Category Archives: Black folk

Are Nigerians lazy?

Now before I get accused of being racist I must state two important facts:

  1. I am Nigerian (and British)
  2. I read an article this morning with the headline: Are Nigerians lazy? Blame elders!

The writer disagreed with a  Nigerian bishop who last month said, “Many people are lazy. We seem to have a very poor attitude to work in Nigeria. We believe in free lunches, long vacations and so on. We believe in going on strike for months and expect our salaries to be paid.” Really?! Labour laws in Nigeria are incredibly unfriendly to employees. Workers in numerous states are owed salaries from government — some haven’t been paid for more than a year! Why wouldn’t Nigerians strike?

My goodness, I was outraged this morning by the bishop’s words but that was this morning. After sending and receiving a few emails since reading the article, let’s just say I’m no longer outraged by the question I’ve used for this post…

Don’t get me wrong, I disagree with the points he used to illustrate what makes Nigerians lazy but he may have been on to something. Ok, so that’s the annoyance from the email I just received coming out. The fact that I was irritated by a few people who happen to be Nigerian doesn’t give me license to generalise  my own people. I am however surrounded by Nigerians so permit me in this post to evaluate their attitude to work based on what I have experienced.

A colleague of mine recently passed away and I was devastated. He was one of the few people who could make me smile at 6am in the studio or in PCR before Good Morning Nigeria. Greeted with such a warm smile I would barely notice when he would slip a microphone pack under my clothes and clip it to the back of my bra! When my co-anchors and I spoke about him we would constantly say how much we liked him, how professional he was and the pride he took in his work. I must but hesitantly point out that he wasn’t Nigerian…

But I do thankfully work with some Nigerian people who have his spirit. I’m married to someone who works so hard I nearly feel guilty when I’ve got my feet up while watching TLC in the evening while he’s producing a jingle… BUT and it’s a big but, I’m constantly inwardly questioning the way people work here. Simple tasks are mishandled. Meetings are called with little or nothing solved. Common sense is a rare gem and yet so many people not only chase titles but somehow believe they are entitled to them despite their poor work ethic. These can all be attributed to laziness. If you need clarification on something laziness will stop you from finding the right person to help you understand how to complete the task. If you call for pointless meetings to feel superior its laziness that gives you enough time to do so. If you aren’t the brightest spark its laziness that keeps you dim. If you chase titles you don’t deserve you’re just a horribly lazy individual.

When I found out about the passing of my colleague it got me thinking about how I would be remembered when my time is up. How many people would talk about how hard-working I was? Who would recall how pleasant it was to work alongside me? Would anyone miss my ideas?

I’m a firm believer of questioning myself. It makes me a better person because I constantly realise I have things to work on. The people that emailed me this evening clearly don’t.

So are Nigerians lazy?

Hell yeah…but then again there are people from all walks of life in all corners of the globe that are lazy as well. Nigerian or not, lets all make an effort to be remembered in the same light as my late colleague and kick laziness to the curb. Amen.

P.S If you ever decide you want to send me an annoying email, I implore you to be lazy.

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Don’t blame the media for your lack of knowledge

I tweeted about this post’s title this morning after reading an incredibly accurate and concise piece on blaming the media for our lack of knowledge.

I couldn’t have agreed with it more.

Since the awful terrorist attacks that shook Paris on Friday November 13th, I have read so many stories, comments, tweets etc about it that I didn’t feel I could contribute much further to the discussion. I didn’t particularly want to when comments about the attacks quickly turned into attacking anyone who showed any compassion for the lives that had been lost. If you added the French flag filter over your profile picture to show solidarity with French people then you acted on par with a corporate white supremacist. If you hadn’t tweeted about the Beirut suicide bombs the day before you tweeted about the Paris attacks then you were a hypocrite and a selective griever. God forbid you dared urge people to #PrayForParis…
I get it. There’s definitely a need to challenge the narrative presented to us by the media. The Delhi-based blogger Karuna Ezara Parikh beautifully reminded us to pray for the world and we should sympathise with innocent lives lost irrespective of their colour, ethnicity, beliefs or religion. Who should do all of this? The media? Ideally. But in the meantime, it’s our job to do so.

There is information everywhere but it’s up to us to decide how much of it we want to read and the measure in which we want to analyse it. I was amazed when I saw people on Facebook posting stories about the Kenya school massacre that took place in April. Apparently the story demonstrates that African lives don’t matter because of the lack of media coverage. This horrible attack happened while I was in Nigeria and was widely reported here but it was also widely covered by international news outlets at the time. If you just learned about what happened in Garissa University College don’t blame the media, blame yourself.

When I found out I was one of the Good Morning Nigeria anchors I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Eavesdrop on any heated discussion from a group of security people, bus commuters, television anchors or just about anyone in Nigeria with a heart-beat and you’ll likely hear them discussing a political issue. I’m tasked to be an expert in the field of politics. I may love politics but it’s not easy dissecting stories for people who already know the background of much of what I dissect. If I solely relied on the BBC, CNN or Facebook posts to tell me what was going on with the pro-Biafra protests in Abia State or the fuel scarcity crisis we are plagued with or how likely it is that APC’s promise of a N5,000 unemployment benefit for Nigerian youths would be fulfilled, I would be mute for most of our show. I find out about what’s happening in Nigeria not just because it’s my job to but because I want to know.

Likewise, with the Beirut bomb-blasts that took place a day before the Paris attacks, if you didn’t know about it, it’s because you didn’t watch/listen/read the news that day or you didn’t pay attention when you saw the headline or because you simply didn’t really care. I say this because of the tweet below and all the other similar tweets/comments/stories/poems I read — it’s untrue. What happened to fact-checking?

This was retweeted more than 50,000 times despite the fact major news outlets reported the Beirut bomb blasts.

This was retweeted more than 50,000 times despite the fact international news outlets did report on the Beirut bomb blasts.

There is another reason the bomb-blasts in Beirut may not have struck a chord as much as the Paris attacks and it’s the same reason I can at times skim through a story about a bomb-blast in Nigeria — we’ve become desensitised to suffering when it’s in places the media routinely reports on. I’d likely pay more attention to stories about bomb-blasts in Nigeria if I saw it happening in Lagos where I live rather than Maiduguri that is unfortunately frequently bombed…This is wrong but it’s true.

We no longer have to wait for the media to tell us what’s going on. There are citizen journalists out there that even influential media outlets rely on to know what’s going on in the world. If you want to know what’s going on in Africa or anywhere else outside of the West then look for the information. Ask a cab driver, follow analysts on twitter, download a history book for context and then share what you find out with the rest of us. The ball as they say is in your court.

Pants on the Ground

A town in Florida recently banned people from wearing trousers like idiots. It’s extremely pathetic that adults have to be threatened with punishment to stop “sagging their pants,” but unfortunately we are all sharing the world with morons. I even feel ridiculous typing the words sagging and rileypants because they sound so American. It is however a global issue. In every country I’ve visited and lived in I’ve seen human forms of Riley Freeman — Men and women who just can’t stop wearing their trousers low enough for me to know how often they change their underwear.

Citizens of Ocala, Florida are no longer to wear trousers that sag two inches below their waist on city property. First-time offenders will receive a warning; multiple-offenders could face up to six months in prison and a $500 fine. I’m sure lots of people think of young black boys like Riley being the main culprits but what about all the builders, maintenance workers and everyone else that seem to always bend over while working? For the love of God, can we not just throw them all in jail as well?

As much as I don’t regard myself a member of the fashion police, is it Bums up 31outrageous that I’m disgusted when someone’s butt is hanging out in my face?

I understand that saggy pants bring up more important issues than personal taste. For instance, the American Civil Liberties Union have pointed to the potential for racial profiling. Well, if everyone pulls their damn trousers up, no one will face a fine or prison if they don’t. Simple.

The power to legislate dress code is already used across America to ban public nudity, so is it really that big of a deal to ban the display of underwear?

So what will be banned next? Perhaps cleavage? What about 4 inch heels? I’ve heard these kind of arguments before relating to this issue and I’ve asked myself the same thing.

But what if sagging your pants was bad for your health? Would that make some of you reading that are against the ban change your mind?

Watch family physician and sex specialist Dr. Rachael Ross (the pretty doctor on The Doctors) explain the dangers behind sagging pants:

Abegi, (as we say here in Nigeria), do you need any more convincing?! Sagging your pants can lead to you struggling to have an erection and can damage nerves in your legs. Ladies and gentlemen, please pull up your trousers — for your own good.

Do you know what you’ll look like if you don’t? Watch my hero of the day explain below.

Am I Light-Skinned?

I understand the title of this post probably looks ridiculous but it’s a genuine question I’ve asked myself since moving to Nigeria. Here’s why:

I was born and bred in beautiful Barnet, North London. Unfortunately, some of the characters I came across were not as pleasant as my home-town. I vividly remember being called a Paki by loud-mouthed idiots that were not brave enough to leave the cars they hurled racist words from and say it to my face. My Pakistani friend at university didn’t believe me when I later told him about this because let’s face it, you would have to be more foolish than a fool to call a black person a Pakistani.

Being racist is stupid — no doubt about it. Some racists, like the ones I unfortunately encountered growing up, reserved that special type of foolishness that still amazes me. I read an interesting article today about the secret double life of Nicky Crane — a gay neo-Nazi that organised and participated in many unprovoked violent attacks in London against ethnic minorities. In a television interview in 1992 Crane said,

“Adolf Hitler was my God…He was sort of like my Fuhrer, my leader. And everything I done was, like, for Adolf Hitler.”

During Adolf Hitler’s regime, historians say 50,000 homosexuals were branded criminals and degenerates and as many as 15,000 died in concentration camps. Like I said, being racist is stupid.

20131205-173859.jpgYet, despite the confusion displayed by the people mistaking me for being from South Asia, I was very aware that I was black. I went to a secondary school with few black people and I don’t remember anyone ever saying anything about the shade of my skin colour. Black was black. Even when I moved to a new secondary school with lots more black people, black people’s skin shade was hardly brought up in discussions.

I’m the darkest in my family so I didn’t for a second ever consider myself fair-skinned. I remember years ago meeting my little sister near school and my friend saw her and said,

“Man, your sister is so pretty! She’s so light! What the hell happened to you?!”

I kid you not.

So, you should by now understand why I’m confused about this recently new notion that I’m light-skinned.

Since moving back to Nigeria a few months ago, I’ve been hearing left, right and centre things along the line of:

Kai, you’re so fair!
Yellow pawpaw!
Afin (Yoruba for albino)

Me?

While waiting for my colleague to get money from the cash machine yesterday, a lady approached me and asked me to stand in the shade. My other colleague with me said that if she was in the sun without me, the lady wouldn’t tell her to move to the shade. She said the only reason the lady was concerned was because of my skin colour! I remember constantly being told in a previous job here in Nigeria to stop making calls under the sun and move to the shade before I turn dark…again, I kid you not.

I’m forever telling people that I don’t care what colour I am. I like when I get tanned because my skin looks fresher and more golden. I can not imagine what would possess me to ever think about damaging my skin just to make it lighter. I told another colleague (check out her blog here) the title of this post and asked if she thought I should include the fact that I don’t bleach my skin at all. She said the first thing everyone reading in Nigeria would say is that I probably do bleach! Argh!

I’m still surprised when I’m called light-skinned because I’ve never seen myself as anything but black. I’m obsessed with my skin being smooth, not the shade. So although I’ve asked you if I’m light-skinned in the title, the truth is, I don’t actually care. Do you?

Spare the Rod, Cause the Child to Riot?

The underlying cause of the riots that broke out last summer across England has been the subject of fierce debate among politicians, activists, journalists and the like since the chaos erupted. I’m sure like me, you experienced your Facebook and twitter timelines get jam-packed with comments from overnight scholars who wanted to give their two cents on why England had been transformed into what appeared to be a war-zone. You probably heard many of the following riot explanations below:

British youth are frustrated.

The most vulnerable communities in London are lashing out.

The whites have become black.

Pure criminality.

Cuts in public services.

Expression of anger and alienation.

A masked rioter is seen in front of a burning car in Hackney, North London, Britain, 08 August 2011. EPA/KERIM OKTEN

I leaned most towards pure criminality as an explanation of why thousands of youths marauded through British cities looting and firebombing along the way. But I acknowledge that there must be more complex issues to consider to understand what turns someone into a criminal in the first place…

Yet, almost six months after the riots in the UK and all the debates that followed, Labour MP David Lammy said in an interview on LBC radio a few days ago that restrictions on smacking was a contributing factor in the unrest! Although Mr. Lammy has since stated that he didn’t mean to imply a direct connection between the smacking ban and riots, it is tasking to try to take back what we journalists call “the money quote” from people’s minds. His words:

“If parents were allowed to hit their children, the riots wouldn’t have happened”

Yeah, not much room for interpretation with that statement! He may not have meant to provide a clear-cut correlation between smacking and the riots but he hasn’t said much regarding the issue to discount the connection either.

But should he?

Mr. Lammy claimed, ”Many of my constituents came up to me after the riots and blamed the Labour Government, saying: ‘You guys stopped us being able to smack our children’.

”I have to say when this was first raised with me I was pretty disparaging. But I started to listen. These parents are scared to smack their children and paranoid that social workers will get involved and take their children away.”

People can correctly blame the Labour government for making parents think twice before using violence to discipline children because of Labour’s 2004 decision to tighten up the smacking law. Before 2004, parents were able to use “reasonable chastisement”, with certain cases decided by a judge. The introduction of the Children’s Act specified that parents were allowed to smack their children so long as they did so without causing the “reddening of the skin” and left decisions to social workers over whether parents had overstepped the mark. So black people are still basically screwed :s

First of all, I think it’s preposterous to suggest that parent’s confusion over smacking their kids is what sparked off the riots. Mr. Lammy also said working-class parents should be able to physically discipline their children to prevent them from joining gangs and getting involved in knife crime. His statements just reinforce unjust stereotypes about working-class people. Are we to believe that only working-class children require such discipline? I always thought that a stereotypical working-class person hit their children… Now it seems the same set of people are to blame for not hitting their kids enough!

I can’t help but remember a comedy sketch I saw a few years ago by Russel Simmons, which covered the  difference between discipline methods used by different ethnic groups. Check the video out below — *Spoiler alert* — Somebody gonna get a hurt real bad!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yVcePxjFujs 

Following Mr. Lammy’s controversial statements, I went to listen to a lecture by the man himself last night at my old university — the London School of Economics. The title of the talk was, ‘A Tale of Tottenham: race, riots and the future’ and he used the session to reflect on the causes of the riots and what role, racial inequality played in the uprising. It felt great to be back at university and I even had the opportunity to meet some amazing people involved in youth work and general community projects that help combat the kind of anti-social behaviour Mr. Lammy spoke about.

Mr. Lammy quickly addressed the issue of smacking in the lecture by saying that he hadn’t planned to be on the front page of the Daily Mail a week before his public speech at LSE (hmmmmm). He said that he wanted to quickly clarify that he didn’t think that the sole cause of the riots was parents not smacking their kids and that he wouldn’t have written a 250 word book (all proceeds go to charities in Tottenham), if he believed so! He did however defend sparking media attention around the smacking issue, as much of the liberal left in his opinion want to shut down the debate all together.

As the MP for Tottenham — where the riots began, he is probably the best politician to speak about the riots. He didn’t justify the rioters actions but he did put on the table disturbing statistics and information that helped explain why the riots took place. For instance, according to Mr Lammy, (comparing black and white people in the UK) black people are three times as likely to be excluded from school and three times as likely to be unemployed. A shocking 65% of Caribbean kids are raised by single parents (obviously two incomes can do more for a child than one), and black people are still 30 times more likely than white people to be stopped and searched by police!

Many of the areas that encountered rioting had the highest number of unemployment in the country, with people at home on the doll. It’s not rocket science to figure out that it is dangerous to have young adult men with nothing to do during the summer period — what is it about the sunshine and bad behaviour?! Mr. Lammy rightly said that it’s no surprise that 90% of those that took part in the riots were young, male and unemployed.

Also, history reveals that riots have often occurred following a significant event — usually an event that sparks a profound sense of injustice being felt by people. Mr. Lammy said that spark is usually aroused after someone dies at the hands of the police — just as the fatal shooting by police of 29-year-old Mark Duggan sparked off the protests that lead to the unrest.

So there are definitely lots of factors to explain how the riots came about. Mr. Lammy helped me to lean away from believing that the riot began solely because of the criminal mentality of youth and more towards believing it happened because the devil makes work for idle hands and too many youth are idle.

Quick aside: All this smacking talk really got me thinking about how I will discipline my own children. I always say that being a parent is probably on par with being a president in terms of how difficult it is to do the job well. No matter how hard both sets of people work in our interest, there will always be someone pointing out what they deem mistakes. In the case of smacking, many feel that the government should not tell people how to raise their children but as James Madison said, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” We are not angels and therefore need the government to safeguard societies most vulnerable — children.

A growing number of reviews are finding that there are more effective and acceptable methods of disciplining children than smacking; and that Section 58 has improved legal protection for children by restricting the reasonable punishment defence in court proceedings. Personally, I hope I will choose to ban my boy from playing on his game console for a week instead of giving him a slap if he misbehaves….time will tell!

The presence or absence of one form of discipline is unlikely to provide any explanation for August’s events. I believe the discussion of how to control British youth still needs to be somewhere near the top of politician’s agenda. Clarifying if parents can smack their kids  may not be the sole way to avoid another riot in the country but it may be what is needed to spark a serious discussion about practical steps to rid the youth of idleness that can lead to serious trouble.

What do you think about the idea of linking the British riots to smacking? Will you give your child a can of whoop-ass if they step out of line or do you know any interesting (non-violent) methods to discipline children?

Why so serious?

Last week news broke that Marilyn Davenport (a member of the Republican Central Committee of Orange County) had sent an email of the image above to some of  her fellow Republican comrades. As if depicting the President and his parents as apes wasn’t insulting enough, the caption above the photo in the email read, “Now you know why no birth certificate.”

When questioned by the journalist that wrote the story, Davenport was defiant.

“Oh, come on! Everybody who knows me knows that I am not a racist.”

“It was a joke. I have friends who are black. Besides, I only sent it to a few people — mostly people I didn’t think would be upset by it.”

“You’re not going to make a big deal about this, are you?”

Well, yes.

It is a big deal. A big deal to some and more than you might initially imagine. Some of her fellow Republicans have condemned her actions and even insisted that she should resign from her committee seat with the Orange County GOP. She’s apologized but she ain’t budging.

I am sick to the bone of hearing people like Davenport, Mr. Trump and Sarah Palin discuss Obama’s roots. Seriously. The email has sparked more debate over Obama’s birth place, (which is a joke) but more seriously,  attacking Obama’s heritage in this manner shows there are still some walls of fear and racism yet to fall.

As Scott Baugh, chairman of the Orange County Republican Party, said, what Davenport did was “despicable” and “dripping with racism.” I refrain from labeling comments/people as racist at the drop of a hat but if the shoe fits….

Although  Obama being black slipped her mind it does not change that he is. Obama’s election was a historic moment for a nation that once regarded men and women like Obama as less than human. A nation whose law considered African-Americans as mere property. A nation where people like me were viewed as animals… so yes, I believe sending a picture of Obama’s face superimposing a baby’s ape is a tad bit on the racist side.

I spoke to my “go-to”person when it comes to spilling out all my thoughts, troubles and confusion (when I’m not praying) and he wasn’t half as bothered as I was. It came up that George W. Bush was also depicted as a monkey while President. True. But Bush isn’t black so of course this didn’t generate huge attention. Bush was illustrated as a chimp because people thought he was stupid, not because of where he is from.

Now, I’m not saying that Davenport herself is racist. She appears for whatever reason repentant. Davenport said, “I want people to know that I humbly apologize and ask for forgiveness for my unwise behavior.” Unwise? Plain stupid.

As I have said in an earlier post, there are many policies Democrats and Republicans alike can be unhappy with Obama about. So why oh why would an intelligent Republican want to lower the dialogue about Obama’s presidency to such a distasteful level? Why should anyone go beyond opposing Obama because of his policies and political ideologies? As President, it is expected that he should receive severe scrutiny but playing on old fears about his background is unacceptable.

His faith, birth-place and even credentials have all been called into question by opponents but this takes the biscuit. Surely there are more pressing issues to be worry about than Obama’s background? I may be supporting (for now) Obama in the next election but I sure know he’s supported and not supported policies that challenge my support.

Can’t Obama’s opponents like Donald Trump find anything else to attack/criticize Obama about other than his heritage?

Well if that’s all they’ve got to say, then they’ll only make Obama’s 2012 political race easier if the nation is to vote wisely– that is if people look towards policies to decide who to vote for. Focussing on Obama’s background sheds no light on the direction he has/is/will take the nation in. So people may be more inclined to listen to Obama’s clear message…

So for that reason I believe Davenport ought to resign even if the only reason she does so is because it’s  best for her party.

What do you think?

Why do black folk tend to be Democrats?

It’s old news that the party black people overwhelmingly support today didn’t support the civil rights movement and it was actually the Republicans fighting for blacks to be treated “equally.” This fact has many people asking what happened to make black people switch their loyalty from the Republicans to Democrats.

Helllllllooooooooo–how about 150 years happened!

A lot has changed since the Republican’s gave the majority of black people a huge incentive to vote for them. So once and for all, let’s leave that line of argument aside when we look at which party black people should vote for. Let us instead as people living in the 21st century, with so much information available we often feel overwhelmed, find a more advanced and policy driven reasons for voting for any party .

In the second episode of The Street Report, I spoke to people in Brooklyn and asked them why black people naturally gravitate towards supporting the Democrats.

Check it out here and let me know if you think black people have a good reason to be Democrats.

These are mostly the same people I spoke to in the first episode (kill 2 birds with one stone and all that)! By their answers, it seems the black electorate are both ignorant and stupid. And of course Obama being black has sealed the deal. I disagree (particularly with the latter).

68% of first time votes (according to exit polls) voted for Obama. Surely his skin colour isn’t wholly responsible? Most black voters have had no qualms with voting for someone white to be President. On the national level, Democrats typically get around 90% of the black vote, even when a black man isn’t running for president as a Democrat. Al Gore got 92% of the black vote in 2000 and John Kerry got 88% in 2004.

Surely there’s a logical and more acceptable reason why most of the black electorate are Democrats?

Michael Steele, the first African-American chairman of the GOP, told 200 black students last year that they had no reason to vote for the Republicans! See excerpt below:

“You really don’t have a reason to, to be honest — we haven’t done a very good job of really giving you one. True? True,” Michael Steele told DePaul University students.

“We have lost sight of the historic, integral link between the party and African-Americans,” Steele said. “This party was co-founded by blacks, among them Frederick Douglass. The Republican Party had a hand in forming the NAACP, and yet we have mistreated that relationship. People don’t walk away from parties, Their parties walk away from them.

“For the last 40-plus years we had a ‘Southern Strategy’ that alienated many minority voters by focusing on the white male vote in the South. Well, guess what happened in 1992, folks, ‘Bubba’ went back home to the Democratic Party and voted for Bill Clinton.”

I agree with this Republican.

The short of the long is: Black people overwhelmingly support the Democrats because the Republicans don’t give black people a reason to vote any differently.

What do you think?