Coke; Poisonous for U.K., okay for Nigeria?

Imagine how vulnerable we are as a people, when it takes the accidental shipment of Coca Cola beverages meant for local consumption in Nigeria to the UK to enlighten us that the Coca Cola drinks sold in Nigeria are poisonous. Imagine the other harms we are exposed to- the rice we eat, water we drink, the different products we buy. Half of which are not made in Nigeria.

A Mr Fijabi, in 2007,  bought a large amount of Coca Cola’s drinks and shipped some to the UK wherein the UK health regulatory board declared it unfit for consumption. Reasons being the “poisonous” levels of Sunset Yellow and Benzoic acid it contains.

Further investigations have linked the high level of Benzoic acid to cancer and the danger it causes when mixed with vitamin C. The court then ordered that the products must carry a warning label informing people not to consume with Vitamin C.

Coca-Cola’s only defence in court was simply that they weren’t told the product would be shipped out of the country as they were manufactured for local consumption only. That solves it then! It is bad for some people but surely a Nigerian with the stomach of a cement mixer can handle it.

This is down to negligence by NAFDAC. Sad as it is, multi-nationals are profit-making businesses and will try all means possible to make more money even if it means jeopardising the health of its consumers. But how it went past the radar of NAFDAC, a watchdog whose aim among others is to “regulate and control the manufacturing and importation of food and drugs”. To make sure it is safe for consumption with no side effects especially in a country where the medical health service is utter shyte!

The fact that this case has been going on since 2007 -i.e 10 years of drinking Coca Cola’s beverages- and we barely heard it in the news proves that the African man’s life is not highly rated. Why it took ten years to come to a decision, why the sale of Coca-Cola beverages wasn’t frozen during that period one can only wonder.

Coca Cola, as expected, has started series of PR campaigns to allay concerns. Their argument is that the level of Benzoic acid is determined by environmental factors and tailored to each country’s climate. This however doesn’t explain why the public wasn’t warned about the risk it poses. A measure that should have been authorised by NAFDAC.

It is evident that our leaders and safeguarding bodies are not competent to act justly or protect the public. While it’s unrealistic to ask that we all scrutinise ingredients of every product, food, drug sold in the country, it is imperative that we put pressure on these organisations.

We have seen the world use the power of social media to raise awareness and bring about justice (Ice bucket challenge, Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, #JeSuisCharlie, #NoMakeUpSelfie), even those ones that didn’t concern or epp your situation but you took part in for the gram. Now, why don’t we use that same power to put pressure on NAFDAC and Coca Cola? We know that many have died from the consumption of fake drugs and substandard products. Let’s send a message that we are aware and watching and we expect competence and accountability from NAFDAC and other governmental agencies.

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Snip, Snap, Stitch…Sometimes Pound

Image from: icmhd.wordpress.com

Image from: icmhd.wordpress.com

Throughout history we see that a woman’s body has constantly been trimmed, shaped, cut and moulded to suit the standard of beauty. A standard which isn’t only arbitrary, but often measured by the wills of a patriarchal society.

From feet binding in China, to corset wearing, Genitalia cutting (FGM), Clitoris and Vagina lips pulling, Breast pounding  and the list goes on. All these were done and some still being done as a mark of beauty and to increase the chances of marriage.

These values are often perpetuated under the cover of religion, culture or moral teachings. To uphold the level of morality, which varies throughout history, culture and tradition and while tell this tale of morality, yet forget to hold men accountable or demand .

Still reeling in shock from the practice of FGM, Female Genital Mutilation, I stumbled upon breast pounding during my research and this made me wonder what other horrendous act women around the world are being subjected to.

While some young girls are being subjected to the pounding of their breast with hot stones and pestles to ward off the interest of men, some are having their genitals butchered to tame their sexuality, to make them “clean” for their husband. Yet some are denied education and married off at a young age or pawned off to prostitution  as a means of income.

This disparity underlines that a woman’s body is often seen as a means, an instrument in the hand of the powerful, often men.

The burden of moral uprightness is often placed solely and biasedly on women. This same logic is the premise to which some have based rape preventative measures ; cover up, don’t get drunk, don’t flirt, don’t stay out late, if you do, walk in groups.

No one thinks to ask the pertinent question of: why do men think they are entitled to women’s body by default? Why does the society continue to nurture the culture of male sexual entitlement?

Perhaps, it is because “it is a man’s world”?

WESTERN EXPLOITATION; THE CRUX OF AFRICA’S ADVERSITY

Africa-Union-plate

When you hear the phrase “children dying of hunger in Africa” it probably sounds stale and without meaning. It has been said a countless of times by parents trying to get their children to clean up their plates, by celebrities acting as representatives for charities, in one of those garish adverts that fails to draw any sympathy from you, and even regurgitated by people who are still unsure if Africa is a country or a continent.

Let me jog your memory, remember one of those days you were commuting from work/school and during your journey you hear your stomach growl and grumble. You feel a weakness descend on you and you salivate when you think of the food stored in your fridge at home. You remember the crispiness of the chicken you’ll buy or the crunchiness of the carrots. Now, imagine you got home and there was no food or you lost that last fiver you were going to use to buy the chicken. You go to bed, but turn and tussle as sleep eludes you, so you sleep late. However, the pangs of hunger awake you hours after and its dawn, you’ll have some cereal maybe but alas there is no milk. You’ll wolf down the cereal dry right? But imagine it was infested with bugs, you’ll probably still eat it.

Now, what if you had an empty cupboard and no money? Even then, you won’t die. It’s only been a day. I have gone without food for three days as part of a religious rite. Now, think about that phrase again “some children die of hunger”. Yet, these children live in a continent that thrives in agriculture, a continent whose farmers produce enough food to feed the continent. A continent rich in scarce resources; oil, gold, rubber, uranium, copper, platinum, tin, diamonds, timber, export-based agriculture, bio-fuels, biodiversity, land.

So then, what indeed is wrong with Africa? Why is the distribution of wealth so imbalanced that a minority live in opulence and a great majority in so much lack, that some starve to death?

When we talk about the many dilemmas plaguing Africa, we compare the natural resources, favourable weather, skilled labour and manpower the continent is blessed with and we conclude the problem is bad governance, mismanagement of funds.  We think of the $30 billion in aid donated yearly by first world countries, of all the charities constantly clamouring for donations to Africa. We see aid workers risking their lives and students taking gap years to volunteer in Africa. We see all these.

What we don’t see, however,  is the vast resources, calculated at $192 billion yearly, leaving Africa illicitly to Europe and America; $46.3b that leaves Africa each year through the repatriation of profit from multinational companies; $35.3 in tax evasion facilitated through tax havens; $21b in debt repayments often resulting from irresponsible loans; $6b in the loss of skilled workers; $17b in illegal logging; $1.3 in illegal fishing, and the $36.6 imposed cost as a result of climate change.

We neglect to reflect on the incessant exploitation of people and resources, the unfair trade agreements in which multinational companies operate, offering little to no financial retributions to the countries they are based.  These companies can pillage Africa of its raw materials, export it to their laboratories, make them into patented products and make millions from it without a single repayment to the country where they are sourced.  SR Pharma’s final director Melvyn Davies explains it as; “If you pick up a natural substance from the street, does that mean it belongs to the country in which you found it? [Our researcher] just happened to be in Uganda.”  How convenient!

We fail to reason why one of the poorest countries in the world, Niger, is an exporter of Uranium. In 2010, Niger supplied France with a total of 114,346 metric tonnes of uranium, representing an export value of 2.3 trillion CFA francs (over 3.5 million euros). From that sum, Niger was only paid 300 billion CFA francs (approximately 459 million euros), or 13% of the exported value.  Or that DR Congo, a country where out of every 100 children, 17 will not reach their 5th birthday, generated a profit of more than 400% for offshore companies with unspecified owners in the British Virgin Islands, by selling mineral rights of 5 mining fields. DRC sustaining a loss of $1.36bn in this deal alone.

Zimbabwean investigative journalist, Stanley Kwenda, also talked about the case of the Marange diamond fields, where though millions are being made from the mining of the field, the community suffers in impoverishment.  Stanley Kwenda, expressed dismay at how easy western mercenaries, for a fee, are willing to hide huge sums for corrupt leaders. To raise awareness, he produced the film, How to Rob Africa.

While the aim isn’t to exempt African leaders from all responsibility or excuse their greediness and its detriment to the growth of Africa, it is to draw attention to the West’s culpability to the corrupt practices of African leaders. The billions of dollars stolen from the continent by its leaders are often stashed in western countries. These western mercenaries turn a blind eye to the source of the loot and even erase all traces of the transactions with offshore accounts and disguised business ownerships. It is also common knowledge that these stolen money do not just sit in the bank, they are funnelled into the western economy while the countries these money were stolen from continues to wallow in lack.

The scramble for resources in Africa by Western countries which led to WW1 still continues. As Africa has in olden times aided the west through slavery, colonisation and economic exploitation, it continues to so do at the disadvantage of its citizens. Malachy Postlethwayt, minced no words when he said in 1745: “British trade is a magnificent superstructure of American commerce and naval power on an African foundation.”

Though Beckford experts have estimated Britain’s debt to Africa in trillions of pounds, Drayton concludes that the debt is actually incalculable “for without Africa and its Caribbean plantation extensions, the modern world as we know it would not exist.” This echoes what Jacques Chirac, ex-president of France also confirmed; “we have to be honest and acknowledge that a big part of the money in our banks comes precisely from the exploitation of the African continent. Without Africa France will slide down in the rent of a third world power”, and to add insult to injury, African countries are paying repayment for debts to the Western world. A debt Richard Drayton, of the Guardian, says only exists on paper as the money never left the western world.

The West with its vast array of charities, which in themselves have become a money making scheme, portrays Africa as poor and helpless and gives to it in full view of the world, under flashing camera lights whilst robbing it in secret.

Africa is exactly where the West wants it to be, and “aid” is just a cover up.

The “Them and Us” Syndrome; Fear of the Other

 

 It seems the world revolves and strives on the fuel of segregation and division; the habitual seeking of a reason to segregate and something or someone to sink our teeth into.

If we are the same colour, we have to emphasise on the difference in our gender, and if we are of the same gender, then we need to remind ourselves of the difference in our colour or culture or ideology and religion. 

I was still reeling with shock from watching Nigeria sink into a new low in the recent elections; the blatant use of religion and tribe to garner support by state officials, both learned and illiterate, the verbal hurl of tribal stereotypes on social media by citizens without. 

South Africans, however, topped that. The Zulu king even exceeded the Yoruba King in the shameful game of acrimony and his target yet again were foreigners. 

His words like the blowing of a whistle, the uncapping of a furiously steaming pot already threatening to overpour set the South African “natives” in motion, and the bludgeoning, stabbing, burning and abuse of “foreigners” commenced. Never mind that they are humans.

Foreigners are always an easy target. In order to make inexcusable actions against them seem logical and warranted, reasons as to why they deserve to be punished are fabricated. 

The first word often saddled with “immigrant” is “illegal”. It’s therefore rationalised that since they entered the country illegally, they deserve what they get. Or they are blamed for personal ineptitude. A well known example is the “they are stealing our jobs” narrative. 

The media then jumps on this wave with sensationalist news, politicians seeking votes also tag along and the “natives” cry murder; Bloody foreigners! Nasty immigrants! 

It’s a well known story.

Nonetheless,  it is ironical that South Africa, a country well known for its struggle against segregation and apartheid, a country with a history of oppression and pain will mete out the same treatment. 

The Zulu king acknowledged the part other African countries played in bringing an end to apartheid “…the fact that there were countries that played a role in the country’s struggle for liberation should not be used as an excuse to create a situation where foreigners are allowed to inconvenience locals”, but of course it isn’t enough reason to be accommodating. 

He went on to say “I know you were in their countries during the struggle for liberation. But the fact of the matter is you did not set up businesses in their countries.” The scroungers were setting up businesses, earning a living and contributing to the economy. How unacceptable!

The truth is no country can survive in isolation, and the terms “foreigner”, “immigrant”, “native”, “indigene” are merely amorphous  words that change with context and time.  

How ever we move on from here, this act of xenophobia is a scar that will forever marr South Africa. It will be told and retold.

Tribalism; the Fuel of Election campaigns in Nigeria

The Nigerian 2015 elections have come and gone, but that we cannot deny that it left a trail of necessary discussions and uncovering in its wake. A predominant one being, the prevalence of tribalism in the country.

Having grown up in Nigeria, I studied with and befriended people of different tribes, shared a neighbourhood with them and even saw countless of inter tribal marriages. Moving to the UK, I have seen even more diversity and engaged myself in racial debates, it was impossible not to.

I was therefore gob smacked to see the consistency and outright use of tribalism as a tool in the 2015 elections and campaign. The sheer disregard for political correctness even more more so amongst learned state officials.

In retrospect, I realize it shouldn’t mount to so much surprise. I remember registering surprise as a kid, when I saw inter tribal couples. I recall thinking “how unusual” or “it must really be love”. I remember being teased by my friends when I was with my first boyfriend, an Igbo. I remembered smug comments laced with derision after watching a Nollywood film portraying Igbo culture.

However, I was surprised with how justified politicians felt in using tribes and religion as a means to garner support.  Discussions on social  media ranged from Yorubas being called traitors, Hausas being called Boko Haram or terrorists to Igbos being labelled as desperate criminals. Some Igbos in all boldness took up the term Biafrans. It seemed the nation was again on the verge of a civil war.

People were justifying their votes with phrases like “he is a Christian” “why do Hausas think they are born to rule.” When an Igbo friend realised I was supporting the president elect General Buhari, a northerner, he asked “a Boko Haram?” and I was so befuddled I didn’t even know where to start with my comeback.

To remind him that these same people are the ones suffering from the terror of Boko Haram? Or that owing to the failure of the government to protect them, these same people, risking their lives, have bravely set up vigilante groups to protect themselves with makeshift weapons?

Having lived in a city known for its diversity, having participated in debates against racisms, having seen people from almost every race claim to be British. I am greatly ashamed that a country of people with similar phenotype and culture can so easily be divided along tribal and religious lines.

Now, I could propose that Hausas have found themselves governing the country more than any other group because of their significant population. I could also reason that the presidential seat shouldn’t be rotated along tribal lines, and so If an Igbo/Hausa or Yoruba candidate fits the bill 20 consecutive times, he has every right to be elected.

I could propose all these, but who will listen? Wouldn’t that just make me a traitorous Yoruba in the eyes of those fully sold to stereotypes? After all people tend to doggedly follow beliefs that makes them more comfortable. And if we are to address this problems woudn’t we be doing a great injustice by forgetting the other 300 plus tribes that makes up Nigeria?

The Birth of a New Nigeria

2015 Election, Nigeria

2015 Election, Nigeria11082425_10205050468560465_7420701953760957151_o

For the first time in the history of Nigeria, since the end of military rule in 1999, Nigeria’s ruling and incumbent party PDP experienced its first fierce competition and subsequent power shift. General Buhari of the opposition party APC, following the two days collation of votes has today been declared the winner of the 2015 Presidential Election by INEC.

This elections trumps many in the history of the country, as it bears a significant meaning to Nigeria and even Africa in general. It has succeeded in proving that the people’s vote can count and Nigerians have not given up on their civic duties, as might be expected considering the country’s track record for immense corruption, and the nature of previous elections where there have been clear evidence of rigging.

General Buhari, a military man known for his iron fist and severe clamp down on corruption, represented the promise of a new beginning to the people. He stood as the answer to Boko Haram, an Islamic extremist group that had claimed lives and dislodged millions in the north part of Nigeria, as well the hope of justice for those responsibly in the misappropriation of funds under the last regime.

Nigerians in the months leading to election resiliently chanted the word Change and on the d-day, 28 of March, went out to put their votes where their  mouth is. Defying rain, sunshine and even threats from the insurgency, Boko Haram. Nigerians trooped out to decide the fate of their nation under the full glare of the World, overcoming the challenges raised by the new voting system of card readers and  PVCs  to exercise their civic duties.

Though the elites, who conveniently have their family outside the country, tried to sow discord along tribal and religious lines with the threat of a civil war looming, Nigerians stood in unity, respecting difference in opinions.

A clear message has been sent by the outcome of the election;  as Nigerians we will not be scared by threats of violence from a terrorist group or the few elites that are bent on appropriating the wealth of the nation for their personal gain. We will not be lethargic in our fight for transparency and accountability. We as Nigerians reserve the right to vote out leaders who have failed to deliver the mandates of the people. The power belongs to the masses not the leaders and we will not be divided along tribal or religious lines. We stand in Unity!

And as Chief Obafemi Awolowo predicted, “a day will come when Nigerians from the North and South, Christians and Muslims and Animists will merge as a force for progress and unity, and kick against rigging and corruption and tyranny”. that day came and it was today.

Nigeria made history and the people celebrate.

rape happens.

Very gripping!

bipolar one, real life two.

If you have never spent time sitting down with a rape victim, watching her wince and grimace as she bravely endures an invasive and painful forensic rape examination just hours after being brutally ripped apart by a man’s forced penetration, never heard her cry in anguish as she questions her every decision, wondering where she went wrong and how she could have stopped the 200-lb man from choking her while she bled from behind, never had to photograph the bruises on her back and neck where he held her down until he ejaculated….if you have never done this, then while I value your opinions and crave your input into the discussion, I REJECT your assertion that we do not live in a culture that minimizes rape.  That “rape culture” is a buzzword created by feminists to further demonize white males.

If you have never sat holding the hand of a 19 year…

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