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NIGERIAN GANGSTERS vs GANGSTERS IN ENGLAND

An image featuring a gun and a rose, primarily...

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“Its a beef ting, and man dem wanna come at me like I aint gon do nufink! This aint no joke, what do you fink vis is? Man lookin to lick them if they don quit gassing.”

The anger on the English streets is evident in the language, even though the language itself struggles to find its place in the Oxford dictionary.

When beef roams the streets the only thing it does is get rotten. Young boys think they are men because they carry knives and spend each night looking over their shoulders.

One can’t help but notice the division between black and white. English streets are known for having two breeds of gangster, the darker the shade the darker the side of the story.

In a society where white thinks its cool to be black and black does things without thinking, they are left with an example that isn’t worth the trouble it brings.

Anger isn’t motivated by a just cause, instead it is an opportunistic exertion of pride, and a chance to gain the reputation of being one of the man dem. Bored youths searching endlessly for a sense of importance.

Nigerian gangsters have a different story to tell. They are more a victim of circumstance than on a quest for man hood. You know them when you see them. They have everyday faces, but their complexions have been hardened by experience. I’m sure you have come across one before. The glare in their eyes offers no compromise as they go about doing what Nigerian gangsters do; hustle.

A Nigerian gangster is a man with no address. He doesn’t own a car, but he can sell all your car parts in less than an hour. He rarely carries a gun or a knife, but when a fight breaks out a nearby Coca Cola bottle is his favourite weapon of choice.

He has no regard for his appearance. The money he makes comes and goes on alcohol, cigarettes, women and a few carefully rolled portions of “igbo”.

He lives each day like its his last; recognising that there is little he can do but accept the lifestyle that was presented to him by society.

The important question to ask is “why are there gangsters in the first place?”

Is it an inherent function of their personality, or are they really just a product of society?

 


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Posted by on August 9, 2011 in THOUGHTS

 

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NIGERIAN TRANSPORT vs TRANSPORT IN ENGLAND

Nigerian motorcycle

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“Falomo! Falomo! Enter with your ten ten naira no change o!”. The adventure begins with the call of the bus conductor. A Nigerian version of tarzan appears, but no, he isn’t hanging on to a tree; he’s hanging on the side of a bus.

Elbows, punches and jabs follow as passengers scramble amongst themselves to find a seat – Health and Safety is unavailable to comment.

The move from A to B is characterized by constant shouts as the driver goes from stop to stop; conductor perched and skillfully negotiating bus fares from half way outside the vehicle.

If you’re lucky you might get a Christian evangelist who preaches an entire sermon during the journey, and ofcourse he never forgets to take an offering. The work of God na still work, as they say.

If you’re unlucky though, you might board what is commonly known as “one chance”, where everyone on the bus is a robber, apart from you. Not the most exciting transportational experience.

But ofcourse, there are indeed more exhilarating means of transport in Nigeria. In fact there is one means that has become a subject of legend, and the stories of its escapades will no doubt be passed on from generation to generation, as it makes its way through Nigerian streets, eager to pave its way through history. It is a mode of movement that needs no introduction. A thing of wonder, mystery and tongue twisting fascination; the one, the only, “okada”.

I kid you not when I say all that one has to do is step outside, blow an extreemly loud and vigorous kiss, and the okada will magically appear to request for your destination.

The ride itself is like a journey through time. There is no gap too small or road too narrow. No puddle too large, or storm too cold. Its not a bird, its not a plane; it is, an okada.

For those who may be unfamiliar with this creature, it is more commonly known in other parts of the world as a “motorcycle”, but Nigerians know its much more than that; as it cuts through traffic jams, one way roads and “side walks” that barely exist.

The more conservative Nigerians would rather take a taxi; crossing their fingers in the hope that the car windows can actually be wound down.

The cost of the journey itself is never about the standard price, that’s why every Nigerian has become astute in negotiation techniques.

The passenger states his destination: “I dey go Surulere”

The taxi driver responds: “How much you wan pay?”

Passenger: “Make I give you 1,000”

Taxi driver: “1,000 naira to reach surulere? Petrol don dey cost now o! Oya bring 5,000 make I carry you go”

Passenger: “5,000 naira ke, my money no reach that one o; I fit give you 1,500”

Taxi driver: “Ok just put 200 Naira on top make we dey go”

The passenger accepts and the negotiation is complete – the journey proceeds.

Transport is one of those subjects that graphically demonstrates how far apart England is from Nigeria. In England the bus driver and conductor are one and the same, and he is fortunate enough to spend the entire journey sitting down, rather than suspended in mid-air.

Electronic monitors spell out each stop, so the driver has a chance to save his voice for more useful conversation. Payments can be made on or off the bus and are not subject to negotiation; and passengers can press a bell without needing to shout “Owa!” as an indication that the bus has reached their stop.

Transportation options in England aren’t limited to roads, as they are in Nigeria. Trains and tubes are a popular means as well, running on tracks above and underneath the ground. “Rush hour” as they call it is a time when the English get more in touch with their Nigerian side; pushing, shoving and kicking because each person needs to be at a more important place than the next.

One might think that the level of automation the English have would create a fool-proof system; but the truth is millions are lost each year as machines have more of a say than humans.

Taxi drivers rely on “meters” to give them an accurate price quotation, but ofcourse these devices pay no attention to traffic and deliberatly long routes. Ticket machines provide convenience but offer no help in calculating the cheapest course. Oyster cards issue no reminders to “touch in” and “touch out”, but they are eager to charge fees for suspicion of foul play.

I often wonder which society has the better end of the transportation stick. A disorganised system that provides drama, adventure and human interaction; or an organised system that provides structure, coldness and dialogues with gadgets.

In my view as long as i can get from A to B, that’s good enough for me.

P.S. England could do with some Okada’s. 🙂

 

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Posted by on August 6, 2011 in TRUTH

 

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NIGERIAN POLICE vs POLICE IN ENGLAND

Police Tape

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The Nigerian police force is indeed a force to be reckoned with. Not only do they protect and serve, but they also obtain, harass and embarass, which is a short list of their often diverse responsibilities.

It is a rare thing to experience a society where you are much more likely to get stopped and questioned for looking rich rather than looking like a criminal. I am of the view that every police force is corrupt to some degree, but when it comes to Nigerians the word “subtle” never comes to mind.

A typical confrontation with a Nigerian police officer is likely to begin with a broad smile accompanied with the words “anything for us?”, said in such a casual nature that you would be convinced he is an old family friend you forgot to keep in touch with.

The sight of a man in uniform rather than provide a sense of security brings a feeling of immediate contempt and frustration, as you search your pockets for loose change you had intended for a different purpose.

Law and order is an unknown concept in Nigeria; and everyone secretely knows that when a new law is passed it serves simply as a new business venture, rather than a righteous attempt to serve the people.

When an opportunity to protect actually presents itself Nigerians are forced to accept that the police are ill equipped to deal with well armed robbers. It may be comical, but it is not at all a strange occurence to call up the police only to be candidly informed: “we have run out of petrol ma, please call again later”.

Interestingly they are very enthusiastic about public events and traffic situations. It is truly a dramatic experience to watch the Nigerian police clear a path for someone important.

“Oya move aside”; “come this way”; “commot for there!”

Several officers shout different instructions to different people, often increasing the level of confusion in the process. Let’s just say American reality TV aint got nothin on this.

For a minute let us try and overlook the fact that the police in England wear absolutely ridiculous hats. If it was a fashion contest the jury would have been out a long time ago.

Underneath these ‘hat like’ contraptions you are likely to find a police force that actually has some sort of idea of what it means to police.

You will never find a much more polite set of people when engaging in the arrest of a suspected offender. You almost know that whether or not a conviction takes place they will most certainly be inviting you over for tea and buscuits, just to make sure you know there’s no hard feelings, and they’re just going about their business.

I remember a recent altercation I had with the English police. I had accidentally kicked a ball into the next door compound which was a vacant property at the time. I was looking through the fence to see where it was and at that moment a police car pulled up. From the way it seemed I could have been trying to break into the house.

“Hello there sir” the officer said politely. “Do you live at this address?”.

I explained that I lived next door and my ball had accidentally been kicked to the other side.

“Oh I see, is there anyone inside that I can verify with? You see there have been a few break- ins recently so we can’t be too careful”.

We walked inside chatting about the weather (as you do) and once he was satisfied I was telling the truth he proceeded to leave.

“Thank you very much sir, ill leave you to it then”, he said as he walked off.

I can’t help but compare this encounter where I could very easily have been a theif,  with some of the scenes i’ve witnessed in Nigeria that were of a more innocent nature.

A Nigerian police confrontation is likely to begin in a slightly more interesting manner.

A police man walks into the scence. “Yes can I know you?”, he asks pointing at the man in front of him. “You get national ID card?” ‘You no get? Wetin carry you come here?””Oya follow me!”.

At this point he proceeds to lead the man out of the vicinity, while the victim pleads his innocence. Upon getting outside the police man will say the usual statements that end all conversations.

“Oya just drop somethin for me” “Anythin that is in your mind, just drop am”. “Use your church mind o! Just do christmas for me make I jus use am take chop”

Loosely translated – ‘give me some money and I will let you go’

At this point the man would produce a few notes and he would be set free.

“Make sure you go collect your ID card o!”, would be his departing words as he walks on to approach his next target.

A fundamental difference between the Nigerian and English police really has to do with their “approach” to the job. This may be linked to the level of accountability they have for their actions, and the expectations that both societies have grown to accept.

Nigerians have become accustomed to harrassment by the police. It is a rare occurence to meet an officer of the law without money exchanging hands. Even a polite “Good afternoon sir!” carries a meaning that is more than just daily pleasantries. Noone seems to know their rights, and they are content with the police doing anything but their job.

On the surface the English police respond to the call of duty. The society is so rigidly structured that the officers really cannot afford to display the level of blatant corruption that Nigerians present. The level of surveillance on their actions seems to be a high enough motivation to keep most on their best behaviour.

It really isn’t that much of a struggle to decide which society has a better idea of policing. The Nigerian police need to learn from the English creed; they need to serve the people, and protect them from themselves.

 

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Posted by on August 5, 2011 in TRUTH

 

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NIGERIAN EDUCATION vs EDUCATION IN ENGLAND

Graduates walk in

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As a result of the parents I had I was priviledged enough to receive a substancial education in both England and Nigeria.

I was a student in what was allegedly one of the top 5 secondary schools in England, and my Nigerian counter parts spared no cost either. So on a level, I would say I have caught somewhat of a glimpse of the best that both countries have to offer, as far as education is concerned.

Truth be told. There really is no comparison.

In Nigeria the best schools can boast of having constant electricity, the internet and computer labs; perhaps on a sports day they would even take a group to go swimming. The classrooms would be about 20 students large, and they would occasionally have a french teacher that’s actually french.

The best of England though presents a whole other world.

Each student is given their own study room, equipped with a computer and the internet. The boarding house consists of tv rooms, games rooms as well as a private garden. The facilities include fully furnished design and technology labs, sports fields, sports halls, gyms, shooting ranges, basketball courts, tennis courts, astro turfs, athletics track -need I say more. Maids clean the rooms, making sure the laundry is washed, ironed and neatly folded the following morning. Cooks make 2 course meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner – even providing tea and biscuits during the day, along with a fruit bowl that never goes empty at night.

Coming from a nigerian perspective, this is more like a holiday resort than a school.

Looking back I sometimes ask myself if all these amenities truly made a significant difference to my learning ability; perhaps.

One thing I do know is that on a fundamental level, Nigerians really do not know how to educate.

It doesn’t take a long time spent in a Nigerian school to recognise that all that is tested in students is their ability to “cram”.

The students with the highest grades are those that are able to regurgitate word for word what is written in the prescribed text book. It doesn’t matter if they understand it, the important thing to prove is that they actually read the book.

It is therefore not surprising that in Nigeria you can find mechanics that can’t fix cars, electricians that don’t know anything about wiring, and graduates with IT degrees that are barely familiar with computers. This is ofcourse assuming that the student even wrote the exam himself, as opposed to paying someone else to write it for him; a pretty common practice.

In England education is based on finding out how well a student can “apply” what he has learnt. In fact a student that only manages to quote the text word for word would be lucky to escape with a pass.

This fundamental difference in approach is what seperates a student that is able to learn and create, as opposed to read and recite.

Interestingly, Nigerians that have been educated in their system for a while seem to excel when put in an English environment. Perhaps the combination of learning how to retain information in Nigeria and progressing on to learn how to disect the info in England is what fuels this trend.

Even though the English are equipped with countless facilities and the right educational techniques, the youth in general are not really interested in being taught. Going out and getting pissed is a far more attractive option.

The government pays for their education, yet most look forward to reaching the age where they can finally make the independent decision to drop out.

By contrast Nigerians give education an extreemly high regard. An academic certificate of any kind is glorified to an overwhelming degree. I might even go as far as to say that there are few things a Nigerian child can do to please their parents more than coming back home with a degree. Those that aren’t in school are not out by choice, but quite simply because their parents can’t afford it.

Its one of those paradoxes of life where you have a country that has everything but doesn’t appreciate it, compared with a country that has nothing and would do anything for it.

Nigeria simply doesn’t have the facilities needed to put what they learn into practice. A successful university has been reduced to one where the students may actually graduate on time.  As much as it would be fulfilling to say better days are still to come, the reality is the priviledged few that are able to make a change, would rather send their kids abroad than do something about it.

It would be an interesing experiment to swap the citizens of both countries. Perhaps it would give the English a better sense of appreciation; and it would give Nigerians the chance to put what they read into practice.

 

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Posted by on August 5, 2011 in TRUTH

 

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NIGERIAN BELIEFS vs BELIEFS IN ENGLAND

church

Haven’t you heard? Nobody ever dies of natural causes in Nigeria. In fact the most common form of death is as a result of a spiritual curse sent by a spiteful relative in a village.

Nigerians are without a doubt amongst the most superstitious of all cultures. Regardless of their diversity, education or orientation, almost every significant occurrence is attributed to a spiritual entity.

When a Nigerian’s business is going well, “God is in control”. When they are sick, “the devil is a liar”. When they are angry with someone, “God will punish them!”. I can almost confidently say that there are no Nigerians that do not profess some belief, religion or the other –  whether or not they put their beliefs into practice, is a completely different story.

England on paper is supposedly a Christian country. The reality though is that most in practice are atheists or agnostics. A Nigerian would consider this mind set to be an abomination, and as a result they can be very prejudical towards anyone who does not believe that there is a God.

The English belief system is based on principles that are rigid and practical, so in essence i would say that in England, they believe in the law and science. Everything requires a logical explanation. If it cannot be proven or rationally explained then it isn’t really worth considering. Life within the context of belief is about working hard, avoiding the wrong side of the law, and hanging on to the faith that Apple will release its newest product sooner rather than later.

Despite the fact that most of England has a somewhat blatant disregard for the concept of a God, they are very open, respectful and accomodating of other peoples beliefs, and as a society they accept the fact that everyone has the right to choose their faith. Interestingly this approach should surely belong to the culture that recognizes God, but this really isn’t the case when it comes to Nigeria.

A defining difference between the beliefs of Nigerians and the beliefs in England is that the English actually put what they believe in to practice.

On a Sunday morning in Nigeria you are likely to find everyone nicely dressed up heading off to a church somewhere. On that morning faith is at its highest, accompanied with prayers, songs and an inspirational message about monetary blessings. On the way home and during the rest of the week this religious perspective is completely forgotten, and is instead replaced with a new belief system; one where you have faith that “everybody is about to cheat you, so you need to do the cheating first”.

By contrast the English may not go religously to church, but on a general level they place a higher regard for integrity, honesty and commitment to humanitarian causes. Most Sunday mornings are spent at home with their famlies, slowly recovering from the binge that took place the night before. Their values don’t spontaneously change based on the fear of a cruel world, though with cameras on every other road it probably helps to be a bit more trusting.

As far as the beliefs from both countries go, what can be learnt?

Nigerians are in danger of never truly understanding why they believe what they believe. The level of hypocrisy in the society is directly linked to the fact that its people are “born into” religion; as opposed to making a deliberate choice for themselves. Their unquestioned faith blinds them from seeing that good and bad things can happen without the involvement of God or the devil. Losing a job does not necessarily mean that God is angry, neither does getting an “A” in an exam mean that God is on their side. The English recognise that losing a job is usually as a result of indolence; and getting an A in school is as a result of hard work.

On the flip side England is in danger of never finding God in the situations where he is actually present. Their skepticism of all things spiritual keeps them from recognising that life is sometimes more than what meets the eye. Not everything can be conclusively explained through a man with a white lab coat and a medical degree.

Combining the psychology of both worlds would certainly be evidence of growth. Nigerians need a belief system that is not blasphemous to question, and they should respect the fact that spirituality is a lifestyle rather than an identity used  to complete the religious section on a job application. The English for all their openess need to recognise that science too is in fact a religion; and though it boasts of a logical approach, its focus pays very little attention to understanding the spiritual dimensions of life.

If logic was applied to spirituality, we may be surprised to discover that one does not need to be chosen in the place of the other.

 

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Posted by on August 3, 2011 in TRUTH

 

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