I stood
And wondered, why men are the way they are
I stood
And looked at the wonder of nature
Serene, peaceful and listening
But Men,
I stood, wondering
If they could not take a cue from these wonders of nature
The maiming
In thousands
In millions
Of blood spilling
Like a well that has burst
Not knowing when to stop
I wondered if there is no sense of brotherhood
I stood
Trying to get answers
Which became elusive
And still are
I stood.


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Season Preview 13/14: LIVERPOOL

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Season Preview 13/14: LIVERPOOL

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Big Brother Africa and the Issues

I am almost peeved as at the time I am writing this. I normally hold an aloof position on such issues. The issue I am concerned with here has to deal with this entertainment concept known as The Big Brother. This is a popular programme made popular in The United Kingdom and some parts of Europe.

The funny aspect of the whole issue is that, most of these countries have as a matter of fact, placed this programme into the dustbin. I think, it was recently resurrected again in The United Kingdom. I might be wrong here because I have not really followed this for so many years now.

Big Brother is an entertainment module, where people are selected randomly from all spheres and strata of the society and are placed in a closed house where they have no access to television, telephone, newspaper, etc. Infact, it is a hermit kind of a thing if you are lucky to be selected to be in there. It then becomes an affair of intrigues, sex, booze, scheming and all sorts to make sure that, a contestant is the last man standing.

I must confess, I was a fan of it when it was initially started in Africa then. That was because I have seen the one from The United Kingdom and so the interest was there to see how such a programme will pan out on the continent. The catchy part was that, the contestants were drawn from across the continent and so it was more of a country representation.

This has been sustained for a long time and I can see that it is becoming a must see for most people across the continent. You turn on the radio (or on the internet for some of us), and the news segment is dominated by this Big Brother Africa.

But in life, when you don’t shift your position and perspective, you never get to see the folly in which one has been operating in. Having lived in Europe for quite some time now, it really pains me that we are still in the business of trying to copy the Western World without recourse to our traditions, norms and mores. It is such a painful thing to see.

On Twitter. On Facebook. You are bombarded with news of Big Brother Africa. It is a testament of how much things are changing on the continent and that and this is where I really have a very big concern. Because as a people, as a Nation forcefully and greedily divided, this is not what we really need to push on. We have not reached that strata where we think we have arrived and can do just as they do over here. It is like having a size 7 shoe and saying you want to wear size 10 shoe. No matter how much you try to walk in it, it will always give you out as not having the right size on.

I am not totally against this. I like entertainment. Everyone loves to be entertained. But then, I think, things need to be placed in proper perspective and until we do such soul searching exercise, we are not moving in the right direction.

That we choose citizens of different countries to come and live under one roof with no access and stuff makes it interesting. But the overlying and underlying reasons are so much defeated and very unlike us. I was expecting more from the producers of the programme to make sure that the contents reflects a positive image of the continent. Use it to showcase the rich cultural heritage we have as a continent. Use it as a means to empower youths in standing up for the right things. But that was not the case.

People spent money, or paid extra money to see the housemates having sex. Paid money to see the housemates taking shower in their complete nakedness. Yet, governments of the continent are blamed everyday of not doing the right things. The general chorus is that, things are hard. So I ask, if things are that hard as some are ready to jump and shout, where do you get the money for such an irrelevant thing?

We have serious concerns as a continent. We need to build the right foundation for the ones coming through. We should be serious and know how to channel our resources and energy into the right things. For how long can we keep on copying things and be wallowing in poverty and failure?

It is time the youths in Africa define their destiny. Big Brother Africa definitely is not ONE of the issues to help us move ahead.

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Malala: A Story of Courage and Defiant

The story of Malala is one that evokes emotions regardless of sex, religion, and whatever you may want to describe it. It is the story of a young girl who dared in the face of adversity. The story of a young woman who used a harmless weapon to fight men with heavy weapons. She chose to dare where even the government of her homeland reluctantly chose to do nothing.

Malala is a young girl born on the July 12, 1997 and hails from the town of Mingora in the Swan District of Pakistan. It is thus of no wonder that July 12, was aptly titled as Malala Day and she was made to give a speech at The United Nations General Assembly in New York. (You can refer to my earlier post where the speech is there in full).

Her crime was nothing but just because some few retards thought she was rather a “renegade”. Malala took up to blogging as a means of her own brand of activism to counter the threats issued by the Taliban to stop the girl child education. According to an old Ghanaian educationist by the name of Dr. Kwegyir Aggrey, he made a powerful statement concerning the impact a nation makes if women, and indeed girls, are educated. He said,

““The surest way to keep people down is to educate the men and neglect the women. If you educate a man you simply educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate a family.”

This statement infact is a true statement considering the fact that, women makes the home. As kids, we know who to run to when  you know that your dad is not happy with you. You know if you want something from your dad, talking to your mom will make things so easy for you. When as kids we fall in love, we know the first person we normally open up to. Such is the impact that women make in the lives of men, children and in the nation at large.

Presently, the Prime Minister of Denmark is a woman. I can look at Hillary Clinton. Madeleine Albright and to name a few. In Africa, a few stand out. Yaa Asantewaa in the old Ashanti Kingdom. In Nigeria, the mother of Fela Kuti was also an amazon who stood up against the military then in Nigeria. She eventually lost her life in the struggle.

But the profound thing about Malala was how much she still holds on to her convictions and beliefs even at the expense of her life. This is a young girl with a world before her. Just like any other young girl with rushing hormones, she could have chose to  be watching Kim Kardishian for the wrong reasons. Instead, she chose the path of empowering the young girl rather than wasting her time watching a lady who is offering nothing back in return. She was clear to make this assertion when she said, “there are hundreds of human rights activists and social workers who are not only speaking for their rights, but who are struggling to achieve their goal of peace, education and equality. Thousands have been killed by the terrorists and millions have been injured. So here I stand, one girl, among many. I speak not for myself, but so those without a  voice can be heard.”

Nothing can be so moving than that. A girl of that age to make such a huge sacrifice leaves so much questions to be answered. What has gone wrong? Why are our politicians doing the wrong things and forsaking the right things? Leadership is no more defined in terms of how much you can offer to the many and the voiceless. But to the few who  stand to gain from huge contracts and positions. You can only wonder the amount of money that is even wasted if, for example, President Barack Obama is visiting another country.

Education is the bedrock of every country. It is the bedrock of any nation. It is the bedrock of the human personality. That Malala nearly lost her life and still pursues her dream is a thing of beauty.

It is important governments all over the world makes education free all over the world. I honestly and sincerely share with the sentiments of Malala when she “call upon all governments to ensure free, compulsory education all over the world for every child.” That can never be far away from the truth.

In her conclusion, she said we should “wage a glorious struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism, let us pick up our books and our pens, they are the most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first”.

I need not say more than this.

To all the women in the world who are sacrificing to make an impact in the world, we salute you!




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Malala’s Speech at The United Nations

This is a transcription of the speech that Malala Yousafzai gave to the United Nations on 12 July 2013, the date of her 16th birthday and “Malala Day” at the UN.

In the name of God, the most beneficent, the most merciful.

Honorable UN Secretary General Mr Ban Ki-moon, respected president of the General Assembly Vuk Jeremic, honorable UN envoy for global education Mr Gordon Brown, respected elders and my dear brothers and sisters: Assalamu alaikum.

Today is it an honor for me to be speaking again after a long time. Being here with such honorable people is a great moment in my life and it is an honor for me that today I am wearing a shawl of the late Benazir Bhutto. I don’t know where to begin my speech. I don’t know what people would be expecting me to say, but first of all thank you to God for whom we all are equal and thank you to every person who has prayed for my fast recovery and new life. I cannot believe how much love people have shown me. I have received thousands of good wish cards and gifts from all over the world. Thank you to all of them. Thank you to the children whose innocent words encouraged me. Thank you to my elders whose prayers strengthened me. I would like to thank my nurses, doctors and the staff of the hospitals in Pakistan and the UK and the UAE government who have helped me to get better and recover my strength.

I fully support UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in his Global Education First Initiative and the work of UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown and the respectful president of the UN General Assembly Vuk Jeremic. I thank them for the leadership they continue to give. They continue to inspire all of us to action. Dear brothers and sisters, do remember one thing: Malala Day is not my day. Today is the day of every woman, every boy and every girl who have raised their voice for their rights.

There are hundreds of human rights activists and social workers who are not only speaking for their rights, but who are struggling to achieve their goal of peace, education and equality. Thousands of people have been killed by the terrorists and millions have been injured. I am just one of them. So here I stand. So here I stand, one girl, among many. I speak not for myself, but so those without a voice can be heard. Those who have fought for their rights. Their right to live in peace. Their right to be treated with dignity. Their right to equality of opportunity. Their right to be educated.

Dear friends, on 9 October 2012, the Taliban shot me on the left side of my forehead. They shot my friends, too. They thought that the bullets would silence us, but they failed. And out of that silence came thousands of voices. The terrorists thought they would change my aims and stop my ambitions. But nothing changed in my life except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born.

I am the same Malala. My ambitions are the same. My hopes are the same. And my dreams are the same. Dear sisters and brothers, I am not against anyone. Neither am I here to speak in terms of personal revenge against the Taliban or any other terrorist group. I am here to speak for the right of education for every child. I want education for the sons and daughters of the Taliban and all the terrorists and extremists. I do not even hate the Talib who shot me. Even if there was a gun in my hand and he was standing in front of me, I would not shoot him. This is the compassion I have learned from Mohammed, the prophet of mercy, Jesus Christ and Lord Buddha. This the legacy of change I have inherited from Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Mohammed Ali Jinnah.

This is the philosophy of nonviolence that I have learned from Gandhi, Bacha Khan and Mother Teresa. And this is the forgiveness that I have learned from my father and from my mother. This is what my soul is telling me: be peaceful and love everyone.

Dear sisters and brothers, we realize the importance of light when we see darkness. We realize the importance of our voice when we are silenced. In the same way, when we were in Swat, the north of Pakistan, we realized the importance of pens and books when we saw the guns. The wise saying, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” It is true. The extremists are afraid of books and pens. The power of education frightens them. They are afraid of women. The power of the voice of women frightens them. This is why they killed 14 innocent students in the recent attack in Quetta. And that is why they kill female teachers. That is why they are blasting schools every day because they were and they are afraid of change and equality that we will bring to our society. And I remember that there was a boy in our school who was asked by a journalist why are the Taliban against education? He answered very simply by pointing to his book, he said, “a Talib doesn’t know what is written inside this book.”

They think that God is a tiny, little conservative being who would point guns at people’s heads just for going to school. These terrorists are misusing the name of Islam for their own personal benefit. Pakistan is a peace loving, democratic country. Pashtuns want education for their daughters and sons. Islam is a religion of peace, humanity and brotherhood. It is the duty and responsibility to get education for each child, that is what it says. Peace is a necessity for education. In many parts of the world, especially Pakistan and Afghanistan, terrorism, war and conflicts stop children from going to schools. We are really tired of these wars. Women and children are suffering in many ways in many parts of the world.

In India, innocent and poor children are victims of child labor. Many schools have been destroyed in Nigeria. People in Afghanistan have been affected by extremism. Young girls have to do domestic child labor and are forced to get married at an early age. Poverty, ignorance, injustice, racism and the deprivation of basic rights are the main problems, faced by both men and women.

Today I am focusing on women’s rights and girls’ education because they are suffering the most. There was a time when women activists asked men to stand up for their rights. But this time we will do it by ourselves. I am not telling men to step away from speaking for women’s rights, but I am focusing on women to be independent and fight for themselves. So dear sisters and brothers, now it’s time to speak up. So today, we call upon the world leaders to change their strategic policies in favor of peace and prosperity. We call upon the world leaders that all of these deals must protect women and children’s rights. A deal that goes against the rights of women is unacceptable.

We call upon all governments to ensure free, compulsory education all over the world for every child. We call upon all the governments to fight against terrorism and violence. To protect children from brutality and harm. We call upon the developed nations to support the expansion of education opportunities for girls in the developing world. We call upon all communities to be tolerant, to reject prejudice based on caste, creed, sect, color, religion or agenda to ensure freedom and equality for women so they can flourish. We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back. We call upon our sisters around the world to be brave, to embrace the strength within themselves and realize their full potential.

Dear brothers and sisters, we want schools and education for every child’s bright future. We will continue our journey to our destination of peace and education. No one can stop us. We will speak up for our rights and we will bring change to our voice. We believe in the power and the strength of our words. Our words can change the whole world because we ware all together, united for the cause of education. And if we want to achieve our goal, then let us empower ourselves with the weapon of knowledge and let us shield ourselves with unity and togetherness.

Dear brothers and sisters, we must not forget that millions of people are suffering from poverty and injustice and ignorance. We must not forget that millions of children are out of their schools. We must not forget that our sisters and brothers are waiting for a bright, peaceful future.

So let us wage, so let us wage a glorious struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism, let us pick up our books and our pens, they are the most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first. Thank you.

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