Tuesday, 26 February 2013

A Deficit of Comprehension

Some things are always going to baffle us as human beings.

Invariably, it is our level of natural tolerances which will most likely dictate how puzzled we become when faced with things we consider conundrums. In other words, one person's befuddlement, is another person's incident of clarity.

For instance, I will always be baffled that the US strikes potential terrorist threats with drones, yet, HSBC which has been found to have laundered money for terrorist networks gets a $1 billion hand-slap (you can only guess how much the bank laundered in total). I am even more baffled when you find out that Nima Ali Yusuf, a Somali woman living in the US, who was found guilty of sending $1,450 to members of the terrorist group, Al-Shabaab, was sentenced to 8 years in prison

And yet we wonder (another thing that baffles me) why most people out there believe in the existence of  The Illuminati and a 'them' and 'us' world order.

The disparity in the two aforementioned terrorist financing cases is clear and needs no amplification, but for those of you who might not be aware of the scale and depth of HSBC's complicity, I add the Senate Report for your consumption. That should suffice, in case you had any doubts. Oh, just to further clarify, no one went to jail for HSBC's crimes.

Readers of this blog will know I will forever be flabbergasted by Oscar Pistorius' contention that he heard noises in his bathroom, but somehow did not check on his beloved girlfriend before going to confront the intruder.

But then, maybe I have a personality flaw....maybe I find it hard to trust people.

So I reached out to my environment and wondered what baffled others around me. I ventured out with a leading question: what is going on in the world today that absolutely baffles you?

A stranger whom I met at a flea market, wondered why pedophilia crimes do not attract the death penalty. Why should these people be imprisoned and allowed to live off the state, when they had defiled the most vulnerable in society, he asked. He went on to posit a day will come, when pedophiles will be able to go to court to successfully argue for their rights to be sexually attracted to children. He was puzzled as to why the rest of us couldn't see these things. He was positively baffled.

But then, maybe he had a personality flaw....maybe he is too emotional.

A friend with a history of radicalism, wondered why Israel was not considered an Apartheid state in the light of its treatment of Palestinians. She admitted to being baffled that whilst the world community is comfortable with the Jewish State's nuclear capabilities, it remains resolute that the likes of Iran and North Korea do not ascend to such heights. She swore to be being permanently perplexed with the world's inaction when Israel almost single-handedly propped up the Apartheid government in South Africa, in contravention of the common global direction.
But then maybe she has a personality flaw....maybe she is overly sensitive.

A lone street protester, defying the ambient freeze and screaming at the top of his voice. He seemed baffled as to how big companies get away with tax evasion and yet we send untold amount of individuals to jail, for the same thing. His placard had a few comparisons, but I guess naming names is no longer necessary....they can all smell the coffee and hear the phones ringing now. As he ranted (positively) on and laid out the essence of his case, it became clear this was a very baffled man, who was clearly gaining equally baffled conscripts from those passing by.

But then maybe he had a personality flaw....maybe he hates big business.

An embittered young man with a yearning to return to his African country. His intermittent shaking of the head, drew me to him. Why so sad my dear brother, I asked. His tale was populated with pain, laced with sorrow and stewed in vitriol and regret. He was suffering from the special brand of bafflement which afflicted people who longed for change, but couldn't see a way through. You know the type....who spend copious hours digesting information on how their home country is being literally sucked bone-dry, with no hope in sight. He asked me with teary eyes whether I understood his revulsion and bewilderment. How can they say things are getting better, he asked.

But then maybe he had also had a personality flaw....maybe he is an armchair revolutionary, who expects change without getting involved.

I could go on forever, as I ended up speaking and interacting with quite a few baffled people, but space and time betray my willingness to share in totality.

What I can completely share though, is the pervading cloud of befuddled people wondering around the world. They watch unfolding events, putting their special spins on it and wonder how certain things continue to happen unchecked. Theirs is a twisting existence with many unwinding turns. They remain burdened with a revolving door with no exit....

And just as I keep repeating all through this piece, maybe we all have personality flaws and are somehow misguided. Maybe it's the curse of over-thinking. In any event, a lack of comprehension of daily events subsists. Our account in the Bank Of Understanding is in the red. A deficit is emerging and is here to stay....a deficit of comprehension.

We need a resolution.

Friday, 22 February 2013

And the Oscar goes to......BailRunner.

And so the Oscar Pistorius saga drags wearily on, as the superstar paralympian was given bail a few minutes ago.

I had noted in one of my previous articles on this blog, that this month of February 2013, had already thrown up a few bizarre occurrences, from the Pope's resignation to Oscar's Valentine fatal present to his now deceased girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

But can I get an Amen, when I say nothing prepared me for the bombshell concerning the investigative officer's potential attempted murder trial! Why didn't someone within the ranks of the SA Police or Justice department, pick up on this little fact?

Could it be true that there was an intentional sabotage of the prosecution's case, and if true, who would be behind such self-sabotage? Is an inquiry ever going to be carried out to flush out the truth or at least investigate the resident shoddiness within the SA Police ranks? Or maybe, we should remember that after all is said and done, we are still in Africa!!

In any event, I guess we need to ask ourselves exactly where we are.

Firstly, it is imperative we all remember a precious life has been lost in this inexplicable tragedy. To that end our collective prayers should go out to the Steenkamp family. Secondly, what now for Pistorius? Yes, he has successfully got bail and adjudged not to be a flight risk, but what quality of life will he really now anyway? Lastly, where does this case leave the image of the police in South Africa? 

I guess the next few days, weeks and months, before the trial proper (bail probably means lesser charge), will reveal how the hand of fate will play. In my modest opinion, I do not see Oscar Pistorius going on to live a normal life henceforth. Not that dissimilar to the life which awaited O.J Simpson, subsequent to his acquittal all those years ago, O.L.C Pistorius will now be under such incredible spotlight, that I do not see a palatable outcome for him, bail or no bail.

The Bereaved Steenkamp Family

A life has been lost and unlike some, I am not convinced it was accidental, neither was I moved by the tears, shaking and drawn appearance of the man. He should be all those things if he takes someone's life and more.

As for the triumphant shouts of 'Yes' from his supporters when his bail was announced, I have to confess an uncomfortable echo of the same from Johnnie Cochran, when O.J was found innocent. In both instances, it was inappropriate, especially as the deceased's family were in-house on both occasions. But then maybe it was somewhat understandable.

In the end, whether he gets away with it or not, a cloud will forever be resident around him. God help him, God give the Steenkamps peace and God help us all!

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Breis Audiobook - Press Release


Label: Student of Life
Release date: March 18


"STRICTLY" is the first single taken from BREIS' ground breaking Hip Hop Audiobook, the audio version of his rap book entitled'Brilliant Rappers Educate Intelligent Students'. It is also the lead single from the "Brilliant EP"(songs from the audiobook but without the narration), which will be simultaneously released in March 2013. Produced by BREIS and Leroy Brown, this Afrobeat flavoured single features the sweet Zimbabwean vocals of Eska Mtungwazi. Eska’s lush melodies and BREIS’ raw delivery sound brilliant together on this Hip Hop - Afro beat fusion. ‘Strictly’ will be digitally released on March 18 and the audiobook/EP will follow on March 25.

“This one is for Africa and the Diaspora,” says BREIS. “It’s about the culture of our words and music and their importance to us as a people. It’s also an acknowledgement of the hard work of my parents’ generation that usually goes unseen or unheard in the UK.”

BREIS (breeze) is a dynamic Hip Hop lyricist based in London. His style is a fusion of the Hip Hop, Soul and Afro-beat he listened to growing up in both the UK and Nigeria. He describes his sound as BAM (British African Music). He is also an author and the Director of a Hip Hop educational company called Student of Life, which encourages young people in education to raise their aspirations through the vehicle of Hip Hop music.

Here's the Breis sound cloud link http://snd.sc/YA6f9S

Listen to the latest single 'STRICTLY'

Sunday, 17 February 2013

A February named Bizarre.

I have to confess my cynicism for all things connected to astrology, so you can imagine my conceited disdain when some crank cornered us at a festival last month and read out a list of planetary mumbo jumbo about impending strange happenings.

Apparently, Neptune will be entering Saturn and a full moon will descend upon us with Venus, Mercury and Jupiter also fighting for our attention. Wow!!

It was quite hilarious, even more so, when some of my party appeared genuinely enthralled by it all. The crank went on to tell us 2013 was to be a stand-out year, with loads of bizarre happenings. I remember sneering at the time and wondering if this gathering around a weirdo, was the first installment in the prediction.

In the end, I left my pals there and moved to the Vodka tent.....some guy showing everyone how to turn potatoes into alcohol and being nice enough to share the brew for £1 a shot! Genius move, especially with the ambient arctic winter. And even better, nobody needed to predict I would be pissed within the hour.

That was two weeks ago, and today, devoid of the effects of the vodka, I am slowly beginning to realise my 'crank' description may have been totally exaggerated at best, or misguided at worst.

The psychic was bang on....some strange s**t is indeed happening!

So, the list so far:

  • For the first time in history, a power outage occurs at the Superbowl.
  • North Korea conducts a nuclear test, which we had all been assured was beyond her capabilities.
  • For the first time in 600 years, a Pope resigns.
  • A meteor (those shooting stars they told us not to worry about) nearly hits Mother Russia, showering and injuring a thousand people in the process.
  • Oscar Pistorius, superstar sportsman, inexplicably kills his girlfriend.

Admittedly, all the above is quite unnerving, but what type of world will it be, if we allowed bogus seers to control our every thought? Surely, the whole thing must just be some unfortunate culmination of bizarre occurrences.

I mean, I foresaw Nigeria lifting the African Cup of Nations (even though sadly I have no witnesses). Does that somehow make me qualified to put up a crystal ball tent in forthcoming festivals?

As a blogger, I believe it is my job to introduce some demystification and attempt to bring some mature assessment to the so-called strange happenings. I will do my best to be succinct.

So, here we go:

  • Superbowl Power outage - We don't need to overdress this....let us stick with the Beyonce explanation. It will do until an official one is announced.
  • North Korea - If the Iraq invasion did not convince us the so-called superpowers don't have a clue what is happening in the world, this event should effectively nail that coffin. Maybe for once, chubbier people will start to earn our respect....they don't call him Little Kim for nothing!
  • Pope's Resignation - Shed no tears... let's be honest, he should never have attained the papacy in the first place. Yes, I said it and I am still going to heaven!
  • Russian Meteor - In spite of all the American movies telling us different, it appears the Aliens are interested in anywhere, but America.
  • Oscar Pistorius - Four shots.....sorry Oscar, no legs to stand on!

It is my fervent hope that these events now look completely ordinary and your fears have been allayed. To be honest, I was getting tired of the collective woahs and wows.

We should get used to it.....S**t Happens!

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Less We Forget

So, this day in 1976, the then Nigerian Head of State, Muritala Mohammed, was killed in a failed military coup. His death sparked intense mourning and till this day, some Nigerians are insistent he remains one of the country's best ever leaders.

From the purge of the public service and the military hierarchy, the crackdown on corruption and the dynamic and purposeful shift in the nation’s foreign policy, some say Muritala's remains a standout regime.

These days when one hears Nigerians praying for good leaders, it does cross the mind that perhaps we've already had our fair share....it's just a thought.

Late General Muritala Mohammed
May his soul continue to rest in peace.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

The Book of Revelations according to Kim Jong-Un

"Better the rule of One, whom all obey, than to let clamorous demagogues betray our freedom with the kiss of anarchy."

- Oscar Wilde

Anyone who happens to pop by my blog every now and then can attest to my 'obsession' with Kim Jong-Un.

Every opportunity I get to lampoon the young leader is seized so tightly and I never let go until satisfied a thorough comical surgery has been performed. So, why do I write about him so much? Well, it's quite simple - he, like all the attention-seeking dictators before him, intrigues me.

And judging by the worldwide media's obsession with a picture of Kim's smartphone a few days ago, it appears I am not the only one. Let's face it....the guy is the only show in town.

With the untimely demise of the Saddams and Gaddafis of this world, we might not realise it, but we desperately need someone to entertain the macabre side of our collective psyche. The vacumn has to be filled, and Kim is perfectly poised to now wear the crown of the world's most Unstable Leader and ride the proverbial tiger for a pretty long time, until the 'big boys' decide his time is up.

So, fast forward to the early hours of this morning and Kim has raised the ante once more, conducting an underground nuclear test and creating the type of worldwide panic that tickles his ample ego. There is just something about his expression that makes you believe he spends most of his days, pounding the corridors of his palace sulking, because his army advisers wouldn't let him press the red button! His philosophy seems to be akin to the Gerard Bulter character in the film, 'Law Abiding Citizen,' when he said;

"I'm gonna pull the whole thing down. I'm gonna bring the whole f*****g diseased, corrupt temple down on your head. It's gonna be biblical!"

China, as North Korea's school father and mother rolled into one, are desperate not to see any 'end of the world' scenarios play and as such have gone into diplomatic top gear. They assumed their providence of 90% of North Korean energy and food supplies, would keep the 'Chubster' in his cage, but they conveniently forgot Kim 'Oliver Twist' Jung-Un is the little boy who always wants more.

Anyone who cannot allow an 85 year old man enjoyed his retirement moment in the limelight, cannot be trusted.

Friday, 8 February 2013

The Slow and Painful Death of Nigerian Etiquette

The brutal sunshine baked me incessantly, as it turned my ice-cold bottle of water, tepid. I spat out the contents of my mouth in disgust and in that single moment, broke my cardinal rule of etiquette. I hissed as I continued to pound the dusty path to Iya Amala’s buka, wondering why a short walk I had assumed would take five minutes max, was now turning to twenty plus. I could hear the driver’s words echoing all around me.

“Sir, this traffic would soon clear. This is usually a free road; you don’t have to walk at all!”

Clearly, he was right and I wasn't, but as I glimpsed the gate to the Police College complex, none of that really mattered. Ironically, a fresh, dry breeze belatedly came over me confirming we were actually in the middle of the harmattan season....it was like a late stitch that couldn't save nine and so typical of most things Nigerian. In any case, I finally found myself in front of the culinary Holy Grail, exhaling heavily with relief and wiping the sweat and dust off my face. 

There goes my first handkerchief of the day....

The buka was encouragingly more comfortable than most (not that the ambience would ever deter me from indulging anyway) and there appeared to be a system in place. Get your silver metal bowl and head to the queue for the lady doling out the amala, once done, you walk back to the end of the queue for the stew and all manner of animal by-products. This queue was served by Iya Amala herself. How did I know that? Well, let’s just say she was larger than life.

So, why am I telling you about my trip to a buka, as if it were a rare thing in Nigeria? Well, I am going to blame that on the subsequent events.

Bowl in hand, I joined the amala queue, keeping one eye on a group appetising snails that cuddled each other affectionately in the boiling pot of fragrant stew. I was number 3 in line and I was now starting to dab my mouth with my second handkerchief, as salivation began to overtake me.  Coming face to face with the amala lady, I stretched my bowl forward and something strange happened.....there a loud clang which to me sounded like a coming together of bowls. I shook myself to reality and saw the guy behind had somehow exhausted his patience and was now determined to not wait his turn. I know it’s only food, but I was furious!

“Are you blind?!” I screamed. The deadly combination of hunger and anger had taken over me.

He seemed shaken and unsure of how to answer. In the same vein, the equally ignorant amala lady was prepared to also ignore the queue and just serve whichever bowl made its way to her. I let fly!

“Do you people think I am here to sell groundnut? Why can’t you wait your turn? And you, why are serving people who are jumping the queue?!”

I had ranted and raved for about thirty seconds before I realised no one else felt my revulsion or sense of injustice. If anything, they wanted me to fall aside and allow their organised chaos to continue. Seeing my protests were increasingly impotent, I collected my amala and with the look of a frazzled bear and proceeded to the stew queue.

As I began to calm down, I started to accept this was not an aberration or an exception to the rules. It appeared Nigeria, like in every facet of its social life, had slid horribly into etiquette anarchy.

From our roads to our sidewalks to our banks and other service outlets, it appears we have somehow connived to fade who we are and turn our country into an uncivil society of mannerless individuals, who blame a lack of civility on the fact they have little to time to observe simple rules of social order. We are not the only country going through economic hardship or social chaos, and it should be noted that some of the world's most civil people are not actually blessed with abundant resources.

Had the amala incident been an isolated incident, perhaps I would never have deemed it necessary to share, but a particularly nasty episode a few years ago still rankles with me.

So, there I was finishing off a meeting with some reasonably well-heeled potential clients in a popular hotel in Victoria Island. Being mostly non-Nigerian, but West African, these were people, who had a genuine healthy inquisitiveness in the ‘giant of Africa,’ so you can imagine my deep disappointment when on attempting to exit the hotel, we found ourselves in a ‘confrontation at High Noon’ scenario.

The band of brothers facing us down was all suited and booted genteel-looking individuals. As one would expect, we had allowed the female members of our company to gain access to the exit, whilst we stood aside. Unfortunately though, the ‘big-boys’ saw things differently, as they refused to give ground to the ladies. It was even more shocking for me when I was later informed they were bankers from a neighbouring bank and regular clients of the hotel.

The hotel manager summed it up succinctly.

“I am aware that their behaviour was unacceptable, but they spend a lot of money here and you guys will be gone in a week. Personally, I think they are pigs, but unfortunately, their money is more important than their manners.”

A few weeks later and many more unpleasant occurrences of ill-mannered people to deal with, I reluctantly accepted the slide was here to stay. Even worse still, we were now at a far more advanced stage, where people were now so used to the situation, they justified it with aplomb. Oh well, maybe it’s an issue that only worries those of us with a sensitive nature and as such bore no significance to the majority who had clearly honed a more robust constitution in response to the civil descent. As my friend would repeatedly say to me with that special patronising brand of disdain;

“That is in the UK, here in Nigeria, things are totally different and this is how we do it here!”

My initial protestations explaining my opinions had not been formed from living abroad (I lived in Nigeria from age 5 to 22!), but a consequence of comparing notes from then with the realities of today, appeared to fall on deaf ears. Furthermore, I was never contending that the UK itself was not a paragon of protocol (public displays of drunkenness and foul habits like spitting have increasingly become the norm over the last 20 years).

I just happen to believe this was a malaise we Nigerians did not need in addition to our other overwhelming issues. Incredibly, my friend moved the conversation on to talking about Whizkid’s latest single. I took it as my cue to accept agreement on this contentious issue, was not a viable option on this particular occasion.

Funny enough, a few days after, on a London-bound Virgin Atlantic flight, an air hostess was doing her best to attend to a new mum who was clearly struggling with securing her baby in the provided harness. The hostess to the delight of most in the cabin was exceedingly helpful and patient. That was except for a deranged man who decided it was also the perfect moment for the hostess to help him with his online media equipment. The air hostess to her credit, attended to him.

“Sir, I will be with you once I have finished with this lady. You can see I am trying to assist someone here. Thank you!”

To most of us who still believe in good manners, we know that ‘thank you’ is actually the point when we realise our faux pas and consequently retreat. Not this guy. He proceeded to poke the poor hostess and inevitably left himself open to tirades from fellow passengers, who I must confirm were 99.9% Nigerian. My friend who had torn me apart a few weeks ago was one of that number and her criticism of the errant man was....let’s just say vociferous.

I smiled in satisfaction. I always knew it. Bad manners might pervade our society, but Nigerians are not inherently discourteous or accepting of insolence. Like corruption, it is just another albatross that hangs from around our proverbial neck....suffocating our national psyche, but one that will be shed some day.

All that is requisite of us is to say to each other; "Nigerians, we have a problem." It’s the first rule in solving any ill.

Something did intrigue me though from the incident on the plane, but I manged to hold the nagging thought until we landed. I turned round to my friend and asked why she was so hard on the rude guy, but had slammed me for criticising similar behaviour in Lagos.

“That was in Nigeria! Once the plane is in the air, you have to comport yourself and adjust accordingly. The guy was disgracing Nigeria and we can’t have that!”

The one abiding memory from that whole event, was the straight face she had on when she delivered her response. I waited in vain for her to crack up in laughter.....but she was dead serious.

Monday, 4 February 2013

As you Like it

The ringing of the phone could not be ignored any longer, so I reluctantly picked up.

"Hey Baba, are you awake?"

My initial reaction was to reply in the negative. After all, an affirmative answer was somewhat redundant, but I took a deep sigh and replied calmly.

"Yeah, what's up bro?"

"Have you been up for long?"

At this point, I could feel the calmness start to recede and a red mist slowly descend.

"Bro, what can I do for you, men?"

"Have you logged on to FB yet?"

I rubbed my head in frustration and switched on the kettle before replying.

"Nope, what am I missing? Did someone die?"

"Noooooo, I just wondered if you have seen my status. I know you would have liked it and commented if you have."

I was not happy.

"Bro, are you saying you woke me up because of Facebook, really?"

"I'm sorry, I was just surprised, that's all. I updated it around 8 this morning and no one has said anything. I know this particular status is about an issue close to your heart, so I at least expected something from you."

In truth, at that very moment, the only thing close to my heart was rage.

"Okay, I will log on later and see."

Most people would have left it at that, but alas...

"I don't want you to think I am forcing you to like and comment o, in fact, I have liked it and made two comments already. The status was looking lonely and neglected, so I thought it best to add something. I am not a loser, it's just very awkward when no one likes your status."

"Oh, you are definitely not a loser," I replied, doing my best to be convincing.

"Thank you bro, although I must confess I do feel bad liking my own status. That's like kissing one's reflection in public. What really got to me though were the five people who unliked after liking....that is so wicked."

I shook my head, sipped my scary-looking black coffee, and said a few comforting words before saying goodbye.

All my attempts to reassure my friend his status may have been quite deep, hence making people uneasy about commenting or liking it, failed. I gave him the example of someone who used Facebook to announce the following:

"To my so-called friends: your prayers have come true and I am now divorced!"

Suffice to say everyone avoided that one for sure!

What I really found depressing was the guy's surly mood, all because no one liked his Facebook status. That is like being depressed because no one laughed at your jokes! It's bound to happen sometimes, right? What is the big deal in anything to do with a crappy FB notice. Are you an insecure teenager? Who cares? Liked, unliked, commented, uncommented, what does it really matter?

But to my utter surprise, apparently, it really does matter to some. My aforementioned friend actually went as far as sending me a Facebook Link solely dedicated to 'unliked' statuses...hahaha. I had to to see it, to believe it. These people are evidently jobless and without any concrete purpose in life.

And yet, there is more. I used to believe I was really clued on with trends, but there is something really sobering when you read stories of people who had to go to jail, because they inadvertently uploaded evidence of their crime on Facebook!


The platform is called social media for a good reason. It is designed for effective communication, bringing people together and not for marginalising each other with puerile updates. Its purpose is more banter, discourse, etc, not for announcing how many hours one slept, the frequency of one's bowel movements or why one's child has been suspended from school.....again!

When launching his now unbelievably popular platform, Mark Zuckenberg was quoted as saying:

"At Facebook, we build tools to help people connect with the people they want and share what they want, and by doing this we are extending people's capacity to build and maintain relationships."

End of....