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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

G is for gifts

A gift is not an achievement.

Everyone has more than one gift.

Everyone.

But we judge our gifts based on very scary and silly benchmarks like glitter, popularity, and 'sexiness'.

Your first gift is life. To be more specific, you are alive.

This is not an offering of platitudes. Ask anyone staring at a death sentence. I've stared at a few, and that itself is a gift, but I won't go into that right now...maybe later.

What you do with the gift in your hands will determine what more will be made available to you...rather, what more will be brought to your attention.

Every gift you have awaits the moment that you display courage to use them...and it does take courage to live.
Before I do something as silly as leading out my thoughts with the carelessness of a bull let loose in a lighting fixture shop, let me reiterate...your gifts need your courage. Not your mentor's, not your spiritual leader's, and certainly not your associates and friends.

Are there examples? Yes. Living examples, even. I will share one with you.

Have you ever heard of a woman called 'mother'? MILF or unattractive, good or bad, house-based or professional...every mother had to discover the courage to experience pre-partum life and follow the cycle to post-partum.

What's the big deal about that? Everything. You may assume you were a gift but the truth is that she discovered her gift of courage to mother you...and that journey starts long before the delivery room.

She finds out that you're on your way long before she has a moment to decide whether or not she is up to it. The fear of miscarriage, of discovering that you may have be disadvantaged from the womb, morning sickness, the immediate change in her lifestyle...no 2 pregnancies are the same and each one is a whole different set of negative or positive probabilities.

Abortions have been aggressively promoted in the last 30 years because the fear that overshadows the courage needed to see it through has never cared about your income, marital status, the circumstances behind the pregnancy...like every other human being who feels cornered by fear, they too need to feel they have a choice, an option.

Sadly, I cannot speak for those who were chalked up for the DC&C...I can list a few people who were either meant to be aborted or were condemned by 'society' before they had a chance to prove their worth.

Mozart, *Hitler, Kirk Franklin...most likely some people you had contact with over the past 2 or more weeks.

This was my way of telling you that your gift is not an achievement, it is your responsibility to see it comes out fully...you have no idea how far it will go or how far it will carry you. Neil Armstrong didn't. If you don't know who he was, it's not a problem. He doesn't know or care who you are. He's already walked on the moon.

*Yes, Hitler. Should he have been aborted and there wouldn't have been World War 2, no genocides, no concentration camps. History is far more complicated than politics will allow room for honesty. Pogroms had been going on for centuries and his 'efforts' forced the Western world to accept the need to recognise and protect human rights (yes, the child in Mushin will argue that this has not yet affected his situation, but humor later).
It is not enough to have a good mind. The main thing is to use it well -- Rene Descartes

Monday, September 9, 2013

F is for Family

Family. You didn't choose them. They didn't choose you. Both of you were given to each other.

There is family by blood and there's family beyond blood...to my reckoning. You will hurt each other (universal experience), but you can't help but be vulnerable with yourselves, because you were chosen for each other.
Here lies a difficult load to bear.

We can't decide who is family, but it is obvious (on a larger scale) that the entire human race is related. It always was.

I believe anyone reading this has (in travels long or short) come across people of different cultures and races bearing the same features of people familiar to them. But I believe the connection does not stop there.

Noble blood was once common blood. The identities that we have adopted over millenia are expected, seeing as the human race (like all life) is competitive by nature. What is not expected...or should I say universally accepted, is the abuse of sensibility and wisdom (note, I did not say intelligence or cunning...I will expatiate on that later).

A mob (ochlocracy, not the mafia) is not family. In a mob, no one is responsible, but everyone is guilty. If you doubt me on that, go into the heart of Newcastle, England and scream, "Alan Shearer is a tosser!". You may not know who he is or what that means...but it is guaranteed that you will be violently 'educated' by means of the mob of one identity 'Newcastle United'. (Some experiments were not meant to be survived, so do not try it.)

When the words 'War, Famine, Drought, Crime, CSI' come up, I get very worried when people assume them to be normal. They are not. War is politicians (the state) abusing their influence over the military policies in their countries, thus giving the next generation a load of loss to bear...sometimes the military 'coup de etat' back (retweet this at @remiolutimayin if you get it). But there is always some stupidity that sparked it off.

Pride is an illusion that separates us.

Profit is a fix, but it is never fixed for it is always of the moment, and not forever (if you doubt me, study the history of sugar...once the 'oil' of Napoleon's era).

To covet is a waste of energy (I've never heard of property loving its owners back...remember Gollum and 'my precious').

Security is a dream pursued but never attained by the whole, only the few (fleeting dream at best...remember Louis XVI and the French revolution).

There are eternal things, you ought to keep your eyes on them (remind yourself of them as often as it takes) but do not be so focused on them that you destroy what the eternal has placed before you in the temporal. In plain words, be awake to the needs of people around you and don't destroy them with your words and actions.

To nurture demands that you be more skillful. To destroy...well, Seal Team 6 members aren't at their best during peaceful times. Every soldier prays for peace. Don't just remember that, respect that.

And on a final note, share this please. You cannot judge who needs to read this based on where you are right now.


It is not enough to have a good mind. The main thing is to use it well -- Rene Descartes

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Just sampling the public

African (or in this case Nigerian) stories of yore are hard to come by, talkless of writers willing to delve into the genre.
I'd like to know your opinion of this.

Kind drop a line on @remiolutimayin.
I'd love to hear from you.

Circa 1613 West Africa
The twilight tends to play tricks on the mind, shadow maybe mistaken for substance and substance for shadow. There was a man with a white beard picking his way through the maize farms with the strength of a youth. He stepped through the rows and over the animals traps with the ease of a child climbing over his parents' sleeping forms. He had now reached his destination after many evenings, but his journey was by royal edict and so the nature of his movement had to be covert. To avoid meeting other people, he had been travelling through the forests during the day, easing his way past underbrush and low branches, staying away from foot-paths with little time to rest. He did not like to speak without an express need to. A greeting would typically lead to an extended exchange of greetings as is the custom of courtesy. This could cost him more than a few minutes. Then they would ask pleasant questions. Then they would bring him up in casual conversation and he could be made out by men of a certain 'trade', costing him the needed secrecy...and 'it' had eyes among men. But he did not have that problem with beasts.
Leopards hunting from the trees would notice him notice them and offer a brief wave in their directions. It came naturally to him. They always acknowledged his greetings by blinking softly. He would pause by a pride of lions in repose and the patriarch would glance at him, hinting at the younger lions not to treat him either as curiousity or prey. The antelope would make a sudden start until they realised what he was and they would continue grazing as he picked his way past them. They all knew he was not 'man'. At night, he would recognise the hunters checking their traps overnight by their headlamps, and not wanting to alert them of his presence, he would join with the shadows of the trees. He did not sleep. Twice he met slavers trudging along with their cargo to the greater ports in the south and both times he reminded himself to mind his business. The rattling of the chains would have given his conscience a burden to bear, but his mission did not include them and he had sacrificed his conscience on the altar of duty long before any of them had been born. His compromise was to discourage them from taking those paths again. No one would miss a slaver who disappeared without a trace and no one would imagine that it wasn't the forest that took him. In a sense, he was part of the forest.
Going on foot was not his usual style of travelling, but it was his own way of reconnecting with his past...his disjointed and distant past.
So it came to be that it was twilight when he arrived at the farm. It was harvest and as expected the huts for the members of the efako were back in use. Raffia mats were draped as make-shift doors, giving each hut a baleen smile, a joke he'd have shared if whales were as common as hippopotami on the Niger. But how does one explain an elephant to a man whose best reference to size is a horse?
None of the efako were in, but he saw light at the other end of the compound. As he walked closer, he picked up the smell of firewood and the voices of the families that made up the farming group gathered for the harvest. It was the excited chorus of children responding to a call-and-response story. Even after a day at the farm, most children would have the energy for a story. His smile came naturally to him as he stepped forward, but it was the weight of his task that straightened his face.
On rounding the last corner, he saw the families around an average fire, a short distance from a large Baobab tree with a few shapes at its base. The fire was for the women and children, and the tree for the men to drink burukutu and smoke their pipes.
He stopped at a few paces short of the huts, waiting to be noticed by the group. It wasn't long before he was invited to the fire by the matriarch and as expected, the men soon joined him there to ask necessary questions. Being welcome didn't mean being trusted.
"May the day always favor your work, stranger", said Adako, the head of the efako.
In the light of the fire, he looked burly, his bald head and beard gave him a warrior's look, but his countenance betrayed the agrarian culture that dominated his life. He always worked to feed others, and not to take from them without fair exchange. But his almost silent directions to his grown sons were those given by hunters when dangerous prey had been encountered. Violence wasn't beyond him. He did not know it was the same as eggs finding strength numbers when facing stones.
These things did not escape the notice of the stranger. His stance was alert, like a wild animal not quite at ease. This did not escape their notice. He spoke to end the awkward silence.
"May the evening always favor your rest and the peace of your home."
The stranger still stood a little too straight, like a doe that is convinced it may be safe, but to stand alert, just in case.
"You may join us fully, as we intend for you all you may intend for us.", Adako continued, warily.
The stranger had counted 47 pairs of able farm hands, mostly young children and women. But he was there for a pair that could be able for more than farming. This was his mission and it had to be by peaceful means.

"I intend peace towards you and your family. I have travelled far and tiredness eats at the strength in my bones. But I come with a message for you from the Etsu, Adako."
Everyone sat up. Adako was a wealthy farmer who tirelessly did what he could to be at peace with everyone around him as far as the fadama to the great river itself and still stayed so humble that he had to be pointed out to the visitors from the larger world.
A messenger from a king who 'knew' him. But which king? Times were not as stable as before, but there was an order to things. Offence had not been given or taken...yet. Both Adako and the stranger hoped it would stay that way.

"There are a few Etsus, friend. Which do you speak of?", Adako asked calmly...too calmly.

"Tsosidi."

He was not a particularly friendly etsu in the least, or so went the tales of his aggressive expansion. It seemed he was determined to use force-of-war to become sit on a throne above every community. Some whispered the word 'empire' by those who understood what that meant. That was mostly by pilgrims and travellers who journeyed along the Niger. They had seen 'empires' and the stories of their births were not that different. The beginning of every great empire starts with a foundation of blood, bones and subjugation.

"Step into the light, emissary, that I may see you more clearly.", Adako spoke evenly...too evenly.

"Before I do, it is important that you hear what I have to say and decide whether to risk my murder is greater than to risk an even greater problem that you are yet to see. You have no quarrel with it...and yet it truly intends you no peace, unlike me."
Adako's sons had formed a half-circle behind the stranger. The air was suddenly too thin even for calm lungs.
The stranger turned to face all 16 of his would-be attackers and asked,"Do you know my name? Do you know what my name means?"
A young boy had been watching all this unravelling while in his mother's arms. He stepped away from her, stood up and answered,"Your name is 'Wodo'. It means 'obey'. I can see that you're not a man and I can tell that you're here for me, aren't you?"
Wodo smiled at the 5-year old and said,"I apologise for what I'm about to do to your brothers, but it will discourage them from their course of action. But they will never again claim that you speak of things you don't understand."
The young men stepped forward as one, and their shadows disobeyed the laws of light and overtook them...literally swallowing them whole. They all suddenly found themselves shivering in the darker parts of the forest. Only their ears explained what was going on nearby. A pride of lions were finishing off a kill and the boys didn't want to do anything to draw attention to themselves...not for anything. Breathing was presently a luxury...at least until they could get away from the pride, find their bearings and head home.
Adako's last wife got up to grab her son and take him away before he spoke any more with the stranger, but in mid-stride, she suddenly sank into the shadows on the ground and was set neck-deep in the earth. The rest of the women and children scattered into the night and then gathered into the huts, reducing their involvement to intermittent peeks through the raffia doors.
Adako stood alone, looked confused and scared, but would not abandon his wife and child. Fear had its place, but he was not its slave or its kingdom.
"Like I said, I'm here for peace. Your son has been visited by the Ndas of the council of the half-moon chamber. He has a gift that separates men from those who will be more than men."
"But he...he is just a child."
"I know...in your eyes. But the sooner he starts to learn what Tsosidi has asked me to pass on to him, the better. What is your name, child?"
"Waniko"
"Waniko, when you see me, what do you see?"
Since he was 2 years old, Waniko recognised the dead who walk among the living. When he was 3, he mentioned this to his brothers. Their mockery put the spirits at ease and they had made peace with the fact that a child's imagination is involved makes it a great place to hide the truth and continue a lie. But he had a wisdom beyond his age and never revealed the full details of what he saw. Until now, Waniko kept his observations to himself. But he had to ask. Wodo's true nature was very obvious to him and he wasn't a spirit that he had to be wary of.
"Why are you carrying so much light and darkness on you? You don't look comfortable."
"I'm not..."
Wodo turned to look at Adako and continues his conversation with Waniko. "...But it has nothing to do with what I carry. It is a pleasure to carry them. What makes me uncomfortable is forcing you, by command of the king, to become what I am. Or at least a shade of it."
"Is it that bad?"
"No. It is better and it is worse. Depending on where the desires of your heart lie. Where do your desires rest, child?"
He turned to Waniko, but the child had moved from where he had been standing.
Waniko had walked to his mother and knelt by her head.
"To protect my family. They don't know how I've interceded on their behalf and I don't think they'd understand the way that you do. The Ndas spoke of what is to come and what is needed of me. I don't think it will be worse than what I've had to do since I learned to speak."
Wodo stared at Adako patiently wondering how this man married an antelope and didn't realise their child would not be unaware of the true nature of the world.
Adako tried to speak, but the back of his throat was dry, hot, and threatened to release a wail, so he breathed through his mouth and kept words from his tongue.
"Adako, I cannot take him without your permission. He will come to no harm so long as I am with him. As he has said, he has been protecting all of you since he could speak."
Tsosidi's name gave Adako little comfort, so Wodo took Waniko in his 'own' name.
Soon Adako's sons were tumbling out of the shadows of the huts and Waniko's mother dropped straight through the earth and suddenly appeared in her hut.
Adako's family staged an impromtu farewell dinner for Waniko while his mother stared angrily at Wodo who had a large appetite.
The embers were dying, dawn was near and as Wodo polished off his chicken, he whispered to her,"Your life was spared not too long ago because you chose to walk among men. Did you think there would be no price, antelope?"
Her face then relaxed. She stood up and went to rear of the last hut, dropped down to all fours and bounded into the night in her true form.
Waniko kept eating as he said to Wodo,"I've always known. So am I man or beast?"
Wodo put a hand on Waniko's head and replied with great wisdom,"What man is not a beast? I am neither, so you're all the same to me."

It is not enough to have a good mind. The main thing is to use it well -- Rene Descartes

My Rant for the month

Retweet this 2ce if you like it.

"How good and how pleasant it would be/ Before God and man
To see the unification of all/
Africans"
Africa Unite- Bob Marley (Robert Nester Marley)

I've took a break from the alphabet challenge to rant. Mockers aren't going to be respected for pretending they don't have things they're dealing with.

I am not a peaceful person. I'm a respectful person. Respectful means that I will always give you room to reciprocate respect by making known to you my intentions, my upbringing, my sensibilities, and my personal direction.

Should for some reason decide to trample them underfoot, you and I will have a problem. Why would I take such a small thing as 'that' to heart?

Simple, really.

I'm offended not just for the people who share and make up my history as a person, I'm offended on the part of yours.

Only an idiot would think his family history starts with him. They don't need to be people of note to be a part of your origins. They were there before you. Good, bad, ugly...doesn't matter. That you don't mention them doesn't give you room to pretend your family name begins with you.

Fine...you may have gone to the courthouse to change your name...but your blood? That does not lie.
Why am I ranting on this course?

*sigh*

I come from a line I believe I can trace back to say...150 years, or so. All characters on both sides. From what I can see, we have all made the mistake of substituting the truth of ourselves for some convenient rubbish about 'this is the 21st century', 'what they did back then was diabolical and fetish', 'our history starts with independence', etc.

Fetish? Is your tradition fetish? Is your mother tongue fetish? Was your whole village made up of priests and priestesses?

I'm a christian, I believe in Jesus Christ and not in other men like myself. I have seen things and known that coincidence is the Western way of saying,"I don't recognise God, but I fear Him."

Culture conquest is so irritating to me because its first vehicle of war is 'enforced ignorance', followed by 'willful ignorance' of the leadership, then tidied up by the 'willful ignorance' of the masses.

I'd spit in anger, but it would seem like a commendation from me.

We think we are such beasts because we are African. So why does the rest of the world want a share of what we so willingly look down on?

We had astronomers on the Congo basin who read the stars accurately...obviously without a telescope. Where are they now?

We had the tale of Bayajidda, the itinerant knight who slew a serpent and married a queen then fathered the Arewa nations. We convince our children that such truths are not relevant. Yet from him to Oduduwa, we look at google as the final authority about 'our' heritage?

What do we do to mirror their efforts in 'preserving' the human heritage? Spitting rhymes from a fad that started in the late 70s by the Sugar Hill Gang, and the truth is the one man who first rapped on television screens was Muhammed Ali (formerly known as Cassius Clay).

We claim that we are fighting for 'democracy', meanwhile we ignore the political histories of our 250 people, condensing it into the presence of our 'traditional rulers'.

WTF?

In Yorkshire, there is a Nigerian child who only knows that his parents come from Nigeria. Maybe he knows something about his village that most likely is limited to its name.

This error in personal education is repeated across the world...and even in cities here in Nigeria.

If you're expecting me to comment about Big Brother, then let me not disappoint you. Big Brother is 'us'. You think it is a show? It's past that. It is the temperature of our societies and how they co-exist. Everyone is trying to screw the other person without any aim in mind besides 'scoring big'. Stupid? Immature? Immoral? Indecent?

Look in the mirror and you'll catch a glimpse of your society in yourself. Catch a glimpse of your society and you'll know the kind of Africa you will live in very soon.

The future is always the next minute, not next year, not month, next week, or the next day.

Why am I ranting and who offended me?

I did. I offended my land, my history, and my future.

How?

I too pretended that everything will work itself out without me.

So, why am I a nexus point of the histories of 2 large families within the greater picture called africa? Is it not to be a part of what is working?

Well, I did my part, but it is not enough.

If we will live in peace in our old age, we must spread the fire now.

How do I do this? Will I have the time? Isn't this like madness? Won't it be like I'm ranting over what I can't change?

If you're not a Bob Marley fan, still listen to his song 'Zimbabwe'.

Africa is no longer your right, my friend.
Africa is your duty, and your money/job/occupation will never be able to pay for what you failed to do...the price is steeper than that.

If you doubt me, search on google/wikipedia the last president of South Vietnam. He wanted things to sort themselves out without his 'involvement'. So things did...and removed him from the entire equation.

Value over cost. (Wish I knew how to say that in Latin).


It is not enough to have a good mind. The main thing is to use it well -- Rene Descartes

Thursday, June 20, 2013

E is for Entropy

Chaos. Anarchy. Free will. They give entropy a very bad name.

There are many applications to entropy in terms of thermodynamics and even information theory, but I am naïve enough to choose my own take on the subject.

Entropy is basically how undesired counters the desired...and it fascinates us, whatever form it takes because it reminds us that we are not in control.

You could say it's the Ying to a Yang, the Joker to the Batman, Kryptonite to Superman...the shit on your doorstep that ruins a perfect day (like a last-minute goal that turns your draw to a loss on PS3...not like I'd know anything about that. Ahem).

But I believe that Entropy is more than a pothole on a good road. I think it the universal humbler of human assumption. We feel the need to be in control, to be our own gods, to have everything right where we want it...we feel the need to support a 'comforting lie'. The truth is bitter, but not defeating.

When Entropy hits us, it may or may not give advanced warning (it can be impolite that way), but it is not an enemy. It isn't a friend either. It is whatever we want it to be.

When I learned that my friend 'Dolu' died, I was a few days late in hearing about it. When my friend Kunmi died the morning I was scheduled to visit him at the hospital. When my daughter was born. When my time with team Ghenghen was up. When my girlfriend left me for my friend. When my plan to get married bowed to the realities of a misalignment of personalities. When my house caught fire in the middle of costing a c-section.

All of these sentences are where Entropy came into my life to rip the already frayed cords of predictability in my life...I paused. I realised Entropy did not do these things to me. In my perspective, it did them 'for' me to see that I am not the only person in my life. That my life is not the only important one in the world. That the truth is more than convenient facts that have been put together by the cleverest minds in the world over the centuries.

Dolu died. Kunmi died. My daughter was born. Team Ghenghen is not my place. My girlfriend was looking to be happier. Dating is more about knowing who you won't marry than finding who you will. Sometimes things have to burn down so you can build higher and better next time.

These things did not just happen to me alone. Things took shape in ways I was not prepared for...and I've grown broader shoulders by bearing these 'strange weights'.

I visit gravesides with more ease now. My daughter's smile and energy promise 'interesting times'. I look back on the Ghenghen in my time and I look forward to hearing wackier episodes. I enjoy working projects with my ex-girlfriend. I hold my ex-fiancé with more regard and respect now than before...and I love easier and wiser. I've got shelves done for my 2,000+ books.

Entropy is not the enemy. Chaos is the name we give when we aren't prepared for or even interested in growing up to changing challenges.

Entropy is anarchy is when we find that people won't bend to our will, even when we have great plans for them, but are unable or unwilling to have them join in our will by speaking their language.

Free will is when people decide to be people and dare limits that others would be more comfortable to ignore. This isn't the same as waving their 'free will' in the faces of others as if to say 'I must trend by force'. That's just tired and crippled behaviour.

So please, when you're about to get upset because Chaos, Anarchy, or Free will bump your day...it is only the enemy if it actually 'hurts' people, not just your ego or your insatiable need to be a 'god' in your world.

Did I make sense? Do I make sense? Should I make sense? Must I make sense? Or am I Entropy's buddy by night, enemy by day, and ambivalent observer by afternoon? Or do I really need to sleep right now?...meh


It is not enough to have a good mind. The main thing is to use it well -- Rene Descartes

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

D is for Declaration

Of all the powers Queen Elizabeth II gas been stripped of, she can still declare war.

Declare. A powerful word watered down by school prefects and distrusting figures of authority. We think it is just about contraband and erotica. That's just the fringe.

I crave your indulgence to use this post to declare my position on some very important things in my life. They will not carry the same weight for everyone. They certainly aren't for entertainment. They are my words that I will be held to. The best part? There is no fear or hesitation. Just truth.

Here goes...

I am a man (this goes beyond the flesh or general philosophy).

I am heterosexual (I enjoy the company of women and my parts work best with theirs).

I am fallible (to fail is human, to learn from failure is wise, to act on what you learned...this is boldness).

I am meek (that means teachable or ready to learn. It does not mean bitch)

I am a son and a brother (to family within and beyond blood).

I am a father (so far of a girl who mirrors me even at 3 months of age).

I am a creative (to be clear, I use the word with the same gravity I would use my father's first name).

I am a writer before all other things (words have been my companions since I was 3 and they hold more meaning inbetween the lines as a lady's dress holds more underneath).

I am humbled by my work (from Fourth Day to the extraordinary opportunity to post on the Alchemist's corner to Our Own Area cartoons...I still feel privileged rather than proud)

I appreciate the creative efforts of my peers and my betters (it doesn't have to connect with me before I respect your efforts).

I am a believer (the word christian was coined by non-believers to 'box' followers of Christ Jesus.)

I am biased to honesty, to truth (they are not the same thing), and to a mind ready to learn (the other extreme isn't my type of company).

I am inner-directed (the opinions of men are at best speculative as we are all subjective to our individual selves, yet objective to others).

I can't respect criticism that's coloured with destroying other people (it is always easier to hurt than to heal).

I will not judge another person (it is like criticising a war veteran who had to kill. He did the best he could with what he knew. Hindsight is not incriminating evidence. War criminals are not in the same class).

I will not respect any person who hates (there are few exceptions as very often those who think they hate shrink back in the face of the real thing).

I am loyal (but not a fool. People quit on people in places where promises of future gain cannot reach).

I am kind, not nice (I'd rather admit I can't help than say I can and not follow through).

I am a lone wolf (perhaps this is what makes marriage difficult for me to enter into. I hate being tested. I know the other person will fail & I can't bend or break that part of me).

I am loving (every one farts, but that's not the basis for relevance is it? No one is totally useless).

I work hard (even if it all comes to ash, having given my best is guaranteed to get back up and give even better).

I am not a baby-daddy (that's a term reserved for men who feel dishonored or cheated by the continuation of life. Such men are right...married or not)

I am a fan of Batman (Superman is cool, if you think the advice of an invulnerable alien carries more weight than the example of the mortal he respects...meh)

I am not a politician (I'm too honest for my own good. I'd be in trouble on my first day).

I am not a pervert (a freak, yes. A pervert however is the darker side that men would rather condemn than understand...basically because they fear to see their reflection in the condemned)

I love music (Roald Dahl said music is a language only the sould understands)

I am done...not done for, just done with this post.

P. S. The girls have fathers, not 'daddies' or 'sperm-donors'.
It is not enough to have a good mind. The main thing is to use it well -- Rene Descartes

C is for Claudius

For every 10 abnormal kids, there is a genius in hiding. Einstein didn't speak till he was 4. Steve Jobs was an arab (or persian) orphan in the United States. Tom Cruise was dyslexic. Where are all the other normal kids they grew up with?

Claudius was a cripple, a stammerer, and thus the least likely of his family to attain greatness by any means other than association.

Germany is named after his brother Germanicus who conquered the 'barbarian hordes' that lived there.

His nephew Caligula became Ceaser of Rome after Octavian (later known as Augustus Ceaser...he's the kid who became a man between seasons 1 & 2 of the hit series Rome). Caligula had a penchant for murder...well, it was more like a proclivity as he liked to see people die close-up and personal. It did not pay to be close to him.

History doesn't honor any of the Ceasers of Rome as much as Julius Ceaser, but that's a long boring story.

The thing is Claudius 'played' the invalid fool, much like the dwarf of The Game of Thrones, except he stammered, so he had no clever words.

If his nephew asked ridiculous questions, he gave even more ridiculous answers and this made Caligula feel very clever and very safe with him. Very safe was very important.

Herod Agrippa (the dude that died of instant maggot infestation in the bible) was one of the few who was patient enough to catch the genius hiding behind stuttered words. They were friends.

He was the first person to congratulate him when he became Ceaser by default when Caligula came down with a severe case of Spear-poisoning when his Tiger got tired of him.

There is genius in patience as I will expound.

Caligula inherited 'The Tiger'. They were the most effective body-guards in ancient times. They wore black cloaks and kept their hands on the hilt of their swords...at all times. Any man who came at the Ceaser with murderous intent would be reduced to bleeding meat in under 15 seconds (it sounds easy from watching movies, but in real life it is not).

Caligula was at an event and seated in the VIP box. Under him, inane executions, mass slaughter and myriad moments of unguarded insanity had occurred (he once divirgined a couple at their wedding feast, in front of all of their guests, because he was Ceaser and it seemed pretty novel to him). One of the bodyguards then said,"*#ck this guy", and threw a spear into the direction of Caligula's torso. Safe to say he didn't make it. They then beheaded his wife and smashed his daughter's head against a marble wall.

Caligula was then made Emperor and Protector of Rome.

Did he make an outstanding Emperor? Well if you compare the Ceaser before him and the Ceaser after him (Emperor Nero was his heir), Caligula was a pleasant respite from the madness of the Roman court.

That's the C.

P. S. Maybe I should have made it Comparative rather than Caligula...meh
It is not enough to have a good mind. The main thing is to use it well -- Rene Descartes

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Power in Just Being

In the last 3 millenia*, the human race still astounds archaeologists. We hear about the 7 wonders of the world, but they don't do a song and dance about the mundane lives they discover.

A popular joke to translators of dead languages is when a 'foreigner' discovers a tablet with ancient writing on it and find that it is a shopping list, an accounting entry, or (my favorite) a letter from a father to his son to face his studies. Sounds odd? Is it even possible? Well, this is true. It was a short entry I read in a book on cryptology in Ikom, Cross River in 2004/2005.

We often attribute the greatest value to the spectacular, the fascinating, but we forget the 'common and tedious' under-layer. Dismiss it, even.

For every great castle, there is an even greater foundation. That goes for houses, buildings, skyscrapers, industries, media, governments, nations, countries, companies, and the very means by which you're reading this now.

A joke that plays in my head (a lot of things humour me, I've heard and seen it offer a better quality of life) is tv series 'Spartacus'.

A tragedy window-dressed with sweaty and athletic men, beautiful slave-girls, lusty dominuses and dominas. And the swearing was comical.

But the truth is they were not as attractive, the sex was more or less like it is now, & the tragedy of Spartacus was more grave than spectacular.

The truth of the stories of Spartacus, Nat King(black american slave who pulled off a Spartacus), Toussaint L'Overture (his led to the independence of Haiti) the foundation couldn't take the weight from the top anymore. Abuse offends nature and natural order.

The slaves were the foundation of their empires, and literally supported the lavish life-styles of the 'ogas at the top'.

I wanted to save these thoughts for May 1st, but I decided that, like mothers' day, it is an everyday reality offered a 'token' of recognition, not a seat of honour or a means of recompense.

You work. I work. Bosses work. Your president works. Your government works. It is the quality of this work that determines the quality of life for all connected.

Your work is mundane, tedious, maybe even dangerous...but it is a foundation for great displays that will never be honoured fully. Like teachers, our reward is in the next generation, not just the next life. (Generations even as the 6,000 year-old canoe found in Northern Nigeria proves someone fished there to provide for himself/his family/community. It's design still astounds me because it was so ahead of it's time, but that's for another post...maybe)

So just being who you are* (I also mean being who you have to be) is powerful. You don't need a motorcade or an 'honourable' title to feel good about that.

Just 'be'.

*I am in no way advocating none of the following:
Lack of self-development
Absence of a sense of responsibility
Aggressive stupidity
Public displays of insanity
The use of lies to make the truth more 'bearable'
A disproportionate sense of self-importance
Sex with cooks, drivers, security men/women or other people in your employ.
It is not enough to have a good mind. The main thing is to use it well -- Rene Descartes

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Fighting Bitterness

This will be short. Very often, we find ourselves facing people who ought to choose for the better, but they can't see past their immediate needs and fears. They're not the bad guys or the godless...they're just in a very deep need to control others so they feel some level of control that is 'healthy' for the human psyche.
Very often, they mistake their reflex actions as a means of meeting their needs.
You find them in every industry, every office, every family...and all so often, one concedes to them so there can be peace. But false peace does occur, but it requires one person to mistakes violent refusal to be the only way of battle.
The best battles are the ones with the fewest, if no, victims at all.

I'm facing mine, and it makes me think that private battles are called private for a reason.

I've come to understand why judging hastily is not lauded in freer societies. Many times, the first impression is wrong, or worse, the 'best' approach in theory is never really practicable.

So, I've put on my armor and I'm decided. The final decision is mine, and no one else's. I will live with it. I've decided...I can live with it.

This isn't like applying salve to a cut. It's more like deciding which limb to cut off so life can go on.

I've a lot of practice though. Ask anyone living in Lagos, Nigeria if they still expect a sympathetic government. They organise their own means of meeting the needs that they can not competently expect of the government.

From the provision of power, water, security and health to the simplicity of free or cheaper internet services.

I've cut that limb off, and I'm not alone.
Remi Olutimayin
08069712752
08073206961

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Ok. So a-z challenge discontinued

Having a real life gets in the way of living...tweet the link if you agree.

Who do I blame? The blame game is lame by name because the same is the aim of the lame...to be lame.

If you didn't get that, don't worry. It's a flow thing. Some things are best heard, not read.

So what is this post about? It's about weights.

Not body building. 'Ahnold' has proved that it isn't permanent. But there are weights that do make a permanent improvement on your life, be it your outlook on life, your pain-threshold, your bullshit detecting abilities, your powers of observing calm in a storm...these do not leave you the same.

I'd like to share 3 with you in very brief form:
1) I'm the father of a love-child
2) I'm a writer in Nigeria
3) I'm a workaholic

1) I love my daughter. It doesn't look like it on the surface, but it is because I know that calm, not panic, is what the baby needs from her parents. There are costs that come with having her in my life. As a love-child, there are certain costs that are neither private nor welcome...but I compare it to making a $17tr deal (Sounds astronomical? Give it a year or two. The FGN always finds a way of humbling the astronomic). It won't be easy, but only you know what value you attach to the deal and it won't happen for a quitter. Trust me. HiTV? Quit just as soon as he started because of tunnel-vision. I'm not knocking him because he 'failed'. I'm knocking him because people wanted, no needed, him to succeed and he didn't put business before pleasure when he needed to. That's a sign of a quitter (acquire and squander).

2) I'm a writer in Nigeria and I can't explain how it is to a non-writer, even to my parents (who have more degrees between them than all my former senior colleagues in Zenith bank. How? Just believe. The rest is an unfair display of the short-comings of Nigerian society). Do I write brilliant work? I wouldn't say I don't, but I'm one of the myriad of strong talents of Nigerian blood.
I've had to exercise my creativity to venture my writing into (#NoLie) Advertising, Radio, Television, Documentaries, Short film, novels, short stories, magazine articles, New Media, News, publishing, production of electronic mass media content (this is different from writing, trust me or ask someone who knows), contributing to collections of short stories by new Nigerian writers (google comicbanditpress. Dem be badass guys led by a brother who knows the struggle), business plan design, song-writing, the Ghenghen (go to www.thesghenghen.com), team-leadership...the list isn't endless but I'm thinking of the people I have to thank for risking my involvement in their industries, them plenti no be small.
Writing wouldn't have taken these forms in my life but for the challenges in my life like rent, food, water, phone bills, BIS, etc.
I'm grateful for the battles lost and won, but I'm also grateful for the war itself. It defines me better than a desk-job.

3) I'm a workaholic.
I've been in need of a fully paid trip to anywhere outside of Nigeria for the last 3 years. Even if it is a writer's residency for when I wake up and smell that Lagos metropolitan air, I know that I have to defend my right-to-life for the next 6 months 'now'. It's like being at DEVCON-2 as soon as you wake up.
I intend to keep waking up though, just that it would be nice to wake up somewhere else that isn't 'in a 'state of war'.

So what do these weights do for me?
My daughter let's me know that any achievements are no excuse to believe I don't need to eat tomorrow.
Being a writer let's me know there is a better way to get my writing across, so it is my job to find it because I can.
Being a workaholic let's me know I can handle any work pressure within my field of competence.

Are there any other weights?
Well, I have a very decent BMI.
I'm lean of body, not of soul.
I have a huge appetite (for what? Don't ask, I can't tell you everything)
And like you, every day ends with me having a list of people I have to forgive.

To quote Ben Affleck: You can't keep a grudge.
Remi Olutimayin
08069712752
08073206961

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

B for Barçelona Football club

I'm a Jose Mourinho fan, and have followed him from Porto from his uefa cup win over Celtic FC to Real Madrid FC #shootme.
But many fans mistake the rivalry between Barça (pronounced BAR-THAH. It's Catalan, not Spanish or English) and Real Madrid to be about football. It's not. It's older than 90% of the world and it was caused by civil war, the worst kind of war.

Apparently General Franco the military dictator of Spain had a special beef for the non-spanish speaking Catalonians and did something so cruel to them, you'd be forgiven for imagining they had offended his forefathers who made him swear to never rest until all of Catalonia was a fading memory marked by traces of blood and ashes.

He banned their language (complete ban. No children may bear native names or speak the language in their homes or schools). He had an able lieutenant/vice-dictator named Santiago de Bernebau (that's right, the stadium is named after him) who thought the best way to get the people to support you was to present them with a 'spanish team' for the government. Real Madrid was chosen and still enjoys support from the Spanish government (PDP isn't the first or the last of its kind).

To top off the insanity of the period, a president of Barçelona FC was being driven in his own area only to be stopped at the 'check-point of death' where civilians would be marched out of their cars and shot to death off-road. Yes, he was killed for being Catalan. Apparently the soldiers involved didn't know who he was. Barça will always remind them.

Other things have added to the fire of Barçelona FC against the Spanish government like the clamor for an independent Basque state, the Basque freedom fighters, etc...and 2 teams have taken the brunt of the beef.

Real Madrid FC and the Spanish National team. Every player that left Barça directly to Real Madrid is always under threat when playing in Camp Nou. Portuguese football legend, Luis Figo, did that switch and could never take corner kicks in Camp Nou because the fans would stone him for wearing Madrid's colours in their stadium.
The second victim is of special interest to Nigerians. The Spanish National team's loss to Nigeria in France '98 has some interesting footage of a 'spanish-looking' man waving the Nigerian flag with more fire and pride than the Super Eagles supporters club. That's right. He was Catalan. In Barçelona, people were rejoicing when another underdog like them broke the back of Spain at the world cup.

Presently, tensions and rivalries between both clubs has become 'civil' and even 'friendly'.

Just so you know, if Jose moves again, I will follow him.

He ain't Jesus, but he certainly knows how to lead and that is by inspiring the inner legend in you to outshine your lackluster life you had before you met him. I'm yet to find any footage as moving as his exit from San Siro and Mazzeratti (a giant in no simple terms) wept like a baby because Jose was going to Madrid. Jose stopped his limo, got down, half-jogged to Mazzeratti and hugged him till he calmed down.

This was about Barçelona, right? Right

There you go. That's my 'B'.
Remi Olutimayin
08069712752
08073206961

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

#A-Z challenge

I will start the first post with this challenge basically because it's there, but generally, I have to know if there are indeed enough cool 'true' stories that I can link to every letter in the english alphabet (better than trying for the russian, greek, or turkish alphabets...I won't try myself).

A- Akure, Belo.
Once upon a time in German East Africa during World War I, there was an extraordinary man named Belo Akure. I can't begin to tell you how much this man's simple stories inspire me.
He was with the Royal West African Frontier Force (now called the Nigerian Army) fighting for King and kingdom (you can tell me Nigeria was formed on the eve of WWI, but you can't tell me the average man in Nigeria knew we were kicking the ass of the guy who shared our continent into 'unnatural' geopolitical zones...his name was Otto Von Bismark, but more on him another day).
By the end of WWI, company sergeant-major Belo Akure was awarded
(1) the West African Frontier Force medal for Distinguished conduct in the field
(2) The Military Medal (highly coveted by english officers)
(3) A clasp (I'd pretend to know what that is, but I find it hard to lie, so...)

He got medals, so what? There's got to be a medal for anything, right? Wrong.

The first medal was for being cool and courageous...essentially the average soldier, regardless of nationality, would have shit themselves before thinking about doing what he did.
Apparently the british officers made an military-miscalculation near a river and ordered him to 'retire his company' (today, we would call it a retreat).
Imagine crossing Oshodi expressway. Now imagine dodging bullets aimed at you and 7 primary school students while crossing the expressway. Your job is to get all 8 of you to the other side and then find cover. Got that image in your head? Good, because that guy did a whole different kind of brave.
He and the remaining company found a canoe which was important because the river was too deep to 'ford' to the other side (you could only swim across, you couldn't wade through it). As you can imagine, swimming makes you a sitting duck, so a canoe makes for a much 'safer' crossing.
So the men all get into the canoe and Sgt. Akure attempts climb in only to discover there is no room for him.
Pay attention because the story begins here.
He gets out, tells them to row across to the other side, when they're on their way, Akure hugs the river bank and proceeds to return fire on the advancing German forces. He gets hit in the sleeve but he continues to give cover fire to his fleeing company.
Like a mother hen, he confirms they are on the other side, he then 'orders' them into the trenches dug there.
Once they are safe and under cover, he shoulders his rifle and dives into the river to swim across. He makes it.

Maybe he had a deathwish now mistaken for a cool and courageous mien? Maybe. But before you decide, check out exploit number 2.
He captures a german officer who is being aggressively sought after by his army. 'Inspite of a determined rescue effort' was how it was described in his citation.
I still shake my head when I wonder what sort of mountains you have to defeat 'in your heart' for you take initiative intelligently and shine in such a bleak and dead era?
Have I met my own and failed without knowing? Will I want to face them again, so I too can shine, when this era is both without luster and just a few untold stories away to the coming generations?

Well, that's my 'A'.
Remi Olutimayin
08069712752
08073206961