Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Debate Tuesday - One thing to improve Nigeria

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Another Tuesday, another topic to talk about. Don't be surprised the last couple of them have been about Nigeria, it's the independence anniversary in a few days. So today I ask, what will be ONE thing that you think that if tackled will dramatically improve the standard of life in Nigeria. I know a lot of people will say #lightupNigeria but really? I know it will make life easier but have there been any measurable outcomes? These are some that have been determined to have a direct impact on lives and people. They're the MDG Goals;

GOAL 1 - Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger
GOAL 2 - Achieve Universal Primary Education
GOAL 3 - Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women
GOAL 4 - Reduce Child Mortality
GOAL 5 - Improve Maternal Health
GOAL 6 - Combat HIV-AIDS, Malaria and Other Diseases
GOAL 7 - Ensure Environmental Sustainability
GOAL 8 - Develop a Global Partnership for Development

How far are we on these I wonder. Power is not spelt out in there but of course I know it's important.

Another thing I think is crucial too is a way to checkmate corruption in all aspects of the polity. The INEC chairman was complaining of this the other day and Mrs. Anenih, the Minister of women affairs rebutted that it is the citizens (friends and relatives) that push the government officials into stealing. There is a point in both arguments.

Another big thing is quality infrastructure and a good maintenance culture. The telecoms sector is booming now but how long before our penchance to neglect stuff begins to hit and affect services?

Anyways, the floor is open. Tell me your choice and the reason for it.

Here are a couple of people doing stuff to remind us that we have aways to go before UHURU

Give me 50 Nigeria
Enough is Enough
Cool to Vote

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Picture Weekend - The Puyallup Fair

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Hi everyone, hope you're all doing fine? How's the weekend and what plans for the coming week? You may want to gover to Naija Stories to vote for your favorite writers and stories for the Independence day contest. The polls will continue unto Friday next week.

Now to today's post. The Puyallup fair is supposed to be the 8th largest fair in the world and the greatest in the North-West. After seeing so many ads on the TV, we decided to give it a try. As it's just about an hour from us, I put my freeway driving to the practice to and from the fair. The fair itself was lots of fun, and the slogan "FREE YOUR GLEE" was very apt. I got the Dizzy pass ticket for all the theme park rides and did as much as I could LOL...it was crazy. There was so much going on, a trade fair, giant pumpkins, we also caught a concert by Vocal Trash. The show lasts for about a couple of weeks and I think you need to go everyday to cover it all. We crammed as much as we can into one day. Enjoy the pics below.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The girl with the Dragon Tattoo; Machete

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The titles above are the pictures you'll see on the right hand side of this blog under What I'm reading and what I saw last.

I said I'll be reviewing these once in a while. Let me start with the book.

The girl with the dragon tattoo. From the Publishers Weekly;

Cases rarely come much colder than the decades-old disappearance of teen heiress Harriet Vanger from her family's remote island retreat north of Stockholm, nor do fiction debuts hotter than this European bestseller by muckraking Swedish journalist Larsson. At once a strikingly original thriller and a vivisection of Sweden's dirty not-so-little secrets (as suggested by its original title, Men Who Hate Women), this first of a trilogy introduces a provocatively odd couple: disgraced financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist, freshly sentenced to jail for libeling a shady businessman, and the multipierced and tattooed Lisbeth Salander, a feral but vulnerable superhacker. Hired by octogenarian industrialist Henrik Vanger, who wants to find out what happened to his beloved great-niece before he dies, the duo gradually uncover a festering morass of familial corruption—at the same time, Larsson skillfully bares some of the similar horrors that have left Salander such a marked woman. Larsson died in 2004, shortly after handing in the manuscripts for what will be his legacy. 

The book is a 600 page thriller and it took me roughly a week to read at about an hour daily for the first three days. By the second half of the book, it was more difficult to put down. Last night, I stayed up till almost 1am to finish it. It was quite gripping. I look forward to reading the other books of the trilogy and it's a big pity the author is dead. He achieved a great feat in story telling in the book.

The title character is Lisbeth Salander and has several tattoos including a dragon and a butterfly. Contradictory it seems but not so much. She is a well-rounded character. She is small (4"11) and so comes across as a victim but has a strong core that helps her withstand a society she does not understand. She has a bit of Aspergers with a photographic memory thrown in and is a gifted computer hacker. Funny, I wanted to be a hacker at one point too, but my detective skills as a teenager stopped at snooping through my siblings love letters, lol.

Anyway, I have so much in common with Lisbeth that I'll soon be getting my tattoo too. I've been talking about it for too long. Time for action.

Finally Machete. I give it a 3 stars out of five. Lots of action, blood and some gore. Guess the length of the human intestine? You'll find out in the movie. If you're a fan of Quentin Tarantino, which I am, you'll definitely love this one. It was done by Rodriguez who is a sidekick of Tarantino and usually has most of his stories set in Mexico or starring Mexican characters. Remember El Mariachi, Desperado, Once upon a time in Mexico, Spy Kids? According to Rodriguez on wikipedia,

the origins of the film go back to Desperado. He says, "When I met Danny, I said, 'This guy should be like the Mexican Jean-Claude Van Damme or Charles Bronson, putting out a movie every year and his name should be Machete.' So I decided to do that way back when, never got around to it until finally now. So now, of course, I want to keep going and do a feature."[13] In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Rodriguez said that he wrote the screenplay back in 1993 when he cast Trejo in Desperado. "So I wrote him this idea of a federale from Mexico who gets hired to do hatchet jobs in the U.S. I had heard sometimes FBI or DEA have a really tough job that they don't want to get their own agents killed on, they'll hire an agent from Mexico to come do the job for $25,000. I thought, "That's Machete.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Treachery in the Yard

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This story is set in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Detective Tamunoemi Peterside investigates a bombing at the residence of Pius Okpara, who is contesting for governor in the state primaries. No one was killed in the bombing but there is an attempt on the life of the only witness, a judge's wife, that same night. Another attempt is successful and so starts a murder investigation.

Tammy suspects Okpara’s aide who he assumes is in cahoots with their political opponent, Dr. Puene, but the state chief of police orders him to drop the case because he’s wrong. Along the line, the reason to lay off Puene is that he is part of a bigger investigation into the mafia and drugs in the city. Tammy doesn’t drop the case, and the body count quickly rises after the first witness as Puene’s associates, and even Tammy's partner are killed.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Debate Tuesday - Can there ever be an end to poverty in Nigeria?

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With just five years remaining until the deadline for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today sounded the alarm that the world’s least developed countries (LDCs) continued to be mired in poverty.
Although school enrolment has improved and strides have been made in reducing child mortality and expanding access to clean water in the LDCs, they remain the group facing the most severe challenging in realizing the eight MDGs, Mr. Ban underlined today.

Scores of world leaders are gathering in New York for a three-day General Assembly gathering, which started yesterday, to assess progress made so far in reaching the Goals.

“The LDCs represent the poorest and most vulnerable segment of humanity,” the Secretary-General said at a side event this morning focusing on the MDGs in these countries.

“They remain at the epicentre of the developmental emergency,” he added.

Countries are classified as LDCs if they meet three criteria: a low income; human capital status based on education, nutrition, health and literacy indicators; and economic vulnerability.

Currently, more than half of the 800 million in the 49 LDCs live below the poverty line, while only six of them have poverty rates under 30 per cent.

The LDCs are also made less competitive by their inadequate transport infrastructure and uneven power supplies.

The above is news from the UN website.

It cannot be more obvious from the descriptions given that Nigeria is among the LDCs.

What concerns me today as the UN leaders continue their review is the progress in Nigeria towards eradicating poverty and hunger. The other day I read that a governor employed some graduates as assistants so they could be paid an allowance. I think such unstructured gimmicks are unsustainable.

This is from the UNDP in Nigeria: MDGs in Nigeria: Current Progress

Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger
People living in relative poverty declined from 65.6 in 1996 to 54.4% in 204 while 35 out of 100 people live in extreme poverty and 30 out of 100 children are under-weight. Poverty incidence has been consistently higher in rural areas than urban areas while wide disparity occurs in poverty trend in the zones. The prospect of reducing poverty in Nigeria is bright in view of the macroeconomics stability and progressive economic growth in the last six years. Government polices at the third tiers should be focused on increased productivity in the agricultural sector. Investment in infrastructure, especially in rural areas, should be scaled up. This should be complemented with accountability and transparent governance.

Sounds all good written like that. Do you think it can be done?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Picture Weekend - Edinburgh Reminiscing

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So today was my sister's birthday and I woke up early so I could call and wish her the best of days. After we spoke, I couldn't go back to sleep so I went on Facebook to see what was happening about Goodluck's declaration for president. Turns out that my sister had uploaded some pictures which took me right back to Edinburgh.

She had visited me back in Edinburgh from Nigeria in 2007 and that was when these pics were taken. Just before she left, I dropped her camera and it was spoilt. She never bothered to get out the SD card until today. The ones I took with my camera all got lost with the rest of my documents when my last computer crashed just before I left the UK. I never bothered to recover them. Now I wish I had. At least I can see how much I've changed. And I have, lol.


ps; I think I have become lighter in America.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Debate Tuesday - Who is a Feminist

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So I come across this debate a lot of the time. What is the meaning of Feminism? Who is a Feminist. I am one of the people who identify as the later. And while people tiptoe about the issue or the word, I say it plainly. I am a feminist. I am not confused by the noise, I know where I stand. I think the more we quibble, the more we allow ourselves - and dare I say men - to draw lines between us, the less chances the less lucky women may have.

Yeah I live within an economic and social status where I am educated, I have a voice and so on. What of the poor girl in the less developed parts of Nigeria, the rest of Africa, India, China, even in some parts of the Western World. No I cannot become relaxed. It is working for me so let me keep my head down and not rock the boat. No way Jose! Whatever it means, who ever else bears the name, let me join the ranks. If some of those women did not talk or take action in the past, we wouldn't be here. Margaret Ekpo, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, The Aba Market women, you name them. I sure want to be counted among them.

The latest episode started when a discussion cropped up on Sefi Atta's Everything Good will Come. Those who've read the book will know that there are some gender issues raised in the book. Actually, I also explored male chauvinist domination in A Heart to Mend. Maybe I did not push it as much as in EGWC because the focus of my story was the relationship between Edward and Gladys but it is still a topic very close to my heart. Aunt Isioma in AHTM had gone through a very disturbed marriage but remained due to being subjugated almost to the point of abuse. She only became free to live a full life after her husband died.

I think it's a man's world. At this stage of my life, I have come to accept it. However, I believe that women should have a choice to carve out a portion of that world for themselves. If they want to be bad, it's their choice, there are bad men too. If they want to be workaholics, good on them. Do they want to remain single, sure. Travel the world? Of course. Men have been doing these things for centuries so why not women?

The person I actually got into the debate with was another blogger. It was on chat sha. She thought that the extreme feminists have taken over the name and giving others a bad rep? Really? Have the Neanderthals among men given them all a bad name? Along the line, I cooled down and allowed her to make her points. Some I actually see the point of, others not so much.

1. Some Feminists actually go ahead to degrade men,
2. Some Feminists mistreat people generally, and make bad primary earners
3. Some Feminists are workaholics and do not pull weight in the household
4. Some Feminists go into clubbing and all that
5. Some Feminists will blink twice before going for divorce, etc.

More talk that came up involved Gender roles (boy, how I loathe that phrase). How women are supposed to take care of the home, how women are weaker, how only women can have children (the only point I agree with BTW, and it is not a ROLE!), how only women can be satisfied by staying at home, and all the other stereotypes and generalizations that go alone this line of thought.

OK, I have vented. Talk your own. Convince me.

Thank you.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Tope Apoola - Times of the Supermen (Guest Author)

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Tope is another new Nigerian Author I came across in my social media wanderings. I learnt about Tope when he was still pitching his manuscipt through the Harper Collins ranking system 'Authonomy'. So I was happy to see that his book had finally been published. Hear it from him.

Please introduce yourself
My name is Tope Apoola, born June 1984 to civil servant parents, Mr.&Mrs. Moses Apoola in Akure. I am last in the family. I was educated mostly in the same place except for the university where I had to move a few more than a hundred kilometres away from home. Times of the supermen is my first full length novel.

Tell us about the book
That is one question I can only hope to answer satisfactorily, the reason being that there is more than one side to the story, different things to stick to and different interpretations.

The book is about a freaky scientist who discovers the use of a symbolic formation that was found on an earthly rock, said to be identical to the one earlier found on the Martian surface. The world is bemused as it is to be established that super-civilized extraterrestrials existed even in the times that was known to be prebiological. The man is being invited to promote his science in Lagos by the ambitious and adventurous Nigerian President mostly because many people, including Olabode, the narrator’s uncle, have plausibly reported to have dreamt about the prehistoric times.

Being the Alternative history Science fiction that it is Times of the supermen hypothesizes the origin of existence, hence the rationale behind the realities that we experience from time to time. Through the lives of the characters, such as Sola Aderomoke, a young, attractive TV presenter girl who worked inadvertently for an esoteric anti-religion group, and Chekhov, a lonely scientist who warned the world against the devices of those unknown beings who were said to have visited the earth even in pre-adamic times, we see how an aged conspiracy by an ancient otherworldly civilization is being played out.

I would have to remind readers that this is only a work of fiction, as some might easily be led into believing that it is not meant to be one but this is not to say that a good round of investigative study did not go into the conceptualization of the story.

How did the story come to you? How long did it take to write?
Yes, that is a lovely question. The story did come to me and for three years, I wrote and tried to find facts to back up what I had written.I have always been fascinated with history, especially the very far history which could not have been recorded with clarity considering the level of education of some ancient historians. I also believe that most of the things I learnt in the church are either literal truths or allegory, so I knew even as a child that someday, I am going to start writing about all these things in a little more materialistic point of view. I did some paper research while writing this, but I feel satisfied knowing that I never at any time allowed even facts to dissuade the creative process.

What is your writing style?
I let the words flow and allow it to shape the story and it’s hardly the other way round. The narrators’ voice in my work is very personal, and somewhat messianic. I must have been influenced by old literatures like Dante Aligheri, who started his book with “In the middle of the journey of our lives, I was lost from the straight path and came to myself within a dark, cold wood.” Or Walt Whitman who said “what I assume, you shall assume.” You may want to conclude that the style is literary but it’s actually not without a touch of avant-gardism.

What is the audience for this book?
Every person who had at one time in their lives looked into the sky at night and wonder. This category typically fall among young adults and adults. The book is, you know, from the title you can tell, but we live in a global village.

Will you write any other genres?
Yes, if it comes naturally.

What are you reading now? Who are your favourite authors?
I just finished with Steve Berry’s Templar legacy which I read concurrently with Charles Colson’s non-fiction, How Now shall we live? I am about picking Wole Soyinka’s You must set forth at dawn and Dan Brown’s The lost symbol. Wole Soyinka is my favourite. Although most people believe his work is difficult, I happen to enjoy the depth. Chimamanda’s voice is fresh and entertaining. I’d find A Heart to Mend too.

What are you working on now, besides promoting Times of the Supermen?
I am working on the sequel. There are more that I couldn’t have included in a single book without saying too much at once.

How can we purchase the book?
It will be available in major bookstores in Nigeria as from November 19th but Times of the Supermen could be purchased on Amazon, even now. Orders will arrive at US locations within a day or two.

Please share your publishing history.
At some point I thought I would land a major book deal with a big firm, but then a friend asked, what is it that I really wanted, and I remembered my original plan. This is my first and it is a means to creating a formidable, and internationally competitive publishing firm. It sounds naive to think this is achievable but it is. By working in conjunction with writers who share similar ideology, we will create a situation where publishing becomes a considerable contributor to Nigerian economy. It is stressful, because it is not the only thing I am doing or want to do but what right have we to complain about Nigeria if we run away from challenges?

What is the marketing strategy?
We have consulted experienced individuals and a small progressive firm as to that. As anyone should expect, we intend to be revolutionary in our strategy.

Any last word?
Sadly, a beautiful quotation which I would like to make happened to have come from a man who defied my religious sentiments. He said that there will come a time when the mean will be to the real men as ape is to the present age man. We need to read a lot, research a lot and do a lot to be a worthy player in the coming commonwealth.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Picture Weekend - Guess the Blogger!

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These are some more pictures in LA. While there, I met a lovely blogger who gave me a little tour of her city. We drove up to Hollywood and Beverly Hills. First we went to The Grove, a celebrity spot and did some window shopping. They had this cute little tram too but we didn't have time to get on. Then we had dinner at the Cheesecake Factory and took in some music on our way out at a small 'fair on the green'. I didn't spot any celebrity or actor sha, though I heard there was paparazzi waiting because one was coming.

Anyway we left and took a city lights drive down Hollywood Boulevard with all the stars on the sidewalk. Finally, she drove me almost an hour to where I was a staying. They say there are stars in LA, she is the real deal. Give it up for the sexy lady, Dith's Haute Spot. Kisses back sweetie...

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Debate Tuesday - Connecting with an Ex on Facebook

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So Facebook clocked half a billion users this past month. I know almost everyone reading this, if not all, has an account on Facebook. Today's debate Tuesday is about connecting with exes on Facebook.

I joined Facebook several years ago as a Masters student but only recently started actively using it after publishing A Heart to Mend. Before then, I was hidden and I frequently culled my friend’s list for those who I felt were not necessary to be there. I wanted my friends list to remain less than 100, and it remained so. Now that I’m back to using the media, my friends list is over a thousand and growing. I’ve added some of those culled people again, among them so-called toasters, chykers and boyfriends. Having heard some tales from friends, and read some articles, I’m left wondering if I’m making a mistake.

Let me back up a bit. When one gets into a new relationship, the expectation is that both people cut any close ties with their exes. Though some of us choose to remain friends with them, it is physically easier to distance ourselves from exes. What happens is that you start hanging out in new spots with the new love, or you establish a new set of friends. The BB messages, phone calls and emails also reduce drastically with the old flame as time passes and both of you pick up new interests and drift apart.

On the web, it may be a different and difficult ball game altogether especially on Facebook. You have their status update automatically popping up on your newsfeed and the same thing happens when they add new photos. Some of us may even feel like the former girlfriend or boyfriend is taunting us. This is most likely the case when these updates have to do with the ex having found a new person. Imagine seeing that red heart which Facebook uses to denote changes to relationship status. I guess it would irk some people to see their ex hook up with someone else just days or weeks after their break-up while they’re nursing a bruised heart.

So what to do? Some people say they will never add their boyfriends as Facebook friends in the first place, and will remain as single until they’re married. I understand not broadcasting that you’re in a relationship which may end up as transient, but not adding the person as a friend doesn’t really sound realistic. Others say they will remove those friends once they become exes. Sounds more doable, at the same time, you may come across as churlish and bitter and who wants to be the one who is worse off by a break up?

Let’s even talk about people who are in exclusive and defined relationships or now married. A lot of us prefer to be ostriches about past sexual or relationship history. For those who do know, do you insist your partner removes all the exes from their friend list? Or do you encourage your partner to add their exes? I’m one who believes in not burning bridges and have found myself doing the latter. I add old flames and ask Atala to feel free to do the same.

Of course, one part of my mind expects that the reconnections will stay superficial. But what if it doesn’t? What if old embers burst back into flame during the course of a cursory Facebook chat? What if you open the door to the kind of ex that will leave hurtful messages that can be misconstrued by those reading. You know the kind of suggestive insinuations that can even set off the person you’re now with?

What do you think and what would you do?


****Excerpted from an article published in the September issue of AFRIKAN GODDESS Read the full version at the link.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Weekend Pictures - Universal Studios Hollywood

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UPDATE: For those in the United States, have a great Labor Day! (Atala thinks this is ironic, a holiday with no work is termed labor day. Oh well, enjoy it my people.)

These are a few of the snapshots I took during a visit with my cousin to the Universal Studios Hollywood. All I kept saying was wow, wow, wow. They have this new KingKong 360 3D showing as part of the Studio Tour and men! If you're ever in LA, don't miss it. I can honestly say that I had not experienced 3D until I went to Universal. Forget what we see in the cinemas, these were the real deal. Shrek 4D, Terminator Virtual experience. OMG! I'll stop here but check out more pics on my Facebook page.