Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Interview with Mallam Nasir El-Rufai on Boko Haram and State of the Nation by Zainab Usman

I use this opportunity to present to you, as I have always tried to do so, one of those Nigerian and African write-ups that I judge worthy of promoting and sharing. I am happy to propose this particular one to you for some crucial reasons that every objective reader will confirm after reading this. It’s strength is not only on the capacity and capability of the interviewer and the interviewed but on the crucial nature of the topics discoursed. It’s just a must read as topics like Insecurity, Corruption, Governance, Leadership, Kidnapping, Militancy, Religious and Regional crisis, just name them, are laid bay in this interview. Refusing, not just to read this interview, but also failing to finish it all will be a serious denial to ones intellectual curiosity. I leave you to Usman Zainab and Mallam Nasir El-Rufai.

Friday, 24 February 2012

My Name is Grace Kim – and I’m a Stereotype

One of those write-ups that draw my attention for their literary and sociological content is this incident of Grace Kim who just like many other individuals have by birth, social, political or educational reasons found themselves in a geographical location that some shallow thinking individuals believe they have no right to be. I just find it worth sharing if not for any other reason, at least for her audacity in this exposition of the situation of many migrants and and for the quality of the narration.

My name is Grace Kim. It’s a beautiful evening, and the world’s finally cooling down after a typically hot February day. Irene, my sister, and I are leaving Thuthuka’s apartment block after having picked him up from the airport. Irene’s driving. She edges slowly out of the driveway, watching the traffic in the busy main road. I hear a group of students chatting loudly towards us, and turn my head to watch them while Irene concentrates on the road. Most of them stop at the edge of the driveway, waiting for us to go ahead. One guy doesn’t. Just as he’s about to walk in front of the car, his girlfriend anxiously yanks his arm: “Babe, she didn’t see you”.
“No, ‘cause she wasn’t looking. Fucking Chinese”, he retorts loudly, pulling away from her.
I am a stereotype.

A People in Terminal Decline by Zainaba Usman

One of the greatest Nigerian literature guru, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie made one of the prominent remarks that I believe will never seize to be incessantly of actuality. She said: “the single story creates stereotypes and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.” This is exactly what Zainaba Usman is airing in this article that I am fully convinced is a key to understanding the actual situation of the nation. The article adopts a free, non religious, non tribal, and non regional tone that makes it one among the few socio-political analysis of the Nigerian confused situation. It goes beyond the ordinary name calling, quick and media-tized eye catching captioning that has always characterised our Journals in the last few years. This is, in one word, the latest approach to the Nigerian political quagmire.    
For a while now, I’ve had reason to believe that the people of Northern Nigeria, especially the (in)famous “dominant” group, the Hausa-Fulanis seem to be in terminal decline. Could this conviction have stemmed out of the aftermath of the 2011 Nigerian general elections and the rampage of the Northern youths against the so-called Northern leaders or the recent spate of Boko Haram attacks in the northern cities of Kano and Kaduna? Perhaps it is the intensification of the unfair media bias and the recent vitriolic, virulent and hateful diatribes against the mostly Muslim Hausa-Fulani Northerners in the mainstream and social media or the serial decline and retardation of the economy in the north and/or the region’s growing political irrelevance in the scheme of things in Nigeria. This conviction is coupled with a growing realization that little or nothing is being done by us, the victims, of our mostly self inflicted problems to salvage our future which is in dire jeopardy.
The most obvious problem is the serious leadership deficit in the North which became magnified before and after the 2011 general elections.

The Imo State of Rochas Okorocha by Kayode Ogundamisi

Rochas Okorocha does not collect his Salary as Imo State governor. What is baffling? I've been trying to fault him & its been difficult. People who say its a gimmick, should visit Babatunde Raji Fashola's Lagos and get the definition of gimmick in action. Even if na show towards 2015. Imo state people should enjoy the show and count themselves blessed. It should not also stop people from scrutinising Rochas Okorochas every move, that was the mistake we made in my Lagos, everyone turned praise singers that you dare not question the Alausa folks without you being accused of being an agent of imaginary 'enemies'.
"Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State took to the state’s official website to list his administration’s accomplishments since he was sworn into office on May 29."
Here’s a look at Gov. Okorocha’s first 100 days in office:
 

1. PUBLIC UTILITIES
Rehabilitation of Water Schemes in Imo State, namely:
1. Otamiri Head –Works
2. Egbu Water Scheme
3. Orji Water Scheme
4. Umuoba Water Scheme
5. Ubachima Water Scheme
6. Mgbidi Water Scheme
7. Umuowa Water Scheme
8. Osuama Water Scheme
9. Nsu Water Scheme
 

2. COMMERCE & INDUSTRY

Miracle of Loppiano: From a black Christmas to a triumphant New Year

aliWith a sore and painful heart filled with anguish and trouble I left the International Scolasticate Rome, on the morning of 28th December 2011 to Loppiano, a very small and modern village located in the town of Incisa, in the Italian province of Puglia. In fact, the Christmas festivities that we started the preparations at the IRS with much happiness and joy turned up for me to be a moment of sorrow and sadness.
The most tragic aspect of it all was the fact that the whole story changed from a colourful to a sorrowful one at a moment I least expected it. It was just by the moment I was putting up my traditional attire to join the other brothers for the normal Sunday and festive Appetitivo that I had the sad News of the bomb incident in different Churches in Nigerian. It sounded like a thunder to my ears. Though it was not the first time I am receiving such News, this one remains the most shocking of all to me. I think one of the reasons of this serious indescribable shock maybe due to the height of this feast a typical Nigerian set-up.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Boko Haram in Nigeria: The role of corruption, religion and politics

February 20, 2012. (Romereports.com)1 It was August of 2011, when a United Nations building was attacked in Nigeria. Then just a few months later, in December, the attacks turned against civilians, when Christian churches were bombed.
The attacks were credited to a terrorist group named “Boko Haram,” which translates to “Western education is prohibited.” Critics say the radical Islamic group wants to impose its religion, even if it's done violently. 
Eugene Ohu
Journalist (Nigeria)

“The head of Boko Haram was arrested. He was healthy at the time, but by nigh time he had died. Who killed him? People were thinking that the Nigerian police killed the head of Boko Haram, so this provoked another reason for more attacks: revenge.”

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Pope: discourse to African and European Bishops gathered for Symposium

Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday addressed representatives of the episcopal conferences of Africa and Europe who have been meeting in Rome to participate in their Second Symposium on the theme “Evangelization today: communinon and pastoral collaboration between Africa and Europe”.

The Pope welcomed the bishops and addressed a special greeting to Cardinal Peter Erdo, President of the Council of European Bishops' Conferences, and Cardinal Polycarp Pengo, President of Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar.
The Pope also expressed deep appreciation to those who promoted these study days, during which the focus was on evangelization today “in the light of mutual communion and pastoral collaboration that was established during the first symposium of 2004”.

DR Congo police teargas Christians protesting vote fraud

Police in Kinshasa on Thursday used tear gas to block a march by Christian groups protesting alleged fraud in the November polls that returned President Joseph Kabila and his party to power.
Groups of Christian faithful had been converging since dawn on the meeting point in front of Saint Joseph's church in the Democratic Republic of Congo's capital.
But riot police dispersed the growing crowd before the start of the march, which was also due to mark the 20th anniversary of the deadly suppression of a Christian pro-democracy protest but was banned by the government.

Friday, 17 February 2012

OMI: 186 Years at the Service of the most abandoned

As the Congregation of Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate celebrate the 186th anniversary of the approval of the Constitutions and Rules of the congregation, I present to you some few important moments of this great occasion of our religious family.  This story that started somewhere in Aix-in-Province has turned up to be a strong religious family comprising more than 4000 oblates exercising their ministries in more than 70 countries in the World.
Here is the message of the Superior General, Father Louis Lougen, OMI, addressed to all the Oblates in the World and the homily of Father Jun Mercado, OMI. 

Father General’s letter for February 17, 2012
Happy Feast Day!  
With joy and thanksgiving
This year we celebrate 186 years since Pope Leo XII approved our Constitutions and Rules. We celebrate this grace with great joy, thanksgiving and a fraternal spirit among us. The Founder saw the Constitutions and Rules as uniting the Oblates in a society in which we would become holy missionaries and be dedicated to the salvation of God’s poor. We see this expressed in the Preface to the CC&RR.
These two dimensions of our vocation strike me in the Preface. First of all, there is the strong expression of what burned in Eugene de Mazenod’s missionary heart: the urgent need to evangelize, to preach the Gospel and reawaken the faith. He reached out in bold new ways to those who had lost the faith and had been neglected by the clergy of the time. This young missionary was busy reaching out to those not being touched by parish structures. He was aware of those who were being overlooked and whose faith was dying. He sought ways to speak to them in their language and to gather them. He met them on their own ground and took the Word to them. He longed to bring them into contact with the Church and to reawaken their faith so that they would come to know Jesus and become his disciples.
In the Chapter of 2010, the call made for us to Conversion in the area of Mission asked us if we are merely satisfied with what we are doing and whether we are simply caring for those who are already believers. We are invited to become uncomfortable and to question ourselves. Are we seeking to bring Jesus to those who are missing out on his Good News and to work creatively with them? As missionaries, it is not our vocation to be content in doing good pastoral work for the people who come to us. Like Eugene, moved by love for Christ and the Church, we are called to notice people who don’t get touched by the pastoral structures, those on the fringes and those who suffer in poverty in its many faces. We seek them out and communicate the Gospel in their language so that God’s grace might draw them to his Son and to the Church.
The other dimension which strongly appears in the Preface is the holiness of the missionaries who will be preachers of the Good News. To accomplish the great mission before them, the missionaries must be true disciples of Jesus Christ and transformed by the Word they preach. The call to conversion is a commitment to give ourselves in an ongoing, disciplined way to the transforming process of God’s grace. Over a lifelong journey, the Spirit will fashion us into truer images and likenesses of God. What does holiness mean for us today? How do we live the Founder’s mandate: “They must strive to be saints”?
Our CC&RR guide us in an understanding of Oblate holiness, a lifelong journey into Jesus, the Savior. Prayer, individual and communal; a life founded on the sacraments and the Word of God; apostolic communal life; a relationship to Mary; living the fullness of our four vows; and qualities like generosity, joy, humility, forgiveness and hospitality are essential to our growth in holiness found in our CC & RR. Also part of Oblate holiness expressed in our CC&RR are compassion; solidarity with the poor; hunger for justice; a capacity for dialog, mutual respect and responsibility; a simple life that respects the environment. We return to our OMI CC&RR to deepen this sense of holiness which is lived in relation to God, to our neighbor, to our very self and to creation. Do you have a copy readily accessible?
This February 17th let us ask for the grace to renew our missionary vision and our thirst for holiness. Together, let us give thanks for the Congregation and celebrate this day by renewing our commitment as Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. I invite us to take some time together to share “signs of life” that we see in the Congregation.
Your brother Oblate in Jesus Christ and Mary Immaculate,
Father Louis Lougen, OMI
Superior General
Homily – NDU Celebration of the 186th Anniversary of the Approval of the OMI Constitution and Rules cum blessing of the new student center…[1]
This year, the OMIs celebrate the 186th anniversary of the approval of the Constitution and Rules by Pope Leo XII in 1826.
There are three things I would like to highlight on this occasion by way of retrieving a legacy of the Congregation to the Church and to the world…
First is the fact that the OMI charism is and will always be ‘evangelizare pauperibus misit me, paupers evangelizantur – ‘You have sent me to preach the good news to the poor and the poor have the good news preached to them’. That poor refers to many things and it allows many readings to the point that practically every one and all things can go under the label poor. But when all things are said and done, the poor, as defined and shaped by OMI tradition through the years, are the MOST ABANDONED!  This was the reason that the OMIs during the time of the founder… the operative words in opening new missions were ‘Mission to the most abandoned’.
The second is the courage and the daring spirit to try all for the sake of the gospel.  Yes, the OMI spirit is NOT that of timidity… It is the spirit of daringness for the gospel… and that is one of the gifts of the Spirit.  The pioneers of the Philippine mission in 1939 were men of courage, men of imagination and men of dreams.
The third is a characteristic that is reflected of the man we honor today – Fr. Jesus Reynaldo Roda, OMI.  It is a spirit of innocence bordering to a certain romanticism that only a child can possess.  We find in the lives of our forefathers in the congregation, this innocence… believing in the goodness of men and women of their times… Paraphrasing St. John’s gospel chapter 17, they are in the world but NOT of this world!  They can live in remote islands in the middle of nowhere, and could be martyrs, too, because they are romantic believers.  Where others despair… and leave… they stay and die… simply because, they believe that their lives with the most abandoned make sense!
These are the three things that I propose for our reflection… as we attempt to retrieve the zeal, idealism and the courage of the Founder and companions as they asked the church to approve their small band of men… selfless and full of fire and zeal for the salvation of souls…
By way remembering the event that occurred 186 years ago… we hope to renew ourselves in that same spirit that opened the eyes of the church to recognize this small band of men… because the church saw in them that this new congregation makes sense… not only for the church but also for the world…
Fr. Jun Mercado, OMI
OMI Province of the Philippines.
February 17, 2012
''The truth might be hard to say, painful to bear or even drastic for the truth sayer but still needed to be said''. ALISON.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

The Arab ‘Spring’…? from ermomi

The comments on the Arab spring, which until now had been sailing on the open sea swept along by the wind of enthusiasm, have gone beyond the turning point and at the end of a year full of events are cautiously beginning to return to safer harbours. The observers who in the hot days of protest had put forward the idea of a new beginning capable of cancelling a traditionally non-transparent and incomprehensible Middle East, are now by twos and threes falling into line with the new half-whispered password: the revolutions were a gamble and the West was wrong in supporting them. How has such a sudden change been possible? Basically only a few months separate the ‘heroic’ pictures of Tahrir Square from the clashes still taking place.
According to us, the change in opinion depends on at least three confusing elements that have distorted the image of these uprisings in the West. The first of these is the very use of the expression ‘Arab spring’, applied indiscriminately to the whole region, to mean more or less a popular uprising against the authoritarian regime conducted with the use of the new media. What is specifically Arab in all this? Nothing and in fact the term has very recently also been applied to the Moscow protests. In fact the virtual protest sided with a very real and specific unrest, the extent of which is difficult to measure. In relatively developed countries like Tunisia the weight of the ‘caste’, to use an expression that is popular in Italy at the moment, had become intolerable. At the same time the absence of freedom made the climate suffocating.
Contrary to what is claimed, the West did not encourage the movement, especially at the beginning, nor least of all, was it at its origin: when the revolts had already begun, the French foreign minister proposed sending special police corps to help the Tunisian government (Ben Ali’s). American pressure was felt in Egypt only some days following the beginning of the uprisings. Israel was taken unawares and did not certainly benefit from the change in leadership there and then. For this reason the first, double, statement to discredit is on the one hand that it was possible to continue as ‘in the good times’ and on the other, that the West imposed the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions.
Instead, the fact that a number of political players immediately considered using this very real unrest for their own political ends, and this was not limited to just Tunisia and Egypt, is absolutely true: the military campaign in Libya is a glaring example. The West is certainly among these actors but is not alone. The most unusual show of 2011 was probably to see countries like Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, which repressed any form of protest in their own countries, threatening Bashar al-Asad’s regime using democratic and liberal rhetoric to impose the re-orientation of Syria in a pro-Saudi direction. It is a game on which the regime of Riyadh is betting a great deal, by means of the traditional ties with the Islamist movements of the region, but it a dangerous game, for the minorities in the first place.
While the various regional actors have tried to direct the spontaneous movement in the direction most favourable to them, in a crescendo of media interventions, (the difficult verifiability of which was recently highlighted by Riccardo Redaelli in Avvenire), money and arms, the poor knowledge of these dynamics and the unstable Middle Eastern balances is the second element that makes a correct assessment of the revolts difficult: in these there is the propelling force of the new protest movements, of the young people, but there are also all the usual political actors, who have their own networks of influence. A considerable part of the media first of all bet everything on the young people, then they stressed the re-emergence of the Islamist movements, ending up giving the public a contradictory and hardly credible picture.
The emphasis placed on the use of technology (‘our’ technology) in many cases betrays a secret hope: that finally these peoples are ‘normalised’. And this is the third confusing element, since technology does not necessarily mean secularisation and the removal of the Islamic element is an illusion. These countries, as Marc Boucrot wrote for Oasis when commenting on the elections in Morocco, are and remain largely Muslim and the political fight will take place on the economic and social justice axis, but also (and perhaps even more so) on the one of community identity.
Following my short stay in Tunisia and without any claims to generalise, the impression is that the society is experiencing great ferment. The lid has been taken off a boiling pan. The thrusts are hugely contradictory and the two main dangers are firstly the recourse to pure and simple violence, preached in the more extreme Salafite fringes, and then the headlong run to hegemony which, should the fundamental principles of the state not be clearly defined, could open up the door to totalitarian shifts. Vice versa, a sufficiently wide confluence to some principles, particularly in the constituent phase, would lay the bases for a less conflictual future. To tell the truth, in these revolts the incidence of violence has been very different and it is evident that the transition towards new ways of organising power has more chances of success where less blood has been shed.
A final consideration which is also a hope for the future: in the past the apparent emphasis on human rights by the West was in fact hindered by strategic considerations. Now there is no alibi. Will all the opportunities offered by this unprecedented convergence between principles and interests be taken?

*An abridged version of this article ha been published on the Italian Journal Avvenire on December 31 2011.
Source: ERMOMI48
"The truth might be hard to say, painful to bear or even drastic for the truth sayer but still needed to be said''. ALISON.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Education in Africa: Whose Education, anyway? By ChikaforAfrica

Guinea Schoolgirl
“Why do some of our people sometimes talk and behave as if they are not educated,” queried the man from the podium, as he addressed his largely West African audience; “Illiteracy, the Bane of Africa’s Underdevelopment,” the international magazine headline recently declared; and according to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, as at 2007, only 3 out of 10 adults in sub-Saharan Africa are literate.
The above, represent the widespread belief held within and outside Africa that the leadership crisis and the development dilemma, which plague the continent is a direct correlation of low literacy levels. In effect, the fact that few Africans have been opportune to sit under structured tutelage, to imbibe the basics of arithmetic, geography, history or the sciences, account for the decadence that prevail in the continent’s social, political and economic clime.
However, a fact that goes unnoticed by Africans is that pointing to low literacy levels as the root of Africa’s predicament, shuns the innate abilities and shrewdness of the African. According to the same UNESCO statistics, much more than sub-Saharan Africa, East-Asia accounts for the highest level of illiteracy globally, but the Asians are able to manage their economies despite being so academically challenged. In the case of Africa, their ability to manage or structure their society and develop their environment is hinged on the extent to which they are able to assimilate western education.
Education ought to empower an individual to master the peculiarities of his surroundings and afford him the tools to improve on it qualitatively. In essence, what might be considered knowledge in a certain part of the world could amount to useless information in another. Take for instance a teacher in faraway northern Nigerian teaching his elementary school pupil under the perpetual year round heat that the four seasons of the year are; fall, winter, spring and summer. The confusion the pupil will encounter is such that will take him a very long time, if at all, to decipher what the word ‘season’ implies, owing to the lack of correlation with his environmental reality. While the example given may seem implausible, such, form the bulk of what is widely disseminated as knowledge in the continent of Africa today.
Western incursion into Africa brought with it a repudiation of everything original to the continent. The African way of doing things were classified as backward, unscientific and barbaric. To the point of death from malaria, the westerners that first set foot on Africa refused to drink the herbal remedies offered by the kind natives to alleviate their suffering. Indigenous knowledge was regarded as baseless and summarily dismissed as superstition.
South African School Children
Intuition, metaphysics, sixth sense and other sources of knowledge long depended on, tried and tested by Africans were de-emphasized and western “scientific” method was upheld as the ultimate. The outdoor learning culture of Africans was scoffed at and African children were made to seat in classrooms just like in Europe, to learn the history of the Europeans, the Geography of Europe and the language of the colonialists.
Education became an enigma for the young and impressionable African child, who looked on with confused eyes as his blue eyed teacher explained that Mungo Park discovered the source of the Niger River in 1796. Unable to comprehend, the young child ponders over the fact that the source of the Niger River is just a stone throw away from his home, and yet his forefathers, who lived, fished and farmed on the edge of the river, could not “discover” it. Ashamed of his lineage, the African boy considers the Europeans heroic to have traveled thousands of miles to ‘discover’ a river just by the nose of his own people. He dreams of being like the Europeans, the great discoverers, and understandably looses any regard for his ‘ignorant’ people. The deep rotted inferiority complex leads him to dismiss whatever is African; cloth, food, culture, values, speech, technology and medicine as inadequate and in that same mind-set, he rears his children.
Many generations later, inferiority complex and a passionate disregard for everything African reigns in the subconscious of the average African. Acquisition of western education is equated with the acquisition of common sense and values. People who were unfortunate not to have tarried within the four walls of a school are seen to be of no value to society. African herbal remedies are viewed with suspicion in several quarters, and the younger generations speak only the colonial language and cannot be caught speaking their mother tongue.
An African, no matter how brilliant and of good character, who lacks a good command of either English or French as the case maybe or whose fairly acceptable grammar is accented with his local dialect has a much higher chance of finding a decent job in Europe and America than in his own country. But for the wise step taken by Mwalimu Julius Nyerere of Tanzania and to some extent Mzee Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya in elevating Swahili to the level of a national language, Africa would not have had any language with global appeal in the 21st century.
Worse still, are the courses offered within the African higher academic system; Euro-centered disciplines that lack applicability to the compelling needs of the continent and its people. Nothing prepares the African student for the reality he would face upon graduating with a degree in French, English, Business Management, Engineering, Food and Nutrition, Agricultural Economics or Pharmacy, to discover that he is still ill equipped to contribute meaningfully to his society. The fields mentioned are not inherently of no value to Africa, but the approach and curriculum they employ is bereft of originality and does not take cognizance of the environment in which the students are situate.
In Africa, education remains an abstract and unfathomable concept, neither easily nor conveniently appreciated nor applicable – a wasteful endeavor that should never have been embarked upon in the first place. Take for instance, the Pharmacy department of African universities, where students are forced to memorize the chemical components of the drugs already discovered by Europe and America. On the contrary, pharmaceutical companies of Europe and America- with the co-operation of ignorant natives – are claiming to “discover” and patent the many herbs in the rich forests of Africa long used to cure ailments. The drugs so manufactured are sold back to Africans at exorbitant prices, while the student of Pharmacy from Africa graduates, clueless about what to do with his degree.
The high drop out rate of pupils in African schools is a symptom of the underlying problem of boredom. The curriculum is not tied to reality and is neither adequately intellectually stimulating nor engaging for the very brilliant children of Africa; African children on their own, assemble radios and mini cars from scrap metals, carve beautiful artifacts and even repair broken down cars and motorcycles.
The unproductive nature of the African educational system goes beyond paucity of funds to a deeply entrenched  apathy on the sides of teachers, researchers, students and educational administrators, who deep down, do not feel connected to an alien knowledge system that is elusive of their reality. The problem of food scarcity in Africa is not just caused by drought, but the fact that long ago, ever before famine became heard of in Africa, youths were discouraged from farm work and forced to sit for long hours within brick walls to learn, just like their European counterparts. Farm work became unfashionable and as the African proverb says, only the hands dirty with farm work get greased with cooking oil; hunger became the reward for self denial. In Europe, classroom learning is prioritized because of the harsh and extreme weather conditions that constrain people to stay indoors for most of the time. Ostensibly, African youth would have excelled more with a greater combination of outdoors or practical learning with the theoretical, as the culture and environment dictated. Unfortunately, they were forced to sit indoors to learn only to go home to bed confused and hungry. As agriculture is not part of Europe’s curriculum at the foundational level, a fundamental part of African culture – food production-was discouraged.
The vicious cycle of hunger and underdevelopment can only cease when Africans realize that indigenous knowledge, native intelligence, and values are what makes a society grow and not any super-imposed, parasitic and dependent knowledge. Any knowledge that lacks foundation or is completely alien to the culture of a people would hardly engender growth, but rather, it would create some sort of bi-polar mentality, fostering confusion rather than progress. Until the chemical engineering departments of African universities start using local resources as the raw materials for research, the Food and Nutrition department take pride in researching the calorific, nutritional and therapeutic values of African foods, and invest efforts in developing healthy, tasty and endurable snacks that a foreigner can enjoy, development and growth would remain elusive to the continent.
The problem is not in the acquisition of western education; the problem lies in the fact that Africans have lost their identity. Like a man in a borrowed suit a size or more too big or too small, Africans continue to struggle in the ill-fitting apparel, pointing accusing fingers, first to the tailor for not being magnanimous enough to make the suit fit a second person; or maybe to themselves for being be too fat and needing to go on a diet, or too thin and needing to gain a pound or two; or could it be the fault of the fabric, but how come it fits the original owner so perfectly well, then? The answer, which Africans have never come to accept, is that the suit does not fit because it does not belong to them. Western education was made to measure for the individualistic culture, the environmental dynamics and the extreme weather conditions of the west. The educational system should be overhauled in a simple and inexpensive re-evaluation of curriculum, process and system carried out by Africans who understand the nature of the issues at stake. A practical combination of African values should be merged with international standards, in order for the continent not to loose out in this era of extreme globalization.
Further, Africans must realize that the acquisition of western education alone, as it were, does not amount to common sense or the ability to be innovative and positively impact society. The emphasis should cease to be on the ability of an individual to express himself in English or French as the case maybe, as that does not remotely attest to one’s brilliance. Few Chinese are fluent in English and yet, Africa is currently coming to terms with the ‘Chinalization’ of the continent.
The fact that an individual cannot handle fork and knife or sit properly to eat at the dining table has no direct correlation  with his IQ; enough of the self-hatred and denial. Education is good when it is a product of the immediate environment and ought not to be validated by western culture and educational system. The solution does not lie in looking up to the west but in searching inwards to emerge with something original and authentic that can be explored, developed through R&D and used to foster development at home and ultimately exported.
The list of fields where Africa can and should explore its indigenous identity is endless; Medicine, Pharmacy, Food and Nutrition, Psychology, Architecture, Political Science, Sociology, Business Management, History, Pedagogy, Fine Arts, Mining, Technology etc and even yet to be named or discovered fields of study.
Africans should not be shy to leverage on information technology to conduct in-depth study in the necessary fields. Yes, available technological breakthrough and ideas should be borrowed to further  advance and indeed, excavate Africa’s authenticity. There is nothing to be ashamed of in active/objective borrowing as as there is no civilization that has not had to borrow to bring about advancement of its originality. The shame should only be our when we resign to copying.
For more articles on Africa, consult the source of this article CHIKA FOR AFRICA

''The truth might be hard to say, painful to bear or even drastic for the truth sayer but still needed to be said''. ALISON.

OMI Mission and the prevailing violence by Fr George Chidi IHEANACHO, OMI

Since the first bomb explosion on 1st October 2009 at the Eagle Square in Abuja, one can no longer count how many other bomb explosions the country has witnessed. Responsibility for most of these explosions, if not all, has been claimed by the extremist Islamic sect tagged Boko Haram (Western education is forbidden).
Generally based in the north-east of Nigeria (Borno State), the activities of the Islamic sect have now spread to the north-central states of Kaduna, Kano, Jos and Abuja and to the north-west states like Adamawa among others.
In Plateau State where the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate are working in the archdiocese of Jos, the very volatile situation that has prevailed since 2001 has now been compounded by several bomb explosions on relaxation centres, Christian churches and other nocturnal attacks on local and rural communities essentially of non-Muslim extraction. Plateau State is in the north-central region of Nigeria and 90% of the population is Christian. The neighboring states are essentially Muslim. Conflicts between Christians and Muslims have claimed several lives and destroyed property worth millions of naira.
The strategic location of our two Oblate communities in Plateau State perhaps is shielding us from having a direct sad experience of this mayhem. We live in Jebbu-Bassa and Bassa which are located about 20 km away from the city centre and in the same vicinity as a big military barracks. Often victims seek shelter in our area and in the barracks since military personnel are deployed from the barracks to areas of violence. Some consider the military barracks as the proverbial biblical wall of Jericho for us, the inhabitants of Jebbu-Bassa and Bassa! How long will this last? As it is said in Plateau State, it is not where you live that matters but where you were when the crisis started: one could be at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Nigerian policemen watching as university students fleeing
from the violent religious clashes are being evacuated to Abia State
in eastern part of the country in a bus provided by the state government in Jos.

Despite this situation, our Oblates have continued to work with the Christians and non-Christians including Muslims. In our work in the parish and at the Oblate Centre, we encounter Muslims and non-Catholics. We collaborate in the areas of peace talks, education, community building and social development. Our Mission has drilled wells for the village communities where Muslims and Christians live together. We have just opened a nursery-primary school in the parish premises where children of different religious backgrounds attend. We have encouraged and organized several meetings with members of the different religious communities to ensure a peaceful cohabitation amongst them. Muslims have always come to visit and work in our communities whenever necessary. While this remains possible in our small communities, the situation is more delicate elsewhere.
The state security seems to be overwhelmed by the gravity of the sad and heinous attacks and counter attacks. On several occasions, the security agents have themselves been targeted and are still one of the major targets of the sect, the reason being that the security agents arrested and extra-judicially killed their leader in 2009.
The Church is not spared this ugly situation. The climax came on Christmas day, with coordinated attacks on five churches across the north, including a Catholic church in Madalla, Niger State, near Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory and a Mountain of Fire church in Jos, Plateau State. These accounted for several deaths and numerous injured persons.
Before then in Plateau State, measures had been taken around the churches and in the cities to ensure some safety of the worshippers and the inhabitants. People are no longer allowed to enter the church building with bags or hand bags. Church members and all who enter the church premises are screened with gadgets. Those who own vehicles can no longer park them near church buildings. Improvised security men (mainly the youth) mount guard around the church premises before, during and after Church activities. Most of the night activities in churches are cancelled in some more exposed and volatile areas in the north. There are security check-points everywhere in the city and along major highways. But of what efficacy are these measures in the face of a suicide bomber who forces his way into a crowd of church members as they enter or leave the church and detonates his improvised explosive device)?
What is more worrisome in the present situation is the fact that the President of the country has openly confirmed that this Islamic sect has infiltrated the government, the judiciary and the security. What else could be so disturbing? Just recently, the presumed master-mind of the Christmas day bomb blast at St. Theresa Catholic church in Madalla (over 43 people died and over a hundred wounded) was arrested in a Borno State government house in Abuja, the capital. But unexplainably, he escaped police custody! And to think that most of the government’s plans to eradicate this group have often been revealed, even before there execution!
As it stands now, one of the options for a lasting solution is for the authorities to promote dialogue among all the ethnic and religious groups that form the Nigerian state, in order to draw a road map for our continued corporate existence as a nation. Our founding fathers had a vision for the country; we must revisit that vision and ascertain if it is still valid and applicable for all the components of the Nigerian nation. 

''The truth might be hard to say, painful to bear or even drastic for the truth sayer but still needed to be said''. ALISON.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

ARMM Electoral Reforms by Fr. Jun Mercado OMI

The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), rightly or wrongly, is perceived to be the electoral cheating capital of the Philippines. All, from the President down to the regular Abdul, speak of ghost voters, ghost precincts and prefabricated electoral results that include the manufactured certificates of canvass.
This perception is one of the major reasons for the cancellation of the ARMM elections in 2011, over and above the overt reason stated in the law, RA 10153, that seeks to synchronize the ARMM elections with the mid-term national elections in 2013.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI FOR LENT 2012

 

“Let us be concerned for each other,
to stir a response in love and good works” (Heb 10:24)

Pope Benedict XVI

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Lenten season offers us once again an opportunity to reflect upon the very heart of Christian life: charity. This is a favourable time to renew our journey of faith, both as individuals and as a community, with the help of the word of God and the sacraments. This journey is one marked by prayer and sharing, silence and fasting, in anticipation of the joy of Easter.

This year I would like to propose a few thoughts in the light of a brief biblical passage drawn from the Letter to the Hebrews:“ Let us be concerned for each other, to stir a response in love and good works”. These words are part of a passage in which the sacred author exhorts us to trust in Jesus Christ as the High Priest who has won us forgiveness and opened up a pathway to God. Embracing Christ bears fruit in a life structured by the three theological virtues: it means approaching the Lord “sincere in heart and filled with faith” (v. 22), keeping firm “in the hope we profess” (v. 23) and ever mindful of living a life of “love and good works” (v. 24) together with our brothers and sisters. The author states that to sustain this life shaped by the Gospel it is important to participate in the liturgy and community prayer, mindful of the eschatological goal of full communion in God (v. 25). Here I would like to reflect on verse 24, which offers a succinct, valuable and ever timely teaching on the three aspects of Christian life: concern for others, reciprocity and personal holiness.

1. “Let us be concerned for each other”: responsibility towards our brothers and sisters.

This first aspect is an invitation to be “concerned”: the Greek verb used here is katanoein, which means to scrutinize, to be attentive, to observe carefully and take stock of something. We come across this word in the Gospel when Jesus invites the disciples to “think of” the ravens that, without striving, are at the centre of the solicitous and caring Divine Providence (cf. Lk 12:24), and to “observe” the plank in our own eye before looking at the splinter in that of our brother (cf. Lk 6:41). In another verse of the Letter to the Hebrews, we find the encouragement to “turn your minds to Jesus” (3:1), the Apostle and High Priest of our faith. So the verb which introduces our exhortation tells us to look at others, first of all at Jesus, to be concerned for one another, and not to remain isolated and indifferent to the fate of our brothers and sisters. All too often, however, our attitude is just the opposite: an indifference and disinterest born of selfishness and masked as a respect for “privacy”. Today too, the Lord’s voice summons all of us to be concerned for one another. Even today God asks us to be “guardians” of our brothers and sisters (Gen 4:9), to establish relationships based on mutual consideration and attentiveness to the well-being, theintegral well-being of others. The great commandment of love for one another demands that we acknowledge our responsibility towards those who, like ourselves, are creatures and children of God. Being brothers and sisters in humanity and, in many cases, also in the faith, should help us to recognize in others a true alter ego, infinitely loved by the Lord. If we cultivate this way of seeing others as our brothers and sisters, solidarity, justice, mercy and compassion will naturally well up in our hearts. The Servant of God Pope Paul VI stated that the world today is suffering above all from a lack of brotherhood: “Human society is sorely ill. The cause is not so much the depletion of natural resources, nor their monopolistic control by a privileged few; it is rather the weakening of brotherly ties between individuals and nations” (Populorum Progressio, 66).

Concern for others entails desiring what is good for them from every point of view: physical, moral and spiritual. Contemporary culture seems to have lost the sense of good and evil, yet there is a real need to reaffirm that good does exist and will prevail, because God is “generous and acts generously” (Ps 119:68). The good is whatever gives, protects and promotes life, brotherhood and communion. Responsibility towards others thus means desiring and working for the good of others, in the hope that they too will become receptive to goodness and its demands. Concern for others means being aware of their needs. Sacred Scripture warns us of the danger that our hearts can become hardened by a sort of “spiritual anesthesia” which numbs us to the suffering of others. The Evangelist Luke relates two of Jesus’ parables by way of example. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, the priest and the Levite “pass by”, indifferent to the presence of the man stripped and beaten by the robbers (cf. Lk 10:30-32). In that of Dives and Lazarus, the rich man is heedless of the poverty of Lazarus, who is starving to death at his very door (cf. Lk 16:19). Both parables show examples of the opposite of “being concerned”, of looking upon others with love and compassion. What hinders this humane and loving gaze towards our brothers and sisters? Often it is the possession of material riches and a sense of sufficiency, but it can also be the tendency to put our own interests and problems above all else. We should never be incapable of “showing mercy” towards those who suffer. Our hearts should never be so wrapped up in our affairs and problems that they fail to hear the cry of the poor. Humbleness of heart and the personal experience of suffering can awaken within us a sense of compassion and empathy. “The upright understands the cause of the weak, the wicked has not the wit to understand it” (Prov 29:7). We can then understand the beatitude of “those who mourn” (Mt 5:5), those who in effect are capable of looking beyond themselves and feeling compassion for the suffering of others. Reaching out to others and opening our hearts to their needs can become an opportunity for salvation and blessedness.

“Being concerned for each other” also entails being concerned for their spiritual well-being. Here I would like to mention an aspect of the Christian life, which I believe has been quite forgotten:fraternal correction in view of eternal salvation. Today, in general, we are very sensitive to the idea of charity and caring about the physical and material well-being of others, but almost completely silent about our spiritual responsibility towards our brothers and sisters. This was not the case in the early Church or in those communities that are truly mature in faith, those which are concerned not only for the physical health of their brothers and sisters, but also for their spiritual health and ultimate destiny. The Scriptures tell us: “Rebuke the wise and he will love you for it. Be open with the wise, he grows wiser still, teach the upright, he will gain yet more” (Prov 9:8ff). Christ himself commands us to admonish a brother who is committing a sin (cf. Mt 18:15). The verb used to express fraternal correction - elenchein – is the same used to indicate the prophetic mission of Christians to speak out against a generation indulging in evil (cf. Eph 5:11). The Church’s tradition has included “admonishing sinners” among the spiritual works of mercy. It is important to recover this dimension of Christian charity. We must not remain silent before evil. I am thinking of all those Christians who, out of human regard or purely personal convenience, adapt to the prevailing mentality, rather than warning their brothers and sisters against ways of thinking and acting that are contrary to the truth and that do not follow the path of goodness. Christian admonishment, for its part, is never motivated by a spirit of accusation or recrimination. It is always moved by love and mercy, and springs from genuine concern for the good of the other. As the Apostle Paul says: “If one of you is caught doing something wrong, those of you who are spiritual should set that person right in a spirit of gentleness; and watch yourselves that you are not put to the test in the same way” (Gal 6:1). In a world pervaded by individualism, it is essential to rediscover the importance of fraternal correction, so that together we may journey towards holiness. Scripture tells us that even “the upright falls seven times” (Prov 24:16); all of us are weak and imperfect (cf. 1 Jn 1:8). It is a great service, then, to help others and allow them to help us, so that we can be open to the whole truth about ourselves, improve our lives and walk more uprightly in the Lord’s ways. There will always be a need for a gaze which loves and admonishes, which knows and understands, which discerns and forgives (cf. Lk 22:61), as God has done and continues to do with each of us.

2. “Being concerned for each other”: the gift of reciprocity.

This “custody” of others is in contrast to a mentality that, by reducing life exclusively to its earthly dimension, fails to see it in an eschatological perspective and accepts any moral choice in the name of personal freedom. A society like ours can become blind to physical sufferings and to the spiritual and moral demands of life. This must not be the case in the Christian community! The Apostle Paul encourages us to seek “the ways which lead to peace and the ways in which we can support one another” (Rom 14:19) for our neighbour’s good, “so that we support one another” (15:2), seeking not personal gain but rather “the advantage of everybody else, so that they may be saved” (1 Cor 10:33). This mutual correction and encouragement in a spirit of humility and charity must be part of the life of the Christian community.

The Lord’s disciples, united with him through the Eucharist, live in a fellowship that binds them one to another as members of a single body. This means that the other is part of me, and that his or her life, his or her salvation, concern my own life and salvation. Here we touch upon a profound aspect of communion: our existence is related to that of others, for better or for worse. Both our sins and our acts of love have a social dimension. This reciprocity is seen in the Church, the mystical body of Christ: the community constantly does penance and asks for the forgiveness of the sins of its members, but also unfailingly rejoices in the examples of virtue and charity present in her midst. As Saint Paul says: “Each part should be equally concerned for all the others” (1 Cor 12:25), for we all form one body. Acts of charity towards our brothers and sisters – as expressed by almsgiving, a practice which, together with prayer and fasting, is typical of Lent – is rooted in this common belonging. Christians can also express their membership in the one body which is the Church through concrete concern for the poorest of the poor. Concern for one another likewise means acknowledging the good that the Lord is doing in others and giving thanks for the wonders of grace that Almighty God in his goodness continuously accomplishes in his children. When Christians perceive the Holy Spirit at work in others, they cannot but rejoice and give glory to the heavenly Father (cf. Mt 5:16).

3. “To stir a response in love and good works”: walking together in holiness.

These words of the Letter to the Hebrews (10:24) urge us to reflect on the universal call to holiness, the continuing journey of the spiritual life as we aspire to the greater spiritual gifts and to an ever more sublime and fruitful charity (cf. 1 Cor 12:31-13:13). Being concerned for one another should spur us to an increasingly effective love which, “like the light of dawn, its brightness growing to the fullness of day” (Prov 4:18), makes us live each day as an anticipation of the eternal day awaiting us in God. The time granted us in this life is precious for discerning and performing good works in the love of God. In this way the Church herself continuously grows towards the full maturity of Christ (cf. Eph 4:13). Our exhortation to encourage one another to attain the fullness of love and good works is situated in this dynamic prospect of growth.

Sadly, there is always the temptation to become lukewarm, to quench the Spirit, to refuse to invest the talents we have received, for our own good and for the good of others (cf. Mt 25:25ff.). All of us have received spiritual or material riches meant to be used for the fulfilment of God’s plan, for the good of the Church and for our personal salvation (cf. Lk 12:21b; 1 Tim 6:18). The spiritual masters remind us that in the life of faith those who do not advance inevitably regress. Dear brothers and sisters, let us accept the invitation, today as timely as ever, to aim for the “high standard of ordinary Christian living” (Novo Millennio Ineunte, 31). The wisdom of the Church in recognizing and proclaiming certain outstanding Christians as Blessed and as Saints is also meant to inspire others to imitate their virtues. Saint Paul exhorts us to “anticipate one another in showing honour” (Rom 12:10).

In a world which demands of Christians a renewed witness of love and fidelity to the Lord, may all of us feel the urgent need to anticipate one another in charity, service and good works (cf. Heb 6:10). This appeal is particularly pressing in this holy season of preparation for Easter. As I offer my prayerful good wishes for a blessed and fruitful Lenten period, I entrust all of you to the intercession of the Mary Ever Virgin and cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 3 November 2011

BENEDICTUS PP. XVI

Hypocrites as Prayer Warriors: How Can God Heal Nigeria? by Obinna Akukwe

Just feel like sharing one of those articles that due to their relevancy withholds my attention. Despites all we might think of, Nigerians need to watch the situation and find out if really religion has its real meaning in our Country. If it real serves or divides us. I just wish people take this situation serious as it is a timed bomb that will surely explode. Whether we like it or not, Nigeria, from all indication will be a-religious if care is not taken.

 422270108_f80234914a“In Nigeria it is prayer everywhere. The Churches, the Mosques, the Shrines, the forests, mountains, rivers, trees and every available space have been turned to prayer centers and yet the most insensitive governance is hoisted on the nation. Armed robbery, ritual killings, kidnappings, rape and injustice abounds everywhere. Poverty, sickness, despair, frustration and attendant mediocrity, loss of confidence and resort to negative tendencies are the results of all our prayers. Now we have the newest addition, suicide bombings and reckless waste of human lives. A lot of people of people have asked the question . Where is God when all these happens everyday?
Nigerians pray all manners of prayers- 70 day fasting, 70 day deliverance, 40 day sallat, sallah fast, pilgrimage to Jerusalem, pilgrimage to Mecca and other dedicated sites of worship and yet you cannot entrust an adherent with your spouse for 24 hours.
During General Sanni  Abacha military regime, prayer marabous were imported from Mali, Siera-leone and Senegal when their Nigerian counterpart failed to kill NADECO with prayer.    These professional prayer warriors couldn't tell Abacha that Nigerians were tired of his dictatorship. During Olusegun Obasanjo civilian Presidency a lot of prayer warriors in the villa were busy impregnating youth corpers serving in the villa in the guise of securing permanent employment for them while the tenure elongation wanted to tear the polity.  Obasanjo saw so much prayer hypocrisy that he had to resort to a combination of Africana and his faith to survive. Another group of prayer warriors have held President Goodluck hostage in the villa. They frighten him every time with gory prophecies while smiling to the banks.
Everywhere people are praying. All these prayers are hypocritical prayers. The Bible says in 2chronicles chapter 7 vs 14 thus “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” The prerequisite for God to answer these prayers and heal Nigeria is repentance. David humbled himself when he was told by Prophet Nathan in the Bible that he had sinned. He tore his clothes and wept for many days until God had compassion. His Nigerian counterpart will do the opposite.
He will travel to Jerusalem and Mecca and in the midst of the solemn ceremonies will excuse himself to co-ordinate how the next looting of government treasury will be clinically executed, and then he will get back to finish the ceremonies. Once the pilgrimage is over the Nigerian prayer warrior comes back to his church or mosque with air of answered prayers, having met the Almighty in the mountain of transfiguration. Then the  poverty stricken congregation will hang around him to receive favors from  him( after nights of fasting and days of salat for God to touch his heart). God must be seriously solicited to touch the heart of the looter of public fund or else his church or mosque member will not receive any crumbs from the arrogantly distributed loot.
The impoverished parishioner or mosque member knows that his religious co-member was part of the people who directly or indirectly put him in a state of poverty, insecurity, hopelessness and helplessness and therefore he equally begs God to give him the opportunity to partake of the looting of the national wealth since the congregational leader have not cared to query his thieving but important member on the source of the loot.
The prayer warrior in Nigerian church or mosque is a hypocrite. Let his congregational priest or malam sermonize against sin, corruption, greed, inhumanity to man and disrespect for the feelings of others and he will get offended and leave the congregation while withdrawing his much needed funds. However, call for prayer that all his enemies will die including the members of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Independent Corrupt Practices Commission and Justices about to reverse stolen electoral mandates and you will see all sorts of acrobatics, gymnastics, incantations, invocations and madness all in the name of prayer.
There is no doubt that 'he that comes to equity must come with clean hands'. A thousand noise makers may be in a church but God hears only the ten who have decided in their heart not to follow the bandwagon if given the opportunity. If the combined prayer inertia of these ten men cannot move God or ward off the impending evil, then calamity is visited on everybody. That is the problem the nation is having with this Boko Haram and other problems plaguing the nation.
The dynamics of prayer is such that if your prayer is for personal or family matters, you could easily connect into the remote sites where the angels will attend to you on behalf of God. However, if your prayer were of general application, corporate in nature and of concern to the masses of people in your territory then another dynamics will apply. You must be sufficiently qualified before you can represent a state, region or nation in a prayer bouquet. A hypocrite could pray personal prayer and God will still answer because he is stirring personal spiritual space, however you must have enough locus standi before you stir a communal spiritual space in a prayer session. You must be potentially better than those you are praying against.
Let the Nigerian prayer warrior decide to live by the tenets of his faith which is “do unto others as you wish others do unto you” and before you raise your voice louder (even in a bush or batcher or atop mango tree) the Almighty God will answer and drive off those evil rulers who refuse to change for the better, out of our political space on their way to perdition[1].
Obinna Akukwe

Source:http://www.africareporters.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=17:africa-affairs

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

The Most Spectacular Nigerian Town Hall Meeting was held in New York, a must watch!

Chinua Achebe once wrote that when things fall apart the centre cannot hold. It is exactly the case of this Town hall Meeting held by Nigerians in New York. The meeting started with two strong prayer warriors, one christian deaconess and a Nigerian muslim, both surely asking God to take over the situation in Nigeria. But shortly after the prayers the whole situation turned soar. The outcome was catastrophic. Nigerians demostrating their anger for unexplained late coming of the Nigerian Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Viola Onwuliri.It was really interesting but also not worth of Nigeria.
However, the interesting aspect of it is that no one steps on the foot Nigerians and go free in this 21st millenium.
I really think it should be broadcasted to make the world know where we are. Have a nice vision.
''The truth might be hard to say, painful to bear or even drastic for the truth sayer but still needed to be said''. ALISON.