Spanish Lullabies

The only response he got from the officer he met was a stupid question. Since you moved to this town, have you ever seen a man or woman with a skin colour as yours driving a bus for the traffic department?

Life for a brilliant mind cannot rot in a racist Spain where even a successful footballer like Dani Alves got stoned with bananas while playing for Barcelona.

Spanish Lullabies

By Adeola Aderounmu

Adeola_17 jan

When Kofi left the Gold Coast behind he was certain that the grass was greener on the other side. He was hopeful that his life will be better and that his sojourn in Spain will make his dreams come true.

Kofi had learnt that humans just like the flowers could bloom where they have been planted. Still he hoped for a replanting in another land. The most remarkable thing in his education was when he learnt about the equality of men. All men are created equal.

The day he left his home behind, he wept. It was a mixed feeling indeed and he looked forward to the greener pasture in Spain.

That was more than 10 years ago.

When l met Kofi in Stockholm 2 weeks ago, he had just left one of his jobs and was going home to rest before he would continue to the next job.

He worked during the day and then at night.

He was friendly, jovial and did not hide the anxiety of the new lease of life. He seemed happy.

The first time l met Kofi, we exchanged pleasantries as two strangers would do. during our subsequent meetings our conversations grew longer and he was actually fascinated that l am from Nigeria.

I thought you are from Somalia because l know Nigerians are very open and they like to talk.

These comments from Kofi added one more point to the many ways l have changed and lost my Nigerianness. But l forgive him. I intend to keep my humility.

After living more than 10 years of his life in Spain Kofi had to continue his sojourn which has now taken to Sweden.

During the last holiday season his family visited from Spain, spent 2 weeks and went back.

Kofi needs a little more time to be re-settled. Job, accommodation and stability in a new system always take their time and tolls.

His wife almost suffered a shock, or should we call it a heart attack when she saw Africans driving many of the buses in Stockholm city. Facing her husband and pointing a finger she screamed –have you seen that?

Kofi said, yes. I am used to it. I live here now remember.

In Spain the stories have been different.

Even l remember that in 2007 l wrote about my good friends who are from Spain but in whose land a fellow Nigerian was murdered by the Spanish authorities.

Osamuyia will always be in our hearts. He was one of us. He sought the greener pasture. They made him kissed the dust. Gone too soon!

Kofi told about the stories of other people and that about summed up his experiences in Spain.

There is a young woman. Her name is Joyce and she broke the norm when she was employed at a bank in Spain. She was at the counter and most part of her job would involve attending to customers.

The Spaniards avoided this woman at the counter. They never went to her to transact any business. Invariably Joyce became redundant. She lost her job.

Life for a brilliant mind cannot rot in a racist Spain where even a successful footballer like Dani Alves got stoned with banana while playing for Barcelona.

Joyce went to England. She settled well and continued with her professional job.

Listen, you haven’t heard or seen the worst about Spain. But let me add 2 or 3 more short stories.

Julius thought he had it all when he flashed his driving license and professional certificates that qualify him to be a bus driver in Spain.

He put forward an application and followed it up with a visit to the department of transport.

The only response he got from the officer he met was a stupid question. Since you moved to this town, have you ever seen a man or woman with a skin colour as yours driving a bus for us?

We don’t know what Abdullahi did with his life after this rejection.

There was another African brother who attended the university in Mallorca. He gave his all and showed his gifts. He became the best graduating student in his department when he got his degree.

Sadly, our brother Abdullah was not offered the automatic employment he deserved in line with the principle of the institution. He is a foreigner and cannot be qualified for automatic employment.

There were protests. There were demonstrations. In the end Abdullahi left Mallorca and settled successfully in England, just like our sister Joyce.

There are sad stories of permanent racism emanating from Spain and her sister country Italy. It is sad how these stories (several thousands of them) don’t make the headlines.

The world has come to accept that racism is incurable. It appears that some humans will be born with severe cognitive deficiencies such that they are unable to accept the equality of the human race unified as Homo sapiens.

African people are humble; they don’t press it in about their existence before the emergence of other races. True, Africans, their history and civilisations suffered very serious setbacks that are beyond the scope of this essay.

But bit by bit, and piece by piece, we will reconstruct our history and tell the truth.

We know now that the origin of racism lies in self-denial of one’s true origin. Those who love the truth can do their own research. African will rise again.

Kofi sat with me at lunch time and told me 5 heart breaking stories. I can imagine what he had gone through in more than 10 years of ploughing the greener pasture in Spain.

Even a short visit to Palermo was like a trip to hell. An African man driving an almost empty bus because Italians won’t take a ride in a bus driven by our brother was an experience that added to the loads of burden Kofi had lived with in Spain.

One day when Kofi thought he had seen it all, another incident happened on a bus. A young African man disembarked at his stop and went his way. As a young girl was about to take his place on the bus, she got shouted at by an old woman. You dare not! Can’t you see it was an African man who just left that spot!

You can understand why Kofi’s wife nearly suffered a heart attack when she saw Africans working in Stockholm. She must have seen that Stockholm will be paralysed on a day that the African bus drivers down their tools.

Many institutions and even the health department will collapse in Sweden if people with foreign backgrounds are thrown out of their jobs.

Sweden too, has uncountable stories of racist incidences far beyond the scope of this essay. I mean Sweden is the land of the midnight sun, not the land of the saints.

However there are reasons why the economies of some countries like Greece, Spain and Italy are worse compared to other countries like Sweden and Germany for example.

By almost turning down all foreign useful workforces, the Spaniards have done more harm than good to their economy. Why won’t they go borrowing? It now seems that the entire economy is tied to La Liga, where even racism is a major problem. Ask Dani Alves.

The personal experiences of Kofi (though not outlined in this story) and the others like Joyce, Julius and Abdullahi are reference points for our dear continent Africa.

But no matter how beautiful Africa or any other continent for that matter becomes we cannot stop the migration of the human race.

Our forefathers walked the earth and established it. That fact no one can erase.

It is just imperative that we don’t forget or ignore our ancestral homes as we continue to trace the indelible steps of our ancestors. May their spirits guide us right.

 

aderounmu@gmail.com

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The Terrorist Of Trollhättan

We teach kids that the pen is mightier than the sword.

We also teach värdegrund-basic values so that love-(and not religion or race or skin colour) will be the universal basis of our existence.

The Terrorist Of Trollhätttan

By Adeola Aderounmu

On Thursday the 22nd of October, Sweden experienced what has now gone down in history as the worst terrorist attack on her soil in over 75 years. Everybody seems to agree on that postulation.

Anton Ludin-Petersson

Anton Ludin-Petersson

Truly, there are definitely other tragedies that occur in trickles in the last 75 years that we have chosen not to discuss. The media controls us, in no small measure.

Still, the terror attack in Trollhättan, west of Sweden must be stated clearly as it was.

Children attending a grade 1-9 school left home that fateful morning. They hugged their parents and guardians goodbye as they have always done. They went to a safe place where their co-actors-the teachers and staff meet them daily, Monday to Friday.

The teachers, the staff, the resource persons and all the other people that are working together to make sure that the future is secured and better were on ground. They were playing their roles in building Sweden.

Teachers everywhere in the world are working hard not only to teach science and social studies but also what we call värdegrund-basic values so that love-(and not religion or race or skin colour) will be the universal basis of our existence.

It is at school that we-the teachers also teach about democracy and freedom. We teach children how to find happiness by choosing wisely among the options that life provides and to always remember that outside the four walls of the educational institutions, there are laws to follow and there are principles to guide them. We do our best, everyday.

It was in one of such schools, the one called KRONAN in Trollhättan that a young terrorist posed as a halloween celebrant and unleashed mayhem and terror that have now destroyed some lives forever.

A young man actually gave his life so that others might live. He was a young student assistant. His name was Lavin Eskandar. He died of the wounds from a sword attack. Yes, a sword!

The terror attack happened in the environment where we taught kids that the pen will always be mightier than the sword.

A student identified as Ahmed was also racially targeted and murdered by the terrorist of Trollhättan. May they (Ahmed and Lavin) rest in peace and may their families find the fortitude (and love from all of us) to bear the loss.

Let me be clearer, the Swedish media will call the terrorist gärningsman which means the perpetrator. That tag will not be substituted for terrorist in the major media that is controlled by those who tell us what they think we want or deserve to hear.

Incredibly a resistant group of activists and people with liberal minds have helped the Swedish media to correct that nonsense impression by rightly referring to the man who killed 2 people and seriously injured 2 others as a terrorist for that is what he was.

Incidentally as l was putting this story together, l got a message that a formal protest will take place against the Swedish Television in the coming days.

Sadly too there will be a lot of mis-information and propaganda from the mainstream media on how the late 21-year old terrorist had been a loner, a misfit, a psychopath and all kinds of forged tags that can be used to rationalise his crimes. Again, as we now know the guy was simply a terrorist.

The crimes committed and not where the criminal comes from must be the basis of the classification of criminals.

Meanwhile 24 hours hours after the attack, l had continue with my job and definitely with my life full of concealed anger. l am a professional, one of those in the category of the targets of this dead terrorist. l have to pretend that everything is alright when l am at workplace.

Who said teachers can’t be good actors? Isn’t that what we do everyday? Everyday we lay down our lives-to some extent that is-so some young children and even adults can have their dreams come true.

Tragically the terrorist was shot dead by the police. He was dressed in black and wearing a mask at the time. With a sword in hand he was clearly a danger to the lives of the police who arrived at the school to end the massacre that was in progress. The police said they acted in self-defense.

Anton posing with some students at the crime scene

Anton posing with some students at the crime scene

Obviously Anton Ludin-Petterson’s death is a sad loss to his friends and families and to all those who knew him. He was born a free man but chose to die a terrorist.

In my view as a social critic and as a public commentator, no amount of sugar-coating or media-misrepresention should be allowed to justify any act of terror no matter who the perpetrator is/was.

Anton was a young man who had his whole life ahead of him. But on this sad day in October he died a terrorist after taking the lives of 2 innocent people he knew nothing about except that they had foreign backgrounds. He wounded 2 others whose lives remain in danger.

At 21 a free man in any lawful society is accountable and liable for his actions. Anton is not available to defend his actions. The task of defending him will be valueless. Yet, care must be taken.

However, as we take different stands, we must never forget that the justification of terror attacks by looking for excuses and reasons to do so have had only one effect in history and that is the repetition of similar unfortunate events by copycats.

Unfortunately the Swedish media is trying to find a connection between the terror attack and a previous report about safety and security concerns at the school. Even the national school inspectors were quick to jump on the bandwagon. They bought the bait and this is so unfortunate and actually very sad.

Nobody in their right mind should do such a connection. It will provide an avenue for haters, copycats or terrorists to look for more schools where security concerns have been expressed and where people of mostly foreign backgrounds get their education in Sweden. Such schools will become easy targets if we allow our reasons to be marred by sentiments.

In my opinion Anton was wrong to chose the school-KRONAN irrespective of whether there are security concerns there or not. No one will be justified in terrorizing other people based on any factor at all.

I work with children everyday. I have been doing that since 1990. I see children and l see hope, laughter, dreams and aspirations. Then one day one man walked into a certain school and decided to end the hope, dreams, laughter and aspirations of the young children. I will never subscribe to his reasons or motivations. I condemn all acts of terrors no matter the cowards who did them.

The terrorist of Trollhättan has reminded Sweden that her status as a free society is under fire. It has been under fire for decades and the cover ups have been massive.

Here is a surprising fact people are hiding from in Sweden: the rise of extremism is massive at the same time that public outcry against racism and injustice has been rife.

The racist party is slowing and gradually rising to power. This means that there is something that does not add up beneath the surface. Who can explain this? What is now obvious is that we live in a society full of racists, haters and pretenders.

What happened to all the värdegrund (basic values) that we have been teaching at our schools in Sweden? Oh, they are gone with the wind..!

In recent weeks, months and years, a lot has happened that showed the deepening hatred and threats in the Swedish society. We-the foreigners-have our different battles that we confront daily. But commonly the burning of asylum and refugee residences is the latest and ongoing onslaught on openness and freedom.

These problems can no longer be swept under the carpets because the consequences will explode soon, right before our eyes.

The days of pretense are over.

The time is now for Sweden to show the political will to correct these anomalies.

aderounmu@gmail.com

Hate Crimes in Sweden: Why It May Get Worse

Hate Crimes in Sweden: Why It May Get Worse

By Salimonu Kadiri

Mr Salimonu Kadiri

Mr Salimonu Kadiri

(A letter written By Salimonu Kadiri to Adeola Aderounmu before the recent terrorist attack by a Swede in the town of Tröllhatan).

Nigerians belong to the black race and with the resurrection of Nazism in Europe and upsurge of neo-third Reich politicians who are not only represented in Parliaments but are in coalition government in some countries, the personal security of Nigerians like any Black person in Europe is constantly threatened. From the Swedish perspective, there is no day the persecution of the Blacks are not discussed both in the social and print media. The persecutions are based, mainly, on the colour of the skin.

After rolling out drums on October first to celebrate 55 years of political and economic backwardness of Nigeria that have culminated in self-styled Diaspora Nigerian in Sweden, let me acquaint you with the threat post to our collective wellbeing and security by neo-third Reich politically oriented sect called Nazis.

In the Swedish Metro Newspaper of Tuesday, 10 February 2015, a regular columnist, Göran Greider, observed to his dismay, on page six, that in the existing racial-ranking order, Black Africans are rated lowest. Then on Monday, 14 September 2015, the Aftonbladet newspaper under the subtitle– Top –S polititician: It is my right to say the ‘n-word’ revealed that the chairman of Lidköping municipal council, Kjell Hedvall was furious against those he called academic blockheads and politically correct maffians who criticized him for calling chocolate-ball negro-ball. According to him negro-ball is not an insult because “for hell sake, we have never had slaves in Sweden.”

The word negro originated from Spanish or Portuguese and it means black. The word *NEGER*  is not Swedish in origin but an adopted and corrupt version of the American word, *NIGGER* commonly used to denigrate  a Black person in America.

In addition the corresponding word for *Black* in Swedish language is *SVART* and not *NEGER.* If Kjell Hedvall had called his granulated cacao formed into ball negro-ball one would have understood him as utilizing the Spanish/Portuguese word to name his delicacy even if to the people of Latin countries, it would sound absurd for anyone to eat Negro testicle.

Well, some may say a negative nickname can only cause psychological and not physical wound, therefore, why bother about being called *NIGGER* or *NEGER.*

However, the front page of the ‘Svenka Dagbladet’ of  Monday, 21 September 2015, had this headline: HATE CRIMES AGAINST AFROSWEDES INCREASE. It confirmed that Afro-Swedes, to a higher extence are affected by violence than other minority groups, 20 years after the murder of a young Ivorian in Klippan. Under the sub-title, on page 10, “AFROPHOBIC HATE CRIMES HAVE INCREASED SUBSTATIALLY,” a senior lecturer at Karlstad University, Tobias Hübinette, said that ‘Reports of Afrophobic hate crimes have increased by about 41 per cent between 2008 and 2014.

The phenomenon is the same in other European countries. Hate crimes often take place in public places, have often element of threat or pure physical violence and the perpetrator is seldom acquainted with the victim.’ To the question, what do you think about why Afro-Swedes are more vulnerable?, Tobias Hübinette replied, “It is awful to say but mostly black men are easy prey.” From the foregoing, Black people are usually persecuted not because they have committed any wrong-doing but because of the colour of their skin. Relative to Nigerians, let me narrate a relevant case out of many incidents.

On Wednesday, 23 April 2014, Swedish Television Channel 1 announced through the electronic and print media that its special program, ‘Scrutinizing Assignment’, in the evening of that day would feature cases of crimes committed by neo-Nazi groups in Sweden without judicial and legal sanctions.

Later in the evening, Scrutinizing Assignment revealed that in the early morning of 7 December 2013, a Nigerian visitor to Sweden was stabbed in the lower abdomen by a gang of four young boys said to belong to a Nazi sect called Swedish Resistant Movement. The Nigerian named, Fidelis Ogu, was on exit from the underground train station, Hokarängen, in the Southern suburb of Stockholm, and while on his way to his temporary place of abode he was stabbed.

He was rushed to Karolinska University Hospital where Doctors battled successfully to save his life. Although this incident happened on December 7, 2013, neither the Swedish public nor resident Nigerians in Sweden was aware of Mr. Fidelis Ogu’s encounter with the Nazi until when he appeared in the Scrutinizing Assignment TV programm where he showed the scar after the stab in his lower abdomen by the Nazi. In spite of the fact that the attackers of Fidelis Ogu were captured by the public surveillance camera, the police declined to investigate the case against the assailants of Fidelis Ogu on the ground that it would not be possible to prove who amongst the four stabbed him.

Due to the video film from the public surveillance camera shown in the TV program, Scrutinizing Assignment, one of the attackers went to the police to narrate that he was only acquainted with one of the attackers and that although he was with them that morning, he was not a member of Swedish Resistant Movement.

He also told the Police who among the four stabbed Fidelis Ogu. Premised on the insider’s evidence, the Police conducted new investigation and the prosecutor charged the three Nazi boys to court for heinous assault and attempted murder on Fidelis Ogu on September 30, 2014.

On October 24, 2014, a magistrate court in the south of Stockholm discharged and acquitted the stabbers of Fidelis Ogu. The court motivated its decision on p. 36-39 which I hereby summarize. Through the films from the public surveillance cameras in Hökarängen’s center, it is established that the accused had been in the vicinity where Fidelis Ogu had been stabbed.

They have namely passed by surveillance cameras both in the time immediate before and after the time when stabbing must have taken place. It can be established that the weapon which was used in the action has not been found. There is no technical evidence either which connects any of the accused to the deed.

The information which two witnesses have given only confirm that the accused were at the scene of the crime; that they have had access to knife and they have quarrelled with another dark- coloured man who they also chased the same morning.

Concerning information given by Fidelis Ogu in police interrogation, its value, the court says, is limited due to the fact that he has not been heard before the court. Moreover, it should be added that the police interrogations of Fidelis Ogu were conducted in English without a translator; at the time of interrogations, Fidelis Ogu was undergoing treatment for his injury whereby at the first two interrogations, at least, he had received morphine and beside had been under the influence of alcohol; and from the police interrogations, the court concluded that Fidelis Ogu had not been able to identify the person that stabbed him.

The only thing in the investigation which directly associated the accused with the crime was the witness account given by a companion (an Insider) of one of the three accused persons. The court said that the ‘insider’ had made credible impression on it. Since the consequence of witnessing against the accused was enormous, the court believed that the insider would not have given those information if they were not true.

Nevertheless, the court rejected the insider’s evidence on the ground that he did not contact the police until after he had seen the picture of himself, together with the three accused persons, culled from the public surveillance camera film and shown on Channel one TV program, Scrutinizing Assignment. His contact with the police, the court believed, could have been a ploy to protect himself.

His witness was not given under oath. The court reasoned that even if it was proved that the accused had access to knife in addition to their Nazi political convictions, those do not constitute any direct support to the claim that they stabbed Fidelis Ogu. In the court’s opinion, the investigation did not give a clear and unambiguous picture of whom or who had taken part in the deed and how. Against this background, the court does not believe that it could be considered as having been proved beyond any reasonable doubt that the three accused persons were guilty of the crime the prosecutor wanted them to be convicted of.

To dispute the decision of the court, some facts should be highlighted. When Fidelis Ogu was stabbed in the lower part of his abdomen on 7 December 2013, the police had immediate access to the video film from the public surveillance camera where an identifiable person was seen holding a knife and saying, ‘I got that devil.’ Not only that, two other persons with the knife holding man were known by the police to belong to a Swedish Nazi sect called Swedish Resistant Movement.

Yet, no attempt was made to invite the identified Nazi men for questioning, not to talk of searching their homes for the knife used against Fidel Ogu. If the police, from the beginning, had considered the stabbing of Fidelis Ogu as a serious crime, the interrogation of the victim would not have been conducted in English, by the usually experienced Swedish police, without a translator.

The interrogation was informal because the police had already made up their mind not to take the case to court. This view was corroborated in the Scrutinizing Assignment, relayed by the Swedish TV, Channel 1 on Wednesday, 23 April 2014, as the police told the reporter that investigation on the stabbing of Fidelis Ogu had been discontinued because the prosecutor would not be able to prove who among the three suspects stabbed him.

Since Fidelis was a temporary visitor in Sweden, did the police ask him of his temporary/contact address in Sweden and his permanent address outside Sweden? In the Scrutinizing Assignment program, Fidel Ogu was seen showing the scar after the stab in his stomach. How did the Swedish Television, channel 1 get Fidelis to participate in the program?

The prosecutor claimed that all efforts to get Fidelis Ogu to be present in the court for the trial was futile. What did prosecutor’s efforts entail? Why did the prosecutor open the case in court in the absence of the plaintiff, Fidel Ogu? The Swedish State, granted Fidelis Ogu a lawyer to represent his interest, was the lawyer a specialist in criminal law? Why did the lawyer, allocated to F. Ogu, allow the trial to continue in the absence of his client? How could a lawyer in a criminal court case, represent the interest of a client he/she has never met or talk to?

The court had discharged and acquitted the stabbers of Fidelis Ogu on the ground that it was not proved who among the suspects stabbed him even when one of his attackers was seen holding a knife in camera and saying ‘I got the devil’ at the scene of the crime. This extreme burden of proof proclaimed by the court is not in consonance with the Swedish Criminal Code, BrB 1962:700, Chapter 23 paragraph 4, reviewed in Law 1994: 458, dealing with co-perpetrators of crime. Co-perpetrator in crime is illustrated in legal case file NJA 1980, page 606, with an example.

It states that three men had each armed themselves with wooden rods and with these as weapons attacked some other men who were inflicted with various kinds of injuries. One of the attacked men had lost sight on an eye. All the three attackers were convicted for assault. All the three men were regarded as perpetrators of the crime despite the fact that it could not be ascertained what injuries each of the accused had inflicted on each victim. It was considered that the accused persons, after joint deliberation, had agreed to arm themselves with rods and collectively had made use of them. Each and everyone of the accused persons, of course, fulfilled condition for criminal intention.

Another case where the burden of proof of what an individual has done in a collective crime was the murder of two police men. On May 28, 1999, three Bank robbers, Jackie Arklov, Tony Olsson and Andreas Axelsson, robbed Ostgota Enskilda Bank in Kisa of the sum of 2.6 million Kronor. The robbers were chased by some police patrol vehicles and at a village called Malexander, the robbers opened fire and killed two of the police men chasing them.

Even though there was no clear cut evidence of who amongst the three robbers fired the bullets that killed the two policemen, all the three robbers were sentenced to life imprisonment for murder because of their presence at the scene of crime and their collective criminal intention. Similarly, the three Nazis fulfilled the condition for criminal intention when Fidelis Ogu was stabbed and there was no need to prove who among them stabbed him to find them guilty.

Following the decision of the court, many Swedish Newspapers on Saturday, 25 October 2014, reacted against the discharge and acquitance of Fidelis Ogu’s Stabbers. Reading through page 26 and 27 of the Aftonbladet of that Saturday,  Oisin Cantwell wrote, “IT WAS, I MUST SAY, VERY GENEROUS OF THE MAGISTRATE COURT TO CONCEDE THE RIGHT OF SELF-DEFENCE SITUATION TO THE ACCUSED. AND IT IS REMARKABLE THAT, IN MOTIVATING ITS JUDGMENT, THE COURT DID NOT EVEN MENTION THAT ONE OF THE ACCUSED DNA HAD BEEN MIXED WITH OGU’S BLOOD.”

The practical implication of detecting the DNA of one of the accused in the blood of Fidelis Ogu must be that the accused had physical contact with him through stabbing. Yet, the court concluded that there was no technical evidence linking any of the accused persons to his stabbing with knife.

However, questions that should cause nightmare for every Nigerian (may be every African) in Sweden are: What happened to Fidelis Ogu after his appearance in the Swedish TV 1 program, Scrutinizing Assignment, on Wednesday, 23 April 2014? Was he murdered after his appearance in the TV, which was why the prosecutor could not find him to appear in court in a case that he was a plaintiff?

We don’t know how many cases like that of Fidelis Ogu happen in Sweden everyday and it is only affected individual who knows and until it is your turn you may feel unconcerned. My purpose of writing this is to alert and remind you that the time is ripe for all Nigerians in Sweden to speak with one voice to the authorities in Sweden and Nigeria about our collective security to life and happiness.

It is around this that we as Nigerians and Africans should forget our differences and stop being petty.

S. Kadiri

The Things We Took For Granted (Part 1)

When l was growing up in Nigeria l had no idea that one day I will be living in another country and eating meat and chicken that are produced in factories. I miss my poultry in Nigeria..!

The Things We Took For Granted (Part 1)

By Adeola Aderounmu

IMG_2269

As Africans we need to start appreciating the things we have in Africa especially nature’s endowment.  We also need to preserve our culture, our heritage and the true versions of our stories and pass them intact from one generation to the next.

There are so many things we took for granted in Africa. We still take them for granted on the home soil.

When l was a little boy in Nigeria, l had not doubt in my mind that all the food including fruits and vegetables were coming from nature and in natural ways. It is possible to write a book then about Feeding Without Fears in Nigeria.

I remember my involvements and experiences in farming as a school boy. We planted crops as part of practical Agricultural Science. We even tilled the soil and prepare them for cultivation. Groundnut was my favourite. There was no need to cultivate water leaf (spinach); it was growing everywhere-along the roadside, among the bushes and just about anywhere there is soil and moisture.

I remember the poultry l kept at the backyard. My love for the hens and cocks was for them to grow up and end up in my pot of soup on that famous kerosene stove. Some of these adventures must have helped in forming me. I have patience to see things through. I know how sweet the reward is for genuine labour.

In Nigeria we have everything that nature could provide for life in the tropical region. There is rainfall, and there is adequate sunshine. There is a clear demarcation for day and night.

We have all kinds of trees. We have mango trees, the coconut trees, the orange trees, the cocoa plant trees. We have the sugarcane plantations. We have cashew crops and so on.

Irrespective of where these crops are found, one didn’t have to worry about consuming them. It was unthinkable that certain chemicals inimical to human health were consumed with them. We were children, we felt safe.

The good stories about growing up in Nigeria are varied and marvellous.

Now in Europe and other parts of the advance world, it is very disturbing to note how unnatural the foods we eat are. It is extremely disturbing to walk into the stores and find all kinds of labels on the food items.

What is biological mango? What is ecological mango? What is fair trade banana? What is ordinary banana? What is ecological carrot?

Reading food labels and tags on fruits and vegetables is a way of life that emanated from outside Africa. It may be the beginning of fear or wisdom depending on your views about food and nutrition. In whichever case, it is not a pleasant trauma.

As a child, when l bought oranges at Agboju market or when l jumped and plucked Mama Tunji’s mango and ran away to eat it while hiding, l have no idea that one day l will be settling down to first read the labels before buying or eating fruits.

One day a friend who thought that she has found a new knowledge tried to explain to me the difference between ecological and biological fruits and vegetables. What an effort to make..!

In this part of the world we are in some deep troubles because people eat all kinds of things that they don’t even know where they are coming from. How can anyone trust the labels on fruits and vegetables in these days when people are fed pork and horse meat as beef? When meat and fruits are made by artificial methods, how can expiry dates be valid?

When l was growing up in Nigeria l had no idea that one day I will be living in another country and eating meat and chicken that are produced in factories. I miss my poultry! Where are all these fake and giant bananas coming from?

There is trouble here; we eat synthetic materials as food.

Some oranges are bigger than the human head. Some bananas are bigger than the African plantain. We are in trouble.

Fruits with labels? How Healthy are tey?

Fruits with labels? How Healthy are they?

For Africans, it is sad that many of these fake products and synthetic food items have crept into the continent.

In Nigeria l remember the influx of fake chicken and turkey into the Nigerian market. This year 2015 the Nigerian custom continues to fight the smuggling of the fake poultry products from neighbouring countries into Nigeria.

In Nigerian traffic especially in Lagos, everything is sold. The shiny green apples look purely synthesized. Sometimes you’ll think they have been taken for polishing at the shoemaker’s stall.

Nigeria has since become a consuming society and a dumping ground for all kinds of fake food products and dangerous medicines. The failure of governance and the systemic collapse of institutions in Nigeria left much to be desired.

There is no shame greater than the importation of food and crops that can be produced in Nigeria. It was totally senseless to relegate agriculture as the leading foreign income earner for regionally governed Nigeria.

The rulers of Nigeria are weak intellectually. They even import petroleum products! Their dumbness is exposed in their primitive accumulation while sacrificing the present and the future at the same time, all for nothing.

In Nigeria we took for granted all the free gifts of nature. Nigeria is a rich country in all ways and by all ways. Mr. Buhari can continue to misfire-calling Nigeria a poor country-because of his low intellectual capacity and inability to reason out the meaning of rich or blessed with.

The Nigerian climate is perfect for agricultural practises. The countries that have long winter season would probably stop synthesizing food items if they have such optimal climate.

I will not forget that eating fruits while growing up in Nigeria was devoid of looking for tags and labels. There was no doubt about the safety of the crops that my grandfather nurtured on his farmland in Igbogila. I had no doubt buying roasted plantain-boli at the roadside or oranges from the hawkers.

We ate healthy and unless we expose our skin to malaria parasites we hardly become ill. In comparison the reports of catching ordinary cold all year round in the advanced countries is amazingly high.

The present and upcoming generations of Nigerians must be told the true stories. There was trust in Nigeria in the past and there was dignity in labour. Sadly when things fell apart politically, everything else fell apart. The proportions of failure in Nigeria since 1966 especially are unimaginable. It is a sad story.

For Nigeria food production that will completely eliminate reliance on import and adulteration is still very possible. The potentials are still there and though the climate may have change, it is not significant enough to disrupt full blown back to the golden days of Nigeria.

The blueprints that allowed Nigeria to flourish under regional government up till the early 70s need to be reintroduced. It is getting clearer that the APC mandate is a fluke as Nigerian politicians remain hell bent on looting and destroying Nigeria because of the nonsensical unitary system that gives power to one man as if he is a dictator even under a democratic system.

How did the Old Western Region succeed with the regional farm settlement schemes alongside a world class education system? What made the groundnut pyramid in Northern Nigeria so high? Why was the East home to cassava, yam and other cash crops? The answers to these questions that will return Nigeria to her rightful position in cocoa export, oil-palm production, yam and groundnut export are political!

How we let go of healthy living in Nigeria is related to the collapse of the Agricultural sector and it happened due to bad governments. Living in places where natural food are now produced by synthetic methods or gene modification makes one to appreciate the continent of Africa that is blessed by Mother Nature.

In my part of Africa, the tropical zone of Sub-Saharan, nature smiled on us and provided optimally for our living. When we are ready, Mother Nature will still be waiting.

A deep-rooted and sincere reorientation of the citizens will be necessary to rid Nigerians of their affinity for food and things that are foreign. Those who indulge in illegal importation of food stuffs should spend long years behind bars. They are a risk to people’s health and also economic saboteurs for local/indigenous farmers.

The health of the citizenry is the wealth of the nation.

Repeatedly, a functional political method is an integral part of the solutions to all of the problems in Nigeria. This is where the burden falls back on the citizens. They have a collective right to fight the politicians and take back their functional regions and bring back the days before the civil war when there was abundance and prosperity.

It will be a long road to freedom.

aderounmu@gmail.com

The American Dream vs The European Dream

Images and Text Culled From Time Magazine Photos Of 2014

Is this The American Dream?

A man backs away as law enforcement officials close in on him and eventually detain him during protests over the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager killed by a police officer, in Ferguson, Mo., Aug. 11, 2014. The Federal Bureau of Investigation said on Monday that it had opened an inquiry into the weekend shooting of Brown. (Whitney Curtis/The New York Times)

A man backs away as law enforcement officials close in on him and eventually detain him during protests over the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager killed by a police officer, in Ferguson, Mo., Aug. 11, 2014. The Federal Bureau of Investigation said on Monday that it had opened an inquiry into the weekend shooting of Brown. (Whitney Curtis/The New York Times)

Is This The European Dream?

June 7, 2014 - Mediterranean Sea / Italy: Italian navy rescues asylum seekers traveling by boat off the coast of Africa. More than 2,000 migrants jammed in 25 boats arrived in Italy June 12, ending an international operation to rescue asylum seekers traveling from Libya. They were taken to three Italian ports and likely to be transferred to refugee centers inland. Hundreds of women and dozens of babies, were rescued by the frigate FREMM Bergamini as part of the Italian navy's "Mare Nostrum" operation, launched last year after two boats sank and more than 400 drowned. Favorable weather is encouraging thousands of migrants from Syria, Eritrea and other sub-Saharan countries to arrive on the Italian coast in the coming days. Cost of passage is in the 2,500 Euros range for Africans and 3,500 for Middle Easterners, per person. Over 50,000 migrants have landed Italy in 2014. Many thousands are in Libya waiting to make the crossing. (Massimo Sestini/Polaris)

June 7, 2014 – Mediterranean Sea / Italy: Italian navy rescues asylum seekers traveling by boat off the coast of Africa. More than 2,000 migrants jammed in 25 boats arrived in Italy June 12, ending an international operation to rescue asylum seekers traveling from Libya. They were taken to three Italian ports and likely to be transferred to refugee centers inland. Hundreds of women and dozens of babies, were rescued by the frigate FREMM Bergamini as part of the Italian navy’s “Mare Nostrum” operation, launched last year after two boats sank and more than 400 drowned. Favorable weather is encouraging thousands of migrants from Syria, Eritrea and other sub-Saharan countries to arrive on the Italian coast in the coming days. Cost of passage is in the 2,500 Euros range for Africans and 3,500 for Middle Easterners, per person. Over 50,000 migrants have landed Italy in 2014. Many thousands are in Libya waiting to make the crossing. (Massimo Sestini/Polaris)

And How Do We Protect Ourselves In Africa?

Medical staff carry James Dorbor, 8, suspected of having Ebola, into a treatment facility in Monrovia, Liberia, Sept. 5, 2014.  Ebola ó the reality and the hysteria over it ó  is having a serious economic impact on Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, three nations already at the bottom of global economic and social indicators. (Daniel Berehulak/The New York Times)

Medical staff carry James Dorbor, 8, suspected of having Ebola, into a treatment facility in Monrovia, Liberia, Sept. 5, 2014. Ebola ó the reality and the hysteria over it ó is having a serious economic impact on Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, three nations already at the bottom of global economic and social indicators. (Daniel Berehulak/The New York Times)

More Images and Stories here:

http://time.com/3572139/time-top-10-photos-2014/

13 Years A Prisoner

I cannot actually overemphasize that the case of Isaak Dawit is an embarrassment to the human race. Isaias Afewerki cannot be above all of humanity unless we have all gone crazy.

13 Years A Prisoner

Isaak Dawit

Isaak Dawit

By Adeola Aderounmu

Isaak Dawit has been in jail in Eritrea since September 23 2001. He was born in the same country on the 27th of October 1964. He is now 50 years old, with one-fourth of his life spent in jail.

Isaak Dawit fled the war in Eritrea in 1987 and lived in Sweden. He became a Swedish citizen in 1992 but he also held on to his Eritrean citizenship.

When Eritrea became independent Isaak Dawit returned to Eritrea to work as a journalist.

He may have written stories or articles that the dictator Isaias Afewerki found threatening to his one-party state. He may have associated with groups seeking to ensure that the rights of the people are respected and sustained in a new emerging country.

But he was on the other side of the court as Mr. Afewerki, so he was arrested and imprisoned.

Isaak Dawit has not been brought to a court of law. No charges have been brought against him. It is not on any record that Isaak has been sentenced to life imprisonment.

Why is he sitting in prison for more than 13 years?

The worst tragedies in the world are not only hideous; they have also proven to be mostly unspoken of.

How can the rest of humanity look away when a man is locked up for 13 years? Have we no compassion for his family and children?

Since independence in 1993, Eritrea has been held in captive and extreme bondage by one man, a dictator called Isaias Afewerki.

In plain terms Mr. Isaias Afewerki told the world to go to “hell”, that he would do whatever he likes with Isaak. The question is, in the absence of a proof of life, “what has he actually done with Isaak Dawit?

Few years ago, Isaak went missing from his cell prompting fears about his whereabouts and an unconfirmed story that he was dead.

Many of the people arrested alongside with Isaak Dawit are dead or have been killed. The fears are genuine but lack of official comment keeps the hope of Dawit’s existence burning till today.

One of Isak’s daughters Ms. Bethlehem spoke recently and expresses optimism that her father is alive. It is this optimism and hope that should be given impetus now.

The Swedish government adopted the so-called silent diplomacy in the case of Isaak Dawit and it has been a total catastrophe so far. It remains futile.

Individuals, groups and organizations have demonstrated and lent their voices to the campaign to free Isaak. All have proven to be ineffective.

What has been done outside of Eritrea is probably not reaching Eritreans at home in terms of awareness.

Sadly too the chant to free Isaak Dawit will not be echoed in Eritrea.

The country is locked down by one man. Eritrea is closed to the rest of the world because there are no independent news media in the country.

Eritreans are not free. They need help!

While I do not support interference with the sovereignty of any nation, the case of Isaak Dawit brings me to a point of compromise. The utterances of Isaias Afewerki even on Swedish television left no one in doubt that there is a lunatic in power in Eritrea.

The campaign for the freedom of Isaak Dawit must take up a new dimension outside of Eritrea. The pressure should then be taken inside to free the people of Eritrea.

Every country deserves independent press and the people deserve freedom of speech and association.

The table needs to be turn around. The campaign slogans should move from free Dawit to:

Free Eritreans

Arrest And Prosecute Isaias Afewerki Now

Eritreans abroad must come together on this one. This is their fight.

They need to bring the rest of the world to the awareness of the sufferings and demeaning of their lives within and outside the boundary of Eritrea by Isaias Afewerki.

There should be no limit to the amount of pressure that should be applied on this wicked and heartless dictator.

After putting away a journalist for 13 years without trial, the world should NEVER let Isaias Afewerki have a moment of rest. This much Eritreans owe Isaak Dawit.

Isaias Afewerki holds all of Eritrea in bondage in a one-party state. He has no regards for the people of Eritrea.

Who does he think he is?

If he has killed Isaak Dawit, the people should rise and sack him by force. They also need to demand his arrest and prosecution.

If Isaak Dawit is alive, he should be released without further delay.

Isaias Afewerki cannot be above all of humanity unless we have all gone crazy.

What is the priority of the Swedish government in foreign diplomacy?

What is wrong with Sweden?

Only foolish people repeat stupid history. Raoul Wallenberg never returned to Sweden, he was never found. Now it is Isaak Dawit. Does this story line sound too familiar?

If finding Isaak Dawit means bringing down the Eritrean dictatorship so be it.

Isaak’s mother died in 2010 asking the question: why did they take my son away from me?

His children are grown, still growing, denied of the company of their loving father because of one stupid dictator in the horn of Africa.

In the end this is a shame not only to Sweden, but also to Europe and the world as a whole. We all stood by and watch like spectators and let one lunatic send another man to jail for 13 years without trial.

I cannot actually overemphasize that the case of Isaak Dawit is an embarrassment to the human race.

With all our claim of civility, social justice and freedom, we let one man (and definitely many other men and women) rot in prison for several years without trials and we look the other way.

aderounmu@gmail.com

The Madrilenean

“I will go to a place where nobody knows my name, a place where the language is different”

The Madrilenean

By Adeola Aderounmu

Adeola Aderounmu

Adeola Aderounmu

Pablo grew up in Girona. This town has about 100 000 people. His childhood went too quickly or maybe not. It depends on which perspective he chose. When he thought about the years he had to endure with his sisters, then it was a long, uneventful childhood.

On the other hand when he thought about what could have happened if he could turn back the time, then it was a period that went rather quickly. As a result of his feelings during his teenage and college days, he forgone many things that many other children his age did.

There are many things that Pablo will like to forget. There are so many things he hoped will be left in his thoughtless moments.

But what happened to Pablo actually that almost destroyed his life especially his relationship with his family. Here is the story.

Pablo has 3 sisters. He is the only son of his parents. At a very early age, he started to pull away from everyone in his household. He felt totally different. When his parents noticed his strange withdrawal, they tried to pamper him. Pablo’s withdrawal became more intense and his parents regretted that they did not consult a professional. Where did we go wrong? His mother pondered.

One day his father decided to take a long walk. He thought deeply about his family situation-how his daughters are having the best days of their lives and how his only son is turning to a complete stranger. He slipped at the edge of the pavement and broke a toe. He is a man who believes in omen. His favourite is the spirit of the puma.

Once he had a twisted ankle when he was taking a walk in the woods and thinking about Pablo. When he got a broken toe walking on the other side of the town, he decided that he will never worry about Pablo again. He thought he may develop a serious health problem like stroke if he worries more about Pablo. A twisted ankle and then a broken toe will do. The spirit of the puma will guide Pablo, he reasoned.

It didn’t matter what anyone did, Pablo did not feel that he was loved. At home the conclusion was that Pablo was acting the last child or the last born. One day Aleksandra the eldest sister told a joke and said, mamma, maybe you should have let pappa make the 5th baby. Maybe Pablo wanted a brother to play with. He doesn’t like us because we are girls.

Pablo was 10 years at the time and the joke turned out to be a bad one. He locked himself in the room and skipped school for 3 days. He came out only when everyone had left home and helped himself to some juice and biscuits. His mother cried. She was completely devastated how bad things turned out socially for Pablo.

Pablo had always thought that his sisters are getting all the attention at home. No one is sure exactly when he got that perception but it must have registered in his brain quite early. His mother even said, maybe he heard too many voices when he was a foetus and got fed up with everyone even before he was born.

On the surface everyone at home knew that Pablo’s feelings or perceptions were incorrect. But deep inside they don’t know what approach would make him cherish and love them the way they love him. So the most difficult task at home and sometimes at school and at the playgrounds was how to correct the impressions and help Pablo get along socially. He was growing up and his family feared that he may become a social misfit. This trait is uncommon in Catalonia.

What was obvious was that Pablo did not know how to feel as a boy because everywhere he looked in the house, he saw girls and things that belonged to girls. This made him uncomfortable and sad and he thought he was different from the other boys in his class. His heart continued to grow cold as he grew up.

Pablo hated school. It is a place that brought him in contact with many other categories of people. However he learnt to dissociate his social deficiency from his academic needs. Therefore he excelled even as a withdrawn student. This was one of the reasons his parents did not seek professional help for him. His future looks bright, his mother said to his father one day when they looked at some of his results after a quarterly conference with the school teachers.

When he was 18 Pablo started to work at the postal agency. He saved a lot of money because this is a work he had no need for. His father is wealthy and even his mother inherited a lot of fortunes from her grandparents. His parents understood that Pablo took the job so he could skip encountering his sisters at home. It was one of his weird ideas of what freedom means.

By the time Pablo became a graduate at the age of 23, there was only one of his sisters left unmarried. With only Cecilia at home, Pablo was beginning to see the world from another perspective. But he had a hard time to express his feelings. He never liked his sisters yet he’s feeling the vacuum created when Aleksandra and Viveca left home forever.

When he was a young boy he promised never to love anyone because he doesn’t know what it means. I will never know what it means to love, he told himself. He hated his childhood. He does not like to remember it. He felt lonely, quite often. These women have ruined my life, so he thought. He cannot remember when he started hearing their voices but it appeared like forever until now that Cecil is the only one left.

Despite all his troubles Pablo turned out to be one of the outstanding engineers in Girona. People have noticed that he likes to be alone but they have also come to appreciate his effectiveness and productivity at work. This was also an outstanding observation his former boss made when he worked at the postal agency.

Pablo found the courage and will to rent his own apartment. When he was 25 and Cecil was preparing to get married, Pablo decided it was time for him to move on. That’s what he did.

One day Pablo was tired after work. It was his third year at the factory and he had accumulated his annual leave. So he decided he will travel to another city in another country. He made up his mind to travel to a place he had never been before.

I will go to a place where nobody knows my name, a place where the language is different. So he left. He travelled by road to Barcelona and flew from there to St. Petersburg.

One day he stood at the central station at St. Petersburg. He was looking at the map, trying to find his way around.

But the map he was looking at was inside a frame made of glass. So it also looked like a mirror. He saw himself as he looked at the map for directions.

Suddenly he saw the image of a woman too. There was a pretty woman looking at the same map. She stood behind him.

(Read Part 2 Next Week)

aderounmu@gmail.com