Tornado: A political dialogue

In this fictional post apocalyptic world, the leaders of the space race convene in space to discuss our way forward.

By Karl Idowu

The year 2027

Date : Unknown

Location: Space X moonbase

A white light shoots across the windows as not so young peter thiel looks down at what he once called home. He is joined by his pals,a rogue gang of new world leaders, Richard 76, Mark 42, Elon 56 and Jeff 63. They all grab their prepared drinks of choice as they wonder into the dining failities which houses the crew and families of the select survivors chosen to start life after the war which no one could have predicted, has whipped out most of their loved ones and distant family members. I just an engineer, in this case a fly on the wall, in the grand scheme of things listened in as they spoke and I must say the conversation really had my mind wondering. Not because of the severity of the issues addressed but because of the perspective they viewed the world in. This conversation ranges from what went wrong that year? Where the signs there? How could it have been fixed? Was it wrong we didn’t explain the true severity and how did they get away it?

Now for the average engneer like myself lucky enough to be prevy to survive, my recollection of events portrayed the violence as a necessity at the time due to false propaganda and an uneducated understanding of what was really going on. I was none the wiser of the consequences of the actions of our leaders and the absolute thirst for power which led to were we are today. All i cared about just like the mere masses were miniscule and none revolutionary or even important matters. There were signs but hey who cares what’s going on 2000km away? As long as i was safe and had my little material things, yes my little ideas of comfort and success.  My sense of danger idle and keen eye for economical and political developments left me uninterested after a while. Now as a reader I know you’re dying to read what was said to find the answers to the future you seek, before i proceed i would remind you that my account may be abit woozy and this was only based off what i was able to overhear however i still feel it will be insightful and helpful in preventing us getting to this point if found in the past.

The conversation from when I started listening in, began with Elon

A little background on the chums

Elon. He stands counting earth days at roughly age 56 which is why we call him Elon 56. Elon according to earth records was a South Afrrican-born Canadian-American business magnate, investor, Engineer,and inventor. He started a number of companies just like his counterparts  and their genius led them to success but absolutely noone could have predicted the failure of his car venture or solar power demise.

I mean how could they? It had over taken ford and Gm in market share and was well on the way to becoming the greatest ecological protectionist company on earth. I mean everyone saw and believed in his vision so what went wrong? How could this have happened? we also wondered. The answer to this question was being answered by the powerful man himself.

Elon 56: It’s funny how shortsighted they were.

Jeff: Oh not this again Elon!

He excalimed to the unwavering tongue of elon

Elon ignores with an arrogant stare away

Elon 56: I’m just saying I feel the real the problem was the shortsighted approach we all had as human of earth 1.

Richard: Not all of us he sniggers with content

Richard: Some of us saw and predicted it before others

Jeff:  “We’ve all heard your virgin stories as he glances at Richard and continues but as you know old man it’s not who did it first but it’s who did it best.

Elon 56: Technically guys I did it first. Needless to say we all did it pretty successfully or else we wouldn’t be here. Now back to what i was saying. I believe the short sighted nature of the human race led us to lose trust in the global agenda which led to a fall in our faith in humanity which ultimately led to our demise.I should have showed and expressed my vision more. I blame myself.

Mark: That an easy cop out for not choosing not to understand the root cause of the actual problem i feel was connecting people to each other and this over flow of information accelerated our destruction. I blame myself

Jeff: You can’t blame yourself for wanting to revolutainze the world. Look at amazon who knew that the enhancing delivery and processes like i envisioned would lead to new ways of transporting the worlds worst encrypion and products. I blame myself.

Richard: Nah I’m fine really, I did nothing but good for the world and that’s how i will be remembered.

Mark: Oh really? you feel that way, we had viison of changing and helping the world. were they perfect i think not but are none of us here without blame? It is irresponsible to sit down here and say we all weren’t to blame for the human race are the blame for where we are and that unfortunately includes us as well as the perished.

Richard: I was not responsible for the attrocities of the war but was just a mere survivor. If having prior knowledge about the events due to my ability to keep informed and be prepared made me a bad person then who are the goods one left I ask?

Silence across the room.

Richard: I grow tired of the buffonery exhibited when throwing blame from one person to another. We were part of the solution but were shunned , who fault is that.The events were present for everyone to see and the outcomes not so difficult to deduce.

Elon; You say this like they were there for the naked eye to see

Richard: Well if you must make us recollect the events i believe we have enough time.

Mark: We’ve studied this and know this

Richard: yes we have but you still are as clueless today as you were decades ago don’t forget your sheltered harvard life. Now I think events really began in syria. Let’s put aside, for the time being, that the Trump administration openly admitted it had no clue what it was going to do in Syria after the airstrikes. Or that key members of Congress and in the administration were clearly eager for “regime change” in Syria with no plan for the aftermath. And the fact that hardly anyone seemed to care that Russia’s former president Dmitry Medvedev said that the strikes put the US “on the verge of a military clash with Russia” – a nuclear power with thousands of warheads.

Mark: We all know this didn’t start with trump

Elon: True trump was a mad man but this started with bush and blair

Jeff: I’ll have to admit that this began before Donald. It really had to do with Oil money, power,corruption and greed. This was in the system before him. I mean are we going to act like the attrocities committed in countries which included Libya, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Afghanistan, North korea beginning in 2003 till 2019 all began with donald?

Mark: Murdoch and the media had the people fooled the cover ups and promotion of the singular western ideology was a terrible doctrine looking back. I mean i remember the first real reports that got to me. It involved US airstrikes claiming the lives of 200 civilians in Iraq, as well as dozens being killed in separate strikes supposedly aimed at Islamic State in Syria and several more women and children died in a raid gone awry in Yemen.

Richard: Those were just a few examples of the many attacks launched under the pretext of defeating Isis, don’t be naive how much good were these attacks that wreaked havoc on civilian populations? i mean the US military ramped up its bombing campaigns in multiple counties but were never tried.

Elon: At the same time, the Trump administration was expanding official US “war zones” in Somalia and Yemen, while working to “make it easier for the Pentagon to launch counterterrorism strikes anywhere in the world”.This alongside loosening restrictions on preventing civilian deaths that were put in place by the Obama administration was only going to create more problems than it was ever going to solve.

Peter: I’ve heard enough of these naivity, the best and most appropriate course of action was taken I believe, like are we going to sit here and pretend Bashar al-Assad  wasn’t a monster and a butcher? Do you  also want to pretend the people of Syria didn’t suffer incredibly? Or are we now going to pretend North Korea wasn’t potentially dangerous and unpredictable? Iran was far from innocent on the world stage which was the same with Iraq and Russia not minimising all the other threats to world peace.

Richard: The issue wasn’t these countries intervening in the American way of life but America intervening in these countries and situations that didn’t need them. We aren’t here talking about what ifs because we’ve seen what happens. We are on a space station looking at the wreck! the real issue here is how without knowing the protector needed to be protected and the defender became the defended. How could the blind lead an army?

Peter: Stop stop stop, we all knew other things were going to kill us. We had climate change in full force, uncontrollable weather disasters, religious wars, famine, droughts left and right. If anything the nuclear tensions were a distraction from all these things.

Mark: So because all these were coming, it wasn’t our jobs to save the world?

To be continued.

Unique: A philosophical insight

In this article we explore what it means to be unique. Are we unique? What makes us unique and if everyone is unique doesn’t that mean no-one is unique?

By Karl Idowu

Questions to ponder before progressing.

Are you unique

Are you religious

Do you believe in God?

if you believe in God, why do you believe?

if you can’t explain an event, do you automatically turn to God?

If you don’t believe in God, what do you believe in and why?

You are unique. Oh! yeah, I never heard that before you might think to yourself but are you unique? Are you one of a kind? Are you the only one of your “kind” that exists? The simple answer isn’t all that simple. Our opinion on our levels of individuality are subjective but are you unique? Yes. yes, you are. Now you know you are what does this mean? Does it mean it makes you better than your fellow man? Does it make you smarter, stronger or even more special than your fellow man? No, in reality, it doesn’t so what does the label unique really mean? Everyone has an answer but if everyone has a different answer does this mean there is an actual answer? A scientist asked might go into a scientific argument of genetic composition etc while a religion sympathiser will make claim to God’s and their powers. Others might say things like you are a combination of factors which are only specific to you. All in all, everyone seems to have their own views and ideas about what makes an individual unique. It doesn’t make me cynical to believe we have our views on our unique attributes, it’s just based on people’s historical behaviour. Now another question to ponder, should the search for answers to questions about life, it’s true meaning, our purpose and finding true happiness divide or bring us together? It brings me to my favourite saying “birds of the same feather flock together”. it’s not just about being unique but it’s the understanding of the fact that you may be unique in your being but in reality, you are just another sand in the hourglass that is the days of our lives. It’s not about thinking your unique, it’s understanding being unique doesn’t make you special. it makes you normal. The view that all reality is one being is called monism, and although I wouldn’t consider myself a monist the ideas shared here have logical merit. One implication of monism is that all entities, including ourselves and the things around us, are somehow parts of one single being. According to the findings of Spinoza each individual is composed of many other individuals, forming a series increasing in complexity. For instance, multiple cells and micro-organisms make up a fish; multiple fishes, plants, stones and water make up a river; multiple rivers, mountains and land make up the earth; multiple planets make up the universe, and so on. The existence of every finite thing is caused by another finite thing. So using this premise would it be safe to say God is not a creator who forms individual things and beams them into existence. Nor did God create the world, or the universe, in this way. All finite modes, including the earth, the sun and the stars, are caused by God as other finite modes. Now as a deeply religious person reading this, you may call this blasphemy before even considering the logical nature of this argument but doesn’t that say more about your religious tolerance than it does my disbelief? Religion dictates People have free will so you choose to serve God but religion also states God has a master plan. Another contradiction of itself.

Let’s see and question some religious beliefs.

●  the belief that God acts with an intention or purpose; Human construct and not proven

●  the belief that God has organised the world for the sake of
human or divine purposes; Human construct and not proven

●  the belief that natural things exist for the sake of human or
divine purposes; Human construct and not proven

●  the belief that the universe has a final purpose, and that the
universe is moving towards fulfilling that purpose. Human construct and not proven

ethics

Spinoza’s ethics argues that these beliefs are superstitions that do not reflect the truth. Now the fact some of the ideas shared in the work is taken from the work of Spinoza could give way to the religious reader saying he was an atheist, devil worshipper etc but I employ the religious to go search and find how condemned him and his work was. I employ the reader don’t just the read the about the fact he was condemned but i employ you to search by who and why was he condemned. The simple answer is the religious community, in this case, the church but this is not about religious condemnation. Not to say the religious are judgemental but the history of speaking out against certain beliefs/religions has seen condemnation and still remains a trend in modern day society.This brings me to next point would it be false to say human beings developed an image of God based on a maximised version of their own abilities and tendencies? No, it would not be. This is because every finite mode naturally regards things from its own perspective. As Spinoza puts it, humans think of God as eminently human; if a triangle could speak, it would say that God is ‘eminently triangular’”. Our human-centric view of the world leads us to judge things and events according to what is most useful to us. Consequently, human beings have developed a series of value-terms with which we judge natural phenomena: good, evil, order, confusion, beauty, ugliness, etc. Since people have different experiences and different purposes, we disagree with one another and differ in our judgements. Evidence of this can be found through the fact, most rural tribes and people believe in God’s of their own creations without ever witnessing or seeing an outsider’s God’s. Most writer start of writing a piece of literature, usually with the intent of having of a conclusion this piece does not try to do that. It is trying to help shed more light on the issue of the religious division so we can continue a dialogue as we can no longer be silent about the religious path of destruction the world is on. There shall not be another world war this time based on religion for we shall not be silent. Religion and God are superstitions that keep people ignorant. Only by breaking free of this superstition will we be able to seek true understanding of the universe, thereby gaining true insight into ourselves as the unique human beings.

The Leader

What does it mean to lead? In this article we explore what it means to be a leader

By Karl Idowu

Throughout history, much has been written about what it means to be a leader. Ancient Chinese military general and Art of War author Sun Tzu described a leader as one who cultivates the moral law, and strictly adheres to proper methods and discipline." Nineteenth-century historian Thomas Carlyle believed leaders were born and not made, while English philosopher Herbert Spencer argued that leaders were the result of the society in which they lived.

The decades that followed brought countless studies and research reports that detailed a wide variety of leadership skills, styles and characteristics, with researchers identifying a distinct leader. Some authors even devoted their work to all the personal factors that influence an individual approach to management. With all of these differing schools of thought, it’s clear that there is no single definition of leadership. What works for one leader may not necessarily work for another, depending on the circumstances and personality type. But there one thing that nearly every academic, historian and even leaders themselves agree upon a true leader must be able to inspire his or her team.

Leaders can get the best out of people.

Top leaders are consistent with their approach, get their hands dirty and create a company culture that will last long after he or she has left. Comfort zones are almost nonexistent under strong leadership because each team member is pushed to their full potential. Great leaders also hire and inspire other great leaders, whom they trust to carry out the company mission and instil a sense of purpose that touches each and every staff member.

Leadership is all about giving and serving.

It is lonely at the top, but that is no excuse for not giving generously of your time, your experience and your encouragement to your team — and never expecting any of that in return. You are the person in the unique position of finding or uncovering strengths in people, leveraging them and celebrating them. If you’re going to lead, and lead well, you have to put it all out there every day, regardless of the outcome.Leaders who hold back will eventually hold their teams back

Leaders are described with a mouthful of adjectives, such as passionate, visionary, charismatic, motivational and encouraging. However, I propose leadership is something simpler. It is ambition. Ambition creates hard work, determination and an unconditional desire to achieve. It generates an absolutely contagious energy that people follow and join naturally. If you are a leader in your organisation, there is only one thing you need to understand about your role: never let your ambition fade.

Good leaders have a good attitude. A good leader can hold his or her emotions in check, especially in tough situations. For example, maybe you lost your best client, or a deal you’ve been working on falls through. Regardless, it’s important for leaders to guide a team through challenging times, encouraging them and remaining positive along the way. Team morale is heavily contingent upon a leader’s attitude.

Leadership means being in touch with your people.

A leader places the people around him or her in a position that sets them up for success. This is a difficult task because a leader must have an in-depth understanding of each individual, such as understanding their career goals and knowing what motivates them. By being committed to helping each person achieve their own personal goals, the leader sets the organisation up for greatness. Leaders are [also] good listeners. They listen to verbal and nonverbal cues to understand [what is] occurring in the organisation. This allows you to address problems before they become big issues.

Leaders set the right example.

Leadership is setting an example in the way you act each day while focusing on the bigger picture. It is about setting the tone for your team and organisation in the way you interact with your own staff, your business partners and your customers. As a leader, it is your responsibility to establish goals, innovate, motivate and trust. A passionate and compassionate leader can energise a company. Set an example of cooperation, trust and openness. Focus on solutions and positivity instead of finding faults and blame for actions.

Leaders cannot stand alone.

The out-and- out leader in today’s volatile and uncertain business environment had better not distance him or herself from the heat of the action.Demonstrating the competence to assess, decide and execute in a growing business drives confidence in the leader. Similarly, a great leader of an enterprise stands on the shoulders, not of managerial Muppets who obediently do as they are directed, but of other leadership giants who have different and complementary leadership skills. A business with only one leader will remain forever a small business.

The Art of Forgetting

Recently, I had a conversation about the Nigerian education system with someone I consider to be a very close friend. I have spoken to this person about a long list of grievances but this conversation struck me as particularly important to the both of us. Over twitter messages, lengthy whatsapp voice notes and hilarious face to face conversations we always manage to swing back to a topic that annoys and vexes us to no end: Nigeria. More importantly, Nigerian history. Compared to a number of other states, Nigeria is a relatively young country, if we only look at it from the spectrum of when we gained independence. Yet so much has happened between now and then. However, most people including myself know little to nothing about it. Much has been made about this lack of knowledge; whether it is manufactured (the troubling silence around the Biafran War) or it is a general disinterest (the fixation it seems, on politics that are not our own. I liken it to looking over into another person’s backyard). Whatever the cause, this ignorance is disappointing at best and dangerous at worst.

I spent my earliest years in a place that was not concerned about the history or background of other countries, a place where children are essentially that their country is the greatest place on Earth. I’m sure it is clear where I am heading; America. Most people would agree that to leave the education of a child up to the school system alone is a pretty stupid idea. So you may ask; alright, I can understand the dearth of world history in an American school but surely your parents spoke to you about Nigeria? I can answer that question with a resounding no. Nope. Nah. Definitely not. Another question: OK, maybe not at home but surely, in Nigerian schools this is a very important topic? Once again it’s a no from me (kinda). I am going to speak about some of the reasons why this may be so. Why we seem to know just about everything about Queen Elizabeth save for the type of underwear she dons and little to nothing about ourselves. I want to talk about the very real and very difficult to perfect art of forgetting.

There are so many places to start when it comes to the complicated, messy history of Nigeria but I’m going to talk about an era that has gripped my attention and has never let go since then. The Biafran War. This is an issue that is important for a whole host of reasons, mostly because the average Nigerian hates talking about it. Yet despite the many years that have gone by since the end of this conflict, it keeps cropping up; in political discourse, around dinner tables, on twitter timelines that lead to heated debates. The fact of the matter is, it will continue to crop up because it has never been properly addressed and as a nation we have never truly healed from that time period and until we stop suppressing this issue, it will continue to haunt us as a nation. So many topical issues that started the Civil War of 1967 thread through this country like a vein today. So let us start from the beginning shall we? The civil war can find its roots in the 1914 amalgamation of Northern and Southern Nigeria. As we all know the differences between the Southern and Northern Protectorates in terms of culture and the religions of the people. The discovery of oil in Nigeria was a turning point because it led to a struggle of control amongst both regions. The fact that the South was not as united as the North basically ensured that Lt.Col Yakubu Gowon would emerge to be the head of state after officers from the North staged a coup. During his tenure the slaughter of Easterners continued in earnest which led to other actions and before you know it boom…we are in a full blooded civil war. Why is this so important to be aware of? To learn? In my opinion the reason why one must never forget the Biafran War and why it started is because sectarian violence in Nigeria persists to this day. Most recently, the Fulani herdsmen attacks in the South including places like Abia State, Edo State and Benue State. There have been many suggestions the general public has used to attribute to the swell of violence. The most acceptable being that as they are herdsmen they are nomadic in nature, moving to different places and in the process of doing so the herdsmen have encountered cattle rustlers. As they continue to travel, trespassing on farmland that is owned by indigenes is not uncommon attempts by these indigenes to put a stop to this has led to violence on the part of the herdsmen. With such a high level of violence committed by these herdsmen, people have attributed the general silence of Buhari because he is a Fulani man. As you can imagine, this has bred resentment. Resentment and violence are dangerous things when melded together which is why you have people like Johnson Suleman openly advocating for his church members to kill Fulani herdsmen. When looking at this example one has to ask themselves; are we so forgetful as a people? Or is that we have not fully grasped how easy it is to descend into chaos based on differences that we cannot change, and might not want to if we had the chance? Was the start of the Biafran War more complicated than the spate of violence amongst the Fulani in recent years? Definitely. That doesn’t mean we should push our luck though.

Then there is another type of cost. The cost of living with trauma. A lot of the time the fact that Igbo people tend to go to the village during Christmas is a running joke amongst us as a society. However, something murkier exists under the surface. I was talking to another friend whom I asked about this and she replied playfully ‘got to have somewhere to go if or when shit hits the fan’. This line of thinking was also reinstated in a thread on twitter as well. For a people who have seen quite literally the worst of what Nigeria has to offer, it makes complete sense to prepare for that. To never be caught off guard again. Despite the popular action of forgetting as human beings, our environment does not. The way that development recreates itself afterwards doesn’t forget as well. In keeping with the spirit of writing this piece I decided to ask my mother about what she remembered from that time period. She didn’t say that much but she did say some things that have stood out to me. The first being that Lagos changed after the war. ‘You know, a lot of wealthy Igbo families owned land in Lagos at that time. When the war broke out and even before that, with a lot of the pogroms that were happening up North…a lot of them had to abandon everything and run back East. To this day, the ownership of land in Lagos and the South-West generally has never been the same’ she said quietly. The second thing she said which in my opinion makes perfect sense is that people from the East never congregated in the North in those numbers ever again. We may not talk about it, but to pretend that the emptiness the war created isn’t really from the war at all but just a pathetically implied ‘countries change’ is just that. Pathetic.

The Civil War of the 60s is an area that is uncomfortable and painful. Another area that is uncomfortable and painful for many Nigerians is civil disobedience. I have always been slightly disgusted by the way the public at large seem happy to oblige the selfish entitlement of the people that are supposed to lead us. How we seem to have no problem with those that are supposed to protect us, carelessly crush our human rights and civil liberties as if they were the kola nuts they snacked on during their daughter’s wedding paid for with the oil from the South South that is slowly but surely poisoning the land. Once again, I have learnt with age, knowledge and a good dose of humility that nothing is as it seems. This belief that Nigerians simply take whatever is thrown at them is wrong. All one has to do is look hard enough. It may not be as easy to find but it is there. For the first example could talk about the late, great Fela. However, I feel like his story is well known held to mythical standards even. Instead, I want to focus on his mother, Mrs. Funmilayo Ransome Kuti. Firstly, because of sexism. There is still this ridiculous notion that when it comes to being heard, or protecting civil liberties, women’s voices should not be at the forefront of the issue. It’s simply not a ‘feminine’ past time. Well I am here to tell you fuck all that noise. Let me just start off that a lot of people especially women who are apart of ‘pick me’ twitter wouldn’t even be politically represented in Nigeria if it was not for her. Meaning, she fought for our right to vote as women in Nigeria. Another reason for her importance is that although she was born into an aristocratic family, she wasn’t predisposed to the elitism a lot of middle and upper class Nigerians suffer from (I know I need to have intense self reflection in order to recognize this behavior in myself and correct it). The organization she founded for women in Abeokuta had a membership tally of more than 20,000 women including both literate and illiterate women. One of her most important achieves in a life filled to the brim with milestones was her part in ensuring Nigeria’s independence. So how come she is not spoken about more? Why do we only learn about Awolowo and Azikiwe and Tafawa Balewa concerning Nigeria’s early political history as a free state? As I’ve mentioned before, quite a bit of this probably has to do with the fact that she is a woman. Then there is the ever present legacy of her son and also her nephew, Wole Soyinka. Another more controversial reason in my own opinion her death by the hands of military personnel when she was thrown out of a third floor window from Fela’s commune is one thing. Another once again points to how easily we as a people forget. In order to justify the patriarchal attitudes that are so deeply entrenched in our society we all have to collectively buy in to the idea that women never had a voice in the various conflicts that have subsumed Nigeria in one time frame or the other. To remember women like Mrs Ransome Kuti or Elizabeth Adekogbe or even further back to Amina of Zaria is to question everything that we have been told in order to be a quintessential African woman. Not only is that a painful experience, it is often one that is not easily afforded. It may be easy for a middle class 21 one year old like me to question the status quo. To ask that of a working class housekeeper that is simply trying to survive is asking too much.

As I mentioned above, Nigeria is not a country that is truly old. A lot of the tragedies and horrors were not that long ago. The perpetrators are either alive or well or died relatively recently. All this means is that our parents and grandparents lived through these happenings. At first, I was truly angry over the lack of discourse. Then I realized how truly difficult it must be to take oneself back to a time where nothing was certain, not even the day they were living in because they were in the middle of a war they didn’t ask to be in as a civilian. I realized just how scary and heartbreaking it must have been to look up to a woman who was intelligent and brave and whip smart be treated so callously and horrifically by the country she loved and fought for. To forget is to survive, and there is nothing braver than that.

Recently, I had a conversation about the Nigerian education system with someone I consider to be a very close friend. I have spoken to this person about a long list of grievances but this conversation struck me as particularly important to the both of us. Over twitter messages, lengthy whatsapp voice notes and hilarious face to face conversations we always manage to swing back to a topic that annoys and vexes us to no end: Nigeria. More importantly, Nigerian history. Compared to a number of other states, Nigeria is a relatively young country, if we only look at it from the spectrum of when we gained independence. Yet so much has happened between now and then. However, most people including myself know little to nothing about it. Much has been made about this lack of knowledge; whether it is manufactured (the troubling silence around the Biafran War) or it is a general disinterest (the fixation it seems, on politics that are not our own. I liken it to looking over into another person’s backyard). Whatever the cause, this ignorance is disappointing at best and dangerous at worst.

I spent my earliest years in a place that was not concerned about the history or background of other countries, a place where children are essentially that their country is the greatest place on Earth. I’m sure it is clear where I am heading; America. Most people would agree that to leave the education of a child up to the school system alone is a pretty stupid idea. So you may ask; alright, I can understand the dearth of world history in an American school but surely your parents spoke to you about Nigeria? I can answer that question with a resounding no. Nope. Nah. Definitely not. Another question: OK, maybe not at home but surely, in Nigerian schools this is a very important topic? Once again it’s a no from me (kinda). I am going to speak about some of the reasons why this may be so. Why we seem to know just about everything about Queen Elizabeth save for the type of underwear she dons and little to nothing about ourselves. I want to talk about the very real and very difficult to perfect art of forgetting.

There are so many places to start when it comes to the complicated, messy history of Nigeria but I’m going to talk about an era that has gripped my attention and has never let go since then. The Biafran War. This is an issue that is important for a whole host of reasons, mostly because the average Nigerian hates talking about it. Yet despite the many years that have gone by since the end of this conflict, it keeps cropping up; in political discourse, around dinner tables, on twitter timelines that lead to heated debates. The fact of the matter is, it will continue to crop up because it has never been properly addressed and as a nation we have never truly healed from that time period and until we stop suppressing this issue, it will continue to haunt us as a nation. So many topical issues that started the Civil War of 1967 thread through this country like a vein today. So let us start from the beginning shall we? The civil war can find its roots in the 1914 amalgamation of Northern and Southern Nigeria. As we all know the differences between the Southern and Northern Protectorates in terms of culture and the religions of the people. The discovery of oil in Nigeria was a turning point because it led to a struggle of control amongst both regions. The fact that the South was not as united as the North basically ensured that Lt.Col Yakubu Gowon would emerge to be the head of state after officers from the North staged a coup. During his tenure the slaughter of Easterners continued in earnest which led to other actions and before you know it boom…we are in a full blooded civil war. Why is this so important to be aware of? To learn? In my opinion the reason why one must never forget the Biafran War and why it started is because sectarian violence in Nigeria persists to this day. Most recently, the Fulani herdsmen attacks in the South including places like Abia State, Edo State and Benue State. There have been many suggestions the general public has used to attribute to the swell of violence. The most acceptable being that as they are herdsmen they are nomadic in nature, moving to different places and in the process of doing so the herdsmen have encountered cattle rustlers. As they continue to travel, trespassing on farmland that is owned by indigenes is not uncommon attempts by these indigenes to put a stop to this has led to violence on the part of the herdsmen. With such a high level of violence committed by these herdsmen, people have attributed the general silence of Buhari because he is a Fulani man. As you can imagine, this has bred resentment. Resentment and violence are dangerous things when melded together which is why you have people like Johnson Suleman openly advocating for his church members to kill Fulani herdsmen. When looking at this example one has to ask themselves; are we so forgetful as a people? Or is that we have not fully grasped how easy it is to descend into chaos based on differences that we cannot change, and might not want to if we had the chance? Was the start of the Biafran War more complicated than the spate of violence amongst the Fulani in recent years? Definitely. That doesn’t mean we should push our luck though.

Then there is another type of cost. The cost of living with trauma. A lot of the time the fact that Igbo people tend to go to the village during Christmas is a running joke amongst us as a society. However, something murkier exists under the surface. I was talking to another friend whom I asked about this and she replied playfully ‘got to have somewhere to go if or when shit hits the fan’. This line of thinking was also reinstated in a thread on twitter as well. For a people who have seen quite literally the worst of what Nigeria has to offer, it makes complete sense to prepare for that. To never be caught off guard again. Despite the popular action of forgetting as human beings, our environment does not. The way that development recreates itself afterwards doesn’t forget as well. In keeping with the spirit of writing this piece I decided to ask my mother about what she remembered from that time period. She didn’t say that much but she did say some things that have stood out to me. The first being that Lagos changed after the war. ‘You know, a lot of wealthy Igbo families owned land in Lagos at that time. When the war broke out and even before that, with a lot of the pogroms that were happening up North…a lot of them had to abandon everything and run back East. To this day, the ownership of land in Lagos and the South-West generally has never been the same’ she said quietly. The second thing she said which in my opinion makes perfect sense is that people from the East never congregated in the North in those numbers ever again. We may not talk about it, but to pretend that the emptiness the war created isn’t really from the war at all but just a pathetically implied ‘countries change’ is just that. Pathetic.

The Civil War of the 60s is an area that is uncomfortable and painful. Another area that is uncomfortable and painful for many Nigerians is civil disobedience. I have always been slightly disgusted by the way the public at large seem happy to oblige the selfish entitlement of the people that are supposed to lead us. How we seem to have no problem with those that are supposed to protect us, carelessly crush our human rights and civil liberties as if they were the kola nuts they snacked on during their daughter’s wedding paid for with the oil from the South South that is slowly but surely poisoning the land. Once again, I have learnt with age, knowledge and a good dose of humility that nothing is as it seems. This belief that Nigerians simply take whatever is thrown at them is wrong. All one has to do is look hard enough. It may not be as easy to find but it is there. For the first example could talk about the late, great Fela. However, I feel like his story is well known held to mythical standards even. Instead, I want to focus on his mother, Mrs. Funmilayo Ransome Kuti. Firstly, because of sexism. There is still this ridiculous notion that when it comes to being heard, or protecting civil liberties, women’s voices should not be at the forefront of the issue. It’s simply not a ‘feminine’ past time. Well I am here to tell you fuck all that noise. Let me just start off that a lot of people especially women who are apart of ‘pick me’ twitter wouldn’t even be politically represented in Nigeria if it was not for her. Meaning, she fought for our right to vote as women in Nigeria. Another reason for her importance is that although she was born into an aristocratic family, she wasn’t predisposed to the elitism a lot of middle and upper class Nigerians suffer from (I know I need to have intense self reflection in order to recognize this behavior in myself and correct it). The organization she founded for women in Abeokuta had a membership tally of more than 20,000 women including both literate and illiterate women. One of her most important achieves in a life filled to the brim with milestones was her part in ensuring Nigeria’s independence. So how come she is not spoken about more? Why do we only learn about Awolowo and Azikiwe and Tafawa Balewa concerning Nigeria’s early political history as a free state? As I’ve mentioned before, quite a bit of this probably has to do with the fact that she is a woman. Then there is the ever present legacy of her son and also her nephew, Wole Soyinka. Another more controversial reason in my own opinion her death by the hands of military personnel when she was thrown out of a third floor window from Fela’s commune is one thing. Another once again points to how easily we as a people forget. In order to justify the patriarchal attitudes that are so deeply entrenched in our society we all have to collectively buy in to the idea that women never had a voice in the various conflicts that have subsumed Nigeria in one time frame or the other. To remember women like Mrs Ransome Kuti or Elizabeth Adekogbe or even further back to Amina of Zaria is to question everything that we have been told in order to be a quintessential African woman. Not only is that a painful experience, it is often one that is not easily afforded. It may be easy for a middle class 21 one year old like me to question the status quo. To ask that of a working class housekeeper that is simply trying to survive is asking too much.

As I mentioned above, Nigeria is not a country that is truly old. A lot of the tragedies and horrors were not that long ago. The perpetrators are either alive or well or died relatively recently. All this means is that our parents and grandparents lived through these happenings. At first, I was truly angry over the lack of discourse. Then I realized how truly difficult it must be to take oneself back to a time where nothing was certain, not even the day they were living in because they were in the middle of a war they didn’t ask to be in as a civilian. I realized just how scary and heartbreaking it must have been to look up to a woman who was intelligent and brave and whip smart be treated so callously and horrifically by the country she loved and fought for. To forget is to survive, and there is nothing braver than that.

A Nigerian Utopia

2016 will live long in the mind and hearts of majority of the Nigerian population as one of the country’s worst years, not only due to the Super Eagles, their national football team, being demoted to 51st on the FIFA world rankings table, but also due to the recessionary state the country was thrown into due its currency’s devaluation by over one hundred percentile points.

Ever since the international drop in the price of oil by OPEC (The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) by 50% to $50/bbl, the oil-rich nation, being one of the major exporters of oil and relying on it for about 70% of the nation’s income, has suffered heavy losses in that regard. The economy has since seen outrageous increases in the prices of fuel, transport, food, electricity, as well as a major devaluation of its currency the naira. Making an already difficult existence almost impossible for the many living on and well below the minimum wage pay of 18,000 naira/month. All these events taking place within the span of a few months. But for once the burden of the country has not fallen on the poor man alone. Even Nigeria’s most illustrious billionaire, Aliko Dangote, lost an estimated $4.3 billion in net worth. His current net worth of $11.1 billion making him richer in naira due to the currency’s devaluation, but poorer overall.

In response, the government has started encouraging and investing in the idea of entrepreneurship and homeland innovation. Promoting its own airlines, car models, farming, entertainment, as well as any other available means of increasing exports and raising funds. Yes, the strategy can be verified as the right and most effective response to the crisis, but the question here is why is this philosophy just getting the governments backing now in this critical state? Why were they satisfied with the money they pulled in from oil alone all these years? The country may have had the largest Economy in Africa but more than 70% of the population still lived in absent poverty. So why the turn to other industries now?

A government whose actions are in the best interest of the people they serve will always have the backing of the masses especially in trying times. But when these elected officials choose to act in unpredictable and suspicious manners, the nation is torn by riots and strikes which will only intensify the blow the nation’s workforce has been dealt. The existence of anonymous government actions makes future economic predictions difficult, which in turn makes investors nervy, which in turn leads to more money leaving the country. So as of this period, we cannot confidently back up any one prediction as the assured route the nation will take in this New Year. We can, however, speculate on the various options available to the Federal Government to effectively battle a recession and reduce inflation.

Levying higher taxes on imported goods is a way to go, but taxing basic amenities like internet tariffs or tax certificates for the application of a Nigerian passport will do more harm to Nigerian consumers than good to the NCC (National Communications Commission). Taxing items that are more of luxuries than necessities hold greater promise in this regard. China recently added a 10% tax on all luxury cars being imported. This strategy will not only demoralize import but will also promote localization and domestic investment.

Nigerian Airlines currently face barriers to accessing spare parts and maintenance servicing due to difficulties in getting foreign exchange. The Airline sector of the economy is too critical to be restricted by foreign exchange and should be excluded from its restrictions in order to grow more swiftly. You cannot promote these sectors while limiting their access to necessary factors for their growth.

One thing Nigeria is globally known for is its corruption. Unqualified officials running for and gaining positions of power from which they loot the country of the tax-payers money. Recently the Federal Government reduced its allocations to all states in an effort to both demoralize greedy self-interested officials from running for office, as well as promote self-reliance by the states in utilizing the resources available to them. This theme is an important factor in ridding the nation its greed-motivated officials and I would push for an even greater drop in Federal Government allocations.

These points, as well as many others, have been touched on by Senator Ben Murray-Bruce who has headed the campaign for the promotion of entrepreneurship in the nation. It is a good time to be an educated individual with a dream or an idea in Nigeria. Out of the smoke and debris of the rubble, a recession tends to create a nation, usually, comes giant industry leaders who go on to dominate their market and hold high regards with the FG. New promising industries will create thousands of jobs, invite both foreign and domestic investment, promote exports and reduce imports, and pave the way for much more up and coming competitors.

This will be the path taken by the nation as long as the President Buhari decides to acknowledge Senator Murray-Bruce’s ideology as the most promising and effective strategy for not just short-term results, but also long-term security if ever a national crisis like this were to repeat itself.

Nigeria’s future remains promising, now more than ever in fact. We just have to put our faith in our elected officials to take the right path towards that promise and abandon their ancient corrupt-minded approach to handling situations.

Dictate

In this article we look at what a dictator is and how they came to power. With Places like North Korea solidifying their hold with nuclear weapons, this poses an important question on our future. Keep reading to find out more.

A dictator according to most dictionary searches will give you a definition close to; a ruler with total power over a country, typically one who has obtained control by force. Another possible definition would involve a person who behaves in an autocratic way while in a position of power. Most fail to take into account that most dictators don’t always account for the fact that no single man can rise to prominence without the backing of the people. The problem is the people who put them there fail to see the signs and that’s where dictators begin to feel like Gods. Let’s look at the pattern; Dictators begin as champions of the people but as we know it’s only for a set group who thrive and flourish on alienating others derived from a feeling of not just false superiority but usually financial, mental sometimes even sexual inadequacy. 
Dictators are always quick to action once in power, this involves usually getting rid of any opposition first, followed by installing only loyalists. They begin to then censor media and then make us question basic rights all before they snatch them away in the disguise of ‘it’s for your own good’. Part of their rhetoric includes the ‘us’ vs. ‘them’ mentality, instead of working towards unity. Past examples include Adolf Hitler, Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin, Francisco Franco Bahamonde, Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini. 
A brief overview of Adolf Hitler‘s rise to power. 

Hitler was among those agitating against the Weimar government. He joined the German Workers’ Party that, in February 1920, became the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP) — later shortened to Nazi. It offered a witches’ brew of nationalism, socialism, anti-Semitism and anti-capitalism. The German historian Oswald Spengler influenced early Nazis with his idea of “Prussian socialism.”

Hitler’s main talent seemed to be as a speech maker, so he began giving speeches that appealed to Germans embittered and disillusioned by the outcome of the war. He denounced Jews, capitalists and other alleged villains, vowing to rebuild German greatness (Make Germany great again) .

Hitler maintained non-stop agitation for power. He travelled constantly, giving speeches throughout Germany. He wanted his opponents destroyed, so he demonized them. He accused them of being traitors. Two Nazi paramilitary organizations, the S.A. and S.S., launched bloody attacks on his opponents. This attracted more thugs who liked violence and were good at it.

They became the largest political organization in Germany, and by January 30, 1933, with the help of a little blackmail, Hitler emerged as Germany’s chancellor — the head of government. He proceeded to consolidate unlimited power before anybody realized what was happening.

Yet we say; “Hitler was a unique case and he was the worst dictator. We’ve learned from our mistakes”. Surely that means there are no dictators left in the world, right?
Wrong – here’s a list of some.
Gambian President Yahya Jammeh 
He was elected as President in 1996; he was re-elected in 20012006, and 2011. He was defeated by Adama Barrow in the 2016 election.Although he initially conceded defeat, on 9 December 2016, he later refused to recognise the results. 
“While this is interesting, that’s just one person”
Kim Jong-un (the supreme leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, commonly known as North Korea.) He has held the titles of the First Secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, the Chairman of the Central Military Commission, First Chairman of the National Defence Commission of North Korea, the Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army, and presidium member of the Politburo of the Workers’ Party of Korea. He was officially declared the supreme leader following the state funeral for his father on 28 December 2011. 
“Tell me one more if you can”
President Robert Gabriel Mugabe is a Zimbabwean revolutionary and politician who has governed the Republic of Zimbabwe as it’s President since 1987, having previously governed as its Prime Minister from 1980 to 1987. Ideologically an African nationalist and socialist, he has led the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU–PF) party since 1975.although he was re-elected in 20022008, and 2013 through campaigns dominated by electoral fraud and nationalistic appeals to his rural Shona voter base. Although Mugabe still remains controversial because he has been praised as a revolutionary hero of the African liberation struggle who helped to free Zimbabwe from British colonialism, imperialism, and white-minority rule. He is also a dictator responsible for economic mismanagement and widespread corruption whose regime has perpetrated anti-white racial discrimination, human rights abuses, and crimes against humanity. 
Some argue these are communities fighting for their freedom from the oppression of the western world. Their point is valid but these are still men trying to lead people using a ‘us’ vs ‘them’ mentality. 
This is now what is taking widespread acceptance even in the ‘western world’. People with populist ideologies are rising up and creating a fan base from the ‘disconnected’ who aren’t really ‘disconnected’ but are made to feel that way. 
Brexit was the beginning
Matteo Renzi’s failure to pass his bill streamlining the senate  leading to his resignation was next, followed by the Election of Donald trump regardless of Russian interference because despite his populist rhetoric he was still elected the way he intended to. 
Now, in 2017, it’s no different. There are still key elections and events in the world this year that will further the populist agenda. 
To begin; the Dutch general election. There has been a heavy focus on Geert Wilders, the hard-right Freedom Party leader who’s called for ‘Dexit’ and a ban on the Quran. 
French Presidential election; In France, April 23rd will see the first round of the contest to find France’s President, with the second on May 7. According to the mirror, Republican Francois Fillon will face off with hard-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen, who wants to come out of the EU and crack down on Islam – that could however be just radical Islamist terrorism.
German elections; Right-wing populists Alternative fur Deutschland have made some symbolic and sustansial gains recently. Just like in the Netherlands and France, they’ll be looking to use anger at open borders to fuel an attack on the ‘establishment’.
Possible Italian referendum; A possible vote could be held in Italy according to Renzi himself who stated “the next elections would presumably be in June but MPs could resist holding them before September”. A vote would let the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement and anti-immigrant Northern League test the rise of the right.
“Why do you think these events are significant to dictators?”
These dates and events are significant because as I stated before most definitions of dictators fail to take into account that no single man can rise to prominence without the backing of people who believe in and back his dominating ideology or rhetoric. The problem is the people who put them there fail to see the signs and that’s where dictators begin to feel like they cannot be controlled or feel like Gods in some ways. 
You could always argue these people may not feel like Gods and may have the best interest of their countries at heart. You can even argue these individuals just want their countries and economies to be stronger, safer and generally happier. There is a growing problem that cannot being ignored; radical or extremist Islamic terrorism and a rise of radical Islamic terrorist groups like Al queda, Isis etc. but as we’ve seen from the almost large scale replication of the Vietnamese guerrilla tactics, we can’t fight them individually because you cannot fight an enemy who’s tactics are downright unpredictable and come without warning.
There is an obvious growing divide and separation between individuals and nations, that is almost undeniable. Examples include Russian and America (for some reason except Trump), China and Taiwan, Isreal and Palestine, Columbia, Venezuela, U.K. and the EU just to name a few. But as millennials all we can do is pray that our kids grow up in a world where every one doesn’t hate thy neighbor and every individual or nation as portrayed by present day media rhetoric doesn’t feel so divided. As a millennial I just hope leaders today don’t create even worse dictators tomorrow. We sincerely hope they make the choices which lead to a continued rise of people who preach a message of separation so they can dictate. 
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