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Saturday, 17 September 2011

Let Tolerance Rule

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Last week I blogged about peace inspired by the 9/11 ten year anniversary. This week I wanted to explore how we can fight a common enemy of peace, which is intolerance. I know I have a big fight on my hands but at least I'll try. As a teacher and Form Tutor, I do sometimes have to deal with situations where I challenge my students to be tolerant to their peers and teachers. At the the start of last week, I was asking students in my Form group how they thought their first week of the new academic year had gone. I was expecting them to tell me about how well they have got on in their various subjects having now moved up a year group. But all they wanted to talk about was teacher-bashing.

Teachers do sometimes divide opinion in this part of the world as they're not always the most popular people in the world for reasons I'm not sure of. Whilst some people owe their teachers a great deal of indebtedness for help in steering them in the right direction others simply don't have any good word to say about them. Quite different from my own experience growing up in Nigeria where I held my teachers in high regard. Perhaps an experience I may have a lot to write about the day I finally give up teaching. Anyway I advised my students they don't have to like a teacher as a person but be tolerant, respectful and go into every lesson with the mindset to learn which is more important than the teacher. The bottom line of my advise was synonymous with the popular mantra 'focus on the message, not the messenger'.

The reality is that as humans we are all different; in beliefs, culture, religion etc and those differences are very much at interplay to define who we are. These inherent differences very much influences our thinking, opinions and our view of the world. Sadly the lack of recognition and respect for these differences is what often stokes up the fire of intolerance that burns deeply in the way opinions are sometimes expressed. I used to visit a popular Nigerian social website but gave up due to the fact that discussions were often times characterised by mudslinging, name calling and online behaviours bordering on bullying. I just wonder why the voice of reason is sometimes drowned by war of words with people you've never met in your life and would probably never meet. When I express opinions here, I don't expect every reader to agree with me but as long those views are not personal and deals with issues rather than emotions then that's fine by me.

I don't underestimate the power of social media which in reality I see as the real true democracy. It empowers individuals regardless of where they live or who they are with the freedom to express their views to as far an audience in a way as never been experienced before. But that freedom also comes with responsibility. The responsibility to ensure that views are kept as civil as possible and avoid using innuendos. New media also has its weakness especially with the fact that written comments and views about issues could be misconstrued and may well lead to rubbing up people the wrong way.

The blogosphere in the last week has been somewhat charged-up in a way that has left a bitter taste in my mouth. One good thing blogging has exposed me to is the new breed of intelligent Nigerians with a refreshing energy to stake their claim in cyberspace. I hope that same energy is not wasted on personality wars but rather channeled into positive attitudes that will be badly sought after if and when the intolerant ruling class may have been long gone (wishful thinking perhaps).

I wasn't born an open-minded person neither do I believe anyone was ~ I could be wrong though. However, my life's journey has taught me a great deal not to expect too much from other people because that often leads to tears. The truth is that not everyone will appreciate what you do or what you have to say. But then what does it mean to be open-minded without being tolerant to other people's views and opinions? Let me make it clear I don't claim to be a fountain of tolerance as I'm sure people have their own views about what it means to them. But I strongly believe the blogosphere will be a better place where views are diverse, which we may not always agree with but at least are respected and appreciated. One love :)

Sunday, 11 September 2011

9/11 and the Necessity of Peace

Today marks the tenth anniversary of one of the greatest tragedy in human history. On this day ten years ago then I was still back at university in Nigeria preparing for my degree exams when I watched in horror the falling of the twin towers in New York. Before this unfortunate tragedy, I always looked at the US and indeed other western countries as very secure nations - the untouchables if you like. How wrong was I judging by how vulnerable the west became with later attacks especially the Madrid train bombings in 2004 and the 2005, 7/7 tube attack in London. This has got me thinking about what it takes for peace to reign supreme in a world that is continually seeking refuge in guns and mortars. To quote Martin Luther King, "peace is not the absence of conflict but the presence of justice". What we see today is the presence of conflicts and the absence of justice.

This brings me home to the current state of affairs in Nigeria. I would never have believed that any Nigerian would be prepared to become a suicide bomber simply because of our love of life. But sadly this has now become a reality in today's Nigeria and we should be really worried. We should be worried because things could get worse before it gets better if steps are not taken to address the underlying issues that have led to the threat that we all currently face. I believe that if we continue to foster a society where inequality of opportunities that exists between the ruling class and the rest of society is as wide as the Sahara desert then we have got problems. If a society fails to recognise the ethnic and religious diversity of its people in the context of how it is politically structured, then you create even bigger fault lines.

Nigeria earns billions of dollars in oil revenue and yet the vast majority of its citizens live in poverty. Is that justice? Certain past leaders have been known to set up private schools and universities whilst still in office in contrast to millions of Nigerian children without access to good quality education. Is that justice? Many past and present leaders have a vast property portfolio both in and outside Nigeria but yet millions of people still live in shanties which they call house. Is that justice? I could write a whole book about how in many unjustifiable ways than not our people have become non-partakers in our common wealth.

The reality remains that Nigeria is not at peace with itself. I do fear though whether the establishment understands this angle to the problem. I doubt they do because they live in this little bubble where everything is fine and all is well. The only way I believe they will understand is for ordinary Nigerians to poke that bubble so that the ruling class will gain an insight as to how life can be a struggle. Expecting our leaders to do what is right is never going to happen I'm afraid - that is my view anyway. All sorts of ways to achieve this has been proferred in the past; whether you call it sovereign national conference or a peoples' uprising. The reality is that Nigerians need to take the gauntlet if we will ever achieve equity in the social, economic and political stakes. If we fail to do so, peace may elude us for a long, long time.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

The Sunny side of Marriage

Image Source: Click here
I decided to post something rather light hearted this week. The piece below was forwarded to me about two years ago by my wife and each time I read it I still find it very funny but true in some respects.   
You may have seen it elsewhere but all the same I hope you enjoy reading it. I will be interested to read your comments. 

A desperate woman writes to the Technical support Guy,
Dear Tech Support,
Subject: Installing a new Husband Software

Last year I upgraded from
Boyfriend 5.0 to Husband 1.0 and I noticed a distinct slowdown in the overall system performance, particularly in the flower and jewellery applications, which operated flawlessly under Boyfriend 5.0.

In addition,
Husband 1.0 uninstalled many other valuable programs, such as
Romance 9.5 and Personal Attention 6.5, and then installed undesirable programs such as  NEWS 5.0,   MONEY 3.0  and FOOTBALL 4.1.

Conversation 8.0
no longer runs, and Housecleaning 2.6 simply crashes the system.

Please note that I have tried running
Nagging 5.3 to fix these problems, but to no avail.

What can I do?


Desperate Woman


First, keep in mind,
Boyfriend 5.0 is an Entertainment Package, while Husband 1.0 is an operating system.

Please enter command:
ithoughtyoulovedme.html and try to download Tears 6.2 and do not forget to install the Guilt 3.0 update.
If that application works as designed,
Husband1.0 should then automatically run the applications Jewellery 2.0 and Flowers 3.5.

However, remember, overuse of the above application can cause
Husband 1.0 to default to Silence 2.5, Happy Hour 7..0 or Beer 6.1.
Please note that
Beer 6. 1 is a very bad program that will download the Farting and Snoring Loudly Beta.

Whatever you do,
DO NOT under any circumstances install Mother-In-Law 1.0 (it runs a virus in the background that will eventually seize control of all your system resources.)

In addition, please do not attempt to reinstall the
Boyfriend 5.0 program. These are unsupported applications and will crash Husband 1.0.

In summary,
Husband 1.0 is a great program, but it does have limited memory and cannot learn new applications quickly.
You might consider buying additional software to improve memory and performance.
We recommend:  Cooking 3.0 and  Hot Looks 7.7.

Good Luck Madam!

Tech Support


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