Sunday, 9 November 2008

Who Wants To Feel British?

There is a huge amount of fuss being kicked up about an interview of Dizzee Rascal by Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight the night of the American elections this year. I didn’t watch the interview so I cant comment on the detail of the conduct or tone of the interview. But it would appear that Paxman was his usual facetious self and Dizzee responded appropriately light hearted and unserious. Following a response by Baroness Scotland (it’s a wonder the number of Black people who are happy to don the robes of feudal imperialism) that a lot of Black youth do not have a sense of what it is to feel British; Paxman asked Dizzee whether he feels British. It appears Dizzee gave a rambling answer that said little and included a declared lack of interest in what goes on politically.

Some people have complained it was an unserious approach by the BBC to primetime coverage of a momentous event. Some Black people have indicated feelings of being let down and poorly represented by Dizzee. It appears on the one hand some fold think that an artiste like Dizzee is not an appropriate commentator for the BBC. Clearly they probably switched on expecting to see Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand showcasing the kind of good taste and high quality the BBC is so well renowned for. Puhleese!

I think some of us are taking our misconceptions too far. There is this completely apposite notion that the BBC is the epitome of quality broadcasting. This is a broadcaster whose head of radio could not see what could possibly be wrong in a public funded programmer allowing its staff to abuse and harass members of the public, and also broadcasting that abuse. The BBC claims to want to pay wages at market rates but feels no need to actually apply the standards of commercial broadcasting to itself. Its perpetually whining about continuing and increasing license funding but offers very little back that is in the public interest. It certainly does not hire people who understand what the public interest entails. This is an organisation that is unwieldy and lacking in both efficiency and innovation.

I cannot see why there is a call for Dizzee Rascal to represent Black people. I don’t want him representing me. I want him representing himself. And he does that very well. He is a smart and witty man who I thought gave a good enough account of himself. No one should expect any more than that of him. If you want to criticise someone for making Black people look bad. Take your pick of Baroness Scotland or Trevor Phillips. They fill that role so completely Dizzee would never get a look in.

And exactly what would I be wanting to feel British for. Has being British suddenly become synonymous with fairness, equality, justice, sincerity or social and cultural emancipation? Maybe these are the things we should value more. These are things I would want to be recognised for being known for. I think there is a slavish devotion amongst British politicians for having a citizenry that is mindlessly patriotic along the American lines. One of the most insufferable things about Americans is their notion that being American superseded being human. Yet the greatness of America is founded in the diversity of different cultures that live alongside each other in America. It is nothing to do with some kind of American homogeneity.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Time To Get Your Game On

It is starkly ironic that the election of the first ever Black president in America coincides with a period of economic tumult and questionable war campaign. Needless to say its likely that improving the lot of the Black person, or other minorities, in America may not be his top priority. However, the time for promises has passed and now is the time give back to all those young Black people who started this journey with him and have backed him fearlessly and resolutely. Its their future and destiny he now holds in his hands. There is no one else to point the finger of blame at.

The lot of Black people in America needs a huge amount of systemic change for marked improvement to be seen. Change in the educational, justice, health and economic systems. Obama has promised "change we can believe in". We have believed. Now we need change we can see and feel.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

The Fulfilment or Just Fulfilling

I guess I always knew I was going to have something to say about today. A truly momentous day for all Black Americans. It represents a crack in the door. A door that its firmly slammed shut exterior has seen more Black young men graduating from the prison system than from the educational system. Has seen Black women more marginalised and brutalised in their communities and the society than when they couldn't vote. It has been a time when Black people have identified leisure and entertainment as their best, and maybe only, path to financial security and a better life. Even though less than one percent of prospects go on to achieve a professional career in sports or in showbiz. So I can see why a lot of people see Barack Obama's succession to the presidency as the culmination of all the civil rights fights and the fulfilment of Martin Luther King's dream. But is it? Have we now finally overcome?

Saturday, 25 October 2008

An Economy for Us All

At the height of the early stages of the bank failures when Lehman Brothers and AIG went to the wall, I was amused by McCain’s attempt to buy time from coming up with a recovery strategy by hiding behind the government’s skirts. But I was even more bemused by Obama’s failure to come up with any economic recovery plan of his own. I thought there was a clear window of opportunity for someone to come up with aspirational recovery plan that would have resonated with “main street” while the rescue of Wall Street was being chewed over by all those fearful of the future of their big pay days.

I came away with the feeling that Obama wasn’t entirely bristling with ideas about how to handle the current crisis or the economy in general. He is very good at articulating the policy he has adopted. And he comes across very well and extremely media friendly when he makes his speeches. However, I always get the feeling there is just the ever so slight feeling that while he is very much almost pyrotechnically switched on; at times there might not be anyone in residence.

I was somewhat relieved to hear his benefits and tax break package. But I felt it took him a bit too long to outline it. He is lucky that McCain is still battling with adding up the huge numbers involved. He did always love a good war so I guess he's in the fight of his life now. His abacus must be smoking!

I really felt the recovery focus on banks is the kind of limited thinking that comes with a slavish devotion to capitalism and free market principles. It's as if the banks can stimulate spending and saving amongst the general populace. Let’s not forget that if the banks had the solution they wouldn't have gotten us into the mess in the first place. They started the reckless lending and then tried to recover by throwing their customers to the wolves by wholesale repossessing homes. That’s the banks idea of a solution. Overkill and customer exploitation.

A solution could have been to protect small and medium sized business, and then provide mortgage and credit relief to low income earners. There have been a lot of profitable and stable businesses that have been strangled by the withdrawal of credit facilities. Some of these would have continued to serve a much available market and make a sensible profit if the financing conditions had remained stable. The banks have withdrawn support to these businesses and watched them grind to a halt.

Given the amount of money that the government invested in the anti terror panic and now in shoring up the wobbly banks, it could have done more to help small businesses. Maybe set up a unit of business advisors to review the circumstances of those businesses struggling for credit lines. They could have checked which of them were viable and would be able to stay so after restoration of credit facilities and then make the banks offer them credit. After all, a huge some of public money is going into banks. They can hardly say no. Those businesses that were ideas that have turned out not to have solid market standing would just have to go to the wall. Self indulgence can’t be supported in these stringent times.

The government could have, and hopefully still might halt all repossessions of the homes of people who are in employment, or likely to return imminently to employment. The banks could either refinance them or give them a payment relief period while they attended debt management workshops. There would be very structured conditions for them receiving the relief. Any who refused to comply or defaulted would have to face the consequences of the economic downturn.

There are still a huge number hurdles to scale. I don't know whether the other side of this crisis is going to be a pleasant sight. It would be nice to have politicians who understood both the economy and the people that are its life blood. Not just the big financial

Wednesday, 22 October 2008


I guess I really am a cynic. I used to believe that the walkman was one of the modern eras most anti-social inventions. But I've had almost all incarnations of it so maybe I'm just a hypocrite. Well, of late I have become irritatingly more convinced that everyday backpacks are certainly a bane on humanity.

And yes, have owned a couple. One was a patent leather backpack. The other was a sports backpack that I have away at the first opportunity.You see people lurching around with backpacks strapped to their backs like they are jetpacks. They are completely oblivious of their surroundings. And they assume their backpacks are an extension of their bodies. Its no problem for them to bump, brush or batter unfortunates who wander into the radius of their backpack inhabited crushing zone.

So many people just don't care how there phantom baody part impinges on anyone else. I have come too the view that the English are just too inelegant. They lact any physical intuition. If you take half a look at them they are just a shambling stuttering mess. Thats why they are no good at anything that requires athletic expression. They are also terrible at driving. They just cant feel or relate to rhythm the vehicle. Anything that is mechanical or requires a repetitive skill is just the thing for them though.

I can understand that for heavy loads a backpack will come in handy. Thats what rucksacks are all about. But I have seen people who clearly were not being weighed down in any way. Except maybe by the overwhelming essence of their BO and bad breath. Thats certainly a knockout during the peak hour crush.

It makes me laugh when I see people with what are clearly empty backpacks on their backs. I mean, whats the point? Surely they can carry that in one hand. Why strap it to your back like some kind of life support pack. Its even worse when you see someone formally dressed in a suit and then on goes the backpack. Talk of common!

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Something To Move Me

Was just listening to 'Lost Without You' by Robin Thicke. Now thats how a love song should sound. Now am not saying he is a great singer. Cause he aint. Just that he nailed that song. Makes me think of other songs that hit me hard on first hearing.

  • 'Brandy' by the Ojays
  • 'If loving you is wrong' by Millie Jackson
  • 'Killing Me Softly' by Roberta Flack
  • 'Palava' by Fela Anikulapo-Kuti
  • 'Call My Heart Your Home' by Evan Rogers
  • 'Circles' by Atlantic Star
  • 'Straight From the Heart' by Confunkshun

Monday, 13 October 2008

The Decline of Hip Hop

Whatever happened to the days when hip hop was about the message, the streets and an ill flow? The days when you spent years honing your craft. Battling to establish your credibility. Hanging with your homies. Chronicling life in the hood.

Now we have the likes of Plies, Flo Rida and 50 Cent defaming the genre. No wonder Nas thinks Hip Hop is Dead. Its no longer about the music anymore. Now its strictly about the money. Its true what they say; " if it don't make money, it dont make sense".

Even the producers these days. See Timbaland oh! The guy will do anything for dough. Given the chance he would be trying to produce Celine Dion and Tom Jones. The dude is just doing it by numbers these days.

I have even tired for Missy Elliott. Its difficult to see any merit in any music she has come up with over them past few years. It seems she only does music so she can showcase her videos. Seems she would just quit music if she was no longer able to make promotional videos. She's gone from cutting edge to just cooky.

Jay-Z is gaining kudos but I have really been feeling his stuff. Maybe just '30 Something' and 'Roc Boyz'. He seems to be dialling it in these days. Maybe Beyonce is infecting him with the pop bug. Too much airy stuff.

I have been loving some of what Ghostface Killah's been doing. He tells it like he feels it. And the stories are always a blast.

Really haven't got too much time for Lil Wayne's nursery rhyming. He's just doing what a lot of others did 10 years ago with the popular culture referencing.

Hip hop has not just gotten dull and uninspired it is increasingly becoming irrelevant. It doesn't speak to issues or have any substance. Its become devoid of heart and soul, what used to be its two major selling points. The current auteurs of the genre just don't have either the light comedic touch or the gravitas to speak to the issues of our times. Even the violence they are accused of is all so very contrived. They are barely worth a mention compared to the streets, TV, books or the big screen. Nowadays they cant wait to get off the street, are desperate to get on any screen and cant read.

Bonuses and Pensions

So all these fat cats stand to earn a nice fat payoff after having caused a global economic meltdown? Strange life we live. Even stranger world we live it in. These people got it wrong and then compounded the error by not recognising it.

Its like that horse's ass Cressida Dick saying no one was to blame for shooting Jean Charles Menezes nine times in the head. And then cockily saying she would do it all over again. You can see why bankers have no integrity. Even the scoiety's guardians are unreliable self serving sods.

Well all these bankers should be paid off in bank shares. Let them benefit from the value they supposedly built up.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

How Far?

Sometimes I sit and wonder exactly how far can or should one go to achieve ones desires. I mean we all have goals, and all goals take some application and effort. Hence the '99% perspiration and 1% inspiration' principle. But how fo you judeg the lengths you should go to make things happen?

At work, is it right to take a lot of crap in order to get ahead. Or get head in some cases. lol! Not that I know about that. How much longer at work is it right to stay on after closing hours? Work represents a vehicle for almost all our adult aspirations. But how much do we or should we value it? Should we be prepared to work all out in our youth and reap the rewards later in life?

In our love lives how far should we go to pursue the "love of our lives"? Should we be prepared to love to the detriment of all? Should we prepared to shed blood to hold on to what we think is ours. How much more should we have to spend? Is that extra minute we squeeze in on the phone real value for the love returns we get? How about the times we travel to the far reaches of the earth just to spend moments with the one we love, or the ones we want? Or the risks we take to have that romantic time out? Can we truly justify or quantify them?

In love we seek to capture our dreams in the hug of an embrace. So a perspective might be that no sacrifice is too great. After all a successful relationship is the platform from which our forefathers believed all else took off from. So we should put our all into the pursuit and capture of the perfect mate. Or should we?

A lot of people consider sex the ultimate physical fulfillment. Or maybe thats just guys. I'll certainly be happy to listen to different takes on that. It is known that some men equate their virilty with their worth as human beings. So how far should we take sex? Both as a source of fulfillment and as a statement of our manhood. Is it right to engage in practices which can be tragic and/or fatal? Is there a justification for the recreational use of drugs like viagra and cialis? Or are these practices just the measure of how much value we place on the things that mean the most to us?

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Not So Free Market

So far it seems that governments have pumped at least a trillion dollars into ailing economies globally. I was brought up to be believe that market forces should always be left to balance themselves out.

Its amazing how much money is now being used to prop up global stock markets. I would have thought is stock fell then that essentially should represent its true value. After all supply and demand is the king of market. Some of the measures being taken seem to be intended to inflate the value of stocks that clearly have lost all market confidence. So where does that leave the market forces?

The US Treasury has declared its intention to make $700b available to buy up so called toxic debts from banks. Apparrently this will enable banks to get back to inter bank profiteering. Its a measure of how panicked everyone is that even the Democrats weren't able to come up with a responsible solution. I recognose that the action taken appears to be a solution of sorts. I just dont believe its the best or most socially responsible one.

Buying up the debts seems questionable to me. Why not just make loans available with the debts collateral. The banks can then refinance subject to their performance and cooperation with recovery measures. This way the banks dont just take the money and hold on to it until they feel their books are balancing or start setting exploitative rates.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Gender Grooves

I was listening to one of my fave jams, Could It Be by Jaheim;

and it reminded me of another of my fave jams by the same artiste, Put That Woman First;

And the thought crossed my mind, "what do I really think about women?" Do I have a value based perspective that is balanced and compassionate or have I been perverted and warped by my experiences of and with women. Or are my views driven by popular innuendo, stereotypes and prejudices. Or maybe they are based on my own selfish desires and determination to exploit.

Hmmmm. I'll let you know what I come up with.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008


What is happening to Naija sports? I as watching some Naija boxer (Durodola) the other day and I thought lets hope he does well. That was before I noticed he was up against a Cuban. I felt a little less buoyant about his chances but still wanted him to do well This guy had no business being around a boxing ring nevermind actually in one. He couldnt punch, had no defence and really was to sloppy. I have seen women flailing to better effect than him. Needless to say he scored no points in 4 rounds of boxing. He will probably be the only boxer in the whole Olympics to fail to score a single point.

I couldnt believe that he was actually the best we could offer. Either we have no talent in that weight category or we actually think that he was good enough. Thats just scary.

The silver medal won by the footballers was only a little redemption. We really are too selfish a people to even raise ourselves up. Officials live better than participants.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Time For a Change

Following on from my campaign for female ascendancy I had a discussion with my cousin's husband who pointed out that women have been equally questionable when thrust into public life in Nigeria. The Finance Minister during Obasanjo's first term was dogged by rumours of corruption. Not to talk of very questionable long term fiscal planning. Recently the female House of Reps leader was forced to stand down following some blatant contracting misdemeanours. And the Director of the Stock Exchange has recently been arrested on allegations of fraud. It's not quite known what the merits of the allegations are.

That said, I think none of that presents a credible case against some female leadership. But it does raise the issue of whether anyone can steer straight in such a sordid system as ours. So the key issue is not about whether an one group can do better but that any kind of change will do us some good.

Maybe that is what this should be; a campaign for change.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Time For The Women to Take Charge

Nigeria is by tradition a paternalistic society. And is also mostly chauvinistic, which might be a feature of the long tradition of male dominance. Or it might just be because there are a lot of decrepit males who want to live in the stone age. I'll leave you to work that one out.

However, it has become clear that after almost 50 years of independence the men really haven't got the will, the values or the ideas to really take the country to the next level. Politically there has been neither the morals nor the intellect to build a stable political system. Economically, we are still operating a cash economy that is overly dependent on a single natural resource. Socially the men are driving forward a culture of poverty and moral decadence. And as the Olympics have shown, in sports things are just getting worse for us.

So far the Olympics have seen us win 2 bronze medals and one silver medal. Both bronze medals were won by women. I think thats a striking achievement given how poor the rest of out sporting establishment seems to be. I am happy the efforts and dedication of the women really paid off. I can only imagine what they might have had to go through to commit themselves to their sports.

So its about time women stepped forward and took charge of the highest office in the land. At least a new perspective might not be better but at least it will be different. There has to hope for at least one sector of the Nigerian population. I say this more in hope than any certainty though.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Some Week

Its been some week that just passed. Bernie Mac died and then over the weekend Isaac Hayes drops dead next to his treadmill. Thats just cold. Its not as if other people haven't died but these two were trailblazers. I should have bought those Isaac Hayes CDs I was looking at earlier this year. Damn!

I know of a lot of people remember Bernie Mac from his film and TV work. But you should listen to his stand up. He was a genuinely humorous guy. I love the Original Kings of Comedy CD. They wrecked the stage on that tour.

And the Black Moses had soul locked down in the 70s. I can never get enough of the album Hot Buttered Soul. And I listened to the tracks 'The Look of Love' and 'Don't Let Go' some days ago and I really understood what the word evergreen means.

Here's to a couple of OGs! RIP. Evergreen memories.