How Did We Become Like This?

Some days ago, I was driving home after a really long day at work. The time was about 0830PM.

I watched as a car coming from the opposite side apparently lost control, ran into a ‘Keke’ (tricycle/rickshaw) that was picking up passengers right on the road, crossed over to my side of the road, and then piled into the gutter and was stopped by the embankment on the side of the road. The ‘Keke’ took quite a tumble as it turned over several times and eventually rested on its wheels.

Other drivers parked and the pedestrians who observed the incident, immediately went to assist the victims in the ‘Keke’ and also to see to the driver. I parked a few meters from the incident and came down to see how I could help.

Thankfully, nobody sustained any serious injuries. Having watched the incident happen, I thought that was quite miraculous. The ‘Keke’ was in a really bad shape. All banged up and twisted, but nobody was hurt seriously. The driver of the car was in a bit of daze. His airbags had deployed and coupled with his seat belt, apparently saved his life.

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One of the people who had stopped started telling us how the driver zipped past him at high speed not realizing that there were a series of speed bumps ahead and probably lost control of the vehicle as he was trying to stop to avoid running through those bumps at high speed.

As all this was happening, other ‘Keke’ riders had stopped to see to their colleague. We watched as they huddled among themselves and then they approached the offending vehicle in their group. When the people who had gathered to see what was going on asked them what they wanted, they replied that they wanted to burn the vehicle. “Burn the vehicle ke!!!???” The thought was quite alarming to me. “What on earth was that??!!” Granted, the driver was extremely careless. There was no loss of life (and even if there was), there were no serious injuries, granted the ‘Keke’ was in quite a bad shape, but to burn the vehicle in response???

A tussle then ensued between the ‘Keke’ people and other folks like me who were enraged at the thought of burning the vehicle in response to the accident. One of the folks even asked them what the ‘Keke’ was doing picking passengers right on the road in the first place. This went on for a few minutes until a certain gentleman in a black suit who was one of the people engaged in the tussle to prevent them from burning the car, pulled out a handgun, cocked it, raised the gun above his head, and fired a shot into the air. The ‘Keke’ people immediately took to their heels. The scramble to get out of the place was amusing to watch to say the least. They fled.

The man who fired the shot and the others with him started calling to them to come back. “Shebi una wan burn car ba? Oya make una come burn am make we see!!!” (meaning: you folks want to burn the car? Come and burn it and see if we will watch you do it), was hurled at the fleeing incendiaries.

Well, guns were now involved, and it was time for me to exit the scene in order to avoid stories that touch…

This incident has weighed heavily on my mind. How did we become like this? I wonder what would have happened if the man with the gun was not there. So many thoughts, so many questions…

How did we really become like this?

Nigeria! Of What We Have Become or are Becoming

All of a sudden, I heard tires squealing, and as I looked up, right in front of me, this vehicle knocked down a man on a motorcycle, swerved into my lane to avoid climbing over the man lying on the road, and then sped off. The screeching tires was the driver’s attempt to avoid the motorcycle, who it would appear, suddenly came from nowhere. The screeching was also indicative of the speed with which the driver was approaching a major turnoff on the road where motorcycle and ‘Keke’ riders were likely to stop. The time was about 6:45 pm. We all stopped to see what had happened to the rider. Thankfully, he was still alive but in the shock of the event, he barely could say anything.

This was two evenings ago, on my way back from work.

Since then, I have asked myself a number of questions:

  1. What are we gradually becoming or what have we become as Nigerians?
  2. Are we growing mindlessly callous without realizing it?

I watch the way people drive and it is apparent that all they ever think of, are themselves. Most of our traffic jams are self-inflicted. Self-inflicted because with a little patience and orderliness, we would spend much less time on the roads. Nobody wants to wait! Nobody wants to take turns! Everyone just wants to have their way at the same time and that only breeds chaos.

I am told that incidents like the one described above are pretty common place these days. This was my second observed incident in about a year. The first one, the driver actually sped off but was chased down by folks who observed what happened. Unfortunately, the young man who was knocked down, died on the spot.

To even think that the driver would stop and see to the casualty and even render whatever help, instead, s/he zoomed off at high speed! What a shame!

In this case, it was too dark to observe things like vehicle make or number plates. Even if someone had those details, would it have made a difference in identifying the culprit?

There is too much selfishness in our societal interactions. It is more painful to even see our children being exposed to such rotten behavior. Right now we are showing them that it is okay to drive against traffic, avoid queues, run red lights (a driver told called me a ‘mumu’ once for waiting at a red light), and behave in such disorderly manner. Our ‘elected’ (and I use the word loosely) officials run us off the road with their armed escorts and sirens, because they are considered too big to follow basic societal laws that govern human interaction. Even folks on their way to church on Sunday morning, run red lights and go and lift up ‘holy’ hands!

Where we are going with all these, I do not understand. It would appear that we have gone past feeling and shame does not matter. Most of the people I see doing these things are people who appear educated or rich enough to know better. These days, I see it does not follow.

While you may point your fingers at our leaders as Nigeria’s problem, remember that they came from the streets, like you and me. It is followers who one day become leaders and if this is the kind of followers we have right now, then we should really really be concerned.

God help us!

The Guardians

Image credit: Sina Pakzad Kasra http://www.pininterest.com

We stood on the high mountain ranges watching the horizon as the sun set.

It was not a good time for us. We had come so far, fought so hard, but this was not the outcome we desired.

Looking around, we used to be a lot more than were gathered this evening.

Not a word was said. There was no need to. Every face was grim. Eyes looking into the distance, lost in deep contemplation, but somehow, all thinking the same things.

The scars were rather evident. More than our fair share. More than any of us should have ever borne.

Yes, your curiosity is aroused now. You are are probably asking who we were. Let me help you there.

Hitherto, we were the greatest band of unknown warriors ever to walk the land. The very few who knew of our existence, called us Guardians.

We walked among men like ordinary people but there was nothing ordinary about the things we did and accomplished.

Ora was our pride and joy. Verdant and rich in every sense, and we kept careful guard over it. Nothing happened anywhere that we did not know of, and quite frequently, even before it happened.

Ours was a perpetual struggle against the enemies of life. Ours was a centuries long injunction to keep the peace and stability of the land.

Let me step back a bit to tell you about these men and women.

The slowest among us could outrun a stampeding herd of wild horses. The weakest had faced down giants three times their size and vanquished them.

We were all gifted with the sight and could see farther than any eagle. We heard things that normal ears could not. Where ordinary humans feared to tread, were our regular haunts.

By dint of extensive training and use, our senses and abilities far outweighed that of any human. Yet, you would walk past us on the streets and have not the faintest clue.

Most of our battles were fought when men slept. Every incursion, swiftly repelled. If you had ever faced us, you knew never to try it again. We were much more famous amongst our enemies than the people we protected, and were feared greatly.

How did we come about?

Some of us were born into it and carried on a treasured legacy. Some were chosen, and some, simply found us and joined up. It did not matter how you came about; none was considered less than the other. One fundamental stood though: you needed to earn the right to remain.

We were artisans, writers, healers, teachers, singers, musicians, fathers, mothers, and the like. We were in every sphere, in the shadows and hidden in plain sight, keeping watch.

We had One Leader, Olisa, and took our instructions from Him alone. There was no doubt who was in charge and in the many years of our existence, we had been conditioned to do His bidding.

We never went out alone. In every skirmish, every back was covered. We were taught that the rear was as important as the front, and so every battle plan took adequate care of that. To break ranks was to die and death was victory for our enemies.

For centuries we lived. Ages and generations passed us by. We saw kingdoms established, dynasties begin, and end; and our enemies grow even more cunning, desperate, and intense. Those who would do the land well, we stood by till their dying breath. Those who would not, were swiftly dispatched.

Okay, enough of my telling of what an awesome group we were. Why were we gathered in this somber assembly on a fateful evening like this?

Somewhere, somehow, something changed.

Looking back, it appeared we were too focused on guarding the land in which we dwelt and forgot to be guardians to ourselves.

As the centuries passed, our ranks began to swell. Not all who received the gifts and endowments we were bestowed with saw the need to use it for the purpose they were meant for. Not all of them saw the need to maintain the focus and discipline that had been our stay across the eons, and had separated us from being as ordinary as every other.

To them it was foolish to have such endowments without the accompanying fame and notoriety. And so the struggle started. And the lure was rather strong, and spread.

Gradually…

Assignments were dropped or not accomplished. Posts were abandoned. Sensitive tasks were handled with levity. Warriors hitherto unknown, were now the toast of parties and all manner of revelry. What we had for centuries kept as sacred, was now on open display. Men revered them as demigods and the adulation and worship was their greatest undoing.

Meanwhile, our enemy grew stronger and unchecked. The enemy that once dared not stand up to us, capitalized on our weakness and started making incursions.

Olisa’s anger was kindled and his rage was like a fiery volcano burning through the mountain ranges.

Foolishly, some of them, thinking that they still had it together, and with the praise of men ringing in their ears, started taking on the enemy alone. The paid dearly for it.

We started to die. That was the surprising part. Men and women who had not known the fear of death for hundreds of years, all of a sudden, were succumbing to an enemy they had vanquished severally in the past. It was terrible to behold. Those who did not die, were wounded like they had never been in the past.

We were gradually becoming too weakened to carry out battle strategies, and we failed miserably over and over again. With each failure, our grip over the land weakened, the enemy grew stronger, took over more and more territory, and men gave themselves up to all manner of foolishness. We were hit on every side and pummeled endlessly.

The ridicule of men was even more painful. Right before their eyes, much touted invincibility was shattered to smithereens. Gods were bleeding, and bleeding badly, and men scorned them. Songs were sung of their falling, but rather than honor, they jested. Men told stories around campfires with acerbic wit of how their dismembered bodies were brought back from the battlefront, never minding that it had all been a sacrifice in their defense.

Not one of those who had dallied with men had been spared. They were either dead or so badly wounded, they would never bear arms again. Olisa made sure of that.

What a shame!

There were those of us, especially of the old guard, who remained. Much fewer than we would have liked. We had kept ourselves from being drawn into the foolishness that had beset our fellows, as sore as the temptations had been, and had watched it all play out like some fable written by a drunken oracle with a toothache.

It was a big and bitter lesson. One we hoped that we had all learned. Many of us bore the scars of trying to fight battles with weakened warriors as companions. Some of us, would never stand to defend Ora again.

As we stood there that solemn evening, the only words that had been said were grunts of acknowledgment as each one of us arrived. There was a lot that needed to be said but could not be said. No doubt though, the looks on the faces, and the stooped shoulders, said more than any words ever could. At a point, we could not stand anymore. So burdened in mind and spirit, we clasped our hands and knelt together as waves of sorrow and remorse washed over us for the things we had done, and had been done to us.

There was one other thing though that was strongly prevalent in that meeting; anger, and loads of it. Unspoken, yet I could feel it rise like a river about to overflow its banks and flood an entire village. There was hell to pay!

Gradually, thinking as one, we each started to raise our heads to look up, and square previously stooped shoulders, and we stood. Hands gripped weapons tighter, as determination was etched on each face. Indignation was like fire coursing through our veins. Almost without knowing, we began to tap spears and other weapons on the ground to some frenetic tempo and rhythm. It swelled and swelled until it covered the whole mountainside. We had been decimated but we were not completely defeated. Those who had dared stand up to us, would once again feel wrath like never before.

We shouted! One huge sound that reverberated across the valleys and rolled down the hills. Let all who thought we were finished, hear, and know, that we were coming for them.

And as our shout rolled around the mountains, a string of fire traced its way across the sky above us, and lightnings flashed with great peals of thunder. A horn sounded in the distance, and immediately, every sound ceased, except the fading timbres of the horn.

As one, we turned towards its sound. It was a sound like no other. A sound that only we could hear. It was the Guardian’s call.

Warriors

Image credit: http://www.nexusmods.com

May your eyes be opened as you read this

Self-Inflicted: Nigeria’s Problems

Image credits: http://www.facebook.com/Office-Of-The-Citizen-Of-The-Federal-Republic-Of-Nigeria
There are many who agonize over Nigeria. Their agony arises from the seemingly intractable nature of the country’s issues. If you fall into that category, you are in good company. 

It appears that as our national issues have worsened, our collective behavior has taken a nose dive. 

I watch with sadness and sometimes amusement how people drive. Well dressed and likely very educated people, without qualms run red lights, drive against traffic, turn 2-lane roads into 5, and then wonder why the traffic is so bad. 

I see the recklessness, the carelessness, and more painfully, the selfishness that currently pervades our society. 

It is so easy to blame it all on corruption as though corruption was some nameless fellow that lives on some street down the road and is going about causing all the issues. 

When for instance a 2-lane road is turned into 5-lanes due to impatience and a total lack of common sense, and then at the outlet, the 5 lanes are trying to merge, and traffic is backed up for miles, please tell me, how did corruption cause it?

If we all had the sense to keep to our lanes, and the patience to follow each other, we would have a lot less traffic #JustSaying #ThinkAboutIt. 

Was talking with a lady who was telling me how she had been praying and God had been leading her; about 45 minutes later, I found out that she had been doing procurements for her organization and hiking the costs.

I have said that our public institutions started dying and crumbling when civil servants started stealing government money and having access to things they normally would not be able to afford, based on their salaries e.g. private schools (at all levels), private hospitals, treatment abroad etc. 

You steal money meant to repair roads or build schools, or hospitals, or do something for the public good! Then you buy houses that then lie fallow for years on end. 

You go to church or the mosque and you spend time praying for Nigeria. The following day, you get to work and then steal government money, or cheat the hapless customer who came to your shop to buy something, or you may even travel to China and deliberately bring in substandard materials and equipment for people to buy! Then you turn around and blame it on corruption! What fools we have become. 

We vote in elections for public office holders. Then they get into office and run us off the roads because they want to pass. With no care for law or order, then consistently drive against traffic or pay absolutely no attention to traffic rules. I will not even get into the issue of stealing money. 

Honestly, we have become a bunch of educated idiots. We need to take responsibility for our actions and pay the commensurate prices for our misdemeanors. Then again, our justice system is broken. 

In summary, the host of our problems are self-inflicted. 

So, this is my question, what is your contribution to this morass?

We really really need to do better than this. 

Of Etisalat Nigeria, Books, and the Next Generation

Stopping Etisalat Nigeria’s Misleading Advert on DSTv… #BooksStillRock

I do not know how many of you have seen or come across Etisalat Nigeria’s (@Etisalat_9ja) #CliqLite advert on DSTv Nigeria, and I do not know what you think about it. If you have not paid attention to it, I would recommend that you do the next time it comes on.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I have always been an early adopter of technology. I love tech and use tech, but something about this advert just niggles me. I have caught the advert a few times on DSTv (which for some reason appears to be the only place it is currently aired – I stand to be corrected), and every time, it just leaves a sour taste in my mouth.

Maybe because of the way the advert starts. The advert has a female child talking about how books are this and that and mentions that books are heavy and complicated, and then here comes #CliqLite to the rescue to solve the issues of heavy and complicated books…

Like Seriously??? While the advert is a generally nice one, it is sad that that is what Etisalat’s PR strategy people could come up with!!! Come on guys!!!

While I admit that technology and the CliqLite platform have a lot of fun features to help kids learn and have fun, I think it is criminally insensitive to disparage books in a bid to sell/market a product.

I have children and frankly, I think today’s children have too much screen time. Years down the line, I believe our societies will begin to see a few health and behavioral issues associated with too much screen time (i.e. if they haven’t begun to manifest already). Enough said.

I think every child should read, and read books, real books. Call me a traditionalist, but turning pages to explore and learn is still a veritable way of learning and having fun. I have a bookshelf full of books that it is my hope that one day my children would all read, and then even read more than I have (especially the good stuff)…

What Etisalat Nigeria is promoting with this message is misleading and dangerous to say the least, especially to young and impressionable minds. Throw that message into a mix of children who are generally lazier than their forebears were at those ages. Throw that message into a society where you also wonder how many children have access to those nice gadgets and gizmos you see in the advert. How many of these children can pay you the N48,000 to get a #CliqLite Tablet with all the fun in the whole universe. To tell some of these children that books are complicated will only increase their aversion for reading and even when they have these resources available, will spend most of the time playing just the games.

We need our children to read books (real books and not just the digital ones). We need to show them how to turn those pages and then watch them do it of their own volition. We may get to eradicate the physical books one day, but in Nigeria, we are not there yet and need to pass the right messages across.

As a product of all the books I have read and I am still reading, I would like to raise a campaign to stop that advert on TV. I would like as many people as who have seen this advert and feel same, to raise their voices against such misconceptions promulgated because of marketing strategies. #BooksStillRock

#CliqLite may offer a world of fun and stuff for children but DO NOT create wrong impressions in their young minds because you want to sell a product (just in case you are wondering, it is not a free service).

So, will you join me in this campaign?? As a responsible company, Etisalat Nigeria needs to pull that advert and replace it with one that is more responsible to our children and teaches the right concepts. Somebody in their PR department did not do their jobs properly.

If you will, then either spread this message or create one of your own and let folks around you know.

 You may however choose to disparage this write-up and pass it off as one who is not in touch with the current trends… I can assure you that you will be very very far from the truth.

God bless…

From A Concerned Parent Who Loves Books

#BooksStillRock

Tribute to Friendship – 20 Years and Onward

One Family Under God
One Family Under God – Reunion 2013

I cannot say exactly how it all started, but when I count some of the good things that have happened to me, being part of this great circle of friendship ranks among one of the best.

Our origins date back to 1994, to those days in Prelim Science, our first year in the University of Ibadan. I cannot now say what triggered it all, but in retrospect I think a passionate love for God was key to our coming together.

That first year in Ibadan was particularly interesting. Lectures at the Faculty Lecture Theatre (FLT) and New Lecture Theatre (NLT) and particularly, rushing from the one to the other in a bid to get good seats due to the huge number of students in the class. 7am lectures. Some of us keeping seats for some of us… tsk tsk tsk.

From that first year, some our ‘traditions’ were set. We met every Friday evening to pray. We prayed almost every Friday from that point onwards (as long as school was in session) till we graduated in 2001. Ah! We prayed. Those prayer meetings were one of the major highlights of the week for me. From pre-clinical to clinical school, from beside FLT to the University College Hospital (UCH) football field, we prayed. We realized that Medical School was a daunting challenge and survival required strength greater than any we could muster. Writing this, I am a bit overwhelmed with nostalgia. I recall some of those meetings, the singing, the prophecies, the intercession, the worship…

We dined. We had gourmet cooks amongst us and generally, we had no lack of culinary skills. Many of us (mostly the guys) could hold their very comfortable owns in that department. So, from room to room, we shared alimentary fellowship. Saturdays were devoted to these events. I cannot now recall the frequency, but it was another thing to had looked forward to from time to time. I also recall that somewhere along the line in clinical school, this particular aspect of our social lives fell by the wayside…

We studied together. We had some serious ‘eficos’ (bookworms) among us. We had regular discussion group meetings which tended to increase in intensity as the different MBBS exams reared their ugly heads.

If you are reading this, I guess you have basically realized that the majority of us are doctors.

We are Ibo, Yoruba, Itsekiri, and some we cannot directly classify. Yet, despite our cultural diversity and sometimes very obvious and strongly held differences, we have remained as one. Our diversity and level of intellect also mean we do not always agree, especially considering that it easily gets quite hot under the collar for a few of us; however, we have weathered the literal storms and are still together.

We are Nigeria and an example of how its people should live; where cultural identity does not matter, love and acceptance rules the day, looking out for one another is vital, and praying for each other is critical for survival.

We are Christian. We believe in the Lordship of Jesus Christ and hold Him so dear to our lives.

We believe in the sanctity of marriage; that the family is the bedrock of society; and that having homes built on the foundation of love and faith in God is vital to bringing about much desired change in society.

We are not all here though and I would like to use this opportunity to pay tribute to Dr. Samuel Adejumo. Your passing was a great pain and loss to us, but we know that you are in a much better place, and we all look forward to seeing you someday at the feet of the Master.

So many stories to tell, some experiences that may sound stranger than fiction to some people. There have been joys and there has been pain and there have also been nights under the almond tree… wink!

So, before this begins to get very boring, this is my celebration of over 20 years of dear friendship and my being thankful to God for bringing all of us together. I love you guys and you are simply the best.

As I end this, I say to us all that there is always a reason. God brought us together for a purpose, both for our collective benefit but majorly to bring glory to His name through something much bigger than us all. Selah!

God bless…

PS: Funny that it took over one year to write such a short piece…. Hmmmm….

“Killing Me Softly with (t)his …”

Guitar

I am sure just reading the title sets the hit song “Killing me softly” playing in your head. If you are old enough, you are probably hearing Roberta Flack’s beautiful voice as she croons the song, or maybe it’s Lauryn Hill and the Fugees for those of us who first heard this song in the 90s.

Well, this title tells more than just the song ringing in your head… On my way to the airport in New Orleans in 2008, I noticed construction crews raising thick slabs of concrete all along the highway to the airport, and wondered why. I asked the driver of the taxi conveying me and his response was that there were some old folk who lived on the other side of the highway, whom they noticed were dying unexpectedly. Investigations by the authorities revealed that the cause of death could be attributed to the noise that was coming from the highway, hence the erection of the concrete slabs to keep the noise out of the residential areas. More than 5 years after, the concrete slabs are still going up all around the highways.

“Strumming my pain with his fingers…”

The sky is dark as only an African night sky can be. The air is rather warm and almost still. The kind of evening one would expect to hear in the stillness, the beautiful African chorale of the night, alas, more ominous sounds fill the night. Indeed, so many expectations would have fit a night like this, but disappointments reign. The lone street lamp is out, throwing the whole street into almost complete darkness. A few outside lamps cast some glow upon the street; a pathetic struggle at illumination that is almost pitiful when one thinks about it a little deeply. Then the noise. You would think that you were at a concert hosted by the national association of earth moving machines. Or more accurately, the national cacophonic orchestra of generators. Each instrument contributing its unique and distinct sound to the melee. Not be left out and also not to be outdone is the Canine Foundation. Their persistent barking and howling basically tops the icing upon this rather evil and sinister cake.

“Singing my life with his words…”

Someone would say, “Well, that’s the story of our lives”. Indeed, so it has come to be. Countless nights without electricity supply have turned our neighborhoods into a veritable war zone of different noises. The kind of war zone that would render any peace-keeping force useless and leave them feeling emasculated. We have designed public health programs targeted at all sorts of bugs and diseases. We have even singled out the sufferers and carriers and given them all sorts of titles with funny sounding acronyms, yet even closer than most of us can imagine, another silent killer lies patiently in-waiting.

“Killing me softly…”

A few houses down my street, another monster roars to life, setting all the windows in my bedroom to a constant audible vibration. Then its sound becomes muffled as the so-called sound-proof shutters are closed, yet, the vibrations remain. On a number of occasions, I have wondered at this, and the thought crosses my mind even more frequently these days with the increasing power outages. I ask myself, “How did we ever get to be in this mess?”

“Killing me softly with (t)his…” 

Power-generator

Where is your generator located? Good question. I recall  a visit to a friend several years ago. He lived in a tenement apartment (popularly called face-me-I-face you) in a place called Agbowo, in Ibadan. On that fateful evening, NEPA/PHCN had done the usual. There were 6 apartments. Each one had a small generating set right in the corridor (as there was no place else to put them). All 6 generators were on. You probably have a smile or some grin on your face as you recall having seen this kind of situation, or currently live in this type of situation. In a lot of ways, the situation described above could be likened to a double-barreled shotgun, where the noxious fumes and the attendant noise from the sets constitute the bullets.

Seriously, where is your generator located? That question bears repetition and some serious thinking. I can imagine that not too many of us have the luxury of large compounds or even that of soundproofed generators. I see some interesting things from time to time. People who live in apartment buildings (especially on the upper floors) with big petrol generators placed in the balcony. The so-called shopping mall where each shop has a generator right in front of it and customers and shop owners have to practically shout to hear or be heard over the din. I find that no matter how small the space, we always find a spot for a generator. What else are we to do? Just dealing with the situation in which we find ourselves.

“Killing me softly with this Noise…”

You can hear it before you even see it. The thump from the sub-woofers alone alerts you to the presence of Mr. Dude (or Miss Babes) in the shiny new BMW (or whatever vehicle catches your fancy).

Constant exposure to noise over a certain decibel level has detrimental effects on health. This is a recognized fact all over the world. Through mechanisms firmly established and through those with a rather tenuous link, the effects have been demonstrated. From annoyance, stress, loss of concentration, impaired sleep cycles, to cardiovascular diseases like hypertension, heart attacks, and then of course, hearing loss, and eventual death, the effects of noise pollution have been documented in the literature. It is not just the generators, the fact that you love blaring your car horn at the slightest infraction may be doing you more harm than getting that pesky driver off the road and out of your way. Effects have been demonstrated in adults and in children. Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of noise pollution of any sort.

Countries, governments, and institutions who have recognized this have taken drastic actions to deal with this menace. I am told of international airports where no airplanes land between a certain periods of the night so that the people can have some decent sleep. I have written about the concrete slabs that are still going up as you read this article. Societies where you risk being arrested as a public nuisance if you keep your hands on your car horn as we Nigerians are wont to do.

What are we doing? How long are we going to remain in this mess? Nobody is spared, neither the rich nor the poor. Like one article I read said, the vibrations are equally as bad as the sound levels, even the vibrations we think we do not sense. So, your soundproofing is not as all that as you may think it is.

When can we have constantly peaceful nights, devoid of the intrusion of generators? When will we as a people recognize that indeed we have a problem that requires more  urgent attention than the lip service being paid to this power issue by our government?

You move into a house. You either move in with a generator, or you rush out and go an buy one, not knowing that gradually, slowly and softly…

The dogs are barking again. My little boy stirs in his sleep. His cry cutting into my contemplation. I pick up my guitar and look helplessly to the skies one more time, shrug my shoulders, and sigh very deeply…

References:

1. http://www.greenworld365.com/people-suffer-effects-of-noise-pollution/

2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_effects_from_noise

3. http://www.trafficnoise.org/

In Memoriam: A Tribute to My Colleagues

Benzogi Lamidi Benson Anthony

Friday June 1st 2012 12 pmish

Me: Obi have you seen the invitation card I dropped on your table?

Obi: Doc, you are funny o! Which one be Mr. and Mrs. Obi Akubueze

Me: You know now! Na wetin you suppose don do

Obi: Doc, leave story. We’ll talk when you come back…

Same day or the day or the day before…

Bottle of groundnuts being shared in the office

Me: Lamidi, no more groundnuts for you

Lamidi: Ah Doctor, you too have joined them…

Needless to say that the Dana Airline crash of 3rd June 2012 was a disaster of humongous proportions. A rather strange disaster at that in my opinion, especially considering the nature and caliber of people who perished that fateful day. So much pain inflicted suddenly on an already groaning populace. Brings to mind the picture of an interrogator or inquisitor trying to see how much more pain his already battered and bruised captive would be able to bear. Everywhere one turned then, there was somebody directly or indirectly affected by the crash. Darkness bleaker than the dreariest of nights cast upon a people desperately trying to claw their way out of the incessant nightmares thrust upon them by successive hapless governments. Pain! The passing of the days may have dulled it but the ache will remain a long time with us. What we lost on that day is beyond all comprehension. Tears one apart from the insides out.

4 of you. Obinna Akubueze, Benson Oluwayomi, Lamidi Taiwo, and Anthony Okara. Still so hard to take.

Obi (Benzogi)

I miss you bro. You were my go-to guy. Man of many parts. There was always something new. Concept, project, proposal, idea, business… Never an idle moment. You had this thing about there being so much to be done at every point, and you were never one to shy away from all that work. Sometimes I step into your office and can almost hear your ever present humming. Not exactly sure you could sing, but if there was ever a humming competition, I would have penciled you down right away for the finals. It was never difficult to make you laugh. The sound of it rings in my ears even as I write these words. Everyone who knew you knew that there was something great out there for you. It was only a matter of time. Time that will never be. So much left unfinished.  So much indeed.

Benson

The most inspiring thing about you was your faith and quiet confidence in God. One did not need to come to close to realize that that was the anchor of your soul. You knew God and that showed in everything that you did. Always encouraging. There are many who would attribute certain achievements in their lives to the constant nudging the got from associating with you. Your focus was amazing. When I think about it, it was as though you knew that you did not have the liberty of time on this side of eternity. There was greatness in you and you made sure it rubbed off on the people close to you. The seeds you have sown will long outlive you Benson. The good that you have done will always stand as a constant memorial to you. Your generations will always be blessed and will not know lack because your hands and mind were constantly open. You are dearly missed.

Lamidi

If all the groundnuts in this world would bring you back, I am sure those of us who shared that final moment together would gladly give it to have you back. Quiet and quite gentle. Soft spoken and slightly mischievous. It was always good to be with you. Always good to see the smile upon your face. Always jovial about everything. If you did not know, you were never too proud to ask. Your commitment and dedication to the tasks given was well known. You were a really good person to know and I am glad that I had that opportunity.

Tony

Gentle Tony. Simple words but sum up in general the kind of person you were. Hardly a complaint would one get from you. Even when the pressure of work was much (as it generally always was), you did not complain. Even though you were gentle and generally reserved, you knew a lot of stuff as I came to find out.

It really has not been the same without you guys. Not 1, not 2, not even 3, but 4 of you at the same time. That was rather too much, and inexplicably so.

In the last one year, I have asked myself from time to time if it was all for nothing. I find that the general Nigerian landscape has become that people just generally try to forget and try to move on (as difficult as that really is in reality). I guess that this is probably some defense mechanism we have inculcated as a people in order to help us keep our sanity in the face of rampant wastage and profligacy; in the face of truly having plenty, yet having scant little to show for it. Truly, it would be most terrible if indeed nothing has changed and the factors that brought us so much pain are still overlooked and covered up in corruption.

I am sure I speak for the whole Walter Reed Program Nigeria and the Nigerian Ministry of Defence HIV program in saying that we miss you dearly. We will always remember you, emulate the examples you left for us, and ensure to the best of our abilities, that your hard work and sacrifice will not be in vain.

May your gentle souls rest in peace. Adieu once again!

#TheNigeriaWeWant: A Letter to a Social Activist

Dear Sir,

I hope this letter meets you well.

I followed the discussion on Twitter on #TheNigeriaWeWant with keen interest and I must appreciate the courage, vision, and passion for this our great country Nigeria. May God Almighty strengthen you to fulfill this task.

I believe in this change. I believe it is time for things to change. I believe that lasting change can only come from within the individual (and in context, from within the particular society that requires/desires the change).

I know about you sir and I am told you are Christian. I have seen a few things you have written and it appears you are quite knowledgeable about God’s Word. Based on these critical assumptions, I have a few things to say and I crave your kind indulgence to be patient and read.

If this movement is to succeed, it MUST of necessity be birthed in the Spirit. If this vision is to have long lasting impact (beyond our generation and even those of our children), it MUST again of necessity be birthed in the Spirit. One could feel the excitement on Twitter. The people are hungry for change. For decades now, they have known nothing good about this nation. So, they will follow you. You have a voice, you have the words, you can motivate them, and they will respond to you. They will respond because what you would be saying would appeal to a yearning inside of them; desire on the brink of fulfillment is what it . Things would start, things would even begin to change; but for how long?

If this movement is a man trying to fulfill a vision in his head/heart of a future reality for his nation, then it will be like the story that Gamaliel told the members of the council in Jerusalem in Acts 5 vs. 34-39. I like his last words on this issue… “… but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it…”. The truth is that God does not do the will of man. God only fulfills His own counsel and will on the earth. He has placed us here to enforce divine rule upon a corrupt world. When we align our desires/visions/aspirations with what He wants to do, then we can through His power bring about change relevant to the people and society.

A spiritual movement is only birthed by a few people who understand the workings of God. As you know, God does not need too many people to do what He wants to do. The result could be an uprising for change, a powerful social movement that would have sweeping effects. The hallmark, would be that it would endure. Beyond you, beyond me, beyond the instruments that God used to bring it about (ref. Christianity). Painful to note is that nothing may come out of it, primarily because the people are not ready for it, and would abuse it if given to them (these are part of my frustrations with God in this whole Nigeria thing). God will not be willing to change things for a people who are unwilling to repent. Also, social movements historically result in social change, and not in repentance (which brings about enduring change). Some people will be quick to say , “we are tired of praying; it is time for action”. I tend to agree (funnily though). Question is, who are the people praying? What exactly are they praying? How clean are their hands and hearts? Critical questions for a spiritual revolution.

I write to you as one who is wise and discerning and in whom the Spirit of the Sovereign God is. If the people will follow you, then you follow God. Give them His agenda, not yours. Bring them to true change that starts with a change of heart. Morality alone cannot unravel this morass.

As one fellow servant to another…

God bless.