brosdee's view

me, you and everyone else....

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Yesterday, the Octagon at the University of the West of England, Bristol was filled with beautiful sound, songs and stories from Africa. The atmosphere was adorned with the colours of various drums from the motherland as I hosted an evening of drumming to raise money for Africa Oxford Cancer Foundation (Afrox) in memory of my mom who died of cancer around this time last year.
As I wondered about what to do in her memory, to celebrate her life, I couldn’t think of anything better than raising money for any organisation that supports fights against cancer and its incisive fang. When I came across Afrox and learnt about what they do in Africa, no organisation seems more appropriate. I couldn’t stop wondering what would have happened if Afrox had been operating in Nigeria when she was battling with cancer. Nevertheless, I deemed it better for her memory to support the organisation in their effort to help many other African women like her. This is going to be the first among my many other fundraising efforts I will be hosting for Afrox. The drums were rolled out yesterday, but the masquerade is still in the market. The dance goes on.
I will like to thank everyone that came out to enjoy the evening yesterday, and a special thanks to all those that donated. You can still make your donation through the giving page

Nick Clough leading the final dance session

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Thanks for visiting, but I will be out of here till I submit my thesis.

Friday, March 06, 2009

My grandmother, Àkeé was a witch, however. Not in the sense of the nocturnal-meeting-attending witch-mistress that the wooli would like us to believe. She had a strong personality. In spite of her lanky frail looking figure, she was always the strict disciplinarian who commands the respect everyone around her. Respect, which I must admit was borne rather from her uppityness than admiration. After all, she was a princess, having been the daughter of Oba Shiyanbola Ladigbolu, Alaafin of Oyo, Iku baba yeye, alase ekeji orisha (the second in command to the gods). She probably couldn't understand why Yaayi wouldn't be in awe and fear of her in the kingdom of her father.

For Yaayi must have overstepped her boundary by marrying her only son and holding claim to his heart in the process. That I think is the reason for their disagreement: both women were asserting their importance on the same territory. For Àkeé had been the only woman my dad was ever afraid of.

There was the story of how Àkeé beats up a police man. The story goes that in the early 60s, my dad a young graduate from the police college at Ibadan was summoned to Oyo by her. She must have heard something wrong about him. He went fully dressed in his crisp uniform and shiny black boot. Perhaps to impress his mates and neighbours or to pacify Àkeé who must be proud to see her son commanding such ardour. This was the days when the Nigerian Police Force was a respectable profession, when the officers carry a big baton thereby earning the nickname olopa (the one with the stick). The present officers are mostly underpaid, ill-equipped and gun-wielding officers, some of whom, in my opinion, are part of corruption-ridden cartel whose commitment to the law is limited to the amount of bribe they can exploit from the public.

When my dad arrived in Oyo, he earned the respects and admiration of almost everyone except the one he desperately wanted to impress the most. Àkeé, I was told, wasn't just unimpressed but slightly dissatisfied with his response to her queries.

"Gbosa" the neighbours heard. The old woman had slapped the tall policeman.

Rather than arresting her for violating the exalted Nigerian Police Uniform, the officer took to his heels and fled. When asked why she had risked the wrath of the government by slapping a fully-uniformed olopa, her response was apt as the previous action:

"He may be an officer to you, but he is still an errant boy of mine, and no child of Àkeé can grow beyond her punition"

Growing up in Lagos under the military dictator governments and witnessing the brutalities of uniformed officers against civilians, I find it hard to believe that story. I cannot imagine any woman daring enough to raise her voice, much less her fingers against the brutish khaki boys. However, every doubt I had in that story was permanently dismissed many years later during a later visit to Oyo with my dad when I was a little boy of nine or probably ten. As always, we were to stay at Ile Aare. By interpretation Ile Aare means the house of the prince. Although she wasn't meant to be there, since royalty in Oyo Kingdom is strictly patriarchal, however she had inherited the mud multi-bedroom house from the Alaafin when she refused to stay with her husband's other wives at Isale-Oyo.

We arrived at Oyo just before the dusk slides underneath the golden clouds. I knew we were nearer home when the smell of the fields at Ilora gave way to the noise of the traffic and children selling bread at Owode. Each passing vehicle is welcomed to the ancient town by the billboard depicting the picture of a smiling man with a talking drum saying; A ji sebi Oyo laa ri, Oyo o sebi baba enikan (Oyo can only be imitated, Oyo imitates no one). It reminds each visitors of the town's glorious past, when it used to be the capital of a vast empire. Days before the empire were weakened by combined forces of internal corruption, Yoruba civil wars in the 18th and 19th centuries and the contemptuous subtlety of the colonialists who exploited its people with unequal treaties.

But my dad is not ready to go home to his mum yet. He picked some of his friends and decided to do pub crawl. We must have visited about three beer parlours that evening and I was offered Fanta, Coke and occasional pepper soup at each one. When he finally decided to go home, we must have spent more than five hours since our arrival in the old town. As the car pulled over at the back of Ile Aare and we made our way in between the compounds to Àkeé's, nearly everyone is asleep apart from the roaming goats that were either looking for food or resting place. Holding my hands he knocked, half expecting his mother to jubilantly answer the door. Àkeé answered the door with a voice that does not betray any stint of expectation. She must have been awake, waiting for us, but pretended that we were unwelcomed intruders.

"Ta nu?"         ("Who is it?")

"Emi ni o"        ("It is me?")

"Iwo taa ni?"        ("And who are you?")

"Emi Layi ni"        ("It is me, Layi")

"Ni bo lo nti bo ni woyi?"........... "ire o laago ni?".......... "se bi alakowe le pe ra yin?" ("Where are you coming from at this time?".... "Don't you have a watch?"...... "And you called yourself a learned person")

The last questions my dad did not bother to answer. He knew his mum. She was annoyed.

Annoyed that he had not come home straight to her on his arrival. She must have heard from her friends at the Akesan market who cited his car around town about his arrival. "Ahh............eku a mo juba, a ri ọ́kọ̀
ọ́mọ́ yin l'Owode, ari ni Isokun". And then she must be annoyed that he came home late, keeping her waiting and allowing the food she had prepared to go cold. She decided to rebuke him, despite the fact that he was old enough to be a granddad then. To Àkeé, this was her house and he is her son. She refused to open the door until an older uncle who heard the conversation came to beg on his behalf. When we entered the house, it was obvious she has been expecting us for she had prepared ẹ̀ko and ẹ̀fọ́. Her action didn't escape my young mind. I saw the only person who could discipline my dad.

Despite her initial lack of enthusiasm at his late arrival, it was obvious she had missed him; they talked into the night, updating each other about what had happened since the last time they met. Such was the affection between them that on her death-bed few years after, she sent for him to be beside her despite the presence of her other children and grandchildren. When he heard, he left everything he was doing in Lagos and made the trip with Yaayi to her side. When she saw him, she ate for the first time in days and died in his arms. The son of Àkeé.




Thursday, March 05, 2009

Growing up in a mixed-religious home provided me with the confusion and perplexity that comes with my naive understanding of the difference between Christianity and Islam. I remember going sometimes to Ile 'kewu (Madrasah) during the week and to the Sunday school during the weekend. These activities plastered my young impressionable mind with a sense of dual personality. I am Abdul- Hafeez (or Hafiisu when stressed by my Yoruba-accented Arabic tutor) on Friday afternoon, and Oladotun on Sunday morning. However, I later realised that I was more influenced by my church-going Christian mum than by my nominal-Ramadan Muslim dad. A situation which was rather facilitated by the sweets and biscuits at the Sunday school and the spankings I endured whenever my coconut head couldn't grasp the Arabic recitals and alphabet (aleph, baa, taa........).

Although my mum, whom I have always nicknamed Yaayi (a name which my other siblings now call her) is now someone I can call a Charismatic-Baptist, she like most wives in Lagos in the 80s also flirted with the temporal comfort and escape from reality provided by the spiritualist church of the Aladura (particularly the Cherubim and Seraphim Church). I usually attended (or rather packed along to) these churches with her, where I enjoy the songs, dances and trance-like demonstrations of the Wooli (prophets) and Elemis (someone in a trance or in the 'spirit', a kindf of hallucination usually for weeks without eating). I remember the wooli as a cross between unkempt Rastafarian and an average ward captain at Aroo Mental Hospital in Abeokuta. In hindsight, I think Yaayi attends the church primarily because they confirm or reiterate her believe that her mother-in-law, my grandmother Àkeé is the alpha and omega of all her troubles. Àkeé, as confirmed by the wooli, is the witch who wants to convert all Yaayi's children into the ogbanje cult, particularly my elder sister who looked like her. In my pre-teens years, I could easily imagine myself as a part-time member of the ogbanje, the blood-sucking cult who flies into the nearby Iroko tree for their nocturnal meeting deciding on who to eat for supper.

But I am also the son of Alhaji, for my dad is referred to as one even though he has never been to Mecca. Alhaji is the title earned by Moslems in most parts of West Africa after their pilgrimage to the Hajj in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. I reckon his friends thought he was too big not have any title, hence the honorary Alhaji. But his adherence to the Islamic faith is confined only to occasional recital of Quran, giving of Zakat and the Ramadan months when he is required to fast from dawn till dusk and abstain from his love of beer. He neither observed the five pillars of Islamic faith nor attends the mosque (except on Eid ul-Fitr and Id el Kabir). However, he has been influenced by his own mother, Àkeé, whose dedication to the five-time daily prayer and the totality of the Islamic faith is unshaken. During my stay with Àkeé when on holidays in Oyo (my dad's hometown and by default mine if I want to claim one), I couldn't help but struggle with the images of her as a dedicated Muslim woman juxtaposed with that of oyiboyi the witch-mistress from the Ajileye TV series. She looks old and that is enough evidence that she is a witch to me. And the Wooli confirmed it. I kept waiting for her to wake me up in the middle of the night and initiate me by the tree in her garden. But she did not. The only noise I hear from her whenever I'm asleep is when she wakes up to say her prayers...

Allaahu akbar, Allaahu akbar, Allaahu akbar

laa ilaaha illAllaah

Allaahu akbar, Allaahu akbar

wa li-illaahil-hamd

Perhaps she is not a witch, l later understood. Àkeé and Yaayi didn't just get along with each other. Perhaps due to religious differences or the fact that Yaayi came from another town to marry her only son, without her permission. Whatever maybe the reason behind their dislike for each other, I know Àkeé is not a witch. The wooli is wrong after all and Yaayi has been wasting her time and money attending those churches. Probably she realised this when she later committed her life to Jesus and was taught the Bible in a local Baptist church.

I was influenced by Yaayi just as my dad was influenced by Àkeé. The son of Alhaji.

Ill continue this later..............

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

As a black immigrant presently living in the United Kingdom at the stage of starting a family, the election of Barrack Obama is very emotional and significant to me. To me it means I can tell my children to look beyond Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela as a role model. These figures were great people who were confident enough in their skin colours to stand up and fight against the injustices thrown at them for being black. While that generation fought, we are at the receiving end of the fruit of their labour. Barrack Obama presidency signifies the start of a new generation. I can tell my children to see beyond their colour in achieving their dreams. While I'm not under any illusion that this is the end of racism, I will confidently teach my children to make the case for their education, promotions or aspirations without bitterness or anger. They can look at the son of a Kenyan as a man who did not make race an issue in his run for the most important office in the United States, and yet confident in his skin. There are too many black people who are still unnecessarily struggling with the prejudice of anger against slavery, colonisation, segregation and apartheid. To me, an Obama presidency signifies the triumph of a mentality which does not totally blame the white people for all the problems facing the black race. It is a victory over the idea of 'we against them'. Yesterday's landslide paves the way for a new beginning. An assurance that my children will be evaluated based on the content of their character and not on the colour of their skin or the weirdness of their name.

Monday, October 06, 2008

20 September, 2008

The day started very early. After a long day before, with crazy deadlines to meet it was very difficult for me to wake up that early. But I had to. I had volunteered chauffeuring three other colleagues to the airport in the rented car. So I got to the first address by 6.30am to pick my supervisor who was also going to the conference. We left Bristol around 7am after picking the last person. The drive to London Heathrow was not eventful (thank God it was not, because eventful could mean flat tyre or worse), we got to terminal 5 just few minutes before 9.

When we got to Athens in the afternoon, the weather wasn’t as cold as I had hoped. While waiting at the airport for the connecting flight to Skiathos, I had a bit of history lesson from my supervisor who was more than happy to answer my prodding questions on European politics and history. He took me through the 15th century to the early 20th century and concluded that war, coups, counter coups, corruption, dictatorship and even genocide had been part of Europe’s political experience. The flight to Skiathos was rather bumpy, partly because it was raining, but mainly because (in my opinion) the plane is an air ‘molue’. It was scary for me when it was landing that I was regretting that I didn’t say enough goodbye to my wife. But it did land well, and I live to die another day.

22 September, 2008

Today is the first day of the conference and I am relieved to find out that my English accent is far better than most of the delegate’s. 90% of the delegates speak English as a foreign language, and I salute their courage to present in a language that is different from their working language. I can’t imagine myself presenting in French. Disaster! The first day of the conference was rather laborious as there were so many papers on air pollution modelling and stuffs that ‘eficos’ (studious people) do. Boring. I struggled not to sleep and could not ask any question other than…please can you explain what your research is about? Since that sound stupid, I kept quiet and wonder what I am doing here, when I should be watching CNN.

The conference is a United Nations gathering of a sort, as it has people from every continent of the globe apart from Antarctica. There were so many things I now know as a result of meeting people at the conference. For example, I never knew there was a place called Baha California in Mexico (someone was from there), I never knew a Saudi Arab can wear jeans..........I met one, and if you have a first degree in Italy, you are referred to as Doctor (can you imagine). There were delegates from Japan, India, Australia, Portugal and Spain, and almost every other parts of Europe and then from Canada, no one from the Caribbean or other parts of Africa, apart from Egypt and South Africa. I feel sad about that, because it shows something I don’t like. While my other Nigerian colleague and I tried to flaunt our ‘Nigerianness’ with our accents and green passport, our badge says we are from a university in England.

However, I love the feel of the conference and the way everybody interact with each other. It shows how good it is to be an academic. Go to conference in an exotic Greek Island, listen to boring papers and bore everyone with yours, then intersperse that with drinks and good Greek food. What a life!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Our focus here will be to examine how we arrive at decisions and the process of affecting them through forming powerful and God ordained partnerships. These two principles i.e. qualitative decision making and divine partnerships have been in use since the Garden of Eden. For instance, before God began creation, He first made His mind up to do so. After meditating on the chaotic state of the earth, He arrived at the decision of putting things right. The principle of partnership is then seen at work in Genesis 2:18 when He said, 'It is not good that the man should be alone I will make him an helpmeet for him.' However, it should be noted that this principle of divine partnership is not limited to the husband-wife relationship. It encompasses all God-ordained relationships that are fulfilling the purpose of fruitfulness because for every right decision that we make, there are connecting people that God has ordained to help bring these resolutions to pass. These decisions are not just good ideas that man devised but refer to a man's resolve to execute God's counsel.

In order to successfully execute His counsel, individuals need to realise that there is more to God's counsel than just receiving the idea. People need to go a step further to inquire about the connecting persons that God has ordained for that particular project. Once these principles are followed, the multiplying effect rests on such an assignment and will make seemingly impossible tasks possible.

With a full understanding of these principles, Jesus paired the disciples before sending them out. The principle of partnership was utilised to it's fullest in the process. The precision with which God selects people for various projects in our lives can be clearly seen from the example of Paul and Barnabas. In Acts 13:2, the Scriptures say, 'As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, 'separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.' It must be noted here that the Holy Spirit was very specific about the individuals that He required for the task at hand. The effect of this precision contributed to the great power that was found in the joint ministry of these two apostles. Likewise in our individual lives, specific sets of people are required for different tasks that God has apportioned for us. We need to ask Him to direct us to them (and them to us) in order to fulfil His plan and purpose and the results He has ordained. (Proverbs 3:6)

From Poju Oyemade © 2007

Monday, September 15, 2008

The democrat's opposition researchers are earning their wages. Is this the beginning of dim light on Sarah Palin, or do we expect her to shine more for few weeks? By far, this is the most interesting American election I have ever followed (not that I have followed much, apart from Gore-Bush). However, for Sarah Palin, these are nest of times. Either way (whether McCain loses or win), she wins. She has been shot into the national limelight and will always be the republican darling girl in 2012 if McCain loses now. Then she can campaign on 'change', and paint President Obama as 'more of the same'. However, if McCain wins, Vice President Palin, will be more than experienced to be the number 1 in 2012 or 2016. I agree with this guy on what team Obama needs to do, in order to turn the tide. And the electoral map is not looking bad either.

Back here, the lipstick has worn off for PM Brown, and some of his hair dressers are calling for a challenge. It's rather interesting to see that the majority of the 'back benchers' calling for the leadership challenge in the labour party are women. While I personally think that there are more than meets the eye on this i.e. there are some male 'frontbenchers' kicking the ball, we cannot deny that this is what some people have termed stiletto revolution. Maybe the next decade is for the women. Maybe our children won't see women leadership in the world's top countries as a strange thing. Maybe the future G8 summits will have leaders (mothers) carrying toddlers around, there will be sufficient breaks to allow madam presidents and prime ministers feed their babies. I wonder the implication of that. But it will be interesting to see.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I haven't been checking my blog. I'm quite sure my fan base is close to nothing. Apology to those who have been checking for the last few months. Snowed under. I have been enthralled by the US election, and it's needless to say where my loyalty lies now. However, how number has been going down since the arrival of the new girl on the block. She was misunderestimated (to use dub'ya's word) and now she is eating our numbers. I was initially fretting over this, thinking this will be a repeat of 2000, that Alaska will be Obama's Florida........not comparatively, but in a way. She was sending a lot of liberals to their cardiologists until I read this. Then it makes sense to me that Karl Rove may be a genius but David Plouffe rules ok! And this is the year that the tide is turning.

Howbeit, I'm experiencing a personal paradox when I consider this election. Shouldn't I be supporting Palin, since she is a bible-believing, tongue-speaking Christian like me? Should my African affinity to Obama trump the affinity I should have to a sister in Christ? I'm sure lots of Black Evangelicals in America will be thinking the same. However, I'm not voting anyway, so it doesn't really matter to me. I still support Obama. Sister Sarah can wait.

In the next few days I will be off to Greece, first to the Island of Skiathos, for a conference, then to Athens and then I'll be putting my feet up in another island close to Athens. What a life. It's a shame that iyawo won't be coming, and I really wish she could. Meanwhile, in order to resurrect my blog, I will posting pictures of my previous holidays in France and Italy so that the Greece pictures would be in order.

Monday, April 21, 2008

I'm getting busy again, writing papers, preparing for presentation and analysing questionnaires. I the midst of this, I keep the Obama vision alive, by watching the season 7 of The West Wing. Also, I have been saving towards the inauguration, should Obama win, and I’ll like to tell my grandchildren that I was among the folks that waved at his motorcade on his way to destiny.

Meanwhile, I'll like to leave you with this. It's about being Chris Okotie........

A NORMAL PERSON: People who live in glass houses should not throw stones.
Chris Okotie : Individuals who make their abodes in vitreous edifices would be advised to refrain from catapulting perilous projectiles.

************ ********* ********* ********* ********* *******

NORMAL PERSON : Twinkle, twinkle, little star
Chris Okotie : Scintillate, scintillate, asteroid minim.

************ ********* ********* ********* ********* *******

NORMAL PERSON : All that glitters is not gold.
Chris Okotie : All articles that coruscate with resplendence are not truly auriferous.
************ ********* ********* ********* ********* *******

NORMAL PERSON : Beggars are not choosers
Chris Okotie : Sorting on the part of mendicants must be interdicted.

************ ********* ********* ********* ********* *******

NORMAL PERSON : Dead men tell no tales
Chris Okotie : Male cadavers are incapable of rendering any testimony.

************ ********* ********* ********* ********* *******

NORMAL PERSON : Beginner's luck
Chris Okotie : Neophyte's serendipity.

************ ********* ********* ********* ********* *******

NORMAL PERSON : A rolling stone gathers no moss
Chris Okotie : A revolving lithic conglomerate accumulates no congeries of small, green, biophytic plant.

************ ********* ********* ********* ********* *******

NORMAL PERSON : Birds of a feather flock together
Chris Okotie : Members of an avian species of identical plumage tend to congregate.

************ ********* ********* ********* ********* *******

NORMAL PERSON : Beauty is only skin deep
Chris Okotie : Pulchritude possesses solely cutaneous profundity.

************ ********* ********* ********* ********* *******

NORMAL PERSON : Cleanliness is godliness
Chris Okotie : Freedom from incrustations of grime is contiguous to rectitude.

************ ********* ********* ********* ********* *********

NORMAL PERSON : There's no use crying over spilt milk
Chris Okotie : It is fruitless to become lachrymose of precipitately departed lactile fluid.

************ ********* ********* ********* ********* *******

NORMAL PERSON : You can't try to teach an old dog new tricks
Chris Okotie : It is fruitless to attempt to indoctrinate a superannuated canine with innovative maneuvers.

************ ********* ********* ********* ********* *******
NORMAL PERSON : Look before you leap
Chris Okotie : Surveillance should precede saltation.

************ ********* ********* ********* ********* *******
NORMAL PERSON : He who laughs last, laughs best
Chris Okotie : The person presenting the ultimate cachinnation possesses thereby the optimal cachinnation.

************ ********* ********* ********* ********* *******
NORMAL PERSON : All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
Chris Okotie : Exclusive dedication to necessitous chores without interludes of hedonistic diversion renders Jack a hebetudinous fellow.

************ ********* ********* ********* ********* *******
NORMAL PERSON : Where there's smoke, there's fire!
Chris Okotie : Where there are visible vapours having their provenance in ignited carbonaceous materials, there is conflagration