WHY ME? A Beautiful Message

By Arthur Ashe.

Arthur Ashe was the legendary Wimbledon Tennis Player who was dying of AIDS, which he got due to Infected Blood he received during a Heart Surgery in 1983!

As he lay sick, he received letters from his fans, one of which asked:

“Why did God have to select you for such a bad disease?”

To this Arthur Ashe replied:

50 Million children started playing Tennis,

5 Million learnt to play Tennis,

500 000 learnt Professional Tennis,

50 Thousand came to Circuit,

5 Thousand reached Grand Slam,

50 reached Wimbledon,

4 reached the Semifinals,

2 reached the Finals and

when, I , was holding the winner’s cup in my hand, I never asked God

“Why Me?”

So now that I’m in pain how can I ask God

“Why Me?”

Happiness keeps you Sweet!

Trials keep you Strong!

Sorrows keep you Human!

Failure keeps you Humble!

Success keeps you Glowing!

But only, Faith keeps you Going!

Sometimes you are not satisfied with your life, while many people in this world are dreaming of living your life.

A child on a farm sees a plane fly overhead dreams of flying. but, a pilot on the plane sees the farmhouse & dreams of returning home.

That’s life!

Enjoy yours… If wealth is the secret to happiness, then the rich should be dancing on the streets.

But only poor kids do that.

If power ensures security, then VIPs should walk unguarded.
But those who live simply, sleep soundly.

If beauty and fame bring ideal relationships, then celebrities should have the best marriages.

Live simply, be happy! Walk humbly before God and men, and love genuinely, for God our father is LOVE!

WHY ME?

A Beautiful Message not just to read and forward to others, but to apply practically in our personal lives.
Good day, folks!

Please take time to share the pieces above.

Blessings.

Nigeria@60

“The trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership. There is nothing basically wrong with the Nigerian character. There is nothing wrong with the Nigerian land or climate or water or air or anything else. The Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the responsibility, to the challenge of personal example which are the hallmarks of true leadership………..

“One of the commonest manifestations of under-development is a tendency among the ruling elite to live in a world of make-believe and unrealistic expectations. This is the cargo cult mentality that anthropologists sometimes speak about – a belief by backward people that someday, without any exertion whatsoever on their own part, a fairy ship will dock in their harbour laden with every goody they have always dreamed of possessing………

“In spite of conventional opinion Nigeria has been less than fortunate in its leadership. A basic element of this misfortune is the seminal absence of intellectual rigour in the political thought of our founding fathers – a tendency to pious materialistic woolliness and self-centred pedestrianism…………..

“But whereas tribalism might win enough votes to install a reactionary jingoist in a tribal ghetto, the cult of mediocrity will bring the wheels of modernization grinding to a halt throughout the land.
Unlucky is the country where indiscipline is seen by ordinary people as the prerogative of the high and might. For, by the same token, discipline will be seen as a penalty which the rank and file must pay for their powerlessness………

“My frank and honest opinion is that anybody who can say that corruption in Nigeria has not yet become alarming is either a fool, a crook or else does not live in this country”

– Chinua Acbebe (1983)

Culled from Ahmed Yahaya Joe on Facebook

NIGERIA: Nation of leaders, not followers

BBC’s Martin Patience is leaving Nigeria after 2 years. I listened to a recap of his lessons learned in a version of the ‘From Our Own Correspondent’ yesterday. Below is a transcribed excerpt of his version.
________________________________

”Nigeria is truly the maddest place I have ever had the pleasure of living in. It’s a country that constantly feels on the brink but never quite goes over the edge.

“It feels like you are living in a giant soap opera with all the joy and tragedy that goes with it. It is a nation blessed or burdened with extraordinary cast of characters.

“It can make you want to cry with laughter or with tears. ‘’where else?’’ said a friend.

“That you have to bribe the attendant in a lift just to be allowed out of it; or you will be hassled in a church for a donation or where you will go to a lost but found office only to be told that nothing has been handed in this entire year. What you may not have heard about is the sheer exuberance of this country.

“They should hand out ear plugs in Nigerian weddings because the noise is so intense! Millions truly believe that tomorrow could be the day they make it big. The language here is unbelievably colorful.

“A top official once described a former president as an honest fool, who held the horn while the others milk the cow.

“I have never ever lived anywhere like Nigeria! It’s exhausting and exhilarating but never is there a dull a day.

“I was recently sitting in a plane and we were taxiing out to the runway; a pilot piped up in an intercom, ‘’a passenger’’ he said, ‘’was rude to an air hostess’’. ‘’I ask you the passengers’’, he said, ‘’to intervene, because unless he apologizes, we will have to go back to the terminal and unload him’’.

“A queue of about a dozen people surrounding the man, shouting at him to apologize. He refused, so the pilot did indeed turn the plane back towards the boarding gate. And then finally, the man, realizing his number was up, said sorry.

“The pilot was back on the intercom, ‘’I will like to thank you all for intervening’’ he said with obvious delight, ‘’ we are now off to Lagos’’.

“For all the drama and frustrations, one friend summed up Nigerians’ best, ‘’they have remarkable patience’’ he argued. ‘’but for the wrong things.

“They put up with lack of clean water, poor access to health care, rotten schools and crumbling infrastructure.’’ Many Nigerians are fiercely independent. This is a nation of leaders and not followers.”

#copied

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

When You’re 40

IF YOU ARE ABOVE 40 YRS OF AGE OR APPROACHING THE MARK, HEALTH HINTS FOR YOU

A. Two things to check as often as you can:
(1) Your blood pressure
(2) Your blood sugar

B. Four things to reduce to the minimum on your foods:
(1) Salt
(2) sugar
(3) dairy products
(4) starchy products

C. Four things to increase in your foods:
(1) Greens/vegetables
(2) beans
(3) fruits
(4) nuts

D. Three things you need to forget:
(1) Your age
(2) your past
(3) your grievances

E. Four things you must have, no matter how weak or how strong you are:
(1) Friends who truly love you
(2) caring family
(3) positive thoughts
(4) a warm home.

F. Five things you need to do to stay healthy:
(1) fasting
(2) smiling / laughing
(3) trek / exercise
(4) reduce your weight.

G. Six things you don’t have to do:
(1) Don’t wait till you are hungry to eat
(2) don’t wait till you are thirsty to drink
(3) don’t wait till you are sleepy to sleep
(4) don’t wait till you feel tired to rest
(5) don’t wait till you get sick to go for medical check-ups otherwise you will only regret later in life
(6) don’t wait till you have problem before you pray to your God.

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF !!!

*Copied

More to IQ

IQ , EQ , SQ , AQ

…..According to psychologists, there are four types of intelligence:

1) Intelligence Quotient 0(IQ)
2) Emotional Quotient (EQ)
3) Social Quotient (SQ)
4) Adversity Quotient (AQ)

1. Intelligence Quotient (IQ): This is the measure of your comprehension ability”, solve maths; memorize things and recall subject matters.

2. Emotional Quotient (EQ): This is the measure of your ability to maintain peace with others; keep to time; be responsible; be honest; respect boundaries; be humble, genuine and considerate.

3. Social Quotient (SQ):
This is the measure of your ability to build a network of friends and maintain it over a long period of time.

People that have higher EQ and SQ tend to go farther in life than those with high IQ but low EQ and SQ. Most schools capitalize in improving IQ level while EQ and SQ are played down.

A man of high IQ can end up being employed by a man of high EQ and SQ even though he has an average IQ.

Your EQ represents your character; your SQ represents your charisma. Give in to habits that will improve these three Qs but more especially your EQ and SQ.

EQ and SQ make one manage better than the other.

Pls don’t teach children only to have higher IQ , but also to have higher EQ and SQ.

Now there is a 4th one:
A new paradigm

4. The Adversity Quotient (AQ):
The measure of your ability to go through a rough patch in life and come out without losing your mind. AQ determines who will give up in face of troubles and may abandon their families.

To parents:
Expose children to other areas of life than academic. They should adore manual work (never use work as a form of punishment), sport and art .

Develop their EQ, SQ and AQ. They should become multifaceted human beings able to do things independently of the parents.

Finally, do not prepare the road for the children. Prepare the children for the road.

*Copied

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.

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.

On Religious Tolerance: From the Archive

By Abba Kyari: 12 January 2014.

(Sent: Sunday, January 12, 2014, 9:29:03 AM GMT+1)

Subject: Re: Religious Tolerance:

The centrality of religious identity in our society in the last two decades or so, fills me with grief, in a society where people lived together and socialised together.

Two Friday’s ago, I was in Wusasa for the funeral service of late Mrs Yarbaba Baikie, wife of Prof Adamu Baikie. The service was attended by both Christians and Muslims.Mrs Baikie, a Hausa from Kano was the only Christian in her family. Every Easter and every Christmas, her Muslim relatives will come to Zaria and join in the celebrations. Every Eid–twice a year too– she and her family will travel to Kano for the celebrations. That has been the practise until she died.

If you visited the Baikie household during the period of mourning, you will not fail to notice the age old practice of living together and socialising together. Not even Jerry Gana could tell who is a Christian and who is a Muslim, apart from the people he knows.

I attended St Paul’s College, Wusasa. It was an Anglican Mission secondary school but was 75% grant aided by the Northern Nigerian government without any interference in its running. It was an Anglican school.

Although the majority of the students were Christians, there were a few Muslims too. That was never an issue, we were all students, majority of us never knew who came from where. It was only last year when I went to Lokoja for the funeral service of a classmate’s mother that I discovered one of our classmates is from Edo state-47 years later.

In form one, when I chose to take Bible knowledge, I was denied, because it would not look like my voluntary choice. It was only in form three that i was allowed. Every morning, all the Muslims stayed out in an adjacent classroom during the morning mass before we were allowed into to the hall for general assembly. Every Sunday during service all the Muslim students must attend Muslim students meeting. Every Friday all the Muslims students are gathered and put in the the school van and driven to the juma’a mosque in Zaria City.

Every Ramadan Muslim students were woken at 3 am for sahur, for a freshly cooked meal and not leftovers. In my five years, we had two Head Boys who were Muslims. In all our social activities religion was NEVER an issue. It is only against the backdrop of what is happening today that one is recounting these examples, then they meant nothing.

About 22 years ago, I was the best man at a wedding in Owo between an Ibo catholic and Yoruba Anglican. It was not an issue. I am the godfather to the first son of that union.

The religion that is ‘dividing’ our communities, is not the religion of God, it is the religion of Nigerians, it is the religion mammon. It is all about fight for political and economic space by a very few people,creating chaos and bloodshed.

©Abba Kyari: 2014

The Awesome Power of Forgiveness

By Ahmed Yahaya Joe

I have just finished watching a BBC documentary that featured the attached family (L-R) Rizqy Setiawan, Iwan Setiawan and Sarah Setiawan flanking Ahmad Hassan (2nd from L) Iwan is the father of Rizqy and Sarah.

Meanwhile, Ahmad Hassan is on death row. He was one of the conspirators of a bomb attack that killed Iwan’s wife, the mother of Rizqy and Sarah. The program put together by the maverick BBC reporter Rebecca Henschke was such a profound experience for me. It is a poignant reminder that the best way to fight against evil is through forgiveness. As Abraham Lincoln famously asked;

“Do I not destroy my enemies by making them my friends?”

“Setiawan was on his motorbike, speeding past the Australian embassy in Jakarta. His mind was on his wife, whose arms were around his chest and whose pregnant belly he could feel pressing against his back. Their second child was due within weeks and they were on their way to hospital for a check-up. Suddenly there was this incredibly loud sound and we were thrown into the air,” he remembers. Iwan didn’t know till much later that it was a suicide bomb, planted by a militant group a responsible for a series of attacks in Indonesia, including the Bali bombing in 2002 that killed 202 people from around the world. “I saw blood. Lots of blood. Metal went flying into one of my eyes, destroying it. His wife was thrown from the bike, landing metres away. Both were rushed to hospital and, in a state of shock, a badly injured Halila Seroja Daulay went into labour.

She was rushed into the operating room after getting contractions. But praise be to Allah, somehow she was still able to give birth naturally,” Iwan says. That night Rizqy was born. His name means “blessing”
According to Setiawan “I lost my best friend, my soul mate, the person who completed me. It’s so painful to talk about it,”. At first, he was filled with a desire for revenge. “I wanted the arrested conspirators to die, but I didn’t want them to die quickly,” he says. “I wanted them to be tortured first. I wanted their skin to be cut and salt put in the wounds so that they had some idea of the pain their bombing caused, both physically and mentally. My children and I have struggled so incredibly hard just to keep living.”

The car bomb attack that killed Mrs Setiawan went off at 10.30 am Jakarta time on September 9, 2004. It killed the suicide bomber that triggered it, 8 others, injured 150 and destroyed not just the Australian embassy but that of Greece and China shattering glass windows up to half a kilometer away. 6 persons were eventually arrested and sentenced to death. They are currently cooling off their heels in a maximum security prison on a jungle covered island that the surviving Setiawan family members met Ahmad Hassan including the mastermind of the bomb attack Darmawan Munto Rois. Setiawan senior had all previously met them before bringing his children along. Who by way of introduction started;
“I have invited my children to meet you, I want them to understand too why you did the bombing that killed their mother and caused me to lose one of my eyes. They have to know because they lost their mother when they were so young” Ahmad Hassan nods solemnly and replies;
“I never wanted to hurt your father, he just happened to be passing by, and my friend who was carrying the bomb blew it up at that time. I hope that you, the children of Iwan, can forgive me.” His voice starts to break.

“I am a flawed human. I have made many mistakes. My friends and I were given the wrong education and learning. I wish that we hadn’t acted before we had really gained knowledge and understood what we were doing,” he continued.
Sarah summons up courage and says; “I would always ask my dad when I was little, ‘Where is my mum?’ and he told me she was at Allah’s house. I asked where that was, and he said it was the mosque. So I ran away to the mosque. My grandmother was looking for me, and when she found me I told her that I was waiting for my mum. I was waiting for my mum to come home. But she has never come home.”

“Hassan closes his eyes and opens his hands in prayer. Over and over he mumbles a prayer seeking forgiveness from Allah. “Allah wanted me to have to meet you and be forced to try and explain,” he finally manages to say. “But I can’t explain to you my child, I am sorry. “I can’t hold back my tears. I take Sarah as my own child. Please, please forgive me. It’s in your hands.” Everyone in this tiny room is crying – except the mastermind and financier of the bomb attack who on his part stated; “I have a child, too. I haven’t seen my wife or child for years. I really miss them. I am even worse off than you. You’re still with your children. My child doesn’t even know me.” Darmawan continued “I didn’t do what they said I did. Why did I admit to it? Maybe when you are older you will understand” he said directly to the Setiawan children but added

“All humans have made mistakes. If I have wronged you in any way I apologise. I feel pain. I really do”

The entire meeting is part of a De-radicalisation program by the Indonesian government that brings captured terrorists and their victims face to face many of which have found healing and moved on with their lives without bitterness. Quite a number of the terrorists have also recanted because they are kept in isolation. Without their death sentences carried out and group solidarity they break down. Can the same template be applied in Nigeria? Will one day Shekau pose for a photograph holding hands with the Sharibu family? Are terrorists not actually pawns on a chessboard they neither understand nor have real control over? Truth is the real terrorist grandmasters never blow up themselves or get in any harms way.

They always pose as good guys because terrorism is the continuation of politics by other means. That not withstanding there is power in forgiveness.

The various aftermaths of the Nigerian Civil War during the Oil Boom 70s, the emergence of a Rainbow Nation after dismantling of Apartheid in South Africa and the current soaring of Rwanda after the Hutu genocide against Tutsis are all examples of that awesome power.