I will not Apologise…

 

#I  WILL NOT APPLOGISE

#I WILL NOT APPLOGISE

At 10:30pm on Sunday, I put my popcorn in the microwave as part of my preparation to watch MoTD. When the Arsenal players came out of the tunnel, I saw that they were all wearing black armbands. The commentator acknowledged that they were worn in tribute to the victims of the recent French terror attacks. This bothered me greatly but I didn’t know why. I put it out of my mind and enjoyed watching my team cruise to a 3-0 victory. This post will not be about freedom of speech, nor defending my faith by saying that the Paris killers were not “true Muslims” or “Islam is a religion of peace”. It rings hollow to many people’s ears. I do find it deeply troubling that people will use the same words that gives me peace and comfort to terrorise others. I am Muslim and I will not apologise.

I woke up Monday morning with a heavy heart. The reason the black armbands bothered me so much was what it exposed-the value/dignity given to human life. The players wore that black armband with good intentions, but I say that if they are going to wear the black armbands for the victims of terrorism in Paris, they should wear the black armbands for the victims of terrorism in the towns of Potiskum and Baga in Nigeria; towns and cities across Iraq and Syria just to name a few. If premiership clubs decided to acknowledge the victims of terror all over the world, every game would begin with a minute’s silence and the black armband would be as much part of the shirt as the club crest. It’s the reality of the world we now live.

After the September 11 attacks, George Bush made speeches pertaining to the terrorist wanting to destroy the American way of life “democracy, free speech” etc. Western leaders have also alluded that the carnage in Paris were an attack on democracy and free speech. I am however of the opinion that it is not that simple.I find it highly disconcerting that the Western Governments including my government “fight” to defend my right to freedom; but support regimes who blatantly suppress the rights of their citizens to the same freedoms I enjoy in all its forms, free speech, the right to vote, civil liberties, human rights etc. “World leaders” show solidarity to the citizens of France but keep eerily silent when the citizens under regimes they call “allies and economic partners” are denied the same rights for which the staff of Charlie Hebdoe lost their lives. My government enacts new Parliamentary bills to fight terror on these shores to keep me safe; but sell weapons of terror to autocratic regimes who deny freedom to millions. I am a British citizen and I will not apologise.

I fear that the world is slowly but surely falling into the abyss of emotions and apathy. On the one hand, the “World” Commiserates with Parisians but on the other we are indifferent to the other victims of terror who died the same day/week. News of terror attacks in other parts of the world are taken with less interest to news of a footballer’s extra marital affair. Sadly, we are now conditioned to have different levels of emotions depending on the location and identity of the victims of terror attacks. Is the blood of a European more valuable than the blood of a Nigerian or an Arab? We all bleed red regardless of the colour of our passport.

Terrorism is the epitome of the inequality and injustice reigning in the world. I say that there is no difference between terrors reigned on the innocent based on foreign policy or religious ideology. There is no difference between an explosion that kills innocents as a result of bombs fired from a military drone or detonated by a suicide bomber;  there is no difference between the terror created by the bullets fired from guns on the streets of Paris; than those from an Apache helicopter over the streets of Baghdad or Gaza.

Human beings are by their very nature violent- power, greed, envy, ego all feed this nature. I am a human being and I will not apologise. I will stand for freedom and justice for all regardless of the colour of your passport. I will pray and mourn for all victims of terror regardless of race, creed or nationality.

#IWILLNOTAPOLOGISE

#IWILLNOTAPOLOGISE

“The very essence of inequality and injustice is the oppression of some; for the sake of freedom for others”. Kabir Kareem-Bello

Till next time

KKB Out

KKB VS THE CHAIRMAN: Does one’s perception supersede the other’s reality???

This is an extract from a philosophical debate between KKB and a friend based around the concept of Freedom. It was a totally spontaneous discussion which took place over four hours using Whatsapp.

Chairman- The main reason people don’t do certain things is because of the law and restrictions on society, ironically society mainly in form of your family and peers. People naturally want to have and do whatever they want, be it loads of money, have multiple women or men or just spend endless hours playing computer games etc.

KKB- Is that living or existing. Will that bring one “peace and happiness?”

Chairman- I am existing right now. So it’s a matter of perception

KKB-Life is a perception; nothing exists until our mind comprehends it

Chairman-and I say those who say you can’t buy happiness aren’t shopping in the right places.

KKB-Loooool, money can’t buy happiness, but it sure can make misery easier to deal with

Chairman- You are right on one part. Humans are never fulfilled

KKB- I am looking for eternal happiness

Chairman- So why make it worse by not having the things you long for? Doesn’t that make you feel worse?

KKB-I am looking for peace on earth and eternal freedom, joy and happiness in heaven

Chairman- You want a wife and kids, will that make you happy?

KKB-On this earth yeah…but on judgement day each to their own. All I want to take with me is a sound heart.

Chairman- and you are unhappy because you have got that yet.

KKB-Yes, it’s a desire of mine. But I believe it’s not my time yet.

Chairman-Exactly, so why should somebody else’s desire be less than yours because you say so?

KKB-Did I say so?

Chairman-Point is, we all want things we think will make us happy, what we will think will make us happy is not necessarily a desire.

KKB- My desires or needs are shaped by a quest for meaning.

Chairman- I didn’t choose to be here. Whilst I am here, I want to live how I want.

KKB- So you don’t think you are free

Chairman- Definitely not!!! As I pointed out earlier because of social pressures, law ethics, morals etc we are not in reality actually ever free.

KKB-Without laws and tradition will we be free? What is freedom to you?

Chairman- Being able to do what one wants to do without repercussion!

KKB-I think not sir. There is no true freedom without discipline.

Chairman- Are Gorillas free?

KKB- I am not a Gorrilla, so I can’t tell you.

Chairman-Lol

KKB-You are free to choose to be free with discipline

Chairman-Freedom is an illusion!

KKB-Without limitations, there will be anarchy within the self. So limitations give me freedom within myself

Chairman- I know that! But what humans have created is a pretty much a paradox.

KKB-Please explain sir

Chairman-You can’t be free without discipline and u can’t be disciplined without freedom. Paradox! But again I ask in this day and age of social pressures and restrictions. How can one be truly free in its true definition?

KKB-Where is the paradox?

Chairman- It’s a contradictory statement that also happens to be true. But let me ask, how could I be truly free right now?

KKB-It’s up to you to decide your perception of freedom. Human beings are born in conflict.

Chairman-So you can’t say, and that’s my point.

KKB-I am on quest myself chairman, like all human beings.  But I know for certain that doing whatever I want won’t give me the freedom I desire.

Chairman- U can’t even tell me! It’s an illusion. Since our evolution we have put restrictions on ourselves that are not necessarily natural to us but through conditioning it has now been accepted. For instance, not everybody wants to get married or have children, however, because of social pressure, they go through with it.

KKB- That’s social pressure. Ultimately, men should be free to decide. .  I believe I am free; I am on a quest to achieve ultimate freedom by attaining peace. Like I said yesterday, ultimately having children is a selfish act. It’s a desire for some and a duty for others. We didn’t choose to be born. What do mean by public perception?

Chairman- What people think of you or how they see you, which I believe leads to Mental enslavement. These pressures and public perceptions stop one from attaining one’s true desire, desires which I personally believe leads to some form of happiness be it temporary or not.

KKB- So you think getting what we want is happiness?

Chairman-If happiness is a feeling and down to perception who are you to argue with mine?

KKB-Who is arguing, we are in dialogue? Fools argue wise men dialogue!!!

Chairman-You disagree that getting what we want makes you happy? Yes or No?

KKB- Sir, that is unfair

Chairman- you just asked me “So you think getting what we want is happiness?” well sir, yes, I believe so.

KKB-If getting what we want is happiness, we will never be satisfied because humans always want more, so what is true happiness

Chairman-Semantics!!!

KKB-I was unhappy when I left you house yesterday because Arsenal lost

Chairman-Because u weren’t getting what u desired

KKB-But a few hours later I was happy

Chairman-Because you were getting what you desired

KKB-Because I was getting what I wanted…yes

Chairman-So what are you disagreeing with?

KKB-Sir all I am saying is although I got what I wanted, I want more. More meaning, more purpose. I want peace within myself

Chairman-Ok so we can’t achieve true happiness because there are too many things we want and won’t be able to get.

KKB-From my understanding of faith, this world is temporary. Nobody can tell me what true happiness is, I believe in a world after I die so that’s my quest.

Chairman-Imagine a perfect scenario. Wife, kids, money, good health, family and friends are all good. U telling you won’t be happy?

KKB- I would be happy but that doesn’t mean I give up. I would be thankful.

Chairman-People in that scenario who aren’t happy or content is usually because they want more.

KKB-Yes, but more what? What is missing?

Chairman- Depends on each individual. The average man probably wants more women?

KKb-Why?

Chairman-Why?!!! You are a man and you are asking me why?

KKB-That’s not freedom then is it, it they want it just because they want it.

Chairman-If God said you can have 10 more women would you decline?

KKB-Depends if they are hot? Who am I decline a gift from God?

Chairman- Lol. Ok, so far it appears we both have different definitions of freedom

KKB-For me freedom is I love my wife and I won’t sleep with other women. Discipline is important.

Chairman-That’s good, for you

KKB-Yes I want more women, but I can control myself

Chairman-For me, freedom is I can have more women if I want

KKB-But u will always want more women

Chairman-if I decided but chose to control myself. Without the other, that is not true freedom.

KKB-For me, that’s true freedom.

Chairman-No its not, because you are only controlling yourself because ur wife won’t let you do what you want

KKB-No no sir, freedom is what you want it to be?

Chairman-No one is ever truly free, please tell me you get that.

KKB-I don’t believe that one can’t ever be truly free…..the first steps to achieve freedom is with limits, discipline and responsibility

Chairman- What if a slave in their mind thought they were free, does that make it so?

KKB- I put it to you sir, what is a master without a slave? I am a slave of Allah, but I free to choose to serve.

Chairman-Ok, well I am a child of God blessed with freewill but inhibited by man.

KKB-Doesn’t freedom begin in the mind?

Chairman-Is your mind more powerful than my reality?  Again I’ll ask, if the slave in their head thought they were free, does that make it so?

KKB-If he a slave, his physical freedom is taken away and he has no choice but to serve. But a slave with a free mind always yearns for physical freedom. Kunta Kinte for example.

Chairman- OK, so what I’m saying is I’m mentally enslaved so I don’t feel free.

KKB- Then begin your quest for freedom sir. Nobody, but body can take away freedom of the mind if the mind believes it’s free. The Quran gives me discipline and helps me on the quest for freedom.

Chairman-I think others are too (mentally enslaved), but fail to comprehend or just simply won’t admit it.

KKB- Society is more enslaved now than we realise. Freedom is not doing anything we want…. that’s dangerous. We have a duty of some kind, firstly to ourselves.

Chairman-You mentioned the Qu’ran but the Simple fact that you are looking to a book (that suggest you should do as it commands or you go hell) to guide u suggest to me that you are not fully exercising you’re true free will.

KKB-Sir that is a simplistic and superficial perspective which I utterly reject but that’s a debate for another day. The “book” guides me and gives me freedom by enabling me to control my carnal desires.

Chairman- Fair enough

KKB-Closing statements please sir

Chairman – Ok here goes: You say freedom can be whatever you perceive but I think this a mistake many make. To me it’s much more; it becomes reality, much like the feeling of LOVE. If you choose to live away from human contact have no need for other human contact then it will work for you. Because then you can trick your mind into all sorts and make it your reality. However with our quest and need for social acceptance we are forced into doing things we don’t necessarily want to do. Putting us, I believe in a subconscious state of mental enslavement. A JUXTAPOSTITION because u choose to do stuff because u can or want to but in fact if you didn’t, you’d be judged, ridiculed or just feel bad which of course you don’t want. My definition of true freedom is having the ability to do something within my power/ability without any repercussions and so when I chose not to do it, it’s because I am demonstrating discipline and not because I’m afraid of the alternative or consequence.

KKB-MY CHAAAIIIIIRRRRRMMMAAAANNNN.

Chairman-My guy!

KKB- Na body blow you de give me o. My response: I stick to the notion that there is no true freedom without discipline. I can’t define for you or anybody else what freedom is or should be. But because one thinks one is free doesn’t mean one is free.  Picking up on your statement about being able to act without repercussions, ppl do a lot of acts without fear of repercussions and they still believe they are free. I propose that there is personal and societal freedom. What happens when your freedom impacts on my freedom?  Some people want to walk around naked but I don’t want to see ur naked body. Without rules, there will be anarchy. That goes for personal freedom too…..human beings are always in conflict between good and bad. With discipline, you can choose to be good or bad. Acting on emotions doesn’t mean one is free…..in fact one who is subject of his/her emotion is not free. So I put it to you sir, you can choose to decide whether u are free or not, or develop the discipline required to achieve true freedom. But as we said….its all a perception!!!!

What is your perception of true freedom, is it being able to do whatever one wishes or can freedom only be achieved with discipline? Or is it all an illusion.  What say ye?

Till next week

KKB Out

Religion: Is it moving Nigeria backwards or forwards?

“Blacks hold onto their God just as the drunken man holds on to the street lamp post–for physical support only”. Dr Tia Solarin

 “CHEI. CHEI. There is God O! DIERRIS GOD O!!!” Patience Jonathan

Was up Ya’ll

This week’s post comes courtesy of a debate organised by a group called Nigerian Thinkers.  Members meet once a month to have honest, stimulating and intellectual discussions, debates and dialogues about all topics relating to Nigeria. The topic for this months’ meeting was to debate the notion: Religion: Is it moving Nigeria backwards or forwards?

The discussion was opened up by a brief debate between two members, one arguing for the “forward” notion and the other arguing for the “backward” notion.  Both sides put forward solid arguments before it was opened up to the floor. The chair for the “forward” notion opened the debate with reference to philosophers who have long argued that religion has no place in the advancement and progress of society. She deftly countered this statement with reference to Plato’s “allegory of the cave”, arguing that education is the key to breaking the culture of those who use religion as a platform to perpetuate intolerance and abuse on the masses. In support of this, she highlighted the role of faith based organisations have had on building educational institutions.  The “backward” notion strongly argued that the Abrahamic (monotheistic) religions have moved Nigeria backwards.  The spokesman argued that the `African` has lost his mind in religious dogma and for him to move forward, he has to release `himself` from the alien religion.

The discussion was opened up the floor and for the first few rounds, the notion for religion took a beating. The opening salvos highlighted the impact the Abrahamic faiths have had in relegating the traditional African/Nigerian faiths to the level of been seen as backwards or satanic. Before the “alien” religions were brought over and forced on the Africans through violence, (a notion I don’t agree with personally) there was a spiritual system which enabled the African man to connect to his creator. The inconsistency in the African way of thinking was also highlighted, on one hand, we say we are proud Africans, yet we worship a white Jesus while millionaire preachers fly around in their private jets. There is irony in the fact that Nigeria is the most religious country in the world, but there is strong perception (with valid reasons) that it has changed the way we treat each other which is holding our country back. A profound statement was made at this junction “faith without deed is death, where is the action”. 

A strong theme which ran through the whole debate was regarding identity, history and education. The adoption of the “alien” religion was a plausible reason for the loss of identity in the modern era at a subconscious level. Because we have moved away from our traditional religions, we have moved away from our culture and are losing our language in the process. This is despite the fact that although our forefathers adopted the Abrahamic faiths, they never lose their identity, ethics, culture and moral values which have been passed down many generations, but this is slowly being eroded because of the adoption of western ideology and culture in the new generation.   A statement was made in the heat of the debate that a lot of Yorubas are Muslims but they are not terrorist like the Hausas in the north because Hausas consider themselves Arabs. The role that religion played with regards to the transatlantic slave trade was hot button issue; the Catholic Church was accused of using “Christianity” to justify slavery. An attempt to counter this argument was made that although “Christianity” was used to justify the trade in human cargo, it was also the basis used to abolish it. In addition, the point was made that Islam and traditional religions also held slaves. This argument was swiftly batted away with a counter argument stating that the slaves of our forefathers were captured during inter-tribal wars and were eventually assimilated into the relevant tribes.      

The spokesperson arguing for the “forward” notion raised a valid question as to what did the western religions provide in terms of education that the native religions did not or could not provide, to meet the needs of the people. This caused a heated response; the question was described as fallacious because “African history and education” was transferred orally. The “African” tribal religions offered a sense of communal togetherness, living off the land etc. With regard to education, two members from each side made what I consider to be excellent points for the importance of self-education. Babatunde in the “backward” notion camp highlighted the fact that he made a conscious effort to take a personal journey on the quest for identity which led him to gain a better understating and to connect with the spiritual gods of his ancestors.   A young lady named Fatima made what I personally believe was the most cogent argument of the evening. She said personally religion has given her inner peace and has moved her forward.  She was a Christian, became a freethinker, and then became a Muslim. Although from different ends of the spectrum, these two individuals shared the same virtue which I feel many people lack-courage.

Towards the end of the evening, somebody asked a poignant question, why do Africans cling onto religion like a drunken man leaning on lamppost? (I paraphrase). Why would they give their 10% tide to the preacher before buying food for themselves to eat? Or join a terrorist organisation. It brought into contention the state of our nation. Hope of the better tomorrow caused many people to look to the Church or Mosque for support. The stress of the daily grind, no job, no money, lack of health and security makes people look to a higher power for “salvation”. This is not to say that only poor people go to religious institutions. The social structure of religions provides a communal sense of togetherness, there is a need for welfare, which religious institutions are able to provide if applied in the right way.  A member made a statement regarding preachers which I find humorous and equally serious; preachers could not be politicians so they should not use religion to achieve their goals, doesn’t that just put the cherry on the parfait?

The debate was put to a vote at the end of the evening; and the “backward” notion camp was in the majority.  I hope I have provided an impartial analysis of a very lively, intelligent and stimulating discussion of an important subject by a group who obviously love Nigeria and want the best for their motherland.

On a personal note and writing as an independent observer, I feel that although illuminating, most of the evening’s discussions did not achieve the outcome I would have liked in the sense of answering the question- what do we do now? I reject both notions!!!!! Since the dawn of time, religion (or any other form of ideology) has been used as tool for evil and has also been a force for good. From the Catholic Church condoning* the trafficking of human cargo from the 16th-19th century, to Boko Haram today, these actions dramatically demonstrate man’s inhumanity against man using religion as a tool. Religion should not be blamed if “man” cannot live up to the ideals of the relevant faith, be it alien or native.  I put it to my fellow Nigerians and fellow human beings, we should work together to build a society of pluralism and tolerance in all spheres.   “Religion” in all forms is not going anywhere in our beloved Nigeria. Our country is at the cross roads and is ripe for change, I propose that we as Nigerian Thinkers and patriots  (regardless of tribe, religion, class, sex) come together to develop cohesive and sustainable solutions to the problems facing our country. Religion cannot be solely or majorly blamed for the problems in our country nor should it be seen as the singular solution. I firmly believe that it has a major role in creating a better Nigeria and a better tomorrow which we all yearn.  Based on the discussions by the Nigerian Thinkers members, I believe that education is key tool; personal and societal, take note from the two names mentioned in this post. For a better Nigeria, with equality and freedom for all, hope, courage and perseverance is required. We should not be naïve and must remain vigilant; we must not ignore “man’s” innate desire for power and selfish interests for the few. This must be countered through the constant strive for peace and freedom by all and for the masses. 

Ultimately I believe that we as a society have lost the essence of religion, with education we can get it back and build a society we all deserve. To move forward, we have to look at history, but we cannot be bitter. So I put it to you, my fellow Nigerians (and friends of Nigeria) what shall we do now to move our country forward. What say ye?

Till next week

KKB Out

*Allegedly

 

“Google is god……”**

A friend of mine made the above statement recently; I was a little perplexed because he was a Muslim. If he were an atheist I would have pointed out the contradiction in terms, if agnostic I wouldn’t have batted an eyelid. He clarified his position in that he meant god in the lesser sense and as a concept which could compete with `smaller` gods. Do we dare say Google is Omnipotent, Omniscience and Omnipresent? (OO) I digress, this is not a theological dialogue. Let’s get to the crux of the matter.

For the past few months, I have been reflecting on the impact technology has had on `our` (limited to western society) ability to think, communicate and function. I know from whence I speak. In 2012, I returned to study eight years after finishing Uni. My first assignment was due for submission within 10 weeks.… this was a long time so I thought….I procrastinated for three weeks before tackling the assignment. I typed the question on Google, within a split second it had given me thousands of links. The first 10 links didn’t give me the required answers so I rephrased the question. I read a few more links but to no avail. The only way I can describe how I felt is to imagine a Bedouin lost in a snowstorm in Alaska…no hope. For a week, I stuck to Google like glue, I refused to believe Google couldn’t give me the answer…. I mean come on….this is Google. Two weeks after a many different re-phrasing and reading useless links, I felt that Google had made me dumb. I had forgotten the skills required to study, research, review, books, etc. Panic set in and I began praying to God. Long story short, I went into a Library borrowed some books and submitted the assignment on time. (Now ask yourself honestly, when last you went to a library to gather information) I am not blaming Google for making me dumb or for decrease of intellect in the `world`, one cannot ultimately discount personal responsibility. But I put it out there that the ease and volume for which information can be accessed has contributed to the general decline of the average intellectual aptitude. I mean, why should one go hunting when the game can come to one’s dinner table? With ready access to so much information, we have to dispose of the old more quickly to make space for the new. We lose the capacity and ability to dissect, process and reflect on what on the information we have received.

My people, don’t let us confuse information with knowledge. Google and other technologies should be used as a tool not a means. I am sure all are familiar with the phrase “just Google it”, now compare that to Mathew 7:7 “Ask and you shall receive” (paraphrased). Or the ultimate Oh my God (OMG), we say this things without even realising their significance. (NOW DON’T FORGET, this is not a theological post)  “I read it on Google” is probably the most dangerous statement one can make during an argument. I would respond “but have you read the latest version” (LGW). Although we now have ready access to the works of Socrates, Wole Soyinka and John Rawls, “I read it on Google” seems to have more weight. (Don’t get me started on Wikipedia….yeeesssh) There is a fear to quote these intellectuals because one may come across as too serious or erudite.   Kwame Ture once said “Ignorance is no excuse for a debate”. Need I say more?

You may think that I am Google bashing, no believe me, I “love” google, I have used it approximately 20 time in the process of writing this post. Technology is intrinsic to my daily life… to a certain degree. It has positive and negative effects on the world (that is discussion for another day) I use Google maps on a weekly basis, google books, google drive etc. But I am weary that the world will become so reliant on technology that slowly but surely we will decrease the use of our brains. If something is not exercised or used, its function diminishes and becomes useless…this is dangerous.

Wisdom is gained over the course of a lifetime, knowledge is sourced and attained over a period time and information is provided in an instant. I believe society has become lazy, there is no desire to look behind the curtain or walk down the yellow brick road. But ironically, Google should the start of that yellow brick road, walk down the path and there are endless possibilities. It’s a gateway for which if one has the will, desire and intellectual courage can change the world for the better. A word of warning: intellectual courage without intellectual humility is in itself dangerous.  There was a time people used to travel for months and even years to visit majestic libraries in Alexandria and Timbuktu. Knowledge was valued and Scholars were revered because it was known that they worked hard to gain that knowledge.  But now that we have answers to a million questions at our finger tips, we have stopped searching for meaning.  There has never been a time in history when the level literacy has been so high but yet, the level of intellectual capacity is on the decline. If this is not the perfect example of irony, I don’t know what it is.

I conclude by saying that, I do not blame Google for the ills or congratulate them for goodness of the world but merely to acknowledge technology’s powerful influence on shaping the 21st century mind-set. Ultimately, they have laid down a path, it’s up to us walk down it, ask questions and seek meaningful answers. We should never stop the quest for meaning, human beings have a natural desire to seek answers. There is a school of thought which suggests that this is the purpose of religion. Has Google taken over this function? What say ye?

Before you answer the question, please ponder the following Chinese proverb:

“When the wise man is pointing at the moon, the fool is looking at the finger”

Thanks for reading and thanks to my fellow collaborators (TK, DM, TO, OO SC, JA, and LGW)

**Coined by T. Sadiku

Till next time….KKB Out