JSS2

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The author in the first row in yellow

The following session, we were in JSS2. About 4 students had left the class and a similar number had replaced them. This was the norm in all the classes in the school with a few exceptions for SS2 and SS3. Our Principal once boasted that an entire set of students in a class could be expelled as a disciplinary measure and new set from outside the school would replace them. He was right. The standard of the school was so high and in demand that the college did not lack for want of applicants.
JSS2 came with its fair share of privileges and challenges. We were no longer required to clean up the mosque and pack mats after Islamiyyah but we still had to participate in room sanitation and clean up the hostel corridor. Sometimes, it was difficult to juggle room duties and sanitation duties as they were to take place within a few ten minutes of each other. Considerable overlaps were normal and in the end it was difficult to avoid trouble.
On the better side, we had to do these duties in groups and hardworking members could be helpful. Ahmed Njidda was popular for his exploits in this area. Tall, thin and a bit muscular he would single handedly sweep the corridor with a broom in each hand. Of course we were very fond of him as this meant we would have little to do. He was nicknamed the “Corridor machine”.
Academically, I had improved from 15th position to 11th position to a current position of 9th. Life in the hostel remained difficult because I was still a junior student, albeit with a new level of seniority. The JSS1 boys were our immediate younger brothers. We put them through the schedule of room organization and duty implementation but at the same time did the duty ourselves. Sometimes they would obey us and sometimes they would not. There was nothing much we could really do.
As a class we had become a more cohesive unit. Cliques had been formed and strata recognized. You had to arrive at the football pitch early to get a spot to play. Only special players like Hassan Dahiru and Salihi Abdullahi could arrive at any time.
During one integrated science class, our teacher explained to us the concept of human anatomy and attraction. The cheery woman hinted that she could facilitate and convey any interest to our female counterparts. As a matter of fact, she implored those who were thrilled to sign up. 2 students would later write love letters in secret and submit it to the teacher. The end story to this incident is imaginable. It marked a period of comical embarrassment for the 2 students which persists till this day.
On a personal note, I had grown taller, I had a new room head more chilled than the former, I loved to play football, I didn’t attempt any other sport and I was a frequent visitor of the library. In those days, the school awarded a monthly prize for the best library users. The prize was a long inch Nasco biscuit with a La casera drink. I didn’t need the prize to frequent the library but it provided an added incentive.
I read books like Nancy Drew, a bit of James Hardly Chase, John Grisham and biographies of different personalities. But I particularly connected with Malory Towers because it had a school setting which I could relive and empathize with.
I also fondly remember Adrian Mole written in the form of a diary. The book was melancholic and full of self-pity. A divorced British man, with an ex-wife that got married to a Nigerian and relocated to Nigeria. Adrian had a son with her. He could imagine the boy riding a bicycle on the dusty streets of Lagos. Sadly, I could not finish the reading as the book was seized by Brother Nura. We were not allowed to read Novels during prep.

Adaption of Abdulsalam Abdullahi’s memoir, ‘Recollection from not so long ago’.

INTERVIEW: DISABILITY AND THE LAW

The Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, 2018 was finally signed into law on the 23rd of January 2019 after years of persistent advocacy. Prior to the passage, a promising Lawyer shared personal views and experiences with regards to disability and the Law:

BACKGROUND
I’ve been called to the bar since 2009 so this is my 9th or 10th year at the bar. As part of the struggle with the profession and also in school, I had to run around after friends to get them to record for me. Then I used a recorder and a type writer. They had to read their notes and textbooks and then get me to listen to the recorded voices. Now it’s a bit tough too but Alhamdulillah with the aid of technology most the challenges have been surmounted. Now I don’t ask people to read the Law Reports to me.

With the aid of technology, I’m able to do virtually everything on my own. I can type and edit. I can print, I can read books myself just by scanning it and reading. So the technologies have really made life a lot easier.

SO WHAT WOULD YOU DESCRIBE AS YOUR FAVOURITE ASPECT OF LAW?
Environmental Law because one way or the other it deals directly with issues of disability. When you talk about how to make public or private buildings accessible, you know that has to do with the environment. For example, how to ensure that the road pavements are well laid out to avoid Injury to visually impaired persons.
I also love Civil litigation a lot. Currently, I am working on a matter where the Federal government of Nigeria sued shell for some oil pollution that happened 6 to 7 years ago.

WHY DO YOU DERIVE SATISFACTION FROM THESE AREAS?
At times you just feel fascinated by certain things and you may not be able to explain it. Maybe because of the nature of my person. Especially the aspect of environment because we physically challenged persons especially the people with visual impairment interact a lot with the environment. Is it the ears? It may interest you that if I’m walking alone and I get into a noisy environment. I would not be able to find my way again. So that’s why I derive so much interest in environmental related issues.

BUT WHAT ABOUT THE LEGAL PRACTICE? WHAT WOULD YOU SAY ARE YOUR MAJOR STRENGTHS?
The advantage I have over some of my colleagues is in the aspect of research. With the aid of the Law report device called Law Pavillion I’m able to research and write briefs. One major disadvantage is that many of my colleagues (even the boss) still doubt my ability to deliver despite the fact that they have seen some of my write ups. It also possible that they do not want to burden me with too much work. I don’t know but that is how I feel.

CAN YOU PLEASE GO INTO DETAIL ABOUT HOW PEOPLE LIKE YOU CAN LEVERAGE ON TECHNOLOGY IN PRACTICE?
It depends on the exposure. Many of our physically challenged persons are not exposed to this kind of technology so whenever you tell them about it, they are not interested and they feel it would be difficult for them to understand. Then for those that are already exposed, they also need to need to create time to learn. Because you have to learn and relearn. A major problem I think some of us encounter is the issue of finance. Some of these things are very expensive.
There’s this particular device I’ve been trying to get for the past 3 years. It’s called brain note touch. With that device I’m able to interact with you. I’ll be reading braille on the screen while you can be looking at the print copy as well on a different screen. So it produces both braille and electronic format of documents at the same time. A 32 braille display brain note touch goes for about $ 5,500.
There’s another one called Job access with Speech (JAWS). It reads whatever is on the screen to you. Then there’s one called open book. That’s the one that works with a scanner. The Scanner Scans the document with the use of OCR (Optical Character Recognition). It converts it to a readable format for people like us.

BUT HOW WOULD YOU ADVICE LAW FIRMS IN GENERAL TO LEVERAGE ON TECHNOLOGY
Law firms should endeavor to load their files are online in concurrence with this innovation by the current CJN, Onnoghen that Court processes should be electronically filed. I think they’ve started at the Supreme Court but I don’t know how far they’ve gone. In effect, if I produce a brief now or a written address, I would go to the Supreme Court’s site for instance where we pay all the necessary things you need to pay and it will be deemed filed. So all you need to do is to send it to the Lawyer on the other side and that would mean that the other Lawyer has been served.
You send it to Court first, and then a soft copy of that would be sent to the Lawyer on the other side. They’ve already advised Lawyers to key into one Particular e-mail that they would create in your name and office. So you get the email address and send it as it is deemed served.
So if they are able to go on with that and strengthen it, it would go a long way to help people like us. Meaning that I don’t have to get processes scanned before I can read.

WHAT ABOUT ADVOCACY? WHAT’S YOUR EXPERIENCE?
I go to court. One major challenge I do encounter in Court is reading a particular section of the Law or Judgement . For instance, if the Judge asks you “Please can you read so and so?”, I would have to ask somebody to do that for me. But with that Brain note touch device I told you about, I’ll just tap and read it in Braille. Every other aspect of advocacy had been really fine.

ARE YOU A MEMBER OF ANY VOLUNTEER GROUP?
Naturally, I am a member of the Nigerian Association of the blind which is a cluster of a Larger Association for persons with disabilities. As part of the Corporate Social Responsibility, The Nigerian Association of the blind FCT Chapter is trying to raise funds for the School of the blind in Jabi to help with writing materials and all that.

WHAT ABOUT PERSONAL LIFE TOO. HOW HAS IT BEEN?
You know in this part of the world, it’s all about attitude. Before I got married, I know the number of times I tried to get married to some ladies and before you know it the relationship stops abruptly. Perhaps due to the refusal of their parents to give consent. It was really tough.
But Alhamdulillah, I was able to perhaps get my own woman. It took about 6years to get my own wife. Also, the aspect of cooking was a bit difficult. When I tried once or twice, I burnt my fingers and stopped. I only got back to cooking when I went for my masters. It was easier because they provided electric cookers and microwaves which made it easier to cook.
Mobility is also a challenge. Especially the fact that our people don’t take into consideration the needs of people with disability whenever they are laying out their routes. The walkway here makes it easier for me to find my way but even at that some people would park on it and some miscreants would remove what you call the manhole. So at times you fall into the gutter.

BUT YOU DO DEFINITELY GET SYMPATHY AND GOODWILL FROM TIME TO TIME. FOR EXAMPLE, YOU GOT A SPONSORSHIP FROM YOUR PRINCIPAL (MALLAM) TO THE UNIVERSITY OF ABERDEEN.
Yes. Actually what happened was that when I applied for the first time for my Masters, I got admission but due to financial issues I couldn’t proceed. After two further unsuccessful attempts, Mallam suggested that we inform a notable State politician from my Local Government. The politician promised to do something but when the time came to pay the tuition he was not forthcoming.
So mallam and I agreed that he pays the money and I would pay him back if I got the money from the man. I don’t know if the politician fulfilled his promise or not but in effect you can say I got a scholarship from mallam.

WHAT THE LAW SHOULD BE?
Law in Nigeria is static. It is not evolving. Perhaps due to the nature and caliber of people we have at the National Assembly, some Laws should have been long amended. For example, CAMA and the Police Act.
There is a Provision of the Law in CAMA that states that if a company is owing you 2000 Naira and is unable to pay or refuses to pay, you can proceed to court for a winding up procedure. There are some other provisions on sanctions that stipulate 50kobo or 1 Naira. The Amount should be in the range of Hundreds of Thousands.
The power in the Police is just too centralized at the middle. In a country like Nigeria we need decentralization and that is why I’m in support of the clamour for restructuring. The situation in Kaduna is not the same situation in Lagos. You need people from the specific area that know the topography of that area to be able to deal with the security issues in that area.

ON GOVERNMENT?
I am not a fan of democracy. My own understanding of government is the citizens. Once the Citizens are able to get the basic necessity of life, once they are happy with the government whether it is democratic or military or whatever….. Like what we had in Libya during Gadhafi (then fine). Yes he was a military ruler. Some people termed him despotic but his citizens where enjoying. They removed the man in the name of democracy. Now go to Libya – no peace. And of course there are some countries that are doing well. Maybe because they have been practicing that for long. People should determine the kind of system that suits them.

ENDING BIO
My name is Kazeem Olalekan Lawal. I am a Lawyer in Abuja. I belong to a family of eight. My dad is late so we are now 7. I got blind as early as a child of 4 years and since then I’ve been struggling with life. I use the word struggle because in this part of the world, once you are suffering from one disability or the other, it is a struggle or better put it a battle.

FELA ON 30TH SEPTEMBER AND A FEW VIEWS

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Fela. The larger than life was in his early 50’s in 1990 and in his final decade.

A view of his live performance on 30th September 1990, gives the sense is of eclectic euphoria. The sound is one of clashing sounds arousing different emotions. The sounds would go classical, spiritual and even traditional.

 

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After his return from studies in England, a young Fela started work at the Nigerian radio cooperation. Married with two kids, Yeni narrates that his mother was still the breadwinner of the family at the time. His mum would lament “This one that you are always begging me for money why don’t you go and play highlife or something”. Fela claims that it was at that time that he got the idea to fuse African music into his jazz style music.

 

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Paying a heavy price for musical activism, he was a major proponent of the African identity.

“Yes in England you can sing about love and who you are going to bed with next….. But in my own environment, my society is under developing because of an alien system on our people. So there is no music for enjoyment, there is nothing like love. There is only a struggle for people’s existence.  So as an artist politically and artistically the whole idea about your environment must be represented in the Arts”.

This represented the very core of his musical existence, that Art must represent your surroundings. It should be able to mark time, place and events. And indeed the break came in 1971 with Jeun Koku a hit song and many more songs after that. It was a well-earned reward for perseverance and trust in the creative process as fusing different genres of music was no mean feat. “I lost a lot of crowd during that period but I still kept going,” says Fela.

A glimpse into his earlier days shows nothing too significant. “In our university days, we would host parties and the girlfriends would cook…. He thought politics was a pure waste of time until he found his satori” says Wole Soyinka a Nobel laureate who happens to be his cousin. Soyinka did, however, criticize his blindfold stance to Pan- Africanism. To him, it was absolutely naïve to sympathize with Idi Amin despite his human rights record.

 

FELA AND MEDICINE

Fela would not touch pharmaceutical manufactured medicine. To him, African indigenous medicine was of a “higher wavelength” when compared to western medicine. Fela would later die of AIDS at the age of 58 and his death would become a major reference point for AIDS awareness in Nigeria.

Critics have cited his death as a flaw in his argument for indigenous medicine. However, it is tempting to ask what the case would have been if he had lived until the ripe old age of 89, as many had done without any attestation to modern medicine. Wouldn’t he have proved his point? He died of an illness that even modern medicine could not cure (but can prevent). His was a classic case of an experiment unsuccessful on the balance of probabilities.

 

FELA AND SANKARA

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Fela’s friendship with Thomas Sankara is also of worthy note.  A critic of presidents and leaders all over the world, he would forge a friendship with Thomas Sankara, a one-time commander in chief of Burkina Faso. Theirs was a friendship of leftists and idealists that commanded the awe of the anti-establishment. Sadly, the friendship would not last 24 months.

As Fela was still basking in the glory of prison release in 1987, Sankara was overthrown and eventually killed by his best friend and second in command. He died on October 15th – Fela’s birthday.

 

FELA AND EDUCATION

 

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Femi Kuti

 

 

Fela didn’t believe in formal education. He did not actively support his children’s education. He encouraged his first son Femi to drop out of school. This was perhaps ironical for someone who had gotten quality education on a platter of gold. His grouse could be attributed to his dislike for academic pressures and rigour.

But he did have a point. Maybe formal education is not a prerequisite for success. Maybe formal education denies you the ability and time to explore your innate qualities and primal inclinations. Today, Femi his son is a very successful Artiste well read and well versed in the ways of the world.

Contrastingly, Femi disagrees, “I could have ended up anywhere” he stated. As far as he is concerned it was an unworthy gamble which he cannot guarantee that everyone can get away with. He has decided to make sure that all his kids go to school.

 

ENDING

On the occasion of a Fela album launch on the eve of Nigeria’s Independence Day celebration in 1990, Femi Falana, his young lawyer lambasted the government for its inability stop the dwindling value of the Naira. The lawyer jovially suggested that perhaps a recolonization of Nigeria will be necessary.

But that in itself is subject to another debate.

 

 

Abdulsalam Abdullahi is a student at the Nigerian Law school. You can follow him on Twitter @shakaabdul

 

LONG WALK TO FREEDOM A SHORT SUMMARY OF THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF NELSON MANDELA

MANDELA PIC

Before reading the book, one got the perception of a media portrayed saint- calm and statesmanlike.   And not much of that image got dispelled by the end of the last chapter although a certain stubbornness and independent will power did seem to shine.

South Africa as known today has been the subject of vested interests for the past centuries back. Battles have been waged to ensure the control and possession of vital sea routes and fertile lands for habitation. Nelson Mandela has inadvertently become the face of this country and for a man who spent 27 years in jail, quite deservedly so. To his credit, he makes it a point to mention and emphasize the role of fellow comrades in a fair and detached manner, except for quite a few. There seemed to be a certain glow when the name Walter Sisulu was mentioned.

The book begins with a romantic description of an early childhood. Staple diets, simple clothing, playing by the river and a simple mat to sleep as the norm of the day. The vivid description gives an inkling to the stereotypical African village beginning of many movies today. The pride in royal lineage could also not be disguised.

Justice’s father, a chief, decided to pay back a favour to Madiba’s family by adopting him.  It was in his court that he developed his distinct leadership style. He likened leadership to that of a sheep and a shepherd. The shepherd leads from behind subtly guiding the sheep without the sheep knowing it is being led. An anti-paternalistic method that endeared him to many.

The book did not fail to point out humorous and embarrassing incidents in his younger days. He had feeble attempts at wooing women and his suits were so patched up he didn’t want an old friend he saw from afar to recognize him.

He struggled to combine his education and a job – a consequence of running away from home.

 

OBAMA’S VISIT TO AFRICA; RECOLLECTIONS

OBAMA’S VISIT TO AFRICA; RECOLLECTIONS

413383_Obama-Africa-Kenya.JPEG-0e8The month of July has been a momentous period for African history. For the very first time, an American president of African descent paid an official visit to the eastern part of the continent, addressed the African Union and enjoyed a home coming.
Amid all joys and fanfare in Kenya, where both presidents of America and Kenya where at  their charismatic best, the issue of same sex marriage was certain to be discussed and onlookers watched on with keen interest. Despite urges and pleas from many Kenyan leaders for President Obama not to advocate for gay rights.President Obama refused to their warnings.

While Mr.Obama chose to be quite succinct on the issue, President Kenyatta of Kenya courteously opposed his views by describing it as a “Non-Issue” for Kenyans. “The fact of the matter is that Kenya, the United  States, we share  so many values, but there are some things we must admit we don’t share- our culture, our societies don’t accept” President Kenyatta explained. Even though one could discern that Mr.Kenyatta seemed to represent the views of the Kenyan mainstream, there seemed to be some form of acknowledgement of opinions from both sides. The American president also cited his concerns on human rights abuses and corruption in Kenya, viewing it as a major obstacle to the development of Kenya.

Similarly, in Addis Ababa, Mr.Obama was blunt in his African Union address. His apple of discord,African leaders’  “sit tight syndrome”.
“Africa’s democratic process is also at risk when leaders refuse to step aside when their terms end” He stated, in a rousing speech that drew rounds of applause from the audience. The president singled out Pierre Nkurunziza, President of Burundi, a central African nation where the president’s third term bid sparked weeks of unrest. To further emphasize this blunt approach,President Obama took a swipe at the dissenting factions in South Sudan,

“In South Sudan, the joy of independence has descended in the despair of violence. Neither Salva Kiir nor Riek Machar have shown any interest so far in sparing their people from this suffering or in reaching a political situation” he said.

Studying the American President’s daring exploits on his visit to Africa, one wonders – why the African audience took it in stride?
Analysts observe that president Obama’s rhetoric on Africa’s social vices, as an American president, would have been viewed by Africans as condescending. However, his ability to present himself as an American president connected to the African cause earned him leeway.

For example he decided to address the issue of gay rights knowing very well the mainstream African consensus on such matters. Despite this,some in the African mainstream seem to understand and respect his position on the matter.
“You know, we took him as an American. He was answering like an American, but according to our African cultures, the Christian beliefs – we say no” explains Ibrahim Lincoln, a Nairobi resident
A second reason could be because he hit at the very heart of Africa’s most pressing issues. As explained by UN worker from Zimbabwe “He touched on all challenges for Africa like the importance of good governance, the fact that this trend of leaders staying in power cannot continue”
Perhaps, it could also be because he,(President Obama) occupies the world’s most powerful office as explained by an Addis Ababa university student “Coming from him, it gives these issues a lot more weight”.
In June 2015, a poll by Richard Wike, a director of global attitudes research at pew research centre scored Obama’s ratings in sub-Saharan Africa as “overwhelmingly positive”.
For these reasons,one can deduce that the American president is a respected figure on the African continent. Obama’s message on his visit this time seems to resonate more with the African populace, particularly with the younger demographic As he hands over the reins of office in 18 months, it is evident that he has cemented his place in the annals of African history. What remains to be seen is the role Obama will choose to play in helping Africa’s evolving democracies after serving as the president of the United States.

Abdulsalam Abdullahi is a law student at the University of Hull. He is also president of its Nelson Mandela society. Follow him on twitter @Shakaabdul

Abdulzazzau72@hotmail.co.uk

The Strange Library, by Haruki Murakami

Library romantics

Blogging for a Good Book

strange libraryA young boy finds himself trapped in a bizarre library with a sheep man and a mysterious girl in Haruki Murakami’s illustrated short novel, The Strange Library.

His journey begins with a trip to his local library to return two books: How to Build a Submarine and Memoirs of a Shepherd. He tells the librarian that he’s also looking for some books, and she directs him to Room 107, located in the library’s basement. When he reaches Room 107, he encounters a cantankerous old man sitting behind a desk. He impulsively tells the older man that he’s looking for books on tax collection in the Ottoman Empire, and he’s presented with three books: The Ottoman Tax System, The Diary of an Ottoman Tax Collector, and Tax Revolts and their Suppression in the Ottoman-Turkish Empire.

The boy plans to check out the books and leave the…

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