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op-ed: Nigeria’s 59 years of freedom: A testimony or opprobrium

Nigeria, Singapore, and Malaysia are of the same age bracket when it comes to independence. Singapore was part of Malaysia federation till 1963 before she left Malaysia and became a sovereign state on August 9th, 1965. This shows that Malaysia was a mother to Singapore and was an independent state before Singapore. Her shackles of colonialism were broken on August 31st, 1957.

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Nigeria’s 59 years of freedom: A testimony or opprobrium

Here comes the day. The day we were free from colonial enslavement. The memorable day we walked out plainly from the imperialist dungeon. The illustrious dawn where Nigerians were baptized with a purified water of volition, and were robbed with a dignified garment of self-rule. Giant of Africa autonomy occasion painted the cloud of black race with a rainbow-like colour, green and white. A merriment atmosphere that engulfed and entrapped Nigerians greenish heart that, “if it’s feasible to ride horses in their bellies, no hiccup would ensue.” A reminisce of October 1st, 1960. Today mark another birthday anniversary of the Chief of Africa. Does it call for a National celebration or in-house desolation? A rhetorical question that does not need an answer but a deep meditation from my audience.

Yes! The Nigeria water was gurgle and a new species of fishes were introduced after the banishment of the colonial master for their chameleon subjugation offense. We enthroned our kinsmen to be at the realm of the country affairs and we relaxed into our tranquility sofa, picturing the country as a heaven on earth garden with the most propitious bounties. However, disappointment is the dividend that the country board of directors tabled before its shareholders. A deficit account that keeps accumulating at the end of each fiscal year – is the annual report presented by the imperial majesty that has his throne in the edifice of Aso-villa. The hyenas have truly shown their claws, gripped their prey and stripping them off, of economy buoyancy. A pathetic situation that has made many Nigerians to have a re-think of having the emissary of Queen of England back in the country to inaugurate the phase two of vassalage – “neocolonialism”  against self-incarceration perpetuated by the pharaoh(s) of the land who put up a barricade to obstruct the free-flow of economy remnants as enjoyed in the reign of British thralldom.

A quinquagenarian nation who has nothing to boast of than her legendary standpoint in the global criminal register. Her leading position in the league of poverty ravaged societies. A nation that is booming in insecurity, that looks forward to taking the crown from Afghanistan. A role model to other nations in unemployment craftsmanship. Despite her ignominious outstanding, she thinks of rolling out drums and having a discreditable parade to mark her jubilee. What a misplacement of priority! Do we truly deserve this year’s birthday celebration? Perhaps, to appreciate God that hasn’t switched off the machine of life in our chest.

Of course, insecurity has been a national outbreak that has permeated the nook and cranny of the country. An un-rejected evil accessory in the wardrobe of every Nigeria, given as a birthday gift from our erroneous picked messiah(s) as a form of compensation for our undiluted fidelity. A glass of accessories that has a necklace of banditry; a wristwatch of kidnapping; a diamond ring of insurgency; and a bangle of herdsmen clashes. Rendering her leaking generosity with the body lotion of suicide. A wondrous ornament that gave Nigeria the ticket to participate among the most elegant nations in Miss World contest. Nigeria, a fast growing nation in insecurity, many hope that this would be her last birthday. God forbid, the few optimists muttered.

Adding another feat to the country’s disgraceful national book of record is the recent xenophobic attack in South-Africa. A shameful act that has its king card placed against Nigerians not once but a number of times. Contentment in terms of sentencing her indigenes to national torment is below the par. Sadly, she was unsatisfied with the break-even point and she thought of outsourcing for an international accomplice that could assist in roasting Nigerians in Diaspora in their inhumane pan. This emanated from the unsheltered abode that exposes her citizenry to the life-threatening conditions at home and issuing them an unrestrained visa to flee the country. This maltreatment doesn’t solely feature South-Africa in the persecution magazine of Nigeria. It has the feature of our close neighbor, Ghana, the world’s most powerful country, USA and among others. A cyclical tide that will keep expanding if not checkmated with 360 transformational economy policies. These industrious Nigerians that made Nigeria a leading Africa country in Diaspora remittance in 2018 with $25 billion repatriations deserved better treatment from the government not a coward plaintiff in Africa or Europe international court of law.

Going by the Yoruba adage that; if we do not remove the gound of the eyes and show the eyes it’s releasing rheum, the eyes will be unaware of its doings. This illustrates the Nigeria crucible. At this juncture, the country white disgraceful fowl would be weighed on the scale of world economical index, IMF, in comparison with other nations’ fowl whose birds are of the same age group.

Nigeria, Singapore, and Malaysia are of the same age bracket when it comes to independence. Singapore was part of Malaysia federation till 1963 before she left Malaysia and became a sovereign state on August 9th, 1965. This shows that Malaysia was a mother to Singapore and was an independent state before Singapore. Her shackles of colonialism were broken on August 31st, 1957.

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Op-Ed

Op-Ed: “What you’re seeing is people pushed to the edge”, by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar:

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What was your first reaction when you saw the video of the white cop kneeling on George Floyd’s neck while Floyd croaked, “I can’t breathe”?

If you’re white, you probably muttered a horrified, “Oh, my God” while shaking your head at the cruel injustice. If you’re black, you probably leapt to your feet, cursed, maybe threw something (certainly wanted to throw something), while shouting, “Not @#$%! again!” Then you remember the two white vigilantes accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery as he jogged through their neighborhood in February, and how if it wasn’t for that video emerging a few weeks ago, they would have gotten away with it. And how those Minneapolis cops claimed Floyd was resisting arrest but a store’s video showed he wasn’t. And how the cop on Floyd’s neck wasn’t an enraged redneck stereotype, but a sworn officer who looked calm and entitled and devoid of pity: the banality of evil incarnate.

Maybe you also are thinking about the Karen in Central Park who called 911 claiming the black man who asked her to put a leash on her dog was threatening her. Or the black Yale University grad student napping in the common room of her dorm who was reported by a white student. Because you realize it’s not just a supposed “black criminal” who is targeted, it’s the whole spectrum of black faces from Yonkers to Yale.

You start to wonder if it should be all black people who wear body cams, not the cops.

What do you see when you see angry black protesters amassing outside police stations with raised fists? If you’re white, you may be thinking, “They certainly aren’t social distancing.” Then you notice the black faces looting Target and you think, “Well, that just hurts their cause.” Then you see the police station on fire and you wag a finger saying, “That’s putting the cause backward.”

You’re not wrong — but you’re not right, either. The black community is used to the institutional racism inherent in education, the justice system and jobs. And even though we do all the conventional things to raise public and political awareness — write articulate and insightful pieces in the Atlantic, explain the continued devastation on CNN, support candidates who promise change — the needle hardly budges.

But COVID-19 has been slamming the consequences of all that home as we die at a significantly higher rate than whites, are the first to lose our jobs, and watch helplessly as Republicans try to keep us from voting. Just as the slimy underbelly of institutional racism is being exposed, it feels like hunting season is open on blacks. If there was any doubt, President Trump’s recent tweets confirm the national zeitgeist as he calls protesters “thugs” and looters fair game to be shot.

Yes, protests often are used as an excuse for some to take advantage, just as when fans celebrating a hometown sports team championship burn cars and destroy storefronts. I don’t want to see stores looted or even buildings burn. But African Americans have been living in a burning building for many years, choking on the smoke as the flames burn closer and closer. Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible — even if you’re choking on it — until you let the sun in. Then you see it’s everywhere. As long as we keep shining that light, we have a chance of cleaning it wherever it lands. But we have to stay vigilant, because it’s always still in the air.

So, maybe the black community’s main concern right now isn’t whether protesters are standing three or six feet apart or whether a few desperate souls steal some T-shirts or even set a police station on fire, but whether their sons, husbands, brothers and fathers will be murdered by cops or wannabe cops just for going on a walk, a jog, a drive. Or whether being black means sheltering at home for the rest of their lives because the racism virus infecting the country is more deadly than COVID-19.

What you should see when you see black protesters in the age of Trump and coronavirus is people pushed to the edge, not because they want bars and nail salons open, but because they want to live. To breathe.

Worst of all, is that we are expected to justify our outraged behavior every time the cauldron bubbles over. Almost 70 years ago, Langston Hughes asked in his poem “Harlem”: “What happens to a dream deferred? /… Maybe it sags / like a heavy load. / Or does it explode?”

Fifty years ago, Marvin Gaye sang in “Inner City Blues”: “Make me wanna holler / The way they do my life.” And today, despite the impassioned speeches of well-meaning leaders, white and black, they want to silence our voice, steal our breath.

So what you see when you see black protesters depends on whether you’re living in that burning building or watching it on TV with a bowl of corn chips in your lap waiting for “NCIS” to start.

What I want to see is not a rush to judgment, but a rush to justice.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the N.B.A.’s all-time leading scorer, is the author of 16 books, including, most recently, “Mycroft & Sherlock —The Empty Birdcage” www.kareemabduljabbar.com

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Op-ed: THE 1967 NIGERIA-BIAFRA WAR EXODUS, by Nnedinso Ogaziechi

Some Igbos betrayed their kinsmen for filthy lucre – the notorious saboteurs who always ended badly despite their acquisitions, some accused others of greed, but yet, those who sang for him and encouraged him were not necessarily from the East

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Nigerian-Biafra-war

“ Joe de abukide takikwojawa” he sang and danced in all his elegance. He was the tallest man I saw growing up; he was the first ‘journalist’ I met and ‘interviewed’. He was in love with current affairs; he was up to date with the news. He was a good storyteller. He was an entertainer, and more than two decades after his death; he is widely quoted around his community. He was well admired; he was the quintessential man of integrity that was as compassionate as he was firm. He was my father….

The Igbos-the exodus

The opening sentence here is in the local language of his host community, he sang it often and danced in that his elegant form, he belonged to different village dance groups like the Ogene group, a group whose music was almost elitist at the time, they only sang at notable and remarkable ceremonies and at funerals of important chiefs and kings.

So growing up, he always sang this particular song and danced at times he felt depressed. Of course, we had that father/daughter bond, so I asked him the meaning …then he tells me;

 “I’m still the same Joseph that I was before the war” He smiled and sat down. 

 “That song, Nne nwa m, was sang by the men and women I lived with in the North before the war. They sought me out after the war and and they all came here to visit and sang that song and danced. They were happy I survived and I’m still the old Joseph they knew” The song means, Joseph is still the Joseph that we knew before the war. What they did not know was that the song they sang was an elixir for a former wealthy man who the war stripped naked materially, but he was happy to have survived with his family and some dependants , but many did not…

Biafran Girls at the battlefront
Biafran Girls at the battlefront

He had businesses and houses in the North, at the beginning of the war, he was scared for his family, apprentices and the larger Igbo community. He was an ardent BBC fan and so followed the pre-war news about the coups and countercoups and the attendant pogrom in the North. He called the Igbo community to urge them to get ready to leave because he was following the news and knew they were not going to be safe. His hosts at the time gave him assurances that they would protect him but he wondered, what of my people, what of those who depended on me for survival? He made arrangements to take as many people as he could back home amidst protests from his amiable hosts.

“I have investments here, I have houses, I have many debtors so I will always come back after the war. I have lived here since adulthood, most of my investments are here and not in my ancestral home. I will surely return but let me secure as many lives as I can first,” He told them.

Nigerian-Biara-civil war
Nigerian-Biara-civil war

The prognosis of events he was hearing on radio was not heartwarming. He was particularly disturbed by the radio speeches of an Emeka Ojukwu, the son of his business partner at the time, Sir Louis Ojukwu. For my father, it was an emotional but a survivalist decision to head East before danger enveloped him and the people he cared about.

So in August 1967, he hired a big truck to take as many people as it could accommodate home. So when Joe, as he was addressed made the trip out, the other nay-sayers knew that really, danger loomed…he continued to make arrangements for those willing to get back home…many left on his prompting.

But even the home was soon invaded…one of his houses demolished and his vintage Stone House building turned into Nigeria Soldiers Senior Officers House…it was stripped bare of all furniture and ornaments acquired over the years.

So he told me the war was a cocktail of humanity and the individual idiosyncrasies, he saw love, kindness, compassion, wickedness, sadism, narcissism and all sorts…In war and peace, humanity thrives, he told stories of resilience, of perseverance, gratitude and friendship across Nigeria.

Some Igbos betrayed their kinsmen for filthy lucre – the notorious saboteurs who always ended badly despite their acquisitions, some accused others of greed, but yet, those who sang for him and encouraged him were not necessarily from the East. They were Northerners who took him in as family. The contradictions of a nation caught in the throes of political intrigues across ethnic and religious lines and the grass that suffer when many, not two elephants fight…

The story of Nigeria-Biafra war is as diverse, intriguing, heart wrenching and devastating as every war story…but the essence of history is to look back and learn from mistakes of the past…we must document our tiny pieces for humanity…

 In memory of all the dead, the maimed and the dispossessed, we must raise our voices. In Igbo language, there are names like Ozoemena – let evil not be repeated, Agha Egbune – let war not consume, Osondu – the race for life etc. All these are snippets of oral and enduring history we must document and preserve.

The war has been described as a rain that fell on all roofs, we would all contribute our stories for prosperity…

 The coming days will have other stories…🙏🏼

 Pic: Google.

 ©Nnedinso

 May 27th, 2020.

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Op-ed. Biden Can Beat Trump … if He Doesn’t Blow It, by Charles Blow.

This is not the first time Biden has lied about his relationship to the black community. He has repeatedly lied over the years about marching in the civil rights movement, even though advisers warned him to stop it. And, he repeatedly said that he was arrested in South Africa trying to see imprisoned anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela.

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Biden Joe being stuck at home during an election year may turn out to be a good thing.

As the United States’ death toll raced toward 100,000, Donald Trump went golfing.

The number of deaths never had to reach such a staggering figure — and it will surely climb far beyond it — but it did because in the early days, Trump made excuses for the Chinese response, dragged his feet on an American response, and repeatedly made statements that defied truth and science.

Joe biden and trum
Joe being stuck at home during an election year may turn out to be a good thing.

Trump put politics, his own political fortunes, over the lives of the American people, and the result has been catastrophic.

As CNN has reported, researchers at Columbia University created a model gauging transmission rates from March 15 to May 3, and found that if the United States had started social distancing just two weeks earlier, it could have prevented 84 percent of deaths and 82 percent of cases.

But Trump had spent the previous week downplaying the severity of the virus and blaming growing coverage of it and alarm over it on the media.

On March 10, when there were 959 confirmed cases and 28 deaths, Trump said to reporters after a meeting with Republican senators: “We’re prepared, and we’re doing a great job with it. And it will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away.”

The very next day the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a pandemic, but it wasn’t until March 13 that Trump declared the virus a national emergency, and it wasn’t until March 16 that he announced social distancing guidelines.

But, that may well have been too late. The virus wasn’t aware of the politics of the moment. The virus wasn’t aware that he had been lying and deflecting. The virus wasn’t aware that it should wait until the American president was cowed into correct action. It was doing what viruses do: It was spreading and it was killing.

Trump dragged his feet, trying to con his way through a pandemic, to rewrite reality, to pacify the public until the virus passed, and that has led to untold numbers of people dead who never had to die.

There is not only blood on Trump’s hands, he is drenched in it like the penultimate scene from the movie “Carrie.”

No amount of deflecting blame to China or Obama or the governors can change this. No amount of playing to people’s impatience about reopening and optimistic desires that the worst is behind us can change this.

In America, this is Donald Trump’s plague, and he is yoked with that going into the election in November.

Joe Biden needs to do little, despite what many pundits may think. He doesn’t need a daily presence in the news. He doesn’t need to “own the internet.” He doesn’t need large rallies or even that much sizzle.

In fact, his being stuck in his house and giving limited interviews from his basement may be the best thing to ever happen to his campaign.

Biden is a well-known gaffe machine. Every time he speaks, there is the very real chance that he will do more damage than good. America doesn’t need that. We just need a person to replace Trump who is, for one thing, not so cavalier about deaths connected to his poor response or poor policy — whether they be hurricane victims in Puerto Rico, children separated from their parents at the border or victims of a virus.

But, Biden continues to commit unforced error, like the hubbub he created and later apologized for when he said at the end of an interview with The Breakfast Club’s Charlamagne tha God: “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.”

It was so cavalier and comfortable that it was shocking. Biden doesn’t get to define blackness nor excommunicate anyone from it.

But that wasn’t the only problem in the interview. He said just seconds after that statement that “The NAACP has endorsed me every time I’ve run.” That never happened, and the NAACP had to release a statement to clarify that it “is a nonpartisan organization and does not endorse candidates for political office.”

This is not the first time Biden has lied about his relationship to the black community. He has repeatedly lied over the years about marching in the civil rights movement, even though advisers warned him to stop it. And, he repeatedly said that he was arrested in South Africa trying to see imprisoned anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela.

None of this ever happened. What gives? None of this is necessary. Compared to Trump’s avalanche of lies, these may seem small, but for black voters, particularly younger, more leery ones, they are baffling and off-putting.

Black voters rescued the Biden campaign and likely delivered him the nomination. These kinds of Breakfast Club flubs have the potential to dampen enthusiasm among “the one that brung you,” as we say in the South.

Biden has a good chance to beat Trump in the wake of his disastrous pandemic response, if Biden doesn’t blow it.

Charles Blow joined The Times in 1994 and became an Opinion columnist in 2008. He is also a television commentator and writes often about politics, social justice and vulnerable communities.  @CharlesMBlow 

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op-ed. It’s not obesity, it’s slavery-Sabrina Strings

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Black People

About five years ago, I was invited to sit in on a meeting about health in the African-American community. Several important figures in the fields of public health and economics were present. A freshly minted Ph.D., I felt strangely like an interloper. I was also the only black person in the room.

One of the facilitators introduced me to the other participants and said something to the effect of “Sabrina, what do you think? Why are black people sick?”

It was a question asked in earnest. Some of the experts had devoted their entire careers to addressing questions surrounding racial health inequities. Years of research, and in some instances failed interventions, had left them baffled. Why are black people so sick?

My answer was swift and unequivocal.

“Slavery.”

My colleagues looked befuddled as they tried to come to terms with my reply.

I meant what I said: The era of slavery was when white Americans determined that black Americans needed only the bare necessities, not enough to keep them optimally safe and healthy. It set in motion black people’s diminished access to healthy foods, safe working conditions, medical treatment and a host of other social inequities that negatively impact health.

it is not obesity
The era of slavery was when white Americans determined that black Americans needed only the bare necessities, not enough to keep them optimally safe and healthy. It set in motion black people’s diminished access to healthy foods,

This message is particularly important in a moment when African-Americans have experienced the highest rates of severe complications and death from the coronavirus and “obesity” has surfaced as an explanation. The cultural narrative that black people’s weight is a harbinger of disease and death has long served as a dangerous distraction from the real sources of inequality, and it’s happening again.

Reliable data are hard to come by, but available analyses show that on average, the rate of black fatalities is 2.4 times that of whites with Covid-19. In states including Michigan, Kansas and Wisconsin and in Washington, D.C., that ratio jumps to five to seven black people dying of Covid-19 complications for every one white death.

Despite the lack of clarity surrounding these findings, one interpretation of these disparities that has gained traction is the idea that black people are unduly obese (currently defined as a body mass index greater than 30) which is seen as a driver of other chronic illnesses and is believed to put black people at high risk for serious complications from Covid-19.

These claims have received intense media attention, despite the fact that scientists haven’t been able to sufficiently explain the link between obesity and Covid-19. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 42.2 percent of white Americans and 49.6 percent of African-Americans are obese. Researchers have yet to clarify how a 7 percentage-point disparity in obesity prevalence translates to a 240 percent-700 percent disparity in fatalities.

Experts have raised questions about the rush to implicate obesity, and especially “severe obesity” (B.M.I. greater than 40), as a factor in coronavirus complications. An article in the medical journal The Lancet evaluated Britain’s inclusion of obesity as a risk factor for coronavirus complications and retorted, “To date, no available data show adverse Covid-19 outcomes specifically in people with a BMI of 40 kg/m2.” The authors concluded, “The scarcity of information regarding the increased risk of illness for people with a BMI higher than 40 kg/m2 has led to ambiguity and might increase anxiety, given that these individuals have now been categorised as vulnerable to severe illness if they contract Covid-19.”

Promoting strained associations between race, body size, and complications from this little-understood disease has served to reinforce an image of black people as wholly swept up in sensuous pleasures like eating and drinking, which supposedly makes our unruly bodies repositories of preventable weight-related illnesses. The attitudes I see today have echoes of what I described in “Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia.” My research showed that anti-fat attitudes originated not with medical findings, but with Enlightenment-era belief that overfeeding and fatness were evidence of “savagery” and racial inferiority.

Today, the stakes of these discussions could not be higher. When I learned about guidelines suggesting that doctors may use existing health conditions, including obesity, to deny or limit eligibility to lifesaving coronavirus treatments, I couldn’t help thinking of the slavery-era debates I’ve studied about whether or not so-called “constitutionally weak” African-Americans should receive medical care.

Fortunately, since that event I attended five years ago, experts focused on the health of African-Americans have continued to work to direct the nation’s attention away from individual-level factors.

The New York Times’ 1619 Project featured essays detailing how the legacy of slavery impacted health and health care for African-Americans and explaining how, since the since the era of slavery, black people’s bodies have been labeled congenitally diseased and undeserving of access to lifesaving treatments.

In a recent essay addressing Covid-19 specifically, Rashawn Ray underscored the legacy of redlining that pushed black people into poor, densely populated communities often with limited access to health care. And he pointed out that black people are overrepresented in service positions and as essential workers who have greater exposure than those with the luxury of sheltering in place. Ibram X. Kendi has written that the “irresponsible behavior of disproportionately poor people of color” — often cited as an important factor in health disparities — is a scapegoat directing American’s attention from the centrality of systemic racism in current racial health inequities.

Evaluating the inadequate and questionable data about race, weight and Covid-19 complications with these insights in mind makes it clear that obesity — and its affiliated, if incorrect implication of poor lifestyle choices — should not be front and center when it comes to understanding how this pandemic has affected African-Americans. Even before Covid-19, black Americans had higher rates of multiple chronic illnesses and a lower life expectancy than white Americans, regardless of weight. This is an indication that our social structures are failing us. These failings — and the accompanying embrace of the belief that black bodies are uniquely flawed — are rooted in a shameful era of American history that took place hundreds of years before this pandemic.

Sabrina Strings is an associate professor of sociology at the University of California at Irvine and the author of Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia.

Sabrina Strings is an associate professor of sociology at the University of California at Irvine and the author of Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia.

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