Thursday, 27 June 2013

The League of 3000 Slaps

“It is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.”

- Abraham Maslow I have never been a fan of Theresa May. I think it’s only fair this piece begins with that sentiment out in the open.

From my modest position, she has always struck me as being more style (well…) over substance. An individual so talentless and flawed, that it is only possible for such a person to rise to high office, when the pool of choice is filled with equally weak compadres.

Let’s be frank, can you imagine someone of Theresa’s limited capabilities in Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet?

Remember her shambolic speech at the Tory conference in 2011, when in her haste to mock the Human Rights Act and impress her fellow Blues in one fell swoop, she failed to check her facts and basically informed the conference that an illegal immigrant had not being deported because of his pet cat! As it turned out, this fable had been doing the rounds for months and had been debunked several times over.

But our Home Secretary and her band of merry civil servants had not bothered to check the facts with the Home Office. The instant gratification she longed for was clearly more important than the truth.

Moving on in her litany of errors, Theresa left us sufficiently puzzled with her next trick. You remember the one…..where she, without the knowledge of Parliament, decided to relax UK borders and in doing so had completely run headlong into the Border Agency’s hierarchy.

Miraculously, she came out of the ensuing massacre, position intact, although the likes of Brodie Clark weren’t so lucky. But then as we all know, Theresa’s Prime Minister adjudged she was still doing a good job and kept her on. One wouldn’t want to offend the right-wing of the party, would one?

Saying that, I am convinced David Cameron paid for that folly, with copious amounts of wincing when his Home Secretary predictably struggled before the Home Affairs Committee. In an hour-long duel, Theresa fluffed her lines, looked completely rattled and unprepared. It was clear she shouldn’t be in charge of anyone; talk less of one of the most important governmental departments.

In a particularly embarrassing session, our dear Home Secretary under intense scrutiny had no choice but to admit her ignorance as to which airports had implemented her newly relaxed regime. To spare her blushes, one of her embarrassed aides had to pass her a piece of paper with the correct information. You could almost hear the collective gasp of her fellow MPs.

Then there was her completely impotent reaction to the London riots. In absence of the Prime Minister, the next person to look up to in those types of domestic scenarios is the Home Secretary and boy, did she look limp and ineffective! And to think this is an individual who has desires on Number 10. I suppose if one’s skin has been undeservedly saved many times, one ultimately begins to develop delusions of grandeur.

I could go on, but what purpose will it serve to inform you that we currently have an inept Home Secretary, when it is undeniably clear to most? In these times of global and domestic insecurity, when the country appears to have home-grown enemies even keener than our external foes, it is a thing of amazement and quite frankly, sadness, that this person holds such a position.

Clearly the gods are ready to kill off this coalition….why else will they first make them mad?
Why else would the May lady decide her latest venture would be to come up with a £3,000 visa bond scheme that singles out Nigeria, Ghana, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka?

Apparently, this latest proposal of hers is to deter visiting overstayers and tourists who illegally recourse to public services, like the NHS. As one would expect, this hasn’t gone down well with everyone, although there are supporters of the scheme who are urging her to even raise the value of the bond.

Oh well, as someone of Nigerian descent myself, there are many things I could write in this article at this point, but I must rise above the utter stupidity of this latest debacle. It appears our madam still sees the UK with severely tainted spectacles. In the relentless pursuit of some UKIP votes, she has forgotten the people who do the donkey-work for everyone else.

Go around any major city and tell me who are the cleaners, the public transport workers, the people who run and man the corner shops. Those jobs are the real backbone of this economy and anyone who tells you different is deluded. My naive expectation was the relevant communities would be treated with a smidgen of respect.

I realise Theresa wants to be Tory leader one day and as such has to lay down her ambitious marker, so we do get the message loud and clear. People like me are obviously the problem in this country and once these issues have been resolved with the £3000 bond, the country will be alright on the night! That of course is the curse of the one-dimensional political character that populates our government today….they have the same answer to all problems…’s always the darkie’s fault!

Just for the sake of clarity, can we just agree that overstayers and exploiters of this country’s welfare structure, come from all over the world and furthermore, they come in all shades and colours. We have Aussies, South Africans (during and after apartheid), Russians, Eastern Europeans and many more.

I thought we should point that out because it appears the only immigration offenders that our leaders are concerned about; seem to be the ones who don’t look like them. My guess is they just thought why offend everyone when we can just pick on the soft-touch nations?  It is not only highly offensive, insensitive and infuriating, it is downright revolting!

What is required is stronger immigration controls, a more effectively run Border Agency and tougher checks to ensure visitors do not take recourse to public funds. What we have been given is a proposal stewed from the laziest form of ministerial work and it all stinks of electoral desperation.

But then, why should anyone be surprised….after all it has Theresa May’s paws all over it.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Releasing Mandela....

"The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time."

- Mark Twain

Thirty years, when I was still knee-high to a grasshopper, my paternal grandmother came from the village to stay with us in the city. Well, she had no choice really...she was very ill and my parents believed the only option open to them, was to give her the type of care which was in truth, impossible whilst she lived a hundred miles away.

A strident and ground-breaking female in her heyday, my grandmother had an attendant, inspiring spirit that radiated a strong sense of independence.   So strong was her spirit, that we often joked no one could have brought her down to the city, had it not been for her descent into deteriorating health. As it happens, she steadily improved once she stayed with us and therein began a short period of bonding that stays with me to this very day.

I was on my summer holidays from boarding school and like every holiday before this one, my senses had gone into overdrive. Everything was more intense. My mother's food smelled and tasted better, my demonstration of love for my siblings was hyperbolic and my playful interactions with my neighbourhood friends always outstretched my curfew and my parents' patience.  It never occured to me at the time, but the one person whose patience for me could neither be stretched nor fraught was, grandma. Consequently, I spent most of that summer listening to her stories and life lessons, as she expertly marinated me for the big world out there.

Suffice to say, as her health relapsed and the grim reaper moved ever closer to our residence, I fell into a deep period of mourning for an inevitable exit. In fact, so extreme was my bereavement I had completely blunted any possibility of immersing any meaningful teachings from the great woman. I ate less, cried more and became a proverbial pain in the rear for everyone around me. I didn't know at the time, but I was basically refusing to release her.

Had I known that a slow death of an elderly loved one, actually armed you with the strength to cope more easily when they were gone, I would have managed the process a bit better. Rather than grieve about a certain end, I could have spent those valuable hours celebrating her life and probably may have even extracted more poignant lessons, for they say the old are more giving when they sense the finish line.

Why am I sharing this private account with you all? Well, it is only those resident underneath rocks who are not aware of Nelson Mandela's current slow walk to the pearly gates. Of course,  it is slightly morbid for one to predict another's demise, but sometimes, the forces of nature combine to alert us all to that period when we ought to reflect on a life (whilst that person is still with us), rather more mourn and dread their downward spiral.

Only a nincompoop will not realise why most people are in trepidation about Mandela's eventual passing. In truth, most of us are apprehensive for what will happen to the fragile peace that has bound South Africa for the last few decades. Some are apprehensive on the monumental vacuum which will be left behind and as such, are making plans to ease their cynical souls. Some cannot see how things will not fall apart, when the Falconer goes to the great beyond and leaves a somewhat nervous, edgy and jumpy cast of falcons behind. Our trouble is we only trusted one person.

Consequently, what nature is trying to teach us is to reach out to each other and leave the great one alone......he has to go, because he has played his part. Maybe everyone in the Cape have put all our eggs in one basket for too long and now have to learn to interact with each other. Like the spoilt child who has basked in their parents' shadows for too long, it is time for fly the coop. It is time to grow up and take over the lifting of the load burdened on one set of shoulders for so long.

My advice......collectively suck it up and get on with it. It is called life for a very good one gets out alive! As such, ala Shakespeare, we should not fear death or let it surprise us, for, it is a necessary end.

Viva Madiba!