Posted in ESSAYS AND LITERARY JOURNEYS, LIFE

A CONTINUING TALE OF MY BELOVED ABUJA

Tormenting tides would wane
the storms shall cease
the floods finally fade
Our rainbow would spread

Abuja is today not what it was yesterday. I could start my tale some twenty-three or so odd years ago when my nimble feet kissed the brown terrain of the young town. You see, it was virgin, a bit older than me but we became aware of ourselves in a conjoined state similar to Siamese twins.
But forget the betrayal I feel at the rape of this town – my love – in so-called development that has people who don’t even say ‘Hi’ to each other. Gone are those days that we knew everyone in the neighbourhood and could trek from Wuse to Garki and the like. Every parent was every parent’s friend and the children all part of one community. Reminds me of a day, a few years now, went to say ‘Welcome’ to a newly arrived neighbour. The man sneered at him. Turns out later the man needed a big favour from dada in official capacity. Well, all I can say is the Abuja bug is infectious.
But if it stopped at the development, perhaps one would smile at my nostalgic stupidity. Think now of all the looting of a town done by certain elite, the total corruption and increasing sicknesses that make this land for all a land of the few. With more stringent measures that are obviously targeted at the common man, continual ropes stretched to make him gaunt, you wonder, what really is happening? Bans, taxes, restrictions, carelessness of government in taking care/providing certain amenities… Ouch!
These days everyone goes into buses with an outward nonchalance and eyes that tell a different tale. There’s suspicion of every bag holder and even a polythene bag could portend danger. Every bus ride could be a last journey and a visa to eternity.
The TV boasts lies of propaganda of what the government is doing. But we see the truth live for the news they don’t say lives with us in Abuja more than anywhere else. No place is sacrosanct – from Utako to Asokoro, Wuse, the Central Business District to even distant outskirts, Suleija and Nyanya. Every patch of representative earth has soaked its amount of Abel’s avenging soul. One wonders what more it would take for the heavens to hear the cries of the blood.
But jump a bit away from Abuja to Borno and other states of the Northern region. Think of increased invaders in the name of whatever new group they want – herdsmen, terrorists? Think of students trying to write a paper and taken away. Think of girls who we might get back – introduced to life as full women… #bringbackourgirls.
We raise our hopes to the skies for the ground has betrayed us. Life calls even as death shouts louder. We are Nigerians and keep our hustle, smiling in a happiness that the wickedness of our evil lords can never suppress. But there’s always that elastic limit.

The Vampires stay forth
ignoring dawn
till they feel it’s scathing burn
as times fries them in that morn…

In the pitch of our enduring night
we raise hopes to the light
in vigils believing the promise of the sun:
There would always be dawn.

NOTE: End poem is from ‘New Year Tales of Subsidy’ by Su’eddie Vershima Agema in the collection, Bring our casket home: tales one shouldn’t tell.

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Posted in LIFE

ON THE TIV ANNIHILATION: AN OPEN LETTER TO THE GOVERNMENTS OF NIGERIA, SAUDI ARABIA, ISRAEL, ITALY, THE VATICAN, FRANCE, BRAZIL, ENGLAND, CHINA, RUSSIA, and THE USA BY AONDOSOO LABE

AVE, IMPERATOR, MORITURI TE SALUTANT!

As a proud African of the Tiv race and a patriotic Nigerian, I want to state here in clear terms that there is a calculated attempt by the Hausa/Fulani in Northen Nigeria to annihilate the Tiv race of North-Central Nigeria. The Tiv are predominantly Christian (majority Catholics) and the most educated minority tribe in Nigeria with over 2million degree holders (7 out of 10 households in Tivland have at least 2 graduates, and hundreds of Professors). This advancement and self-motivated liberation has become a source of morbid worry to the Hausa/Fulani who are now ‘scared’ of our growing productivity and enlightment. This has led to series of unprovoked attacks by well-armed militias led by the Hausa/Fulani herdsmen on the Tiv people, that has displaced thousands, killed hundreds, and destroyed billions in property. These attacks are primarily directed at our socio-political and economic institutions via a deliberate attempt to disenfranchise the Tiv race (with over 10million natives in Benue, Taraba, Nassarawa, and Cross River states) before the ‘vital’ 2015 general elections. I may not be able to state all the morbid motives of the Hausa/Fulani but the well-executed attacks on the village of the Tor Tiv (Tiv Traditional Ruler) and the Benue State Governor’s convoy and the latter’s village, are convincing pointers to the fact that these attacks are calculated to cripple the political relevance of the Tiv race in Nigeria.
I am therefore calling on you to probe into the random reports of the utilization of chemicals as weapons in this genocide. This is also a warning to the government of Nigeria and the UN Security Council that should the Tiv people rise from Kwande to Gboko, Vandeikya to Agagbe, Keana to Wukari to defend themselves by “any means necessary”, your collective indifference will bear us witness. MSUGH NE KPISHI.

 

 

 

 

‪#‎AndrewAondosooLabe‬ is a critically-acclaimed award-winning writer based in Makurdi, North-Central Nigeria.

Posted in POL TALKS

ON THE SYRIAN CRISES [ETHICAL LEADERSHIP CRISES] – DESMOND TUTU

(Fore Note: While Desmond Tutu wrote this of the Syrian crises, I think there are several similarities to what is going on in other parts of the world today – Ukraine, Nigeria… We pray for peace and ask that we learn that, to borrow the cliche, might isn’t always right. May the heavens give us grace)

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Since the Syrian tragedy began three years ago, commentators have been quick to lambast one side or another for their lack of leadership, singling out Bashar al-Assad, or the rebels, or Russia, or the United States, or the Arab League, or the United Nations, or perhaps another entity. We are spoilt for choice.

Meanwhile the war rages on and Syria’s families continue to be torn apart. What overwhelms me with sadness is not the failing of one side or another, but the way this war has engulfed the

Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Archbishop Desmond Tutu

world in a vacuum where peaceful appeals are hardly audible. It was tragic to see Western politicians who spoke out against military intervention get slammed for somehow being cowardly. Although their effort would not stop the killing outright, to hold back the war designs of their own leaders was a brave act.

So where is the “ethical leadership” in the Syria crisis? Why is it that any initiative which should ease the pain of Syrians seems so grindingly slow to take hold in the minds of our leaders, let alone be implemented? Impartial humanitarian access is still virtually absent in most of the country. Refugee services in neighboring Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Iraq are still woefully underfunded. We are being promised a peace conference for more than a year. It keeps being pushed back.

I reflect upon this as I prepare to attend a meeting, in Cape Town, of a wonderful group of people called The Elders, which I chaired for six years, since it was founded by Nelson Mandela in 2007. What defines an ‘Elder’ is that we have retired from office but are still committed to promoting peace and human rights.

Kofi Annan, the former UN Secretary-General, has recently taken over from me as the chair of the group. It was about time somebody did. As Elders we should oppose Presidents for life. Now I am finally taking my retirement seriously and will become an ‘honorary’ Elder.

The Syria crisis has given the Elders reason to reflect. Our colleague Lakhdar Brahimi is the current UN and Arab League mediator for Syria. Kofi Annan held the position before him. Their frustrations have been palpable as the death toll has crept onward, now in excess of 100,000 human lives. They have been candid about their own powerlessness for as long as those murdering Syrians, directly or by proxy, refuse to come to the table. Their successive, patient efforts seem to be paying off slowly. We have admired and supported them completely.

When he founded The Elders, Madiba simply told us to ‘be bold’ and speak truth to power. It meant that we could meet with whomever we please, be it Western diplomats, or Hamas, who have been labeled a terrorist organization, or President al-Bashir of Sudan, who is indicted by the International Criminal Court, provided we had an important message to give about the welfare of the weak.

Since 2007 we have explored possibilities, in effect ‘learning to Elder’. The Syria crisis has been one of the clearest pointers that ‘ethical leadership’ is where the Elders can focus their efforts.

To talk about ‘ethical leadership’ is to speak from experience, not because you were a perfect leader but because you were thrust into difficult situations – stirring hatred or calling for cool heads, igniting a war or enshrining peace, reaching out to the poor or assuming they will perish – and maybe you helped to see humanity prevail.

It is about preaching some universal principles, even to those with their backs against the wall: to always warn against the resolutely devastating effect of war. To remind what it feels like to be persecuted or voiceless. To uphold the dignity of the victim, but also show sympathy for the challenges of leadership as a collective of people who have been freed from the constraints of office.

It is also about using your experience to foresee signs of catastrophe ahead. To warn of the lasting ferment of persecution when, in Myanmar, Muslims like the Rohingya are being persecuted, bullied, told they are worth nothing while their homes are being torched. To be outraged when some African states turn their back on the International Criminal Court and consign victims to the abyss. To support with all our heart the prospect of two states for Israelis and Palestinians in the Holy Land. To stand with the half-share of our human family, the mothers, sisters and daughters, who still play second fiddle in the hallways of power and too often wallow in the shadow of male failings. To urge action at the top of our lungs as cataclysmic and man-made climate change looms.

People like the Elders are not here to lead change, or end wars. They are here to remind you that wars can be ended. Our humanity is bound together. Technology has brought us closer together yet our world is still rife with misery. We can communicate instantly with Aleppo, in Syria, during a night of shelling. We need leaders moved by those crying for help and the thought of their hearts beating amid the rubble.

 

 

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– Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, is an Honorary Member of The Elders, a group of independent leaders working for peace justice and human rights worldwide. (This article was originally published in Al Jazeera on Oct 31, 2013)

 

Posted in POETRY FROM THE WORLD

Angry Zombies (A Poem) by Daniel S. Moskowitz

Angry Zombies advance
Hungry
They burn the Church down
Possessed by the Demons of their desiccated hearts
They realize
They committed a sin
So, they become “Christians”
And burn down the Mosque
Then, they pray to Satan for forgiveness
As their crops fail
Their animals starve
And their children are prostituted
Maybe, Satan will emerge from the Bowels of the Earth
To save them?

Posted in BOOK THOUGHTS, FLASH FICTION

THE PEN IS MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD (Flash Fiction) by Su’eddie Vershima Agema

You raise your thoughts to the highest heavens, even though you are at your lowest. You drink of the wonders of so much written, yet find no merit to quench the thirst that is drinking you up. You hear more words, and see much more evils …

What should be, what should be?

The puzzles turn on and on in your head till your every thought becomes a mass of unanswered questions, much like wires turned loose.

You have stopped watching TV, you have stopped reading the news, you have struggled to leave the world. But somehow, the troubles still get to you. The news you refuse to find, the realities of the time.

You pick your pen to put into action once more that blood that bled so much to create weapons that left everyone marveled. You want to bleed out all the evils that have now become a monster in you.

It flows and you smile, but not for long as you find more of those villains coming to get your people. You discover that your leaders are complicit…

Then you go to Opi, kiss the junction and remember that one who wore the eagled insignia. You pick his mantle and make the sign of the cross.

Suddenly you realize you no longer believe that the pen is mightier than the sword.