DOWN BUT NOT OUT

By Ahmed Yahaya Joe

1. “Abraham Lincoln. Honest Abe Lincoln. Possibly the most successful politician in American history – abolished slavery, united the country after the Civil War to preserve the union, modernised the economy and put America on a path to greatness. But Lincoln was not always a raging success.
In 1831 at the age of 23, he owned a general store in New Salem, Illinois. The town was booming. However, his choice of business partners wasn’t great, and the business was run into the ground. Abe then ran for the Illinois General Assembly. He lost. Lincoln then bought a half a share in another General store. This store also went bust, his business partner died, and Abe – who borrowed money to invest – was broke. He spent several years paying off the debt.

Lincoln ran for US Senate in 1854, but was defeated. In 1858, he ran for the Senate again and won the popular vote. But through a quirk of the electoral process at that time, the Illinois State Legislature chose Lincoln’s rival anyway. This guy could not catch a break. However, he managed to come back from all this and was elected President in 1860. He is generally considered to be the greatest American president in history. He was perhaps, too good a president. His achievements inspired a wing-nut – who hated Lincoln for abolishing slavery – to shoot him in the back of the head while at the theatre. A tragic for America.”

2. “In a boxing match, you can lose the first 14 rounds. All you have to do is nail your opponent in the last 10 seconds of the 15th round and you’re the world’s heavyweight champion” – Ross Perot.

3. “At the start of the Munich Games in August 1972, Lasse Viren, a 23-year-old Finnish policeman from the small village of Myrskyla, was not widely known. Indeed, the heats of the 10,000 metres were his Olympic debut. But when he stumbled and fell just before the halfway mark in the final his chance of victory seemed to have gone.

The Tunisian Mohamed Gammoudi (who had won the 5,000 metres at the 1968 Olympics) tripped over Viren and gave up two laps later. But the Finnish runner calmly got to his feet and chased his way back into contention, overtaking Britain’s David Bedford, the long-time leader, to not only win the gold medal, but set a world record of 27min 38.4sec. Ten days later, he also won the 5,000m (in an Olympic record time) – a double that he repeated in Montreal in 1976”

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

Stick to it

By Randy Baker

Pivot! Pivot! Pivot!

Seriously…it has been a long time since I have heard such BS…

A month ago, your “expert” business was doing fine…

You were providing solutions…
Fixing stuff…
Solving problems.

But today…not so good, right?

Things have changed…
Peoples problems have changed…

So the experts tell you to pivot…
To do something new.

WORST ADVICE EVER!

If something doesn’t work…. Give up and try something else?

Why not just find a better way of doing what you are great at…
Especially when the cause of the change is not related to you – or your client?

Why stop doing what you are good at to try something else?

Here’s a better solution…

Your product and solution are probably still top notch…
But it is your messaging that is wrong in today’s world…

Fix your messaging to apply to tomorrows problems…

And deliver the solution you know will work…
Just like you always have…

And you will be in a great position in the future.

Don’t pivot… refocus, rebrand and rebuild with tomorrows needs in mind.

This is how The Core does it…

And now you can too.
The Core: Your answer to the pivot!

Let’s go.

Is Covid-19 the end of Handshakes?

By Ahmed Yahaya Joe

The earliest handshake in recorded history is on an antique mural stored at the British Museum dated the 9th century BC. It depicts the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III sealing an agreement with a Babylonian monarch. Are handshakes really necessary? A firm one looking at the other party eyeball to eyeball conveys fidelity and even when necessary signifies apology. A handshake formalizes a relationship either business, casual or even political.

A handshake is a form of non verbal communication; that says this is whom I am.
“The handshake has existed in some form or another for thousands of years, but its origins are somewhat murky. One popular theory is that the gesture began as a way of conveying peaceful intentions. By extending their empty right hands, strangers could show that they were not holding weapons and bore no ill will toward one another.

Some even suggest that the up-and-down motion of the handshake was supposed to dislodge any knives or daggers that might be hidden up a sleeve. Yet another explanation is that the handshake was a symbol of good faith when making an oath or promise. When they clasped hands, people showed that their word was a sacred bond.”
In medieval Japan they didn’t shake hands. Rather they “pissed together” by simultaneously urinating into a bowl.

Meanwhile, Indians taught the world the type of gesture with which Donald Trump welcomed the Irish Prime Minister to the White House on March 12, 2020. Israel’s Netenyahu, Canada’s Trudeau and the Prince of Wales are also acolytes of that hand shake equivalent called Namatse “derived from the Sanskrit language, formed by joining two words – ‘Namas’ which means ‘bow’, ‘adorations’, ‘obeisance’ and ‘salutation’; and ‘te’ means ‘to you’. Therefore, meaning ‘bowing to you’.”

Did we shake hands before the coming of the European conquest? I have my doubts because the Arabs that arrived long before Oyibo through the Trans Saharan Trade, kiss on both cheeks as a form of greeting. The use of handshaking was made a religious ritual during the celebration of the Eucharist by the Roman Catholic Church known as the “exchange of peace”

Nigeria’s most famous handshake was between General Yakubu Gowon and the erstwhile Head of State of Biafra, Col Phillip Effiong that took place in the council chambers at Dodan Barracks on January 15, 1970. Their handshake ended a bitter 30 month unneccesary war between brothers which genuinely ended with “No victor, no vanquished” Little wonder the 70s were Nigeria’s most prosperous years. No Nigerian leader has replicated the unusual candor of the Gowonian days with the notable exemption of the architect of the Niger Delta Amnesty – Umar Musa Yar’adua of blessed memory.

I particularly find the handshake between Israeli leader Menachem Begin and President Anwar Sadat iconic. It was to formalize the Camp David agreement after 30 years of hostility between the Arab world and Jews which returned Egypt’s Suez region and part of the Golan Heights to Syria that took place at the Rose Garden of White House in 1977 during the adminstration of Jimmy Carter. Another unforgettable handshake was between Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk signifying the end of the atrocious era of Apartheid and the beginning of Black majority rule in South Africa.

Interestingly, in the traditional core North you don’t shake hands with your seniors or women. However, when Lt Col Hassan Usman Katsina became the military governor of the North (now 19 states) he embarked on a region wide tour. On getting to Katsina where his polo playing dad, Usman Nagogo MBE was emir he was compelled to shake hands as protocol dictated. Reportedly, the governor’s twin brother Hussein, then a ranking title holder went viral on the “sacrilege” During the IBB era, Margaret Thatcher touched down in Kano during her state visit before proceeding to Lagos. Her handshake with Emir Ado Bayero caused no small consternation back then.

To whom it may concern; with the Covid-19 pandemic please do not be offended if I refuse to shake hands with you when next we meet. No offence intended as I don’t carry any knife up my sleeve. Doing a Namatse doesn’t make you Hindu nor Buddhist. The world is now a global village. Besides keeping safe in a time of Covid-19 is paramount!

DID YOU KNOW THESE THINGS HAD NAMES?


The space between your eyebrows is called a glabella


The way it smells after the rain is called petrichor.




The plastic or metallic coating at the end of your shoelaces is called an aglet.





The rumbling of stomach is actually called a wamble.






The cry of a new born baby is called a vagitus.





The prongs on a fork are called tines.




The sheen or light that you see when you close your eyes and press your hands on them is called phosphenes.



The tiny plastic table placed in the middle of a pizza box is called a box tent.




The day after tomorrow is called overmorrow.




Your tiny toe or finger is called minimus.



The wired cage that holds the cork in a bottle of champagne is called an agraffe.





The ‘na na na’ and ‘la la la’, which don’t really have any meaning in the lyrics of any song, are called vocables.




When you combine an exclamation mark with a question mark (like this ?!), it is referred to as an interrobang.



The space between your nostrils is called columella nasi


The armhole in clothes, where the sleeves are sewn, is called armscye.


The condition of finding it difficult to get out of the bed in the morning is called dysania.


Unreadable hand -writing is called griffonage.

The dot over an “i” or a “j” is called tittle.



That utterly sick feeling you get after eating or drinking too much is called crapulence.

The metallic device used to measure your feet at the shoe store is called Bannock device.

WE ARE NOT IN THE SAME BOAT: Covid19

Author Unknown …

I heard that we are in the same boat. But it’s not like that. We are in the same storm, but not in the same boat. Your ship can be shipwrecked and mine might not be. Or vice versa. For some, quarantine is optimal: moment of reflection, of re-connection. Easy, in flip flops, with a whiskey or tea.

For others, this is a desperate crisis. For others it is facing loneliness. For some, a peace, rest time, vacation.

Yet for others, Torture: How am I going to pay my bills?
Some were concerned about a brand of chocolate for Easter (this year there were no rich chocolates).

Others were concerned about the bread for the weekend, or if the noodles would last for a few more days.
Some were in their “home office” .

Others are looking through trash to survive.
Some want to go back to work because they are running out of money.

Others want to kill those who break the quarantine.
Some need to break the quarantine to stand in line at the banks. Others to escape. Others criticize the government for the lines.

Some have experienced the near death of the virus, some have already lost someone from it, some are not sure their loved ones are going to make it, and some don’t even believe this is a big deal. Some of us who are well now may end up experiencing it, and some believe they are infallible and will be blown away if or when this hits someone they know.

Some have faith in God and expect miracles during this 2020.
Others say the worse is yet to come.

So, friends, we are not in the same boat. We are going through a time when our perceptions and needs are completely different.
And each one will emerge, in his own way, from that storm.

Some with a tan from their pool. Others with scars on the soul (for invisible reasons). It is very important to see beyond what is seen at first glance. Not just looking, more than looking, seeing.

See beyond the political party, beyond religion, beyond the nose on your face.
Do not underestimate the pain of others if you do not feel it.

Do not judge the good life of the other, do not condemn the bad life of the other. Don’t be a judge. Let us not judge the one who lacks, as well as the one who exceeds him.

We are on different ships looking to survive. Let everyone navigate their route with respect, empathy and responsibility.

Be safe and Help others to be safe…LIFE is Important.

Nigeria at the mercy of quacks

Many Nigerians; including this writer, embark on self medication because our health care delivery system is grossly inadequate and therefore not economically convenient. And since a generality of Nigerians are not covered by form of Health Insurance, water will always find its level with precarious alternative of Bush Doctors in neighborhood “chemists” and on commercial buses. Others parade markets and other public places some with loudspeakers hawking various concoctions.

The WHO considers 1 doctor per 1000 persons “insufficient” but in Nigeria it is 1 doctor per 4222 persons according to the National Population Commission.
I do not know which part of the moon Dr Chris Ngige lives on because according to him;

“We have more than enough doctors. You can quote me. We have surplus. If you have surplus, you export. There is nothing wrong in them travelling out. When they go abroad, they earn money and send them back home here.”

This was the Labour minister’s response that was broadcast by Channels TV on April 24, 2019 when he was queried about the mass exodus of medical professionals from Nigeria. Ngige’s position clearly contradicts that of his erstwhile colleague on the Federal Executive Council, former Health minister, Prof Isaac Adewole who had previously in May 2018 declared at a conference of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) that they were 88,692 registered doctors in Nigeria out which only 45,000 were practicing in Nigeria – the rest abroad. This simply means in reality there is about 1 doctor per 8000 persons in Nigeria. I nevertheless humbly stand to be corrected.

According to the register of General Medical Council there were 5250 Nigerian doctors practicing in UK as at 2017. However, in 2018 the number had risen to 6289. An increase of more than 1000 in just one year! Interestingly, that represents a third of a total of 3230 doctors graduated by the 32 medical faculties in Nigeria out of a total of 174 NUC approved universities in Nigeria.

Nigerian doctors and other medical professionals understandably flee abroad for more renumeration and better working conditions. Let us not talk about lack of patriotism because we all know how impossible it is to get admission to either read medicine or pharmacy in Nigeria.

The topic of conversation should be why is our nation not investing in medical education. For instance, in the North West geopolitical zone only ABU, BUK and Sokoto have the capacity to produce 120,100 and 100 doctors respectively based on the approved quota for 2018 by the Medical & Dental Council of Nigeria. In the entire North East only UniMaid has the quota to produce 150 doctors. The highest quota in Nigeria of 180 is allocated to University of Ibadan. The lowest of 50 is allocated to the 5 partially accredited medical schools that include that of Benue State University headed by my good friend Prof Linus Saalu. In overall context out of the 32 medical faculties in Nigeria only 8 are in the North out of which 6 are federal owned (Unijos, Unilorin, Unimaid, UDUS, ABU, BUK) then that of Benue state as earlier mentioned and the ECWA owned Bingham University, Karu in Nasarawa state.

How has the preponderance of political appointments to the North alleviated health care delivery for the Talakawa in Nigeria’s must densely population region that produces only 15 dental surgeons annually out of a national turnout of 175?
What is the way forward? But before answering let us look at the number of pharmacists of which the following report speaks volumes;

“The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) has expressed fear on the rising number of pharmacists who are emigrating from Nigeria to seek for a “better life abroad.”

Speaking with press men at the commencement ceremony of the Pharmacy Week 2019, Chairman of PSN, Oyo State chapter, Abiodun Ajibade, said: “Pharmacists population in Nigeria is very low, this is in spite of the great potentials for growth occasioned by continuous emigration of Pharmacists whom Nigeria has spent heavily to train as a result of poor practice environment.” According to Ajibade, “Out of less than 30,000 total population of practicing Pharmacists in Nigerian, over five thousand of them have gone outside the country.”

According to a post on Bloomberg.com entitled Trapped by Coronavirus, Nigerian Elite Faces Squalid Hospitals dated April 2, 2020 there are 180,709 registered nurses and 0.5% hospital beds per 1000 persons in Nigeria. But more disturbing than this is the report by Inspire Nurses Network Africa, an NGO, that “90 per cent of Nigerian Nurses lacked basic life support skills on emergency care.”

The way forward is obvious; the cost of running our democracy must be reduced starting with the National Assembly. As long as state governors and LG chair persons are not held accountable on “security votes” Nigerians will continue to be at the mercy of (Quacks) Bush Doctors!