Always remember that we are considered human when we show kindness to all that Providence placed under our care and when we love others as we are born compassionate beings.
Always remember that we are considered human when we show kindness to all that Providence placed under our care and when we love others as we are born compassionate beings.
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 armed forces uniform 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 good.
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 worried about the future, about my country and about the gunshots I hear in my backyard.
Recently the army planned to resume the Operation Crocodile Smile, the second. I just hope these smiling crocs do not stray into hot boiling water.
What the Youth Demand
All the youth demand is police reforms and end to bad governance. Yes, and gainful employment, plus the provision of basic 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 will 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.
The Pharos of Alexandria was a lighthouse completed in about 280 BC and was used to warn ships of the rocks surrounding the port of Alexandria, Egypt. The building measured over 110 metres to the top. During the day polished bronzed mirrors reflected the sunlight, and at night a fire burned that could be seen up to 50 kilometres away. A spiral ramp led from the ground to the top.
The gigantic lighthouse was a real survivor – it stood for over 1,500 years and survived being buffeted by massive waves and countless earthquakes.
It was built by a man called Sostratus who, in order to get the credit for this Wonder of the World, sneakily carved his name into the stone, and plastered over it. On top of the plaster he carved a dedication to the ruler of Egypt. In time, the plaster wore away and his own dedication, ‘Sostratus of Cnidos, son of Dexiphanes, to the saviour god’s, for sailors’, was left permanently displayed.
In 1994, an archaeologist located huge masonry blocks believed to be from the lighthouse, which was toppled by an earthquake in the 1300s.
The Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe earns the title of the biggest waterfall in the world. It is 1708 metres across and it drops between 90 and 107 metres into the Zambezi Gorge. An average of 9.2 million litres of water cascades over the edge of the falls every second at peak seasons.
Because Victoria Falls is so wide, the water drops in a vast curtain. The thunder of the spray when it hits the gorge below is incredibly loud. Local people call the falls ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya‘, which means ‘the snake that thunders,’ and for many people the place has magical qualities.
The first European to see the falls was the explorer David Livingstone in 1855. An island in the river is named Livingstone Island in his honour.
The lake is a tourist attraction.
There’s no mountain too great
Hear these words and have faith
That magnificent city
Its walls painted in great colours
Furnished with happy diamonds
Its streets with the unceasing glitters.
The city of the two great hills
The city where I feel the cool breeze of nativity
Beholding the swaying tulips and smiling sun
The love of nature, giving me the mild spirit of liberty.
Yeah! I love you dearest hometown
For all I wished, is to be with you right now
I remember there is no place like home
Even though, I daily dwell in Rome
She writes well. Just discovered another African talent.
A tree is straightened while it is still young – Proverb from Burundi.
I chose to take this proverb in its literal form because it’s pretty obvious that a fully grown tree can’t be transplanted or manipulated in any way. What I mean is that it’s not stressful to try to make a sapling grow straight. ‘To straighten’ means ‘to correct’ when we apply this proverb in real life. For instance I do go to the garden to check and support fresh yam tendrils with sticks. This is to help them grow straight. It will be much difficult to attempt that when they are matured and stiff.
It’s easy to correct something while it’s still fresh and tender. A metaphoric expression related to the proverb is ‘to nip in the bud’ which means to halt something at an early stage. The difference is that while our proverb concentrates on correcting, the metaphoric expression talks about stopping or halting at the earliest moment.
This proverb can also translate to:
1. A person (a child) can be corrected while he/she is tender.
2. A thing (mistake, action, etc.) can be corrected at the early stages.
What is your take on this?
Life like the mist is temporal but legacies live and last forever
The Black Panther
I get easily bored with movies. It’s hard to see me watching TeeVee anyway. No matter how much I try, I can only watch National Geographic Wild and Discovery Documentaries. But when a movie gets me hooked I can see it a hundred times without losing interest. I saw The Black Panther early last year. Then it didn’t make much sense to me (again with the little interest on movies). But I saw it again and again because I was impressed with a lot of things. First the casting; the actors and actresses were top-notch. I was impressed with the display of African culture and tradition: the casts intonation, dressing, setting and more. Talking about the setting, Wakanda portrayed beautiful Africa. Each scene even the fighting ones had a view of something spectacular at the background: hills and vales, waterfalls and rivers, chains of mountains and vast forests. Diverse tribes fought for dominance and this added some taste to the plot. This was Wakanda (Africa), an advanced modern technology driven society which managed to maintain her ancient tradition despite contact with external forces. I was excited that the directors brought in reality too. The rigour and stress of power tussle shown in the movie reveals the norm in African societies. Such tussles normally drain the people and her resources. I give Marvel Pictures a big thumbs up. Also, the use of domesticated Rhinos as a war animal kept me glued to the screen. I wanted to see more, though afterwards I was left to ponder on the directors ingenuity. The Black Panther is a good movie. No wonder it is Marvel’s biggest hit yet.
I can write a long story about this down to earth actor, but that won’t be today. Instead I aim to highlight the exceptional qualities that made him a true king both in cinema and real life.
Chadwick’s fictional character brought colour to the movie. Just like Bruce Wayne with his Batman and Peter Parker with the Spiderman, he switched from being the kind King T’challa to being the strong community vigilante (Black Panther). The good thing is that he used his powers to protect and lead his people. But there’s more to the man who played the Black Panther. He was open, humble, kind, considerate and determined. He wasn’t the loud type so I barely noticed or heard him on the news.
Chadwick’s determination is worth emulating. He didn’t give up when he was diagnosed with colon cancer. Instead he went forward to gift the world great movies. It’s sad to know he did these movies amidst chemotherapies and treatments. Nothing could be depressing. It’s even sadder that he was just starting to a greater future. Who knows, he could have been the next Denzel Washington or Will Smith.
To the King T’challa I’ve this to say: “You brought hope to many African youth“. He has taught that we can be anything we want to be. I picked another lesson from the life of Chadwick Boseman: never jump to judge people because you don’t know the secret battles they are fighting.
Rest in peace King, the Black Panther. Africa mourns you. Wakanda forever!
Sometimes it’s hard to stop a rolling stone, but whenever it may roll, it always seems to find its way back home. Brett Boyett
Dear motherland, I’m proud to call you my home. I’m reminded of sunset, it tells that it ends where it began. From tree branches on the hilly countryside, I see shadows of land retreat with the setting sun. When the sun travels away the shadows of trees and shrubs fall upon the ground, timid firmament blocked by passing grey clouds and day becomes a shadow of itself. Such beautiful landscape and sight I’ll give all to behold every day.
Dancing figures of butterflies and fireflies contradict day and light. Light, dark. Sunlight, moonshine. Beautiful wings spread over this damp earth my fathers walked and tilled.
Everything is magical when I think of you Africa. I truly love you.
My beautiful home sits up those ancient majestic hills and spread across fertile green valleys. A land carved by Providence itself, combining both the simplicity of the forest land and sophistication of human civilization. When cold hands of night descend, the beauty is unmasked and seen through mist and moonshine. If you must see, you will wait for the moon. When the moon appears, she is dressed in white. It let’s her light upon the great land and the vast wilderness. Forces of light and darkness may battle. I ponder on what courage that walk the dark night but queer fireflies that fly in droves and glitter randomly. Their light add to the night’s beauty, which words cannot describe exactly. Then I ponder further, fearing for the future of this beautiful land and her people.
I wonder oh Africa, how much gold you worth and yet fall to the wicked hands of poverty. I wonder how you love and in return you are hated. I wonder why there’s so much but yet little to go around. I wonder if I’ll ever grow out of this love I’ve for you. I wonder if I can retain this loving mindset for man and nature forever. But how long should your children wait to become great again?
Wasn’t my love enough for you?
In my mind I had concluded that you loved only me,
I thought you were cut from a different cloth,
Like you were not the same like everyone I’ve met.
But clearly, I was lying to myself,
You loved everybody like a campaigning candidate.
I could tell from my basic instincts that the universe loved you also.
You were a loaded gun and I was just a boy,
Because of lust and envy,
They took you for granted, like you were a cheap toy.
Only if I had the courage of pulling the trigger,
I’d had shot you on your head just to blow out your weak brain.
With my mind and heart filled with only love,
I hadn’t imagined my head searching for love lost,
As the absence of love was playing on your mind.
You preferred games over love,
I had promised myself to love you eternally,
I had a feeling that you were exceptional,
Like you were totally different from the rest.
I discovered that I was bluffing,
Only lying to myself, feeding my mind with toxic waste.
You proved me that my love was not enough for you,
I never imagined that you were promiscuous.
You had me believing that I mattered the most,
Of course you were buying my heart.
Our love withered so fast, before the flowers I had on my hands.
It only lasted for just a moment and nothing was left for me,
It was clear that the light was about to reach the night.
My tender love lasted for just a moment,
A moment that cost me,
Had me doubting a lot around me,
I had lost trust on everything, everyone.
Nothing was left on me,
Nothing was left for me.
When you call, your sound rent through the wind
Whispers, songs of the wild, emissary of mother Nature
You send birds, they ‘caw-caw‘, they fly the blue clouds
Making the skies their tuft, and you: their leisure
Green trees, red flowers, purple feathers, all in perfect unison
You call to your own, you Baobab, Bee and Flamboyant, you Cheetah,
We listen, we write, we dream of the call, we listen and write again
The days run out, they run fast into the current of the river
From wild palms, monkeys dance and display their weird talents
In your joyful reverie you laugh at their circus and happy lust
Each day they play, each day they lived and so each day went
You engage all, blue clouds, buzzing bees and seeds that will burst
Down below, beautiful, fine and awesome things exist
Crickets and hoppers play about, worms crawl on the clay
In the quiet mornings the sun must rise to take off the mist
All day and night, there is your song, one we can not say
In summer, the hot sun shimmer and shine all day
The blue skies are unperturbed, alligators lay lazy
And mid day, snakes beat the traffic, they make hay
All and all, at the end, you make your lively circus busy
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 stand by these rocks and hills, ancient
To enjoy again a beautiful moment of sunset
I’ve a new song to sing each time I behold the sun set
A song sang by my father and his father’s father
A song that echo through the hills,
Like smoke dispersing from mills,
Ancient like mud where palm trees grow
Cherished by all people who till and sow
A song enjoyed while treading this blessed path
One that my father and his father’s went
I am glad to sing for my hometown,
To make sense of everything around,
To dance alongside happy leaves of cassava
Or to admire the beautiful butterfly larva
When the skies are blue with her painting
I hear the sweet voice of evening wind sing,
With her multitude of insects, bugs,
Wailing infants and barking dogs
Happy palm wine tappers sing this song
When they wait on raw wine that trickle into kegs
Vast clouds sail across the horizon
From those heights they sing along
I watch while the blessed sun set
Down the hills that kept my path
Now familiar faces greet ndeewo
I’m ready to hear a good story or two
I stand by these rocks and hills, ancient
To enjoy again a beautiful moment of sunset
I just saw a beautiful sunset here in Ovim. Normally I would take an image. But it’s much better to experience this than to word it.
Memories become tales untold
Hope are dreams in soft shield
If all passes into a sort of legend
Then let good paths never fade
eSwatini: meaningThere’s an African country with a name that sounds similar to Switzerland. Swaziland now eSwatini has its name changed to celebrate its 50 years of independence from Great Britain. eSwatini means land of the Swazis or a place for the Swazi. In April 2018, King Mswati, the third announced the change. eSwatini is sandwiched in-between South Africa and Mozambique. Notice how the country name is spelt! History and geography scholars might want to take note that this country’s name start with small letter ‘e’.Here below are images from eSwatini’s beautiful parks and nature reserves from Njabulo Nkambule. They were taken from the following parks and reserves:- Hlane National Game Reserve
– Mlilwane Game Reserve
– Mkhaya game Reserve
– Mbuluzi Game Reserve
– Malolotja nature reserve
– Mantenga Nature Reserve
– Mlawula nature Reserve
– Sibebe Rock resort
Njabulo NkambuleNjabulo Nkambule which means happiness is an open minded and hardworking poet from eSwatini.
A Prayer for Healing by Njabulo Nkambule
As days goes by
My life racing, my whole body aging,
While my bones are getting exhausted and cracking.
My heart slowly beating,
To realize that it’s just a new day,
Yet another day on a calendar.
I’m overwhelmed with so much sorrow,
As the darkness still haunts my soul,
Questions asked but answers still pending.
There’s still so much hidden,
As my life is still unfolding,
Unfolding the dreams you sowed in my heart.
Permit me to serve you,
All the days of my life,
Raise me to do your bidding every day.
It’s a prayer for healing
I ask you to grant me the serenity
To accept everything I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can
And wisdom to differentiate between both.
I know, hardships are a bridge to peace,
I accept them as they are.
I surrender to your will,
For I know you will definitely make things fall into place for me in no time.
I need you by my side to light and guide,
To rule and guard my life,
Create a smile on my face,
A heart filled with so much love,
Strengthen all my weaknesses,
Remove all the burdens on my shoulder.
I have so much to be grateful for.
Show me the way
This feels like a night
I ask for a light in my life to free me from everything.
This is a prayer for healing
An extraordinary land
Africa is a land of diversity and extreme beauty. From the rising golden sun to swift flowing rivers and peaceful, grazing black wildebeest spread across the brown and green savannah, one can always have a glimpse of nature’s beautiful paradise. And nature has a way of healing everything…
If you ever had the chance to visit Africa, you will have a life-long memory to cherish and will be glad you did. Don’t take my word for it, come and see for yourself.
One beautiful thing I love about Africa is in its diverse wildlife. There are numerous species. There are lions, leopards, wild hogs, crocodiles, wildebeests, panthers, alligators, turtles, tortoise, jackals, zebras, elephants, giraffes, antelopes, buffalos, cheetahs, wild dogs, foxes, skunks, springbok, honey badgers, porcupines, giant anteater, spotted hyaena, civets, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, tapirs, lemurs, ostriches, and different species of snakes, apes, birds, insects etc… and there are flourishing vegetation all over the continent. You can see many species in one location. What can be more exciting? Africa is indeed blessed.
Just like the kangaroo which is native to Australia, some species like lemurs, zebras and more are native only to Africa and so may not be found elsewhere. Of all quadrupedal, I love zebras most. I took special interest in this beautiful single-hoofed animal when I fantasized riding one as a child. But when I learned that it could bite and kick, I reconsidered and respected their distance.
The African Zebra
Now the African zebra is related to horses but you wouldn’t want to ride one. Zebras are strange examples of the saying: looks can be deceptive. It is aggressive and in several occasions had killed lions and other cats with its kick.
With black and white stripes, it is a spectacular beauty to behold. Scientists say the stripes act as camouflage; predators may not know the exact number of individuals when they stand together in a herd. Also, the stripes blend with their habitat. Each zebra stripe is unique.
They are very fast animals when they run and can reach up to 65Km/h. As herbivores, they move in groups or herds feeding on fruits, leaves, grasses, barks and roots. There are many species and they occur in different locations.
Most of zebra population is primarily found in Southern Africa. Individuals occur in West and Central Africa. South Africa, Namibia, Angola and Eastern African nations record most populations. They are seen in protected parks and reserves.
Zebra’s natural predators are mostly the big cats, crocodiles and wild dogs. Man, unfortunately kills zebras too for food. Measures are being taken to protect them as they go extinct in some African countries.
I invite you to visit Africa, maybe you will be lucky to bump into a solitary zebra or watch the herd head towards a waterhole to drink after a long sunny day.
A Bitter Pill
What comes to your mind when you hear about Africa? Savages. Poverty. War ravaged. Disease. Uneducated? Let’s face it, Africa is what it is today because ‘the world’ contributed in keeping it so. We’re only poor by the world’s standard. This is a bitter pill.
Another Scramble for Africa?
The economic hustle and rivalry between the East and West is rooted in selfish interest and greedy conquest. Capitalism vs Communism. Colonialism. Imperialism. Gold-plated forms of modern slavery, with Africa almost at the middle of the tug of war. It’s unfolding to me that some nations are already on course for a second conquest of Africa. It’s easy to play on the gullible African mind. So we trust so easily. We corrupt easily too. The first recorded conquest began late 18th century, when European nations sat on a table to share Africa’s land, people and resources (Scramble for Africa). Not even an African was present to discuss his people’s future but many will play roles in keeping the roots of colonialism watered later. I’ll like to note that more nations has joined this hustle for Africa’s resources. Recently, African children and women in search of greener pastures travel abroad to work as laborers. Some end up in drug peddling and prostitution. Late 18th century saw the European slavers draw up agreements and maps that will enable them exploit Africa’s abundant resources. Now these countries in addition to new arrivals sabotage each other economically to achieve their aims. Every Greek gift; loan, grant and aid play a role in modern slavery. Foreign governments want African resources for themselves and this is not because they care for Africa. I follow trends concerning Africa. I see how Africans are treated abroad. Yet these countries are foremost in exploiting African people and resources. I’ve this to say to all modern slavers: Stay away from Africa.
Have you heard of the Kafala system? The concept is based on buying people to work in private homes abroad. I’ll tell you why I used buy. This idea originated from the Middle East and it’s backed by law. Normally a sponsor (family) pays local and foreign agents to recruit domestic workers (mostly females from Africa and Southern Asia) to work in their homes. On arrival most of these workers are converted to slaves. They are exploited and treated inhumanly by their sponsors.
Let’s look at what may qualify one as a modern slave: when physically abused for no reason, personal belongings like phones and travel documents seized, under fed, locked up in the house when others go out, raped and sexually abused, not allowed to sleep on a bed or couch, sometimes not paid as when due or at all, ignored when sick or just asked to take pain reliever for every kind of sickness, works from morning till night (with little or no rest) and not allowed to socialize. What will you call that? I made the list after my interaction with many victims of the Kafala slavery. Some who had the boldness to speak to me revealed that their mistresses value their dogs over them. Some countries have failed to make laws that protect the rights of domestic workers. This is shameful. Shame to anyone who treats another human as slave. We’re not free until every man is free. Now activists ask that Kafala be abolished. I’m in full support. Abolish Kafala now or make laws that will protect the rights of domestic workers. Abolish all forms of modern slavery now!
Modern slavery goes beyond this flawed Kafala system. Consider rich nations that control the resources of another. That’s modern slavery. When a country instigate chaos in another country. That’s modern slavery. When a country interferes in another’s election or economic decision. That’s modern slavery. Those points may not define slavery exactly but as far as there are elements of exploitation and lack of total freedom, it’s slavery to me.
By now you might have noticed my obsession for Africa. It’s a beautiful place honestly. It’s only bedeviled by bad leadership. Bad leaders contribute to Africa’s suffering. Yet some are only corrupt because of foreign influence and interference. So I won’t blame all African leaders completely for Africa’s woes.
I’ll end with the words of Pocahontas: If you walk the footsteps of a stranger you’ll learn things you never knew you never knew. We’re only poor when measured by the world’s standard.
Joy is fruit blossomed in the heart of farmers
Their smiles are meshed with toil and sweat,
Patch of earth print upon their faces
And on shoulders they carry huge baskets
Marching towards the fields, when it is harvest…
Fields are ripe, and trees are heavy with fruit
Birds sing from tree tops, monkeys dance it out
Evergreen forest is alive, farmers walk their path
Marching through mist, grass, and animal dung
The morning path led through cool streams,
Farmers may stoop to have a taste of water
Which smell like a mixture of dust and dew
The path led the farmers deeper into forest land,
Where shrubs are scanty, trees more numerous,
With thriving bird colonies, Nature’s secret hives
Bamboo forests stand aghast, daring the farmers
Waterfalls drop water balls which bounce off rocks
Once, they arrived the plantation, work must begin
When they sang of places, far far away
Where wheat are gold and cow milk immaculate,
They whistle country music while they gather grain
At last harvest became a pile waiting to go home
As children in the typical agrarian world of Northern Cross River State, Nigeria, it was the tradition for mothers to leave their young babies in the care of the older ones while the mothers went to distant farms. Across the day the older children grappled with the occasional frustrating cries of their baby-siblings, sometimes grappled with hunger and even with the sheer anxiety of being left alone at home to fend for their younger siblings without an adult. At the onset of evening hours mothers began trickling back from the farms. For the child whose mother had not arrived, it was a great moment of anxiety, of frustration and worry; and it was this situation that gave birth to the usual children’s short song, addressed to the beetle called “Whukpalib” in the Bette-Bendi lingo. The short song goes: “Whukpalib-eh, whukpalib, whukpalib-eh, whukpalib, everyone else is arriving [home], but my mother isn’t arriving!”
This was the song that leaped to my lips early this month as I flipped through the list of names in the 2020 world ranking of universities as released by the Centre for World University Rankings. My non-arriving mother in this case was, first, the name of any Nigerian university, and then the name of any African university. Three of the first four mothers to arrive were neighbours from South Africa: the University of Cape Coast at number 268; the University of KwaZulu-Natal being number 477; while the third neighbour was University of Johannesburg, which is the 706th on the list out of the 2000 universities recorded. The other African university is Cairo University, Egypt, which is the 558th on the list. The next neighbouring mother to arrive was Uganda’s Makere University, which was established in the same 1948 as Nigeria’s premier university, the University of Ibadan, by the British colonial government. Makere came up as the 923th best university in the world; yet, my real mother, the first Nigerian university to arrive, didn’t come up until I got to serial number 1,163, where I found our own great University of Ibadan. This places this best Nigerian university four times below the best in South Africa, University of Cape Coast. Down the list another Nigerian mother arrived at number 1,882, the University of Nigeria. This is only 118 universities away from the bottom of the list of 2000; and that ended the arrival of my Nigerian university mothers from distant farms.
Beyond the anxiety about seeing or not seeing the names of Nigerian universities coming up on the list, there were musings and reflections and some fun, too, around me as I went down the list. I was always pleased to find the names of some of the universities around the world that I’ve had some close career and professional involvements with, or have heard about, or whose histories I am familiar with, or in which I have some friends. For instance, my heart experienced glow when I saw the names of a few of the universities in New York which I’d visited as a Fulbright scholar. Similarly, I was excited to find on the list names from among the cluster of universities in India’s Tamil Nadu axis, whose doctoral candidates I have examined for over 15 years now. The Ghanaian age mate of Nigeria’s University of Ibadan, University of Ghana, Legon, whose campus I am reasonably familiar with, came up also a bit late at number 1,346. Even at this number, it turned up earlier than Kumasi’s Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, which surfaced at number 1,460. The arrival of certain four universities or so stirred up goose pimples all over me. They are Wuhan University (243), Wuhan University of Technology (555), Wuhan University of Science and Technology (1381) and Wuhan Institute of Technology (1494). Whenever a Wuhan name appeared, I thought of my nose mask and hand sanitizer as emblems of covid-19!
Malaysia’s Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (National University of Malaysia) has some special significance to me. I was at this great university in 2005 when the results of the world rankings of universities for that period were announced and Malaysia’s best universities shifted a little backward from where they had been in the preceding rankings. The reactions from Malaysians shocked me pleasantly. The daily newspapers were awash with queries and criticisms and anxiety by almost all Malaysians; and it looked like the citizens were going to ask for the sacking of the minister of education. I bought some of the papers just to show Nigerians what education meant to citizens of some other countries. But not many persons I gave the papers to saw anything striking in the fact that the entire citizenry were so concerned about the state of the nation’s universities. Also, it was at this university that I saw how much serious-minded governments cherish intellection as a necessary synergy between the gown and the town. Here was where I found directors from government ministries participating actively in the international conference and taking down notes most furiously and copiously to factor into the business of running government. And it was here, too, that I experienced the then-former Prime Minister (He is back as Prime Minister at over 90 years, though), Dr Mahathir Ibn Mohammed, presenting a keynote address on the nation’s language policy, and making vital intellectual contributions that define the boundary between the need to promote one’s mother tongue for use in the domestic domains, and the English language for global and international communication. Yet, Dr Mahathir Ibn Mohammed is a medical doctor by training.
As I went down the list, my mind also reflected on the Nigerian university system. Here is a nation whose University of Ibadan was rated among the best ten universities within the Commonwealth at a time Commonwealth nations looked down on the American university system, generally; but today Ibadan can only take a miserable 1,163th position among world universities. Here is a nation whose universities’ products Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu boasted proudly of as being responsible for the scientific and technological feats the Biafrans recorded during the unfortunate Civil War. Here is a nation whose children who have managed to find their way out of the country are excelling everywhere they find themselves in the world. Here is a nation whose products as teachers and researchers are making breakthroughs in all manner of human endeavours wherever the environment is education-friendlier. Here is the same nation forming a huge valley among the world’s universities today. And as I went down the list, images of some of our current gladiators in government flitted past my head. I could see the Honourable Minister of Labour seated, his beard of affluence in place, sipping a healthy cup of coffee or tea, a resting newspaper in front with just the labour-related stories asterisked for him as he thinks of what rough tackle to use in “defeating” the nation’s striking university lecturers. I can see the Honourable Minister of Finance, her venom whetted and ready to strike further at the university lecturers’ salaries. I can see her loyal subaltern, the Accountant-General, with his Director in charge of IPPIS, ready with a fresh punch at the lecturers’ lean earnings. And then as I continued down the list, my eyes stumbled on the image of the Honourable Minister of Education struggling against odds to explain the tragedy entailed in killing education. He looks strange and alone among his colleagues in his favourable posturing towards ASUU’s system-saving interventionist measures.
These images invoked severe pain in me as I looked at my great nation almost absent from the comity of world’s universities. Not that all Nigerians do not know the truth about ASUU’s struggles for the survival of public universities, two of which are the ones represented on this year’s rankings of world universities. Many Nigerians know and are truly sad about the situation. For instance, while we, the Nigerian lecturers, were deliberately starved during the Covid-19 total lockdown, my great friend, Kayode Komolafe of Thisday newspaper, strengthened me much. He assured me that when the history of this country will be written, ASUU will have a place of gold in the account as that is the only union that is sincerely fighting a lone battle for the survival of Nigeria’s universities. When he mentioned that ASUU is fighting a battle that all Nigerians ought to be fighting, I remembered my Malaysian and Ghanaian experiences. At independence in 1957, Ghanaians decided to insulate education from politics such that any government, military or civilian, that tampers with the nation’s education, faces the wrath of the entire citizenry, not just the actors in the education sector alone. Another great mind, Pastor Udeme Ukpong, used the story of the snake which bit repeatedly the hand that wanted to save it from a fire as an illustration of how Nigerians are destroying or biting incessantly the ASUU that is battling to save the nation’s education system. And who are these snakes? The government, which should take the glory for having a healthy system of education, the parents who should be happy that their children are being given a globally competitive education quality; and the students themselves, who should be appreciative of being properly baked for survival in a competitive world. The student body, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), especially under the successive treacherous and leadership of Yinka Gbadebo (under the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan) and Bamidele Akpan (under the current administration of President Mohammadu Buhari) simply spent more time daring the lecturers to please the government than fighting for the improvement of the education sector.
Further, in a rather pensive, almost mournful tone, one of my most gracious and promising former students, who now resides in Britain, said to me, “Sir, we all know what ASUU is fighting for. The Union certainly wants the system to survive, but I doubt that the Union will achieve its goal because the British economy will be seriously and negatively affected if the Nigerian education system regains its good state of health. You need to know how much this country [Britain] makes every year from fees paid by Nigerian students; and the people here [in Britain], who control our governments back home would never allow any positive changes in the state of our education”. Not that this was new to me or to my colleagues; but the import of the statement is that it was coming from a non-ASUU member, a patriotic, altruistic and well informed Nigerian who told me she was still proud of her Nigerian university education background in spite of the lack of facilities and the strikes that had truncated her learning while here.
In sum, while the atmosphere in other countries must be charged now with robust discussions about how their countries fared in this year’s world ranking of universities, Nigerians, with only two out of the nation’s over 200 universities making the list at 1163 and 1882 respectively, are quiet and going about their businesses as if this nation is no longer a part of the world – or can only share the world’s woes such as in Covid-19. Still worse is the fact that while the rest of the world’s governments are either celebrating the enhanced positions of their universities in the rankings or working towards improvement in the education sector, the gladiators in the Nigerian government led by the ministers of labour and finance, and armed with the crude implement known as IPPIS (Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System), is busy plucking the few feathers that are left in the body of the bird called Nigerian University System through the current sacking of contract and visiting lecturers. Thus, like the racist former American White police officer, Derek Chauvin, who savagely pinned down the African American George Floyd to death late last month with his knee, the knee of the Nigerian government is on the neck of the Nigerian university system, and the system cannot now breathe given the sacking of lecturers on contract and visiting appointments, government’s dragging of feet over the renegotiation of its agreement with ASUU, government’s reluctance to pay the lecturers their long overdue earned academic allowances, government’s repeated reneging on the provision of fund for revitalization, and the now routine amputation of even their already paltry monthly deceptions called salaries. Strangely, however, the Nigerian students themselves, their parents and most of the Nigerian populace are either urging the government to press its knee harder on the neck of the lecturers or struggling to lend a knee to government’s murderous one already on the neck of the nation’s education system, while the advanced economies that have programmed the system to this death watch with satisfaction, their universities showing up very early in the list of any world rankings of universities. Meanwhile, the Nigerian nation remains represented in this year’s world rankings by only the University of Ibadan, which comes up at 1,163, and the University of Nigeria, which takes the 1,882th position out of the 2000 universities on the list.
– Professor Joseph A. Ushie
Why am I so happy to see the sun rise and smell her sweet fragrance? I may not explain exactly, but this is why.
Before now I slept like a log, snoring away, unconscious to the world’s drama. Nocturnal creatures crept, birds hoot. The night is innocently quiet but may have consumed many. My windows are open, the whistling pines sang a lullaby. Soft rain drum the rooftop. Pata-pata was her fair rhythm. The wind accompanied the rhythm with an invisible guitar, addressing my bed. Cool breeze rent, blowing kisses, caressing man who slept. It wooed man to dreamland, where he could see beautiful things. All these while, I am man, bones and flesh, helpless only to Providence and her benevolence.
The sun’s glamour lit the skies, it woke man. Golden rays filter through the curtain, a welcome to new day. Blue clouds wait outside, there the green field lay wet with dew. Grasshoppers, beetles and crickets play in them. When stick insects fly, their zithering wings create a tune. Termites are busy moving their quarry. Mantises cling like monkeys to tree leaves. Trees are calm, resting from the long cold night. Squirrels play up their branches, the wind their surfboard. Egrets, pigeons, turtle doves, skylarks, bluebirds and others enjoy the fresh air. Their cries fill the horizon with hope, they spoke of gratitude and joy, of seeing a new day. Grey and brown mushrooms sprout, squeezing out of earth little umbrella citadels for ants. Some shaped like the anthill down the road. Bright flowers dance in the morning breeze. They are dressed in different schools: white and purple, green and yellow, red and pink, or blue and orange. Their stalks a perfectly sewn uniform, each glamouring in her pretty dress. The canopy of green grass expands each morning. There’s carpet grass, mother nature’s rug. There’s the guinea grass, tall enough to hide bugs and worms. Butterflies roam the garden, sunlight behind their back. Tree leaves fall in circles, to meet the wind at the foot of trees. A stronger wind gladly sweeps them all over the garden – a queer rollercoaster without wheels. Yet sunlight came in installments, watching over all.
I have a friend who checks on my window each morning. She admires herself at the glass mirror. From the other side I laugh at her fluffy beauty. Straight beak sitting on a funny face. Two agile broom-like legs holding a big body. Those legs, a perfect weightlifter, just that it lacked muscle. Black feathers, white underbellies – a reminder of me whenever I wore a black suit. ‘But why are you so pretty every morning?‘ I wonder. I smell the flowers that live not far away. Hibiscus and Flamboyant, different colours, many scents. Strength in diversity. But colour has no scent. The wet clay smell nice too, in it the bull frog family live. The garden is a big theatre – a world of its own. If I ever knew the winds tune, I will sing with her. She sang slowly, sometimes high, other times low-pitch. So I hum in my heart and whistle when I am overwhelmed. I write a song in my mind. I will let the later morning hear it and trust that she keeps my tune secret.
I am grateful for the song on the roof. For those little angels disguised as birds that wake me. For the cool breeze that makes sleep enjoyable. For night rains that sing me a lullaby. For the green garden and her flourishing faun and flora. For dew that wet my foot when I walk through the green grass. For the insects and birds that greet the morning with a beautiful song. For the love, joy, peace and hope that comes with each bright morning. Gratitude is still the best attitude.
Do you now see why I am happy when I see sunlight? For me, to live is to be grateful.
Morning wind, crisp smell,
Moist dew, sun rise, beautiful land
Take it all in and live in it,
Inhale deeply before it’s gone
Slope of pointed hills
Black against the horizon
Threat the sun with its fierce thrust
As thin clouds streak across the sky
Cloud underbellies glow reddish hue
Morning warmth fight the heady moon
Wide plains stretched, savannah grass paradise
Sometimes lonely trees stand with yellow grass
Ancient, raw, scattered lights slowly gather
The city below, hills stand guard like a soldier
Listen now, the Tsetse cause morning stress
But the heat will send her away with its grease
The road are shaded by thick groves of eucalyptus and vine
Nearby, human settlement; houses, huts are intertwined
Smell of ripe fruit romance the market pathway
Tomatoes gutted, grapes squashed on the clay
And when the hills let the sun rise above them
It is gold- unexplainable, like a budding worm
Again, when the humble morning rise from her sleep
The sun will rise from lands of the unknown deep
Smiling at the town she left for her solitary slumber
Yet she leaves all; fauna, flora to gracefully wonder
Now there is light, the brown Earth bright
And on all things old, the sun shines her gold
Beautiful ornament, guardian of my land
I salute you gladiator,
My great warrior!
Your strong fronds are high
To shade the village from heat,
You stand on those ancients hills
A pillar rooted deep into earth,
Little forests grow, here and there,
You tower over all, trees and fauna,
But yet a citadel for great and small,
You gather a parliament over our hamlet,
Where you precede as king of all
Stretching your kindness across valleys,
Your roots are seats for farmers
It provides succour for travelers,
It is said that you are close to skies
Because you must keep her from falling,
So I now know why they treat you as a deity
Ancient as hills that you tower over, a tree-god
It’s Orie day here. Orie is a big market day in Isuikwuato. Everybody will be heading to the market to trade. People from different places buy and sell here. I walk through the quiet hills to get some fresh air and pick some flowers.
Thankfully I have the quiet road to myself. I also have imagined poems for these majestic hills and diverse flora. There’s a deep pond close by, it gave a sweet smell of dry clay mixed with water. I will pass. I am not a fan of ponds.
I have noticed new farms. I have seen several farmers till their fertile land. I helped tie up yams and process cassava. These past few days I have only eaten fresh vegetable and fruits grown here. I will seldom see fresh food in town.
This is one of the hills sheltering Umukwu Amune, Ovim. There are more just around the bend. This explains why it’s cold all morning and night. During noon time, the sun is hot. As I write, I sit under thick foliage to listen to different birds and draft down poems. Indeed nothing compares to quiet places. Stay tuned for more poems.
Bird songs, colourful butterflies and sun rays,
Are fruits from Nature’s basket of kindness,
To man, his clan she gave tranquility and peace
Today I met this round twins, sumptuous red fruit
By the garden they grew, so I’ll make a muse for it.
Hanging down hopelessly as their weight was a clear burden,
Close to a busy ant hole, where ants traversed without care,
Their redness portray the sun’s ire but they seem quite unperturbed
I looked at them again, they bounced about, shy, when the wind pushed
A huge fly buzzed above them, loudly, bothering me that stood far off
They stared back at me, blushing with the loud fly, I shrugged
‘Well, hello. You’ve seen enough already. What do we owe your gaze?’
‘I’m just a passerby, I happened to notice an unusual beauty in my garden’
‘Oh okay, the last time we checked we ain’t in a museum that’s why we asked’
They seem embarrassed on my presence, I also felt same too
‘Toh, your beauty has dumbfounded me, forgive me fair tomato,
‘I haven’t seen much of anyone, who combined both grace and grass in such beauty’,
With a wave of their leaves, I think they danced or maybe, just accepted my apology
Now if I let myself ponder on their puny life, how lonely they seem,
Fulfilling though that they sat on good clay, and the wind their bossy anchor
Yet, I came to learn from them, of their benevolence to saucy and noisy neighbours,
Their humility and perseverance in stubborn winds and intruders,
Their patience in the warm sun, the embarrassing ways passersby stare at their nakedness
And their compassion as a citadel to bees, ants and man who find them a delicacy
This tomato had made me fall in love, not just with my heart, but with my stomach too
I told trees of your songs and they are jealous,
When you drop, birds and the wild stop to listen,
To hear you sing a melody from the long fall
And watch you wash your garment on the rush below
What if I told you a poem of poverty
Will you wave it off and call me silly?
I will tell you what I think
Why communities continue to sink,
School children trek miles to get a bus
Their worn-out shoes make it worse,
Bright girls will deliberately miss school
Sanitary pads their excuse, without it a woe,
There is a lad sitting near the street bend
His foot sore, his hair torn in the wind,
He is a victim of poverty, he has no home
So he and others sit it out, in rain and storm,
Slavery, a grandchild of poverty takes
People, in order to help for goodness sake,
She humbly breaks the back of hard-working men
And throw their conquered will into her mothers den,
Cold night won’t help anyone either
She is cruel to both the rich and the pauper,
Poverty gave a meal once a day
To wish deceitful luxuries away,
If poverty was a product and so man-made
It is dished as soup in fancy bottles of pomade,
Now will you sit with me and reason
About wealth that is tactfully hidden
And enjoyed by those we trust with votes?
You will agree that poverty is not by choice
To you my feathery friend I write
In greying fields your fur I sight
Dangling by your sides are wings,
A tall neck, from which you may sing
Caw caw, caw caw are your favourite words
The wind is your friend, the soil your playground,
The shrub is home, to it you rest when weary,
Your legs are strong, your claws even deadly
Evenings are for your quick runaways
You send stray rodents scampering away
I am not ashamed of your beautiful bald head
But you my fluffy friend, you are an amazing bird
In the morning your scent fill the farmyard
You stand taller than scarecrows in our land
To have you here, beautiful and tall bird
Is a queer muse, but one of absolute good
Love knows no pink, no blue, no colour; it knows no creed, no silence, no mumblings, no religion or association. It will learn nothing that brings shame or pain or hurt to others and one’s environment.
Love preys on no one, it knows no greed and no self. Like fresh leaves falling quietly away from the mother tree, love spreads gifts of kindness and compassion wherever it goes.
Love someone genuinely today.
I wish a happy Children’s Day to all the children in your life.
But as I write to you today, my heart goes out to all the children detained in Northeast Nigeria and caught up in endless violence at the hands of Boko Haram and the Nigerian military.
They were taken away from their families and had their childhood revoked – they were forced to become child soldiers and child wives, subjected to atrocious violence. They were detained unlawfully, often with adults, in grossly inhumane conditions. They were ill-treated and tortured.
And now, as they attempt to recover, hundreds of schools remain closed – 75% of children in Borno State are out of school.
Nigeria must swiftly reverse its course and bring redress to children in the Northeast.
Campaigner, Amnesty International Nigeria
I received this heart breaking email from Amnesty International Nigeria. As I read through, it dawned on me that there’s little or nothing to celebrate today. Bad leadership, political unrest, insurgency, religious crisis and poverty contributed to issues faced by children today. I always mention bad leadership because it is at the centre of it all.
It’s frightening when I look at reported cases of abuse (and what about unreported cases?) Children rights are abused on daily basis. Even as we celebrate their day, many will go to bed without food, many will never attend school in their lifetime, many may never have the chance to live (a normal life). What is really going on?
Is it not awful that in today’s civilized world which had conquered diseases, deserts and drought, that children rights are taken lightly? They have become main victims of forced labour, teenage pregnancy, sexual/physical abuse, trafficking, child soldiers etc. I hope that things change for good.
I dedicate the poem below to children, all over the world. I echo what many may never have the chance to ask for:
Give me books and a pen,
Promise me nothing but education
Teach me words or to count one to three
And I’ll paint the world for you to see
Today being Children’s Day, I wish that every child has access to quality education, that every child live in a world free of economic, religious, political, or sociocultural discrimination and finally that we all put children’s rights first and contribute towards their happiness, peace and progress.
Happy hawk surf,
King of blue clouds, wind
While silence look on
Papa came back looking exhausted and defeated. He hung a tied piece of wrapper across his left shoulder and chewed slowly on bitter cola. He held a yellow palm frond in his left palm as he walked into our compound.
From my room I watched him march straight to his hut without speaking to anyone. He didn’t even answer Mama’s greeting. Something must be the problem and I was determined to find out sooner or later.
Three nights ago I overheard Mama and Papa speak about the new priest that was sent by the Mission to our hamlet. Papa had intentions to speak to him to see if he could help liberate me from the spirit. They said the white man was stout with an iconic moustache. He was very tall and wore large eye glasses. Some children and indeed the villagers reasoned he had special powers for he talked back with authority and rude confidence at the Chief. Those who had met him thought he spoke through his nose and that he barely breath when he spoke. My friends who went with their fathers to welcome him said he spoke something like shuprishupri and they pitied their fathers who could only nod and gesticulate when he spoke to them. They swore he was a good actor full of humour. Sometimes some of the children will try to mimic his speaking style, ridicule his manners and then laugh away at their stupid selves.
Papa went to welcome him as the eldest in his clan. He should have taken me as his first son as others did but he felt I was not fully recovered. I thought Papa wouldn’t let us close to missionaries so that we won’t get corrupted by their ways. He had deliberately stopped us from attending church services too. But why would he seek help from those he abhorred? I shrugged. I knew one day I’ll meet the white man, and see if I can use his ways to free myself from this bondage.
One dibia suggested taking me to a forest for a week-long deliverance but my father refused saying that he won’t let me out of his sight. Mama has protested even before my father took the decision. I was indifferent, if no one wanted me to possess a Leopard spirit then why not do the needful to break the link?
The dibia had even adviced Papa to leave me this way, on grounds my powers may prove useful some day. I remember Papa shout, “Tufiakwa! Chukwu amamkwe!!”
To be continued…
I know beautiful words are healing to the soul, but I write not because words are beauty but for your beautiful self. So I want you to sit back and enjoy this rhyme, this African style. Everyone has got a style, loving you by beautiful words is my style.
I received this story from a friend and thought I should share with you.
Folake, a primary school teacher, was transferred to a different school and immediately appointed as a class teacher of a class five class.
On her first day in her class, she noticed that a boy named Kola was different from the rest of the pupils because he was always lonely, out of place, dirty and never used to do homework. Folake also realized that most pupils in the class had a negative attitude towards him.
Folake decided to investigate and find out the problem. She decided to review the file containing the records for Kola. She was very surprised by what she found out.
Kola’s class one teacher wrote and said “Kola is a good pupil with a ready laugh. He does his homework neatly and has many friends”.
The class two teacher wrote, Kola is a good pupil with a ready laugh. He does his homework neatly but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home must be a struggle”
The class three teacher wrote, “his mother’s death has been hard on him. He tries to do his best but his father doesn’t show much interest”.
The class four teacher wrote, “Kola is withdrawn.He doesn’t do his homework and has very few friends”.
By now teacher Folake had known where the problem was, and she was very ashamed of herself. And from that day onwards she decided to pay much attention on Kola and to assist him as much as possible.
Towards the end of the year, the pupils in the class decided to bring presents to teacher Folake. All the pupils in the class brought expensive presents which were wrapped in coloured paper except Kola. His present was wrapped clumsily in old pieces of newspaper. The rest of the pupils laughed at him when they saw what he brought.
Folake felt great pain as she opened the present that Kola had brought, she found an old bottle of perfume which was a quarter full and an old bracelet which had several beads missing. To stifle the laughter from the pupils, teacher Folake exclaimed “this bracelet is very beautiful” and wore it. She also took the bottle of perfume, tapped it on her wrist and put it on.
In the evening, when the rest of the pupils were going home, Kola deliberately remained behind, and when he was sure that all the pupils had left, he went to see teacher Folake. He entered her office, and summoning enough courage he said to her, “Teacher, today you smelled the way my mum used to”. When Kola left, Folake locked herself in the office and cried for more than an hour.
The following year, Kola wrote a letter to teacher Folake. He told her that she was the best teacher that he ever had in his life.
Six years later, he wrote another letter, he told her that he had finished secondary school and he was the best in his class. He added that “she was still the best teacher he ever had in his life”.
Eight years later, he wrote another letter. He told her that he had completed his bachelor’s degree in medicine was now a doctor. He added that she was still “The best teacher he ever had in his life”.
The following year, he wrote another letter. He told her that he had found a girl and was going to get married. He explained that his father had died one year earlier, and was wondering whether Folake would accept to attend the wedding and sit in the place reserved for the mother of the groom. Of course Folake accepted and during the wedding, she was putting on the same bracelet with several beads missing and she was also putting on the same perfume that Kola remembered his mother was putting on the day she died.
Now l ask a question, have you ever helped someone you don’t like? Can you do good just to help someone get up even when they cannot pay you back when they are not there?
LESSON: Any kindness you do to someone lasts forever! Touch a life in your school, places of worship your immediate environment, community, or anywhere today!
Dedicated to all who have the special opportunity to touch lives.
I see light fell from the sky
On the wind I heard a sigh…Image @ChristurtleboyesStart a blog here.
Listen to Nature sing from waterfalls,
She thrash her garments upon rocks
And wash them with her soft palms
She sends soft waters crashing into the pool
Watching the blue skies as her fingers work
When the water descend they form
Fine curtains of white mist
As the water touch the pool below
It changes into bubbling green
Loose soil cling to Water lilies & Fern roots
Slowly falling water push crabs to their burrows
Echoing nature’s still song till evening
Many times I told myself that love is but a lie
It comes into a life and leaves without a trace
But since I met you, I feel more ambience;
The way you make me do things I do,
The way you smile and cherish life so
If I do love you
I would make me a green hut at your gates
Drum and call upon your name
I would of your virtues write long poems
Sing them in the dead of the night
So it sounds among the ancient hills
With Echo, the talkative spirit of the air