Monday, 30 March 2009

How Come?

Most civilised societies are united in their hatred and revulsion of the actions of Hitler and his barbaric SS army. We even erect permanent monuments to condemn their deeds, especially the inhuman extermination of 6 million Jews or make that Jews, Poles, Russians or Gypsies – whatever version you subscribe to.

We feel so strongly that society should not have to go through those dark days again and we entrench a yearly remembrance in our national diaries to ensure we do not forget.

A good and worthy thing I say, but it does leave me wondering why another seismic and tragic period relatively goes unmarked or even noted during our global moments of deep reflection. Could it be that those whose forefathers were responsible for such acts, are proficient at remembering other people’s evil deeds, but at the same time very slow to remember theirs.

Is it possible that human beings are only remembered when they are deemed to be worthy of remembrance? Or maybe it is just too embarrassing to acknowledge. After all, what ammunition would we have to shoot down the Germans (a global pastime) if we ourselves, have to admit our complicity in the extortion and near destruction of a people?

You see sometimes, I believe I do not have the moral authority to pursue this issue, especially as everyone knows African leaders - just like in the present day - were complicit in and benefited from, the rape of their own people. How can I condemn what the Europeans did, when my own people were complicit in selling each other out? But then I have come across stories of Jew giving up Jew in Nazi Germany, so I am able to comfortably refocus on the plight of those slaves that had to withstand another example of Man’s inhumanity to man.

I will keep asking, if only to ensure that the West never forgets. Just like it has never forgotten any transgression against its own people, no matter how long ago it occurred. So, you can imagine my chagrin, when one of my English colleagues once said to me;

"Come on you guys need to get over it!"

I had no choice but to hit back;

"We would the moment you quit talking about what the Japanese did to your soldiers in that World war!"

As you can imagine, it was not my most popular moment.

Saying that, I hold on to this truth; that the recounting of an evil perpetuated in the past, no matter how uncomfortable it makes us feel, does not indicate angst or a desire for revenge, mostly it relects a desire within the human spirit to understand whence we came, so we can define where we end up and ensure those events do not reoccur.

Our need to get people to stop talking about their past, because it reminds us of our capacity to be inhuman, is just a defence mechanism that Man has perfected. For those who would claim they have gotten over it, please endeavour to learn more about the period, for there is no forgiveness until you fully comprehend what you are forgiving.

A good start will be this book; If We Must Die: Shipboard Insurrections in the Era of the Atlantic Slave Trade by Eric Robert Taylor . For my part, it has never been about us getting over anything. It has and should always be about no one getting over it.  Especially, those who are hell-bent on us forgetting.

One thing really worries me though; what has really happened to the approximately 4 million black souls tossed aboard into the Atlantic at the slightest sign of illness or revolt. Do they wander the high seas aimlessly confused or are they in the afterlife comparing notes with the asphyxiated and poisoned from Auschwitz?

I wonder if they are asking them – How come they remember you and forget us?

Friday, 27 March 2009

Look and Laugh!

Just when most Nigerians are questioning the purpose of a federal government that appears to be directionless at best or comatose at worst, we have now been handed down the latest in a series of unfathomable directives, which clearly shows our days of worrying are far from over.

For those who might not be aware, the Federal Executive Council on Wednesday this week, announced the withdrawal of police orderlies for the following; Justices of the Court of Appeal, Chief Judge and Grand Khadi of a state, President of the Customary Court of Appeal, Judges of the Federal High Court, FCT and state high courts, Khadis of Sharia Court of Appeal, Judges of Customary Court of Appeal and Magistrates. The list also includes; Special advisers, Assistants and other principal staff of the President and Vice-President, Secretaries to state governments; State heads of service, Commissioners and Principal staff of state governors.

Just so you are in the know, the following will still keep their security; President, Vice-President, Chief Justice of the Federation, State governors, Deputy governors, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, President of the Court of Appeal, Head of Service of the Federation and Ministers.

So, the Justices of the Courts of Appeal who are the ones responsible for passing down judgements in such high-profile cases like the State governorship tussles, will no longer have security, but a Minister who for the best will in the world, is not in what one would consider a security challenged role, will have their police ordelies in place. Also, consider that all members of the FEC get to keep their security, then you have governance Nigerian-style.

What leaves me totally befuddled is the 'same world, different planet' mentality that this government appears to operate on. Do these people not live in Nigeria? Okay, let's break it down; aside from the Power crisis, what is Nigeria's most prevailing challenge? I will take a guess and say you have just mentioned the word 'security', so how is it that those who are supposed to be leading us to the promised land, have gone off on a different tangent? Of all the social issues affecting our ailing nation, where does this fit in? Who does it help? The Judge who will now sleep with both eyes open (he slept with just one when he had an orderly!), or the criminal who now knows that the path to retribution, has been cleared further for his nefarious benefit?

My late father used to be a Judge before he passed away in 2000, and I can assure you family members of those who sit on the Nigerian judiciary are always relieved to see the alloted policeman who is never too far away. They are aware that even though it might not provide infallible security (what does?), it bears the appearance of some level of protection, just in case an aggrieved party decides to take the law into their hands. I would have thought the obvious dangers of having no security were self-evident, but I guess not....not in Nigeria anyway. In Nigeria, we allocate police orderlies to foreigners (remember the picture of that mobile policeman holding the umbrella over the Chinese man), business people of dubious character, but leave those who are in clear and present danger, fallowing in the cold. We have clearly lost our way.

As expected, the directive has been challenged by the usual suspects; i.e the NBA, opposition political parties and the odd good egg in the PDP, so who knows, we might actually get a reprieve from out populist leader who afterall won more than 70% of our votes. For my part, as I am in no way connected or privy to the level of authority needed to reverse the decision, I will just do what Fela told us to do in these situations.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

The God Business

"Faith is different from proof; the latter is human, the former is a Gift from God."

Blaise Pascal - 17th Century Philosopher, Mathematician and author of Pascal's Wager

As calm descends upon the land following the latest storm brewed and unleashed on Nigerian 'Christendom' following the news of RCCG's purchase of a private jet for its Overseer (see Newsweek profile), one cannot sit aside and not comment on the things we do and say, in the name of the most high.

It has now become apparent that the exponents of religion in all their guises, are increasingly under fire and predictable scrutiny.

The Pope, for his insistence in Angola, that condoms should not be used, even in the face of the ravaging spread of HIV-Aids in the African continent, coupled with his somewhat lame reaction to the paedophilia rampant amongst certain Catholic dioceses.

The Ayatollahs in far flung places, who some see as complicit in the current instability around the world and the current school of Pentecostal pastors, who seem to live in a different world from the millions of their followers.

I believe it is prudent though, to begin by stating I have no stake in either side of the argument and unlike some, I do not have the time or inclination to get all worked up about issues surrounding the choices that a religious body, polity or entity make. Do not misunderstand me, I have my ideas on the morality or lack of, on those choices, but I refuse to increase my heart rate, because, to paraphrase Fela: 'you will die for nothing.'

Some things I believe are self-evident, irrespective of the religion one follows. The central theme at least 99% of the time, is the existence of a Supreme Being and basically, that Being has passed down 'a way of life,' for the benefit of mankind.

Also, at it turns out, that Supreme Being also sends us a prophet to educate us on that way of life. The Muslims have Muhammad, the Christians have Christ and the Buddhists have Buddha, just to name a few.

Now, although I am not the most religious person in the world, I prefer to believe that the Supreme Being(s) in all the different ways of life listed above, want(s) man to live in harmony and move closer to him (or her....for there are those who believe that God is not male).

Bottom line, for man to prosper, he has to adhere to the tenets of his Supreme Being. These facts of mine, I believe to be indubitable and I hold steadfastly to them under the protection of creative license.

But getting back to the issue at hand, how is it that something so pure and so devoid of hate, handed down to us by a force most believe to be all-knowing and all-encompassing, has now been pummeled beyond recognition after a few centuries in the hands of Man?

Some enraged observers even ask how it is acceptable for certain individuals who purport to be men of God, to openly live above reproach and appear to gloat shamelessly in the process. Of course, those who make the mistake of putting that poser to a room full of Pentecostals, will most definitely feel the full force of 1 Chronicles 16:22 and trust me, it is a force frequently deployed and effectively too!

Some Muslims for their part, are prepared to be friendly towards an 'unbeliever', but if you dare to cross the line when it comes to the issue of God and begin to paint a picture he or she doesn't recognise, his comeback is firm and uncompromising; "La ilaha ill Allah".....end of story.

All we seem to do now is argue back and forth as to whose religion is superior and how our beliefs are the only ones guaranteed to get people to that cosy place in heaven. Jews, Muslims and Christians  all engaged in a constant bickering as to the concept of God, with each side resolute in their version of the 'truth'. It is a complete mess!

My overwhelming hope is that one day, we all begin to realise that God gave us a way to live our lives, but just like our foremost ancestor (depending on what you believe), we have managed to move away from that message and just like he acted in that 'beautiful garden', we have chosen to embrace reckless emotion.

We have taken his wish for us and turned it into all these religions. We produce emotional outbursts when anyone disagrees with us, vitriolic missiles are fired, sometimes fatally, in the direction of those who refuse to accept our way of life.

But this is my modest take on the issue.

God is Love and no matter how you spin it, he wants his people to live pious, clean and the type of lifestyle that will flatter and compliment him. That Man has decided to create the cesspit we currently find ourselves, is down to the fact that we have forgotten the role of faith and the critical issue of that individual relationship with the Almighty.

Religion is a private thing and if you do believe in God, I would like to wager that he will judge you on your  deeds and no extra brownie points will be given for bashing the other man's religion or lifestyle.

 If the Muslim decides to cover her body from head to toe and spend all of her (or his) money on pursuing the upliftment of Islam, as long as no resident rules are broken, it is not for anyone else to judge. Likewise, if the Christian decides to buy a satellite in the sky to ensure he can spread his message universally and whilst at it, decides to purchase a G5 or space shuttle to extend the spread of that message, so be it!

They are working to their belief.....It's their faith and it is between them and their God!

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

In the Face of Royalty

The eagle-eyed amongst the readers of this blog (sometimes I wonder if there any!), would have noticed there was no entry for yesterday. Unfortunately, I had not given notice of that possibility, so I do apologise if indeed there was anyone wreaked with disappointment. Actually, I had taken the day off in respect to a friend who passed away 5 years ago yesterday, but who still remains one of the richest sources of inspiration for most things I do with my writing.

Joe was sixty and in the 'dawn of his life' (his words, not mine) when I first met him at Gatwick Airport, during my civil service days. He had a thing for Africa, defying his very Jewish family to travel to various countries in the 'magical continent' as he often described it. His list of visited towns, villages and cities, made you realise you were in the presence of a true world citizen. When a European recounts their 1957 trip down dirt paths in Aba, Jos and Osogbo, just to name a few, one is left with nothing but awe....well, at least I was.

So, how did chats about travelling in Africa progress to a strong relationship? Well, Joe was also a keen follower of politics and had some interesting views on world events, which he jotted down and espoused passionately during our lunch breaks. This meant what began as a simple 'hello' in 1996 had now morphed into a combative 30 minute daily session in 1998, which had now began to attract other colleagues. Unknown to the onlooking observers though, the sessions had continued after work on the train between the one-stop of Gatwick and Three Bridges, and then for a few more minutes before Joe turned into his street. We had become pugilists in a ring with no ropes and our relationship grew from strength to strength. I had even been present at a family meal, when Joe's nephew had brought home his Eithopian girlfriend to the consternation of his parents. Joe's brother, Isaac, a very conservative man, had blamed Joe's negative influence as a factor in his son's decision and he did not hold back.

"I don't think this would have happened, if it wasn't for all your mumbo-jumbo nonsense. I had to put with my niece marrrying a foreigner and now this?"

Joe, for his part was resolute; "the fact that my daughter married outside her race is not down to anything I did, it's what she wanted. I brought her up as free thinker, not a shackled slave to my ideas! Also, please feel free to ignore the presence of our foreign guests, Isaac," he screamed loudly. "You should be grateful your son has a mind of his own and has not ended up like you!"

Of course, on that occasion I had wished we were not so close, as it become obvious that my presence wasn't exactly helping. The meal was fantastic and full of unknown delights, but I was left with no other option than to rush the contents of my plate, to the displeasure of Sara, Isaac's lovely wife. But worse was to come.....

Isaac, a royalist had taken exception at the African head of state on the TV, who had not bowed when receiving Prince Charles. He was apopletic; "why can't this people show respect in the presence of royalty? We introduce these people to civillisation and this is how they repay us? They are like the Arabs; bloody ungrateful!"

Of course, pandemonium descended on the house, with Joe and Isaac at each other's throat. In the ensuing drama, I had begun to negotiate my exit and I was on the way to success, when Isaac threw me a wobbly;

"Kanmi, you will bow if you met our royalty, wouldn't you?"

I found myself stuck to the spot, like a rabbit caught in headlights...but I had to come back.

"Your royalty, Isaac? I don't know, would you bow if you met Nigerian royalty?"

He looked at me with narrowed eyes and cursed under his breath. Joe was jumping up and down with joy. He could not resist, as his tongue let loose.

"What a comeback! Come on Isaac, give our 'foreign' friend an answer. Okay, I will apply some brotherly love and assist. Kanmi, his answer is no, which is good. For my part, I did bow to deities and chiefs in Africa, but I would never bow down to desendants of Germans, just because they are the accepted face of royalty in this isle!"

As it turned out, Joe and I had now become the unaccepted faces in Isaac's home. As we walked out of the house, Joe turned round to me, deep in thought, before asking;

"Seriously, would you bow to any member of the royal family just because you inhabit this country and would you ever see them in the same regal light that you view the royals in Nigeria?"

It was a good question and when asked without the ambient pressure of our previous host's home, it was a question I found surprisingly hard to answer honestly . Even today, as I continue to miss Joe, I still cannot tell you what I would do if I met the Queen or Prince Charles, although, I have no doubts that I will remain postrate in presence of the Ooni of Ife. It's my Yoruba blood....can't help it.

So, to bow or not to bow, where do you stand?

Monday, 23 March 2009

When the End comes....

"Wherefore I praised the dead which are already dead more than the living which are yet alive." - Ecclesiastes 4:2 (King James Bible)

When I decided to begin this blog, I had just finished the last entry of a previous one ( - a spoof of Obama's daily diary during the Election '08 campaign process). I was out of creative juice, but felt a strong need to have a medium where Nigerians and Non-Nigerians alike, could begin to appreciate the promise and possibilities of the much maligned nation. I am a strong believer in the fact that all people share similar traits and rather than destroy each other with harsh words, we could identify what holds us together and understand each other's promise, in spite of our obvious challenges. Yes, some Nigerians will make you ashamed to be Nigerian, but the same can go for the American, Brit or Russian. The main thing to remember is that the sole thing worth pursuing is the collective strand of goodness that runs through all of us, irrespective of race, religion or creed.

So, as this morning edges in and the countdown to the end of the day begins, a large proportion of the earth's inhabitants are probably thanking their lucky stars, for despite the Credit Crunch, they have a chance to carry on in life's amazing journey. A large majority see the demise of the likes of Jane Goody, Natasha Richardson, the young girl or boy next door and the anguish of those family members left behind, and realise; there but for the grace of God goes I. The accolades for the deceased celebrities mentioned above, have been overwhelming and we have been bombarded through TV, print and the internet - our pain is collective and deep. In Natasha's death we see a life unecessarily wasted and in Jade's, a tragic story that came to an even more tragic end on Mother's Day.

As the grief consumes the airwaves, I am left to reflect on the intensity (Jane Goody had a 16 page tribute in a UK tabloid today!)of it and the blatant opposite nature of that coverage as against the words directed at the same celebrities during their lifetime. Why is it that human beings always reserve kind words until a life expires? Cast your mind to your living family members and ask how many times you have truly said something nice to any of them. Look around your workplace and query whether you have fully transported the regard and appreciation you feel for your colleagues. Do people around you know that they are as talented, gracious or as nice as you believe or know they are? Or are you waiting for them to die before you spread the word? Harsh question I know, but true.

As I stated in the opening paragraph, there is a need for a collective good. I am yet to hear of a culture where the people praise their living as much as their dead, but I believe it is a trait worth adopting as we move forward. No one has ever done any harm with praise, at least not as much harm as 'No praise' at all. Do not delay your capacity to be nice and appreciative of someone close today - I am not praying for it, but it could be their last......or for that matter, yours.

Friday, 20 March 2009

The Limit is the Sky!

Tidjane Thiam

Rarely do I ever update my blog twice in a day, but I have decided to push that rule aside today in the face of some historic news emanating from the City. In what can only be described as historic(well, it bloody is!), a FTSE 100 company has or the first time ever, appointed a black person as their CEO! And guess what the best part is, he was not even born or educated in the UK. I know you are probably wondering why that is the best part, but let me assure you as someone who has spent two decades on this isle, it is refreshing to know 'foreigners' can shatter the glass ceiling in the land of Cromwell.

Tidjane Thiam is a french educated Ivorien and will become the CEO of Prudential in October 2009. His resume is impressive:

* March 2009: Appointed successor to Prudential CEO Mark Tucker
* Named second most influential black Briton in 2008
* Chief executive, Europe at insurance giant Aviva
* Partner with management consultants McKinsey & Company
* Chief executive, National Bureau for Technical Studies and Development, Ivory Coast
* Minister of Planning and Development in Ivory Coast government
* Studied engineering in Paris and gained MBA from INSEAD

For the Black historians amongst us, Franklin Delano Raines was the first CEO of a Fortune 500 company - Fannie Mae (yes, the infamous Fannie Mae!). That was in 1999, but today, 19 Fortune 500 companies are run by people of colour.

Five Fortune 500 CEOs are Black:

Kenneth I. Chenault, American Express

Ronald Williams, Aetna

Clarence Otis, Darden Restaurants

John Thompson, Symantec

Rodney O'Neal, Delphi

Seven Fortune 500 CEOs are Latino:

Antonio Perez, Eastman Kodak Co.

Alain J.P. Belda, Alcoa

Cristóbal I. Conde, SunGard Data Systems

José Maria Alapont, Federal-Mogul

Fernando Aquirre, Chiquita Brands

Alvaro G. de Molina, GMAC

William Perez, Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co.

Seven Fortune 500 CEOs are Asian, including two women:

Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo

Vikram S. Pandit, Citigroup

Ramani Ayer, Hartford Financial Services

Andrea Jung, Avon Products

Rajiv L. Gupta, Rohm and Haas

Surya N. Mohapatra, Quest Diagnostics

Jerry Yang, Yahoo!

To my mind, this latest appointment goes a long way to let the naysayers (I have been in that number) realise that it is all within our grasp. Who knows what next.....10 Downing Street? Okay,I went too far...or did I? In the final analysis, as seen with the election of Barack Obama, belief and hard work is everything. Every human being is an unstoppable force and when one looks closely, it becomes obvious that the only person stopping you, might be yourself!


Today leaves with me with four days to the deadline of finishing a project overdue for publication. The publishers have badgered me with the consistency of a woodpecker, constantly reminding me of the date slippage. The interesting thing from my perspective is this; I can easily complete the task ahead of me and cast my rampant mind on some other project, but I suffer from the dreaded disease that afflicts most creative minds; Procrastination.

If Planning and Execution were countries, I would be the King of Planning and the Minister in charge of Planning in Execution. I am a master in shelving things and pushing dates back to the end of eternity; if time allows me of course. Unfortunately, this trait has been identified as what separates those who achieve things and those who don’t. So I have decided to turn a new leaf, if not for the success, at least for the sake of my kids being proud of their Dad.

Currently, there are five different projects with no end dates in sight. The eclectic nature of the work means, one has to almost develop different personalities to deliver each task. Enter a close friend and aspiring Life coach, who on hearing my dilemma, gave me some tips on conquering my affliction. The easy guide laid out the most obvious tips which each and every one of us could adopt, with no fracture to our normal day to day activities. Unfortunately, she could not resist a few barbs in my direction;

“Castro(that's my nickname you see), this is not a big problem. Just look at this way, if you were a country, your name would be Nigeria! The good thing in your case is the fact that you are not surrounded by friends with the same trait, otherwise a collective name for your mob could be Africa!”

Of course, I had to swallow my pride and let it go. She had taken time out of her valuable schedule to help me for free, so I guess verbal diarrhoea was to be expected. Besides, she is also Nigerian, although she swears God played a cruel trick on her, as she was originally destined for the West Indies. My initial reaction to that was; “what is the bloody difference?!” In any case, I held my tongue and concentrated on her plan. Basically, it was all about delivering one’s project in phases/ stages and more importantly, understanding that completion must be the end point of inception. So, for instance, if you have a twenty chapter thesis to submit in two weeks, and you finish seventeen chapters in the first week, but fail to deliver the other three before the deadline, you have failed. Alternatively, if you have a plan for delivering two chapters a day and you stick to it, you will complete your task, with a few days to spare. Simple really….

But I know what you are thinking. If I know all these facts and I am also willing to admit I have this problem, why am I still lagging behind with this current task? Good questions guys….

I don’t know really, but I am coming up with a plan to answer that question. Oh, by the way, my close friends call me ‘Mr President,’ but you call me Umaru!

Thursday, 19 March 2009

All in the Head!

As the world wakes up to the tragic loss of British and Hollywood actress, Natasha Richardson, we all once again witness another unnecessary loss of a young, unfulfilled life possibly due to the lack of adequate safety measures. An avalanche (no pun intended)of comments have now descended upon the sport of skiing in the face of skiers not wearing the obligatory helmets. Anyone who has skied or been near a piste when enthusiaists whizz past you, can attest to the incredible speeds that can be recorded. Skiing has claimed many lives and it's danger is palpable, although it is clearly a deliciously enjoyable and popular hobby. For some Africans, it may even be considered an indulgent luxury, but I bet that is only the case because unlike most of Northern europe, we don't have the copious amounts of snow that decorate the landscape during the winter season. But let's get back to the tragedy in question and how it relates to everyone's life.

Reports have it that when Natasha Richardson fell on the slopes in Canada, she managed to get up and actually walk away from the incident! Infact, she fell on what ardent skiers call a 'baby slope'. So, how did she twenty-four hours later, become brain dead and finally expire within fourty-eight? Here are the views of two experts in the field of Neurology:

Dr. Carmelo Graffagnino, director of Duke University Medical Center's Neurosciences Critical Care Unit, told CNN; "there is an artery that runs above the skull and can get torn and begin to bleed above the lining of the brain. At that point all the pressure is pushed on the brain, causing it to swell but there is often no room for it to move inside the skull cavity. And as the pressure continues, it reduces blood flow to the brain and a patient would begin to feel the symptoms."

Dr Philip Stieg, chair of neurosurgery at NYP/Weill Cornell added to Dr Graffagnino's comments, "People need to evaluate a person's response after a minor trauma," Stieg recommends checking the size of their pupils and asking questions such as the patient's name.

Now, sit back and reflect on what you have just read. Cast an eye back on the events that have marked your life and ask yourself and those around you; have you ever known anyone who has lost their life after what is considered a minor head incident? I bet there will be one or two memories coming back to haunt us all. The head, a culturally significant body part in African mythology, is easily the most fragile thing that modern science believes a human being possesses.

If this accident and subsequent tragedy had happened for instance in Nigeria, I can put my mortgage on it that we would have been blaming the careless medical personnel of the hospital and the witch that cursed us the night before. The reality of course, is that we like everyone around the world who indulges in any activity that can result in a fatal head accident, should in every situation adhere to the necessary safety measures. In the UK, one watches in amazement, as cyclists zigzag through traffic with nothing but a mop of hair at best, to protect their cranium. On my last visit to Nigeria; I saw unbelted children driven in speeding cars, passengers on 'Okadas' riding with helemets carelessly balanced on their heads like fedoras and baseball caps. In some extreme cases, you even saw people hold the helmet a few inches above their heads!!!

In the end, it is the individual's responsibility to look after one's life and the careless abandon most of us engage when we board cars, climb onto bikes and put on those skis of life, proves one universal and undeniable fact; most human beings easily forget the fragility of life! I will leave you with more words of wisdom from Dr Graffagnino:

"The most important thing to do to lower your risk is to wear a helmet when you can, and don't brush off an injury because you feel 'fine' at first. The brain is like Jell-O. Imagine if you dropped a bowl of Jell-O on the floor and it looks intact at first but when you examine it really close, you can see it has teeny tiny cracks all in it. Well the brain can have these tiny cracks that don't show up on initial CAT scan but will develop into problems down the line."

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

And yet they call us Incompetent....

It may come as a surprise to some, but there are 3 Nigerians in the Regional final list for the 2009/10 White House fellows list. Some might ask; Who is a White House fellow? The White House fellow is a special assistant to Senior White House staff and it is a prestigous job with names like Colin Powell and Sanjay Gupta as Alumni. Invariably, only a dozen or so will make 1600 Pennsylvania Road, but to be on this list means you have shown potential for outstanding leadership and you possess proven dedication to service. Well done to Chisaraokwu N. Asomugha, Abimbola T. Omoniyi and Obinna A. Onyeagoro.

Okay, there are 2 more stages to go through; one to choose the 30 National finalists and then another round of interviews to choose the final elite group, but it would be bloody-mindedness to ignore the inclusion of people who look and carry names like us. It is a thing of pride and a reassurance that unlike what our detractors expouse, we do not carry a 'Fraud' gene.

This is very important to note especially in these times, when Nigeria seems to be devoid of well-meaning administrators. Yes, we call a few names as performing capably in their roles, but the mind boggles when you consider the 'wasted generation' of gifted individuals festering on the pile of unused resources and yet we watch our country go to the dogs. Do not get me wrong, I am not saying the White House list means we have reached the zenith of achievement, but it does confirm that we can stand toe to toe with other nations and be proud of our potential.

Evidently, a day will come when all that potential will translate into worthy deeds and Nigeria will occupy its rightful place in the league of nations. Until then, let us do what we do best; Watch and Pray!

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

The Mandarin Express!

Pointe Noire, Democratic Republic of Congo
In less than a decade, Ke Qian Zhang, aformer journalist, and his wife Jessica have made their fortune in numerous sectors: restaurants, nightclubs, shops selling imported goods, a factory producing aluminum window frames, cement import, and logging.

A few weeks ago, I posted an entry on this blog regarding the presence of the Chinese in Africa........( CNN have now published some images (see above and the rest at link below) of the 'partnership'.

In my earlier entry, I was of the opinion as I still am, that it would end in tears for the ailing continent. My position is driven by a simple maxim; 'A sick man does not get better due to money spent on the hospital, rather, his condition may improve if the investment was directly spent on the equipment for his treatment.'

For the rest of images see link below:,29307,1884396,00.html

Monday, 16 March 2009

Golden Balls

Don’t you just love football? The sight of Rashidi Yekini in USA 94, grabbing the goal net and screaming out the names of his kids in celebration. An ecstatic Marco Tardelli, neck veins popping, as he ran the length of the field after despatching a heavily favoured German side. I could go on, but space and time don’t permit me. For those who cannot get excited about football, it must be excruciatingly painful and downright irritating, to watch fully grown men lose their minds over another group of exuberant males running after a leather ball.

I guess it is like anything in life, some people get it and some don’t. One man’s favourite food and all that jive, or is it one man’s favourite poison. Having said all that, I wish I could have the power to convince the unbelievers about the joys that await them in football heaven. I could experience the satisfaction of telling them how football was ‘not a matter of life and death, but something far more important than that’.

I could impart more ‘Shankisms’ into their virgin minds and impregnate them with stories of unbridled highs and lows experienced in the arena of giants like Edson Arantes Do Nascimento, Diego Armando Maradona, Alfredo Di Stefano, Hendrik Johannes Cruijff and Robert Frederick Chelsea Moore. Well okay, the South American names have a better ring to them. Saying that though,do you remember these Nigerian gems; Adokiye Amiesimaka, Alloysius Atuegbu and Haruna Ilerika...somehow, you just believed they were geniuses on the field just by the sound of their names!

As a Liverpool fan, I believe I am more than equipped with incredible accounts of personal enhancement derived from witnessing a catalogue of triumphs. Although, it is bound to distress Manchester United fans in particular, I could butter up the uninitiated with statements like; the most successful club in the history of British football, the greatest FA Cup final match of all time, the best UEFA Cup final of all time, the greatest Champions League final of all time and so many other wonderful accolades too many to mention. I could convince them that Liverpool do not just have to win, Manchester United have to lose, preferable on the same day! The tales I could tell…..

As the beautiful game becomes bigger and its fan base explodes, it has succeeded in enticing big business and the sky is the limit. Nothing in sport unifies the world the way it does and there is no greater medium in the world of competition. Sometimes, I wonder if those in charge of the game in Nigeria will ever appreciate the effective vehicle the sport can be. As a nation outrageously blessed with football talent, but lacking in organisation, you just hope we will one day fulfil our potential and please can we try and do it with a local coach. There is something very degrading about having the world’s most populous Black country being led out by unknown journeymen coaches from obscure European countries.

In the final analysis, those of us who love football do so because it is without doubt the greatest sport in the world. Take away the sometimes petulant players with overblown egos, the corrupt agents and the managers who are hell bent on their sons becoming even more successfully corrupt agents, the grey suits that sit at the top of the game and the men in black who are signed up members of the Stevie Wonder fan club (Sorry, Mr Wonder).

Take all that away and it’s a bloody great game.


By the time you read this, the sun would be have set on Tony Blair’s political career and the US lecture circuit should be fervent with anticipation of his impending arrival. The Blairs’ bank managers would breathe a big collective sigh of relief, as the dollars roll in and we all would be breathing an even bigger one, as the Tony and Cherie bandwagon rolls out of Downing Street.
In the ten years that the Blairs have inhabited the house with a ten on its front door, the United Kingdom has morphed into an unrecognisable isle. The elation and hope that greeted New Labour’s electoral victory has been replaced with a simmering hatred and distrust for everything political and government related. Simple things like the British sense of good manners and fairness have been replaced by belligerence, civil disobedience and an acute apathy for each other’s welfare.
As with most people who would do almost anything to get power and even more to cling on to it, he led a team that stopped at nothing to frustrate the likes of Dr Kelly, whilst festering their power-crazed interests. The same team that dreamt up a fictional tale to invade Iraq, all because their master had made a commitment to his American svengali of unflinching support, even if the civillised world said no.

Blair's team were nothing, but a flawed group of individuals so driven by their warped belief of their own superiority; blind to reality and so far up each other’s orifices, that it is no surprise they have left such a stink about the place.
Having just read a stupefying Newsweek article on the Blair legacy, I can only conclude that the man lives in a world of his own. The Blair years fall into two phases; the bright beginning and the dark ending. Let’s face it, he had us going for a while and it was only our willingness to succumb to his charms that let TB into our lives.

Let’s hope it’s not the incurable strain.

Read more of Kanmi Iyanda at:


Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Waiting for God....

Did you wake up this morning bemoaning the state of your life, whinging about the things that keep going wrong, whilst conveniently forgetting the things that are going right? If you didn’t, as long as we are telling the truth, can I confess that I did? It’s just a terrible habit that emanated out of being a spoilt child, who practically had everything he asked for and to make it worse, a child that was shielded from the harsh realities of life.

This morning was particularly bad, as I just discovered that I had run out of coffee and suddenly all the bad news being relayed on CNN about some starving people somewhere in Africa, got pushed to the back of my mind and relegated by the much more life-threatening issue of my empty daily stimulant jar. So, you can imagine my shame when a radio DJ mentioned the three year anniversary of Dana Reeves’ death. Dana Reeves? Who is she I hear you ask. And why would her name spring forth my shame, of all emotions?

Well, for those who do not know, Dana Reeves was Christopher Reeves’ wife. Remember the guy who played Superman? Yes, that’s him. The guy, who fell off a horse in 1995, severed his spinal cord and remained paralysed until his death in 2004. His widow, Dana, left her job and devoted herself to the 100% care of the ‘man who could no longer fly’. Ten months after his sad demise, Dana announced to the world that she had lung cancer and as if this family hadn’t suffered enough, she lost her fight for life in March 2006. Now, add to that the fact that the DJ has just mentioned the three children the couple left behind and I would think my coffee tantrum did warrant my induction into the Hall of Shame.

So many times we refuse to see the silver lining in the clouds of our lives and instead invest in dark, quiet moments of unwarranted grief. Maybe it might be advisable to minimise our failures, maximise our successes and remember that the reason why God does not give us all we want, might be due to the fact that he is too busy giving us all we need. For instance - forgive the crude parallels – maybe Africans do genuinely ‘want’ accountable and forthright leaders, but God is giving is currently supplying us with a trailer load of rubbish, because that is what we ‘need’ to get to the point where we say ‘no mas’ and mean it!

It’s just a thought…….

Tuesday, 10 March 2009


An exasperated and weary Al Pacino screaming, ‘I am in the blind here’! A frustrated Denzel punching the glass divider of the prison conservation booth, whilst telling his lawyer to ‘get me out of here’! A broken Marlon Brando pleading with his brother and saying the immortal words, ‘I could have been a contender’. Nothing quite conveys emotion as actors on celluloid.

The sheer artistry and talent, that goes into translating what begins as words on the pages of a script, to the dramatic vehicle that we ride for a few hours in a darkened room - never quite knowing where it will take us, but still excitedly expectant of the destination – is nothing short of genius. We cry, laugh, shout, scream and immerse ourselves completely without prejudice, falling in and out of love, with people who we have never met or ever going to meet. We empathise and sympathise with these strangers, more than some would ever care to do with our own blood and the beauty of it all, the icing on the cake for these strangers, is that we pay for the privilege.

Cinema at its best can end wars and centuries of hate. It can lift the oppressed and shine light on the stories of the forgotten. It can give strength to the weak and hope to the forlorn. Conversely, it can fuel resentment and justify incomprehensible actions. It can be used to plant in us, seeds of rage and detestation.

This dual role guarantees our continued fascination and worship of the big screen. It ensures that we are prepared to; pay exorbitant prices for in-movie refreshments, suffer the laboured breathing of the guy behind and the body odour of the filth bag sat next to us. It make us pretend, that we do not want to smack the kid that has got up and blocked our view for the umpteenth time on his way to the toilet, or better still, that we do not itch to wring the neck of the gullible adult who keeps taking them. Cinema even makes us calm in the face of the irritant that has occupied the seat behind us and decided to run their own special commentary, complete with inept description and over-emotional screams, just like the crazy woman who sat behind me at Silverbird in Lagos. Somehow, she had convinced herself that she and Liam Neeson were partners in busting the crime gang responsible for his daughter's kidnap! But, I did not complain...infact, I ended up laughing in incredulity and accepting her intrusion.

We accept it all, just for that one Meryl Streep or Morgan Freeman moment of magic. When it arrives, we applaud and suddenly the filth bag next to us or the chatterbox behind us, at least for a few seconds, become less smelly and less loud, and even for a few nanoseconds, our best friend. Saying all this though, I still defy you to go to Lagos cinemas, without having fully rehearsed your ears for the odd audience participation.

Monday, 9 March 2009


The attainment of age often brings with it, the realisation of one’s mortality and in tow, a reflection of one’s trials, successes and those moments that one would rather consign to the dustbin of history.

I was born during a week of acute parental discord, but my naming ceremony brought a sense of calm and acted as a soothing coolant. My father overcompensated by giving me every conceivable luxury that he could afford at the time and I enjoyed being spoilt. Subsequently, he was my hero. So much so, I was permanently aligned with him in thoughts and deeds, visibly alienating my mother in the process. Unknown to me at the time, this was a very tragic situation for a male child.

As time moved on, I was identified as early as from the age of five, as a gifted individual, but teachers worried about my restlessness and emotional pomposity. Clearly, I was a beautiful and bright specimen, but my lack of maternal empathy, meant I was wired wrong. This was to later affect my adult life.

At the age of nine, I had passed the secondary school common entrance exams (a common achievement in Nigeria in those days!), which at the time meant I had a choice of four good schools. My father, against his better judgement, decided I was way too young and kept me in the primary ranks for one more year. That year, was the beginning of the rest of my life.

My tenth year - the beginning of the rest of my life – was a tumultuous one. For the first time, I started to realise my father was not perfect (who is?) and began to question his beliefs. The political sphere was the first arena of conflict. My father’s hero was Chief Obafemi Awolowo, a man of considerable intelligence and outstanding foresight, he was without doubt one of his generation’s shining lights. My father, like most of his Yoruba friends, idolised Awo, as he was fondly called, but I saw the great man differently. First class brain, but to my mind, very average politician.

To my father, my sentiments equated heresy. For my part, I was unmoved because I believe heroes are chosen, not inherited. Bitterly disappointed, he started to realise for the very first time, that even though he brought me up to be my own person, he had found it difficult to accept, when the evidence suggested I had began to develop a mind of my own.

This realisation to my mind, rewrites the history of all fathers and sons. Having said that, the overwhelming tragedy of this generation of Nigerians is the lack of heroes and the knowledge there might be none for some time to come. These days, Nigerians have barely began to adopt mentors and heroes, when they start to uncover the bankruptcy woven into the morality of the so-called ‘good and the great. At least our parents had someone to look up to, unlike in our morally-stricken era when individuals have equated the attainment of wealth, as a sign of wisdom and gravitas. Vacuity and pomposity is the order of the day and we wallow in out cesspit of a culture, still searching in the dark for that one shining star.

I hope we find what we are looking for………

Friday, 6 March 2009

That's Life....

As a committed student of politics, I am always enthralled with the elective process, be it in the "citadel" of democracy; United States, or the complicated and unpredictable political theatre of Nigeria. It never ceases to amaze me how events flow from robust and serious issues, to salacious details of the candidates' private lives.

There seems to be this insidious desire on the part of the public to have an affirmation that these so-called "capable and flawless" people asking for our votes, are not that infallible after all. Add to that, a vicious and profit-driven media, that has cleverly tapped into that aforementioned need within the public's psyche. Now place that mix, side by side with the fact that everyone irrespective of race, creed, religious leaning or upbringing, enjoys a scandal. We finally arrive at the circus that informs us that Barack Obama cannot be trusted because he studied at a Madrassa at the age of five, OBJ, for his purported memebership of a secret society and Hilary Clinton for her tendency to do or say anything just to become President, including suddenly discovering her Jewish roots.

The bottom line is this; forget the public's wanton desires, the media's meanness and our hypocritical wanabee leaders, let us just accept it is inherent within each and every one of us to enjoy other people's failures. We don't want people to crash and burn,it's just an enjoyable spectacle watching the sparks fly. Especially, when the victims have been so-called mavericks, or in the view of some, 'disillusioned people' who make unpopular decisions, which are considered to be out of sync with "normal" society.

As soemeone who has had some experience with divorce, I learnt things the hard way. From the religious zealots who consider you doomed to hell fire to the "friends" who have perfected the art of smiling to your face and inserting daggers once you turn around, I have come to understand that all in all, it is nothing personal.

Human beings love to celebrate success, but we find failure much more interesting; because we get the smug satisfaction that our way of doing things has been proven right and we exploit the countless mileage of gossip and innuendo that a catastrophe produces.

So next time, God forbid, you have a dip in your personal affairs; the busload of critics will inevitably arrive, just remember not to board. They can always pick up their "victim" at the next stop.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Roger That!

I have a morbid fear of flying. It’s a fear that I wished I never had, but nature has a way of dumping on you. So, my policy is to grin and bear it – well sort of.

I have spent most of my life, unsuccessfully attempting to come up with an explanation for the phobia; sometimes I wonder if it emanated from my father’s decision to fly back to Nigeria in the early seventies, whilst my mother and I had to sail for three long weeks, but then there are hundreds of Africans who had the same experience and they currently have no issues flying. I often speculate that it might be linked to the fact that nine times out of ten; plane crashes extinguish all life on board and although the so-called statistics say it is the safest form of travel, the facts remain that when a plane goes down, it is almost certainly accompanied by endless processions of flowers and hearses.

I realise I am starting to come across as dangerously macabre with my analysis, but let’s be frank. Is there anything about flying in the Nigerian airspace that fills you with confidence? Is it the constant rickety sounds coming from the pass-me-down Russian plane that our airline moguls supply for our precarious transits or the disastrous crashes which have peppered our aviation history? Come on people, how many of us looked at the pictures of the Hudson river landing and thought; If that was in 9JA, people go perish o! The whole situation, although a bit better these days, is a sad reflection of the administrators running our country. From the Nigerian Airways that shared a sterling crash-free record alongside Australia’s Quantas, to the sorry state we now find ourselves. Mind you, we have to thank God for the likes of Arik and Virgin.

As a perpetual air coward, I have refused to fly within Nigeria, preferring instead to drive the arduous hours to fulfil my appointments, but it is fast becoming obvious that I need to develop a backbone and confront my fear, as things seem to be improving and besides, who is going to wait for you to arrive at a meeting, when your competition can expeditiously fly in and sign on the dotted line? Having said all these, I have to share a story with you of a gentleman I encountered in 2002 on a nerve-jangling flight to Milan. My fear of flying paled in comparison to his.

Dan, as we all later came to know him, was the most nervous flyer known to man. Standing at least six foot four, the constant perspiration that poured forth from the poor man and the shrivelled posture he maintained in his seat, betrayed his big muscular frame.

‘What difference does it make that you are the captain, when this plane nosedives at forty thousand feet?’ he moaned in reply to the pilot introducing himself.

Fellow passengers shifted uneasily in their seats, but I just accepted my fate - the bloke was sat next to me! He stared at me for a while and asked if I was ‘flying sacred’, he thought this was funny and seemed disappointed with my straight face.

Just when I thought he had calmed down, he again went into question mode.

‘Mate, can you tell me why a plane takes off from London, travels for God know how many hours, and then crashes on landing in some far flung place. Why can’t it just crash on take off, rather than tease people with the certainty of landing?’ he moaned, shaking his head in disgust.

About twenty terrifying questions later, I had enough.

I found myself begging God for us to crash.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Too Much Money?

Have you ever stopped and asked why human beings crave riches? Why do people of all races, religion, and creed relentlessly pursue accumulation? What is it within our mental constitution that convinces us that being Mr Moneybags is better than Mr Average? Is the maddening rat race that has now become the social currency of the Nigerian landscape really worth it? Is the ownership of five cars really prudent, when we possess just one arse? Would the guy in First-class die a more befitting death in the event of a plane crash? Why does your friend convince himself that he has to pay for more leg room, when he is only four feet eleven?

Maybe, it is just the satisfaction of a richer last meal before one meets their maker that justifies not sitting in Economy. Maybe, we crave more money to attract the opposite sex. Maybe, men subscribe to the Aristotle Onassis theory that ‘all the money in the world would mean nothing, if women did not exist.’ And if this were true, would it be fair to say, that the converse would be very unlikely for women? Can you really imagine rich women complaining about the futility of their riches, just because there are no men? I would have thought this would probably, be reason for them to lust for more cash!

So, why do we seem so preoccupied with wealth? Does the thirst for more come from an innermost human desire that yearns to be fulfilled? Is it inherent within us or is it a habit we pick up once we have been exposed to the benefits of possessions as against the disadvantages of lacking? Whatever the reasons that lie behind the conundrum, I believe one thing is self-evident. It is better to have.

It is quite clear that what separates the offspring of the haves, from those of the have-nots, is opportunity and access. Almost everyone who will read this blog would know someone, who could have achieved a lot more with their life, if only they had the means. Also, I am confident you probably know someone who had it and wasted it all.

The one thing which we can hold as self-evident is that we cannot all be blessed with riches. Sometimes, I often wonder if this undeniable fact has seeped into the psyche of most Nigerians, as it seems most of us are prepared to consume ‘economic steroids’ to quicken our arrival at the finish line. Actually, Nigerians do not even recognise the finish line, as no amount is ever too much! It invariably promotes a vicious and dastardly cycle and maybe that is why those who have, will do anything to maintain their status, whilst those on their way up, will do anything to get to the Promised Land.

And you can take that to the bank!

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Hole in One!

The human mind is a complicated maze of emotions and no two are the same. The very thing that makes one sibling happy might make their sister or brother sad, irrespective of the fact that they share the same gene pool. I wonder if this is why I love sport, but have no time for golf. Far-fetched, I know, but I have creative licence.

I mean golf, what is it all about? I have observed with incredulity, as the so-called gentleman's sport has crept successfully into all the crevices created by the 'great and good' classes in Nigeria and beyond. A well-to-do uncle of mine in one of his classic lines about the sport said;

 "It's a great game for relaxing, exercise and you don't find belligerents anyway around you!"

 Don’t get me wrong golf heads, in fact, more power to you! There is just something about that game that gives you a sneaking suspicion that the Scotsman, who started it all, had the ‘Greta Garbo’ complex. You can just see him wanting to be left alone with his balls and holes.

Okay, I suppose I am being harsh, but how do you justify a game that needs so much space to be played, when 100,000 people can fill the Nou camp and enjoy the beautiful game?

I can comprehend the attractions of golf. I am not totally adverse to appreciating aspects of things I am not a fan of, and having lived in Sussex for over a decade, I have had the pleasure of visiting some truly beautiful golf courses, but you always end up wishing they donated some of the land to homeless projects. It is just so hard for me take the sport and those who play it seriously.

My pet peeve, and the one thing that stretches my patience, is the nouveau riche; who having just been accepted to their local golf club, morph into Fuzzy Zoeller overnight. Also, I am at a loss as why there is so much made of the fact that one partakes in the game. I have friends who have developed the habit over the years and I always try to stiffle my laughter when they justify their habit by stressing most business decisions are made on golf courses.

A lot of big decisions are also made in whorehouses and strip bars, but you never see anyone claiming to have memberships of those establishments. Okay, I went too far there, but I once again take refuge under the creative licence roof.

A friend even went as far as to educate me as to why golf was more than a game. He appeared to be a spiritual rapture when he declared;

"It's about fairness, integrity and a code for life. It could even revolutionise the inner cities!"

Wow! There was I thinking it was just people hitting balls with metal sticks! Never occurred to me it was the panacea to the world's problems.

Saying that, issues still persist. Unlike most sports, I have always viewed golf as a divisive tool. That is why I still believe that Tiger Woods missed a trick when he shied away from taking a tougher stance, when he subject to derogatory racial comments - somehow, I think he forgets that his father who literally 'made' him, began the quest for a golf prodigy because he was racially insulted on a golf course years ago!

Those of you who have followed the game for two decades or more (Nouveau Riche need not comment) will remember that segregated courses were all the rage a few years ago. I still remember with comical relish, the story of the affluent blacks in Atlanta, who having suffered from the subtle ‘whites only’ rule, decided to build their own course complete with a massive sign saying; ‘the only thing white here are the balls!’ Of course they had to eventually take it down.

Taking off my negative hat though, I have to say any game enjoyed by the likes of Samuel L Jackson, Michael Jordan and Bill Clinton, must have some special aspects to it. Although, I would wish Nigerian leaders would concentrate on the country's real problems rather than try to play copycat.

We have serious issues and besides, it’s just the land thing that gets me. We don't have enough for housing and agriculture, so we don't damn well have enough for a bloody game! Let’s face it; no matter how complicated the golf addicts try to make the game, with their weather reports, types of iron and wood, it all began with a man basically trying to get his balls in a hole.

I thought that was a natural instinct!

Monday, 2 March 2009

Greater than we Realise....

Philip Emeagwali - Nigerian Inventor

Charles, my childhood friend was in one of his dark moods when he visited me last week.

‘Why are we so backward as a people?’ He barked.

‘We are?’ I asked sarcastically, having faced similar conundrums from ‘Professor Charles’ in the past.

‘I think so. You know one of my white colleagues actually asked me about Black achievement outside sport and I found myself floundering as usual. I mean, what have we contributed to the world?’

Charles was clearly agitated. His small head swivelled from side to side conveying his frustrations.

‘It’s the same thing back home, no one of any meaningful substance. Even our people in the States are too busy peddling drugs and rapping.’

I dared to reply. ‘Rappers make a lot of money and the hip-hop industry, which is quite black, is doing well.’ My voice tapered into a cautious whisper.

Charles was having none of it.

‘Tell me something concrete! What have we brought to the table of races?’

‘The table of races?’ I asked.

‘Yes! You know it’s a metaphor for the world.’ He hissed.

‘Anyway Charles, are you on the Internet at home?

‘Of course, don’t tell me we invented that!’ He yelled.

I ignored his truculent wit and went on to make a suggestion.

‘When you get home, can you get on the net and call me straightaway.’

Thirty minutes later he was on the phone.

‘Ok. I’m connected. What next?’

‘Can you get onto Google?’

‘Done it,’ he replied impatiently.

‘Can you search for Black inventors and inventions?’ I requested.

Charles descended into raucous laughter.

‘Black inventions! Are you mad? Ok, done!’

His voice trailed away and then returned with a boom.

‘A black man invented the cellular phone! You need to see this list. What? Traffic lights, refrigerator, elevator, air conditioning unit, golf tee, golf tee? And those bastards wouldn’t let me join their stuck-up golf club! Gas mask, Lawnmower, Guitar, Typewriter and Peanut Butter? You are kidding me? What have blacks achieved indeed? Oh, they are all going to get it!’ He shouted excitedly.

‘Charles maybe you should be the one getting it, for not knowing all this. I mean, you are black.’

‘Fountain pen, Stethoscope, Fire escape ladder.’ His voice rose and fell.

It was obvious Charles was in full flow, so I decided to put him on hands-free.

Ten minutes later, he was still mumbling to himself.

For more Black inventors and their inventions, check out the following link;