Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Come Back To Who You Are

Late Chief MKO Abiola's Statue
You sons of men
Forget not the ways of your fathers
And harden not your hearts to these bitter truths
Your youthful years are numbered
And your dark hairs will soon turn grey

Restore the glory of your holy ancestors
Gather clay in vehemence veined with passion
And rebuild the towers of our beloved nation
Restore the stolen treasures in our society
Bring back the days of sanity, rest and tranquillity

Demolish the barriers of language and ethnicity
Invest your strength in changing and praying
Protect the heartbeat of this blessed Nigeria and
Consecrate the hearts of these unborn infants
With the discipline of spoon-fed love

Seek not the hunger of thy neighbour in selfishness
But bear in mind the hungry and thirsty
Unto whom you are accountable as leaders
Seek peace, honour love and discern the times
That our land may come back to who she is

Monday, 27 August 2012

Out of Africa (A True Story) -by Walenda Peggy

“Is that the first time you’ve taken a flight out of Africa?” the blonde from Kentucky asked the brown haired young man beside her.

“Yes, it actually is- I’ve never flown from Africa before.”

Like many tourists before them, they went on to discuss the dangers of Kenyan matatus (public service minivans), the craziness of Nairobi’s impossible traffic, and how everything they had experienced-from diarrhea to our airports, was incredibly bad. This young lady however still managed to praise the fact that in the national park, their tour guide had a Bush-A certificate, which made the experience feel safer. From their story, it sounded like Africa was this bit of hell they were lucky to have escaped from. As I stood listening, a familiar anger rose up in me. I was enraged- to hear how the beautiful place I come from was reduced to a hapless contortion of reality. I wanted to challenge them and show them how incorrect they were- but I was afraid. In that lobby of the immigration hall at Boston Logan, I was afraid that if I spoke up, I would somehow anger the powers that be and get locked out of America.

But what gave them the right to say they had just flown out of Africa? Africa is 54 countries, not just one and in their two months, they’d just seen two or three. Africa is about a billion people on one big continent, so how much does one poster, one book, one campaign, one trip teach anyone everything there is to know about us?
This story is not a one-time occurrence, but something I live through every single day. This mythical land of Africa is both an abyss of affliction for its people, and still a utopic paradise. It’s a place where donors and good will ambassadors can go to serve their time in purgatory, and come out with a tale of how they saved wretched, ignorant tribesmen from the black horrors of the Dark Continent.

In a perfect world, where we all make objective decisions based on opinions that are neither mal-informed nor misinformed, such stories would be dismissed as trivial or harmless. However, these stories are potent because of how they shape the very thoughts of those who hear them. In freshman year, one of my professors assigned a reading that made a demeaning remark about the intelligence of the backward village African. I was humiliated, yet no one else noticed. I remained silent because I was the only African in this class, and I feared that no one would agree with my point of view.
I must admit the pressure I felt to conform to this mythical idea of what Africa really was came not just from without, but also within. Under the cloak of this Africa, I could stand out as a true oxymoron: pitied for the hardships I must have endured on the Continent, while at the same time being admired for overcoming them. For instance, within the first 5 minutes of our introduction to each other, a friend of mine once said: “You’re from Africa? That’s so cool!” I reveled in the mix of pity and pride that he presented.
Later this same friend asked me: “You are from Kenya, do you speak Kenyan?” This level of ignorance left me speechless- and I had to pinch myself to make sure I was not in a dream. I wanted to scream: “You’re from America, do you speak American?” Yet something held me back.

I realized that just like I do, he had believed the lie that was told in thousands of images with shabby looking African children. Don’t misunderstand me- I’m not denying the existence of these very grave problems- I’m saying that they ARE NOT a full picture. Africa has a vast abundance in knowledge, history, culture and initiative that is often eclipsed by this one-sided story of “poor Africa” The wealth of experiences and views of the African life that we gather are not weapons to use in defending the lie, but the very tools we should use to see past it. The prostituted, mythical, exotic Africa is a story often told to grace the ears of the listeners and glorify the storyteller. But it is an injustice to all of us- one that we should not perpetuate by continuing to tell an imbalanced tale once we’ve found the truth.

Salman Rushdie, the British Indian novelist, wrote: “Those who do not have power over the story that dominates their lives, the power to retell it, rethink it, deconstruct it, joke about it, and change it as times change, truly are powerless, because they cannot think new thoughts.” So I urge you to tell the true story even though it paints you like less of a god reaching down to save the helpless mortals in your story. Tell the truth because it paints these people like the human beings they are, people with wives, husbands, little boys and little girls- who would shudder to think of the type of stories you tell about them. Tell the true story, measuring both the good and the bad. Tell the truth, simply because it is the truth and you know it.

Play the video below to see the audiovisual version of this piece:

Walenda Peggy is a Biochemistry undergraduate student at Harvard University.

Friday, 24 August 2012

The Village Woman -by Walenda Peggy

Obtained from Mohaart of Deviant Art
Because you were born a woman
You must understand
The village is hungry
And you are its hand

Empty jerricans will yawn at you,
Howling your name
You must feed them

Empty fireplaces will glare at you
Bellowing your name,
You must feed them

Empty stomachs will grumble at you
Mumbling your name
You must feed them

Empty plates will sit at tables
Wearing your name in invisible labels
You must feed them

Village woman, your job says:
“Cut and feed, fetch and fill
You must fill bellies from dawn to dusk
Dusk to dawn, dawn to dusk…”

You can sleep, but when it’s dawn
You must answer another yawn.

by Walenda Peggy

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Curbing Fraud Practice on the Internet

Fraud is what happens when a person deceptively transacts with other persons or organisations and the online form of this event is termed internet fraud. It is a criminal offence that often involves impersonation, misrepresentation or the use of false evidence by one party to gain undue monetary value from another. Usually, victims are convinced to believe a false or incomplete information that should ultimately lead to their own benefit. After involving their possessions, a serious transaction process is initiated and their trust is gained. But eventually, they are cheated, emotionally injured and suddenly abandoned by the persuader. 
Some "boys" at work

Persons who do this illegal act for a living have been given various names such as con men, fraudsters, swindlers, impostors and the likes. But the online versions of these lawbreakers are called internet fraudsters. Technological evolution has globally eased business transacting in the second millennium and fraudulent acts too have benefited from this advantage. According to information published on wired.com, the first indictment under the computer fraud act was performed on a graduate student of Cornell University in 1989. That happened in the previous millennium. These days, internet fraudsters operate over the internet and victimise various people across the global village. With the use of a portable internet device, various computer applications and a reliable internet connection, internet fraudsters can simply swindle unsuspecting persons and organisations from any remote location. Considering the rate at which electronic literacy campaigns constantly rise, one is prone to wonder why certain internet users still get heavily duped. 

            But the reasons are easy to understand. Victims of internet fraudsters usually get swindled due to greed, fancifulness and unwariness. Of the aforementioned trio, greed is highly ranked because when other causes are found wanting, it stands out as a singular reason. From my experience as an active recipient of diverse fraud-related messages, I know that intending swindlers often capitalise on people’s greed. Despite tightening my SPAM mail measures, internet fraudsters who often disguise as businessmen, lottery companies, government agencies, online potential dates and bank representatives still contact me. Below is an example of one the recent emails I received from a prospective con man roaming the internet:

(Message begins)
From: "Ho Chen Tung"
Subject: revert to me immediately.
Date: Tue, 8 May 2012 01:45:22 +0100

I have to disturb you today for the reward of an opportunity that should properly be used to advantage. In reverence to your time, I will go straight to the point.
I need a confirmation of acceptance to transfer US$21,410,000.00 to you for our joint gratification. I will send you more details and my suggestions as soon as I get your reply.
Ho Chen Tung.
(Message Ends)

            After reading that mail in my inbox, I grinned and wished the so-called Ho Chen an unproductive week full of missed opportunities and unyielding contacts. I guess he is another version of the Chinese scammers I read about recently or a local impostor seeking whom to defraud.

Unverified information released by Wymoo International, a leading background check and investigation firm offering discreet and confidential services around the globe, listed Ghana, Nigeria, Ukraine, Russia, Malaysia and the Philippines as high risk fraud zones. The organisation further reports the commonest forms of fraud as advance fee fraud, dating fraud, business fraud, investment scams and bride scams. One would ordinarily expect countries with better or more promising economies to be in the low risk categories. Yet, places such as the United Kingdom and Brazil surprisingly appear under the moderate risk zones.

The quest for information security and data protection is not a fight meant for agencies, companies or governments alone as all persons accessing or storing data on the WWW should be concerned. Really, internet users should strive to educate themselves frequently, heighten their level of caution and maintain contacts with online fraud-detecting agencies. In addition to being cautious, the average WWW surfer must control their greed tendencies and remember that fraudsters are widespread on the internet. For instance, if you did not enter to win in a lottery program, you should have no business claiming such prizes. If “your relative” suddenly mails you about their dangerous situation and asks for money urgently, be sure to contact them through another means (talk to them on phone or discuss their whereabouts with their closest acquaintances) before sending such money. 
Active customers at a small internet service centre

When you receive mails from banks, government representatives or strange persons, always check the full mailing details of the sender and compare it with what is available on their official website. If in doubt at any point in time, contact their representatives through the official website you know. And if you do not have their web contacts, search for more extensive information about them on the internet. In the end, you would have reduced the likelihood of falling prey to fraudsters and encourage more people to go and seek other means of livelihood. Though it is unfortunately true that fraud practices cannot be absolutely eliminated, the fight for internet fraud is on and all honest internet users have a stake in this responsibility.