Archive for February, 2012


February 29, 2012



We waited for 17 years to have baby –Parents of quadruplets
February 14, 2012 by Bukola Adebayo
The quadruplet and their parents

The saying that “a patient dog eats the fattest bone,” could be used to describe the experience of a couple, Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Olayiwola, who on Thursday had a set of quadruplets at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi- Araba, after 17 years of marriage without a child.

Narrating her experience, Victoria, a business woman, said on the advice of her husband, she stopped trading about three years ago so that she could devote more time for proper medical consultation.

“Words cannot describe how I felt when I found out we would have quadruplets. I am elated, the delivery was short and my babies are fine. I am thankful to God,” Victoria said.

She said she got married on March 4, 1995, and after 15 years of visiting several private hospitals in her quest to have a baby, the couple planned to seek help in a United Kingdom hospital.

But Victoria said before they could perfect their plan, they were referred to specialists in LUTH in 2010.

“We had already secured Visas to go for medical examinations abroad because we had been to several hospitals in the country but when we came to LUTH, they reassured us that they could equally provide the medical services we were going to get abroad,” she said.

She called on the Federal Government to equip its hospitals and also provide adequate infrastructure, adding that poor medical facilities would discourage people from patronising government hospitals.

She said, “We have the experts and specialists. In fact, our doctors are the best abroad. But we are worried about electricity because we know that most of the medical equipment will require electricity to work.

“I urge the government to encourage Nigerians to patronise our hospitals by equipping them with infrastructure that our medical personnel will need.”

The babies who are presently at the neo-natal ward of the hospital were delivered through elective Caesarean Section, which lasted between 10.42 pm and 10.49 pm on Thursday.

The babies are the first set of quadruplets to be born at the hospital this year.

The 42-year-old mother of three girls and a boy told Metro at the Ward-C 2 of the hospital on Monday that the babies were enjoying adequate medical care at the hospital.

The head, Public Relations Department of the hospital, Mrs. Hope Nwakolo, said the babies weighed 2.2 kg, 1.85 kg, 1.75 kg and 2kg respectively at birth and were born prematurely at a gestational period of 35 weeks.

Nwakolo said the babies had good chances of surviving due to their healthy weights at birth in addition to the well-equipped paediatric ward and experts who had been attending to them and their mother.

Meanwhile, the elated father of the babies, Mr. Segun Olayiwola, who is the General Overseer of the Living God Preparatory Assembly, Abule-Egba, Lagos, said he was financially capable of providing for the babies but would welcome support from interested Nigerians, governments and organisations.

Olayiwola said, “I waited for this long because I had trust in God. The ultrasound initially revealed three babies which we had always wanted but two weeks later, one of the eggs broke and we were told to prepare for four babies. I was compensated with four babies at a time after 17 years.”

The 48- year-old father advised childless couples to be firm in their faith, seek medical assistance early and also protect their spouses from victimisation from families and friends.

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I was called a fool, when I celebrated my 40th birthday without having children
On February 19, 2012 · In Just Human
10:25 pm

By Sola Ogundipe & Chioma Obinna
Such was the powerful rendition of the entire Psalm 30 by Pastor (Mrs) Victoria Olayemi, mother of Nigeria’s newest set of quadruplets.

Victoria’s voice rang out stridently and was reechoed across the function hall of the Visitors’ Lodge of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, Idi Araba, where the event held. She was joined by her husband, Samuel Olayiwola, also an ordained Minister of God and dozens of well happy family members, friends and wishers.

Pastor Samuel Olayiwola, who became father of quadruplets 17 years after marriage

It was a voice of thanks, delight and appreciation for the Almighty God who had given her the most wonderful gift on earth – the gift of motherhood, not once, not twice, not even thrice, but four times over! Victoria, an ordained Minister of God was the joyous mother of a healthy set of quadruplets, whose birth, once and-for-all removed her reproach and restored her life to her hope.

Although the famous Psalm had originally been given as a psalm and song of thanksgiving for deliverance from death at the dedication of the house of the biblical King David, it was no less appropriate at the christening of the Olayemi quadruplets. The babies, three females and one male were born at the LUTH on Thursday last week through Caesarean Section.
They were born premature at 35 weeks of gestation. At birth, they weighed 2.02 kg, 1.85kg, 1.75 kg and 2.02 kg. Since their birth, the Olayiwola quadruplets have been in the news, not just because they are the third set of quadruplets delivered at the health institution within the last two years, but because their birth had been foretold at the time their parents got married,17 years ago.

Indeed all roads led to the Visitors’ Lodge of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, Idi Araba, Lagos, as they were christened amidst pomp. With songs of praises, dancing and prayers, family members, well-wishers and worshipers from the Living God Preparatory Assembly, Abule -Egba, Lagos. In a short sermon, Rev. Amos Kayode of the Creative World Chapel, Ikeja, described the successful birth of the quadruplets as an uncommon miracle and manifestation of the promise of God.

He admonished Nigerians never to give up or lose faith in the power and ability of God even in the face of the greatest odds. “It is a lifetime privilege for us to be present here today, because many of us may never witness this kind of miraculous event again in our lifetime. My heart is full of thanksgiving and even the heavens recognise the uniqueness of this occasion,” he declared.

During the event, Olayiwola told Saturday Vanguard that he was the happiest man alive. “God has rolled away the reproach and I just want everyone to realise one thing. Those that love you in this world are far more than those that hate you. Many people consider hatred so much, but I say unto you, do not consider hatred. People do not want me to make noise, they say that is probably what caused me and my wife not to have children yet, is because we made noise on our wedding because but I say no. If I do not make noise now, when will I do so? Just look at the children, they came with total noise. I never allow my. As you are rejoicing with us, please continue to thank God on our behalf. That is the much you can do for us. Thank you for your love.”

Olayiwola, who vowed that his children would grow up to serve God, however said his immediate plan is to care for them grow up soundly, physically and spiritually. “I come from a poor background, and being educated has helped me in life, so their education will be priority and I will ensure they have the best possible. They will serve God, and I want them to be unique in society. I will inculcate in them qualities that are different from the worldly spirit of today.

“I picked Samuel and Olusegun because those two names have been working wonders for me. Jesus said in John 16: 33, that in this world there will be tribulation, but he has overcome the world. That works for me. Whenever I have a problem I declare this promise. God has won wars for me, that name has been working for so my child shall also be empowered even if there are wars ahead. I gave the others Ebunoluwa, Omotola and Oluwabunmi.”

His uncle, Pastor Samuel Akingbile of the C.A.C, Agege DCC, also recounted the travails of the couple in their search for the fruit of the womb. “His (Samuel’s) mother was my sister, the first born of our family. I brought them up and trained them. They were brought up in CAC, married in 1995; I was there, in Ibadan. When we came to Lagos and after the firsts few years, nothing happened, his mother called me and asked what we were going to do.

“Well I said there wasn’t anything we were going to do, but the will of God. At that time, he himself had been ordained a pastor, and in the church it is forbidden to leave his wife or marry another, all attempts were made to, I upheld him in prayer. Even now it is accepted that marriage without children is not biblical. Marriage is not just for children, but also companionship and if the children come in it is good. I made them realize God would always be God.”

Rev. Amos Kayode, of the Creative World Chapel, 5, Tajudeen Ajorin Street, Ikeja, is the bosom friend of Pastor Samuel Olayiwola, father of the quadruplets. In this interview, he tells of the couple’s challenge and how they overcame.

I was ready to give him one of my children

How long have you known them?

It’s quite long. It is like growing up together, we are not really quiet close at that time.

Did you know them even before they got married?

No, I will say we have not been very close at that time because at that time he went to University of Ibadan, UI, and I went to Abuja University.

Were you aware of their challenge?

Yes. I got married a year before him. Two of my children are already in the university. You know it has always been a pain on my heart. Anytime I come across them, I feel their pain. You know, he is my bosom friend even though we refer to ourselves as uncommon friends. He’s always been there for me and I have always been there for me. He is a very interesting, straightforward and honest person. A man of integrity. I did not come into the ministry from the scratch. I was already in the academic environment.

From left (standing) is Revd Amos Kayode, Uncle to the quadruplets’s father, Pastor Samuel Akingbile of CAC, Agege DCC; Mrs Victoria Olayiwola (quad mother) and Pastor Samuel Olayiwola (father) durin the naming ceremony at LUTH

I was lecturing in the university and he was directly in the ministry. Then, when we got to know ourselves very well, there were a lot of challenges. It is then I got to know he has this challenge. He loves my children to the point that you will not believe they are not his biological children. I have three children. When they heard about this, they were all shouting on him on the phone. They were very happy. He has been a wonderful person to me.

The first time I was to fly out on ministerial opportunity, though I have travelled out during my academic period, you will not believe he was the person that was supposed to go but he could not make and he said my friend you should go. He told me that I should just make myself available. And I was not having money then, but he told me that I will get money in Jesus name. Eventually I travelled out and I came back. I decided to tell him that we just have to make a move. Since that time there have been so much happenings.

So, when this one happened, though we’ve been together in it. We have been together finding solutions to the problem. When it now happened we were finding a way to fly her abroad. We consulted so many of my friends who were doctors who can help.

All through that time what was the problem?

Incidentally, there was no problem. The usual things you hear, is that you need some things and all that. You know, I am a scientist. Sometimes you have reasons why some things happen. They were married as virgins. There are people who can confirm it today. It is not as if something was wrong with them or somebody did something. I contacted some of my friends who were doctors in South Africa and we were able to secure a hospital where she could go abroad. But by the time the paper came out she was already due. The problem we have in Nigeria is facility problem. The moment I heard that this thing now happened, I said God you are awesome. I preached in his church last Sunday. I and his wife were very close. At a point, it became a reproach. He was shedding tears. When everyone abandoned him, I said no, a friend in need is a friend indeed. I was there for him. In fact, it got to a point that if he wanted me to give him one of my children, I would have done that. He is very open handed money wise. I believe you will know him more. You can never know that he has masters in economics from UI since 1989. He is a humble person.

Was there a time there was pressure to look for alternative?

For me, I didn’t feel that and I did not subscribe for that. For me, when I was about getting married, I told myself, as I pick this person, I have picked her for life and death. It depends on who dies first, but I said whether we have children or not, that should not put us asunder. In Africa, there is stigma when you don’t have but outside the world, you may decide not to have. As I am talking to you know, the only thing I was tempted to present to him was a statement accredited to one other friend who said, why don’t you tell you friend to adopt a child? And when he told me this I looked at it, then one other day, when we were now talking, I said to him, look at what this person said, that why don’t you adopt a child? And I said well, I am thinking about it.

He just looked at me
and said, God knows why and he knows that one day He will do something. Eventually, I didn’t subscribe to that. It takes two people to agree to that. I was considering the wife as well even then. I have no problem with him. I just named a baby a member of my church just adopted. She has been looking for a girl but has boys. I told her, why will she want to kill her self because a girl? So it is not a crime to adopt. Sure enough, there were times they have a little bit pressure. Sometimes, you know as men, there are times we have issues with our wives and they will say we are not caring even when we are caring. I will tell them to exercise patient. And I thank God that at the end of the day, it has come to pass.

But he made mention of something four years ago, he said to me friend God wants to give me children. He will start from four upwards. So it was not funny to me when it now happened that the scan said it was four.

And the parents of the wife are all abroad and that is why they wanted her to come over. They are covenant children.”


Showing 5 comments


HalleluJah, our God that makes impossible possible, please receive your glory
1 week ago

As it was in Bible times when God allowed his servants such as Abraham and Zechariah to go childless for a long time of their lives, God is still doing same today. It is a test of the faith of his servants. When the captivity of the children of Israel was tuned around, they were like people dreaming. I want to believe when her menses did not flow and she was confirmed pregnant, she may have thought it was a dream. I thank God for this wonderful couple for their faith in God that did not make them succumb to suggestions that may have made them belittle God. The Bible says “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength……………”All who mocked at them are now forced to swallow their mockery four times at a go. Only the awesome God Jehovah that can do such things. To God be all the glory for this world shaking miracle He has done and hearty congratulations to the blessed couple.
1 week ago

1 week ago

God is indeed a very great God.
If any man can trust God faithfully and wait on Him. Just like Abraham, Fod will bless him and cause laughter to reign among his congregation.
God is indeed faithful…
Cast your cares on Him, for He cares for you… Amen
1 week ago

Haleluia. To God be all the glory. I am very happy for the family, and wish them well.


February 26, 2012

Mahalia Jackson
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New Orleans, United States
Mahalia Jackson (1911–1972 ) was a U.S. gospel singer, widely regarded as the best in the history of the genre.

Born on 26th October 1911, Jackson grew up in the “Black Pearl” section of the Carrollton neighbourhood of uptown New Orleans, Louisiana, and began singing in a Baptist church. In 1927 she moved to Chicago, Illinois, where she sang with the johnson brothers, one of the earliest professional gospel groups.

The Johnson Brothers broke up in the mid-1930s, and Jackson began her solo career, recording for Decca in 1937. The result, “God’s Gonna Separate the Wheat from the Tares”, was only a moderate success, but Jackson became a popular concert draw. She didn’t record again untill 1946, when she signed with Apollo Records, releasing several singles that are now highly regarded, though sales were sluggish at the time. “Move On up a Little Higher” (1948) became a huge success, however, and stores could not stock enough of it to meet demand. Jackson rocketed to fame in the U.S. and soon afterwards in Europe. “I Can Put My Trust in Jesus” won a prize from the French Academy, and “Silent Night” was one of the best-selling singles in the history of Norway. She began a radio series on CBS and signed to Columbia Records in 1954. With her mainstream success came an inevitable backlash from gospel purists who felt she had watered down her sound for popular accessibility.


February 26, 2012



Malcolm X
“There was two kind of slaves. There was the house negro and the field negro. The house negro, they lived in the house, with master. They
dressed pretty good. They ate good, cause they ate his food, what he left.
They lived in the attic or the basement, but still they lived near their
master, and they loved their master, more than their master loved
himself. They would give their life to save their masters house quicker
than their master would. The house negro, if the master said “we got a
good house here” the house negro say “yeah, we got a good house here”.
Whenever the master would said we, he’d say we. That’s how you can
tell a house negro. If the master’s house caught on fire, the house negro
would fight harder to put the blaze out than the master would. If the
master got sick, the house negro would say “What’s the matter, boss, we
sick?” We sick! He identified himself with his master, more than the
master identified with himself. And if you came to the house negro and
said “Let’s run away, Let’s escape, Let’s separate” the house negro would
look at you and say “Man, you crazy. What you mean separate? Where
is there a better house than this? Where can I wear better clothes than
this? Where can I eat better food than this?” There was that house
negro. In those days, he was called a house nigger. And that’s what we
call him today, because we still got some house niggers runnin around
here. This modern house negro loves his master. He wants to live near
him. He’ll pay three times as much as the house is worth just to live near
his master, and then brag about “I’m the only negro out here. I’m the
only one on my job. I’m the only one in this school.” “You’re nothing but
a house negro. And if someone come to you right now and say “Let’s
separate.”, you say the same thing that the house negro said on the
plantation. “What you mean separate? From America? This good white
land? Where you gonna get a better job than you get here? I mean, this
is what you say! “I di-I ain’t left nothing in Africa” That’s what you say.
“Why, you left your mind in Africa”. On that same plantation, there was
the field negro. The field negro, those were the masses. There was
always more negros in the field as there were negros in the house. There
negro in the field caught hell. He ate leftovers. In the house, they ate
high up on the hog. The negro in the field didn’t get nothing but what
was left in the insides of the hog. They call them chit’lins nowaday. In
those days, they called them what they were, guts! That’s what you
were, a guteater. And some of you are still guteaters. The field negro
was beaten, from morning til night. He lived in a shack, in a hut. He
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wore cast-off clothes. He hated his master. I say, he hated his master. He was intelligent. That house negro loved his master. But that field negro, remember, they were in the majority, and they hated their master. When the house caught on fire, he didn’t try to put it out, that
field negro prayed for a wind. For a breeze. When the master got sick, the field negro prayed that he died. If someone come to the field negro and said “Let’s separate, let’s run.” He didn’t say “Where we going?” he
said “Any place is better than here”. We got field negros in America
today. I’m a field negro.


February 24, 2012

Book cover

Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday, February 24, 2012


February 24, 2012


Malcolm X: Brothers and sisters, I am here to tell you that I charge the white man. I charge the white man with being the greatest murderer on earth. I charge the white man with being the greatest kidnapper on earth. There is no place in this world that this man can go and say he created peace and harmony. Everywhere he’s gone he’s created havoc. Everywhere he’s gone he’s created destruction. So I charge him. I charge him with being the greates kidnapper on this earth! I charge him with being the greatest murderer on this earth! I charge him with being the greatest robber and enslaver on this earth! I charge the white man with being the greatest swine-eater on this earth. The greatest drunkard on this earth! He can’t deny the charges! You can’t deny the charges! We’re the living proof *of* those charges! You and I are the proof. You’re not an American, you are the victim of America. You didn’t have a choice coming over here. He didn’t say, “Black man, black woman, come on over and help me build America”. He said, “Nigger, get down in the bottom of that boat and I’m taking you over there to help me build America”. Being born here does not make you an American. I am not an American, you are not an American. You are one of the 22 million black people who are the *victims* of America. You and I, we’ve never see nany democracy. We didn’t see any… democracy on the-the cotton fields of Georgia, wasn’t no democracy down there. We didn’t see any democracy. We didn’t see any democracy on the streets of Harlem or on the streets of Brooklyn or on the streets of Detroit or Chicago. Ain’t no democracy down there. No, we’ve never seem democracy! All we’ve seen is hypocrisy! We don’t see any American Dream. We’ve experienced only the American Nightmare!
Crowd: [shouting] Malcolm! Malcolm! We want Malcolm! We want Malcolm!
Malcolm X: You are not an American, you are the victim of America!


Malcolm X on Wealth of Africa
Excerpt from a speech given by Malcolm X at the University of Ghana, 13 May 1964

I intend for my talk to be very informal, because our position in America is an informal position, [Laughter] and I find that it is very difficult to use formal terms to describe a very informal position. No condition of any people on earth is more deplorable than the condition, or plight, of the twenty-two million Black people in America. And our condition is so deplorable because we are in a country that professes to be a democracy and professes to be striving to give justice and freedom and equality to everyone who is born under its constitution. If we were born in South Africa or in Angola or some part of this earth where they don’t profess to be for freedom,1 that would be another thing; but when we are born in a country that stands up and represents itself as the leader of the Free World, and you still have to beg and crawl just to get a chance to drink a cup of coffee, then the condition is very deplorable indeed.
‘A victim of Americanism’

So tonight, so that you will understand me and why I speak as I do, it should probably be pointed out at the outset that I am not a politician. I don’t know anything about politics. I’m from America but I’m not an American. I didn’t go there of my own free choice. [Applause] If I were an American there would be no problem, there’d be no need for legislation or civil rights or anything else. So I just try to face the fact as it actually is and come to this meeting as one of the victims of America, one of the victims of Americanism, one of the victims of democracy, one of the victims of a very hypocritical system that is going all over this earth today representing itself as being qualified to tell other people how to run their country when they can’t get the dirty things that are going on in their own country straightened out. [Applause]

So if someone else from America comes to you to speak, they’re probably speaking as Americans, and they speak as people who see America through the eyes of an American. And usually those types of persons refer to America, or that which exists in America, as the American Dream. But for the twenty million of us in America who are of African descent, it is not an American dream; it’s an American nightmare. [Laughter]

I don’t feel that I am a visitor in Ghana or in any part of Africa. I feel that I am at home. I’ve been away for four hundred years, [Laughter] but not of my own volition, not of my own will. Our people didn’t go to America on the Queen Mary, we didn’t go by Pan American, and we didn’t go to America on the Mayflower. We went in slave ships, we went in chains. We weren’t immigrants to America, we were cargo for purposes of a system that was bent upon making a profit. So this is the category or level of which I speak. I may not speak it in the language many of you would use, but I think you will understand the meaning of my terms.

When I was in Ibadan [in Nigeria] at the University of Ibadan last Friday night, the students there gave me a new name, which I go for—meaning I like it. [Laughter] “Omowale,” which they say means in Yoruba—if I am pronouncing that correctly, and if I am not pronouncing it correctly it’s because I haven’t had a chance to pronounce it for four hundred years [Laughter]—which means in that dialect, “The child has returned.” It was an honor for me to be referred to as a child who had sense enough to return to the land of his forefathers—to his fatherland and to his motherland. Not sent back here by the State Department, [Laughter] but come back here of my own free will. [Applause]

I am happy and I imagine, since it is the policy that whenever a Black man leaves America and travels in any part of Africa, or Asia, or Latin America and says things contrary to what the American propaganda machine turns out, usually he finds upon his return home that his passport is lifted.2 Well, if they had not wanted me to say the things I am saying, they should never have given me a passport in the first place. The policy usually is the lifting of the passport. Now I am not here to condemn America, I am not here to make America look bad, but I am here to tell you the truth about the situation that Black people in America find themselves confronted with. And if truth condemns America, then she stands condemned. [Applause]

This is the most beautiful continent that I’ve ever seen; it’s the richest continent I’ve ever seen, and strange as it may seem, I find many white Americans here smiling in the faces of our African brothers like they have been loving them all of the time. [Laughter and applause] The fact is, these same whites who in America spit in our faces, the same whites who in America club us brutally, the same whites who in America sic their dogs upon us, just because we want to be free human beings, the same whites who turn their water hoses upon our women and our babies because we want to integrate with them, are over here in Africa smiling in your face trying to integrate with you. [Laughter] I had to write a letter back home yesterday and tell some of my friends that if American Negroes want integration, they should come to Africa, because more white people over here—white Americans, that is—look like they are for integration than there is in the entire American country. [Laughter] But actually what it is, they want to integrate with the wealth that they know is here—the untapped natural resources which exceed the wealth of any continent on this earth today.

When I was coming from Lagos to Accra Sunday, I was riding on an airplane with a white man who represented some of the interests, you know, that are interested in Africa. And he admitted—at least it was his impression—that our people in Africa didn’t know how to measure wealth, that they worship wealth in terms of gold and silver, not in terms of the natural resources that are in the earth, and that as long as the Americans or other imperialists or twentieth-century colonialists could continue to make the Africans measure wealth in terms of gold and silver, they never would have an opportunity to really measure the value of the wealth that is in the soil, and would continue to think that it is they who need the Western powers instead of thinking that it is the Western powers who need the people and the continent that is known as Africa.


February 21, 2012


Tuesday 21 February, 2012 Updated 15:55


Cancer researchers can take our gratitude for granted, but the ones among them who deserve extra acknowledgement are the pioneers in the uphill, often thankless task of public awareness – which applies to virtually every form of public hazard, the most personal being of course – human health. Even today, the battle has not been won. There is something fatalistic in human nature, which is not a bad thing. To cling desperately to life, to be governed in every detail of one’s existence by an obsession with prolonging one’s life, can sometimes appear as ludicrous and undignified as the irresponsible conduct of thoughtlessly throwing it away.

When I look back on the entire career of anti-smoking campaigns for instance, the campaigners often strike me as the unsung heroes of the battle against cancer. Why, I sometimes ask myself, has the battle been so rocky? We may as well acknowledge the commercial aspect – and here, I begin with the tobacco industry whose products till now, appear to be the frontrunner among the various contenders for cancerous provocation. The history of tobacco extends backwards probably into pre-history, which means that, today, a formidable global industry, now calculated in mega-millions, has evolved over centuries, providing a livelihood for billions – from plantation to crummy retail kiosks and glitzy supermarkets with enticing humidors.

That is the Number One obstacle. I find myself however far more intrigued by the obstacle that comes from human nature itself – indeed this is of greater interest generally, since it speaks to the innate contradictions that characterize that very nature, called human. This, I’m afraid, also speaks to strategies of attempting to wean people out of a habit that is considered detrimental to their well- being, the choice of techniques for imparting a message, as the consumer world knows only too well. Avoid this, eat this, don’t eat this – often tailored to commercial exploitation, creating a new consumerist craving, especially in rabidly capitalist societies. This can turn one in extreme opposite direction.

When you keep screaming at me that something is not good for me, especially when this is tied to selling me an alternative – it ends up as resistance to what amounts to vested interests, or simply overkill, thus alienating the badgered individual. The very sight of anorexic women who look as if they are at the terminal stages of cancer, for instance, but are held up in some countries as the ideal of beauty can lead to a total rejection that manifests itself through gravitation towards the contrasting ideal of beauty – such as the voluptuous graduates of Calabar fattening houses, products of three square meals of pounded yam with edi kia’ikong, interspersed with starch and banga soup.

This psychology of human response to any kind of stimulus – which lies at the basis of aversion therapy – requires more careful study. Sometimes, the opposite of the expected result is what takes place, owing to a failure to factor in such psychological ambiguities. In other words, the wrong approach to get people not to smoke may actually drive them to smoke, and we are not speaking here only of juvenile mentality, that peer craving alone among youths, a desire to be accepted by a macho in-group that makes the fourteen, thirteen, even as young as seven-year old take to smoking in schools. Or indeed early adoption of a role model who looks ‘cool’ with a cigarette in the hand, perhaps a film star. That same mentality is also manifested in adults whose supposedly mature minds actually find the forbidden intensely attractive. It is all part of the psychological quirks that underline human nature. Our earliest recorded instance – just to remind you – is the case of Adam and Eve. Consider the conduct of those two adults, alleged primogenitors of humanity. The tempting serpent should be read as a metaphor – there was no actual serpent as such in the Garden of Eden – if ever such a garden itself did exist. The serpent merely symbolized the hidden desire.

Among such extreme advocacy you may count some truly weird methodologies of totalitarian prohibition – such as the case of cities which simply declare their entire spaces of human habitation and non-habitation smoke-free zones. My recollection is that is was some obscure village called Davis, in the state of California, US, which took the lead in that direction, and declared itself a totally smoke free town as far back as two score or more years ago. If you were caught smoking within the City Limits, including within the walls of your own home, you could be run out of town, frontier style, tarred and feathered, tied backwards to a horse with the Mayor and councilors escorting you to the nearest border while the citizens pelted you with hoots and rotten eggs. It had to be the United States, the land of extremes and the original home of prohibitionism.

Diseases. In relation to cancer, long time direct exposure can be associated with the processes that lead to changes in cells, especially of the lungs and upper respiratory tract that van result in cancer. Now do we see how and why it is possible for the smoker to sometimes develop a carefree, indeed fatalistic attitude towards smoking hazards? Half the urban population of Nigeria – at a modest estimate – survive on generators. The expression ‘using fire to fight’ fire comes to mind.

Tobacco at least gives off a seductive aroma, unlike the fumes from a generator. One can imagine the addicted smoker shrugging, ‘What the hell’, when I urge him to ‘Kick the Habit or Kick the Bucket’. Those in whose hands the affairs of this nation have been placed – military and civilian – especially during the past four decades that oversaw the complete collapse of our electricity supply system, deserve to be dragged to court and charged with gross negligence leading to homicide, involuntary manslaughter, conspiracy to murder and, at the very least – being accessories to silent genocide. Mind you, they have undoubtedly created a special class of the affluent – the generator millionaires – and so I expect that instead of prison sentences, they will only receive national honours. May I propose for them a special category: Meritorious Order of National Population Control.

As with the human body, there are indeed many forms of behavioural cancer. To begin on a universal scale, I would certain describe racism as such, with South African apartheid being a spectacularly malignant form that was just as spectacularly placed in remission by that remarkable medical team, led by Nelson Mandela. Next, if you regard the entire African continent as a political body, dictatorship definitely qualifies for such a diagnostic classification – cancerous. Africa was once described by an African-American legislator, in a moment of frustration, as a beautiful lady that had been gang-raped by a succession of sex maniacs. Admitted, that analogy is not inappropriate. However, I am more inclined to see the continent as a victim of serial cancerous attacks that acts true to type, leaping from one part of the body to the other. No sooner is it stabilized in the liver than it erupts in the spleen, next we hear of it ravaging the testes, next the lungs, only to find suspicious lumps appearing in the breasts. They turn out to be malignant tumours that, in recent times, required the mobilization of a relay of traditional healers from Egypt, Libya, Morocco etc to flush them out with shock therapy, massed incantations in the streets and town centres, sometimes accompanied, alas, by blood transfusion from septic surgeries. But the disease has lurked in the bone marrow for nearly half a century and all we have been engaged upon is curing this part or the other – Liberia one day, Nigeria the next – instead of embarking on that most painful, most elaborate and invasive of all cancer treatments – a complete marrow transplant. It is that procedure that makes the cancerous analogy so appropriate, since we are able to monitor the process of the healthy marrow fighting back, pushing out the diseased cells, until the entire continental body is, some day, declared totally cancer free.

Then there is, in my estimation the most notorious cancerous growth that can afflict a body – I leave you for now to guess what that might be. Different societies tackle the affliction in different ways – in the communist days of the Republic of China for instance, the ‘magic bullet’, taken literally, was the most favoured form of treatment. It made its way through the body and homed in on the malignant formation in one direct hit. Cancerous cells, we know, have learnt to lie low, then burst out with renewed vigour, capturing territory, attacking other organs and finally overwhelming the rest of the body. Even the sturdiest organs eventually succumb. This social affliction that is patterned on cancerous advance is one that this nation knows to its cost. It is not unique to the nation, but in our case, only one technical word fully captures its remorselessness: metastasis. By now of course, you have already discerned what that cancer is called: Corruption!

Regarding our mystery, slow but guaranteed Silent Killer, I do not know of any branch of medical science that is devoted to it. Perhaps a branch of psychiatry. Maybe we should just assign it to the theologians. Certainly there is a vacuum in assumption of responsibilities, since the state does not yet accept that combating this hidden scourge is a legitimate preoccupation, and this is perfectly understandable. You can budget – as we hope will happen – for the kind of initiative that has brought us here today – cancer of the body – but how do you justify budgeting for cancerous souls? It borders on the metaphysical, and yet its corrosive powers are quite palpable and may affect the very destiny of a people, of a nation, enfeebling both to a point of inability to function rationally or with dignity. With cigarette addiction, you can label cigarette packets, tax delinquent companies, impose huge fines on those who have been caught forging statistics on nicotine content of cigarettes. Slogans come easy: SMOKING IS BAD FOR YOUR HEALTH. PREGNANCY AND SMOKING DO NO GO TOGEHER. SMOKING KILLS. Or my own concoction – KICK THE HABIT OR KICK THE BUCKET, that last being under patent. If I see it on any anti-tobacco billboard, cigarette pack, television screen or whatever, I shall sue! You are all witnesses.

In this case however, how does one even begin to diagnose this particular form of cancer, every bit as lethal as the physiological disorder, much less address it openly, and yet it is here. It has been inseminated and it is proliferating. One feels it, reads it, smells it, one can almost touch it, so palpable is it in its effects. It is especially present in governance, and we know how readily this percolates down through the body politic which looks up to governance for leadership and direction. Its malignant cells are being injected into the blood stream of the nation.

Let me waste no more time on riddles, especially as I suspect I have proffered sufficient clues. You would be justified in thinking that my mind is on bigotry, especially of the religious kind. Fanaticism. Intolerance. Hatred of all but whatever is of your own conviction. Inability to see that there is more than one route to the uncovering of life’s mysteries, or partaking of the banquet of life, and that the regulation of differences, just as in the human body, is the key to functioning society. That first-line enemy is indeed Bigotry, but no, we have long by-passed Intolerance as a contagion in its own right, and are left with the consequence, which is even more efficacious in its ability to spread and paralyse a people’s will. That leaves only one candidate – the fallout from intolerance, especially of the fanatic, homicidal mind.

I am speaking therefore of – Fear. The very morbidity of Fear. Fear as the product of terror, Fear as the real permissive environment of the cancer of Intolerance. Fear as the enervating prelude to the deterioration and total collapse of the body politic. Fear as the determinant of social and political decisions. Fear as the governing factor even in the choice of life-styles. Fear as the regulating quotient in day to day calculations, bearing even upon the most mundane activities, personal and collective. Fear as the Silent Censor even in utterances, leading to lies, half-truths, outright deceptions, rationalisations, double-talk. Fear as the wages of injustice, leading to appeasement and humanity’s abject surrender.

I have dwelt on this theme before now, in my series of BBC Reith lectures, under the title of CLIMATE OF FEAR. Permit me to state clearly therefore that I distinguish between Fear and Caution. As the very title of my address indicates, I place the dogmatic mind and the fatalistic as two sides of the same cancerous coin, both deleterious impingements on rationality. To cower before a dogmatic, unproven prohibition is just as irrational as to act in defiance of its validity through a carefree, dismissive attitude. The former stems from fear, the latter from mere bluster, bravado, throwing caution to the winds. Neither truly reflects man in the plenum of his intelligence. In that same vein, I distinguish between the Strategies of Peace and the Rites of Appeasement. When a nation is under attack, it is the easier choice to diminish the rights of the innocent, the victims, and concentrate near exclusively on the Vaseline approach, the appeasement of killers, massaging the tumour of unconscionable, arrogant, boastful, homicidal menace, easy to forget that victims are entitled not only to protection but to compassion, collective indignation, and restitution. In these times we live in, the primacy of victims has been disproportionately, grossly, unconscionably deficient on the scales of equity, almost to the condescending level of tokenism, and the cause is the triumph of that cancerous growth silently infiltrating the cells of the body politic – Fear, and its main companion stalker – Impunity. It has manifested itself through a number of acts, impudent demands, and in the very demoralizing language of a number of official pronouncements. Fear can become a habit, an addiction, and the nation, as a vital entity, had better understand that, if it truly wishes to survive, it must also learn to kick the habit, or else – kick the bucket.

Doctors, surgeons, psycho-therapists, healers of varying traditions – all will agree that, under cancer, the body is a war zone. The body politic is no different, and this national body is pre-eminently so. But let there be no mistake – it is not terror that is the cancer, but Fear. Terror is mere pustule, a noisome excrescence. That it often results in human suffering does not change its real nature. And there I find myself at one with our wave theorist – we are indeed back to the territory of primordialism, since Fear is a product of Nature. It is indeed Nature itself, and the battle against Fear is equivalent to taking on Nature as adversary. Now, Nature – that, as adversary, is truly worthy of our respect, not Noisy Killers, and the noxiousw agencies of terror. So, let us take our cue from the doctors who have chosen to confront the very origin of life by taking on the ontology of cancer, and make the right and dignified existential choices. A life lived under fear is the choice of a cancerous life-style, oscillating between fatalism and dogmatic submissiveness. If we must adopt a dogma at all, permit me to propose this over-arching rendition: Just like cancer, the fear of Fear itself – is the beginning of wisdom.

•This is an abridged version of paper delivered by Professor Wole Soyinka at the launch of the Cancer Centre last week

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February 21, 2012

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« on: November 15, 2008, 04:31:59 PM »

The death of Yoruba language?
By Yeye Akilimali Funua Olade
“Kilo happen? Ma worry. Mo understand. Kosi problem. Mo sorry gan. Ma expect me. Ke e nice day” – (a GSM conversation)
Surely this is not Yoruba that this man is speaking? Definitely not! Yet everyday Yoruba speaking people are killing Yoruba like this. Is this the new (English) pidgin for Yorubaland, joining other sections of the country, who have spespamed in killing their own Nigerian language by using mainly “pidgin” in the name of “communicating” with other groups? Oyinbo culture has brought Nigerian culture to its knees in so many ways – now a foreign language seeks to kill our own God-given languages, using Nigerians as the executioners! Eewo!
That English, the ready-made weapon of British-American cultural imperialism, is not just trying to destroy African languages, but is attacking all other languages worldwide, I agree. Ojoogbon Akinwunmi Isola, the newly-appointed Chair of Oyo State Arts and Culture Board, related to me during a discussion with Ojoogbon Babatunde Fafunwa, the problem the French are having with English. He stated that the French government had recently warned all French broadcasters to stop polluting French with English, as is now popular in general French conversation, or face dismissal. But I doubt whether the French would think of slaughtering their language to the extent that Yorubas daily have begun to do.
The greatest tragedy in Yorubaland today however regarding language is the dominating trend to speak only English to their children, making it their first language, then sending them to private nursery school, who only teach in English and causing Yoruba children to value English above all other languages! (After all their WAEC will not be in Yoruba, one highly-educated Yoruba man told me!) And see the result! In effect,that child has become an Oyinbo child and no longer a Yoruba child.What are the grim onsequences of this disturbing trend? The first problem that will result is a change in that child’s behavior with respect to discipline and respect for his parents and others.. The English-speaking child will never become great in creativity nor in leadership in the Nigerian context; he or she can never become the President of Nigeria for example. Is it possible to have a Nigerian President who cannot speak his Mother-Tongue effectively? These English-speaking children will rudely use English to disrespect all and sundry (after all English does not have pronouns of respect for anybody). Hear them saying “Shut up Daddy! – Give me back my candy!” in an authoritative way. And hear this one told by Oloogbon Ishola – an semi-literate (in English)) parent says to his child, “Say hello to Daddy”. The child replies “Ye ‘llo Daddy”. Olodumare! Yoruba children now do not know proper Yoruba and even as a result of this mixture do not know the real Yoruba words for “ma worry”, “check result” etc.. Ask them or some of their parents and they will tell you they don’t know the original Yoruba for the popular phrases that many literate and non-literate leaders and followers commonly use throughout Yorubaland.
As a Black-American, who has come back to her Yoruba roots these past 26 years in Nigeria, I want to break down in tears over this “iyonu”! How can Yorubas kill their own language? What sort of curse is this? Obviously the curse of european-american imperialism/colonialism/slavery! As a result I have declared “War Against Destroying Our Nigerian Languages” from today. And it must start from Yorubaland. Are not the Yorubas the “wisest and the greatest”? As everything good seems to start from Yorubaland in Nigeria, “let it be so”.
I am appealing to all full-blooded Yoruba, as of today to consciously seek not to mix English with their Yoruba. Yoruba leaders must slowly speak, watching their tongues, not to include any English words inside their Yoruba. It has gotten to a state where such leaders cannot avoid mixing English as they speak Yoruba and their every sentence includes whole English phrases! The late Yoruba leader, Oloye Bola Ige was a pure Yoruba language speaker and other Yoruba leaders should follow his example. This is a “War Against English words entering Yoruba”!
All clubs and organisations in Yorubaland should hold bi-annual and annual Yoruba Speaking Competitions for the “Best Yoruba Speaker”, with heavy monetary prizes (N20,000 plus) to get Yorubas to consciously practice speaking Yoruba without any English mixture. Yoruba broadcasters are guilty of promoting this deadly trend. Yoruba stations must have quarterly courses in Correct Yoruba Speaking for they are one of the biggest offenders of mixing heavily English into Yoruba. In schools Yoruba teachers must stress the importance of not mixing Yoruba. All private schools in Yorubaland must be required to have classes in Yoruba language from nursery through secondary school levels. There is a “famous” private school in Lagos, owned by Lebanese (or is it Syrians), which does not teach Yoruba on the secondary school level, as required by law. Law enforcement is necessary with frequent unannounced inspections on this crucial issue. And any student who fails to pass Yoruba in Yorubaland must not be allowed to graduate!
The Yoruba Press must be commended for indeed holding the banner high and not polluting Yoruba with English, especially Alaroye.Alalaye, Ajoro, Iroyin Yoruba, Akede must also continue the struggle to save Yoruba language. More effort however must be made to eliminate “pasito”, professor ,”dokita” words as most of them have genuine Yoruba words that can be enlisted and popularised among their readers. Aworerin must be resurrected by Alaroye, for use in all schools in Yorubaland as it was in the ’50s to inculcate love of Yoruba language among children. Yoruba departments in Nigerian and foreign universities must start churning out more research on modernising Yoruba for technical, scientific and other vocabulary and making it available through special courses for the media and the general Yoruba public.
Tiwantiwa(,created by Sister Molara Wood in London,must be commended for keeping the purity of the Yoruba Language intact.More Yoruba websites are needed on the worldwide web.
Yoruba writers must begin to write and publish bilingual publications.For any publication they publish in English, its Yoruba equivalent must be done. In the same book (Yoruba-from the front, turn upside down, English from the back) is one way to do it or in a title simultaneously released. More books, magazines, other publications like club histories, year books must be published in Yoruba. (Do you know that Alaroye sells many more copies than English newspapers in Yorubaland?) For example why is a prominent Yoruba Club issuing their history in English? If they must have English, then it must be a bilingual edition, in Yoruba from the back. Who but Yoruba should promote publications in Yoruba? We must stop promoting a foreign language over our own God-given language.
Yoruba music too, has been assaulted by Yoruba artists, unknowingly killing Yoruba language. The mixture of English has reached a new high in Fuji. Yoruba Gospel has started mixing English inside Yoruba songs within Yoruba cassettes, adding along side complete English songs! Olodumare! Such artists must be warned – no more killing of the language in this manner. If it is English you want then put that on an English cassette. Do not replace our God-given Yoruba in a Yoruba music cassette!
Yoruba movie practitioners are perhaps the biggest offenders and must take up this challenge to save Yoruba language. English mixing should absolutely be banned in all Yoruba films. I have not researched the topic but I suspect that Hausa, is probably the most unpolluted language in Nigeria, and in all their films that I have seen there is no English there at all.
The beauty of the Yoruba language must be showcased by having more Yoruba Cultural Festivals to be held by all clubs and organisations in Yorubaland annually. Odua’s People Congress and other enforcers of law and order in Yorubaland must be in the vanguard, not only by stressing among its members that Yoruba should not be polluted but by holding bi-Annual Yoruba Speaking competitions for the “Best Yoruba Speaker”. They must lead the way in correct Yoruba speaking and have literacy classes for all their members to learn to read in Yoruba and encourage them to speak Yoruba in the home to their children: Yoruba must become again the first language of Yorubas at home and abroad.
All legislatures in Yorubaland should switch to using Yoruba as the first language of communication for their deliberations. If English has to be listed at all it can be the second language of communication!
Finally a private, Yoruba school system must be set up. These schools will teach all subjects in Yoruba from nursery up to the university eventually. If it must be like a “mushroom school”, starting with nursery school first and adding class by class this must be done. This Yoruba Academy can be supported extensively by Yorubas abroad, eventually having board houses were Yoruba children from abroad can join their counterparts here, including all “classes of children, street children etc.) This Yoruba Academy will inculcate Yoruba culture into our children also. With the help of our Yoruba scholars we can build on Ojoogbon Babatunde Fafunwa’s successful “Mother-tongue Education” project at University of Ife in the 60s. Afterall, even UNESCO has proven that Mother-tongue Education is the best for all children.
Let Yoruba Language not die! God has given the Yoruba race a language to be proud of, anywhere in the world (there are at least 60 million or more Yoruba speakers throughout the world). Let’s not destroy it with our own mouths! Let us pass it on in its richness to our children, daily in our home. Let us proudly speak it daily, read it daily, champion it daily. Yorubas cannot remain great without our language. And let us be in the vanguard of saving all Nigerian/African languages.
Biu, Ogoni, Urhorbo, Igede, Ogoja, Ebira, Idoma, Efik, Tiv, Langale, Tangale,Ikwerre,Kagona, Kutep, Oron, Legdo, Bubiaro, Esan, Afima, Itsekiri, Ijaw, Edo, Ikenne, Joba, Gwari, Ibo, Igala, Hausa, speakers are you listening?
*Mrs Olade is the Chief Librarian of African Heritage Research Library, Adeyipo Village via Ibadan.

© 2003 – 2005 @ Guardian Newspapers Limited (All Rights Reserved).
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« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2008, 09:58:00 PM »

This is certainly a bold article Yeye Olade (I hope you don’t mind me addressing you this way) . One thing that has greatly impressed me in London where I lived for a long time is that for most Chinese and Indians, their language remains the language of communication at home and this is enforced . Yet their children perform extremely well in schools and always better than most other children. It struck me that if they are able to maintain this abroad ,they must certainly be more aggressive about protecting their culture at home. Unfortunately we have no such custom and it is now considered “progressive” to westernise everything that we do with the result that our children don’t know who they are anymore – and this I submit is responsible for the high level of crime these days .

In traditional Yoruba life it is unthinkable for anyone to be jobless and a thief condemns his/her entire family to be ostracised almost forever.When a thief is caught , the questions go beyond the need to know whose child he/she is , but it must also be found out which town they came from – they are all publicly humiliated so much that they often leave their town to live very far away in new places where they are not known. In traditional Yoruba life if you couldn’t get an easy white collar job you go to the farms or commit yourself to the family crafts (blacksmith , drummer / drum maker, hunter etc.) or a variation of such, but nowadays we see young “graduates” decked up in faded suits and worn shoes searching all over for jobs that do not exist. But things have changed quite horribly these days.I know for certain that in Britain at least, these family crafts are protected from extinction by government patronage , but in our case the intention seems to be to bury them as “heathen” , or “savage” crafts on the persisting instructions of our colonial masters.

Though in these days and especially when juxtaposed with the race to catch up with technology , efforts to recover our culture could certainly be a hard sell , it is still a laudable project . It will take a lot of commitment and also a lot of money which unfortunately is not at a premium these days .in the interim there is a lot that can be achieved through the efficient use of current technology and this is what this website (Yorubaland) is all about. The objective is to gather interested parties from all over the world and make it possible to persuade them to commit into such projects as you have described; and it is my hope that this approach will succeed .

About 20 years ago, I read “The Water House” by Antonio Olinto – and it completely blew me away.
This book, which I consider the Yoruba/Brazilian equivalent of Alex Haley’s “Roots” tells the story of slaves sent to Brazil and then coming back to make their home in Lagos and environs . As a matter of fact the book told me more about Lagos than I ever knew , and it was originally written in Portuguese (Geesi). Therefore, as much as we need to preserve and generate literature in the Yoruba language , it is also essential to be able to issue translations of such books into other languages – especially English , Spanish and Portuguese which are the major languages of Yoruba people in the Diaspora. In our race to preserve our culture at home, we must also not alienate our brothers and sisters abroad ; they also need to share of the gains.

My intelligence report presently shows me that twice as much people visit this web site from Eastern Europe, where there isn’t a lot of Yoruba presence, than from any other country in the world – which shows that we are on a good start. If there is anyone who also wishes to assist in the efforts of taking Yoruba to the front stage in world cultures do contact me as follows :
Olurotimi Ogunjobi , Director
Center for Exposition Of Yoruba Arts And Culture (Yorubaland)
Telephone : 234- 7028777368
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February 14, 2012

Are Black Folks Becoming Political Orphans?

Washington Informer, Commentary, Dr. Boyce Watkins, Posted: Feb 14, 2012
Prepping for another run for the White House, President Barack Obama recently launched an “African Americans for Obama” campaign to target Black voters.

“I don’t think there’s a better time than African-American History month to consider the tremendous progress we’ve made through the sacrifices of so many, or a better time to recommit to the challenges we face right now,” said Obama in a video to his supporters.

It is expected that the Democrats would work to shore up their Black base right before the president’s bid for re-election. The dampened enthusiasm among Black voters who are facing 15.8 percent unemployment and rapidly declining wealth levels is also expected. The Black unemployment number is more than double that of white Americans, which stands at 7.5 percent. Throughout the Obama presidency, White unemployment has improved, while Black unemployment has gotten markedly worse.

Ironically, the “African Americans for Obama” website says that the president has been fighting “to restore economic security that has been eroding for American families for a decade.”

President Obama won 96 percent of the Black vote in 2008. His approval rating today stands at 91 percent. The black community continues to be the strongest and most loyal base of the Obama Administration.

Political commentator, Yvette Carnell, has something to say about the issue:

“I have no problem with Obama targeting African-American voters. None. He needs us and he knows it,” said Carnell. “What I do have a problem with, however, is how most of the targeting begins during campaign season and ends on election day. We’re more than just a voting bloc. We’re real citizens with real needs, needs which I hope the President begins to acknowledge and address.”

Columbia University Professor Christopher Emdin doesn’t agree with Carnell’s assessment.

“I do not believe the ‘frustration and dampened enthusiasm’ cited within Af-American communities is as pervasive as we are led to believe. With that being said, these facts do not negate the fact that these communities are dealing with serious issues related to education and poverty,” said Dr. Emdin. “I do not believe that Obama’s campaigning in Af-American communities is reflective of some ulterior agenda to “use them when he needs them. It very well may be an effort to make a shift to explicitly focus on the needs of this community.”

The pending re-election of Barack Obama has put Black voters in a quandary. While many would agree that conditions have worsened for the Black community under Obama, the Republican Party provides no reasonable alternatives. In many cases, Black people have become the political orphans of America:

You can either live with the parents who abuse you or live with the child molester down the street. While one fate is clearly worse than the other, there is no end to the pain in sight.

It is actually logical for the Obama Administration to keep Black voters on the back-burner. When a group gives you 91 percent approval and asks for nothing in return, there is almost no political incentive to do anything for them. This calculation likely played a role in the statement that the “rising tide will lift all boats” made three years ago, when the president was asked about inequality in wealth and unemployment. The “lift all boats” policy was a clear and miserable failure, for most economic experts can tell you that racial inequality is not going to fix itself without targeted economic policy.

Right now, in the Black community, there are at least two types of people: those who are suffering and those who are not. The suffering group consists of the poor, unemployed, and those who live under the thumb of the criminal justice system. The rest of us have jobs, food to eat and are not impacted directly by mass incarceration. If you’re in the second group, it’s difficult to find fault with the Obama Administration, for a Black president grants the symbolic comfort that comes along with the “Mama I Made It” syndrome that justifies the trade-offs many of us make for the sake of economic and social progress in a White supremacist society. Being the first Black president is the granddaddy of all “proud mama” moments, so there are millions willing to forgive nearly any short-coming of the Obama White House to maintain access to the throne.

For those who care about the poor, there is almost no redemption when the president barely mentions poverty in his speeches. For the unemployed, it’s hard to imagine how your life will get better by supporting an administration that helped white folks find jobs while letting the Black numbers reach levels approaching those of the Great Depression. For those suffering with the effects of mass incarceration, it’s hard to get excited about a president who has not directly confronted the debilitating effects of the drug war, which has destroyed millions of families and an entire generation of children. All of these issues indicate a state of emergency in the Black community; but thus far, we’ve only given
White Americans the right to express dissatisfaction with their condition.

The implicit African American slogan for the Democratic Party is “You should just stop complaining, because the Republicans are even worse than we are.” The threat of political punishment is clearly enough to secure the Black vote without doing a thing. But at the same time, the Black political orphans of America do have a choice. WEB Dubois, when faced with few quality political options 50 years ago, simply said that he refused to vote at all. Rather than behaving like a teenage girl who shares her body with the first man who buys her a cheeseburger, Dubois advocated for the idea that we save our votes for politicians who have truly worked to earn them.

After a mass holdout from conscientious Black voters, perhaps the Democrats will then strive to honestly earn the Black vote instead of simply telling us that they are not as horrible as the Republicans. It should not be taboo to request that Black voters have enough self-respect to demand that all politicians give priority to the issues that lead to our suffering. There are no victims, just volunteers, and we don’t have to be political orphans forever.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University.


February 13, 2012


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Vandermeer (in white) during his initiation, with Wande Abimbola (in green) Vandermeer (in white) during his initiation, with Wande Abimbola (in green)

In search of direction and purpose in life, African Americans, Latinos, Jamaicans, Cubans and Brazilians in America become Ifa worshippers and consult priests

By ABDULRAFIU LAWAL / Boston, Massachusetts

The grey staircase banister leading to the five-bedroom house smells of fresh paint. As he opens the kitchen door while reciting some Ifa poems in Yoruba language laced with American accent, the neatness of the kitchen and fragrance of rose air freshener become convivial.

The kitchen area reveals a dining table with four chairs, a refrigerator and gas cooker on the far left. Moving through the passage to the divination room, one needs to take off shoes before proceeding further. On the right is a black wooden shelf containing books on Ifa authored by scholars from all over the world. Atop the shelf rests a black gong, pictures and Ifa divination chain, opele.

Unlike the room of an average Ifa priest in Nigeria, this room has no strange wall hangings. In the middle of the room there is a rug, two small chairs facing each other, a small table between and some Ifa paraphernalia. On this table, you have a divination tray carved from wood known as Opon Ifa containing Iyerosun (divination powder), carved ivory object used to invoke Ifa during divination (Iroke) and cowrie shells (Eerindinlogun). Welcome to the home of Tony Vandermeer, an African American Ifa priest, known as Babalawo, located in the Dorchester area of Boston, Massachusetts, United States, US.

Vandermeer, an enigmatic character in many ways, hails from Harlem, a part of New York, which is a predominantly black settlement. Harlem is famous in America for producing a generation of black intellectuals. He comes from a family of seven. Coincidentally, he also has seven children, five boys and two girls. This is unusual in America where most families do not have more than three children. It is however not the only unusual thing about Vandermeer. Equally unusual is the fact that he does not celebrate Christmas, Easter or any of the Christian holidays in the US, which is predominantly Christian.

Rather, he observes the Ifa new year (odun Ifa) and other celebrations recognised by his religion. As an Ifa worshipper, Vandermeer is known for his practice throughout New England and beyond by his students and clients. New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the US consisting of six states namely Maine, Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

So why would someone in America, the land of opportunities, need the services of an Ifa priest?

One of his clients, Yvette Modestin, a social worker and coordinator for Network for Afro Latin American and Afro Caribbean Women, says divination allows her to understand the sequence of events unfolding in her life. According to her, “I have been in the position where Ifa divination has spoken directly to a situation that I was in. I actually find it hard to explain because it is an internal thing that happens, that validates the next step you are about to make.”

Modestin, founder of Encuentro Diaspora Afro who through her association with Vandermeer also embraced Ifa religion, says it has cleared confusion and pains from her life. “Ifa has become my voice and whisper because I felt like my ancestors were speaking to me. I had tapped into something that was deeper than me. This is what has been calling me and what I need in my life,” she said.

For Askia Toure, a 73-year-old writer, poet and political activist who says he comes for divination when his mind is troubled, Ifa is a direction giver. “Ifa is a blessing for me because I get the right answers. I grew up in the African American church, my father was a deacon. Then, I had influence of Sunni Islam. My whole life has been a search for how best to communicate with my creator. After a very traumatic experience in my life, I met Wande Abimbola,” Toure said.

Similar to what obtains in Nigeria, African Americans, Latinos, Jamaicans, Cubans or Brazilians in America who are Ifa worshippers consult priests when searching for jobs, setting up a new business, contracting marriages and facing other challenges of life.

Bridgit Brown, an African American blogger and writer in Boston, says she had an Ifa divination when she was going to work in West Africa for the first time few years ago. She wanted to know how the journey would turn out and the divination revealed that it would be a major success. “And it was. It also told me to be mindful of the importance of ordinary things, and to not just see wealth in terms of money, but in terms of having those things which are of basic needs: food, shelter, love, and so on, which is very contrary to the American way that I grew up knowing,” she said.

The method of divination for Vandermeer’s clients is also similar to that of Nigerian Ifa priests. All a client needs is to give a small consultation fee, whisper his intentions on it and Vandemeer consults Ifa for answers. For him, Ifa divination is a vehicle to help the society rather than an avenue for material gains. “This is why I have no fixed price for divination. I have students who come with coins or a dollar from their pockets. I tell people who come to see me that if they are doing well, I am happy to be part of it.”

He says some of the qualities he has learnt from Ifa in dealing with clients are honesty and patience. “No divination can bless one unless one’s Ori (inner self) accepts it. It is a two-prong process involving divination and sacrifice (ebo). So, if you are not gonna go through the process, don’t even bother. This is because the idea of sacrifice concretises what is it you came for,” he said.

Vandermeer recalls his first contact with traditional African religion in 1978, when he was about graduating from the university. “Things were kind of rough, I was having problems with the mother of my daughter. I went to an Obatala priest for divination which enabled me to get through these problems but things got worse in 1983.” This Obatala priest was of Jamaican ancestry who got initiated through the Cuban system and was part of the African Americans who set up Oyotunji village in North Carolina.

In 1983, sensing that his life had not really changed for the better, this father of seven met some Cubans who introduced him to their own form of Ifa practice. He was given a cauldron, beads of various deities (awon orisa) like Esu and Osanyin. Still not fulfilled, Vandermeer left the Cuban house in 1994 when he met a Nigerian, Afolabi Epega, whose father had written a book on Ifa in the early 1900. However, his romance with Ifa took a turning point when he met Abimbola, who is spokesperson for Babalawos worldwide (Awise Awo Ni Agbaye).

Vandermeer ended up studying with Abimbola for 12 years. “If people come for divination, I would help on any kind of spiritual work like ebo (sacrifice). At this point, he (Abimbola) had set up the Ifa Institute in Atlanta where people were coming to see him.” The interaction culminated in Vandermeer’s initiation in Oyo State in 1999, adding that when he got involved, his mission was to use Ifa “to get the kind of spiritual balance and guide that I need to navigate the challenges of life.”

But as fate would have it, his destiny decided otherwise. He soon became a full scale Ifa diviner, though with a difference. One unique difference between Ifa diviners in the US like Vandermeer and Nigeria is that they have paid jobs through which they fend for their families. In addition to being an Ifa priest, Vandermeer is a senior lecturer in the Department of African American Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, and he is currently working towards his doctorate degree.

Like adherents of Islam and Christianity who observe their morning prayers before leaving the house, Vandermeer begins his day chanting Ifa verses, odus and ancestral chants for Egungun and throwing kolanuts before Esu. The essence is for him to have an idea how the day would be and determine what his schedule should look like. “If it is caution and I don’t have to go out, I will stay indoors. If I have to, I will be cautious,” Vandermeer said.

So why would an educated, widely travelled African American chose to become an Ifa priest? Vandermeer says before embracing Ifa religion, he had developed a sense of himself as a descendant of Africa. “So it made sense to me that my spiritual system should be one that related to Africa.”

Ifa divination system and religion associated with Yoruba history is common in most cultures in West Africa and later Cuba, Brazil, Haiti, Jamaica, Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela due to the trans-Atlantic slave trade. The divination system uses an extensive corpus of texts and mathematical formula interpreted by the diviner. The Ifa literary corpus, known as Odu, is made up of 256 parts subdivided into verses called Ese. In the US, Abimbola, a professor of Yoruba language and literature, has given it so much prominence through his works, especially in the last two decades. Its philosophy centres around belief in Olodumare, the Yoruba high God, humility and honesty. Statistics from the Council for Parliament of the World Religions estimate that Ifa religion has over 70 million followers in Africa and the Americas.

According to Yoruba myth, Ifa is one of the 401 divinities sent to the cradle of Yoruba civilisation in Ile Ife, Osun State, by Olodumare to carry out specific tasks on earth. Some of the other divinities are Ogun who is in charge of hunting, war and iron implements; Esu, the universal policeman and keeper of Ase; and Ifa who is in charge of divination because of its mental capacity. This role earned Ifa the nickname Akerefinusogbon (the young one whose mind is full of wisdom).


February 11, 2012

‘I‘ve not only hung my boots, I have thrown them out’
By Okorie Uguru and Wale Adepoju 15/01/2012

The duo of Okorie Uguru and Wale Adepoju were at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi Araba to witness an unusual send off.
The neo-natal ward of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi Araba, Lagos, is not used to conducting send off ceremonies for discharged infants born in the hospital.

However, last Thursday that tradition was broken. The reason? This is no ordinary time and such a time deserves special treat. The Shofunlayo quintuplet delivered in the hospital on December 16 last year are ready to go home hale and hearty.

As a prelude, five baby cots lined side by side, and the quintuplet were brought one after the other and placed inside the cots. They were cute in the cloth and caps on their heads.

Bundles of joy

All around, doctors, nurses and every one in LUTH engaged in one way or the other in nurturing the Shofunlayo quintuplet since they were born were beaming with smiles. One could understand. It was the first time that such high number of multiple births would be delivered in the hospital and all would survive. That was the reason the management board of the hospital gathered, not only to bid the children goodbye as they returned to their parents’ home, but also came with gifts for the children.

LUTH’s message for the proud parents Mr. Wale and Olayemi Shofunlayo was that the doors of the hospital was opened to the family whenever there was need for any check up without any protocol.

Although one could see in his disposition the façade of an expert who has seen it all, the eyes of Professor Godwin Olu Ajayi, a professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology still betrayed excitement and happiness. Ajayi and his assistants monitored and saw to the nurturing of the babies right from the womb and delivered them safely.

Ajayi, who is also President of Society of Perinatal Medicine of Nigeria (SOPMON), speaking about the quintuplet and their welfare said: “It is actually for me a very joyful moment that we have this type of delivery here. We, right from the beginning thought that it was four, but on the day of delivery, the Almighty God told us that he was wiser and better than all. The parents must have been budgeting for four but now they are five. I immediately I left the operation theatre, I had to call the husband and told him the number of children. And what was going on in my mind was that this is a blessed country yet, the government does nothing for us.”

According to him, in 2002 a similar case had to be referred abroad when around 20th week it was discovered the pregnant mother and father were AS (sickle cell carriers). Further tests showed that the expectant mother was also carrying a virus. The medical team was unsure whether the pathogens have the touched the placenta and done any harm. After several considerations the mother had to be sent to the United States of America where she eventually delivered in New York. After the delivery the Mayor of gave the children citizenship of the US and provided the parents with a house and nanny.

However, for the Shofunlayos, parents of the quintuplet, it has been a long journey that the hospital chapter has closed on a positive note. Last Tuesday was exactly six months, 184 days since the mother left her home and the hospital became her temporary abode. The couple is now looking forward to taking care of their children in the comfort of their home. Before the birth of the quintuplet, they had only a male child.

Looking to a bright future

While the husband is a little reticent on having another child, Mrs. Shofunlayo was categorical: “I have not only hung my boots, I have thrown them out of the window.”

To Mr. Shofunlayo the prospect of catering for these children does weigh him down: “I am really very happy for what God has done for me. I ought to have had more than one child before now, but it was not possible so God decided to compensate me for the delay by giving me a quintuplet. I am very sure he will give me the wherewithal to take of them. I am just so happy.”

He added: “I have taken it as a responsibility. Even before now if I had been spending too much in other areas, I have put a break so that I would be able to meet up with my responsibility and also put more efforts in my job.” He does not however rule out receiving any assistance if offered especially from the state or federal government.

Talking about his experience, he said: “We always go together, even coming to LUTH I brought her. I was happy. The issue of children for us had been delayed. So, if God wants to compensate me for that, why not. At a point to ease herself was a Herculean task, I had to assist. It was not easy at all. At a time she had bed sore because of lying for a long time in one place. I felt so much pity for her. Most of the times, I had to help her by massaging her stomach.”

Shofunlayo is disappointed that all the tiers of government had not deemed it fit to identify with his family and LUTH on the medical success recorded. He said: “I expected to see representatives of both the federal and state governments come to identify with us. We all know that this thing that happened is not a thing that happens every day and it certainly will go down in the records. This is a federal hospital and I am sure the Minister of Health is aware of this breakthrough. We are not asking him to give us anything, but he could through the Medical Director of the hospital communicate with us. There is no acknowledgement that such a thing happened.“

Professor Edna Iroha, a professor of Paediatrics, who spoke on the success the hospital has recorded with the quintuplet said: “The birth of the children is special. The normal thing is usually one two, three, but when it goes beyond that, I mean it is something big and special in a way. I tell you what you haven’t asked. There is a certain amount of weight that the uterus can’t carry beyond that, the baby must come out; about three kilogram, a little over four. But in this case, five of them and none weighed less than one kg.

“We are talking about six kg or more. How she managed for that length of time, it is a miracle. You would have thought that that the five of them by the time the total weight is approaching four kg, she would pour them but surprisingly they stayed on and you can relate survival to weight. The bigger you are in terms of weight, the more likely their survival and in terms of gestational age, the longer they stayed there, the higher their weight all things being equal, the mother is feeding well, the placenta is able to deliver that nutrient from the mother to the womb.”

On whether the mother being at her prime, contributed to the success of the birth Iroha said: “It has some contributions. The earlier in life you have your babies, the better the chances of those babies surviving both in terms of gestation, the size and then the absence of abnormality. So, the age of the mother contributes a lot.”

The babies have been in incubators since they were born. However, two of them are now big enough to be weaned off the incubator and their temperature outside it is stable.

Iroha has advice for potential mothers faced with such multiple conception. According to her “ One thing that I will say, looking at this mother, is that she got to the hospital, she had bed rest and she delivered in the hospital unlike the ones they have transferred to us in the past, babies born in another hospital and then transferring that to the specialist institutions and by that time they would have lost some time. These babies would have gone very cold, their respiratory problems would have worsened but these ones came out and they were handed over to us, next to the incubators. It was just a matter of seconds and minutes. So, I think that contributed. So, if anybody is going to have a premature delivery, whether one or five, it is better done in a facility or in an institution where the facilities and experts are available”

For LUTH and the Shofunlayo family, it is an idyllic story that ends well.
from punch newspaper(nigeria)
You are here: Home / Health / We spend N.4m monthly to feed our quintuplets – Mother
We spend N.4m monthly to feed our quintuplets – Mother
January 25, 2012 by Motunrayo Aboderin
Mr and Mrs Shofunlayo with their quintuplets

MOTUNRAYO ABODERIN spent a day at the Ijede home of Mrs. Olayemi Shofunlayo, the 30-year-old woman who gave birth to quintuplets last month and in this report she highlights the challenges the family has been facing nursing the five children.

The journey to the Number 35, Peace Avenue, Unity Estate, Ijede, Ikorodu home of Mr. and Mrs. Olayemi Shofunlayo last week Tuesday was eventful. Though the road was dusty and bumpy, the serenity of the area bears testimony to the peace that reigns in the estate. Residents were hospitable as most of them gladly directed our correspondent who was visiting the area for the first time to the house. The house itself bears testimony to the fact that the family is just like an average Nigerian family hustling to survive. Sparsely furnished, the three-bedroom house located on a plot of land is devoid of the conveniences that one would see in opulent environment such as Lekki and Victoria Island. But the occupiers are living in peace.

The mother of five warmly welcomed our correspondent to the house. Mrs. Shofunlayo, who appeared weak and sleepy, introduced our correspondent to some of her relations who had come to help her nurse her five children. After the introduction, the woman narrated the challenges she and her husband, Wale, a self-employed lawyer had been going through nursing their five new born babies. Though the interview was intermittently disrupted by the babies’ cry for attention, Shofunlayo revealed a story that was woven in pains and pleasure.

“Nursing a baby is challenging how much more nurturing five children at the same time, my sister it is not easy but I’m not complaining because it is a good stress,” the woman, who was delivered of the quintuplets on December 16 last year, opened up

THE PUNCH had reported the delivery of the five babies, which occurred on Friday, December 16, 2010. It was Mrs. Shofunlayo’s second delivery and also the first quintuplets recorded at LUTH.

The quintuplets were successfully delivered through caesarian operations. They are now at the family home located at Ijede, Ikorodu.

However the shock of starting with a set of quintuplets and the demands of nurturing them has yet to strain the joy of the new mother.

Asked how much she spent in a month on her babies, Shofunlayo said her family spent nothing less than N.4m. She added that this could increase as the fuel price hike had affected the prices of all consumables and baby products.

She said, “While I was on bed rest, I bought some baby things which cost about N380,000. That was in December before the Federal Government increased the price of petrol. Most of those things will finish at the end of this month. That means I have to go to the market again and with more money. It’s costing my husband so much, but it is worth the investment. These are my babies and they deserve the best.”

Breastfeeding the babies is another challenge for the new mother of five. However, in spite of the strain that this would impact on her, Shofunlayo maintained that she would endure the hardship for the sake of her children.

She said, “I have to struggle to feed the five babies one after the other until they fall asleep. I spend all the day breastfeeding them. When I’m feeding one, that’s when another wakes, and another. The first day after I was discharged was very challenging; I could not sleep throughout the day till the next morning. My eyes were so heavy. I was tired.

“I later devised a means to make life easy for myself. While the babies are asleep, fill their bottles with breast milk, and then mix it with baby formula. So far, things have been going well. But breastfeeding is just a fraction of what a baby needs. At that tender age, they cry for attention.”

But Shofunlayo said that her mother, mother-in-law and sister had been providing the needed assistance. “I thank God for my family. They have been by my side. I can’t imagine going through this journey alone. But I still hope to hire house helps later,” she said.

However, if breastfeeding the babies is difficult, raising money for their daily upkeep is tasking. The mother is presently jobless while the husband, Wale, is a self-employed lawyer. But according to the woman, the family is coping by the grace of God

Recalling the years she was still trusting God for a child, Shofunlayo said that they were years of pain. “Yes, they were years of pain but I thank God for He has wiped off her tears and that is why I described the present stress I’m passing through as a good stress,” she said.

However, Shofunlayo said that she was not pleased with the response of the Lagos and Federal Government, noting that nobody had visited the babies from the two sides.

She added, “No representative from the Lagos State Government visited me at the hospital. It is not right. I’m sure they heard but chose to ignore us. I’m not asking them for money, they would have at least paid a courtesy visit. If this had happened in some other states, I’m sure government officials would have come to check on the welfare of the babies.”

But in spite of the state government’s silence, Shofunlayo said that so many well wishers including non-governmental organisations, private companies had been strong pillars of support for the babies.

She said, “I have also been getting calls from people asking me to send the account numbers of my babies. People have been of great support. I thank God. He has not left me stranded.”

Speaking on the welfare of her babies, Shofunlayo said that they were all in a stable condition.

“The last boy is so fair like me, and the other girls look like their dad. They took the shape of his face,” she added.

She said that the birth of her quintuplets had brought an unexpected publicity to her family, one she would never have envisioned. “When the first media house visited me at the hospital, I thought that was going to be the end, but it did not stop. Even Cable News Network and CNTV, a Chinese Television station paid me a visit. I was baffled.”

On the popular Ogunsanya quadruplets, who just bagged Master’s degree from the same university in the United Kingdom, Shofunlayo congratulated them and their parents. She said they must have spent fortunes before the quadruplets could attain that academic heights

“I just had my babies for less than two months, and I know that we have spent lots of money. So now, hearing about the story of the parents who trained four children up to Master’s level is mind-blowing. You can’t begin to imagine the amount of money those parents would have spent on those children. I salute the parents. Train a child up to secondary school level is no joke; talk less of Master’s level.

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