God: All that glitters is not Gold

I was reading Malachi 2 some weeks back and was amazed at what I found:

1 And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you.

2 If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the LORD of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart. KJV

Curse or Blessing

This amazed me simply because these are times when a lot people claim to be blessed, in spite of their ignorance as to what blessings are. A lot of people claim material possessions as blessings. They view illegal favours and recognition as blessings. To sum it up, most times what they claim to be blessings have no connection to God. This doesn’t mean God doesn’t bless them. After all, He provides for every living thing on the earth as in Matt 4:45:

44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. KJV

But as said in verse 2, if we don’t give glory to His name, then He can and has cursed our blessings. It is natural to desire the things of life, it is how ever bad to envy those who have such and a lot worse to envy blessings that are cursed. Imagine going out of your way to do what whomever you admire did to get to where he/she is and lost your soul in the way? (Matt 16:26) It’s easy to look at people and envy them but do you ever really know the source of their material possessions or what they had to do to obtain them? The current story of Diezani Allison-Madueke is a startling example as to how far someone would go to achieve their aim.

All that glitters is not gold

Now I assume you’d want to argue that this was said concerning the priests and not to us all, but as was said in 1 Peter 2:9-10:

9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. KJV”

My point? The fact that you are being blessed doesn’t mean you should be conceited, you have to remain humble, be self-aware and make sure you check always that you give glory unto the name of God. As the probably clichéd saying goes “all that glitters is not gold”.

Google: Friend or Foe?

I don’t like Google! It’s that simple! I have always sparred with my brother and a few friends as to how aggressive I think they are in their expansion pursuits. But it’s always about the fact that their products are very functional, but I always wondered how they went from search engine on this apparent journey to world power! Even people gave them free promotion with the common phrase “Go ask Google”.

I should state here that I use an android and opened a Gmail when I got it. It also came with a YouTube and Google+ accounts which I don’t  actively use. I just wonder how they can be curbed from their rapid growth. Don’t get me wrong, I value their functionality and admit their products are an essential aspect of life as it is but there are other concerns apart from these facts. Apart from some articles I read on their acquisition of a robotics company and work with the U.S. Army, I never had facts to use. Well I did find a detailed article on the issue and thought to share. Do you think they are friends, potential foes or what? Do read the article in the link and share your thoughts. Thanks.

http://www.businessinsider.com/the-information-google-is-gathering-about-us-is-terrifying-2014-6

Nigeria and her Music, Two of a kind

“…nowadays nobody speaks about, the way they feel about things…and nowadays nobody thinks about a way to ease the suffering”, lyrics from Lighthouse family’s 1998 single “Question of faith”. Lyrics that still ring true till this day, talk about ever green. Or is it Nneka’s 2005 single from her EP of the same name, The Uncomfortable Truth, where she sings “Let us make a change, why can’t we turn the page, Lord make us able, without you we are totally unstable”. I suppose we might also consider Sade’s “Sweetest taboo”, Seal’s “Kiss from a Rose”, Asa’s “Jailer” or the numerous works of Fela. Music by Nigerians, either in terms of lyrics, composition, vocals or production has always been beautiful especially when fostered in an enabling environment. By music I mean songs that are not just songs but are songs that are full and by full I mean songs that are timeless, that have essence, moods, life and carry substantial messages. But what do we have today? Bogus monotonic compositions from contemporary artists who possess little or no originality. Talk about originality when an artist writes a song about water and makes it a hit! Fela did!  But we have caricature songs that sample from and were inspired by great artists and then watered down to reduce the concentration of music in it. Danceable, chant able, remixed concepts, money, cars, girls, fame; cliché!

But what’s good for the goose is good for the gander right? At times when I hear stories of “Old Nigeria”, I find it hard to believe how far down the ladder we are. Old folks talk about a time when goods were left outside with prices on them, and people would buy and sell with little or no supervision. They talk about a time when you could leave your house without bothering to lock your doors; they talk about the times when Nigerians abroad could close down malls just to shop. They all seem like fairytales when you come up in a time like this where it’s hard to trust even your own brother. Oil came and we forgot everything else. States queue for their share of the budget and I wonder, what happened to state internal revenue? Why aren’t states responsible for the provision of power? Politicians run the nation as they deem fit without caring to maximise its resources. Along the line someone got greedy and all those that were aware, said nothing and that single seed grew and is still flourishing till today. As your president said, Nigeria is not poor; our problem is in the distribution of wealth.

A lot of the time I relate the state of Nigeria to its music. Are they not a matching pair? Nigeria’s main source of revenue is from Oil, the main genre of music is “Afrobeat” or “Afro-pop” or whatever you call it. Ever heard people say a certain thing would not work in Nigeria, say a new law that is standard in a lot of places around the world because it doesn’t fit us here? Ever heard a Nigerian say a song is good and they like it just that the person won’t sell here? Why won’t the new law work if they decide to follow it and encourage others? Why won’t that “good” artist sell if they decide to purchase good music and spread the word?

Nigeria is blessed with various resources, every type you can think of, but we don’t invest in minds, don’t invest in research, won’t actively use our steel or other mineral resources, won’t invest in renewable energy , won’t invest in agriculture and tourism or any other resource as we should. Why aren’t we producing when we have the capacity to do so? Why do foreigners have to make those investments? We have narrowed it down to crude oil and that’s that! Why don’t we have more genres? Soul? Rock? House? Alternative? I mean we listen to songs like that from foreign artists, why not encourage our local artists to be diverse? Why don’t we have more clearly defined genres as opposed to diluting everything with “Afrobeat”? Why isn’t afrobeat, our very own internationally recognised genre, on the radio? Why do Femi and Seun Kuti release their albums outside Nigeria? Why should foreigners get to listen to them and not us?

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The giant of Africa? Sure! In retrospect! We just talk in this country, but no truth or action in those words. Everyone has the solution to the problem but somehow the problem persists. Could it be because we don’t do accordingly? I mean we have a rich proverbial history but somehow we don’t update and apply it. Where are our poets? Where is our art? Where is our history written so we don’t forget? Who reveals the truth of the past and the lessons we must learn from them? But our music is better! Introspective and intellectual, you can learn from it. It takes you away and addresses your mood. If you are feeling sad, you have a companion! Heartbroken? You have something soothing. Afraid? You have something motivational. Calm? You have something down tempo. But alas I lie! The artist said he is inspired by life? He lies as well! The words in most songs are just empty, improvised with no particular direction? Where are the concepts? The structure? The vision? The passion? The talent? The words? Life? But then I suppose my life is a boring one, as that of a lot of the others seems to consist primarily of money, women, cars, parties, alcohol and the likes.

Politicians can bring ridiculous laws and implement it without even a cough from us, no wonder they ridicule us. How does a human use billions to maintain 2 private jets while the masses lack education and the basic amenities? How does a leader seek pay after public office without considering the repercussion on his state’s treasury? Oh but leadership is the new royalty hence we call them “your Excellency” and make no complains! Creativity is when you can form words from nothing in particular that elicits excitement from people who are looking for an escape from their hardships. Creative licence is when an artist can say “In the middle of the center” and come off appraised. No well crafted verses, no content, no figures of speech, just chants. Well as Modenine said on his 2008 song “Hip Hop “, “I mean it when I say your whole album is a chorus”.

Nigeria is a country with so much potential. With the developing countries slowing down, we should lead Africa in the race to catch up and even exceed what has been done but we have decided to operate at 10% efficiency, or do you estimate it’s less? Our crops and culture is being stolen from right under us and we could care less. It’s our way of doing things and however wrong it is, we hold steadfast to it. Talk about dedication to destruction. But music is life, and when I see Nigeria, I see its music, and I wonder if we really are alive? How many people really learnt from Fela? How many people really learnt from Onyeka Onwenu?

Sigh, would I sound like a conspiracy theorist if I propose that Nigerian music might be fashioned to keep us dumbed down? A means to help us be consoled in our misery while the elites plunder our resources? After all a documentary I saw recently said the system of the world is made by the rich for the rich. But hey! Maybe things are getting better, at least on the BRT buses, it’s usually not the case of “49 sitting, 99 standing” as Fela sang. What do you think?

The little things that do matter

Certain things amaze me, like how Terry keeps his bat suit in his school bag in the batman of the future series, or how Tony Starks keeps that magnificent suit with all its special effects in a “simple” suitcase. It’s fascinating seeing big things coming out of “small” people, actions, events and what have you. It gives hope and courage to a lot of people who often end up achieving more things than they ever thought they could. Ask any successful person and they would tell you how a little step led to a lot or a little persistence paid off big time.

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On the counter, it’s frightening how something so small could command a lot more than it should. Our beloved country is full of such and these are a constant source of frustration for the social and economical growth of the society.

Let me start from a recent event where in a friend attended a wedding in what should be a regularly occupied event centre. Of course due to the poor urban planning of Lagos, finding adequate parking space in a city where social events like weddings are usually “packed” was out of the question and hence people resorted to parking at the side of what could be called a busy street. My friend had parked at a spot where some FRSC officials told her was “safe”. Allegedly the host of the event hadn’t “settled” the local LASTMA operatives and as such they decided to assert their authority and seize some “illegally” parked vehicles. As expected the fine was ridiculous in relation to the “crime” and the circumstance surrounding it. But what also caught my attention is the fact that the car tires were deflated immediately upon arrival by a vulcanizer within the premises. He would have to be paid for the tires to be inflated before one leaves. Why should the tires of impounded vehicles be deflated at all and why is inflation to be paid for by the “victim”? These could be at low as N40 on the streets but could be up to N100 per tire.

Another case of interest is that of university hostels. These hostels unfortunately cannot accommodate everyone and as such should ideally be prioritised for the new students, final year students and then students who live outside the state or at distant locations. In reality this is not the case. We find that most times, the final year and new students get hostels but the allocation of the remaining space is left unaccounted for. People eventually have to use backdoor means which are more expensive than the “moderate” fees one pays for hostel accommodation. They get the impression that the spaces have all been fully allocated and it’s apparent the spaces can’t be gotten through the legal channels. What they then resort to is finding “agents” who help process hostel spaces for them. Of course this is usually after several weeks of resumption where they have had to attend school from distant locations on a daily basis or had to squat with someone fortunate to have a space. Of course outside school accommodation is an option but not everyone can afford them. Consequently the moderate price tag attached to hostel accommodation rises in multiples. Why apply for a hostel one doesn’t want when they can leave it for those who NEED it?

Do I hear it’s simply simple economics of supply and demand? Do I hear inflation?

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What of the case whereby people ask for incentives just to do their jobs? Like the cleaners or guards in public and private establishments? Places where certain privileges ordinarily expected come with a price. We pay taxes and then pay for the people who live off our taxes, and apparently might not be performing up to par on the job, to still do their jobs. There are those as well who just expect a more fortunate individual to hand them money just because they are more fortunate.

Do I hear corporate begging?

It’s funny how ingenious people feel when they devise a means, legal or illegal, to get money they didn’t morally work for. But who is deceiving who really? Just as a friend put it, “Its exploitation and not exploration”. The issue is that where there is illegitimate gain, there simply is a loss somewhere else. Is the economy growing? Is money being made where value is offered? Or are we just accelerating the movement of money where money is “made” with no apparent value created?

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But these are small issues that sum up to a large deficit. Of course an even larger example of this sort of instance is one where less than 500 people serving a country are paid about 25% of its budget for a job that’s horribly done. Where is the value for which they are paid?

We need to stop praising mediocrity, we all have to work for what we deserve and do our best to increase Nigeria’s income as opposed to creating a false sense of value. Remember what is of excessive value is of no value at the end of the day (context).

Do share any similar experiences or views. Thanks.

Speak Out

So it’s about 10pm and I’m to call someone. Tried a couple of times but it turns out they fell asleep. Smh. Giving a limited time for them to call back I decided to listen to the radio while gaming. A night show with N6 and Joy of Cool FM was on and I got stuck all the way till 1am. I have missed night radio I must confess especially on those nights I was up late and had the silence to accompany my drab lab reports.

So there were several calls and some bewildering stories like the chick whose friend took her where her fiancé was squashing her mum’s 49 year old friend or the bathing girl who washed her face clean just to see a married man looking at her and then he gave her a thumb up. Or the story of a working class guy who streaked for 5k along a popular road at night. LOL. Between the laughs and solemn talks it was all quaint.

But the story that really caught my attention was that of a girl who got a ride from a co-worker who raped her not once but five times. L. That’s just the coldest. It’s every girl’s nightmare just as it is every guy’s to end up in prison with some huge scoundrel. *shrugs*. Imagine you, new job, great colleagues, you’re really excited and then someday one of them decides to give you a lift and then he takes you and … no one sees that coming. But it does happen, even though it may not be in the same form.

We live in this age where sex is everywhere! We couldn’t escape it if we tried. We can only minimize its effects if we cared to. A lot of us don’t get introduced to it the right way and just as everything else we are ignorant of, we tend to abuse it.”Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions” -Oliver Wendell Holmes. Thereby people develop all sorts of habits from the mild perversions to utter debauchery. I don’t support prostitution but then just as some callers suggested, a working class guy like himself could easily afford those who would even go beyond 5 rounds. Then why make a non-consenting adult go through that trauma?

Before we go pointing fingers here, it’s not always that simple. Besides consensual sex, there are other scenarios. Sex is like a slope, one just keeps sliding down once they start skating. It’s all a question of where you set the limit and if the other person respects it because in an instant all the lines get blurred and ‘boundaries’ are crossed. You want just a kiss and then he reaches for the twins, a case where the occasional make out session goes wrong and today he isn’t turning back at the gate, ‘just a visit’ and you’re begging for mercy, a last minute change of heart but he won’t have none of that and so on.

These are things that happen around and only a few of them get out. Like recently in the newspaper where a man impregnated two of his daughters and got caught when trying to sleep with the third. How many people have gone through these things and had to keep it to themselves? When is it going to stop? In the old days when this happens to a girl, a stigma is attached to her, now that we are better educated have we grown from that? A lot of people are traumatised from these incidents and they only keep it to themselves, they don’t get treatment or adequate attention to heal and recover from the psychological effect this brings to them. A lot of them go around feeling all is well while they are still suffering from the side effects.

My opinion is that women should speak out. It’s very important they do and look out for themselves and their children. A huge percentage of rape cases or assault is done by close persons, from families to friends and associates. This means women have to be extra careful with whom they trust. Men also have to realise that women are our mothers, our sisters and friends and they must hold some kind of self-restraint even if we are in a world where the unrealistic mindset is to do whatever makes you happy. A lot of things around here are allowed to pass by with us saying “What has happened has happened”, it’s time we put a stop to it.

Ergo, as you ladies sing Aretha Franklin’s R-E-S-P-E-C-T, demand it by the way you live, meaning what you say and voicing out your opinions and your hurt. The lady that took her friend to where her fiancé was cheating on her did something rare. Not everyone can say that because we are all scared of being put in the middle and ending up with the blame. As lighthouse family say in their song “Question of Faith”, “Nowadays nobody speaks about, the way they feel about things”. This is a problem and the first step to solving it is speaking out, from the heart where it hurts the most.