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Mandela and African Hypocrites (2)

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In the lecture, Dr. Aggrey said that God created whites and blacks to work together on equal terms to develop the world. But he lamented that black people were not playing their role well because of lack of education. He emphasized the point that Africans must be educated to be in a position to play their part effectively. He likened the roles of the black and white people to the black and white keys of the piano. He said that if you played the white keys of the piano alone, you would only hear some sort of melody adding that the only way to hear some harmony is when you play the white and the black keys of the piano together. After listening to Dr. Aggrey, young Alvan Ikoku resolved to become a graduate like Dr. Aggrey.  Since there was no university in Nigeria of the historic time and he had no means to travel abroad to attend one, Alvan Ikoku decided to study at home for an external degree of London University through correspondence course given by Normal Correspondence College England, studying with hurricane lantern. In 1923, he passed London matriculation and wrote a letter to Dr. Aggrey telling him of his success. Rather than send Ikoku money, Aggrey sent him some books to encourage him to read further. In 1928, Ikoku sat and passed BA degree of London University as an external candidate in Philosophy. Thus, he became the first Nigerian to perform such a feat and also became the first Igbo graduate in Nigeria. Nnamdi Azikiwe followed him in 1930 when he graduated BA from Lincoln University in USA. Rather than join the civil service, he founded primary schools in many parts of Eastern Nigeria.

 

In 1932, Alvan Ikoku established Aggrey Memorial College, Arochukwu, in memory of his mentor Aggrey of Africa who died in New York, USA on July 30, 1927. Aggrey Memorial College Arochukwu was the first co-educational Secondary School in English-speaking West Africa. He made it a co-educational school because Aggrey said that “The surest way to keep people down is to educate the men and neglect the women. When you educate a man, you simply educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate a family.” For his role in the promotion of education in Nigeria the then Federal government, when there was some sanity in Nigeria, immortalised him as a national hero hence his portrait adorns the ten-naira currency note. Alvan Ikoku took active part in pre-independence politics. Although he believed in independence, he said Nigerians should not hurry into it but should produce enough good manpower that will take over from the colonial masters before seeking independence. That was why he once asked Nnamdi Azikiwe the question: “Where are you running to with a people who have not learnt how to walk? You will stumble six years after independence.” Rather than react to Ikoku’s argument, Azikiwe greeted him with tirades calling him Uncle Tom, political lackey, stooge, fifth columnist and such other derogatory names. Ikoku never raised his voice in reply but chose to elevate his argument by reminding Azikiwe that the two of them were in one boat rowing towards the same direction, pointing out that whereas he Ikoku was busy producing the manpower that Nigeria badly needed to make independence work, Azikiwe was only concerned with preaching independence, adding that the speed of the rower was not determined by the sound of the oar.

 

Today, we are witnesses to the result of our rush to independence. Here we can draw a parallel with the cautious conduct of Mandela who preferred to accommodate the whites of South Africa rather than oust them to appropriate their wealth because he knew that South Africa needed their expertise. Like Mandela, Ikoku was transparently honest, highly principled and humble. For example, (1) he insisted that all his children must attend Aggrey Memorial College, Arochukwu stressing that if they did not then any parent that sent his child to the school deserved to have his head examined; (2) all children of lvan Ikoku who studied in Aggrey Memorial College, Arochukwu were boarders and were forbidden to visit their home located within the college campus except on days when other students were free to visit the town – These honest policies of Alvan Ikoku paid off to him as can be seen from the achievement of his eight children – the late S.G. Ikoku, renowned economist and frontline politician; the late Ayo Ekanem, educationist and retired founding Principal of Federal Government College Gboko Benue State; Chimere, a Professor of chemistry, Foundation Vice-Chancellor, the Federal University of Technology, Abeokuta, and a two-term Vice-Chancellor of University of  Nigeria, Nsukka; Nkpanam, a Consultant Haematologist in the United Kingdom; Veronica, a Medical Doctor: Chinyere, a one-time Professor of Petroleum Engineering at the University of Port Harcourt; Stella Aku, a Molecular Biologist and erstwhile Senior Lecturer in Biochemistry and later publisher on the staff of Sunray Publications; and Enyinnaya an economist in the United States of America;  (3) Alvan Ikoku rejected a suggestion once made to him by the Cabinet of Eze Aro of Arochukwu that he should not continue to live in the official quarters of the Principal of Aggrey Memorial College, Arochukwu, because a man of his stature deserved to live in a dignified abode and not in an ordinary house like that of the Principal; (3) to encourage poor parents to educate their children, Ikoku remarkably accepted the payment of school fees in kind by receiving agricultural products such as yams and cassava in lieu.

 

It is an irony of faith that a man who did so much in the area of education and political thinking for Nigeria is little known by Nigerians. Indeed if the Advanced Teacher Training College, Owerri were still in existence today and there was need to rename it after a deserving Nigerian, no one today would think of Alvan Ikoku. One political panjandrum who had nothing to do with education would be preferred. But even that has not made present day Nigerians to know and appreciate him. That was why I wrote the book referred to above, to educate Nigerians about this remarkable man who was a Mandela of his time. Many people who have read the book think it is a must-read for all Nigerians particularly the youths. Modesty forbids me to comment on the book beyond the fact that I purposely wrote it with economy of words to make it short so that Nigerians, now intimidated by voluminous materials may be disposed to read it with ease. If I am accused of blowing my own trumpet, then my defence is that if I do not blow my own trumpet, some one is likely to use it as a spittoon. The book that can be easily read at a sitting is marketed by Jubilee Intellect Ventures of 28 Njiribeako Street, Owerri, Imo State (Email:jubileeintellect4eva@gmail.com Phone 08142143279; 08189275511).

 

So far, we have written generally to Africans. Let us now address Nigerians. God has been particularly kind to Nigerians. In fact there is the story that when God created the world, He gave so much to Nigeria: good weather, abundant mineral resources, vast fertile land, etc., that provoked such jealousy among other countries that they held a meeting and sent a protest delegation to God accusing Him of partiality. God is said to have apologised to other nations and assured them that although He gave so much to Nigerians, they were created in such a way that they would not be able to make any good use of their gifts adding that other people will exploit the gifts given to Nigerians. Even in these times, God has continued to show favour to Nigeria. For example, natural disasters that have caused so much havoc around the world have not occurred in Nigeria. Even the terrible evil ways of Nigerians have not been punished by God. That is why one writer thinks that God owes Sodom and Gomorrah an apology. The death of Mandela and the 2015 elections provide psychological moments for Nigerians to reposition themselves.

 

First, Nigerian dobiritists should call themselves to order, and repent of their sins. Secondly, Nigerians should wake up from their political slumber and take their faith in their own hands. Accordingly, they should use the on-coming 2015 elections in Nigeria to provide an opportunity for Nigerians to elect good men and women to lead them. Nigeria, nay Africa, is not lacking in good men and women. What is lacking is that good men and women are not given the opportunity to rule, make the right decision and ensure that dobiritists do not loot the treasury. During the coming elections, dobiritists that have not repented will tempt you with money, urging you to vote for them. Take the money, but do not vote for them. The money is yours, not theirs, because it is money that they looted from our common purse. If one steals your money and returns it to you, then accept it. But if he returns the money in exchange for your vote, he is insulting you mortally. If you accept the money and vote for him then you have insulted yourself the more and remain condemned in addition to being a damned bloody fool. Receive the money because it is yours, but look out and vote for a good person instead and you would have maintained your dignity and remained justified and wise. That is why good persons should come out as alternative candidates to dobiritists. No longer should good persons shy away from politics on the ground that politics is a dirty game that must be left to bad persons.

 

If politics is dirty, it behoves good men and women to clean it up. No longer should they stand aside. So let good Christians and good Muslims come out to contest the next elections because ‘if people of goodwill hold aloof from political organisation, the state will sink into disorder; control will fall into worse hands, and they themselves will be penalized’.

 

___________________________

Emmanuel A. C. Orji, Senior Citizen
Email: eacorji@yahoo.com Phone: 08034447729

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The Data of Forgiveness

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The Universal Character of Salvation

The most important ingredient in today’s media economy is data. The amount of data available determines how much and how long we can work or play on the internet. Currently, many of the service providers offer unlimited data plans but we know that those “unlimited” plans are not always unlimited. Sometimes, your download speed can get slowed down when you cross a certain point. Today, however, Jesus gives us the divine model of an unlimited plan. It is the unlimited bundle of compassion and forgiveness which never gets slowed downed shut down for maintenance. The theme for this week is that we must learn to forgive without limits no matter the injury committed against us.

In Matthew’s Gospel, today’s teaching on unlimited forgiveness comes after Jesus had told his disciples the parable of the wandering sheep, so it is plausible that some would have wondered among themselves how many times a good shepherd should go after the same sheep if it keeps wandering away. In those days, people believed that forgiveness was limited to three times only – a fourth transgression was not to be forgiven. So, by asking Jesus how many times he should forgive his brother, Peter was probably aiming to increase the limit to seven times. And Jesus makes it clear that we are to forgive others, “not seven times but seventy-seven times” (Matt. 18:22).That means we must dispense an unlimited data bundle of mercy.

In Jesus Christ, we have the forgiveness of a debt we could never pay. Sin is an offence against God and a direct rebellion against his authority and creation. The debt of 10,000 talents mentioned in today’s parable symbolizes the magnitude of the offence that sin causes in God’s eyes, but he is always willing to forgive without limits. However, we can easily cut ourselves off from God’s river of mercy when we refuse to forgive others. We end up restraining God’s mercy and putting ourselves under strict justice. To unfold his mercy without compromising his justice, God leaves each person free to choose between the two. If we insist on strict justice when we are offended, we bring God’s strict justice upon ourselves. But if we offer an unlimited bundle of mercy to others, we draw God’s unlimited data of forgiveness upon ourselves.

The secret to forming a forgiving heart lies in recognizing the evil of our sin and the immensity of God’s goodness in forgiving us. Until we see the ugliness of our ingratitude and selfishness, we will never appreciate the generosity of God’s forgiveness. Let us examine ourselves now to see how much forgiveness we are giving. Is there someone we still cannot forgive even after they have expressed sorrow for their actions? Have we judged someone too harshly because of something they said or did that we did not particularly like? How many times have we failed to help somebody because we are still dwelling on an injury that we suffered many years ago? How many times have we treated someone differently based on preconceived notions or stereotypes? These are some of the factors that shackle us like chains and that disrupt the unlimited data of divine grace in our lives. When we close ourselves off to people or dismiss them based on our preconceptions, mistaken judgments, and prejudices, not only do we make them suffer, we suffer as well.

But it does not have to be that way. Jesus came to free us from and the burden of sin and unhappiness. Forgiveness is like mercury, which runs away when it is held tightly in the hand but is preserved by keeping the palm open. When we lose forgiveness, we lose the ability to give and to receive love because love is the foundation of forgiveness. And since God is the foundation of love, whoever refuses to forgive automatically rejects the love of God. This is the essence of today’s parable and it is highlighted by the contrast between what was owed by each man. The wicked slave owed his master some 10000 talents. In gold terms, that is 350 tons and at today’s price, he owed his master USD21.8 billion. This was way more than King Solomon made in a year which was 666 talents of gold or USD1.45 billion in today’s value (cf. I Kings 10:14). So, this unforgiving servant owed his master what no individual could never payback. In contrast, his fellow servant owed him the equivalent of one talent of gold or USD2.1 million; so a man who was forgiven $21.8b could not let go of $2.1m, and his wickedness landed him in the hands of torturers.

Dear friends, forgiveness is an act of compassion which is expressed in the free choice to pardon one another’s shortcomings every day, and to also pardon ourselves for own mistakes Forgiveness transcends the fear of being wounded again; it is a deliberate act in imitation of the redemptive work of Jesus, the advocacy of the Holy Spirit, and the loving kindness of the Father. The whole point of today’s parable is that our Father in heaven will do the same to anyone who refuses to forgive others. Whoever refuses to forgive is doomed to a life of bitterness, and as the ugly trend continues, the person ends up building invisible walls of resentment around themselves, thereby blocking off not just one’s relationships with other people but with God as well. Forgiveness is not just an emotional expression or a sense of righteousness; it means being merciful not only when there is an explanation or apology, or a promise of amendment from the offender, but even when the offence is deliberate, and the offender is adamant. Forgiveness is a precious gift of grace, which does not depend on the worthiness of the receiver. Forgiveness is what we called to do, and the Lord’s grace is sufficient for us in that regard. Amen.

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Imo Deputy Governor’s giant strides towards revitalizing agriculture

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Imo Deputy Governor's giant strides towards revitalizing agriculture
By Joy Opara

The increasing cost of Agricultural products in Imo State in recent times has continued to be a major source of concern to the citizens of the state.

A critical appraisal of the development of Agriculture in this state reveals that successive governments had neglected this major sector of the economy, over three decades now, and this has adversely affected the revenue of government.

In line with the vision of the “shared prosperity” government of the Hope Uzodinma administration, the revolution of agriculture is among its cardinal programmes for which a high powered committee (on agricultural master plan for Imo State) has been set up.
For the purpose of resuscitating all moribund agricultural industries and facilities in the state, it is not surprising that this committee is headed by a world class Professor of Agriculture and Deputy Governor of Imo State, Prof. Placid Njoku.

The need to diversify the economy cannot be over-emphasized. It is a well known fact that there is no better and more sustainable means of diversifying the economy than through agriculture. It would be recalled that after the inauguration of his committee, the deputy governor went into action, first by visiting all moribund agricultural facilities in the state, which included Adapalm in Ohaji/ Egbema LGA, Avutu Poultry farm in Avutu, Obowo LGA, Songhai farms, Okigwe road, Owerri, ADP farms in Nekede, Owerri West. Others are Acharaubo farms in Emekuku, Owerri North, Imo Rubber Plantation in Obiti, Ohaji/ Egbema, amongst others.
Prof. Njoku in one of his speeches during the tour described agriculture as the economic base of most countries of the world. Considering the dwindling oil revenue, he said it should be a source of worry to people of good conscience that the vision of our founding fathers to generate revenue, food security, economic advancement, industrialization, employment and eradication of poverty was destroyed by successive governments.
The Deputy Governor, who not only is acknowledged as one of the greatest professors of Animal Science, a renowned Agriculturist and former Vice Chancellor of a leading University of Agriculture, the Federal University of Agriculture, Umudike, made it clear that the present government led by Governor Hope Uzodinma is desirous to return agriculture to its former glory.

The Ikeduru-born technocrat and farmer per-excellence said that the 3R Mantra of this administration namely: Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Recovery is a base for making the dream of Imo State as the food basket of the nation come true.

Noting that government is a continuum, the deputy governor promised that his committee will build upon what is already on ground by rehabilitating the ones that could be rehabilitated and bringing in new facilities where necessary to ensure that the passion of the governor towards agricultural revival is achieved.

Meanwhile, in most of the establishments visited by the committee, it was discovered that indigenes of the communities had badly encroached into the lands and converted them to personal use. Investigations by the committee revealed that agents of some past governments in the state connived with the communities to make it possible, for their personal aggrandizement.

The deputy governor, whose humility has become legendary pledged his total support to the Governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma whom he described as God sent to right all that were done wrong by the previous administrations in the state. He called on all to give this administration the needed support to rewrite the history of Imo State in gold, especially the agricultural sector.

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Child Abuse: A case of betrayal of reciprocal trust

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Child Abuse: A case of betrayal of reciprocal trust
By Christian Uzoukwu

Some years ago, while as a kid, I fell out with my father due to an occasion of sheer disobedience and on that very day, I was given no food and was ultimately battered by hunger. Child abuse includes both acts of commission and omission on the part of parents, guardians as well as care-givers.

These acts have led to a lot of actual and threatened harm meted out on countless number of children. In 2014, the WHO made an estimate of 41,000 children (under the age of 15) that are victims of homicide and other related offences. This estimate, as expounded by this world body is grossly below the real figures due to the views of the society in relation to corporal punishment experienced by children. Girls are always most vulnerable to different forms of child abuse during unrests and in war-thorn territories.

Cases of child abuse can be established in some deadly human vices such as child trafficking, child labour, forced adoption as seen in the one-child policy prevalent in China. In the Asian country, women, by law are only allowed to have one child. Local governments would sometimes allow the woman to give birth and then they would take the baby away stating the mother violated the one child policy. Child traffickers, often paid by the government, would sell the children to orphanages that would arrange international adoptions worth tens of thousands of dollars, turning a profit for the government.

Other striking examples of child abuse are the various forms of violence against the girl-child which involves infanticide, sex-selective abortions, female genital mutilations (FGM), sexual initiation of virgins in some African cultures, breast ironing in some parts of Cameroon – involving the vicious use of hot stones and other tools to flatten the breast tissue of girls who have attained the age of puberty. As if those were not enough, female students are also subject to maltreatments in countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is not to talk of recurring kidnapp of female students in some parts of Nigeria, as we saw in the case of Dapchi and Chibok schoolgirls.

Based on simple analysis, child abuse can be defined as “all forms of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power”.

This definition by WHO also falls in line with the definition propounded by the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, which says that child abuse are acts of commission. This commission includes “words or overt actions that cause harm, potential harm, or threat of harm to a child”, and acts of omission (neglect), meaning “the failure to provide for a child’s basic physical, emotional, or educational needs or to protect a child from harm or potential harm.

In Nigeria, most cases of child abuse have become cumbersome due to the fact that these acts of abuses are regarded as mere punishments to unruly young ones and by so doing, should be justified and doesn’t call for any further discussion and/or scrutiny. According to various statistical studies and researches, child abuse is a vast societal cankerworm and has four profound tentacles viz:

Physical Abuse: this involves undue hitting, beating, kicking, shaking, biting, burning, strangling, insertion of pepper into the eyes and pubic regions of children, maltreatments from house-help(s) and seniors at boarding/day schools, suffocating and forcing children to live in unwholesome conditions.

Sexual Abuse also includes persuading a minor into acts of sexual intercourse, exposure of the child’s private parts, production of child-related pornographic contents and actual sexual contacts with children.

Psychological Abuse of children can be seen in cases of excessive scolding, lack of proper attention that children should be receiving from their parents and guardians, destructive criticisms and destruction of a child’s personality.

Neglect of children can also lead to children dropping out of schools, begging/stealing for food and money, lack of proper medical care for minors and realities of children looking like ragamuffins.

Consequently, the causes of child abuse can be judiciously related to sex, age, personal history, societal norms, economic challenges, lack of Rights’ Protection Agencies, parents battling with traits of alcoholism and family size. These causative agents of child abuse can bring untold effects upon the society at large and these effects can be emotional, physical and psychological as the case may be, giving rise to individuals with dissociative lifestyles.

Furthermore, the treatment of individuals who have been malformed with respect to the abuses they experienced abinitio, can be a long process because it involves behavioral therapy and other forms of neoteric therapies. Treatments of psyche-related problems are not just a one-day process due to the long-lasting effects of abuses on various conscious mental activities. It is also noteworthy to point out that, prevention is always better than cure and holding fast to this true reality, entails that agencies who have the responsibility of protecting the rights of children must continue to do the needful which requires proper oversights of parent-child relationships.

To conclude this piece therefore, we must agree that untold hardships have been a great challenge for children especially in Africa and some parts of Asia. Children with long histories of abuses turn out to become societal misfits. To this end we encourage that: Children should be given a free platform to express themselves on many topical issues and issues relating to their existence.

Children should also be allowed to freely ask questions on any issue, no matter, how weird it seems to be.

Governments should make regulations outlawing societal norms and values that might amount to child abuses.

Corporal punishments by parents, guardians and care-givers should be discouraged at all levels, thereby making parents/guardians/care-givers who seem to be incorrigible, to face the full weight of justice enshrined in the law of the land.

Education system (both conventional and unconventional) in Nigeria should be able to train up young ones into becoming critical, analytical and evaluative individuals with a view of defending the vulnerable.

And again, since children are said to be leaders of tomorrow, it is pertinent to note that to secure their future, their present existence must be cherished and protected.

Christian Chimemerem Uzoukwu
08100029867 / 09025760804
Admin Critical Thinkers’ Forum.

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