Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Another Case for Integration

I will take another time off investment talk today and a bare a little thought for our consideration.

It was a huge (though simple for most people) decision I had to take if I was to travel to Ghana by air or road. Two natures I have dominant in me were truly at contest. I hate unnecessary stress, and road travel through two different West-African countries onward was a guaranteed bet to provide lots of stress. But, I love travelling and seeing places. I love to peer into the eyes of the ordinary people because I know their silence rhythms out the answer to a long sought bliss. The quietness of their struggles flames my vision for a future filled with possibilities. With an online booking already in place and the desire to avoid stress, it took the other nature of me…curiosity to sway my decision to go by road with other members of the team put together from my country to attend this 1st African Youth conference in Accra, Ghana. Moreover this will be my first time to travel to a fellow West African country, so why not start with a quick skim-through of the country side.

When some decisions are made, you must be prepared for some trade-offs. I got a full dose of “African Hospitality” unfortunately the “un-Proper” Naija way! I (we) have never witnessed such attention to unnecessary detail as witnessed exiting my country. Our custom men apparently have had some FBI or CIA type training and they were willing to snoop everything on you…how best will you explain asking to scan through my memory card because I took a picture of a curious looking “okada-type” tricycle. Unfortunately for the entire team, I wasn’t the only guilty party. By the time the drilling and over 3 hours grilling was through, the steam was out of most of us by the time we crossed into no-man’s land between Naija and Republique du Benin. Though we were quickly attended to in our fellow brother’s country, we were treated like spies by our fellow country-men….so much passion for a nation seeking for true identity!

I have always shared the opinion that to further the possibility of African renaissance, we need a sense of urgency on how integration is achieved in the continent. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not asking for (mediocre-thought) amalgamation of Africa, just some simple basic things that will ensure seamless mobility across the entire landscape of the continent…for the real people of the continent. Apparently, I observed(please tell me I’m wrong, cos I really could be) that travel options within the continent for the so-called poor and lower end of the various countries, those who will be readily considered to use ground travel is much more difficult and burdensome when compared to air-travel within the subcontinent. My little submission here: another dimension to consider in solving the multi-faceted poverty problem in the continent is to address so much unseen opportunites such cumbersome structures deny us.

My point? Across the length and breadth of the continent, the faces of ordinary people seek for interaction with other ordinary people, and the more this interaction can be facilitated through simple infrastructure, flexible customs procedures and willing government de-bottlenecking, the better our chances for creating extra-ordninary possibilities.


Monday, July 23, 2007

My Friend...is a great....!

My Friend Udeme.....is now a Father!

It's amazing how the birth of a new child makes the world such a great place. With loving glare at such a peaceful creation you realise just how gracious God is...you are experiencing what it fills to be part of a soul, and then you realise such an honour to be a co-worker with God in the vineyard of creation.

I missed going to church yesterday because I went to see my friend, who got married a year ago (I was just seeing the couple again since attending the wedding in Ilorin after unbelievably, the "forgetful" genius I was, left behind my wedding party attire in Lagos, so I volunteered to be the driver for the day! ). I always wanted to visit them, but somehow never got to make it. As I took a deliberate detour off my route to church, I didn't know something big was really in store for me (well, maybe more appropriately for the family). I saw him, looking fit and trim as usual and the wife perfectly fitted, expecting a child. Then this morning, I received a text message announcing the birth of a baby girl, a Princess as he referred to her.

Wow! How would I have known that the lady who served me a lovely breakfast yesterday in a most dutiful way was going to experience the joy of motherhood in less than 24 hours (I must say, if it is by sight, I would have said delivery was in another 3-4 months!). I picked up the phone to call my friend to rejoice with him, and he told me they left for the hospital not too long after I left them the previous day...and the result is what I hear. Can you blame me for feeling so connected to the little girl? The first day I came to visit them after dropping them off at the honeymoon location was the first time I stepped into their home and the next thing that happened was that their Princess came into the world...you are asking what I'm feeling like (godfather part 4 shey? make una no bombard with "come visit" mails sha!). Well I feel good, in fact excited, and joy wells in my heart for my friend..

I rejoice with my friend, I rejoice with the wife, God is faithful...so you see that my friend, Emmanuel is not just a great man...He is now a Father...and yeah, he feels like a king...

Welcome Princess! God bless and keep you!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

good evening and good night!

Hello Nigerians,

It's a wonderful skyline we have today, and it seems the heavens abode its source with this wonderful nation of ours. You may be wondering what i have in this glass before me today...It's wine!!! One of the finest this nation has to offer and world renowned. It's appropriate for the occasion we will collectively toast to tonight.

This is a moment of joy and happiness, but more importantly a moment of contemplation. We look back to see what we have gone through and how the dreams of a once despairing people has become hope and reality of a blossoming space. We once faltered on the brink of despair and destruction, but today the mightiest of nations celebrate us as the noblest of all. It's been a long walk and indeed painful. But the weathered path we've crossed and dusty sweat that strolls our brow has created fragrance from the toils of our land. Today, years of walk of shame is celebrated in a theatre of fame.

Don't be fooled, we were never always this great. we were once a curse word in the anthems of the deranged and the belly of this nation once birth the fears of the world. It took vision...it took guts. We were afraid, but we loved life and applied ourselves accordingly and found out the difference between fear and courage is a very thin imaginary line. We not only build bridges across the Niger, we also stretched our hearts across its banks. We envisioned and built the world's first superhighway running a circumference across the boundary of this nation. It wasn't meant to be an infrastructural masterpiece, it was a symbol that at some point, as a nation we agreed that this earthen monument is an embrace of our nationhood; and as people from every corner of this nation stepped on its frame, the life of every culture spoke progress, respect and freedom - such a familiar rhythm! We tore down the relics of our smallness and treasured the blessedness of our land. We had everything...it took us just a moment to realise!

My octogenarian years are here and I'm counting as my hairs are greying silver. I have walked this land of wonder and seen the desires of men and women walking hand in hand shifting the borders of indifference once masked by battered histories and altered genes. Nigerians...we made it!!!

My generation can exit the scene. We leave behind an emboldened generation ably aware of a place beyond destiny.

A toast to my love... my nation... my country!

Good evening and good night!

(being excerpt of text given by a Nigerian citizen to mark the "Remembrance of a Nation of Hope: Nigeria" in the year 2065)

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Africa talk, Africa walk...

Heard about the fable of Gondwanaland? Its an interesting and intriguing concept I was introduced to in my first Geography lesson in secondary school (in some parts of the world, it is referred to as High School). It postulates the idea of one super continent called Gondwana comprising of Southern Europe, Africa, South America, Antarctica, and Australia. In essence we were all together as one continent before now. It was said that due to some tectonic "gyrations" and not too familiar jargon accustomed only to our geology comrades, Gondwana was split and drifted into separate continents as we know them today. Is this true or just one of those sage-like postulations? Well, I have some reason to believe this is true...both from scientific evidences as reflected in climatic conditions along the fault lines of this drift...and more importantly some biblical evidence...yeah...but that is not the topic of discussion in this post. But what is particularly interesting is that of all the continents, only Africa remained in the initial Gondwana position, all the other continents simply drifted away...in essence new destinies and definitions for the drifted continents...but Africa...same position?...does this ring a bell?

I am not one of those who appreciates the open sores of Africa as it dots the entire landscape of its seductive anatomy, neither do I berate gerontocracy for the heaps of challenges ingrained into the African psyche. When will we mobilise ourselves for some economic tectonic shift similar to that which split Gondwana. When will we stop murdering the soul of Africa in the name of opportunities that portend more of rape of the continent's resources than actually builds a foundation for its growth and economic emancipation (and please do not see this as a Black vs White thing...it is heartwarming to see that Africa is a continent for all colours). It is very important that we put first things first. I'm a believer in Globalisation (it works for the benefit of those who choose to be prepared and very specific in what they aim to achieve)...but in the African case, to build a long lasting and sustainable development path for the continent, our path to globalisation and eventual drift from current Gondwana location must begin with intense "localisation" of the continent. What do I mean?

How come there's not a super railway system running across the continent? How is air travel within Africa coordinated (travel within Africa is relatively more expensive than trotting from Africa and former Gondwana "colonies"). How is regional security synchronised for the benefit of Africans(not just about Interpol). How seamless is road transport within the continent? What about other infrastructures? Why on earth should there not be coordination between providers and regulators of social infrastructure in the continent? For instance, I can't imagine why a mobile or phone call from Nigeria to Cameroon, or to Togo, or to Benin Republic or even to Ghana will cost much more than calls to either Europe or the United States.

The solution to this quagmire from my point of view is a challenge we as individuals and the private sector needs have to strategically champion. Why the private sector? The high cost of doing business within the continent hurts mostly the private citizens of the continent, and believe me it chokes our ability to see opportunities beyond our various "local" governments called countries. Let the "gerontocrats" only provide the direction needed in pushing for a political framework for Africans to unleash their true potentials...just maybe...just maybe...we may be able to generate enough force of tectonic proportions to move Africa from its current Gondwana position to a location of continental bliss.