Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Heart of Man

Woke up this morning to news of a bomb blast in Abuja. The first thought that popped into my head was "Boko Haram and their madness are definitely crossing the line this time. But then it occurred to me that no one had claimed responsibility for the blasts yet, so I held back from jumping to conclusions. As the hours went by, it was interesting to see the different debates and arguments on Facebook. Some blamed the Northerners, Muslims, the Nigerian Police Force, GEJ, even the Devil got some portion of the blame. I blame whomever my girlfriend blames, gotta stand by your woman (Yes boss!)

But on a more serious note, we never heard of Boko Haram till recently. My major argument is that our Government screwed up the day they began negotiating with terrorists. It all started with MEND, and we all turned a blind eye to it. Some labelled it as people fighting for freedom, I disagreed completely. We allowed our country to be held to ransom by a group of criminals and rather than nip it in the bud, our leaders granted them "amnesty". Even an illiterate man who watches TV knows that you don't negotiate with terrorists. Once you give in to their demands, there is no boundary. What I find amusing is that when MEND and the numerous "freedom fighting groups" were busy kidnapping oil workers and threatening to blow up oil installations, no one remembered their ethnicity or religious views. Were they muslims or christians? Don't get me wrong, but it is hard to criticize your religion, many would say that religion had nothing to do with the actions of MEND. I agree, but we never referred to them as the criminals that they are, instead we argued that they had been ignored and maltreated so they were fighting for a cause, we basically tried to justify their actions. We were not bothered because they weren't blowing up people, they just kidnapped people and got a huge ransome as a reward. That was where the problem started, we all turned a blind eye and allowed sentiment to overrule rationality.

Now we have the problem of Boko Haram, how did it start? Knowledge is power, ignorance is a tool of dominion. In the land of blind men, a one-eyed man is king. If you keep people ignorant, they are at your mercy. Some politicians have discovered this weapon of warfare and they put it to use. The extent of poverty and ignorance in the northern part of Nigeria is mindblowing. You wouldn't understand till you've gone there to visit. Let's apply the same sentiment we used in the time of MEND to Boko Haram. They say "Western Education is bad", in this era of freedom of speech, they are entitled to their opinion. Killing people in justification of their opinion is a criminal activity punishable by law, synonymous with what MEND did in kidnapping people for ransom. Should we also grant them amnesty if they agree to dialogue? After all, the Federal Government gave MEND soldiers scholarships and high paying jobs as a reward for surrender. If Boko Haram fanatics surrender, would the Govt also grant them islamic scholarships and high paying jobs?

I refuse to agree that Boko Haram is simply a religious movement. Where did they spring out of? From Mars. There is a strong political undercurrent to their actions. Maybe some elements are trying to undermine GEJ's tenure by showing his inadequacies as a leader, dunno. The bottom line still remains that some criminal elements have hijacked a benign religious movement and turned it into a malignant terrorist group. How to solve it? Fix the root, eradicate poverty in the grassroots and the ringleaders will not have any leverage over the masses. Any student of history can attest to the stranglehold of the Church over its subjects in the early years, history is repeating itself. Boko Haram or whichever splinter group that has hijacked them is exploiting the inadequacies and gaping loopholes in our system of governance. They are killing christians and muslims, we need to look beyond the religion and address the key issues. To label Islam as an aggressive religion is a debate that I refuse to engage in, simply because it does nothing to build relationships, it only causes division. Religion is the opium of the masses, us christian folk have skeletons in our closet too.

To cut the sermon short, I personally believe that GEJ needs to speak out, he cannot prevent all terrorists acts but he needs to act like he is the leader of a nation. If he has a plan or an opinion, he should voice it. Not only GEJ, all our leaders should step to the plate and act like leaders. In the days of old, kings rode into battle with their subjects, today the structure has been altered such that the rulers direct the actions of foot soldiers, but a LEADER has to dictate the pace. The President, governors, senators, reputable statesmen have to come together and act. The time for pointing fingers and trading blame is over, if we don't corral this issue now, then we are heading for the abyss. We'll simply become a target for any terrorist activity.

By the way, how do we know that the terrorist activity was not the handiwork of an international terrorist group considering that the UN office was targeted. On a final note, I have come to the conclusion that acts of terrorism (mob actions inclusive, for example the rioting in Jos and London) maybe induced by religion, ignorance or other socio-cultural or political factors, but the catalyst for unimaginable acts of destruction and violence cannot be modeled by any tangible parameter... an apt explanation? "who can understand the heart of man?" Reference the Spanish Inquisitions, the Jewish Holocaust, the insanity of the Cambodian Khmer Rouge, the Rwandan genocide...the list is endless...some acts are just inexplicable, how do you explain Hitler?

NB: Excerpts from the thoughts that flew through my head while waiting for Irene...

Friday, August 19, 2011

Idle chatter

Meckzyville, Perez Drive, Newark NJ.

Kyla's birthday is tomorrow. Exactly @ this time 1year ago, I was struggling to stay awake, while trying to keep a virtual vigil as my sister went into labor far away in Pennsylvania. I ended up sleeping in the foetal position, when I woke up a couple of hours later, I was an uncle. Twas a turning point in my life. Since then I've been on a "fatherhood internship", learning how to change diapers, babysitting, feeding the baby et al. Tis a humbling experience being a father, not that I have a child of my own but i'm kinda tapping into the experience by proxy (if that means anything, lol)

Life has been a mini whirlwind. My sisters are in town (yipee), though Raekhi has headed off to Houston. Gotta start including Houston in my travel plans, so if u have a Texas zip code, hola at me when I come thru. There are still a few travel destinations scheduled before the year runs out, keeping my fingers crossed. My best friend got married last week and I was his bestman, twas a beautiful event. My weekend schedule is fully booked till mid October, can't figure out how that happened. Seems like I spend alot of time in a vicious work cycle, luckily for me, English Premiership and the NFL have commenced, so I have something to look forward to.

Idle chatter...I need to catch up on a lot of movies, itz been ages since I've been to the cinema. Been looking for my house keys for 2 weeks and during my search, i've turned my house upside down, discovering a few odd lost items in the process, won't reveal all of them here. Still have alot of targets to meet before the year runs out, running outta time. Life is gradually settling into a rhythm, dunno if I need a spark or not, tis easy to become complacent. Need to take part in a couple of mind-blowing activities before the year runs out, dunno what yet, beginning to lose my edge, lol.

Life has taught me to be thankful for everything, so I've learnt not to worry about the future, I'm always happy, not because I have all that I want or all that I need, but simply because I'm alive...Back to la vida loca.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Dow Jones diary...

Excerpts from a conversation I had recently...
ME: Damn, The Dow Jones Index dropped 500 points today, pretty disastrous.
WIGGY.F.BABY: I have been hearing about this Dow Jones all day, who is he by the way?
ME: Cue laughter...

I love my Wiggy! But it does raise a couple of interesting questions. It is ironical that the Dow Jones index which arguably should reflect the health or status of the American Stock market or economy should be affected by issues in the Euro zone or crisis in Africa. More puzzling is the fact that most people are completely unaware of the impact of the Dow Jones index on global issues. I'm amazed at the domino effect that is basically inherent in every facet of life, the butterfly effect is no joke. A simple statement from one man triggers chaos in the stock market, what if the dude lied and covered up the truth, the market would probably rise. Brings to mind a certain Bernie Madoff who perfected the Ponzi scheme with such mind-blowing genius that he was able to swindle even governments under the guise of "mysterious hedge funds" that were too complex for the "normal"/average man to fathom. Therein lies the crux of my debate...Information & Knowledge...

There is no knowledge without information, but information without knowledge is limited too. Combine information and knowledge and you'll get power. Bernie Madoff had the knowledge and the information and he was able to wield it to great effect. What is so complex about hedge funds that an average mind can't fathom? Why do we need investment bankers who crunch up numbers and rely on statistics when a simple natural disaster could blow up all the numbers and calculation to bits? Don't get me wrong, I respect the investment gurus and statisticians alot, they have the information and the knowledge because they spend alot of time studying mundane issues that actually have alot of impact.

I'm trying to rein in my thoughts, no point waltzing off into the murky waters of business and finance. Let me turn to art and literature to depict ideas. Odysseus was accorded the honor of being the inventor of the Trojan Horse. Whether mythical or legendary, we would never know if he got the idea from someone else, the movie "Troy" cast it as an idea he got from a soldier's innocent craft, Odysseus was a smart dude, he had a solid background on the traditions of the trojans so he used both his information and knowledge to devastating effect. Even Achilles with all his strength couldnt prevail. Fastforward years later and some dude came up with the trojan virus, polymorphic worms that masquerade as innocent files. Some other dude came up with the idea of Trojan condoms, dunno what he was thinking about, but the whole 'Trojan' name struck a chord and people liked the name. I wonder if that condom brand would have been popular if he named it 'chukwuka' condoms. lol.

Anyway, what I've come to realize is this: If you put the right information in the hands of a man with vast knowledge, the possibilites are endless. The scary thing about information is that it flies about everywhere and could trigger a stampede if twisted or transform you to a king if well used. An "idea" is always stored in the mind/head and remains proprietary to whoever conceives it, the moment that "idea" is voiced out, it morphs into "information/data" and loses its copyright, it floats around in the air, transported by sound waves to any listening or random ear and propagated by more voices, largely ignored by many. Whoever has the knowledge to act first on that floating information/voiced idea gains the patent and power associated with it...ask Mark Zuckerberg!

"This article is dedicated to my 401K plan, still in its infancy but reeling from the Dow Jones index fiasco"