Another Live Aid Single…….Really????????

*This post is dedicated to Dr Stella Adadevoh and the thousands of African health workers who have died and those who risk their lives on a daily basis to treat victims of Ebola. You are unsung heroes of this crisis, your sacrifices has saved millions and will never be forgotten. 

Most who have been following my blog can probably tell that I am an amiable chap. I try to be impartial and objective in my view points, but this is some bull sh*t…yes I said it and I will say it again…THIS IS SOME BULL SH*T!!!!!

Ladies and gentlemen, it about that time again, another “Crisis in Africa”, and here comes Sir Bob Geldof and his Celebrity Avengers assemble to save Africans yet AGAIN. The cynic in me is forced to ask “How come this guy only seems to turn up when there is some sh*t going on in Africa”.  There have been countless disasters across the worlds since the last live aid, haven’t there? (There is a school of thought which argues that shit has been happening in and to Africa since the Europeans landed hundreds of years ago). I am not one to question their intentions, only God knows what’s in a man’s heart. But for me personally I find Live Aid 30 patronising and I question its effectiveness in the long term. Do they really have to make a record? Why don’t these artists just come together, each donate just 1% of their astronomical total wealth anonymously and be on your way.

Let us play devil’s advocate, let’s just say I am in total in support of recording this new single to help raise money to fight Ebola in Africa, I find it a little disconcerting that there was just one African singer in this “stellar” cast of musicians. (Please correct me if I am wrong)

Now, this not to say that I am against charity fund raising and providing Aid where and when it is necessary. I have good things about the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation.  The British public have been generous on numerous occasions, they have dug deep when they were called upon and I am sure that their donations have saved millions of lives.  All our hearts and prayers goes out to victims of the Ebola epidemic, but what I wonder what the Live Aid 30 single can do that charities such as Medecin San Frontieres and Red Cross, World Health Organisation, and World Leaders cannot. (The later duo messed up royally).  In this social media age, the Ebola crisis has dropped down the list in term of news. I suggest that more people care more about Kim Kardashians revealing her booty than Ebola. I am not the first to question the impact of Live Aid. I am sure that that it has had an impact in saving many lives since its inception. Since the first live aid event in 1985 for starving Africa, the world has created more billionaires and but millions are still are still hungry.

I propose that Live Aid 30 is not the answer. Africa should stop being seen as a victim that needs rescuing. With the right resources, effective leadership, dedication, sacrifice and little a luck, Africans can do for themselves.  Case in point; Nigeria.  I propose that we look beyond Live Aid and Aid in general. There are deeper issues which keeps so many countries in perpetual poverty.  If WE (humanity) stand together and confront these root causes, there will no longer be a need for Live Aid in the future- ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD.

I am forced to ask the question that nobody else seems to be asking, what is going to happen after Ebola has been eradicated? The root causes which enabled this disease to take hold and kill thousands will still be in place: abject poverty, lack of education, poor governance, poor infrastructure, poor health care, astronomical national debts etc etc. What’s to stop another killer disease from devastating another poor nation in 2 or 20 years? Ebola has killed many of the bread winners from countless families and orphaned thousands more in the affected countries. What will happen in the aftermath of Live AID 30 reaching the Christmas #1 spot in the UK singles chart? What is going to happen if (or when) another disease strikes again and poverty is the cause of thousands more deaths?

With all that being said, I am sure the money raised from this single will go towards fighting this killer disease and help thousands, for that we must give kudos and be grateful. For those who purchase the single, I urge you not to forget the  victims of this particular tragedy but also remember other victims who have diseases that don’t have the world’s attention. I just want us to look beyond……….

“In each individual is the ability to change the world for the better, all that is required now is the Collective WILL.

Till next week; KKB OUT.

*KKB acknowledges and salutes ALL the aid workers who are saving lives and helping to fight this disease.

Dr Stella

Honor thy father; Alhaji Olanrewaju Kareem

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Kilonshele my people, this post will be of a very personal nature.

Praise be to Allah, my father was 77 years yesterday may he continue to be blessed with longevity and good health.  The reason I am dedicating this post to my father is because it was not till a few years ago that I truly began to appreciate him as a father. One of the reasons being, I have a couple of friends who have lost their own father’s, them sharing the pain of not have them around galvanized me to forge a closer relationship with my own father.  The primary reason being that, I did not realise the impact my father had on shaping my outlook on life until I completed my book “Memoirs of a Young African” (MOAYA).  Many have said that the stories relating to my father were probably funniest (especially the Methodist Grammar School incident).  Alahaji is a proud Egba man who was very protective of his children as one teacher found out. Writing, MOAYA unleashed a flood of memories about my childhood interaction with my father. I didn’t begin to truly appreciate him until I read the completed manuscript. Sadly, the appreciation was twinged with some regret. Firstly because I didn’t not dedicate the book to both my parents.  (I promise to dedicate my next novel to him). The boALok was dedicated to my mother because she was the inspiration for writing it. Her sacrifice has been well documented and shall never be forgotten. The second reason for the feelings of regret was because I don’t feel that I sufficiently acknowledge the sacrifices my father made and I wished I could have added a couple more stories about Alhaji.

For every boy, his father (good father’s) will always be his hero and it the same for me. My childhood memories of my father were mostly that of a disciplinarian but it’s the rare moments of softness that will always stay with me. He was bigger than life, there was nothing he couldn’t do, I always felt safe around him and not once did I ever go hungry.  As some of you may know, my mother travelled abroad to work when I was about seven or eight years old.  This was the period when Nigeria was going through the throes of an economic down turn due to but not exclusively the structural adjustment programme (SAP). For a few years, Alhaji was a single father. He had lost his job at a multinational organisation and had turned to farming. Some of the memories are of hearing Alhaji leaving the house at 5am to go the farm, coming back by 7am to pick us up for school, going back to the farm, picking us up from school at 2pm, making sure that we were fed before going back to the farm, before returning home around 9pm, 6 days a week. To me, as a child, that was just my father working, but looking back now as a man, my father looked gaunt. Times were hard but he took on the role of mother and father, roles he performed admirably.  While my mother was away, he was more gentle and softer than usual. He cooked often when we didn’t have a maid, took us the amusement park and Ibadan country club to soften the blow of not having our mother around.  Alhaji instilled in all his four children a strong work ethic, although we had maids sometimes while growing up, we still had chores that had to be completed regularly, promptly and efficiently. There were not traditional gender roles in our house; everybody did everything (I am sure my future wife will be very grateful). One of the stories I wish had made it into the book was with regards to an event which occurred when I was about ten years old. My dad instructed me to make him some eba. I felt honoured and I put the water on the stove. I was inpatient and didn’t let the water heat up to the right temperature before I put the gari into the pot. The outcome was less than impressive (it was quite cold, but my father ate it like as if it was gourmet meal prepared by a world class chef.  That was my father’s way of showing his love; I have never told him about how I felt as I watched him put each lump of cold eba in his mouth. So I just want to use this opportunity to say, thank you.

It has not been until I reached manhood, that I began to appreciate the words of wisdom and discipline Alhaji instilled in me. As a youngster, my love for television was insatiable. I can still remember my father pleading with me “Kabir, please please go and read your books. The programme you are watching now, they will repeat it and you will be able to watch it a hundred times, please please go and read your books”.  The man was a visionary; this was 20 years before the advent of YouTube.  If I had listened to him, you never know, I may have been the one to invent YouTube. But kids will be kids. There are many more examples of how my father’s words in childhood have come to fruition in adulthood.  As a kid, my thoughts ran along the lines of “it’s just this old man talking again, he is always talking about something”. As an adult, it’s more of “ahhh, so this is what this old man was talking about, now it makes sense”. As alluded to in the book, Alhaji constantly reminded us to never forget that we were African (this advice will form a major part of the Q4IS series- stay tuned).

Although MOAYA was about the effects of immigration on me, I have begun to appreciate the effects of the transition on my father. He sacrificed a lot so that his children can have a shot a better life. Before the economic collapse in Nigeria, he was an experienced accountant who had worked for various multinationals and was in charge of major departments. It must have taken a lot of humility and courage to come to the UK and to do jobs which he was woefully overqualified. There were periods were he would work 20 hours a day. In Nigeria, he was a man of importance and prestige, respected in the neighbourhood and across the city; he had built his own house, he was a successful business man, and head of the Kareem-Bello family. He left a society where his age, education and position commanded instant respect to a place where a pimple faced kid could tell him to shut up without facing any consequences.  Not once did I hear my dad voice regret at coming to the UK, but I am sure it must have been difficult for him to adjust. Additionally, he is a man who believes in traditional African values. So it was big risk to take his four children to a foreign land where they may lose their sense of identity, heritage, religion and language.  He worked hard to ensure those element were maintained and we will be forever grateful. At an age where most of his enjoying retirement or suffering the effects of old age, Alhaji is still running a successful business and planning to establish more. He is still as sharp as ever.  For me, the greatest quality about Alhaji Kareem is his perseverance.  He has faced many challenges in life but he never gives up. There is no such word as failure in his vocabulary; a trait which he has passed on to his children and many others.

Any man can get a woman pregnant and have a child, but a father is one who puts his child’s needs above his own and does his best to give that child the tools to make it in the world. My father showed me his love through his words and actions (I am now grateful for those ass whooping’s), the discipline gave me boundaries, and his words have helped me to chart the course through to manhood. I could not understand the words as a boy; those words now hold immeasurable value to me as a man.  He instilled in us principles and ethics that will pass on for generations to come. I will be forever grateful for the sacrifices and words you used to nurture me, it has made me the man I am today.

Alhaji Olanrewaju Kareem- KKB Honors you.

Till next week, KKB out.

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Till next week, KKB out.

Quest for Identity Series-Part 2: Black History Month: Is it still relevant?

IMG_0278My Starting Point….Egba Land

 

#Going beyond October, Slavery, School, Icons, Heroes, Inventors, Civil Rights, Race……….!!!!!

A person who does not have a clue to his or her history stands a very poor chance of mapping out a future. Dr Maya Angelou 

Kilonshele my people

This week’s post is the 2nd in the Quest for Identity Series which will henceforth be referred to Q4IS. I trust you have all had a wonderful October which as some may be aware was Black History Month (BHM) in UK.  Honestly, I had no idea.  I have not really been one to “celebrate” this event for reasons which I am still trying to decipher. The subject of “history” and “black history” has been marinating in my mind for a few months now, it coincides with my own personal quest for meaning. The catalyst for this particular post is a viral video called “#what I wasn’t taught at school” made by a young man named Samuel King. (www.youtube.com/watch?v=TNfH41-LI4w) Kudos to Samuel and his team for this courageous undertaking. I have had similar views for quite a while now and I agree with a number of points he highlighted. Unfortunately I will not be able to provide a full debrief of the video message but I will attempt to go allude to some of the points made.

He made a number of valid arguments, the most critical of which being that “We” are taught the same thing every year during BHM e.g. Aparthied, Slavery and the Civil Rights movement. Nothing new is ever taught.  Based on this, he feels that he is not able to take BHM seriously and I am sure many people feel that way too, especially the young. One of the core issues highlighted is that there is so much that “We” are not told. He poetically goes on to name a number black Icons/Heroes I had never heard of, for example the black men who invented the light switch and the traffic light, the richest man to ever live was King Musa of Mali and the first Black Roman emperor was Septimius Severus. For me, the most poignant point he made was “there is so much to learn in one month”. I say therein is where the problem lays. I will attempt to take philosophical approach the question I have posed above. I must confess, my knowledge of BHM is limited at best and I am not exactly a Rhode Scholar when it comes to African History. A number of questions should be asked before assessing the relevance of BHM but I will focus on two.

I write this post with the utmost humility and unintended ignorance. I am thinking from the perspective of the brand “Black History Month”. I understand that the original objectives of this concept was to create a “facility” for black people in the West (America and UK) to learn and celebrate their history. The first question I would like to ask is “what is Black History”? Personally, I find this term restrictive. I suggest that it puts every black person into one category without acknowledging individuals or group’s country, tradition, culture, tribe, language, religion etc. When I was in secondary school (1992-1996), during BHM, I learnt about the Civil Rights Movement, Aparthied, Marcus Garvey, and Martin Luther King amongst others. Thinking back now, as a young Nigerian-British boy, and without diminishing their significance or contributions, I am forced to ask myself; what the hell did the civil rights movement in America have to do me as a young Nigerian in diaspora? Ironically, I didn’t know I was black until I arrived on these shores. Learning about Olaudah Equiano would probably have made a greater impact on me and many others.  Now in 2014 Nigerian-British man in his early thirties, what impact will knowing about Septimius Severus or King Musa have on my quest for identity or fit into my personal history. Looking at it from a different perspective, how pertinent are these men to my 14 year old nephew?  Born in England, his father is from the Benin tribe and mother is from the Yoruba tribe of Nigeria. This is not to say that learning about Olaudah Equiano would be more beneficial to him. Like others, he has to find his own “starting point”. But on the flipside, learning about King Musa and Septimius Severus could serve as an inspiration to an individual or groups in a society where perception matters a great deal. Learning about these individuals may not only inform about the past but could also serve to empower and liberate the present generation.  For too many years, there has been a negative perception of Africa and the origins of the black race. So if just one person is inspired by the Civil Rights Movement or King Musa, who am I or anyone else to determine its significance. In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king!

It would be impossible to learn about “black history” in one month or in one lifetime. The wealth & diversity of black history, and the differences within the black community (another term I have a problem with) in the UK should to seriously acknowledged. I noticed that Stephen used the pronouns “WE” and “OUR” with all good intentions, (I cannot testify of his meaning) I suggest that it may be counterproductive to his argument. These are unifying words but may also mask the issues which I personally don’t feel has been acknowledged or fully discussed. For example, I have seen many fights break out when a black person has been called an “African”. On the other side, many black “Africans” who arrive on these shores straight from (and on) the continent do not consider black Americans’ or West Indians Africans. I suggest that the transatlantic slave trade is not a subject most “Africans” are aware of or can connect with. Although all black people share the same source, each one of us has a different starting point and will take different paths when it comes to charting his or her history. The starting point and paths for the British, Jamaican or American’s history will be very different from that of Nigerian or Senegalese. For example, the starting point for every Nigerian would be the amalgamation in 1914. But the path to learning about my own history would be based on the tribal history of the Yoruba’s.

 The second question I would I like us to consider is: who is responsible to teaching “black history”? A few months ago, I received an e-mail from a friend asking me to sign a petition calling for more black history to be taught in his child’s school. After much pondering, I opted not to sign the petition. The reason being, I am an advocate of the philosophy of developing a pluralistic society. I remember when I arrived in 1992; one of the most fascinating things about my primary school was the array of different races and cultures which I came into contact with. What would happen if every race or ethnic minority requested/demanded more was taught regarding their relevant history? Even more significantly where would the school begin? Going back to the point of vast differences and richness in diversity! Ladies and gentlemen I put it to you, KNOWLEDGE IS INFINITE; TIME IS LIMITED (KKB ©).  It could be  unproductive to rely on one or few sources to gain knowledge. Ultimately I believe that the quest for understanding one’s history should start within oneself but the foundations for this journey should begin at home. BHM, schools, parents, etc should not be taken as a holistic source of information, there are limits to the type and level of information they can provide. They can be the “starting points” but then it up to the individual to determine the paths taken.

We also have to take into account the impact of Globalisation vs Tradition. In the globalisation age, the easy access to information has probably diminished the desire or ability to take an interest in history. There is a general consensus that traditionally, African history was passed down orally. I may be wrong but I believe this art is in decline or has been lost as a result of globalisation. (Google is god post) In another twist of irony, in comparison to the young Africans on the African Continent and West Indies, young Africans in the diaspora like my nephew and Stephen are at a far more advantageous position if they want to learn about their history.

In conclusion, I would say that BHM as an entity is still relevant but I would suggest that it may need a change of strategy to acknowledge changes in society. The gradient must constantly be on upwards trajectory, if you are standing still you are regressing. I would suggest going beyond History, and begin to encompass topics such Philosophy, Art, Sociology, Politics, Language, and Science.   I propose that BHM can be used as a “starting point” for individuals and groups to learn about their own history and that of others.  I strongly advocate that individuals take responsibility for learning their own history with the objective of sharing their knowledge to gain an understanding of the other’s history. I am in favour of the ethos QUID PRO QOU: “I learn about mine, you tell me about yours”. The desire to understand one’s history should be relevant to each individual’s quest for identity. (I acknowledge that not everybody has a desire to learn about their history).  Before embarking on the journey, I would urge you to reflect on the quote below by ConfuciusLearning about history can easily produce nothing but a list of details and facts. One needs a comprehensive framework that gives coherence to everything one has learned. My take on this is: “one who embarks on a journey into history will probably have a more productive experience if they define the purpose. Catalysts, reasons and desires will be different for each individual but ultimately it should have meaning. The objective of learning history is to get an understanding about past traditions and cultures that could change individuals and society for the better. What is learnt about the past can be applied today with the objective of creating a better tomorrow for future generations”.

Ultimately ladies and gentlemen, Black History is part of World History.

Where is your starting point and what path will you take?

My Paths

My Paths

Thank you for your time, I hope you found the post illuminating. Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments box below or challenge any of my arguments.

Till next week…….

KKB out

*A small addendum I would like to make is that “WE” should not romanticise “Black History”, “WE” don’t all come from Kings and Queens. But that’s a discussion for another day.