letters in all, 27 of which are self-sufficient but can also partner with others in 9 different ways for 9 different sounds and meanings.Notice also that letter ‘c’ is the only letter that is not in the alphabet but is married to letter ‘h’ = ‘ch’, which can be used in the word ‘Chineke’= (God the creator).
I like to watch the sun rise, to wait while she cast her beauty on earth,
So I wake early to fly my kite, to gather the stray bugs, worms and locust,
The fields are my playground, a partner to hides and seek,
I watch the sun, her golden smile, and light it brought to my community,
I adore pretty butterflies that dress in fine hues and dresses,
I dig holes for my little flower stalks, hoping they grow in no time,
I wait for the moon to rise at night, peeping through the window
With hope that when it comes, it will wait far into the cold night,
And if she came I would watch her shine through those dark skies
I danced alone in loud evening storms, raise my hands
To grab slippery raindrops as they fall mildly upon me
Even when lightning sang and her cousin thunder clapped,
Each day and night was always a new beginning
Memories of home are joyful and happiness
When twilight came
I took a walk, for some air
And down the roadside I went.
There a young man stood
Bearded heavily unlike myself
Throwing corn seeds into his mouth
And grinding them with such relish
That his brown teeth showed off
He stood a little close to my fence
And I decided to go chat with him
He smiled when I came close
He doesn’t look like someone from here
Yes, I seen those tribal marks somewhere
He must be from the North,
‘Sannu!‘ I hailed
‘Sannuku!‘ he replied
Eying me carefully
‘Do you wanti some agwado?’
‘No thank you.’ I replied
I saw his garment flow up,
Sailing with the mild breeze
Like a kite on rampage
The dress leaned deep into his flesh
And his muscles exposed
‘Kai, do you speak Hausa?’ he asked
‘No, very poor in that regard,’ I answered
‘Okay oh,’ he turned to call his cattle
Then I realised he was a shepherd
I relaxed a bit, wearing a new smile
My new friend must have something
To tell me about his travels and animals
He saw my smile and grinned
‘Tell me about your best and worst times,
Of shepherding and your herd’
I started without thinking…
‘My best time is when my herd feed
On a valley full of healthy green grass’
He said in nearly perfect English
‘When the sun is high above the firmament
When cows give birth in the dead night
And when I hear my favourite calf moo,’
He closed his eyes to remember more
‘What about your worst moments?’
It seemed I shoved him back from his dream,
For he suddenly opened his red eyes
And shot a blazing stare at my mouth
‘Why are there wars in Africa?
Why men kill each other?
Why are streams dry
And oceans rising?’
He asked with a frown.
‘I was born into such society
That settle disputes with violence
There’s hate, tribalism and distrust
Tribe against tribe, people against people
And hate is substituted for love…’
He pulled a twig off the long grass
‘How can we live in a society without love,
Without faith and trust for one another?
Why fight and not dialogue to achieve peace?
Why bomb a land already stricken with drought?
And cause lack of food and drinking water?’
The air grew colder…
‘I tell you I have seen things. It is time to go home…’
He said painfully, holding his stick back
‘Well as for my worst moments
I see people suffer, Yes I have
For nothing sake, I hate to see children suffer
And people suffer for other people’s crimes and atrocities
It makes little sense to me but that is the world,
We love and live in. Injustice, inequality, intolerance, ignorance…’
I could see through his pain…
‘It is only love that can save us all,’
He said as his flock gathered together
Tssski-ing, he called them, making a clicking sound from his tongue,
Hanging his long stick and hat behind his back,
He waved heartily and marched off, leading his cattle away,
I realise that the world still have some beauty and good in it
Sannu… Hausa salute
Agwado… Corn in Hausa
The Hausa/Fulani is a tribe spread across West Africa and predominantly in present day Northern Nigeria. They are known for their unique culture, tradition, arts and food.
Not so cuddly thought…
As I lay on my bed I had a thought. A thought that actually provoked many questions. Maybe someone can help me understand these issues better if my opinion does not reflect reality. This is the first reflection on racism, the next will be on Africa. NB: I speak for people, and not governments.
China, Oh China!
I love China. Yes I do. I love Jackie Chan. I love the funny movie Shaolin Soccer where football became a whole new form of thuggery. I’ve several Chinese friends on Facebook and WordPress. I’m amazed at their creativity and industry. I’m amused each time Chinese movies portray people performing martial arts mid air (honestly is that even possible?) I watch Chinese comedy too. My geography classes taught that there are a lot of people in China – that it is the country with highest people population. I read about the Great Wall of China in high school and how it kept bandits and China’s political enemies away. I know a little about the culture and dynasties, language, technology and cities. We sure have a beautiful world and history, don’t we? Talking about Chinese cities; I admire Hong Kong and Macao the most. I can say that they are European flavour in a Chinese soup. Maybe that’s a silly metaphor. The capital city Beijing is so big that it could take in the total population of my home state! There are many big cities like Shanghai and Guangzhou. There are other beautiful things to see in China. Apart from the serene countryside, numerous flowers, rivers, mountains, lakes, and more abound. I’ve seen videos of this beautiful land. I love China indeed.
But I won’t forget Wuhan. No one will forget the city in a hurry. But it’s just a name like New York. Wuhan has engraved itself in the hearts of so many. So history will remember her for the disastrous gift. Let me be plain, the corona virus pandemic started there.
Why the pandemic may have originated from Wuhan, I can’t see this scenario: the local fishermen packaging contaminated food to be shipped abroad. I agree that human interaction helped in spreading the virus. But people won’t deliberately export this virus. People might be innocent. I can’t say that for any government.
I can’t conclude that every Chinese is responsible for the pandemic. That’s quite unfair. I mean we can hold the government and policy makers responsible. Every economic sanction, sabotage or revenge will affect innocent people too, just as the virus ravage distant places. The bad guys are in every nation. We know them.
I deliberately avoided the bad sides of this great nation. I could have mentioned human rights violations, racism against foreigners (will talk more on this later), cruelty to wild and domestic life and labour camps. Let’s face it, every nation has a history, good and bad, just and unjust. But I’m no judge.
For those calling for blood or revenge, there’s absolutely no need for that. The common enemy now is the virus and it’s leading a global warfare. We’ve lost a lot already to it. This is time to stop the blame game and racist attitude. We need China, the same way we need Africa and America and Europe and every other nation on earth. Some governments do not represent public opinion.
Diversity is strength. I prefer to see the good side of every nationality. I only pray that one day the bad guys will have no stake in our political future.
This is just a humble reflection. Have a good night.
Onye aturu ilu kowaa ya, ego eji luo nne ya efuola ohia.
Before I start this post permit me to greet Igbo people; those who own the proverbs I’m about to explore; Ndi Igbo kwenu! Ekelem unu o. Ndewonu.