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Posts tagged ‘Nelson Mandela’

MEND claims Bayelsa attack on ex-militant leader.


 

mend

The Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta, MEND, yesterday said its fighters attacked two police gunboats at Peremabiri, Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.The gunboats were escorting a former militant leader, Mr. Eris Paul, aka Ogunboss.According to MEND, all ex-militant leaders who used their positions to acquire “ill-gotten property” had been marked for their wrath.“They are now persona non grata in the creeks, and their lives and ill-gotten property have become legitimate targets for destruction.”A statement by Gbomo Jomo, said the attack that occurred on Saturday was carried out in a style reminiscent of the maiden operation of its campaign, Hurricane Exodus, that killed 15 policemen in the state on April, 2013.MEND said Ogunboss and other ex-militant leaders “now hiding in the cities, sold their birthright for contracts and political appointments to the detriment of a just cause.“Our action was predicated on the words of our hero, the great Madiba, Nelson Mandela, who said, ‘No self-respecting freedom fighter would take orders from a government he is fighting against or jettison a long-time ally in the interest of pleasing an antagonist.”The group also said it was not yet freedom for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation which recently announced the completion of repairs on the Escravos-Lagos gas pipeline which MEND said it attacked by Hurricane Exodus.It advised Nigerians not to expect improvement in power supply through gas pipelines until the issues that led to militancy in the Niger Delta had been addressed.MEND added that it learnt from a reliable source in the National Hospital, Abuja, that the ‘last paragraph’ that concluded the psychiatric evaluation report on Mr. Charles Okah was doctored.
By Wale Odunsi

Source: Radio Biafra.

What Mandela Wrote In His Will…ANC, Staff, Family On High Priority.


 

Late South African President, Nelson Mandela
By SaharaReporters, New York

Widespread international curiosity about the will of late former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela ended on Monday afternoon, when the document was read to members of the icon’s immediate family and was also made public.

As read by Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke, Mandela willed his $4.1 million estate to family members, the ruling African National Congress (ANC), his former staff and a number of local schools.

His third and last wife whom he married on his 80th birthday in 1998, Graca Machel will have half the estate under South African marital law; and although she has yet to make a decision, she is entitled to relinquishing her claims in favour of specified assets, such as properties in Mozambique, her native country. She has 90 days to decide

A part of the estate would be split among The Mandela Trust, The Nelson Mandela Trust, and The NRM Family Trust. The NRM Family Trust, which was set up to cater to his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren numbering more than 30, gets R1.5million.

Each of his children, as well as some of his grand-children, will receive $300,000; while his grand children — the ones sired by his late son Makgatho — have been willed the posh house in Johannesburg, where he has mostly lived since his release from prison in 1990.

Executed by Mandela on 12th October 2004 with a first Codicil on 7th September 2005 and a second on 9th September 2008, the will could see ANC receive a portion of his royalties from books and other commercial outlets produced with his name and image. Mandela’s staff — even up to his personal assistant of many decades, Zelda Le Grange — will get R50,000 each.

Mandela’s personal chef, Xoliswa Ndoyiya could not contain her joy. “It really makes me happy”, she said. “I didn’t think Tata [a native term for father] was thinking of leaving something for me”.

Wits University, Qunu Secondary School and Orlando West High School in Soweto were bequeathed R100 000 each.

Although the revered statesman’s family is known to be notoriously discordant, Moseneke, after reading the will on Monday, denied potential uproar over the provisional R46,000,000 estate but admitted that the mood at the will-reading was charged with emotion.

“I am not aware of any contest of any type and the will has been duly lodged and accepted”, Moseneke said.

Also part of the estate are a high-class house in Houghton, a modest one in Qunu as well as royalties from the sale of books, such as his famous autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom”, which some of his grandchildren have begun exploiting with a line of caps and sweatshirts featuring his image under the brand book’s brands. Also two of his granddaughters based in the United States have already starred in Being Mandela, a reality television show.

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Hard Knocks of Death By Somefun Oluwasegun Ayokunle.


So, Death comes to every man. There is no escaping it. It can only dillydally. This enigma! Good or bad, all meet the same end. They transit to the checkpoint of afterlife. Maybe we should take a break, most shy away from this stop. In irony, every man moves in the way of this path. Soon at the line’s end, they join the choir invisible.

Early this soon ending year, a popular and famous Nigerian writer went ever silent to this plane. This man’s writings saw him as one who was anti the Nigerian political and societal structure of leadership. His first widely published book, “Things Fall Apart” shot him into worldview. Immediately he left for his sole journey. Tributes poured in. He had just published his latest book, “There was a Country.”

To Nigerians, there was a man. His name was “Albert Chinuamulogu Achebe.” Death took him out swiftly with no protest or resistance.

This past week, Angel Death took us back memory lane, that it was still actively involved in its daily business of  taking lives when the bodies containing them have used up their time. Death performed an unexpected but expected move. It checked out a one-time president of the South Africa. The man was a source of inspiration to many. He was an icon, reported to have been the only living legend. He had a Noble Peace Prize to his feathers. He sacrificed an important part of his life in the fight for racial and humane equality for his country. He helped restore the once hellish torn country into a sense of paradise. This man as the reader should know was “Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.”

You must have seen the respect and tribute that poured in from uncountable sources especially from movers and shakers of economies and nations around the known world. Again, it all boils down to this sentence, “It is what a man has done that will speak for him when he has left the shores of this world to the place of no return.”

Daily, famous and unknown people die. The rich and poor die. Death respects nobody. It comes down hard.

What is the focus?

There are people who consider themselves with power, with influence, yet they have maybe forgotten that one day Death will knock them down on a cold ground with no help. Their money will be useless. Cabals in and out of the government, in and out of religion that move about as if they own the Nigeria and their soul will die. Their maker will take his breath from them. Less than a month, most would have forgotten they ever existed. They will become a memory gone awry.

Stepping into the plane of time with no end, many will realise that there is no second chance. That the issues they involved themselves in the world’s Hall of Fame on their test run life was petty compared with attention to Life. For those that belong to the Hall of Fame of the Sons of God, they shall awake in Life alike with God, their Father.

At the end, its only one life man knows. When Angel Death brings its hard knocks down on man, it is all a matter of how well you have lived in response to God’s benchmark. For the writer, man only exceeds this mark when he is in Christ and Christ is in him.

You may disagree.

Somefun Oluwasegun Ayokunle is a student of Electrical/Electronics Engineering from the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA).

You can follow him at
Twitter:@Oluwaegunsomef
Blog: http://samoluexpress.co.uk
Mail: oluwasegun.somefun@yahoo.co.uk

 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

When Will We Have Our Own Mandela? By Orobosa Toks Ero.


 

That former South African President and the true face of anti-apartheid struggle, Nelson Mandela has left us is a stale story. But the lessons from his life will remain eternal. In our clime for instance, the lessons stare us in the face on a daily basis as the political gladiators conduct themselves in a manner that arouse in us that strong desire and longing for a man of strong character, robust political stature and selfless leader as the Madiba, as he was fondly called. Mandela’s life was inspiring; he was Africa’s great revolutionist and prime human rights activist; he put his people first and self last. He chose to eat the bread of sorrow and drink the water of affliction that his people might live in freedom and prosperity. In our country, the reverse is the case. Here, the poor masses cut their coats according to their cloths, usually inadequate, while our leaders cut theirs according to their bloated sizes. While we tighten our belts due to the harsh economic policies foisted on us, the custodians of our commonwealth stretch theirs to accommodate their rotund frame. The Mandela we knew never did that. He was conscious of the verdict of history.

In the preceding months before his demise, many who had deified the man including members of his family wished that this enigma of a man would never go the way of all mortals. But who would blame them? Nelson Mandela, more than any other African either living or dead, at least in this century, contributed immensely to making his world a much better place than he met it by giving up himself as a sacrificial lamb that his world would know peace, progress and prosperity. Lucky South Africans! Nelson Mandela knew from when he became conscious of his society that he had to do something to free his people from the shackles of oppression and a satanic apartheid system of government, which made one race superior to another, and conferred undue advantage upon the white minority over the black population who were in the majority and owned the land.

For this, he denied himself the comfort the royalty of his birth and a legal practice that afforded him a life of comfort, to join forces with the African National Congress to fight apartheid and its many devils. In the 1960s, he was amongst the first to advocate armed struggle against the obnoxious apartheid regime which according to him, had blatantly refused to hear or listen to the voice of reason, but had continued to unleash and inflict upon his people pain and anguish while depriving them of the fruits of the land.

In 1961, he went underground to form ANC’s armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (the spear of the nation) under whose umbrella the ANC carried out attacks on government institutions and installations, and in 1963 he was charged with capital offences at the Rivonia Trial. His statement from the dock was his political testimony and a summary of his life-long struggle against oppression and tyranny in South Africa –

“I have cherished the ideals of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in free society, in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
Nelson Mandela and his companions were imprisoned for life in 1964 at the Robben Island, and for 27 years; he remained behind bars undeterred, unbroken, and courageously refusing to bow to pressures from his oppressors who applied everything in the books to blur his vision of a free South Africa where all men and women, regardless of race, would live free of worry, fear and deprivation. Rather, he looked the South African Pharaohs eye ball to eye ball and said “Let my people go” that their human dignity might be preserved.

But there was something different about Nelson Mandela – something that stood him out from the crowd of past or nascent leaders in the continent of Africa. Nigeria is not excluded. The polity is under intense heat presently because our politicians have their eyes on the next political dispensation even when they are yet to creditably acquit themselves in the offices they currently hold. The ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP, and the emerging All Progressives Congress, APC, both two sides of the same coin, are flexing political muscles not because they have the interest of the masses at heart, but because they want to capture power to corner the wealth of the nation to satisfy their greed.

Mandela was different. Power, to him, was not a do-or-die affair but service to the people. To him, it was not an inheritance neither was it a reward for his 27 tortuous years in prison. He presented himself as a lamb for sacrifice that his people may enjoy lasting peace, freedom and prosperity in the land which even though rightly belongs to them, yet were enslaved by foreign conquerors. Can it happen in Nigeria? In not too distant past, we had a president who had ruled for almost 4 years as a military officer and spent two terms of eight years in office as a civilian and before the end of that tenure, was scheming for a third term!

There are lessons in selflessness our leaders and our politicians and others who aspire to lead us, must learn. Mandela was not an opportunist. He was also not without hope of a great future. He had the benefit of a good education and royalty. But for the love of humanity and his people, this global citizen gave up everything that was dear to him – his family, children and the companionship of a pretty wife, Winnie, for the struggle. And in the process, he abdicated his responsibilities as a father and husband and more importantly, he gave up a thriving legal practice thus putting paid to a future of assured bliss and comfort in his chosen career. This is an example in selfless leadership not seen in these parts.

Nelson Mandela can truly be said to be a metaphor for courage which is in short supply in our clime.  He looked at fear straight in the eye and never blinked first.

One thing that marked Nelson Mandela out amongst mere mortals was that he had a heart that forgave. This is absolutely remarkable. Indeed, many still wonder what manner of man he was. For a man who was deliberately subjected to so much humiliation, deprivation and pain to, after 27 long years, come out and embrace his jailors, without any show of bitterness, to many, was out of this world! It was simply unimaginable that he would tell his traducers “go and sin no more” or better still: “Father, I forgive them because they didn’t know what they were doing”, when he was in a position to take his pound of flesh. But in his humility and large-heartedness, he said in retrospect: “as I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison”. Can you beat that?

In our own dear country, an Abacha will send you to jail on a phantom coup plot; an Obasanjo will haul corruption allegations at you and send the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, after you, while a President Jonathan will rake up enough trouble to keep you busy. Yet, regardless of these enigmatic qualities, Nelson Mandela was mortal and so he has gone the way of mortals. He had his own foibles and downtimes, and as he said: “do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again”. But he conquered the world.

The lessons from Nelson Mandela’s life are very clear – as leaders and followers, we must learn to make a sacrifice for a good and noble cause; we must be courageous in confronting evil even at the expense of our freedom, our lives, comfort and personal dignities. We must conquer fear because as one-time American President, F.D Roosevelt posited, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. And we must learn to forgive because to forgive is not just divine but puts you at peace with the world and at the end of the day, you are the ultimate winner in any battle. All the eulogies and accolades on Mandela were therefore not misplaced.

Now, back to the question “When will we have our own Mandela?” It looks to me a tall dream. Or what do you think?

 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

The Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, 2013: A Call For Dialogue For The Sake Of Those On The Margins By Stan Chu Ilo.


I wish to argue in this short discourse why I think the signing into law of the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act of 2013 by President Jonathan on 30th December, 2013 is very precipitate and ill-advised. Making this argument in itself is risky: it is nearly impossible in our environment to have a reasoned discourse on sensitive issues like this one, but I believe a dialogue is needed for the sake of those on the margins, the homosexuals of today and tomorrow.

Secondly, traditional cultural values autochthonous to Nigeria reject homosexuality in its entirety; there seems to be no place for a homosexual person in traditional Nigerian society; it is nearly impossible for people to shift their position on this especially when they see things in black and white. However, I will appeal to people not to draw quick conclusions on this piece without attending to the arguments which I shall put forward. I am calling for conversion on the part of all Nigerians in order to make some needed intellectual, spiritual, religious, psychological, moral and cultural transition needed in finding a way to address the reality of the presence of people with homosexual orientation in our country and in the world.

Cultural and religious systems being historical are constantly challenged not to use old answers to meet new questions, and to stretch themselves in the face of new questions which were not often clearly understood and interpreted in the past. Such a shift in the center of value is not something that happens overnight because social changes are gradual, dialectical, tension-filled, and crisis-generating and sometimes may lead to a death of aspects of a society in order for something new to arise.  In order to make it possible for a civilized debate, I wish to summarize my arguments in three propositions:

1. Banning same-sex marriage in Nigeria is unnecessary, the customary, Canonical, and Sharia laws operating in Nigeria and our statutes are clear that marriage in Nigeria is between a man and a woman. No one has challenged this law. My argument is that we do not need another law. The question is: Who is breaking this law and who is posing a threat to this law? The people who are posing a threat to our family life in Nigeria are people who are cheating on their wives or husbands; people who are breeding children who they cannot take care of, people who are committing all kinds of child abuse and neglect; people who take their family members to cities as maids and treat them like slaves and sometimes send the female ones home when they get pregnant; absentee fathers and some mothers who know how to ‘beget’ children and not how ‘to bring up’ children. Homosexuals in Nigeria pose no threat to family life and values in Nigeria today, hence this law is of no use.

2. Being a homosexual from research available to me is not a choice ( I am open to being helped with research that argues for the contrary); there may be some people who may have chosen to ‘experiment’ with a gay life style, but being someone, and acting like you are someone are two different things. We must, therefore, separate being and acting in this discourse; who you are is a gift from God like St Francis of Assisi once said: Who I am before God that I am indeed! If I was born a homosexual, that is who I am; it is not my choice; how I act according to who I am is my choice which is open to moral evaluation; if you condemn me for being who God made me, you are condemning God who made me the way I am; so we must separate the reality that someone was born a homosexual from the fact that someone is committing a homosexual act. If a homosexual person is fornicating, his or her action of breaking the moral law is open to moral judgment because every human act is to be judged to the extent to which they conform to the ultimate moral demand.

Homosexuality is a human reality, so it is not simply a Western reality; there are some Nigerian brothers and sisters we know who are homosexuals, they deserve our love. Human realities are mysteries which we must embrace with openness, respect, sensitivity and love in order to understand what they reveal to us about God and human nature especially about the diversity and complexities of human nature which can never be understood through a single narrative. I marvel at the rich tapestry of human diversity, which reflects the diverse relations of the three-person God.

3. We need greater internal cultural, religious and spiritual conversation and discernment in Nigeria, Africa and the rest of the world as to how to appropriately integrate homosexual persons into society without violating their human dignity and their rights to live abundant life and without doing harm to the common good. Such a conversation I am proposing cannot be had if either in Nigeria or in the West people propose laws which ban or allow a reality which we have not fully understood. We need more evidence about why homosexuality has been with us since human history and why there is a changing attitude and changing understanding of homosexuality and acts associated with it across different cultural, religious, and spiritual settings. In a more concrete sense for example, why will Desmond Tutu, Mandela, Soyinka and a few others have a more tolerant attitude to this issue than some other African spiritual, political, and academic leaders?

It means that this issue has no straight forward answers and no law will put paid to the issue whether in Nigeria or Canada or USA. However, the answer to this human reality of homosexuality is not through any juridical positivism or legislative activism for or against same sex marriage. These polarized positions are often ideological driven or couched as in Nigeria’s case in  appeals to one or more aspect of a misleading claim of a pristine common and unchanging cultural traditions against homosexuality.

Many Nigerians will like our country to play a leading role as the moral beacon of Africa and the world. Many of us agonize that the promise of this great land has not been realized and that our land has been taken over time and again by those who abuse the high privilege of political office, and manipulate our rich cultural, economic and spiritual values for cheap political gains. The idea that signing the prohibition of same sex law sends a clear message to Western nations that Nigeria cannot be dictated to by them and that Nigeria will not kowtow to the social experimentations in the West with regard to marriage seems to me a less than ideal justification for a law that is not well thought out.

Furthermore, if the prohibition of same-sex marriage is the express goal of this law, some of us will not be worried. But to go ahead and legislate and criminalize against free association by people of same-sex orientation (section 7, a-i) and deny them the freedom to live together seems to me to be an invasion of people’s privacy and an affront against their rights. Why should the Nigerian state arrogate to herself the right to determine what goes on in people’s private homes? How can this law presuppose that two same sex people living together must be involved in an ‘amorous relation’ as if to say two people who love each other deeply whether homosexual or heterosexual cannot live together without being intimate? In making same-sex association a crime, and asserting or implying prima facie that same-sex persons when they gather may be doing so for ‘amorous reasons’, this law goes beyond the dictates of natural law and leaves a big hole for all kinds of discrimination and prejudice against same-sex people.

I have attended gatherings of same-sex Christians who come together to pray and seek for divine illumination in their search for identity and for a place in a very hostile and judgmental world. I have an ongoing pastoral relation with a Lutheran pastor who has a ministry to LBGTs here in Toronto and I have attended some of their social functions and did not see any ‘amorous acts’, but a feeling of joy, friendship and peace and a search on how they can experience God’s love through association with the church and society at large. The greatest threat to our moral health in Nigeria is not homosexuality or acts associated with homosexuality. Even in Jerusalem and Rome—the holy lands of Christianity and Judaism—while same-sex marriages are not allowed, people with same-sex attraction are not criminalized for being who they are, hence they are allowed to self-identity their sexual orientation and to freely seek political position, to join the Israeli military, to attend religious rites, go to clubs, and to freely choose who they want to be with.

I am afraid that this law is only a political distraction and a populist act by President Jonathan. It is very troubling to use homosexuality—something which concerns the wellbeing of some Nigerians—as a tool in an increasingly confused moral platform of our stinking and sinking political leadership.
In coming out with this poor and unjust legislation without much deliberation and conversation, Nigeria has lost yet another golden opportunity as it has lost in many instances in the past of helping Africans and the rest of the world to come to a fuller and better understanding of the issues and dimensions of the debate on the rights of same sex persons. My argument here is the same which I have advanced in conversation with Westerners: the rush to legalize same-sex marriage as in the West or to criminalize same-sex marriage as in Nigeria is a waste of time.

Homosexuality or acts associated with it will not go away simply because you have a law against it, because it is has remained as a part of human nature and human reality since our human evolution. People with homosexual orientation will not be fully accepted in society because you have a law which allows same-sex marriage nor will same-sex persons and acts associated with such alternate sexuality disappear in Nigeria because we now have a law that takes care of the people whom we consider as abnormal in our limited world of reality and perception.

I am looking forward to a day when one nation or religion can set up a commission of moralists, psychologists, geneticists, spiritual masters and socio-cultural anthropologists to look at the evidence on homosexuality and come out with a conclusion on what is going on within the biological, spiritual, genetic, and psychological set up of the homosexual person so that we can make our laws and judgments based on evidence not from our uncritical and biased locus of enunciation. This was how people in the past were able to understand the issues associated with Ogbanje, abiku, sickle cell, stroke, high bp, the killing of twins etc. Without scientific evidence, it is hard to draw any conclusion that homosexuality is a choice; my own reading of research available to me tells me that it is genetic in most cases.

We cannot make judgment in charity about homosexuality if we have not fully and deeply entered into the world of the person, walked in the person’s shoes so as to journey with the person in finding answers to how he or she can live fully the life God has given.  When in doubt do not act is an ancient axiom and that was why Pope Francis asked the world when it comes to the question of homosexuality that we should not rush to judgment; we should get sufficient facts and evidence before making our judgment.

What is my own conclusion? At the personal level, I am calling for more dialogue on this issue. My tentative conclusion after many years of ongoing research, ministering to and associating with homosexual persons, and after prayerful reflection is that there are some homosexuals who have not chosen to be homosexuals; they deserve our love, understanding, support, and compassion. Let me also add that this was not something I embraced simply because I moved to Europe or North America. When one of my friends was dismissed from the seminary in Owerri because he admitted that he had homosexual orientation in 1994, I was very sad and confused. I felt then as I feel today that we (Nigerian society) have not understood homosexuality hence the quick judgment that they are ‘abnormal’ and do ‘unnatural acts.’ In many cases we suspect them of being evil and judge them even before they act as we have done in the law signed by President Jonathan.

Have we stopped for a moment to put ourselves in the shoes of someone struggling with his or her sexuality and how we can embrace this person in his or her journey? I believe that we can do better for homosexuals and the marginalized of our world by first immersing ourselves in their world, understanding that world and being with them in the places of pain, emptiness and confusion. This is the only way we can accompany them in making the moral choices which will fulfill their deepest desire for God, for healthy relationships with people so as to ‘make heaven.’

I try to separate the homosexual person who like any of us is genuinely searching for a relationship with God, a desire for self-acceptance, and a true and respectful relationship and friendship with people, from a gay activist. If we examined what goes on in some of our high schools and universities and among some highly placed men and women in Nigeria, there is a burgeoning homosexual culture which should be condemned in unmistakable terms. The reprehensible immoral exploitation of little girls and boys by ‘senior’ boys and girls in high schools and universities and colleges; and the abuse of our young people either heterosexually or by aberrant homosexual ‘ogas’,  ‘madams’, and men and women of God should be seen for what they are: unmitigated evils which cry to heaven for vengeance.

There are many sexual aberrations and misdemeanors in our country today, but whether they are homosexual or not, we need to elevate our sexual morality to a higher tenor to clean our society of the scourge of adultery, sexual exploitation of our women by powerful men in high places; sexual exploitation and harassment of our young girls by our politicians and the ‘ogas on the top’ and sexual abuse of vulnerable people by the powerful in our families, religious institutions, and public places.

Thus the affront on marriage by gay activists which promotes any and all kinds of sexual behavior in the name of procuring rights for the homosexual persons as we see in the gay pride parades in Western cities may not be the answer we can give in Nigeria to meeting the cries of our homosexual brothers and sisters for recognition and a healthy space to live fully the lives God has given them. Every society must seek from within its religious and cultural resources the transformation and transition needed in order to meet the inevitable complexity which comes with social changes and the diversity of modern life. Religious and cultural traditions are never frozen in time, but constantly make fundamental shifts to meet the demands of progress and change.

In addressing the perceived inadequacies of this Nigerian law, the international community must understand that one cannot push away people’s cultures and traditions in order to support and advance their cultural and human development and the modernization of their societies.  The challenge today for Nigerians is for us to engage in a critical and open dialogue on how the common good of all people especially gays and other marginalized minorities could be protected and promoted. We need a national dialogue on how to develop more openness and honesty in addressing issues of sexual morality and sexual identity in our country, and how to develop a healthier sexual morality across the board from the top to bottom. The gay marriage right discourse tends often to paper over the needed dialogue within communities on the dignity, nobility, and inestimable value of every human person irrespective of his or her sexual orientation, color, sex or creed. Enforced rights do not often change entrenched attitudes.

Rights are not tokens from one person to another but are claims which arise from who we are as equal persons before God. These rights also come with duties and obligations. Rights emerge from natural law discoverable through reason and from a community’s identity and appropriation of the ultimate good through the ordination of the acts of members to laws which promote, preserve and protect the common good. Time has come for African societies to mine the inner and dynamic resources of their cultural and religious traditions in order to find a new openness to dialogue about how to love, respect, and tolerate our brothers and sisters whose sexuality being an intrinsic part of their personality is the gift which they offer to our world. There should be a place in our society for those who do not think like we do, who do not act like we do and who do not look like us; this is the path to a better and more tolerant society.

The mentality in Nigeria that because I am Igbo I have to prefer only Igbo people or because I am Catholic I should consider Pentecostals inferior or because I am heterosexual I am better than a homosexual person should be changed if we can move forward as a nation otherwise we will be enjoying the false bliss of those who live in the innocent and commonsensical cave world of undifferentiated consciousness, enslaved in our own national bias and presumed superior cultural hubris which will only blight our perception of higher consciousness against insight and against progress.

I wish to conclude this discourse with a short reference to what Aquinas who is often cited in this argument thought of about natural law.

For Aquinas (Summa Theologie, 1a-11ab, q. 94, a. 2) natural law is an inclination towards the good which is discerned through reason and which conduces towards the common good. These inclinations are common to all human beings and include the inclination to preserve and develop one’s existence; the inclination to procreate in order to survive and sustain the species through reproduction; and the inclination which is specific to human beings as rational and spiritual beings to desire the truth, to embrace the truth and to enter into relationships with God, fellow human beings and the world of nature. Linked to this is the inclination to live in a healthy and well functioning society where everyone has equal opportunity and where everyone is accepted as a person no matter the person’s race, sex, sexuality, religion etc. It is because of this precept of the natural law which is written into the very fabric of our soul that we feel a sense of anger when we see or hear of injustice in our world, or when we see human sufferings or experience betrayal or injustice.

The duty of working for justice and making the necessary sacrifices to make this world with all its ambiguities and complexities to conform to God’s will of the coming of God’s kingdom is one which all human beings embrace each in his or her own way. This is because there is an inclination in us towards promoting the good of order because we all wish to live in a well ordered and functioning society where we can flourish with others. Is the homosexual inclination against this order?

What Aquinas calls an inclination is what Augustine referred to as desire when he said for instance that the desire I have for God is deeper and closer to me than I am to myself. The paradox of our human existence is our desire; it is the root of all good or evil in the world because most human acts begin with desire. But Augustine and Thomas after him argue that the true human desire is the one that leads to God and the realization of these four inclinations which I have indicated above. This is where the matter lies: we all desire to procreate, to love God, to love one another, to preserve and protect our lives and that of our communities and our world. Not all of us will fulfill that desire through our acts either because we are incapable of doing so or because we have chosen to fulfill that desire through other means (Matthew 19:12).

There are many women and men who desire to have children but they cannot, I am sure that they are contributing to the good of our human species through other means. There are people like me who can make babies but have chosen to live a celibate life so that we can freely give of ourselves in total and unrestricted service to our brothers and sisters, I am sure no one will accuse me and other Catholic priests of warring against procreation.

Understanding the deeper meaning of Aquinas’ natural inclination and nature as that which is essential to who I am helped me to see homosexuality in a different light. I see homosexual persons as a gift not because of what they cannot do or what gay activist want them to embrace as rights, but rather because of what they can do and who they can become if we supported them to channel their desires to the greater good of society which begins for me by falling in Love with God who is that Absolute Unconditioned Love in whom all our differences melt away.

Stan Chu Ilo, is a Catholic priest from Adu Achi, Enugu State, Nigeria.

 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

Lagos : Gleaming New City For The Wealthy Leaves Historic City In Dust.


Jan. 21 (GIN) – As developers rush to complete a dream city of soaring glass and steel high-rise buildings, luxury housing for 250,000 amidst a leafy boulevard with ritzy shops and tony restaurants, hopes for a better future are growing dim for the sister city of Lagos, the largest city in Africa with 21 million residents at last count.

Eko Atlantic, the new project, is rising on Victoria Island – now connected by an artificial land bridge to Lagos which sinks deeper into poverty as its neighbor’s income skyrockets.

Lagos, visited by the Portuguese in 1492, was the nation’s capital from 1914 to 1991. Today it struggles with aging infrastructure, unreliable electric power, fierce traffic jams and sprawling slums. Even in posh neighborhoods, sewage bubbles up from open ditches. Companies squeeze their headquarters into moldy midcentury ranch houses and turn off the lights at lunch to rest electric generators.

Two-thirds of the city’s residents live in “informal” neighborhoods, while more than one million of the city’s poor have been forcibly evicted from their homes over the last 15 years.

Eko Atlantic is a prime example of a trend towards walled-off cities for the very rich on a continent that is still home to the world’s poorest.

Writing in The Guardian newspaper, Martin Lukacs warned: “Eko Atlantic is where you can begin to see a possible future – privatized green enclaves for the ultra rich ringed by slums lacking water or electricity, in which a surplus population scramble for depleting resources and shelter to fend off the coming floods and storms.”

He continued: “Protected by guards, guns, and sky-high real estate prices, the rich will shield themselves from the rising tides of poverty and a sea that is literally rising… This is climate apartheid.”

Nigerian environmental activist Nnimmo Bassey added: “Building Eko Atlantic is contrary to anything one would want to do if one took seriously climate change and resource depletion.”

The developers, a pair of politically connected Lebanese brothers who run a financial empire called the Chagoury Group, received a 78 year-seal of ownership of Eko Atlantic to recoup their investment.

The Clinton Global Initiative, meanwhile, calls Eko Atlantic “one of the most inspiring and ambitious civil engineering projects in Africa,” according to the U.S. mission in Nigeria website.  Last year, former President Clinton participated in the ground breaking ceremony as did Ambassador Terence McCulley, and Consul General Jeff Hawkins, among others.

Woman To Lead Embattled Central African Republic As New President

Jan. 21 (GIN) – To the sound of cheers from the National Assembly building, the Transitional National Council of the Central African Republic on Monday tapped Catherine Samba-Panza, mayor of the capital city of Bangui, to be the country’s interim President and first woman to hold the post.

As the new leader of a country gripped by a ferocious sectarian war, Catherine Samba-Panza, 58, issued a call to the fighting groups, asking her “children, especially the anti-Balaka, to put down their arms and stop all the fighting. The same goes for the ex-Seleka. . . I don’t want to hear any more talk of murders and killings.

“Starting today, I am the president of all Central Africans, without exclusion.”

Born in Chad to a Cameroonian father and Central African mother, Ms. Samba-Panza is a former businesswoman, corporate lawyer, and insurance broker.  She also led a reconciliation effort during a previous civil war.

Paul Simon Handy, of the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in South Africa, called her “a president who can unite both the country and the political elite” but warned: “I am afraid that this process will take longer than her period in office as interim president.”

The Central African Republic has been devastated by brutal fighting since a coup in March 2013 removed the unpopular president Francois Bozize. He was replaced by Michel Djotodia who suspended the constitution. Djotodia resigned this month under intense international pressure as the death toll mounted to over 1000 people and observers feared a genocide was in the works.

According to a New York Times report, “The state no longer exists in the CAR. Civil servants do not go to their offices, taxes are not collected, all the schools are closed. There is no budget, no army, no police force, no Parliament, no judges, no jails.”

Against these odds, Samba-Panza, no political novice, ran a successful campaign and beat seven other candidates for the post. Among them were two women and two sons of former presidents.

Now, her primary task will be to prepare the nation for elections in the coming year.  In addition she will need to temper the extreme animosity between the Christian and Muslim groups in the country.

Central African Republic has to hold a fresh election by February 2015 at the latest. France, however, wants the election to be held this year. Current law excludes the interim president from running.

“Everything we have been through has been the fault of men,” said Marie-Louise Yakemba, in a press interview. Yakemba, who heads a civil-society organization that brings together people of different faiths, added: “We think that with a woman, there is at least a ray of hope.”w/pix of Pres. Samba-Panza

Africa Was A Point Of Pride For Martin Luther King Jr.
By Rush Perez

Jan. 21 (GIN) – At a speaking engagement at Western Michigan University on Dec. 18, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. recalled his first trip to Africa with his wife Coretta to attend the independence day celebration of the new nation of Ghana. The couple was invited by the new President, Kwame Nkrumah.

“We were very happy about the fact there were now eight independent countries in Africa,” he said. “But since that night in March, 1957, some twenty-seven new independent nations have come into being in Africa. This reveals to us that the old order of colonialism is passing away, and the new order of freedom and human dignity is coming into being.”

Later, on Dec. 10, 1965 he gave a powerful speech at Hunter College in New York City, where he attacked the Apartheid regime of South Africa, as well as the governments of Rhodesia (today Zimbabwe) and the Portuguese control of Mozambique and Angola.

True to form, Dr King utilized powerful language to make his points, beginning first with a deconstruction of the popular narrative of Africa at the time.

“Africa has been depicted for more than a century as the home of black cannibals and ignorant primitives….Africa does have spectacular savages today, but they are not black. They are the sophisticated white rulers of South Africa… whose conduct and philosophy stamp them unmistakably as modern day barbarians.”

He went on to call for an international boycott of South Africa.

After the independence day ceremonies in Ghana, Dr King said in a radio interview that: “This event, the birth of this new nation, will give impetus to oppressed peoples all over the world. I think it will have worldwide implications and repercussions–not only for Asia and Africa, but also for America….It renews my conviction in the ultimate triumph of justice and that somehow the universe itself is on the side of freedom and justice. So that this gives new hope to me in the struggle for freedom.”

GHANAIAN JOURNALIST WHO INSPIRED YOUNGER WRITERS IS RECALLED  

Jan. 21 (GIN) – An accomplished and much-admired news writer from Ghana was recalled as “the face and voice of Africa – a new young, enterprising, international connected, ambitious Africa, with a can-do attitude.”

Komla Afeke Dumor passed unexpectedly this week at age 41 from cardiac arrest at his London home.

“He was not a praise-singer,” noted BBC Africa editor Solomon Mugera. “He was determined to present a balanced story, warts and all, and to show the human face behind the headlines.”

Dumor was a BBC World News presenter and the host of the Focus on Africa Program. He joined the BBC in 2006 after working for a decade as a journalist in Ghana. He was so popular in his home country that many Ghanaians changed their profiles on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to show a picture of him.

After moving to TV in 2009, he anchored live coverage of major events including the funeral of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il,  the wedding of Britain’s Prince William and Kate Middleton, and the death of Nelson Mandela in December.

Born in 1972 in Accra, Komla Dumor received graduate degrees from the University of Ghana and Harvard University.

Even as a number of African countries were being heralded as among the world’s fastest-growing economies, Dumor wanted to dig deeper, recalled Mugera.

“He knew that a select few were wining and dining in five-star hotels and driving the latest luxury cars, while in the same neighborhood there were families struggling to live on $1 a day.”

The Media Foundation for West Africa, a regional independent, non-governmental organisation based in Accra, shared their deep condolences for the loss of “one of Africa’s best journalists.”

“Komla raised the standard of journalism in Africa, and brought a lot of pride to many Ghanaians and Africans when he joined the BBC Africa Service and later, the World Service…  He was an an illustrious journalist and a trailblazer for many young journalists in Ghana and Africa as a whole. .. We have indeed lost a talented gem in journalism, Komla, damirifa due! Rest in peace!” the statement concluded.

In the words of Nigerian author Chimamanda Adichie:  “We have lost a star. Go well my discussant brother.”

Dumor leaves a wife, Kwansema Dumor, and three children. w/pix of K. Dumor

Schizophrenia As Mandela’s Final Caution By Chika Ezeanya.


 

Chika Ezeanya
Columnist:

Dr. Chika Ezeanya

A petrified world watched as Thamsanqa Jantjie jabbed incoherent fists in the air by way of signing to deaf viewers during the Nelson Mandela Memorial. Signing with a countenance molded out of Plaster-of-Paris, deaf people and all conversant with sign language knew – within five seconds – that the man was grossly out of line. Mr. Jantjie would later blame schizophrenia for his bewildering behavior. He insists he is very well qualified for what he does for a living and has interpreted in many high profile international conferences with world leaders in attendance. His schizophrenic attack came upon him suddenly on that day, he stated; as soon as he mounted the podium, he began to hear voices inside his head.

In his formal apology to deaf associations across the world, Mr. Jantjie said, “I am on treatment for schizophrenia… Sometimes I will see things chasing me”. Mr. Jantjie’s sudden attack of schizophrenia might as well be said to be a final word from Madiba on the last remaining hurdle for Africa to overcome toward setting itself on the path to authentic and sustained advancement. In Africa’s parliaments, presidential palaces, classrooms, boardrooms, and living rooms, Africans hear voices of other peoples, nations and continents telling them what to do, when to do it, and how to do it.

Just like Mr. Janjtjie stood in front of millions of people all over the world and acted out his schizophrenia, so do African governments, intellectuals, business people, students, teachers and parents stand before a petrified world and do the bidding of the United States, Europe, China, the World Bank, IMF and others. The world looks at Africa and wonders what is wrong with the continent, why Africa can’t stand up and act for itself, and do the right thing. But Africa appears to be compelled by the will and wish of others to act out of tune with what is expected of it. The World Bank and IMF, oftentimes poorly informed about the continent’s realities, draft ill-fitting economic policies, which African governments implement as is.  European countries especially the former colonial powers remain strongly in charge of much of the economic situation of their former colonies. China arrived Africa with a bang. It has so far built a ‘befitting’ headquarters for the African Union in Addis Ababa and several presidential palaces for African presidents, in exchange for near-unhindered access to the continent’s natural resources and manufactured goods markets.

Many years after colonialism, several Africans still hear the voices of the colonial masters in their head, urging them to dislike their neighboring ethnic groups.  Schizophrenia makes the African continue to look at his African neighbor from another ethnic nationality with disdain and hatred, magnifying his weaknesses and minimizing his strengths. The exact same way the colonial governments wanted it to be, in order to ensure that the ethnic groups did not unite to topple the colonial order. The embers of the colonial voices are presently fanned by corrupt politicians who need to build on ethnic solidarity to fill their empty political tanks.  Many Africans who have not had meaningful interactions with other ethnicities within their countries voice deep-seated and deep-felt  disregard for these other groups. That is schizophrenia. The voices that speak in the heads of Africans against their neighbors date years back and continue till today. That is why it is the easiest thing for other continents to enter Africa and exploit the people. The energy that Africans should invest in building up is invested in tearing down one another.

It is schizophrenia that makes the African cheat himself, his fellow citizens and his nation through bribery and corruption. In his head, he still believes that the government belongs to the white people and it is not his personal business to ensure its progress. Indeed, in several African languages, civil or public service is still literally translated as “white man’s job”. Africans hear the voices of the former colonial masters in their heads, forcing them to work for Her or His Imperial Majesty. It is therefore, very easy for a Halliburton to connive with Nigerian government workers to deprive the country of billions of dollars in tax revenue. The country, in the head of the Nigerian, still does not belong to him.

Schizophrenia has stopped African governments from overhauling the academic curricula across Africa’s primary, post-primary and tertiary institutions to better reflect Africa’s challenges. More than 50 years after several African countries obtained their Independence, most of the big industries and mineral exploring companies in Africa are still owned by non-Africans. What are African children learning in school if not to manage their own resources? It is schizophrenia that makes the most mineral rich continent dependent on the world for its daily sustenance. The colonial masters ensured that the continent did not imbibe the principles of entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation. That education in Africa prepared the African to serve as clerk, secretary or at best personal assistant to the colonial chief executive. Many years after the end of colonialism, even at the informal and non-formal levels, academic conversations and curriculum do not reflect the need to create something new or build up on the existing. Incomprehensible ethnic divisions still plague Africa’s social space, but very few students in Africa are taught Social Psychology, a course that is well equipped to address social differences through explaining its origins and how it should be handled for every body’s benefits. Unfortunately, from kindergarten to the Ph.D. level, education in Africa is mostly founded on utopia, a chasing after other people’s ideals and aspirations to the detriment of the continent’s own needs. How schizophrenic.

It is schizophrenia that makes the African want to copy as much western culture as possible without understanding the philosophy behind it. That is why an African is quick to show that he speaks with a western accent, but pleads African time with the same western accent. What is there to be proud of about not keeping to one’s word or keeping to time? If one is proud of speaking with western accent and identifying with western culture then s/he ought to be proud to identify with such positive western values as well. Schizophrenia makes present day Africans rob their children of their mother-tongue in the name of progress. While Indians, Chinese and the rest of the non-English speaking world export Africa’s resources with only a smattering of English language, the African perpetuates self-hatred and a disdain for everything African in his child by restricting him to a language that is not generated from his environmental realities.

In his lifetime, Nelson Mandela sought to free South Africa from the clutches of those who spoke words in the ears of his African brethren. Those who forcefully, and using the state and diplomatic machinery sought to overtly direct the African’s thoughts, words and actions. When apartheid finally ended, the bureaucratic machinery supporting the voices ceased, but the voices did not stop speaking in the heads of South Africans, just like in the heads of other colonized Africans. Since colonial times, when the butt of a gun for mild rebellions, and bullets for the serious ones, were used to mentally reprogram Africans into submissiveness, succeeding generations through their parents and grand-parents continue to hear the commanding voices of all pale skinned mortals in their sub-conscious. If it comes from pale skin and straight hair, then it must be obeyed. The skin and hair can come from the East or from the West, it can speak any language, it matters not. The Marikana killings, the corruption that is the ANC led government and the sharp division between the rich and poor South Africans speaks to this. The continued struggle for speedy growth and advancement across Africa bears witness. The voices speaking in the ears of South Africans and Africans are no longer overt but now covert. It has been disrobed of its legitimate use of physical force, but its emotional and mental force over the actions of Africans still persists.

Nelson Mandela did his best by giving his life to break down the last strongholds of legitimate oppression in Africa. It is now in the hand of every informed African, who desires to honor the memory of Madiba to begin to take urgent steps to wean himself of schizophrenia, of hearing the voices of the erstwhile colonial masters and apartheid regime from deciding his thoughts, words and actions.  Africans themselves, as individuals and within their individual capacities in the continent are the real and authentic vehicle for the continent’s advancement. In the words of Nelson Mandela’s comrade Steve Biko, whose life was cut short in his prime by the apartheid regime, “The first step therefore is to make the black man come to himself; to pump back life into his empty shell; to infuse him with pride and dignity, to remind him of his complicity in the crime of allowing himself to be misused and therefore letting evil reign supreme in the country of his birth.” (We Blacks, I Write What I Like, 1978). Mahatma Ghandi’s famous saying, be the change you want to see in the world is most apt for every African who wishes to rid himself or herself of the voices that plague the continent. In medical sciences, schizophrenia can only be treated with the active participation of the patient, its treatment is not an outside-in approach, neither is it a sickness that lends itself to a top-down treatment method. It is the same with Africa and Africans. The continent can only advance when Africans decide and learn how to shun external voices and distractions, and instead focus on building up themselves based on what is endogenously African. If Africans truly want to immortalize Madiba, then the continent must henceforth begin to imbibe his greatest attributes which is freedom from external and internal oppression, peace with one’s innermost self and neighbors, and progress in every imaginable area of life.

You may like Dr. Chika Ezeanya on Facebook at www.facebook.com/chikaforafrica

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

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