The Siddis: Lost Africans of India

By Ahmed Yahaya JoeAccording to Winston Hubert McIntosh the founder of The Wailers; He sings :“Don’t care where you come from,🎵
As long as you’re a black man,🎶 You’re an African🎵
No mind your nationality,🎶
You have got the identity of an African” 🎵The Bush Doctor otherwise known as Stepping Razor but more popularly as Peter Tosh nailed it in his Equal Rights album of 1977The Siddis or Habshi are fellow Africans inhabiting India and Pakistan known as Afro-Asians; “They are descended from the Bantu peoples of the East African region. Some were merchants, sailors, indentured servants, slaves and mercenaries. The Siddi population is currently estimated at around 270,000–350,000 individuals, with Karnataka, Gujarat and Hyderabad in India and Makran and Karachi in Pakistan as the main population centres. Siddis are primarily Muslims, although some are Hindus and others are Christians”Similarly; “another term for Siddis – Habshi, is held to be derived from the common name for the captains of the Abyssinian ships that also first delivered Siddi slaves to the subcontinent. The first Siddis are thought to have arrived in India in 628 AD at the Bharuch port.”To escape discrimination and racial profiling many Siddis have inter – married to dilute their identity. However, the Siddis should not be mistaken for the dark skinned Indians known as Dalits that mostly inhabit Tamil Nadu. I have visited their capital Madras now called Chennai
The caste system in India is chiefly based on birth and color – The darker the lower. The Brahmins (the priestly people) are the highest then the Kshatriyas (also called Rajanyas, who were rulers, administrators and warriors), followed by the Vaishyas (artisans, merchants, tradesmen and farmers), and Shudras (the labourer class) of which the dark Dalits known as “Untouchables” are on the lowest rungs“What is Wrong With Being Black?” is the title of Matthew Ashimolowo’s well researched and extensively referenced 2007 book that traces the history of racial discrimination with the economic rise of Europe through the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade replicated in the Indian Ocean with Arabs.Truth is discrimination of whatever kind is a strategic weapon to gain undue advantage over others. That is why within the same race there is a caste system or class structure, within the same religion denominational differences and even within the same family siblings are positioned by age or gender and so on.Hierarchy is an entirely human creation. All men were created equal but nobody in history has ever had the capacity to enforce that inconvenient truth thereby validating the ancient axiom; “I, against my brothers. I and my brothers against my cousins. I and my brothers and my cousins against the world”It is against this background that identity politics was invented and conflict entrepreneurs arose. Since then we have all been sucked into an endless vortex of hitting each other with ethnicity, religion and other means we find necessary to take advantage over each other

“Don’t go looking for fights – but if you’re hit, deck the bastard” – Roger Ailes

Forgotten Covenant; between Muslims & Christians

By Ahmed Yahaya Joe

There is an overwhelming need to improve inter-communal harmony that has become so toxic in our dear nation. Religious hatred is a mainly product of ignorance and mischief. Both sides of the divide are very much guilty particularly against the background of political grandstanding. We currently live in tumultuous times. The ravages of the Coronavirus pandemic is no respecter for religious difference. Its economic fallout will not spare anyone while the political will be all encompassing irrespective. We therefore need a bird’s eye view on issues to pull through.

I asked the first Israeli I ever met, why the dickens Jews and Arabs in that highly combustible nation haven’t been able to work out an acceptable peace agreement between them for decades? She replied that the problem wasn’t actually religious as I had presumed but more about international power play, control and manipulation of spheres of influence as such it will be extremely difficult if not impossible to resolve the fundamental issues between them due to the various conflicting interests beyond their borders.

I still find my conversation with that secular Jewess in far away Singapore 31 years ago instructive as far as Nigeria is concerned Najran is the capital of the a southern administrative division of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia of the same name. Before 1902 there were 4 monarchical Sheikhs of 4 regions which Abdulaziz Al Saud of Nejd emerged superior and became overall King in 1932 up to 1953. All subsequent monarchs in Saudi Arabia to date are among his 36 sons that survived him based on seniority.

I first heard about the Pact of Najran through my good friend Ahmad Ramadan, a extremely brilliant legal mind who back in the mid 1990s was a practitioner at the chambers of Aliyu Umar Esq, later Aliyu Umar SAN now of blessed memory.

On the al-Masīḥiyyūn al-ʿArab in the historical Arabian Peninsula the background narrative is; “The visit of the Christians of Najran to the city of Medina in 631 is perhaps the most important noted interfaith interaction between Christians and Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). At this time Muhammad (pbuh) had sent letters to different communities and their leaders, encouraging them to embrace Islam. In the case of the Najran, who lived near Yemen, about 450 miles south of Medina, the Prophet sent Khaled ibn al-Walid and Ali ibn Abi Talib to deliver the letter.

At the time of this diplomatic endeavor, Najran Christians had a highly organized religious system. As such, after considering Muhammad’s (pbuh) letter, it is unsurprising that few Christians embraced Islam. In reaction to this “failed attempt” of conversion, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) sent another representative to Najran, Mughira Ibn Shu’ba, who was meant to elaborate on this new religion called Islam. Intrigued by Ibn Shu’ba’s message, the Najran Christians sent a delegation of sixty people to visit the Prophet in Medina. The delegation consisted of about forty-five scholars and fifteen assistants.

When the Christians of Najran arrived to Medina, Muhammad allowed them to pray in Nabawi mosque where the Muslims also prayed. This invitation was not only the first example of Christian-Muslim dialogue, but it was the first time that Christians prayed in a mosque. While Prophet Muhammad and the Najrans were not able to reach common ground on all theological issues, he nonetheless gave them a place to stay near his home, and even ordered Muslims to pitch their tent.
Upon leaving Medina, the Najran Christian leaders told Muhammad (pbuh):

“O, Abu al-Qasim, we decided to leave you as you are and you leave us as we are”. But the Christians nevertheless left Medina with a pact (written guarantee) that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) would protect their lives, property, and freedom to practice Christianity.”
No doubt the visit of Najran Christians to Medina is an example of religious pluralism. If so why are Al – Mu’minin (Muslims) and Ahl – al – Kitab (Christians) so historically daggers drawn? There is need to highlight the Pact of Najran;
“I hereby declare that my horsemen, my foot-soldiers, my armies, my resources, and my Muslim partisans will protect the Christians as far away as they may be located, whether they inhabit the lands which border my state, in any region, close or far, in times of peace as much as in times of war. I commit myself to support them, to place their persons under my protection, as well as their churches, chapels, oratories, the monasteries of their monks, the residences of their anchorites wherever they are found, be they in the mountains or the valleys, caves or inhabited regions, in the plains or in the desert.
I will protect their religion and their Church wherever they are found, be it on earth or at sea, in the West or in the East, with utmost vigilance on my part, the People of my House, and the Muslims as a whole.
I place them under my protection. I make a pact with them. I commit myself to protect them from any harm or damage; to exempt them for any requisitions or any onerous obligations and to protect them myself, by means of my assistants, my followers and my nation against every enemy who targets me and them”

Agreed there is controversy over the applicability of the he Pact of Najran beyond that specific Christian community the treaty was sealed with. Understandably, through the eras of the Abbasids, Fatimids, Ayyubids, Mamluks, Safavids, and so on Ottomans right down to the Maliki revival of Sheikh Othman Dan Fodio a lot of water has passed under the bridge, lest I forget the intervening Crusades that spanned 175 years from 1096 – 1271.

We however have a monumental reference point in our own clime in the groundbreaking letter written by Shehu al- Hajj Muhammad al – Amin al – Kanemi (1776 -1837) on the 23rd day of Rabee-ul-thani, 1238 AH to the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Bello (1781 – 1837) who was Amir al – Mu’minin, Commander of the Faithful from 1814 -1836. After the usual polite and often flowering greetings, felicitations and best wishes the Shehu of Borno that was born in Murzuk, in present day Libya stated;

“Hence, the cause of writing this letter and the purpose of its lines, is to acquaint you that the bearers are English travelers; whose nation, out of all the other Christians, has maintained with the Mooslemeen uninterrupted treaties of religious amity and friendship, established since ancient periods, which they inherited from their forefathers and ancestors; and on this account, they penetrate into Mooslemeen countries whenever they please, and traverse all provinces and lands in confidence and trust, without fear. They came to our country, sent to us by our virtuous and accomplished friend, the Lord Yousuf Pasha, master of Tripoli, to see and delight themselves with the wonders of the Land of Soodan, and to become acquainted with its rarities, as lakes, rivers, and forests (or gardens) ; equal to which are seldom seen in other countries.”
The accomplished cleric and sovereign of the Borno empire that was of Kanembu ancestry of present day Tchad who upstaged the Sefuwa dynasty with its former capital in today’s Yobe state, ruled from Kukawa which he founded in 1814. Maiduguri was later established around Yerwa by the Ngadda River in 1907 after a treaty with the Germans, French and British.

He continued;
“You are well aware of what is stated in Alcoraanic sayings upon the subject of the observance of honour, dictated by our Lord, the Apostle of God; and that the true Mooslemeen have always avoided shedding the blood of Christians, and assisted and protected them with their honour. Be then attentive to these travelers, and cast them not into the corners of neglect; let no one hurt them, either by words or deeds, nor interrupt them with any injurious behavior: but let them return to us, safe, and may the high God bestow upon you the best reward for your treatment to them, and insure to us and to you the path of righteousness for conduct in this life.”

For me this iconic attestation that accompanied the English explorers Major Dixon Denham and Royal Navy Commander Hugh Clapperton from Kukawa to Sokoto in January, 1824 is sufficient proof of the historical covenant between Muslims and Christians before even Nigeria was crafted into being a nation. It is on that foundation laid 196 years ago we must build a new Nigeria!

In any case the conclusion of the Pact of Najran emphasized;
“Christians must not be subjected to suffer, by abuse, on the subject of marriages which they do not desire. Muslims should not take Christian girls in marriage against the will of their parents nor should they oppress their families in the event that they refused their offers of engagement and marriage. Such marriages should not take place without their desire and agreement and without their approval and consent. If a Muslim takes a Christian woman as a wife, he must respect her Christian beliefs. He will give her freedom to listen to her [clerical] superiors as she desires and to follow the path of her own religion.”

In conclusion; You don’t have to be Hindu to enjoy Indian films or an Inca to watch Telenovelas or indeed worship Shinto to drive a Honda or Toyota neither have no religion to patronize any Chinese product nor be a Korean Buddhist to use any Samsung or be an agnostic to admire Nelson Mandela. Must you own an iPhone or any Apple product if like Steve Jobs that produced them you don’t subscribe to any particular religion?

Less 48 hours or so ago America despite its present health pandemic and economic woes launched a space mission called Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover; “That will search for signs of ancient microbial life, which will advance the quest to explore the past habitability of Mars. The rover has a drill to collect core samples of Martian rock and soil, then store them in sealed tubes for pickup by a future mission that would ferry them back to Earth for detailed analysis. Perseverance will also test technologies to help pave the way for future human exploration of Mars” – yet here we are in Nigeria still dividing ourselves over religion!

Can they beat Trump?

By Ahmed Yahaya Joe

Can a Biden/Harris ticket beat President Donald Trump?

On the surface this is a winning team. However, in America democracy it is all about the Deep State. That is why during the 2016 presidential elections despite her 65.8 million votes, Hilary Clinton could not enter the White House. Rather Donald J. Trump and his 62.9 million votes is now the current chief tenant.
So what happened? The United States Electoral College voted him in that is what. Trump got 304 votes of college electors while Clinton got 227 – end of story.

“The Electoral College is a body of electors established by the United States Constitution, which forms every four years for the sole purpose of electing the president and vice president of the United States. The Electoral College consists of 538 electors, and an absolute majority of at least 270 electoral votes is required to win the election……The number of each state’s electors is equal to the sum of the state’s membership in the Senate and House of Representatives; currently there are 100 senators and 435 representatives.”

Interestingly, there are “Faithless electors” who switch sides or are compelled to do so by the Deep State and its allies and interested parties. But who are these electors in general? The answer to this question is why Kamala Devi Harris is very crucial to Joe Biden’s candidacy. The state of California where she comes from has the highest number of 55. Besides Harris is biracial, her father is from Jamaica and her mother from India. Gender also plays a prominent part in the permutation as women voters are the most consistent in American politics. American men are good in arguing and debating politics but it is women that actually turn out to vote in more numbers per capita.

Deep State is defined as; “A hybrid association of elements of government and parts of top-level finance and industry that is effectively able to govern the United States without reference to the consent of the governed as expressed through the formal political process”

There is also what is known as American Exceptionalism which; “is the theory that the history of the United States is inherently different from that of other nations.” The idea that America has a unique mission to transform the world. Therefore to achieve that only those that can preserve and keep the American national interest should be allowed to occupy the White House. For instance, Obama came into office with the repeated promise to shut down the illegal detentions at Guantanamo Bay but for 8 years he couldn’t. And by negotiating a nuclear peace treaty with Iran he openly defied the Deep State making Mrs. Clinton take the fall.

In the United States no president can go to war with the Deep State and win. Ask John F Kennedy and his brother and Attorney General, Robert F Kennedy who wanted to run for president – they were both assassinated. The Deep State is an extended cabal that cuts across party lines.
It is very important to note that very deeply embedded in the American psyche is the role of the Sheriff that constantly fights off bad guys. That is why Hollywood endlessly promotes the protagonist/antagonist dynamic – always between an “actor” and the “boss” The oxygen of the US economy is the military-industrial complex which cannot survive without conflicts and wars all around the world; “Without war human beings stagnate in comfort and affluence and lose the capacity for great thoughts and feelings, they become cynical and subside into barbarism” – Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821- 1881)

My take on the forthcoming US elections is solely based on stone cold analysis of the 2000 polls “won” by George W Bush by a complete outsider through the pages of; Stupid White Men of Michael Moore (2002) If I had been resident there I am sure I would have felt different and opined otherwise. I am merely a detached student of the dynamics of power. I say this out of respect for my numerous friends and even some relatives in the US. I respect their choices.

Now back to the question; can the Biden-Harris ticket beat that of Trump-Pence? I have my doubts for the following reasons;

1. The opinion polls that Biden is currently leading Trump by 10 points is no different from that of Clinton over Trump in 2016 yet see what played out.

2. America is a deeply racist country and will always remain so because there is an umbilical link between racism and capitalism – one cannot exist without the other. Biden is already 75 years old this means he has no second term ambition. Harris is however 55 which means another Black presidential against the background of all these Black Lives Matter protests in 2024. Even liberal WASPs might gravitate back to White supremacy by default.

3. Joe Biden is not a war monger and he will tax the rich more to pay the poor like bring back Obama Care.

4. The White Anglo-Saxon Protestant segment of America prefer Trump’s sabre rattling on Immigration. Biden will open up the flow. Trump has shut the tap!

5. Biden is a supporter of strict Gun Laws. Trump is not!

6. Masses are masses anywhere in the world – the inability to see the big picture is always the same. The American masses vote in popular elections but it is just a few hundred “electors” that always determine who wins.

7. The ace in every US elections is Israel. Biden has always rooted for Palestine. He will also return to the conference table with Iran and negotiate with China. Trump will not because; “Leaders have always found it useful to have an enemy at their gates distracting the public from their difficulties. Use the rhetoric of war to heighten the stakes” – page 12 of 33 Strategies of War by Robert Greene (2006)

God is Not a Christian

By Ahmed Yahaya Joe

The construction of Hagia Sophia church with its characteristic pendative dome was completed in the year 537. The project started in the year 360. Hagia Sophia which means – Holy Wisdom in Greek was the Constantinople seat of Byzantine Orthodoxy which had severed relationship with Roman Catholicism. When the ancient city where Hagia Sophia is located was captured by the Papacy during the Fourth Crusade in 1204 the church was converted to Rome.

In 1261, the Byzantines recaptured their city and church. Constantinople was named after Constantine the Great (227-337 AD) the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity. However by 1453 the city became Istanbul and Hagia Sophia, a mosque under the Ottoman Turk, Mehmed the Conqueror. That was when its minarets were added and the crosses, icons removed with the images within plastered over with various Arabesque features.

In 1923, the historic edifice was converted into a secular museum by the founder of modern Turkey, General Kemal Atatürk. Most of its original imagery were then restored. The United Nations would eventually declare it as a World Heritage Site.
By July 24, 2020, Hagia Sophia would revert back to a mosque again. The Turkish presidential order has already been signed. Many in Christendom are worried, others concerned. I am neither for 2 main reasons. First,

I totally subscribe to the Solomonic axiom – “The race is not for the swift, Nor the battle to the strong, Nor bread to the wise, Nor riches to men of understanding, Nor favor to the men of skill; But time and chance happen to them all” Second, I remain an acolyte of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu who told the story n 1989; “of a drunk who crossed the street and accosted a pedestrian, asking him, “I shay, which ish the other shide of the shtreet?” The pedestrian, somewhat nonplussed, replied, “That side, of course!” The drunk said, “Shtrange. When I wash on that shide, they shaid it wash thish shide.”

His Grace Tutu went on; “Where the other side of the street is depends on where we are. Our perspective differs with our context, the things that have helped to form us; and religion is one of the most potent of these formative influences, helping to determine how and what we apprehend of reality and how we operate in our own specific context.” The Nobel laureate eventually rested his argument; “My first point seems overwhelmingly simple: that the accidents of birth and geography determine to a very large extent to what faith we belong. The chances are very great that if you were born in Pakistan you are a Muslim, or a Hindu if you happened to be born in India, or a Shintoist if it is Japan, and a Christian if you were born in Italy. I don’t know what significant fact can be drawn from this — perhaps that we should not succumb too easily to the temptation to exclusiveness and dogmatic claims to a monopoly of the truth of our particular faith. You could so easily have been an adherent of the faith that you are now denigrating, but for the fact that you were born here rather than there.

My second point is this: not to insult the adherents of other faiths by suggesting, as sometimes has happened, that for instance when you are a Christian the adherents of other faiths are really Christians without knowing it. We must acknowledge them for who they are in all their integrity, with their conscientiously held beliefs; we must welcome them and respect them as who they are and walk reverently on what is their holy ground, taking off our shoes, metaphorically and literally. We must hold to our particular and peculiar beliefs tenaciously, not pretending that all religions are the same, for they are patently not the same. We must be ready to learn from one another, not claiming that we alone possess all truth and that somehow we have a corner on God.”

Tutu concluded; “God is not a Christian, Nor a Jew, Muslim, Hindu…: God Dwells with Us, in Us, Around Us, as Us”

In the 1567 year history of the existence of Hagia Sophia it has withstood massive earthquakes in years 553, 558, 869 and 1344. This UN World Heritage Site has outlived wars, famines, plagues and indeed dictators, emperors and kings including presidents. It has been a constantly recurring decimal in the politicization of religion in Constantinople, now Istanbul at that crucial junction in modern-day Turkey where Europe meets the Middle East. Simply put the issue is beyond religion, it is another chess game in the “Clash of Civilizations”
Hagia Sophia will therefore outlive President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and return to its origin status as a church one day. Whether or not it happens during our lifetime is beside the point. So why bother? As the ancients wisely put it; “Only 3 things cannot remain hidden for long, the Sun, the Moon and the Truth”

Tick, tock, tick, tock…………

Tale of Two Nigerians

By Ahmed Yahaya Joe

Nigeria: A Nation of 75% Idiots, 20% Tribespeople and only 5% Citizens?

Against the backdrop of the trial of Hushpuppi on multiple counts of internet fraud and other related charges on various aspects of criminality in the United States another Nigerian “Lieutenant Victor Agunbiade was awarded the Navy and Marine Corp Development Medal for his exemplary accountability. According to the US Navy, Agunbiade effectively managed its largest cash disbursing office handling $45 million which is approximately N17 billion.

The money accounted for approximately 70% of its overseas disbursing volume.
According to the award citation, Agunbiade earned the honor while serving as cash disbursing Officer at the navy’s Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, between October, 2019 to July this year.
“Additionally, he managed 100 per cent accountability of 23 million dollars (N8.7 billion) across six rigorous inspections and independent audits with zero discrepancies. By his unswerving determination, wise judgment and complete dedication to duty, Agunbiade reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States naval service” the citation read.
Agunbiade enlisted in the US Navy as a storekeeper in 2008 and was commissioned as a supply corps officer in 2013.

He has always displayed a high level of professionalism while discharging his duties. In 2018, Agunbiade was named the Navy’s 2018 Officer Recruiter of the Year, alongside 17 others and honored at the annual Recruiter of the Year ceremony in Washington D.C.”
The same Naija but different persons: what is the explanation?

“According to the ancient Greeks, the founders of modern civilization, there are three kinds of people in any society; The first kind of people in any society are the idiots, not necessarily mentally deficient, but rather one who is a totally private person; totally selfish and totally self-centered (sometimes donning expensive suits, uniform or agbada).

The idiot is always out for his personal gain and his personal interest. He does not have a public philosophy, he has no character, no knowledge and no skills to live by and to be able to contribute in a flourishing society or community. He is all out for his personal pleasures and his personal treasures. The Greeks said the idiot is just an upgraded barbarian – you see them every day in society. They are the ones who form tadpole queues and drive against traffic. They toss litter freely out of their cars and appropriate our commonwealth for their personal use; The Greeks refer to these are the IDIOTS.

The Greek also said there is a second kind of person in any society called the tribespeople. Tribespeople does not necessarily mean belonging to a certain tribe; which is not bad in itself, but when the Greeks used the word tribespeople, they meant a tribal and a tribalistic mentality. The Greeks said the tribespeople are those not able to think beyond their small tribes and their small social groups.
For the tribespeople, the primary, only and ultimate allegiance is to their tribe. Their tribe is their god and their religion is tribalism. Tribespeople are always afraid of things that are different or are a little alien to them. They are always suspicious and fearful, and they always deal with different people and difficult situations with intimidation, force and with violence. The Greeks also said the ideal person for tribespeople is the warrior, because tribespeople are a war making people.

But it was not so for the Greeks, for them, there was another kind of person, and that for them was the ideal person, and they called this ideal person the citizen. When we use the word citizen we are not talking about legal status or political status or the accident of birth; those are outcomes. We are talking about the idea and ideal of citizenship – which is a choice.
Who then is the citizen you might wonder? the citizen according to the Greeks is someone who has the skills and the knowledge to live a public life, and able to live a life of civility. The citizen recognizes that he or she is a member of a commonwealth and thus strives for the common good.
The citizen knows his right in a society but also knows his responsibility to society. The citizen can fight for his right but always with an awareness of, and with the respect for the rights and interest of others; of their neighbors, of the smallest minority and of their worst enemies.

It is citizens, the Greeks said that make up a civilized society, because citizens settle their differences with civility, they produce a civilized society, a society that truly lives up to the meaning of the name society. Society literally means friendship and friendliness.
This is the threefold distinction that the Greeks have given of people in a society. That is the choice that each and every individual, whoever he or she may be, has to make in a society.
Indeed, no sovereign can make any significant advancement when the number idiots and tribesmen far outnumber the number of citizens. When we conducted random surveys on the various cohorts of Delegates at the Ausso Leadership Academy, the perception is that; about 75% of Nigerians behave as idiots, 20% as tribespeople and only 5% as citizens. Do the results shock you enough to want to do something about it?
Nigeria is her people; If we want to see change, we have to start by being citizens of our country. According to Maria Robinson “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”

The foregoing was nailed by Austin Okere, the Founder of CWG Plc, the largest ICT Company on the Nigerian Stock Exchange & Entrepreneur in Residence at CBS, New York. Austin also serves on the Advisory Board of the Global Business School Network, and on the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Austin now runs the Ausso Leadership Academy focused on Business and Entrepreneurial Mentorship.

About A Unique Nigerian Leader

About Nigeria’s Genuine Mai-Gaskiya (The Sincere one), the Real McCoy. An Exemplary Paragon of Integrity and Epitome of Humility and A Man for All Seasons condensed from Nowa Omoigui’s; From Kampala To Lome To London and Back To Nigeria

How and why General Gowon lost grip was multi-factorial. On July 29, 1975, nine years to the day a coup he did not plan brought him to power at Ikeja Barracks, elements within his ‘constituency’ “recalled” him. Former secessionist leader Emeka Ojukwu, who was still in exile in Ivory Coast, reacted to the news of the coup against Gowon – according to Frederick Forsythe – with a smile.

Nevertheless, General Gowon, far away in Kampala, had friends. Many offers of residence came to him in Kampala from various African countries. He notified the new regime in Lagos that he would leave Kampala for Lome in Togo. Since he was financially broke, teary-eyed members of the Nigerian delegation along with staffers at the Nigerian High Commission in Kampala donated 3000 pounds sterling to enable him begin a new life. He was flown to Lome – via Garoua in Cameroon – aboard President Idi Amin’s executive jet. Part of the flight passed through Nigerian airspace and Gowon took the opportunity to transmit a radio message reaffirming loyalty to and support for Brigadier Murtala Muhammed’s new regime. Although offered permanent domicile in Togo he chose to join his family in the United Kingdom. He received an additional 10,000 pounds sterling donation from General Eyadema.

Following a telephone call to Brigadier Murtala Muhammed (his Barewa College and Royal Military Academy junior) during which he made requests for elementary federal assistance, he left for London.

When he got to London, he was offered official accommodation by the Nigerian government which he, however, turned down for a variety of reasons. After some weeks at the Portman Hotel, he moved into the house of an old friend – Mr. Emmanuel Otti – at 472 Finchley Road, London. The delay was to enable the house to be redecorated by Mr. and Mrs. Otti and Brigadier Sam Ogbemudia (who had been in the UK when the coup took place in Nigeria). Other friends came to the assistance of the family. It was not until September 1975 that he began to get his pension and gratuities as a retired Four-Star General. In the nine years he had been Nigeria’s ruler he had not built himself a single house, inside or outside the country, nor did he expropriate one kobo of government money. Unlike some of those who served under him, his TOTAL savings throughout his service years as well as his years as Nigeria’s leader was N75,000 – all of which was inside Nigeria.

In time to come this would stand in stark contrast to the conduct of and personal fortunes of most of those who conspired to remove him from office – or benefited from it.

Once settled in with his family, the General, who was offered several Masters Degree programs, signed up for undergraduate studies in Political Science at Warwick University. Newspapers in Nigeria later carried news items and photographs depicting the former Nigerian leader carrying trays in a student cafeteria in the UK. The Muhammed regime was embarrassed and therefore dispatched Brigadier TY Danjuma (who, took Kano born Col. Wali along) to ask Gowon adopt a supposedly more dignified stance. Gowon rejected the overture and reassured his “embarrassed sympathizers” that he was comfortable with his situation. He made friends among the Nigerian students at Warwick, including a family friend of mine, Desmond Guobadia, now a legal practitioner in Lagos. Meanwhile his spouse, the former First Lady, Mrs. Victoria Gowon (who was a nurse) registered as a catering student at a University College in London.

Col. BS Dimka, an officer from the Angas ethnic group of Plateau State, announced the botched February 1976 coup bid. Tragically, General Muhammed was killed, along with Colonel Ibrahim Taiwo and a few others. Gowon vigorously denied the allegation of complicity. In an atmosphere of open press speculations, suspicion and outright condemnation, he was invited by Brigadier SM Yar’Adua, to appear before the investigating board in Lagos. In the meantime, all his privileges were suspended. Even his pension, which was his right – and not a privilege – was also illegally suspended. His brother, Air Force Major Moses Gowon, was detained (because he was his brother) – and later discharged from service. Another brother, Captain Isaiah Gowon, was jailed for 15 years – after a second court-martial – because of an innocuous visit to the School of Artillery in Kaduna on February 13.

Fearful of the press-hyped atmosphere and presumption of guilt prior to investigation and trial Gowon suggested a neutral country as the venue of his submissions to the investigating board. He also offered swearing to an affidavit and responding point by point to any questionnaire of the government’s choosing. The government, urged on by a mob-like mentality that pervaded the Press, refused. Instead, efforts were made to get the General to return to Nigeria by subterfuge.

Mistrustful of the intentions of the regime, Gowon wrote a lengthy and very detailed letter of explanation offering to assist the government to find a solution to “the endemic problem of coups and counter-coups in Nigeria.” One week later, a government announcement monitored over the Voice of America asserted that General Gowon had been stripped of his rank, honours and entitlements. However, no official letter was ever sent to that effect – in part because the government cannot forfeit the rank of an officer unless such an officer has actually been convicted of treason or other serious felony – which had not happened.

With no further income from his pensions, Gowon once again had to rely on old friends. Mr. Otti absolutely refused to collect rent from him. Gowon wrote a letter to some African leaders explaining his situation. None, except one, responded. This African leader – with whom Gowon had no prior personal relationship – gave him $50,000 to purchase a house. On another occasion then President Ahidjo of Cameroon – who did not respond to Gowon’s initial appeal – sent his children some pocket money during a visit to London. The school fees of his first son were paid for by an old Caucasian friend. Some members of his family in Nigeria sent money too from time to time. A wealthy international businessman from then Bendel State reportedly gave him a monthly stipend of 500 pounds sterling for 18 months while the Nigerian Ambassador to an unnamed European country offered him an old Volkswagen Passat. In the meantime, barely scraping a living, the General continued his undergraduate and, later, graduate studies at Warwick – including a PhD thesis on ECOWAS

On October 1st, 1981, after consultations with the National Council of States, President Shehu Shagari deftly rescinded the order published in Vol. 66; Official Gazette No. 3 dated January 18, 1979. Since Gowon was never convicted, there was no basis for a “pardon”.

The public reaction was overwhelmingly positive. Gowon, during a subsequent interview with the BBC, said he would return to Nigeria upon completion of his studies. He also added his voice to appeals for the government of Shehu Shagari to pardon his wartime opponent, Emeka Ojukwu – an event that later took place in 1982. It was also late in 1982 that traditional rulers from Plateau State launched a fundraiser to build a house in Jos for the former Nigerian leader.

It would be some years to come before his rank and privileges – wrongfully terminated without trial – would finally be fully officially re-acknowledged. General Yakubu Cinwa Gowon (rtd) is still alive and active as an elder statesman.

*Copied from Ahmed Yahaya Joe Facebook post

LAGOS BRIDGE IS FALLING DOWN

By Ahmed Yahaya Joe

LAGOS MARINA BEFORE
LAGOS MARINA AFTER

The best way to contextualize the growth and transformation of Lagos is by looking at the same southeastern view of the Marina towards the Lagos Yacht Club across the strait separating Lagos and Victoria Islands centuries apart up to Wilmot Point and beyond.

I am surprised and disappointed that Lagosians have also been caught up in the crossfire of identity politics in Nigeria. I have always assumed the “Center of Excellence” was immune to the kind of xenophobic indigenes-settler dichotomy that has bedeviled the rest of our nation, Nigeria. This post is therefore inspired by the recent intervention of Omo Eko Pataki, a forum for “Original Lagosians” entitled; Lagos – The Imperative of Cultural Renaissance. I thankfully became aware of it courtesy of the esteemed Taiwo Ogunbote of Center for Human Capital and Democratic Development, an old Gregorian of Obalende and former officer of the New York Police Department (NYPD).

Anybody who is familiar with the history of Lagos would admit that the entrepôt has always been a culmination of external factors revolving around trade and commerce from its obscure days as an Awori fishing settlement to its hostile takeover by the forces of Oba of Benin that named it Eko (which means war camp), which the Portuguese seafarer renamed Lago de Curamo in 1472.

However, it was not until Royal Navy officer, John Beecroft in 1849 who became the British consul to the Bights of Benin and Biafra based in what was now anglicanized to Lagos; which became a major hub for the present South West hinterland, which had to bombarded to military submission by Her Majesty’s warships in 1851.

For Lagos to stabilize itself amidst the incessant crisis between the Akitoye and Kosoko ruling houses and transform the strategically located “swamps and lakes” port to the Atlantic into a commercial hub order had to be restored and a semblance of authority must be established. Simply put the Union Jack had to be hoisted. To pull that off 2 persons were crucial – Samuel Ajayi Crowther, who took up the matter at the British parliament through his fellow Anglican bishops and abolitionists at the House of Lords and Madam Tinubu who impressed upon the local elite the need to transit from slave trading to a more lucrative and less hazardous legitimate trade.

Bishop Crowther was from Osoogun in present-day Oyo state and Madam Tinubu actually Efunporoye Osuntinubu, an Egba of Owu ancestry from Ojokodo in present-day Ogun state. Arguably, without their intervention we probably wouldn’t know Lagos as it is today.

What has also been perhaps deliberately neglected in the history of the evolution of Lagos is the role of the amalgam of Hausa speaking people. The Male Revolt was a slave rebellion that took place in January 1835 during Ramadan in the city of Salvador da Bahia in Brazil. In Bahia, the Hausas were primarily identified with practicing Islam because they adopted the religion before coming over to Brazil. Over time however, with the Nago slaves they united to revolt. Some of the key figures important in planning the uprising were: Ahuna, Pacífico, and Manoel Calafate.

“The word Nago derives from the word Anago, a term that the Fon-speaking people used to describe Yoruba-speaking people residing in the kingdom of Ketu now in the present-day Benin Republic.”

The aftermath of the Male Revolt led to emancipation of slaves in Brazil many of which opted to return to Africa. In 1851, a pioneer group of 60 freed slaves chartered a ship for the then equivalent of $4000 to return to Badagry. These returnees became known as Aguda which by the 1880s constituted almost 10% of the population of Lagos. Others eventually joined the return to Lagos; the Amaro from Cuba and Saro from the Caribbean via Sierra Leone.

“On 21 April 1863, John Hawley Glover was appointed administrator of the government of Lagos Colony, he remained there till 1872. Glover formed the nucleus of present-day Nigeria’s Army and Police with 10 Hausa runaway slaves on 1 June 1863. The group was known as Glover’s Hausas or ‘Glover’s Forty Thieves’. Glover went to great lengths to develop bonds of personal loyalty with the Armed Hausas. He personally trained, commanded, and chose his successors, ensuring their loyalty. In return for their loyalty, Glover rewarded his troops with land and dwellings. He raised their pay and provided them with smart uniforms that broadcast their status of free men and agents of the British colonial government.”

Who are then the original Lagosians?

The Aworis or Binis or even the descendants of Glover’s Hausas, Agudas, Amaros or even Saros?

How do we situate the millions of Igbos in Lagos that arguably constitute one third of the population of Lagos? What about the Ago Awusa that were located between Epe and Itokin from where Madam Tinubu’s fifth husband Momoh Bukar hailed from before that Hausa camp was resettled in Alausa in present-day Ikeja?

Anyway the main grouse of Omo Eko Pataki is that; “the Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu; his deputy, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, and many top political office holders in the state are not natives of Lagos State”.

They further contend that ”the senators representing the state at the National Assembly – Oluremi Tinubu and Solomon Adeola; Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa; the Secretary to the State Government, Mrs Folasade Jaji; and the Head of Service, Hakeem Muri-Okunola, are also not from the state” also that the “legendary accommodating openness” that Lagos State is known for was becoming a curse, noting however that they would no longer watch the state become “a no-man’s-land” The forum also claims “Lagosians are now reduced to almost “second-class citizens on their native soil”
For me the fundamental issue at stake is; The Tragedy of the Commons which is described by Garrett Hardin in 1968 as “All human relationships involve give and take, all such relationships breakdown when one or more parties do too much taking and not giving” Apologies to the Gbaygi of FCT.

“Isale Eko translates to ‘bottom of Eko’, was so named because of its location south of the area called ‘Eko’ (later called Lagos). Isale Eko started as the home of Aromire, a pepper farmer who was one of the sons of Olofin, an Awori settler, who was the chief of Iddo Island and the first Idejo (landowner) of Lagos Island. Aromire’s farm settlement, which was the first home of the inhabitants of Isale Eko, is today known as ‘Iga Idunganran’ (The Pepper Palace), the palace of the Oba of Lagos.” It was from this palatial surroundings the Oba of Lagos in 2015 threatened to sink the Igbo if they voted contrary to his political preference.

Unfortunately the joke is now on him as the Omo Eko Pataki under his royal nose are today poking their fingers at “the abberation which emerged since 1999”

In conclusion; Who build this Gada (Bridge)? This for me is a fitting metaphor for who built Lagos, a question asked by “Acksion Governor” Brigadier General Raji Alagbe Rasaki, the military administrator in Lagos 1988-1991 while inspecting a poorly constructed culvert over a flood channel. The Omo Eko Pataki needs to understand politics is a numbers game and must therefore skillfully negotiate their relevance even in their own domain by way of an issues based engagement. The 1999 Constitution is clear and unequivocal on the eligibility for public office and the right to residency anywhere in Nigeria. “Indigene-ship” is a colonial legacy for divide and rule.

Come October 1, it will be 60 years after national independence, so we shouldn’t be having this kind of conversation in our nation.

Eko o ni baje o!

ELLEN JOHNSON SIRLEAF – ‘This child will be great.’

A short first 3 chapters review:

I’m mightily fond of biographies but I’m the first to admit there is a major demerit of Biographies/Autobiographies of notable persons, fact that we know how the book concludes. So if you’re all about extended suspense & sudden dramatic endings, you won’t enjoy Biographies of notable persons. Biographies are more about information & content.

CHAPTER 1- The Beginning

I will be more elabourate in this chapter because of its foundational place in the story.

ELLEN JOHNSON SIRLEAF starts by telling of the old sage that visited soon after her birth to reveal her title: “This Child will be Great”. It was prophetic as it turns out but living through educational difficulties, marital problems, economical turmoil etc, Ellen & her mother couldn’t possibly see this laughable prediction coming true.

Her initial challenge in campaigning for the presidency was in establishing her indegenious credentials, and not the elitist Americo-liberian that she was labeled with. Her popularity didn’t just hold her in good stead.

Her Grandfather (Jahmale) was a local chief who emerged as a popular negotiator between settlers & indegenious tribes because of his command of local dialects. His abilities was sought after by even the 7th President of Liberia (Hilary Johnson), the first President born in Liberia. Though he was the son of one of the Liberia’s elitist first settlers, Elijah Johnson.

Ellen’s father was sent to the city as a ward, which is a guardianship system that still flourishes in most part parts of Africa. It entails sending grown children/young adults to assist in meeting up with the crucial need for cheap labor. These youth are transplanted into better off families to work at
hauling water, collecting firewood and coal, cooking, cleaning, tending crops & other domestic work. It was also a means by which colonists spread religion & civilization to indegenious folks.

Not all the wards had an easy go at it, but majority of families, regardless of how discriminating or unjust, gave the wards in their care some opportunity for education & in some cases had their names changed to suit their new status. Ellen’s father, who was taken in by a family named McGrity, was given the last name of Johnson, after the president & his first name, Karnley, westernized to Carney. Thus becoming Carney Johnson at 15, a rebirth she called it. He became a ‘poor man’s lawyer’ (an apprenticeship lawyer), started a career in politics, met a befitting lady & married.

Ellen’s mother, had a more thrilling tale. She was half German. Her grandfather being a German who left after German traders were expelled from Liberia at the commencement of WWI. He never returned & Ellen’s mum put it off as a past she never wants to recall. She was almost white & was marveled at for a that reason. After a brief time of bad treatment as a mere servant with a family, she was taken in by a prominent childless woman from an influential family, where she got the best local education, even studying abroad for a year.

Five years after seeing Martha, Ellen’s father; Carney, divorced his first wife, won the affections of Martha & her guardian & married the pretty half-caste. The young family blossomed in Monrovia until they fell down the success ladder. Here Ellen gives us a brief glimpse of old simple Monrovia & the historical background of how separate states & cities in the USA had settled their freed slaves in separate colonies in Liberia. A huge death rate from the malaria that killed alot of the settlers. Some came willingly, most joined unwillingly, as conditions for freedom or as cargo from enforced seizures of slave trading ships. Thus captured ships with rescued slaves were sent to Monrovia. Persons of the most diverse tribes in present day West African countries & beyond were simply dumped as ‘liberated’ slaves in ‘Liberia’.

Ellen’s family settled in one of the posh areas, with a modestly grand house. She is the third of four children( two boys & girls each). She was named after her mother’s friend. She was a tomboy of sorts, climbing trees & playing ball with the boys with discarded tennis balls.

She fell in a pit toilet hole once. She was so tiny, left alone she slipped through the boarded pit toilet. (If you’ve seen ‘slum-dog millionaire’… Well, you get the gist.) She was rescued by a bypasser after calling out for help & washed up by her mum. 🤣

Theirs was an illustrious home, with her father keeping good company & aspiring to be the first indegenious speaker of the parliamentary. A sitting President visited their home. Her father was a socialite & womanizer, which was common place then, with polygamy accepted. Even Christian white folks kept concubines & had ‘out-children.’ with their spare women. Her mother was religious & ran the primary school they all went to.

She writes of her childhood trips to the villages for vacation, where she learned to swim. There’s her proud indegenious roots which her father never let them lose, even though they easily could. She is proud to flaunt this credential of being an indegenious child of Liberia, a clarity she made to distractors during her presidential campaign. Her respect for the unique biodiversity of the Liberian Flora and fauna, is all highlighted in this opening chapter.

CHAPTER 2 – Childhood Ends

Ellen’s sweet Childhood took a tumble with the sudden stroke of her dad in his forties. He was still trying out to be the first indegenious speaker of the parliament. The then President was encouraging & supportive in this regard. The ‘growth with development’ in the nation was being challenged with this drive. The national economic growth was concentrated in the hand of the few American repatriated elite. On the down side, President Tubman was Tyrannical, building a strong security force to fend off dissent. Ellen’s father saw Tubman as the man who ‘opened the door’ to progress for the indegenes but his sudden illness brought an end to his family’s cosiness. In those days (1950s) medicine was still basic. Her dad felt he was bewitched. As he blamed juju, family adjusted to care for his handicapped needs.

Ellen’s sister left for London to become a nurse so she could help, Ellen was in highschool. She was active in sports. Only downside was being teased for her fair complexion by the indegenious people, as they construe her to be of the elitist group of settlers.

She met her to-be husband in her last year in high school. James Sirleaf was of a Mandingo father & an elitist mother. He was also discriminated against for this. As an added pressure, his Mandingo clan are mainly Muslims & they tend not to assimilate into the conventional Liberian community, till date they are perceived as outcasts. Ellen & Doc, as James was known, met via a friend; Clave. The jealous irresistible Doc swept Ellen off her feet.

He was seven years older than Ellen. Without her handicapped dad’s enablement, Ellen opted to marry early, since college wasn’t affordable. 1956 she was married, January ’57 got her first son, Jes & incredibly, by December ’57 she got her second son Charles, while her mates were off in college.

Doc had returned from Alabama with a degree in agriculture before they got married. It was a big deal then because agriculture was the bedrock of Liberia’s economy then, as it is now. Iron ore, timber & Cocoa were the major export, before the civil war impaired these economic trend. Still it took Doc a while to get a footing at the ministry of agriculture. To make ends meet Ellen took Secretarial work with expatriate firms.

This was her first venture into finance. She borrowed trucks from work to lift the sand they built their first house with. They farmed & lived in rural settings. Doc had to work at a teaching job long before he finally got a ministry Job. Ellen’s sister had returned, married & had 3 kids of her own. Ellen believed in herself & her potential.

Doc got a government scholarship for his masters & Ellen jumped at the chance but it wasn’t easy, without her father’s connection like her sisters had it back then. Ellen’s father had passed on, neglected by his political buddies. Finally she got the scholarship, she got in to study business at Madison business college. They left their four kids behind, splitting them among their grand parents. Here she lingers on the support virtues of the African extended family.

America wasn’t all rosy. Doc’s jealousy had not quite abated. He also always had a drinking problem. Ellen worked at a posh store alongside her studies, a job Doc considered demeaning. After a single scene at her work place, he grumbled but back down because they need the money.

She was working the day US President JFK was assasinated. Doc’s jealousy moved dangerously to the physical, with gun threats. There wasn’t much she could do but bear it. Doc finished his course and returned a year before Ellen, who stayed back to finish up. When she returned and started work at the debt office of the ministry of finance, she felt her ambitious streak let lose as she played catch up. Doc grew more jealous of her progress. She threw herself into work.

They quarreled increasing. After an incident with his gun, when their first born sprayed insecticide at the father when he threatened Ellen with the gun, it dawned on her she had to leave him. When they agreed to separate, he kept the boys & she moved in with her mum. She secured a divorce when Doc was out of town. He made a number of scenes at her office later on. They ended up as friends at long last when he remarried. He migrated to Florida & she gave the keynote address at his funeral. He was cremated. Her youngest son stayed with Doc’s brother, a medical doctor. That son is now an MD himself. The third boy; Rob, was returned to her because he was unsettled without her.

CHAPTER 3 – America Again

Don’t blame the man in me, but I like the way she started this chapter.

“Divorce is difficult, even when it is absolutely necessary.” This goes both ways, believe me. I’ve seen it play out countless of times, on both ends severally, to know well. The guilt & adjustment is common.

Ellen’s was more of fitting in with the disrespect & suspicions that female divorcees experience. Her placing in the finance ministry gave her holistic view of the dire economic situation of the country. From the onset, the economy of Liberia wasn’t particularly well off as a colony of sorts before independence. As late as the 1930s, some leaders were still counting on a mass exodus of black Americans to shore up the country and its economy but instead the black Americans moved to industrial northern U.S. cities. Then came World War I—and Liberia couldn’t compete with the more established trade affairs of the British empire or French in the late 1800s & earliest 1900s.

Here I beg to quote a section:

“One cannot talk long about Liberia without discussing the Firestone Tire & Rubber Company. It is our largest private employer and runs what is considered the largest rubber plantation in the world within
our borders. For better or worse, no other single company has had a more significant impact on the history and development of our land. Firestone arrived in Liberia, excited about the country’s perfect conditions for growing rubber as an alternative to its single Asia source and intrigued by the small, defunct British commercial operation at Mount Barclay, a lowland coastal plantation of about two thousand acres situated on a former mangrove swamp and jungle about twenty miles east of Monrovia. Firestone and the Liberian government easily reached an agreement for Firestone to take over that plantation; the company was granted a long-term lease for $1 an acre the first year and a flat $6,000 per year thereafter. But Firestone had larger plans. After much negotiation, Firestone was granted the right to lease up to 1 million acres of “suitable” Liberian land for 6 cents an acre and 1 percent of the tax value of
the rubber exported—and to do so until the year 2025.

“By any measure, it was a sweetheart deal for Firestone.
According to the Dutch economist and historian Fred P. M. van der Kraaij. After the draft concession agreement was approved by the national legislature, Firestone suddenly introduced a new clause. This
so-called Clause K made the agreement dependent on a $1 million loan from Firestone to the Liberian government. At the time of Firestone’s establishment in Liberia, the nation’s economy was stagnant and bankrupt. Although the loan proposal and ensuing negotiations raised fierce protests both outside and inside the country—where some Liberians feared the influence such a loan would create on the Liberia government—under pressure from the U.S. State Department and eager for the cash to repay a $1 million debt to
British bankers, Liberian officials eventually agreed to the deal.
Thus Firestone gained—for nearly a hundred years—almost unlimited control over an area equal to 4 percent of Liberian land and nearly 10 percent of land considered arable. And, by virtue of the loan the company’s entry into Liberia served mainly to reinforce Liberia’s financial dependency. For the next eighty years Firestone amassed huge profits and had a strong and decisive say in Liberian politics.”

End of quote.

Firestone had it’s foot on Liberia’s throat. The army of workers suffered & not much was done to ease the burden on them. Firestone didn’t establish industries but carted away resources & paid next to nothing in revenue.

When 1944 Tubman’s reforms took root & foreign investment flowed in, few Liberians outside the settlers’ elite clique truly benefited from the influx of foreign businesses. Thousands of Liberians were given jobs, but almost always lower-level, manual-labor positions, with
little effort made to train indigenous workers so they might move up to technical or managerial slots. Hospitals and schools were built only for workers of the investors.

By 1960s the economy was in another slum. Tubman lost favor & beefed up his security. There was an assassination attempt on him in 1955. He got a scapegoat in Fahnbulleh, a diplomat serving as ambassador to Kenya & Tanzania. He was arrested, charged & convicted for trying to overthrow the government. Not part of any activism, Ellen had simply accidentally started off in that direction when she stood on the edge of disloyalty with a speech she delivered criticizing the Liberian government’s economic policies. Representing the Treasury Department at a conferece by Harvard Institute for International Development. (HIID initiative). Harvard man, the economist Gustav Papanek, later president of the Boston Institute for Development, was concerned for her safety after that blatant criticism of the Liberian authorities. Professor Papanek gained Ellen admission to Edward S. Mason Fellows, Harvard’s oldest and largest international program. Ellen sat for & passed the U.S. Agency for International Development scholarship exam, scoring the highest marks recorded then. While she shores up her undergraduate credentials, Rob went to live with American friends.

A year later another speech got her into serious trouble. She then plunged into the study of the history of West Africa, learning more about Liberia in Harvard. Returning to Liberia alongside her sister on a ship, Ellen smoked her last cigarette ever. They both learned of the death of President Tubman while eating a meal on the ship. He was 71 & had ruled for 27 years. It was 1971 (& I was just a year old then 😊).

She ends the 3rd chapter with this;

“Jennie and I sat together in that dining room, praying for the soul
of our departed president and praying even harder for our families & our land. We were anxious but not frightened, not really. Like most Liberians, I suppose, we felt in some way shielded from the worst
manifestations of evolutionary struggle and change.

“We always felt that if anything really terrible began to happen, if ever things went seriously awry, America would come to our aid. America was our great father, our patron saint. It would never let us suffer. That’s what so many of us in Liberia thought. But then we found out that EVERYONE HAS TO STAND ON HIS OWN!”

I just wish some of the multitude of violently protesting Black Americans will learn from these words that they are just wasting away in the streets, shouting themselves crazy. At the end of the day, they can only make the white man respect them with what they achieve, not what the white man gives them.

GEORGE FLOYD’S KILLER WILL GO FREE!

By Ahmed Yahaya Joe

Why Officer Chauvin would not be convicted for the killing of George Floyd?

Today, exactly 26 years ago on June 12, 1994, a certain Black America Orenthal James Simpson aka OJ Simpson knifed to death his ex-wife, the All American blonde Nicole Brown and her boyfriend, a White restaurant waiter 10 years her junior, Ron Goldman. In the criminal trial that followed OJ was not only discharged but acquitted. That is not however not the end of the story because on February 4, 1997 the accused was in a separate trial found to be responsible for the murders in a civil case that awarded against him “compensatory and punitive damages” of $33.5 million that OJ is still paying in instalments to date. I shall endeavor to return to OJ in my conclusion lest I forget Larry Fisher’s award winning photograph taken on October 3, 1995 – the exact moment on the day Mr Simpson was acquitted live on TV taken at the Augustana College, a high brow liberal arts university campus on 115 acres of hilly, wooded banks of the mighty Mississippi River at Rock Island, Illinois.

This iconic photograph still captures the embarrassing extent of the systematic racial divide still prevalent in that great nation even as the fallout of George Floyd’s murder is still unfolding. Officer Derek Chauvin acted within operational guidelines when he knelt on George Floyd’s neck as the Minneapolis Police Department’s manual on Use of Force specifically under numbers 5-300 and 5-311 allows the use of knee neck restraint among others when a suspect “appears drug affected” It was therefore not premeditated murder. Those that approved that standard procedure manual should be the suspects. Let me at this stage reiterate my position; I am not holding brief for Officer Chauvin nor condoning his actions. I am merely engaging in an analysis of the “What ifs” of the case called Red Team which is simply preparing for the worst ahead of time. This practice originated in computer access control whereby for instance, a bank’s top management will engage “ethical” hackers to attempt scaling the bank’s cyber security firewalls without the knowledge of that same bank’s IT department.

Chess players do it all the time to anticipate the moves of any opponent. Anyway, according to the autopsy report on Mr Floyd released by his family showed he died of “asphyxiation” Beyond that however they did admit he was Covid-19 positive.

Meanwhile, another report done by the Minneapolis Medical Examiner stated George’s death was due to “…arteriosclerotic and hypertensive heart disease, fentanyl intoxication, and recent use of methamphetamine and cannabis” – please remember “appears drug affected” police department policy! Another issue is George Floyd’s violent past is his rap sheet. Some highlights include but not restricted to;

• George Floyd was the ringleader of a violent home invasion

• He plead guilty to entering a woman’s home, pointing a gun at her stomach and searching the home for drugs and money, according to court records

• Floyd was sentenced to 10 months in state jail for possession of cocaine in a December 2005 arrest

• He had previously been sentenced to eight months for the same offense, stemming from an October 2002 arrest

• Floyd was arrested in 2002 for criminal trespassing and served 30 days in jail

• He had another stint for a theft in August 1998

All these would be factored in by the defense lawyers of Officer Chauvin to demonize Mr Floyd. Interestingly, Officer Derek Chauvin and the late George Floyd both previously worked as bouncers at a Minneapolis night club.

In 1991, Rodney King endured brutal beating by 4 policemen with batons that left him with permanent brain damage and other serious heath challenges. The entire episode was captured on camera but not enough to convict any of the White policemen because he was “under the influence of drugs” and had to be subdued. By 1999, another set of 4 White cops in New York pumped 41 bullets into Amadou Diallo. He was also suspected to be under the influence of and carrying a gun. The autopsy report showed no drugs nor alcohol but the Street Crime Unit insisted he looked like a “serial rapist” Diallo had nothing more than his wallet on him and the 4 policemen were discharged and acquitted. You guessed right Messrs King and Diallo were African Americans. Following the acquittal of the cops that beat up King protests followed. 63 people died, 2383 injured and over 12,000 arrested. Over $1 billion in damage was incurred. So when 2 years later in the same city of Los Angeles the OJ Simpson came up the White establishment had to think outside the box despite his glaring guilt which started by ensuring the prosecutors were incompetent. The rest as they say is now history.

In conclusion, the American system has certain peculiarities that sustain institutional racism but bends over when it is expedient. In OJ’s criminal trial that lasted 9 months, 488 pieces of evidence were submitted by the prosecution which included hair, blood, fiber and shoe print analysis. On each OJ’s Dream Team lawyers raised objections on technical grounds thereby creating reasonable doubt on his involvement. He was therefore discharged and acquitted but in the civil trial that followed OJ was found complicit with exactly the same evidence! Another Rodney King round of protests was averted. It is only in America a presidential candidate will win by popular votes in millions yet lose by electoral votes numbering hundreds. For me the fundamental issue is not Officer’s guilt.

It is the all pervasive Apartheid like system that keeps Native (Red Indian), Hispanic and Asian Americans down which Black dignity has refused to be subservient to. Trust me Officer Chauvin would walk free but before then the White establishment would have made some major concessions that would not warrant any further protests. The City of New York offered $3 million to the family of Diallo while Rodney King raked in $3.8 million from the City of Los Angeles. The million dollar question is how much the family of George Floyd would settle for? Racism will never end in America. It would however remain increasingly monetized. Everything there has a price tag!

When the looting starts; the shooting starts.

By Ahmed Yahaya Joe

“When the looting starts; the shooting starts”
This recent statement by US president Donald Trump were the exact words used in 1967 by the Miami police chief Walter Headley Jr. during the height of civil rights riots there.

Headley who had led that Florida city’s police department from 1948 until his death in 1968 declared to the Black people in Miami; “This is war” But as Carl von Clausewitz famously put it; “War is the continuation of politics by other means” If so what political message is Trump sending in an election year by repeating Bradley’s exact words 53 years later? The US leader is simply reminding White Supremacists, America’s largest voting block of his continued allegiance which begs the question of – is Trump racist or just being politically opportunistic?

Whatever the answer the angry African Americans have played into the hands of his political self aggrandizement at their very own expense. Their anger has unfortunately become an albatross instead of a strategic weapon.
A famous quote attributed to Albert Einstein; “Insanity is always doing the same thing but expecting different results” Each time there is a case of White police brutality against any Black person the American Negro community reacts exactly the same way – rioting, looting and arson. The recent fallout in Minneapolis is no different.
However in 1954; “Bernard Garrett wanted to get into real estate but encounters racism that prevents him from being a successful real estate investor.

After a chance encounter with wealthy club owner Joe Morris, he convinces Joe to be his co-investor. Together they convince Matt Steiner, a white man, to pose as the front of the company in meetings to facilitate the sales. Eventually, they become extremely successful in Los Angeles real estate, with the two teaching Matt the basics of real estate investing. The three secure a number of properties in L.A. and effectively integrate a number of previously segregated neighborhoods by selling and renting to Black families.

After this success, he sets his sights on the local bank in his Texas hometown to give loans to the Black residents. Racist bank practices had excluded Black people from receiving loans for small businesses and homeownership. Joe protests the idea at first but eventually relents and the three move to Texas.

Matt buys the bank, fronting for Bernard and Joe, but the local townspeople are extremely suspicious of this move. A bank executive tracks the records of the loans and discovers that they’re giving loans to black people, follows Matt and discovers that his partners are black, then threatens them with exposure which would cause “a run on the bank.” Matt persuades Joe and Bernard to purchase a second bank and put him in charge of it despite his inexperience. The racist bank executive calls in a federal investigator who checks the records of Matt’s bank and discovers numerous infractions attributable to Matt’s carelessness.

Matt, Bernard and Joe get arrested for violating federal banking laws. Facing a 50-year prison term, Matt takes a plea deal, falsely testifying that he was duped by Bernard and Joe. The next day, Bernard testifies passionately about black people being given the same opportunity for upward mobility as whites. He and Joe are convicted and serve time in prison; upon release, they go with Bernard’s wife Eunice to live in the Bahamas.”

This remarkable true story was captured in an excellent movie that was recently released during the Covid-19 pandemic. I have just downloaded and finished watching it. The moral in it is that by thinking outside the box any challenge can be surmounted. Barnet Garret and Joe Morris did not emotionally react to the racism confronting them back then in America, neither did they get angry nor bitter nor become exasperated by defeatism like the rioters recently in Minneapolis. The acted creatively by recruiting White persons to be the face of their company. They taught Matt Steiner golf, power dressing, restaurant table manners and business language and analysis to be their face in a White world.

That a duo of Black business men could skillfully pull off such a covert business strategy in an overtly racist America back in the heady days of the late 1950s and early 1960s was monumental. What Garret and Morris have also shown us is that mutual interest is stronger than any sentiment be it racial or indeed ethnic or religious in our context here in Nigeria and beyond.

The idea is to identify each man’s thumbscrew and turn it. It made no difference to Mr Steiner, a White that Messrs Garret and Morris were Black as long as the US dollar remained Green. The three of them embarked on consensus building for their overall benefit. Everything in life approached from a similar perspective is no different!
Reminding America’s biggest voting block that so to speak “We are all together” Trump has with “When the looting starts; the shooting starts” pulled another fast one at the expense of Black Americans (who are so regular and predictable in their usual response mechanism of rioting, looting and arson) Black people in America and indeed the rest of us elsewhere must learn to always effectively operate outside the box of conventional thinking. The genius in the approach of Garret and Morris was simply they succeeded by hiring white men to be the faces of their enterprise, appearing to run their operations while, in fact, Garrett and Morris were the owners and actual operators of the properties and banks.

They beat the enemy by simply changing the terrain of battle to their advantage exactly how Hannibal, an African inflicted the most devastating military defeat on the Roman army at the Battle of Cannae using just 26,000 men. In 1588, Queen Elizabeth will use 8 warships to crush the Spanish Armada that had 128. Similarly in January 1879, Shaka the Zulu defeated British guns and cannons using strategic envelopment with just spears, bows and arrows.

The effective use of strategic envelopment is all in t Greene he mind!
“People expect your behavior to conform to known patterns and convention. Your task as a strategist is to upset their expectations. Surprise them with chaos and unpredictability” – Robert Greene