Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My heart goes out to the Innocent in "J" Town!

Woke up to learn about the fresh violence in Jos, only a few weeks after boiling over. It had me thinking of this endless nightmare and how it all started, why our leaders are clueless as to how to solve it, the far reaching implications and what may help to solve it.

Nigeria's religious crisis go way back in history... not remotely connected to the earliset clash that was a result of a failed coup 'detar by the military in 1966 - ultimately leading to civil unrest and eventually civil war. If like me, you are old enough to remember or an ardent follower of history, you may have heard of Zango-Kataf crisis. in Kaduna State. Maitama, etc.

Over the years, a forward-looking, well meaning society would have learned the lessons and forged a path that should ensure that such conflicts remain what they are - History. None-the-less, we have watched as countless number of innocent lives are wasted on a daily basis all over the nation, while our so called government, like their endless battle(s) with corruption - pay lip-service to the violence. Ostensibly, these crisis all seem to be either religious or politically motivated, however, there seem to be a more elusive phenomenon at play. No doubt, the political elite in their bid to whip-up sentiments, and geaner votes, have played their regular "trump card" - religion. As Carl Max said, "religion is the opium of the masses" - Spurred on in their drunken stupor - Christian and Muslim alike, have drenched their lions with the blood of their neighbors, soiled the once tranquil city state with their bloody hands and unleashed a reign of terror on Jos. What remains to be seen is why the authorities have fail time and time again to curb the re-occurrence.

In order to elicit an enduring solution , I have attempted to trace the history of Plateau religious crisis -
  • September 7, 2001 - religious riots in Jos resulted in more than four years of bloodshed, killing thousands of people and displacing thousands of others.
  • In 2004 an estimated 700 people died in Yelwa, Plateau state.
  • November 27, 2008 - Religious crisis erupts, 40 churches razed down as angry Muslim youths who suspected election fraud, attacked Christians and their properties.
  • November 28th and 29th 2008, Reprisal attacks leaves 500 dead people in its wake (100 Christians killed by the mod, and 400 Muslims killed by police before the riot was quelled),
  • July 17, 2010 - Mazah (only nine miles from Jos)
  • July 21 2010 - Dutse Uku and Nasarawa Gwom reprisal attacks by Christians. in 30mins alone over 300 were dead
  • December 2010 -
The nightmare rages even as I write - Local rights groups say over 1,500 people have died in inter-communal violence in the Plateau since the start of this year alone. Yet not much has been done to prosecute the extremist on both sides. Who are these extremists?

I talked to some Plateau natives with a view to understand what the problem is, where it is coming from? Who is the aggressor? and perhaps propose a lasting solution different from what we have tried until now.

In the final analysis, my comparison left me with mixed feelings. Everyone I talked to tended to say the same thing - regardless of their political or religious affiliation - Firstly, they both see the others as the aggressor (we and them mindset) regardless of facts before hand. They were both very angry and both consider this crisis as war - Even a very senior colleague of mine (*** ******* - name withheld), was so furious that he swore that he would kill a Christian if he had the opportunity... made me wonder when this crisis will end, if such a "seemingly" enlightened, responsible, educated man with a family and a good job would stick his neck that far to mutter such an evil thing. But no matter on which side of the divide you stand, so much pent up hate and anger has eaten up the masses that they appear to be ready to kill for what they believe.

Secondly, they all contend that the problem is the Soldiers deployed to keep the peace. The Nigerian army may have fared well in several international peace keeping assignments, but their reputation at home is full of "sorrow, tears and blood! - their regular trade mark!!". (see my article titled "Do you know where your neighbor is?" from 2010). It would appear to me that they would prefer a battle to the finish" than to have any force mediating between them. The Christians contend that the Muslims always attack first, and the soldiers prevent the Christians from retaliating, unwittingly giving the Muslims the upper hand. So it is no surprise that Christians want the soldiers to be withdrawn. The Christians like Bishop Kwashi say “We are the victims of any Islamic anger... years ago, it was the Danish cartoons. Now they are trying to lay it at the feet of the elections. We have become a convenient scapegoat and target for those with grievances about events both home and abroad.” alluding to the already popular fad that there exist a silent Jihadist campaign to take the nation (the earth) at all cost. Religious motivated crisis all over the nation are only proof of that campaign. Bishop Kwashi implored international media, he made the plea: “Please, if you have evidence of anywhere where Chris­tians have sparked off a riot or done anything wrong, please be honest in telling it. But if not, stand up for justice … “We want the support of the Church worldwide to understand that we have never initiated crimes against the Muslim people.” To my mind, though their claim sounds like good logic, what is not very evident is the fact behind the crisis - the embers that fuels the Jos fires - Politics.

In a democracy, in a so called federated Nigeria, a few people - minority, yet who are indegenes want to lord it over a majority Hausa Fulani who form the majority in a local government. This conundrum, to many a no brainer, but to many others, neither here nor there. I will explain...

..................... To Be Continued ........................

Monday, February 14, 2011

Be My Val for Every Other Day!

Today is Valentines Day - that day that countless people all over the world celebrate love. Tantiblow woke me this morning with love on her face, she said "Today's is just another day happy in our life, we should be celebrating love everyday..." Hun!?!@# Even though its already too late, it was nice thing to know that she was not really expecting chocolate and roses today. As always, I had already made plans for something nice to ensure that that smile stays there until...

I didn't see the usual buzz of events around my office today - perhaps the entire team is also growing old, many of them are suffering the same fate as I in previous vals. I am hoarder, I keep all sorts of mementos - cards, notes, letters, objects, etc. The wife was churned when I showed her a soiled Meridian napkin, and she was shocked to learn it was from our first night as man and wife. :-) sorry, I cant help it.

My sisters Stella and Angela also didnt fail to call in to say Happy Vals day... Stella's mail had some satiric advice concerning love, but the lines that caught my eyes the most was -
"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away"
It made me wonder, how many heart skipped a bit on my account. To borrowed someones slang, How many people have I "Woowed"? It made me wonder what happened to all the girls I have loved before now? Where are they? What are they up to? Oh No, I am not about to spill beans... not calling any names, not just for their sake, but I will also like to see another Vals day. So what Happy Valentine times can you remember? Mine go way way back....

The first of cource the first girl I ever fancied -I must have been 5 years old. She was my seat mate in pre-school. After been picked up from School, darting around the back seat of our Peugeot 404, My mum had realised I wasn't wearing my shoes. She inquired where they were and was shocked to learn I had given them to my "wife". She lost her shoes during play time, I gave her my shoe as a show of love to prevent her Mum from beating her - I must have Woowed her, then how many men would stick their necks that far? My Mum must have been Wooowed! The mistake she made was to take me along to collect the shoe from "my wife's house" - Spontaneity kicked in, and we (me and my wife) hide ourselves under the dinning table (lying on the tucked-in chairs, covered by the table cloth) it always works - adults never notice small spaces so they hopelessly searched the rest of the house for us... she went home without me... as expected, I got the beating of my life when my "Inlaws" found me and sent me home.

Then I guess the next Happy Val I ever got was when I made my first vals card, Cupid and his scabbard - drawn with HB pencil on white card board paper. I put it in her school bag cos i was too much of a wimp to give it to her myself, She must have been Woowed when she saw it at home. I called in during that weekend to learn she loved it, but things turned bad when Ifeanyi Peters gigled from the other line... cupid missed his target and thats how that cookie crumbled...

Then it was my first true love, (xxxxxxxx name withheld). that Wooowed! me, cards, gifts poems, name it - made life so exciting, something to look forward to every new day.

Val Wooowing was not always pleasant - my first Val at UNN was nasty, no babe, no money, I spent the day with the gang at the University observatory listening to music and smoking Malboro. I was truly Wooowed! Though I had been pretend-smoking before then - it was the first time I inhaled that crap, and the rest is history... well lets leave it there.

No doubt many a Val Wooowing came from later years with Bianca. but one Vals Wooowing was during my youth service, when "Jill" came tumbling down the hill - unannounced (she had told Jack she couldn't come all the way to Enugu from Lagos, so he thought the coast was clear). She was Wooowed! and so was lil missy. All I had to show for Val that year was a restless night and a deflated ego! Don't even ask how I got out of that one... at the end of it, I had learned my lesson that two-timing is bad for business, believe me, I have been honest ever since.

What happened to that wild side of me? Well every bronco has its taming day. Mine came when I met Titi and as the say the rest is history. She has loved me like no other woman could, unconditionally, and through all the tough times, she has stock to my side, and i am grateful for that. She has Wooowed me in many ways. :-) some good, some bad.

I sure have been around, given and received my fair share of Woowing, Along the way I have learned quite a lot that other couples can learn from - chief amongst which is that me and my spouse have different expectations, emotional needs, values, dreams, weaknesses, and strengths. We are two unique individuals who have decided to share a life together. Neither of us is perfect, but are we perfect for each other? Do we bring out the best of each other? Do we compliment and compromise with each other, or do we compete, compare, and control?

No relationship is easy, what counts at the end of the day is how much joy and happiness you can bring each others way and as Titi advices, it must not be done only on special occasion like birthdays, Christmas, or Vals day. Lets strive to make it happen everyday. For me, I know its not easy to keep up with that for too long (considering that Gucci and Prada may somehow be involved in the matter) but I promise that I will do just that... God Willing! lol Happy Vals Day to you Babe!