Samuel Shina: It Is Not Yours Alone!

I have to confess that this is my first write up in a long time, the last time I penned down something close to an article was five years ago. While I don’t particularly think of myself as a distinguished or astute writer (trust me, I have read the works of many such writers), I wish strongly that you enjoy this piece and most importantly the message conveyed.

 

I look forward to your honest comments and criticisms. Have an enjoyable read.

 

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He was the best in the community, so good that people said he had the ability to hear the heavens, as his melodies can only be divine. His melodies were beyond what can be found in books, naturally gifted and dedicated to practice and self-discipline; he began to transcend the ordinary and could be compared to the likes of Mozart if he was living in their time.

 

He was in a very small community, where everyone knew themselves, a stranger cannot creep in and go unnoticed, not because his colour or race will give him up, neither was it because they had a sign in identifying themselves, but it was more because everyone knew each other, sharing a very warm camaraderie, thus if you stray in to the land even for a second, you’ll be known immediately as a stranger.  It is however not so long before strangers become family, as family is a loose term to identify the bond that binds the members of the community. It was as easy as, everyone knows the child of who you are, and can relate who your siblings are also, and God help you to have been born in the town, the elders can also tell you the day you were born and how differently the sun was set at the moment, or how shy or bold the moon and stars were on the night.

 

His fingers were so light on the keys as gracefully as the butterfly perches from one flower to another yet striking hard on the weighted keys like a sledge, for every time he blessed the keys with the touch of his hands, there is a new tune created, a new chord is struck, it was even said of him that the several tunes he has created are way more than the hair on his head – a full blown afro kept for more than a decade. He doesn’t just play the piano, he transfers emotions through notes struck; from the moments where he accompanies the preacher to drive home his messages powerfully on Sundays, to when there is a celebration in the community, and to the one which many people found more fascinating; when he plays at the laying to rest of those who have passed on. His solemn melodies at funerals made death desirable, for the living listens to it and it makes the dead look like they are ascending in glory unto heaven with a thousand angelic orchestra welcoming them in a blended fusion of their sonorous voices.

 

Not being one who enjoys the busy tussle and grinding of the city, he found perfect tranquillity in the town.  Professionals journey far and wide to bless their ears and their being by listening to him playing the piano; and soon the town found out that they always had more visitors on the day of funerals, because many people were always there to listen to something new and sweet he has to play. He was seldom convinced on leaving the town for performance, and on the rare occasions where he did, running back to his forte was all he cared about. He was popular among music professionals and enthusiasts alike, and importantly greatly unrivalled, and then it happened suddenly; he died.

 

Yes, He died…Death came and took him also, it was shocking, he had been fine, but the truth remains that he is dead.

His burial did not make anyone wish for death as in the past, people were present yes, but there wasn’t that hair on the back of the neck standing in the effect of being in a trance and watching the dead being welcomed by the angelic orchestra, it was a dry event that was ended quickly than planned, people soon shook off the sadness by resorting back to their normal businesses, not allowing the dullness and darkness that was hovering around the community get to them.

 

There was nobody to play greatly for the great player on the day of his funeral, because there was none he allowed to be great as him, there was none he tutored nor mentored, he was all by himself and enjoying the glory all alone. People soon realised that aside from his talent and gift of playing the piano so well and elating their spirits, he wasn’t really a good person, or to be fair to his memory, he just didn’t get along or interacted with people. He was a hermit among bustling people, he only made appearances in public when he is needed to play the piano, and would soon go back into reclusiveness. Many young ones aspired to be him, they tried their hands on the piano, but whenever he plays, they felt they needed him to help them get better, but he didn’t want that type of competition, he wanted to be just all him, so when he finds an aspiring lad or lass, he discourages them by telling them they can’t amount to anything. They are discouraged and cannot fight back the feeling, when the best that you idolise tell you how bad you suck at his craft, can you question it?

 

So, on his funeral, the piano laid bare, with no fingers running through it except that of the tiny waggling fingers of little babies making melodious sounds in their heads, but a total unbearable noise to the adults around. All who could have given him the orchestra feeling had resorted that they were no good, because he told them so. The town soon became quiet and very normal, even on Sundays it was as if the echoes of sweet sound that kept it bubbling was mute.

 

The essence of life is not just in one dimension, but one destination seems to be the ultimate and most accepted value, and this is to live life to the fullest. To not just exist in life, but to live in laughter, love and joy. It is in the realisation of this ultimate goal that one must understand that whatsoever we possess is not just for us alone, be it wealth or talent. The beauty of a talent, gift or wealth is when it is transferred and shared with others; this world will be a better place if and when love rules our heart to help others grow, and knowing full well that their growth cannot impede ours.

 

So, whatever it is that you have today, or all that you possess be sure to share it with the world, start from the little things to those around you, imagine if no one had passed and shared knowledge in the past, the world would still be in a decline, if the researches and discoveries of scientists in the past had not been shared, we cannot be having the technological breakthroughs we are achieving today, if someone had not taught you some of the things that make you great right now, you wouldn’t have been better than the early cave men too.

 

It is better you share that knowledge, talent, wealth, or skill and have people build on them and imprint your name in the sands of time scratch that, rock of time, than to die and be nothing with all that you have. Whatever you have today (no matter how little) share with someone and make them better, in that way we make the world a better place for us all. Remember, no one will make it out alive.

 

 

Shina is a lawyer and writes from Lagos

Oluwatosin Fatoyinbo: Ginger Beer Brother!

It was just after Sunday service, and I was sitting close to the choir stand waiting for Brother Ade, whom everyone recommended that I speak with. I had some serious challenges at my place of work and I urgently needed to change jobs. In the previous three weeks, I had sent out about fifty applications to various organizations but the response was always the same “Dear Tolu, we find your CV interesting, however we are not hiring for now. We will keep your cv in our database against future vacancies”.

After what seem like five minutes, Brother Ade tapped me and said ‘Hi, I was told you wanted to see me’

‘Good afternoon sir. I need your advice on a couple of issues’ I said.

‘Ok that is fine, but can you give me a minute? I need a cold drink’ I nodded my head to confirm that I would wait for him.

He was back almost immediately, with two can drinks. He handed one to me as he sat down. He opened the one with him straightaway, took a long gulp of the drink and heaved a sigh of satisfaction. I looked at the can in my hand and I was aghast, I lost my bearing immediately. I could not believe my eyes. How can a church brother buy and drink a beer in God’s house. Not only did he buy for himself, he bought for another Christian. This man that everyone thought was a model Christian is actually a hypocrite. In the first place, I had always argued that people who sold merchandise in church couldn’t be genuine Christians. I mean, how people come to church to sell pie, Coca-Cola, asun, peppered snail, chicken and chips and all sorts of orisirisi is beyond me. To make matters worse, they are now started selling beer in ‘our church’. Oh God what is happening to this generation? What is wrong with the Church?

“This beer is fantastic and I love it. Try it, you will love it too” Brother Ade enthused bringing me out of my reverie. His enthusiasm confirmed my fears; he was but a hypocrite who didn’t even mind showing it off in Church. I looked around and noticed that the church was still bustling with people observing fellowship after fellowship, so he definitely wasn’t hiding the fact that he was sipping a beer. Whilst I know that drunkenness and not the taking in of alcohol is sin, I wouldn’t want to associate myself with any Christian who drinks alcohol. I know drunkenness is the sin but how do you even measure drunkenness? A man takes a bottle of beer and he is drunk, another gulps a whole crate of 12 bottles without getting drunk. So who is the sinner amongst the two? In fact, there is a man on my street who can down 12 bottles of beer every day without getting intoxicated, providing he has a plate of ‘isi-ewu or ‘point and kill’ to go with it.

‘So what do you want to discuss with me?

I gave him a suspicious look but resisted the urge to walk away. Instead I narrated my experience. After which he gave me excellent, top notch, scripture filled, practical counsel. He also asked me to send my cv to him via mail. Throughout his speech, I could not shake off the fact that he had just drunk beer in my presence, and I was amazed at how despite the beer, he had so much wealth of knowledge of scripture and practical life. He is a worded hypocrite, I concluded.

‘Alright Tolu, I expect to receive your email today so I can forward to my friends. Hopefully, something will come up.’ He stood, gave me a warm handshake and briskly walked away.

As he walked away, I looked at the can in my hand again and saw ‘Ginger beer, Non-alcoholic’.

MICAH STEPHEN: Africa And The Globe (Part Two)

[Continued from Part One]

Consequently, globalization created by liberalization, continues to be maintained by the liberalization of economic policies in several key areas. This presupposes that globalization is part of a broader trend called Marketization, which by its nature tends to generate international market failures, because it is uneven in intensity and scope and also because it impacts differently on different classes of people.

The paradox implicit in this point is underscored by Irene Fernandes, in “Globalization, the Economic Crisis & the Challenges to women”, when she attributed to globalization a three stage historical process. To her, Globalization, for the economies of the South, has three phases; the first phase came with Colonization where the North plundered the resources of the South. Colonization was fought and independence was presumably gained. However, the universalization of production and consumption patterns of already industrialized North which typified the second phase made the joy of independence pale out. What this phase did was to substitute traditional consumption patterns with contrived western states accentuated by the process of industrialization of essentially the North (the growing penchant of Africa of abandoning “local” markets, stalls and imbibing the glorified culture of shopping in Spar, Shoprites, Walmart not only changes consumption patterns but stifles the growth of small and medium enterprises which consequentially further deepens the rate of unemployment of the unsuspecting many).

The third present stage of globalization is that which emphasizes commercialization, trade liberalization and deregulation of most facets of life under the auspices of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Trade Organization. This phase in terms of production techniques is marked by the tension in genetic engineering technologies.
Therefore, the tragedy is that Africa has to develop in tandem with the discretion, whims and caprices of her imperialists and their goons. So it was in 1885 in Berlin, so shall it continually be. In establishing the current order, the mind of Africa must be eroded, its essence must be distorted that she no longer recognises her own. What we are grappling with is a fundamental defect of pre-creation (as imperialists wove hitherto contrasting ethnic habitats into inconvenient states), pro-creation (inability of nationalists to answer or reconstitute the new states anew during creation) and post-creation (the complicity between the rudderless African leaders and the insistence of the imperialists to forge Africa to their taste). Thus to recreate Africa, Africans must be recreated through the process of acculturation.

Globalization therefore has a toxic effect on a continent trying to understand herself after years in the imperialists’ animal farm. It is still stagnated and left to clear the debris of misconception and misinformation that has pinned her down.
Ali Magrui captured the resultant paradoxes of the acculturation of Africa relative to Asia, and the consequential impact on economic growth of the two continents. First, he noted that despite a shared experience between the two continents (territorially almost the whole of Africa was colonized, while only 60 per cent of Asia was Temporally, however, Africa was colonized for a much shorter period than Asia), African values and cultures were disrupted much faster in spite of the brevity of the colonial experience.
So if Africa was culturally westernizing faster than Asia, why was Asia economically westernizing faster than Africa? While western culture may be good for economic performance in the west, this is not necessarily the case outside the west.

To be meaningful, there has to be the right balance between western technique and indigenous culture as the example after the Meiji restoration of 1868 shows. Singapore under Lee Kwon Yew also epitomizes the importance of not surrendering your cultural initiative in the face of spiralling interdependence of nations. Simply put, the more globalized the world gets, the more you deepen your indigenous values to withstand the erosive tendencies of the western ideologies.

To borrow, you may compromise on certain fronts, but you must not surrender. However in Africa, what is happening is cultural westernization without economic modernization. Thus, Africa is suffering from double jeopardy; westernizing too fast, and in the wrong areas of western culture. The effect is what Mazrui called Mal-modernization – a state of urbanization without industrialization, western states without western skills, capitalist greed without capitalist discipline, western consumption patterns without western production techniques.
With these negative indices, the competitive edge needed to cope with and derive the benefits of the globalization phenomenon, is lacking. This will make nonsense whatever economic and political structures or processes are inherited from the phenomenon.

For there to be the entrenchment of the essence of Africa in the consciousness of the globe, in order to accentuate the necessity of the development of Africa as a continent and as a people, the mind of the African must be imbued with the substance of knowledge of self. The environment of Africa must be explored with the support of other nations as colleagues, not as bosses who sit in Hague, New York or London to create a typhoon that Africa has to battle with. Africa must be wary of the toxic nature of globalization. In seeking for “a good society”, we need to be careful as to what constitutes it. Development antecedents have shown that culture, tradition and indeed values of the society in question are imperatives, as the Asian example typifies. This means that we should avoid the reflexibility belief that excessive individualism, freedom and western political systems are prerequisites to economic success.
Societal values and culture must be part of the political process so that a sense of belonging is felt by the people. Before political subjugation comes mental and intellectual subordination. African intellectual elites must be at the vanguard of leading the restoration of the continent and in the formulation of sound political ideas, ideals and ideologies.

Micah Stephen is a practising Lawyer. He tweets via @Micahesq

Expectations and Reality: The Fate of a Recent Petroleum Engineering Graduate

By Adebola Olanrewaju

So it’s official! The Petroleum industry is going through its worst years in recent memory. Oil prices have reached new lows; four, five times? I have lost count myself. Petroleum Engineering graduates like me have made bookmarks of websites like Reuters, CNBC and Bloomberg on our browsers as we constantly monitor the slump. For the sake of knowledge, I would do a quick recap of how this crisis started.

The slump in oil price is a classic Economics 101 case of Demand and Supply, as CNN’s Richard Quest rightly explained. Demand for crude oil has greatly reduced over the last couple of years due to the drop in the growth rate of major economies while supply has increased significantly.

Also, the crisis had been fueled by America’s discovery of shale oil in early 2014 – one they have been able to economically extract. With this, America went from being a major importer to an exporter of crude oil.
As if that was not enough, Saudi Arabia and Iran (both are members of OPEC, lest we forget) decided to start their own ‘economic war’ which further affected oil prices.
Sanctions placed on Iran were lifted late 2015/early 2016 and Iran is bent on claiming its oil market share by increasing oil production by 500,000 barrels a day. In summary, even with the low demand, oil supply is still on the rise, causing oil prices to plummet.
So where does that leave us, the Petroleum Engineering graduates?

While in the University in Nigeria, there was this common notion: ‘Just finish school and start collecting armed robbers salary’. That was the expectation. Oil was selling at well over $100 per barrel and all seemed to be well.
Now that our dear oil companies have aggressively halved their workforce and stopped recruiting due to the dip in prices, it is apparent that the landscape has changed considerably. This is the reality we face as graduates in this volatile industry. So where do we, the Petroleum Engineering graduates go from here?

As dire as the situation seems, there are still quite a number of options for the Petroleum Engineer. The most obvious route, especially for the gurus, would be to obtain a  Masters degree. A friend of mine attended an Oil and Gas conference, met a representative of a company (name withheld) and asked about job opportunities. “This is the best time to go back to school” was the laconic reply he got. I would go no further on that option.

Another alternative would be to choose another sector such as the Accounting sector. January 29 2016 made it exactly a year since I wrote my final exams at the University of Ibadan and I have hardly applied for oil and gas jobs. Not because I don’t want feel like working in an oil firm (LOL! of course, everybody wants to) but because most oil companies are not recruiting. I find myself applying for jobs at the likes of KPMG and PwC. Trust me, it’s saddening but hey, that’s the reality. Man must chop!!!
The last route will be to look for an Oil company;  if you know someone that has an Uncle who knows a friend that owns an Oil servicing company (i.e. if your legs are longer than Usain Bolt’s), please use them and get that job while you wait for the mega job.
History has taught us that oil prices will rise again, therefore patience is the name of the game (It rose from $28per barrel to $35 per barrel today due to Russia’s intervention. That’s some good news).

The oil industry goes through periods of crests and troughs and I strongly believe the next crest is just around the corner. It is therefore essential to be fully prepared for this crest. If you have to go to school, please do so. If you can gain experience, do that as well. Whatever you do, just make sure you are on the move. Do something worthwhile, else you will find yourself competing with the present 200 and 300 level students when that mega job you always dreamt of comes around.
Now how would it feel if you don’t have an edge over them?

This article was inspired by Stephen Hunyinbo’s personal message on BlackBerry Messenger: “The gap between expectations and realities though. Sometimes, it just pays to be a pessimist.”

Adebola Olanrewaju is a graduate of Petroleum Engineering from the University of Ibadan