Posts Tagged ‘Michael Jackson’

So the US election campaigns started about 18 months ago, and I’ll be honest and say I was largely uninterested in the debates, rallies, etc. until very recently. Of course there were the very many days the world was jolted by any of the inappropriate (inappropriate here also meaning scary, unacceptable, criminal, etc.) utterances from Republican Candidate Donald Trump either during rallies, interviews, in the locker room, pretty much everywhere. On those days I would be forced to catch up on the outrage, but that would be all.
Not because I don’t care who the next leader of the free world is, not because I don’t see the incredible importance and leap it would be for a woman to become the next president of the United States, but because my people say that “when a man’s house is on fire he does not bother about the fufu he had on the stove.” There was (still is) just too much “what on earth is going on with my Nigeria” going on to focus on what’s happening in the pond an entire continent away.
TV ads forced me to care. Stickers, posters, heck even conversations a little too animated forced me to join the US Election frenzy. With or without my consent, I’ve had to actively follow.
So, I’ve been in the US for the past 4 weeks now and the excitement/apprehension/tension is palpable. Not the Nigerian flavor of ‘we’re voting for x and y not because we know what they will offer but because our leader says to’, but the ‘we’ve listened to both (major) candidates, know their history and believe overwhelmingly that x is better than y’. Or maybe even that x is the lesser of the two evils, whatever personal reasons.  
It reinforced a thought that led to this tweet“Dear #Nigeria, when we’re done climaxing over the #USElection rallies, our candidates MUST debate in 2019. Anything else is unacceptable.”
I believe that tweet with all my heart, and I hope you, Nigerian, tax-paying, voter card-wielding, pledge-reciting, daughter or son of the soil who has followed the US Elections has been reacquainted with a love for oratory, a respect for facts and figures, an appreciation for the media (and the 2016 expression of the Social Responsibility and Hypodermic Needle theories), and a renewed belief in yourself as a citizen whose vote is worth more than screaming rallies without any substance.
Anything less than debates with concrete plans, economic policies that can be argued for or against, and interventions that directly impact the lives of Nigerians is unacceptable. No more platitudes, no more empty promises, no more roaring rhetoric. 
Our state and national representatives must clearly articulate their plans for us, the people they represent. We cannot applaud the levels of transparency we’ve seen in this election and be content with declarations of assets that end up being as vague as they are untrue.
We must elect representatives who will not subvert but uphold the Constitution, and indeed open up the black hole that the National Assembly budget currently is!
Sigh. Deep breath Chioma. Moving on.
I’ve also thought very deliberately about how technology has been deployed for these elections. I’m not referring to diaspora voting which ensures citizens all over the world are not disenfranchised, and sounds like a brilliant idea till you remember that Nigeria has not come close to perfecting our local, physical processes yet. We cannot guarantee votes cast by human beings we can see and touch (’see and touch’ excluding the era when we had Jamie Foxx and Michael Jackson on the list of accredited voters); yet we’re currently fascinated with diaspora votes. Maybe add that to the things we will blame next for inconclusive elections?
Anyway, I was referring to citizen-centered technology. Technology deployed to make voter education and the voting process as seamless and inclusive as possible. First from the government with the listings/helplines on social and traditional media, to parties and politicians constantly reminding the electorate why, how, and where to vote;  broadcast media and state-specific voting information, to the digital titans deploying doodles, stickers, and other ‘make it cool to vote’ paraphernalia for the electorate to perform their civic duty. No stomach infrastructure, sharing of rice, or bread, or corn; no ridiculous photos where fancy wristwatches meet extreme poverty, none of that mess. 
Anyway, it all ends in the next 24 hours. Those who didn’t already vote have until 8pm to get counted, with a collation and announcement devoid of candlelight, midnight miracles, meme-worthy drama, or any funny business. Governance should also start in earnest immediately after the swearing-in, not 9 months after. 
Quite frankly, these elections rank high on the list of things Americans should be ashamed of – the blatant mudslinging, disrespect for candidates/American History/the American people; the divisive nature of the campaign, the hate it’s inspired, ugh. Shameful.
However, for us, there is a lot to be learned, and I hope we’ve all been taking notes. 2019 is coming. 
PS: Originally published on Huffington Post
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Hello folks! Welcome to a new month! How’s the year been? Good? Great? Achieving? Working hard? Feel like there are some things you need to work on, change around? It’s all in your hands!

Let’s start by catching up a bit – won’t dedicate a full post to it because honestly I’m tired of writing about the effects of drug use/abuse. Ditto ranting about drug trafficking, especially to countries where the penalty is death. So, I’m not saying drug trafficking is ok (God forbid), I’m saying that if you have given yourself over to the devil (or allowed the devil to use you according to former President Goodluck Jonathan), why not help your career by staying out of countries where the penalty is death? Na wa.

On drug abuse, and the recent death and internment of Bobbi Kristina Brown, I have a few things to say. Not to her family (who must be in so much grief all we can/should do is pray for them to be comforted) but to the rest of us who are still privileged to be in the land of the living. Not because we’re better, more righteous or whatever. God is just merciful. But we have a part to play.

Illicit drugs were, are, and will always be a bad thing. There is no way abusing drugs (even if it is cough medicine I hear people sniff to get high) will ever produce a positive result.

Michael Jackson – 50.Whitney Houston – 48. Phillip Seymour Hoffman – 46. Cory Monteith – 31. Bobbi Kristina – 22. She’s the latest entrant to the list since the post I wrote titled, “learn from it, don’t be it”. How hard can it be to say no to the first whiff, injection, smoke? What are you even doing amongst people playing rough play like that? Let me sound like my father a bit and say that do you think Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, etc. would be where they are today if they spent their time sniffing whatever it is that ends up destroying the mind and the body? How do we by ourselves become the architects of our own destruction?

Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s death hurt me in a different kind of way. This man was an addict, cleaned up, was drug free for at least 8280 days, then fell off the wagon again. And this time it killed him. Would to God he had stayed clean another 6 months from the 8280 days; he might still have been here.

Don’t start. Don’t try it. If you’re sad/depressed/feeling bad, pray. Shop (more like window shop). Go out, hang out with your friends. Call someone close on the phone. Pray. Sing. Dance. Sleep sef!

But in the name of everything pure, leave drugs alone. There is no light at the end of that tunnel.

Love, light, and warm fuzzies,

FGS.

I was invited to this event –

IMG_20150201_204320

and can I start by saying a big kudos to Play Network for putting this together? To my mind Play is a club/lounge and so the social consciousness and thought that went into staging this event is commendable. More than commendable.

So the IV said 6pm; by 6.30pm I saw a tweet saying the hall was empty so I sat back at home and continued working on the documents I had to ready for this week.

Apparently there was a rendition of the national anthem by Eve Urrah and Magnificent, a welcome address by PLAY Network CEO Charles Okpaleke, and then Adebola Williams presented a speech. Gleaned this sentence off tweets, did I miss anything?

Got there about 7.30pm to meet about 15 minutes of Oby Ezekwesili’s keynote – fiery, hardcore, and igniting. Not like anyone who knows her would expect anything else. Some of the things I took away?

  • “Weak governments produce weak outcomes. Strong intelligent governments produce strong, sustainable outcomes”
  • “You must join public service. Apathy cannot give you the answers/results you’re looking for/expecting

And then there was this!

Screenshot 2015-02-02 14.15.59

Ok, after her keynote which ended with a question on what our (us young people) parameters for measuring competence, character, and capacity were, there was the electrifying performance by JaiyeGuitar. Really lovely! And that rendition of Michael Jackson’s Earth Song? Loved it! Even though that bit with kneeling down was a bit too much for me, I loved it! And yes, my honest, purest thoughts Sir? Don’t sing, just play!

Next up was Frank Nweke who started with a riveting question: what’s wrong with being partisan? He asked because apparently the organizers of the event had come to him as a ‘non-partisan’ organization et al, and he said except this was an event strictly about voter education etc., humans were naturally partisan and he wouldn’t give up that part of him. I agree. Sometimes we act like being political is a bad thing.

His was quite interesting to be honest, hard truths about continuity and how he’s been in the same political party for the past 15 or 16 years (take your sub). He re-echoed some of Madam Oby’s thoughts about change being impossible without active political participation, leadership now being a responsibility rather than an option, and my only grouse with the entire presentation was I was checking the time and looking at the other things we had to get through.

Timi Dakolo was up next, and he performed ‘Nigeria’. Soon as he climbed the podium, half the audience was on their feet; the other half joined less than a minute into his performance. Can I just say that if/when I become president, Nigeria is getting a new anthem? An anthem truly representative of everything we’ve seen, are, and hope to be. Timi Dakolo is an incredible performer. End of.

There were cakes and NON-ALCOHOLIC drinks in the foyer, and it was nice to get a bite and a sip – if I’d organized the event maybe there’d have been an interlude for this to happen without people leaving the hall during speeches but hey, learning curve for Play.

Then it was time for the debate. Whoop! I was excited, watching people go at it mentally is one of my favorite past times. Tolu Ogunlesi was invited up to moderate, and he introduced the panelists. Four for each team (APC and PDP); they sat on the stage while Tolu and Chigurl gave the modalities for the debate. Opening statements from both sides, and then there would be questions from the audience both parties would respond to, taking a minute or so per answer if I remember correctly.

Time check? About 10pm or a couple minutes before.

APC started the opening statements (that way because ‘A’ comes before ‘P’ – in Tolu’s voice). First I noticed grammar (one of the speakers used ‘avuncular’ and ‘nexus’ in one sentence and I almost thought ‘Higi Haga’ was in the building).

And the questions went on from there.

Of course there had to be that Nigerian who would raise his hands to ask a question and then say, “actually I don’t have a question, but a comment”. Sigh.

As the question and answer session went on (and I won’t comment on the strength of their answers because I only remember three names of all the panelists and I zoned out as soon as the panelists started yelling), it was obvious people were becoming just a bit more disorderly, voices were just a little higher than normal, and it gradually descended/degenerated into a shouting bout.

Even among the lady debaters.

Calling everyone to order time and time again. I wondered why we bothered dressing up (code was black tie) if we were going to coming within inches of fisticuffs.

Calling everyone to order time and time again. I wondered why we bothered dressing up (code was black tie) if we were going to coming within inches of fisticuffs.

Somehow we got to the end of the event (with half the hall standing and holding mini debates at their seats), and then Doyin Okupe who was on the PDP team but had not said a word the entire time, was going to speak for his team. And then folks who support APC started shouting. From ‘Sai Buhari’ to ‘APC’, to several other unintelligible things, the event hit rock bottom. They rushed to the front of the stage, chanting, hands in the air, and it occurred to me why young people are very far from being taken seriously, why we are far from the future we seek. It was a riot, and I became afraid. Truly afraid.

There was nothing left. Nothing. Only suits and fancy makeup distinguished the yelping animals I was watching from the thugs we see/have seen on TV.

To be honest, I don’t know what Doyin Okupe spoke for, closing argument or something but you must know this: from listening to him last night, he tweets for himself. One and the same. I will not repeat the things he said here either because this is more about us young people than it is about the elders we keep saying have failed.

I think I saw someone push Tolu Ogunlesi in the midst of this ruckus, and Chigurl was super upset because people were calling her names. All because she insisted on following the announced modalities for the mic going round (three questions from each row).

I stayed till the end – left Congress Hall a few minutes to  midnight. These three tweets sum up my thoughts on this event.

Screenshot 2015-02-02 14.32.19 Screenshot 2015-02-02 14.32.48 Screenshot 2015-02-02 14.32.58We are not ready.

 

Another one bites the dust…

Posted: February 9, 2014 in DAY 2 DAY
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Cory Monteith. Michael Jackson. Whitney Houston. What two things do these names have in common? Fame/wealth. Undisputed access to tons and tons of money, acclaim, all that good stuff.

The second thing is illicit drugs/death. Whatever it is they snorted, smoked, injected or inhaled, it led to their death, and very early too. Cory Monteith was 31, Michael Jackson was 50. Talk about lives being cut short.

Exactly one week ago, when I heard Philip Seymour Hoffman had been found dead on the 2nd of February with a needle still stuck in his arm and heroin (a special type called ‘Ace of Spades’) in packets around him, I was sad, then angry, then sad, and angry all over again.

Sad – he died young, he was just 46. He was very popular too, an Oscar award winner, and recently starred in Hunger Games (which by the way I have never watched and don’t think I will ever see because I don’t like fight fight).

Angry – are there not enough examples to prove that drugs are a sure way to die early?

Sad – heartbroken for his family, his wife/partner and their three young children. His parents, and the stigma of being related to the person ‘who died with a needle in his arm’.

Angry – what on earth made him go back to drugs after 23 years of being drug free? Whatever could have entered him all over again? They say his drugs could have been laced with something else. Ok, but why take them in the first place? Why?

I’m sure I could go the sad and angry route a few more times, but I won’t.

Psychologists say anything you do for 30 days becomes a habit – this man had been drug free for at least 8280 days! Then according to a report I read, he started abusing prescription pills, graduated to heroin, and then on to this substance that took his life.

I chatted with someone recently, and he told me the amount of thanks and gratitude he got because he gave him a $5 tip. 5 dollars. Reports say just weeks ago the now late Seymour withdrew $1200 from an ATM to pay for these drugs. $1200 on drugs when the next man is almost throwing a party because he was gifted 5 bucks.

Here’s another reason why I am angry – a child is attracted by the flickering light of a candle, and they want to touch it. Most times we let them because we know once it hurts them that first time, they most likely will not go back to it again. ‘Most likely’ because children have the attention span of a goldfish! Bless them.

23 years after, did he forget? Did he become so wealthy that he felt that the drugs would ‘fear/respect his money’ and not harm him? What was he thinking? The Bible says that the things that are written are unto us for examples.

Just like I wrote the ‘learn from it, don’t be it‘ post when Cory Monteith died, I’m writing again  – say NO to drugs. Say No, and mean it so much that whoever asked you before will be convinced you are not interested. You shouldn’t even be friends with such people in the first place!

RIP Philip Seymour Hoffman.

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When I was younger my father would always say that the stories we read in the Bible are supposed to be examples for us. So when you see that Solomon gave a thousand burnt offerings to the Lord and God came down to ask him what he wanted, it kinda tells you that to see extraordinary from God you need to do extraordinary right?

In the same way, when you see people punished for disobeying God’s laws, you automatically know that there will always be a consequence for wrongdoing right?

Do we agree? Good.

I’m not ‘preaching’ today, so this is not one of the ‘welcome to church, get out your Bibles’ episodes, I just want to address something I can’t stop thinking of. I’m also going to try to appeal to the part of our brain that houses (or should house) common sense. You know that part where you debate stuff before you decide to go ahead with them or not? Yep, that one.

Why on earth, in the name of all things pure, and decent, do people do drugs? What is the attraction that cancels out the simple logic that it is deadly, dangerous, and never ends well? Are there not enough examples for us to see that this is a very bad thing? I don’t get it!

Every other year we hear of one high-profile person or the other, cut down in their prime at the peak of their careers by something they could easily have done without. Easily.

Michael Jackson – cause of death? Cardiac arrest, acute propofol intoxication; midazolam, lidocaine, diazepam, lorazepam also noted in autopsy report. He was 50 at the time of his death in 2009.

Whitney Houston – cause of death? Drowning, complications of cocaine and heart disease; Flexeril, marijuana, Xanax and Benadryl were also found in her body. She was 48 at the time of her death in 2012.

Lil Wayne (not dead, yet after this episode, at this rate it won’t be long)

Most recently, Cory Monteith passed; he was 31, thanks to a mix of heroin and alcohol. What? I don’t know about you, but where I come from it is a bad thing for parents to bury their children. Especially when they were lost in less than dignifying circumstances (not like there is ever a ‘good way’ to die but you get the idea).

There is a more comprehensive list of the causes of death here.

Regardless of what it is called, crystal meth, ecstasy, heroin, coke, and weed, whatever – to my mind if you are not sick you don’t need medication. Why burn your candle form three ends? Spend your money to purchase poison (and they are not cheap), spend money to treat or orchestrate your withdrawal but the biggest loser is your body, your temple which you should ordinarily cherish and pamper. I feel the same way about cigarettes and alcohol.

Would you prefer to learn from examples or you’d rather you were the example? I’m saying that because trust me, any fraternizing with drugs will not end well. At all.

The Bible says to “flee all appearances of evil”. Ladies and gentlemen, flee means to take off from wherever you are when someone offers you stuff you know has no place in your body, not wait for the niceties of ‘on your mark, ready, set, go’. Ain’t got no time for that.

It means to run, and sever all ties with such people before they sever your ties with your destiny!

Too many examples around; let’s be guided.

How have you been? Good? Me too! A little stressed this past week but it’s been worth it. Every single minute of it! Let’s play like this; I’ll run you through a couple of things that I was up to, and you can tell me yours too. K?

For starters, I graduated last week! Masters in Social Media in the bag; whoop whoop!

Whoop whoop!! Thank you Jesus!

I’m grateful to God for the grace to finish, and for the provisions made available to me to study, and finish the course without any hitches. Oya o, direct your social media needs my way; I promise I’m affordable; will be the best value for money ever! I’m particularly interested in and offer

  • Bespoke social media solutions for start-ups, entrepreneurs, corporations, you name it….
  • Hands-on monitoring and technical support
  • Content development and production for radio and television programmes

What else happened last week? Err; apart from going to Heathrow from Birmingham (an approximately three-hour trip) like five times, I did a lot of writing, and writing I’m proud of. The previous week, I’d announced on Twitter that for a few hours I would accept requests from anyone to guest post for free on their websites. Quite a number of people responded, and so I did a lot of writing. I’ve handed in a couple of them, and they’ll be available on here in exactly nine days. That was one challenge I enjoyed, and will repeat soon. Follow @chiomachuka  so you don’t miss out!

Got a phone call about 4.50am on Sunday, a friend called to tell me Whitney Houston was dead. When she hung up, and I had checked to be sure I wasn’t in any way related to Whitney Houston (why else would someone call me that early just to give me bad news), I went on Twitter. Against my wishes/hopes, Whitney Houston had passed on; she was found in the bath of her hotel room by her bodyguard. At forty-eight? Death really has no shame. Who hasn’t been touched by Whitney’s music? The minstrel with 415 awards, the highest by any single musician according to the Guinness Book of World Records; what gave her the right to die?

Of course, conspiracy theories sprung up as to how, why, and who to blame for her death. From drugs, to her husband Bobby, to depression, every option was explored. Her voltrons were on duty as well, and at some point it was almost laughable.

This is what I think: Whitney Houston is a legend, even more in death, one of God’s greatest gifts to music of our time. Larry King said, “All of her life was in her voice”, and even that didn’t quite capture the greatness that was Whitney. She was beautiful, strong, and was all about the music, rather than the sex symbols our musicians are today. But, she was a drug addict. There’s no loving way to say it. All the love, admiration, and respect we feel for her won’t change that so let’s call a spade a spade and not a dessert spoon. As my friend said,

I would to God she’d said no to the first sniff, whiff, ingestion or whatever of drugs. And my heart goes out to her husband Bobby and daughter Bobby Kristina, who themselves have struggled/are struggling with drug abuse. And for her mother who at some point forced her into rehab, I pray God in his infinite mercies comforts you.

To everyone else, “the things we have seen are for our instruction”. Almost in succession, legends have killed themselves, by themselves. Amy WinehouseMichael Jackson, Whitney Houston; I found a pretty long list on a blog of celebrities who have passed thanks to drugs. How many more deaths do we need? Won’t even start on our leaders who are drug users, especially since I plan to visit Nigeria soon (yes this is fear).

What else happened? Err, so Zambia beat Ivory Coast with eight goals to seven (penalties o, was goalless at full-time) to clinch the African Cup of Nations. Yay them! Can’t be bothered, I do not like football. Apart from the fact that footballers make vulgar, almost insane amounts of money (yes, this is beef), I don’t see how the sport that ‘united the world’ is one in which 22 grown men chase a ball. And spit on the pitch. And then fall in that same pitch. Yuck! Triple yuck!

Finally, Serikae Dickson was returned as Governor of Bayelsa State on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP. Dickson was adjudged the winner of the votes having polled a total of 417, 500 votes out of the 467,004 votes cast, representing 89% of total votes cast in the elections that held on Saturday.

That’s it, pretty much the things that interested me this past week! What’s your story?

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As children, my parents always gave us stuff to look forward to, sometimes with conditions; for example “if you place first in your class I will buy you a bicycle”, and other times, just for the fun of it, dad or mom would promise to buy us a gift, or take us somewhere on a certain day. That always marked a turning point in our behaviour/carriage for that period; we would become extra obedient, extra helpful, extra helpful, extra clean, pick up our toys, stellar wouldn’t even scratch the description of what we would be become! Watching my five-year old nephew re-enact that ‘overzealousness’ when I promise to take him swimming or to Wonderland amuses me greatly, and I think, ‘jeez, were we really that obvious back then’?

There’s nothing like hope, trusting that someone will deliver on what they’ve said they will do. And even when sometimes from the word go you know those people won’t deliver, human nature dictates that we ‘hope against hope’. Then we get disappointed, feel hurt et al but give us the same scenario and we’ll do the same thing all over again. Why? Hope.

The perfect illustration for that would be me trying to train Izzie, my late Italian Shepherd (14th June 2006 – 19th December 2009) to sit. Every time I tried, saying, ‘sit’ in English, French, Italian, Yoruba, Ibo, even Hausa, that’s when my darling doggy would swear she would die if she didn’t jump, climb my back, or just stand and stare at me. Funny thing was, even after getting frustrated and leaving with all the treats I got her, next day, yours truly would be back at her kernel again! Why? Hope!

Look at Nigeria too, since the elections that produced Chief MKO Abiola of blessed memory were annulled, we’ve been striving (without success) to hold credible elections; you know, elections without Michael Jackson, Nelson Mandela and Jamie Foxx being Nigerian!

From 1999 we’ve moved from apathy to hope, to disappointment, and back to apathy. And now, just when everyone is ‘gingered’ to participate in the April polls, the fear that we might be disenfranchised is staring us in the face! It’s been reported severally that some registration centres up till now have still not been manned, some of the officials cannot use the equipment, others don’t have ink to print the data recorded, etc. yet every day we continue to troop to the sites, trusting that maybe today, stuff will go right. Why? Hope. By the way, if you still haven’t registered, where is your swag? If you don’t know the closest site to you, check http://yrn.me/maps, http://yrn.me/sng, http://yrn.me/nec, or http://yrn.me/clp; you should find maps, and directions. The registration ends on the 29th of January, so you don’t have a lot of time left!

Most of the time we hope/put our trust in things or people we know from the get go will not come through for us; have you ever stopped to wonder why that God never fails us? He does things we don’t even expect Him to do, yet funnily he seems to be the hardest person for us to hold on to?

How many of us sleep at night hoping to wake up the next day? None of us, because we just know that we will, and that our lives will continue. Do we hope that when we breathe in, our lungs will expand to receive the oxygen and then retract to let the carbon dioxide out? No, for us it just comes naturally. By the way, my doctor sister would be proud of that sentence!

If the foundation of our existence is taken care of on a daily basis by God (and without fail), what is that thing you can’t seem to be able to trust Him for? Sometimes I imagine if it were humans in charge of ‘switching each other on’ every day. Trust me we wouldn’t be having any issues with over population anywhere in the world! I imagine that some people would ‘forget’, and God help you if you fight with the person in charge of your switch!

My pastor talked about not giving up this Sunday, for me it was timely, and just what I needed (isn’t that how the Word of God always is)? He said that sometimes God tells us yes, and rushes off to give us what we’ve asked for, says yes but wants us to wait just a bit maybe because He’s seen that we’re not ready for it yet, and He should know! Other times He might say no because He knows what we want at that time will destroy us. Ditto for my nephew asking to drive the car, not with me o, but alone! I even saw an avatar that says that sometimes we ask God for stuff and He’ll probably be thinking, “you’ve got to be kidding”!

A good example would be Laurent Gbagbo of Ivory Coast praying to God that all the local and international attention/pressure for him to cede power to Alassane Outtara (who’s the rightful winner of the elections) will go away. Are you for real Sir?

Good people, keep your hope alive. The Bible says “cast not away your confidence…..” especially in the One who doesn’t tell you He’s unable to sort you out because He’s too busy, is having a bad day or is on a vacation to the Caribbean’s. Keep your hope in Him alive, that’s what’s up!

P:S – Day 2 of one chronicle a day this week!