Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Urgent Apeal: Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Lionel Galway British Thief who stole 16th Century Benin Ivory To Sell for £5 Million

STOLEN OUT OF AFRICA: A 16th century ivory mask looted by the British during an invasion of Benin in West Africa (Nigeria) in 1897 is set to go for £ 5 Million at auction at Sotheby's ( Phone :+44 (0) 20 7293 5000) in London . It was kept by the family of British commissioner Lt Col Henry Galway and recently resurfaced

Urgent Apeal: Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Lionel Galway was a British commissioner in colonial Nigeria. During the invasion he stole a 16th century Ivory mask from Benin City. His family is now putting the stolen Ivory for sale for £5 Million at Sotheby’s in London. We urgently require a UK based Nigerian lawyer to get injunction against the sale. Please e mail or BB 21659292 . For several Years the British claimed they do not know about the mask only for the mask to resurface in the family home of Henry Galway and rather than get the mask back they are putting it for sale.

Kayode Ogundamisi

The Thief Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Lionel Galway

The 'Gallwey Treaty', although it was never signed, became the legal basis for British invasion, occupation, and looting, culminating in the savage Benin Expedition of 1897, which destroyed the Kingdom of Benin. Galway was often mentioned in dispatches during this time, and was rewarded with the Distinguished Service Order (1896), appointment as Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (1899) and promotion to major (1897).


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Ivory pendant mask, Edo people, Kingdom of Benin, Nigeria. Estimate: £3,500,000-4,500,000. Photo: Sotheby's.
LONDON.- On 17th February 2011, Sotheby’s will sell a rare, newly re-discovered, 16th century ivory pendant mask depicting the head of the Queen mother from the Edo peoples, Kingdom of Benin in Nigeria along with five other rare works from Benin collected at the same time.

Only four other historical ivory pendant masks with related iconography of this age and quality are known – all of which are housed in major museums around the world1. All of the ivory masks are widely recognized for the quality of their craftsmanship, for the enormous scale of Benin’s artistic achievement and for their importance in the field of African art. Produced for the Oba (or King) of Benin, these ivory pendant masks are testament to the Kingdom of Benin’s golden age when the kingdom flourished economically, politically and artistically.

The masks rank among the most iconic works of art to have been created in Africa. The mask to be sold at Sotheby’s in February is estimated at £3.5-4.5* million. It had been on public view in 1947 as part of a loan exhibition at the Berkeley Galleries in London entitled ‘Ancient Benin’, and then again in 1951 in ‘Traditional Sculpture from the Colonies’ at the Arts Gallery of the Imperial Institute in London.

The mask and the five other Benin objects will be sold by the descendants of Lieutenant Colonel Sir Henry Lionel Gallwey (in 1913 he changed his name to Galway) who was appointed deputy commissioner and vice-consul in the newly established Oil Rivers Protectorate (later the Niger Coast Protectorate) in 1891. He remained in Nigeria until 1902 and participated in the British Government’s “Punitive Expedition” of 1897 against Benin City. The faces of the five known pendant masks have been interpreted widely by scholars of Benin art as that of Idia, the first Queen Mother of Benin.

The mother of the Oba Esigie (c. 1504 – 1550), Idia was granted the title of Iyoba (Queen Mother) by Esigie in recognition of her help and counsel during his military campaigns. Idia remains a celebrated figure in Benin, known as the ‘only woman who went to war’. The masks were created at least in part as objects of veneration. The worn and honey-coloured surface of the offered mask attests to years of rubbing with palm oil, and surface as well as the style of carving is most similar to the example in The Seattle Art Museum.

The mask comes to auction together with: a highly important carved tusk made with a group of other similarly carved tusks for the altar of an Oba who lived in the 18th century. The imagery presented depicts emblems of power and strength which are related to the life of the Oba himself. The iconography is specific, and can be seen repeated across many arts forms in Benin, including the well-documented bronze plaques. The collection also includes two richly carved ivory armlets which incorporate many of the panoply of motifs used by the artists of the Igbesanmwan, the Royal Guild of ivory carvers.

As with most ivory carvings, these were more than likely made for an Oba, as he would have had complete control over the production of works of art made from precious ivory. Also in the collection is a rare bronze armlet, cast with Portuguese figures in an openwork motif. The earliest appearance of the Portuguese in plaques and free-standing figures and bracelets in the 16th and 17th century was undoubtedly calculated by the Benin to add considerable prestige to the Oba and his courts demonstrating that his power extended beyond the confines of his own people.

Finally, the collection includes a very rare bronze sculpture of a type historically identified as tusk stands. The twisted and hollowed form of this stand suggests it served the same function as the more familiar bronze commemorative heads, as a stand for a carved ivory tusk on an altar created to honour a former ruler.

*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium

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Monday, 22 November 2010

Governor Babatunde Fashola Indicts Bola Tinubu, Jakande, Buba Marwa.....

Governor Babatunde Fashola Indicts Bola Tinubu, Jakande, Buba Marwa and past Lagos Governors. “For about 30 years nothing new was built in Lagos. That is the reality…. ….. In the last 3 years we have put in 165 kilometers of new roads, 77 are under construction at the moment and to be completed in about 6 months time.”

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Nigerian Election 2011. The Battle For The "Cyber Generation"

Team Ribadu is a late starter in the cyber space and due to the mysterious nature of the Ribadu Campaign many Ribadu fans are migrating to either the Buhari or Goodluck Camp

Crestfallen is the best way to describe the Ribadu followers as they expect a more aggressive campaign and from the camp of the former anti-corruption bigwig. Observers note a level of “reluctance” on the part of Ribadu to jump into the “murky waters of Nigerian politics” as he would have to “relate and associate” with most if not a larger number of politicians he indicted as head of EFCC. Ribadu candidacy is the dark horse that may well be the surprise of the 2011 Presidential Election.

Team Ribadu

Team Goodluck. Till date the most creative of the Presidential Hopefuls with almost 200,000 fan base and the power of incumbency the Goodluck Team is spending a lot on mass text messaging and remain till date the most creative of the aspirants.

Team Goodluck may have everything going right with “new generation” campaign but it is surely not getting the votes on the ground in terms of support from the relevant power blocks. The team is yet to get the South West political block in shape and it is sure not getting enough from the North. The Appointment of the Nigerian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom (a political lightweight from the North) and that of Gbenga Daniels (a very controversial and fast waning political lightweight from the South West) is the first sign of weakness from the Goodluck camp. In Nigerian politics any shift of momentum to the Goodluck camp will see other’s “falling in line” in a country not lacking in political opportunism.

Team Goodluck

Team Momodu is very well-liked amongst the entertainment and flash youth crowd. Underestimated but gaining a lot of attention from youth within the entertainment industry it is seen as the “jester” candidate but Momodu is getting few reviews in the mainstream media but quite active on social network media.

Team Momodu

TEAM IBB Team IBB is the most aggressive of all the candidates. Despite being the most loathed team. IBB is getting all the media attention mostly for the wrong reasons but with it come the advantage of “THE TEAM TO BE AFRAID OF”. It is believed that the GEJ team see IBB as the main threat to the incumbent’s ambition and that is based on the assumption that whomever wins the ruling PDP ticket is a sure bet to be sworn in as President in 2011.

IBB The Man They All Hate To Like!

Team Buhari is described as “cyber shy” the team seem to emphasise on the old style politics of “ground mobilisation” the team is gaining more ground in Northern Nigeria amongst the poor and may be the team that will “give the PDP a run for the money in the north” If politics is about grass root mobilisation team Buhari is an epitome of building from the scratch, what it lacks is the “National Spread” as it is yet to make in roads to the South of Nigeria and may just need an alliance to give the PDP a good fight Nationally. Team Buhari has a small but voiciferous following on Facebook.

Team Donald Duke. Since declaring his intention to run for the office of the president in Nigeria, mum is the word from the former Nigerian governor. suave and creative, Mr Duke took a shocking step described as “un-Nigerian” to reveal how elections are rigged in Nigeria by himself and several Nigerian politicians. Not so much is coming from Donald Duke and he his not really seen to take advantage of the cyber-generation.

Team Duke

Team Atiku: A controversial candidate who is used to “fighting adversaries” Team Atiku is largely absent from the cyber space. Very well referred to as the “barbers chair” of Nigerian politics Atikus tendency to “decamp” at the slightest provocation is working against him as he finds it difficult to get a strong hold of the PDP a party he left for the mainly South West based AC. A founding member of the Yar’Adua PDM political network Atiku is a wheeler dealer who should not be dismissed. He may not be able to win the PDP primaries but like most contenders in the race Atiku may be playing for relevance in the scheme of events.

Team Atiku

Monday, 16 August 2010

Not God! Not Jerry Rawlings! Only Nigerians Can Save Nigeria From Them! Written by Kayode Ogundamisi.

Not God! Not Jerry Rawlings! Only Nigerians Can Save Nigeria From Them! Written by Kayode Ogundamisi.

You must be wondering who “they” are! Well, ‘they’ would be the political gladiators and the men and women who hold sway in Nigeria as the custodians of our destiny. I know you would also want to ask me where they want to have us. Well, they want us to feel dejected, believe there is nothing we can do.

If you go through most of the write ups by op ed writers and blogs, you find a common theme of calling on God (predominantly amongst those who believe in a supreme being) to come and liberate us from the celestial human lords who hold sway in Abuja and all the nook and crannies of Nigeria. But do you blame Nigerians? Even the most liberal of critics, in private, discuss the state of hopelessness.

One public thinker recently opined that only a bloody Jerry Rawlings model revolution can save us from the blood sucking vampires we call political leaders in Nigeria Those who have tried every democratic option from civil disobediences, open letters, lobbying, campaign, blogging are now so tired that some simply say they will not mind a Thomas Sankara model military coup to save us from a leadership long on facebook promises and short on delivering even the most basic of needs and electoral promises. What is most appalling are those who surround the current president of Nigeria Goodluck Jonathan. The same men and women who fret at the mention of the name of certain cabals of few months past, have now turned themselves into a new cabal.

They who kept quiet when the constitution of our Country was being trampled upon, are now the ones who feign surprise when we question the profligacy of the new man in the saddle. Like Musa Yar’Adua, the current President appears to be a prisoner of some sort - imprisoned by a greedy cabal.

Let us be clear, we seem to have replaced a mild gluttonous cabal with thirsty vampires. They flock together and do whatever they like. The voice of the people is of no consequence. The legacy of the current government would probably be a post mortem of Waste! Waste! Waste! And more Waste!

Let us take a look at the borrowing from the World Bank. A proposal to get a loan of One Hundred and Thirty Eight Billion Naira from the World Bank was justified by the minister of finance Segun Aganga with some Goldman Sach coated explanation before you could say Goodluck Nigeria. Anyone calling for a review was seen to be lacking in the understanding of how modern economics work. In Britain, from where the minister was borrowed, the government is cutting down on waste and saving for the future. Well the opposite is the case in Nigeria, a government going cap in hand to international financial institutions decided to budget a huge sum of money on a 50th anniversary celebration. By the time President Goodluck Jonathan “consulted” with his over 150,000 fans on face book and coordinated some gyrations with the PDP controlled law makers, the ‘owambe’ bill had risen to 17 billion Naira.

They were not finished yet, the President’s Power committee set up to look into the power palaver in Nigeria had budgeted almost 900 million naira on food, cars and hotel bills for 73 members of staff for an assignment that will last 12 calendar months. Not completely satisfied, Mr President and the men and women who swore to protect us, fancied some modern executive jets. If the men and women of God in churches can play with executive jets, why not spend 23.2 billion naira ($154.3 million) on a Gulf stream G550 and two new Falcon 7X Aircraft. What is wrong with the jets bought by Olusegun Obasanjo? They say it’s Tokunbo, how about the jets bought by Babangida? Not good enough? Well did Abacha not buy some too? They can’t find them.

We are in trouble, but we should not be overwhelmed, the battle to save Goodluck Jonathan from his own blood sucking cabal is now. After all, Goodluck did not fight to protect our constitution; neither did his array of special advisers. It was ordinary Nigerians who marched on the streets of Lagos, Abuja, New York, London and many more who rightly called on Turai to release power to a man who was only used to being in the shadow of his ogas.

His inexperience of taking the reigns of power have been brought to the fore in his allowance of some sycophants that have introduced the ethnic card, saying Goodluck Jonathan is spending “our oil money.” Niger Delta money? Is he spending it on the people of the Niger Delta? No. This man and those who surround him are milking your common wealth.

If Jonathan loves the Niger Delta so much, we should have witnessed oil clean up exercises going on in all nook and crannies of that blessed region. Like President Barack Obama did in America, our President would be taking a dive in at least one of the local rivers in the Niger Delta. But No! Mr President wants Jets, He wants to Party and He wants more money from the IMF. Our president is either in bondage, confused or at best unconcerned as it is “our time” to have a bite of the National Cake - oh sorry, the Niger Delta cake.

But it is not too late. The president can change. He will be excused if he spends a greater percentage of the money to clean up the mess in the Niger Delta, a place neglected by his government and governments before him. Surely, the President knows that loads of Ghana must go bags filled with millions of Naira given to some self styled militants won’t solve the problem in the Niger Delta. He must stop all the waste, the unnecessary spending. He should pick on one issue - be it holding credible elections, or even nationwide security, we will be forever grateful to him. He should not fail Nigeria the way those before him have failed our nation.

GEJ can put his foot down and write his name in gold. No one is denying him his God given right to contest in 2011, but he should not sacrifice Nigeria’s development for his own ambition by abandoning governance to the politics of “catch me if you can, will GEJ run or not run?”

For those of us who get frustrated by the minute, it is not the time to moan, it is the time to let go of our differences, support this government when it is doing what is right but stand in its way when it is going down the wrong path. Unfortunately at the moment, it appears to specialise in doing more wrong than right. We must not be overwhelmed; we can not give up on Nigeria. We don’t have a Rawlings waiting in a Nigerian barrack ready to liberate us from our fellow Nigerians. We are our own Rawlings when we start holding them to account.

For every one “liking” Jonathan’s Facebook page and telling him he is the best thing after the discovery of mobile telecommunications, you should not complain when he starts taking you for granted. We can not afford to fail our children; the campaign for change must not stop. We can go a step further, identify programmes for change.

In Nigeria, the Puritan is scarce but we can get something close to a revolution as a prelude to the full blown revolution. Maybe GEJ can still change to change Nigeria. That is a long shot maybe but the least change we need is enough change to stop this slow death. Siddon look is what they want us to do; being onlookers as they milk us dry will be a disservice to generations yet unborn.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Goodluck to Jonathan But Not On Obasanjo’s Recommendation Written by Kayode Ogundamisi

Goodluck to Jonathan But Not On Obasanjo’s Recommendation Written by Kayode Ogundamisi

Recently I heard someone say that history will record Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo as one of the greatest Nigerians ever. Whao! I felt my bowels do a somersault as my heart raced down to the pit of my stomach. Over and over I’ve heard people say that life is a bitch sometimes and it’s even full of revulsion but this is the mother of it all! Why in the world must fate always deal us terrible blows that leave scars that are just too hard to cope with?

So much has been said about the life and times of Gen Olusegun Obasanjo and more often than not we’ve found ourselves burdened with roller-coaster rides that we don’t need. The tragedy of it all is that we always find ourselves terribly bruised and battered at the end of each ride. Then, just as we hope we can catch our breath and heal from the bashing, he begins another ride, dragging us in without our consent.

We do our best to get over his re-emergence in this republic. We all must take responsibility for his second coming because we all were not paying enough attention to what was not so obvious and evident about this man.

He did a bang job of keeping dirt in our eyes by posturing as a David who just went through the valley of the shadow of death and was blessed to come out with his life. Of course a man who had tangoed with death should know how to live life better and show respect for his life and that of others. After all the sun was already setting on him and one would assume that a man who has been given the opportunity to re-write the story of his will make sure that every line is written in gold.

But we should have read the hand writing on the wall! I remember small talk and laughter that was milling around the camp of the PDP during the campaigns about how uncultured and crass Obasanjo was in his private space; he would throw a sandal at his wife because she erred. Some even said he was a jolly good fellow who was yet to recover from the psychological impact of prison life.

Now we know better as we watch this same man run wild in our political space in the last decade.
Going around like nothing short of an irredeemable psychopath, he has broken every law of human decorum and shocked us all beyond measure. It wasn’t enough that he ruled Nigeria like a megalomaniac on rampage in his household, when he realized that he could not perpetuate himself, he decided to cripple the country with his choice of successor. He made sure that because he couldn’t continue abusing Nigeria, nobody else would do it good.

We all know what has happened. We all heard him calling on God to punish him if he did what we accuse him of. Now fate has turned a new leaf for us and he is back with his malevolent inspiration to desecrate it. What makes Obasanjo think he could do just anything and get away with it? Who is the Babalawo that gives him the guts to go on kicking dirt into our eye? God certainly can’t be part of such evil; who is Obasanjo’s babalawo?

I remember athlete called the Undertaker back then during the World Wrestling Federation; he was simple invincible. He had Paul his vampire who smoked the arena and did the entire spook he needed to do for the undertaker to stay strong and beat his opponent! Suddenly the other athletes got wiser and decided to take-out Paul and destroy his magic jar before the fight; that was the day the undertaker was de-mystified and trounced mercilessly.
It’s time we sought out the vampire or babalawo who is beating the ugly drums Obasanjo is dancing to publicly. The man must not be allowed to dance into 2011. Let him carry his Goodluck to hell and leave Nigeria alone! Let him leave Goodluck Jonathan alone to chart a path for himself and for Nigeria.

Let him who is being deceived that Obasanjo can deliver the people of South West Nigeria in a twinkle of an eye re think again. We have learnt our lessons; Obasanjo is not the best sales man for free and fair election. The God Father of “do and die” politics should be told in very clear and loud terms that Obasanjo's Messiah is not our Messiah.

We have learnt from the misadventure of Musa Yar’Adua and the PDP. Nigerians will come out and vote not for the God Fathers candidate but for the man with the answer to the plague confronting our Nation and a solution for all of Nigeria. We are going to turn the page.

Monday, 26 July 2010

A Day With My White Yorùbá Aunty. Written by Kayode Ogundamisi

A Day With My White Yorùbá "Aunty". Written by Kayode Ogundamisi
“Bí ó pẹ́ títí, àlejò á di onílé.” Yorùbá Proverb
(In time, a sojourner becomes a native.)

I usually keep to myself when I take public transport in London. The usual drill would be to grab a copy of any of the free newspapers available. If I am lucky to get to the station before rush hour then I can get the Metro. With the Metro, although you may not get the full package, you are at least sure of getting a glimpse of what is in main stream newspapers.

Late Susanne Wenger (Aduni Olorisa) another great Yoruba heroine on the banks of the River Oshun Oshun Groves Oshogbo Nigeria1987

In these days of gloomy economic forecasts and all you see on the economic segment of the 24 hour media at home are predictions of job losses, and the rise in the number of people queuing up for unemployment benefits, the inner fear is not if you are going to join them but when you are going to.
The thought of queuing up at job centres, facing that authoritarian customer service personnel to prove you are entitled for benefit is not an appealing one. Well I had better make do with what I have now, spend the whole day chasing that daily bread and making ends meet. The consolation is the reward that you can still be counted as one of the employed. My thoughts continued in my head.

I was to meet up with a long time friend from Nigeria. You can describe him as the Nigerian “Big Man”. He was on a return trip to Nigeria and had to spend 6 hours in transit. We had in e mail exchanges decided to meet up at Heathrow Airports Terminal Three - that way we could hang out for at least 4 hours within Heathrow and catch up on old times. I was particularly keen on meeting him as he was one who had always insisted on me returning home. Each time I visit Nigeria he would keep hammering in repetitive terms, “I wonder what you people are doing abroad, don’t you get bored? See we live well here, fresh fish, ‘asun’, brokoto. You can make it within a short time - all you need is luck and connection, and for you sef it won’t be a problem - you sabi people”.

It was my friend who insisted this particular meeting was important, so I took time off work. Taking one day off your paid holiday in the United Kingdom and I guess in any other part of the world to “chat” with a friend is no mean effort.

Grudgingly I decided to take the cheapest means of transportation available to me - the long winding blue line, Piccadilly from the Finsbury Park station. Anyone familiar with that line to Heathrow would understand how frustrating it is to travel to Heathrow in the restrictive underground for over an hour.
At Finsbury Park, I hopped on the Piccadilly line.

I avoid groups of youths as you would in most cases be subject to chattering from the start of your journey to the end.
My usual routine is to scan through the coach to look for a comfortable seat. Comfort to me is making sure I seat beside people of middle-age on their way to work. They usually keep to themselves and would barely acknowledge your presence. I avoid groups of youths as you would in most cases be subject to chattering from the start of your journey to the end.

As the coach was almost full I did not have that luxury. I found myself a seat in between an elderly Caucasian lady and a glass panel – not too bad, I mused. As I sat down, I thought I heard her say hello but all I wanted to do was to close my eyes, take a quick nap and endure the ride until I got to Heathrow.

Instead, I felt a tap on my shoulder and she said “I just said hello” I apologised and said hello back, in my mind, cursing my seat choice. Now I was trapped with an elderly lady, probably would be fed with her life history - well so I thought, until she gave me that curious look and then “where are you originally from?” I felt like replying Haringey, (a north London borough). I have always found the use of “originally from” a bit funny. Why can’t Londoners just ask where you are from rather than “originally from”?

I am originally from Yoruba Land in Africa until the British merged my ancestors with our African neighbours and made me Nigerian. You see, I intended to confuse her and possibly make her feel guilty enough not to pursue the conversation - if I simply said I was from Nigeria, I knew she would start telling me about the 419 scam letters, or probably remind me of fraudsters, or ask if I had met Farouk AbdullMutalab the “under pant bomber” forgetting about the hard working Nigerians in the United Kingdom mostly in very respectable fields and some in other fields all contributing to the economy of the United Kingdom. “Oh you are Yoruba?” My new ‘friend’, almost screaming, facing me, she stretched her hands forward, offering a hand shake. “I am Yoruba too, you are my brother. My name is Wendy, Wendy Omotayo. “That was when she switched from English to Yoruba - not my kind of Yoruba, but what we refer to as the “Ijinle” Yoruba.

We conversed for almost 30 minutes in Yoruba. She had gone to “Biafra” (refusing to acknowledge South East Nigeria as being part of Nigeria) as a volunteer service person to help out Igbos during the Nigerian Civil war. She could only spend 4 weeks in Biafra but rather than return to the United Kingdom, took up a teaching appointment in Shaki, South West Nigeria (Shaki is located in the Northern part of present day Oyo State in Nigeria) Wendy had fallen in love with a native of Shaki who was also a teacher. Now back in the United Kingdom having lost her husband, she is teaching British children Yoruba. She is not only teaching them how to read but also to write.

Wendy insists the Yoruba language is one of the richest in the world. She told me she feels a sense of sadness that Children of Yoruba migrants in the United Kingdom do not speak Yoruba well enough. She is using her life savings to get materials together and pushing for a campaign that Yoruba should be included as a language that must be taught in boroughs with high populations of Yoruba Nigerians in the United Kingdom. I thereafter asked if I could interview her as I believed we needed to publicise what she was doing. She replied, “In life our works should speak for us”.

Taking time off work to meet a long time friend at Heathrow had turned out not to be waste after all. In fact, it ended up becoming one of my most fruitful outings till date. A message was being sent to me through an elderly Yoruba Caucasian lady, and that message was to pass on the language of my ancestors to my children , that if I fail to do that, I would have failed in passing on the bond between myself and my ancestors to my offspring.

By the time I got to the airport, the most important discussion I had with Dele Oladokun was for him to get me as many copies of “Alawiye” and other Yoruba texts as he possibly could. The books and many more have since arrived the UK and it is now a compulsory 2 hours per week lesson of Yoruba culture, ethics and tradition with God’s gifts to me.

I am originally from Yoruba Land in Africa until the British merged my ancestors with our African neighbours and made me Nigerian.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Lions Standing Guard for the Kongi and other great African writers. Written by Kayode Ogundamisi

Lions Standing Guard for the Kongi and other great African writers. Written by Kayode Ogundamisi

The first time I came across the name Wole Soyinka was in a book titled “West African Verse: an anthology” by Donatus Ibe Nwoga. Mrs Oladipupo, my Literature-in-English subject teacher at my college Anwar Ul Islam, Agege had turned that book with its yellow cover into a mini bible - you literarily had to memorise every poem. “If you can not get it into your medulla oblongata” as Mrs Oladipupo would say “then you can not get any other thing.”

West African Verse had a compilation of African great poets; from Lenrie Peters’, "We Have Come Home", to “Africa my Africa” by David Diop. Diop’s poem stuck to my ‘medulla oblongata’ like no other poem - it kindled a great sense of pride of the continent. From my classroom in 3B I could stare at the cricket pitch of my school, look beyond the teachers quarters and go on a journey across Africa. I had not physically left Agege but could mentally picture Diop’s Africa and that of most writers in West African Verse. Who would not fall for Diop’s words “Africa, tell me Africa, Is this your back that is unbent, This back that never breaks under the weight of humiliation...” I could relate to those words.

Most of the women I saw at Agege Market carried heavy loads and still stood straight. I can remember mother making me carry heavy loads of hot rice as we made our way to Adebowale Electrical Company Isheri Road, Ikeja and each time I complained of the cooked rice being too heavy for my fragile weight, she would state words eeringly similar to those in Diop’s poem. “the back of a well brought up child should always be unbent”. My mum did not go past “standard 4” - whatever that was, and she never read Diop’s poem, but she knew from experience about the unbent back of Africans - even under the weight of heavy burdens, sometimes imposed by fellow Africans. Africans shuffle on, stand our ground and fight when we need to resist but keep hope alive, keeping our heads straight, chins up and make damn sure our backs remain unbent.
I still wonder why Mrs Oladipupo was fixated with poetry.

When it came to reading prose, the works of Shakespeare, Charles Dickens and others, she taught in a mechanical way, more like “I am teaching you this because it is in the syllabus” and to think she schooled in the United Kingdom, the home of Shakespeare but she treated Shakespeare with disdain. As soon as that yellow book “West African Verse” came out for the lesson, her humanity always blossomed. We each had a copy of the book provided by the State (O yes by the state government). You see, I was one of the lucky few who benefited from the programmes of the Unity Party of Nigeria led by Chief Obafemi Awolowo. The then Lagos State Governor Lateef Jakande had implemented the party policy of free and quality education and yes, it was truly free - we were supplied text books, mathematical sets, and every thing we needed for our education. I remember going for a debate in Oyo state, and my counterpart with whom I struck a friendship taught me a nonsensical poem coined from the ‘BIG Exercise book’ – a writing book (40, 60 and 80 leaves) issued for free to school children – Bola Ige Governor, Ede times (x) ede remi (c)koni iya segun elere Boolu odabo odabo kayode.

ln my class was Bolaji Ajimotokon - his father was the state commissioner for sports and he did not school abroad. In fact, in my school, a public school, we had the sons of three members of the Lagos state cabinet. I, the son of a soldier, later turned driver, seating in a public school with children of those who governed us. It was no big deal, we did not know any different and the quality was great. We had what was later described as “Jakande Poultry Schools” but I can bet the quality of education was way better than the Millennium space ship looking buildings of latter day governments. Then, teachers were teachers and were called so, and we believed almost every word that came out of their mouths.

Wole Soyinka

It was a rainy day, Mrs Oladipupo had not turned up for the literature class and a bald headed man came in, speaking in a foreign accent. He announced he was going to take the place of Mrs Oladipupo and take our class for the week. He introduced himself as Mr Bonsu and that he was originally from Ghana. In military style, he asked if anyone of us had heard of Wole Soyinka, we all said no and he sort of barked “I will take you through two poems with the same title “ABIKU” one written by one of Africa’s greatest writers, Wole Soyinka and the other by another great writer John Pepper Clark. Mr Bonsu whom we later nicknamed Mr “Africa is in Trouble” (he got that name from his expression of frustration, if he his trying to get something across to you and you didn’t seem to get it, he retorted the words, “Charlie Africa is in trouble)
It was Mr Bonsu who brought me into the world of Wole Soyinka through his poem “Abiku”. The first few lines in Soyinka’s Abiku sounded like a voice of resistance, with Abiku rising in a strong controlled voice, screaming “In vain your bangles cast, Charmed circles at my feet ‘I am Abiku, calling for the first. And repeated time....” From then I never stopped reading Soyinka. From Soyinka, I knew about Chinua Achebe’s works and from Chinua Achebe, I got introduced to Ama Ata Aidoo, Ngugi wa Thiongo and an endless list of great African writers. I had a compilation of countless James Hardley Chase, but after reading the “The trial of brother Jero” and “Things fall Apart”. I set fire on all my collection of James Hardly Chase. I felt cheated-so all this while I had great unbent writers in Africa, and I was wasting my time reading about bank robbers in Europe.
From that classroom in that public school in Agege, I have grown into another world, a world of activism. In the course of that activism which is both a privilege and a duty, I have met many greats - Wole Soyinka stands tall amongst them. I would never have imagined, sitting behind my wooden desk , journeying into Africa in my mind, that I would one day stand side by side with the “mythical” Soyinka. Never imagined that in the year 2010, when he Soyinka is 76 and I 42, we would still both be talking about changing Nigeria. Wole Soyinka should know now that he is still alive that no matter what anyone may say, not minding his own faults, he remains one of the greatest Africa has ever produced and although himself, Chinua Achebe, J.P Clark may have inspired great writers, little did they know that they also inspired not so great writers who complement their shortcoming by standing on the side of the oppressed. May the Lions stand guard and always protect our Kongi. At 76, we say thank you.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Oronto Douglas selling the Goodluck Jonathan Agenda!

Oronto Douglas, Senior Special Assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan, offered insights into the Jonathan administration’s agenda priorities for the year ahead and the challenges he is likely to confront. Mr. Douglas is a prominent human rights advocate, Niger Delta activist, and co-founder of one of Africa’s foremost environmental movements, the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria. He joined the Federal Government of Nigeria in 2007

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

President Goodluck Jonathan’s 10 Billion-Naira ‘Owambe’ Party.

President Goodluck Jonathan’s 10 Billion-Naira ‘Owambe’ Party.

Madam Dora Akunyili and her colleagues in government have come to the conclusion that Nigerians are zombies who would take everything that comes out of the mouth of government officials hook line and sinker.

Here is a brief background. The government of President Goodluck Jonathan sent a budget proposal of 10 billion Naira to the Nigerian National Assembly. The money is not for the maintenance of roads or to equip hospitals in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, neither is any significant portion of it to help the underprivileged or the educational sector - it is a budget meant for the celebration of Nigeria ’s 50th Independence anniversary on the 1st of October 2010.

In the world of President Jonathan and the unwise men and women who seat in council chambers of the federal executive, all is so well with Nigeria that we can afford to flush money down the toilet or simply throw it in river Niger and let it flow through the length and breadth of the river bank.

Well, we may all blame the presidency for the outrageous budget but is the presidency not a reflection of the culture of waste, noise, idiocy and extravagance that is part and parcel of our psyche in Nigeria? A larger proportion of the Nigerian middle class would spend money to bury and re-bury a departed relative; they would not hesitate to overindulge in a naming ceremony or 50th birthday celebration.

Do not even let us get started on weddings! We always have an excuse to celebrate and squander money. Our priorities are not well laid out. We reward hard work with disdain and corrupt people with accolades and national honours as we fancy. Why blame the federal government, are we not as guilty as those in Abuja? I have been informed that some members of the civil society are queuing up for a share of the 10 billion naira windfall, attending Dora Akunyuli’s consultative meetings, event managers have relocated to Abuja and very soon importers of the famous This day Dome will be smiling to the bank, Hurray we will be creating new millionaires and thanks giving in Church will sky rocket.

Do we ever reflect? Ask ourselves ‘do I really need that third car? Do I need the 4th mobile phone? Must I take that weekend trip to Dubai just to gather more gold and trinkets? Do I need to spoil my child with another designer outfit though I bought them one less than 4 weeks ago? So many questions we refuse to ask ourselves and it is that thoughtless way of spending that is reflective in those who govern us.

As we spend and waste money, we are “blessed” with millions who starve, hardworking Nigerians who live on under $1 a day, did we not see the BBC programme welcome to Lagos? Cant the presidency listen and take it home that we have nothing to celebrate?

So President Goodluck Jonathan and his fellow travellers are still amazed at our disdain and reaction for wanting to give Mrs. Patience Goodluck Jonathan 50 million naira to visit special homes, orphanages, prisons, and selected hospitals. 20 million naira to organise a party for 1,000 children who will probably be sons and daughters of those in public service, and guess what, Madam Dora Akunyili’s Ministry of Information and Communications gets N1.2 billion naira for the “insertion of special reports on Nigeria in both local and international media” Another N320 million naira will be spent on jingles, adverts, billboards, documentary and publicity.

No wonder Dora came out in her disgrace of a press conference to defend the 10 billion scandalous budget and lay the blame on late President Musa Umaru Yar’Adua. Even if it was Yar’Adua who gave the approval for the outrageous budget, is he holding the hands of Goodluck from reviewing it and coming out with something austere and reflective of the current financial crisis we find ourselves? Did the Goodluck government not just apply for a $915m loan from the World Bank?

Granted the terms of the loan may be good but the reason for the cynicism is that in Nigeria, ‘loans’ tend to disappear with little to show in the form of development of social benefits! It is in Nigeria you see hospitals commissioned without staff or services in place, half finished roads ‘opened’ by the president, and numerous abandoned projects. Why would we be optimistic about ‘new’ loans? Dora should save us all the hue and cry about cabals being responsible for everything going wrong in the current government - Nigerians resisted the cabal, Goodluck is the president now, he must demonstrate transparency and stop every effort to scandalise his government.

Do we have human beings in government at all? Do they think the way we think? Are they aliens from an unknown planet? The Goodluck presidency had better think twice and send the 10 billion-naira budget to a well deserved graveyard. We know politicians are desperate to raise funds for the 2011 election but do we also have to pay for them to further send Nigerians to the land of no return?

As for the members of the civil society who seat in “consultative forums” towards the planning and so called successful hosting of a 50 years jubilee celebration, every kobo you collect to partake in the fraud make you as culpable as those who send the budget to the National Assembly.

The 50 years golden jubilee should be a moment for sober reflection and not an opportunity for the presidency to create jobs for the boys and girls and make new millionaires of friends, concubines, relatives and political associates. The proposal as published below is a shame and out of order. Mr Goodluck Jonathan, Nigerians are running out of patience and you may soon lose all the goodwill. A word can only be good for a listening President.

Itemised 10 billion naira Budget Proposal for 50 years celebration.

1. Anniversary parade including march past, fleet review and aerial display - N950 million.
2. National unity torch tour - N350 million.
Special visit to special homes, orphanages, prisons and hospitals - N50 million
3. Special session of the National Children Parliament - N20 million
4. Party for 1000 children - N20 million
5. Presidential banquet - N40 million
6. Calisthenics performance - N50 million
7. Cultural, historical and military exhibitions N310 million
8. Food week - N40 million
9. Secretariat equipment, accommodation, logistics and utilities - N320 million
10. Designing and unveiling of the 50th anniversary logo - N30 million
11. Special reports on Nigeria in both local and international media - N1.2 billion
12. Jingles, adverts, billboards, documentary and publicity - N320 million
13. Accommodation and Transportation of guests - N700 million
14. Production of branded souvenirs and gift items for foreign heads of state and erection of a coat of arms on Aso Rock - N450 million
15. Variety gala night and fireworks - N210 million
16. International friendly football match and local competition - N200 million
17. Event managers and producers - N120 million naira.
18. Designing and publication of a compendium on Nigeria - N400 million,
19. Compendium on the legislature - N150 million
20. Compendium on the judiciary - N50 million.
21. Commissioning of the golden jubilee plaza - N10 million naira;
22. Designing, construction and mounting of Tower of Unity in the 36 states of the Federation - N540 million.
23. Debates, essays, conferences, lectures, and a colloquium - N150 million;
24. Musical concerts and carnivals in the 6 geo-political zones - N60 million;
25. Durbar, masquerades and cultural dances - N100 million and
26. Designing and construction of 10 monuments of the founding fathers - N80 million.
27. A memory stone at the Tafawa Balewa Square , Lagos will consume - N40 million,
28. Security and protocol - N500 million
29. Medicals - N25 million
30. Miscellaneous - N105 Million.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Still On June 12 And Letter To Mko Abiola Written by Kayode Ogundamisi

I phoned my dad, Joseph Ogundamisi, last night and I have been speaking with him for the past few days. He got to heaven two years before you were killed. I have been trying to get your phone number from him but he never liked you when he was alive.

He always called you “the one who sold out the Yorubas to the ‘Gambaris’” – referring to the role you played during the UPN/NPN saga. Daddy held Chief Obafemi Awolowo in high esteem and to a fault. In his opinion, Awo could do no wrong. He refused to discuss you. He, however, grudgingly gave me your address in heaven. I am glad you made it to the right place – in the bosom of Allah’s protection.

Bashorun, my first one on one meeting with you was at the University of Jos. I was then a blazing Secetary General of the student’s union government and led the then more than 13,000 strong vibrant, militant students of the university to oppose the conferment of an honorary doctorate awarded to you by the University of Jos establishment.

On the day of the convocation, I confronted you at the Naraguta convocation ground presenting 10 reasons why we did not want you on our campus. You never lost your composure; you did not wrestle the microphone from my hand (unlike General Olusegun Obasanjo who as president of Nigeria snatched the microphone from Oronto Douglas, then Niger delta environmental activist and threatened to get him locked up). You listened to us as we stated our position and acknowledged some mistakes but you also blamed us for misunderstanding you. We afterwards met with you and we, Unijos students, later saw a different side of you. The philanthropy, the compassion towards indigent students and a will to partner for the progress of Unijos.

I remember the last time I saw you – it was a meeting you had with Yoruba youth leaders shortly before your kidnap by the government. We told you in that meeting we could resist your arrest through civil disobedience. We warned you might not come back alive but you said, “struggle but no blood”. Your loyalists then vowed to bring the world down if you were harmed much less killed! Today, they are elected representatives of June 12, but sadly they have deserted the principles of June.

The man who told the world you are not the messiah is now the Godfather of Nigerian politics. He installed a sick man as president, done with that, and he now decides who becomes what in Nigeria. In fact he’s got the current presidency under his spell. Well, I should also say we managed to get some of your loyalists to the national assembly but not one of them is interested in June 12.

Before your demise, we stood on June 12. Chief, on June 12 we now chop, on June 12 we wine and dine, on June 12 we loot and on June 12 we betray the collective will of our people of having a truly federal Nigeria.

Today, they no longer talk of true federalism or hope for the poor, the poverty level in Nigeria is unimaginable. The poverty you experienced as a child, the tale of poverty you loved to talk about is luxury compared to what Nigerians go through today. Oh, lest I forget, your wonder loaf bakery is gone, Concord airline is dead, and concord newspaper was buried long ago. Abiola bookshop is terminally ill just like a host of every other indigenous business enterprises that are dying by the day. But the South-Africans are smiling to the bank though, to foreign banks that is.

It’s not all bad news! Dele Momodu, your boy, has really achieved a lot. He has got Ovation magazine although it is being used as platform where most of those who looted our national treasury now display their stolen wealth. He even gave us the opportunity to see Abacha’s massive bedroom and swimming pool and now he aspires to be the President and Commander in Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces.

Chief, your dream of eradicating poverty remains that – a dream. Our party, the AD is dead, the only alliance left is that of self-destruct. Well not really we have the AC, not that it is so different from the PDP, but at least it is a little bit to the left. Oh! Did I tell you we also got rid of Ayo Opadokun and that we have no leader – almost, and Pa Adesanya is gone.

I am sure you must have come across Chief Bola Ige and Tunde Idiagbon during one of your walks over yonder. As you would have noticed, the list of Yoruba leaders killed after your demise tripled.

Well chief, let us talk some more about the activities of your “loyalists” after your death.

Thanks to your sacrifice, your “loyalists” captured the southwest “on behalf of June 12 and the Yorubas” (even though you never really cared for a Yoruba struggle).

Chief, all we have is an annual jamboree in your honour on June 12. It is a day commissioners, local government heads and others use as an opportunity to loot the treasury of the Yoruba. We sing, dance and cry for you on the day. Everything ends there.

On 12 June, we make sure we say hello to Hafsat (the one I refer to as the true you -a good fighter) and or Jamiu, or Kola if he is not too busy hobnobbing with the Abachas and the Babangidas.

After the jamboree, it is business as usual. June 12 dies on the day of the celebrations. Many newspapers write previews and reviews and that is where it ends.

Oh Chief! You remember that group that provided security for you when you declared yourself President? We were nameless, but we later transformed to what is called the Oodua Peoples Congress. I must tell you I became the secretary general of the O.P.C and with time moved on.

Well, you must be wondering why things have got so bad. Do not wonder too much chief; things had never really been good to start with. You and our past leaders missed the point when you felt it was okay to mix fire and water : A sovereign National Conference should have been the only option to balance the imbalance in the Nigerian federation and put a stop to the re-emergence of another June 12.

I beg you chief to help tell God to come to the aid of Nigeria as we do not have a messiah and the future looks bleak as the country engages in a macabre dance. People still continue to loot, chop and betray the collective will of all of us every day and on June 12 of every calendar year.

Rest in peace, Bashorun. May your blood and the blood of all those that died as a result of the annulment of June 12 elections by that evil friend of yours Ibrahim Babadamasi Babangida never have been spilt in vain.


Thursday, 10 June 2010

I witnessed the Ibori Girls go to Jail

I witnessed the Ibori Girls go to Jail

Written by Kayode Ogundamisi

I woke up morning of Monday 7th June 2010 to my alarm clock. I literarily flew out of bed. I really wanted the day to start.

I was going to be at the Southwark Crown Court. I was going to witness the sentencing of James Ibori’s sister, Christine Ibori-Ibie and mistress, Udoamaka Okoronkwo Onuigbo I had together with a few of my friends been following the progression of the case and had joined other Nigerians in fighting James Ibori’s well-oiled propaganda machine. Not just that, Nigerians in the United Kingdom had countered Ibori’s ‘rent a crowd’ method by taking time off work on several occasions to attend court sessions, report on and analyse the case. Some had even been bullied in court by thugs.

In the early stages of the trial, I had overheard two Nigerians discussing an incident in an elevator. They had shared an elevator with some other people who they were asking impatiently when the trial would end as they were looking forward to their next shopping spree. They were obviously relatives of one of the accused persons.

I also remembered on another occasion the mistress strutting like a peacock outside court premises like she was on a fashion parade showing off expensive jewellery in her own words ‘this is Gucci’ and that one, ‘that is Versace, customised’. They had come in a customised Mercedes Benz jeep. I feel certain they felt they were ‘untouchable’ back then, but I knew better, this was England – not Nigeria.

Deep inside of me I thought of the power these elements held in Nigeria. I thought of the colossal amount of wealth at their disposal and thought of their influence on the international scene. I remembered Tony Baldry lobbying top UK govt officials on their behalf and for a moment I feared justice would not be served, but then I remembered the spirited efforts of Nigerian organisations to get the letter into the public domain, the state of the nation and Delta state in itself and banished the thought quickly. The arrogance of the women enraged me and I made up m mind, I would join other Nigerians in the UK and elsewhere who were also in the quest for justice to ensure they do not go scot-free.

This case had already revealed the amazing spirit of Nigerians, especially the influence of social networking sites. A large portion of the work that had gone into this case was as a result of the contribution of ordinary Nigerians - busy, in the working class. The most impressive aspect was their simplicity and reluctance for recognition or take any credit for work done. One particular gentleman readily came to mind. He had made it a point of duty to attend court intermittently and sent independent reports as needed. There were others - a lady who is a student in London, another lady whose short-hand skill became invaluable in getting the transcripts in court out and others too numerous to mention.

To fight James Ibori’s money machine, we needed the spirited efforts of Nigerians and although some fell on the way side, these Nigerians remained focussed and stood with extra strength against attempts to thwart their efforts with the use of divisive tactics.

Sitting in the public galley, the now convicted persons looked a lot less self-assured than at the beginning of the trial. Now they could not even meet my gaze! All through earlier sessions, all they had were dirty looks for anyone they perceived was the enemy.

During the defence pleas for leniency, by the time the mistress’ counsel finished, I had started to believe the woman would get off with a lighter sentence. A sorry picture was painted of her helplessness in the matter because she had given her heart to the wrong man.

I also could not believe the change in demeanour of the convicts. I nearly felt sorry for them. You had to be there to understand. However, my compassion for them was quickly overshadowed by thoughts of sorry state Nigeria is in and the deprivation of the people of Delta State of the basic needs of life. My feelings were replaced by subdued triumph.

I marvelled at the turnout by Nigerians. I recognised a lot of them and it was amazing how most had met had been friends on social networking sites and Sahara Reporters news updates.

I was really impressed with the judge, Christopher Hardy. The sentencing was meant to have taken place at Court Room 8, but had got filled up in minutes. He then graciously moved us to the larger Courtroom 9, which also got filled up equally quickly. He finally moved us to the largest courtroom complex - Room 1. We all dashed two floors down and in a twinkle of an eye the room was filled to the brim with people standing outside. They crowded round the door trying to catch a glimpse of proceedings. The courtroom was indeed packed. It was interesting to note court personnel that worked in the same building standing outside with other Nigerians wanting to catch a glimpse as well.

Then the words of the defence lawyer Andrew Trollope QC “You should ask why such a woman with a good back family background in this crime. The answer is James Ibori and it is he that must bear fullresponsibility.“

Those words hit me, so even the Ibori girls now admit Ibori is a common criminal? And as if that was not enough Udoamaka’s defence counsel added his own twist. “my client did it for love”

Over 40 million pounds?

I could not wait for the Judge Hardy to have his say and when he did had his say, it came in sweet lyrics. On nigeria? He implied

“Countries who are signatories to fighting corruption and money laundering must live to the full letter of their commitments.” And then

“I would therefore apply the full weight of the British law to serve as punishment and deterrent. The jury was satisfied that you were connected to the assets that were spread all over the world including safe havens. Each of you benefited massively. You are not simply agents. Who knows how much you are still hiding?“ and he passed a reward of 5 years jail term to the Ibori girls, I just witnessed history, the Ibori girls going to jail and away from the mafia country, no more Asaba Judge to ubstruct the course of justice and no EFCC to file dim-wit charges and no King Ibori to put a phone call to the President. It was victory for the people of the Delta and for Nigerians in a United Kingdom court. I wont forget Court 8,9 and 1.

Finally, people started streaming out of the courtroom. The court session had to be over. I noticed one of my compatriot dash pass me and screaming ‘5years each’. The jubilation amongst Nigerians was apparent – it was like the super eagles had brought home the world cup! No more Gucci stunts or Vivendi designer blings, Nigerian justice had been served in a British Court. We are not complaining - Half justice is better than No justice!

Monday, 31 May 2010

RE: Starving Nigerian Journalists and Blood Stained Proprietors. By Raymond Aleogho Dokpesi

My attention has just been drawn to the above mentioned article.i totally disagree with you about the outstanding salaries owed staff.although i am not involved in the day to day running of the organisation,i can tell you that nobody is owed ten months.i can tell you that all the SBU-strategic bussiness units are uptodate in their salary obligations except news.even at that the backlog is about three to four months.There are about about 1000 persons in the employment of the organisation and only about 20% are in News Department.I advise you to please cross check your facts.kindest regards.Yours Sincerely,

High Chief Raymond Aleogho Dokpesi Ph.D, OFR
DAAR Communications Plc
DAAR Communication Centre,
AIT Drive, Kpaduma Hills
Off Gen.T.Y.Danjuma Street

The owner of AIT is another study in the complexity called the traditional media in Nigeria, and the unbelievable findings are not limited to the proprietors. Some editors have become merchants, with reporters expected to “report returns” from beats through ‘brown envelopes’. The recent exposé in Punch leading to the resignation of two senior journalists seems to indicate that most editors and heads of Political Beats are either on the pay roll of top public office holders or have the flow of ink in their pens stifled by corruption.

The Nigerian media has come a long way. Over the years it still remains the most vibrant segment of the society - being resilient in the face of all the challenges that come with a developing country. Under various military dictatorships in our chequered history, the more repressive the government has been, the more dynamic the media becomes - ranging from clampdowns, closure of media houses, politically motivated arrests to the outright extra judicial murder of journalists. The media appear to have come out on top, rejuvenated and standing firm – well, in a sense.

The killing of Dele Giwa through a letter bomb highlighted the danger journalists face in the course of their duty, and since Dele’s death, it has been an endless list of murders, torture and in some cases journalists forced into exile. Such was the case of Isioma Daniels who was forced to leave Nigeria after a death sentence was passed on her by religious fanatics over her article during a Miss World event in Nigeria.

The true Nigerian journalist is surely endangered specie and it is becoming apparent that hunger is becoming a weapon of mass destruction in stifling the traditional media.

The most curious beat of all is the silence of the Nigerian Union of Journalists.........