Wednesday, August 23, 2017

USA Africa Dialogue Series - "Nigeria's unity is settled and not negotiable"


"Is there anything that is so holy, that we cannot talk about it or discuss it?" Torbjörn Säfve asked me at the junction of Rådmansgatan and Hollandsgatan in Stockholm. It was after one of the innumerable (and interminable) public meetings organised by the Swedish section of PEN Club, in protest against the death fatwa on Salami Rushdie's head, for his "The Satanic Verses".

"Yes Sir", I could tell him today, " there are the 72 names, but first of all there's the ineffable name of Hashem. We can talk about IT, but we may not utter IT. Secondly, just like Tawhid , the unity of Nigeria is so holy that we may not - are not permitted to negate it or negotiate its fragmentation or dissolution."

And ain't I a woman?

Yes, I know that you are there...

The past two days I have been keeping the company of Martin Buber and his "Between Man and Man" and so I am heavily influenced by the idea of the dialogical - and the demands of honesty - to its fullest limits...

President Muhammadu Buhari's statement that "Nigeria's unity is settled and not negotiable" lays itself bare to a variety of interpretations, some of which we have been reading in the Nigerian press and social media - such as Pius Adesanmi's bombastic Facebook piece "Settled Unity Blues", but at base, what it means (in context, the common sense meaning) is that InshAllah, the country Nigeria shall continue as one country.

(This stand reminds me of the eloquent SLPP motto : "One country, one people")

Conceivably or inconceivably, should "Biafra" go, there could be a domino effect to the extent that each of the thirty-six states of the Nigerian Federation could want to be an independent country waving its own flag, maybe issuing its own national currency etc. but the firm decision has been announced by Mr. President that Nigeria's dissolution through negotiation - or war - is not on the agenda. And rightly so. The dire alternative to that premise is that the dissolution of Nigeria through negotiation will begin , probably by a vote in the senate to put the idea to a referendum or would you prefer that it should be the agenda of the next national conference : "The dissolution of Nigeria, through negotiation"?

Nigeria has come a long ways - and after fifty- seven years of shared post-independence history - making Nigeria great, could be the aspiration of the Nigerian people. Could and could.

"Cause puss and dog they get together:
What's wrong with loving one another?
Puss and dog they get together:
What's wrong with you my brother?
" ( So Jah seh)



2000 Blacks

Black Unity

Musiki unity

From the middle of everywhere,

Cornelius,

We Sweden



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Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - FELA KUTI, KAGAME AND SOYINKA

Hi all
adekeye’s report on rwanda, below, is about as good as it gets.
I have to admit that I am a country specialist for rwanda and burundi, for amnesty international usa, and in that role since 1993. So, although I am not a scholarly expert on the country, I am a human rights expert on these two countries.
I have not read such a thorough, smart, well articulated, and convincing report on kagame as adekeye’s in a very long while. If anyone really cares about the question of dictatorship in rwanda, I suggest you read it.

The argument that kagame’s police state is welcome because of economic advancement is not a new one to all of us, but it is too simple a response to the complexities of the economy and of the state of repression. Anyway, I strongly support adekeye’s reading of the situation
And I would love it if the question of democracy and human rights, in an african context, which has been on moses ochonu’s mind for quite some time, be reinvigorated. I agree that democracy and human rights are not always framed as being the same thing, and that there are many ways to accomplish democracy, including in republican fashion.
I oppose real restrictions on human rights, and favor the expansion of the concept to include economic rights, which amnesty embraces.
How we accomplish the rights to housing, to nutrition, education, etc., while still supporting freedom is a difficult question to answer.
I don’t believe kagame has the answer, any more than did mussolini
Ken

Kenneth Harrow

Dept of English and Film Studies

Michigan State University

619 Red Cedar Rd

East Lansing, MI 48824

517-803-8839

harrow@msu.edu

http://www.english.msu.edu/people/faculty/kenneth-harrow/


From: usaafricadialogue <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com> on behalf of Toyin Falola <toyinfalola@austin.utexas.edu>
Reply-To: usaafricadialogue <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com>
Date: Wednesday, 23 August 2017 at 10:58
To: usaafricadialogue <USAAfricaDialogue@googlegroups.com>
Subject: USA Africa Dialogue Series - FELA KUTI, KAGAME AND SOYINKA



 

Colleagues: hope all is going well. Now that I am settling down in the “city of gold”, I thought I should revive the articles sent to a list of good friends and comrades! Also a way of keeping in touch with each other and hear about, and from, Africa! These two recent ones are a tribute to Afrobeat star Fela Anikulapo Kuti; and another on Fela’s first cousin, Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka, and Paul Kagame. Best, adekeye

 

Fela’s Enduring Legacy

Adekeye Adebajo

 

This month marks the 20th anniversary of the death of legendary Afro-beat superstar Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. Fela was an institution in Nigeria's social and political life, creating local idioms that have become very much part of the local vernacular. He was a voice for the voiceless, the national conscience, the defender of the defenceless, an unabashed polygamist, and a perennial rebel with a cause. A musical Orpheus who made magic with his saxophone and biting lyrics, he was a political Cassandra whose prophecies often went unheeded by his cynical and sceptical compatriots. A compliant, conservative middle-class often dismissed Fela as a decadent, half-naked, marijuana-smoking madman, a promiscuous Pied Piper of Perdition leading the country's youth astray. Fela betrayed his own class in speaking out for the weak and down-trodden rather than settling into the comfortable bourgeois lifestyle to which his family background entitled him.

He developed his unique fusion of African indigenous rhythms and jazz, using his native Yoruba language and pidgin English to reach a mass audience. A man of the people, he sang about social issues and everyday life that ordinary people could relate to. He mocked the materialism of African women, ridiculed the blustering shakara (false bravery) of Nigerian men, and mercilessly lambasted Nigeria's prodigal political class as “Vagabonds in Power (VIP)” for selling out their country and mortgaging their children's future.

Fela, a thorn in the side of many corrupt regimes, spent an estimated 200 spells between detention and the recording studio. He spoke truth to power, castigating the misrule and mismanagement of Nigeria's profligate ruling elite. During the country's lavish Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC) in 1977, Fela refused to take part in the event so as not to legitimise the military government of General Olusegun Obasanjo.
His self-declared commune - the “sovereign” Kalakuta Republic - was burned down a week after FESTAC by what the government described as “unknown soldiers”, and his 78-year old mother was thrown from a window, leading to her death a year later.
Fela, who was very close to his mother, never recovered from her death. He felt guilt-ridden that she had died as a result of his struggle. 

 

The Afrobeat star drew inspiration from these events to ridicule Nigeria's “lumpenmilitariat” and securocrats as “Zombies” and “Yellow Fever”. For many young Nigerians of my generation, his “shrine” in Lagos's sprawling suburb of Ikeja was a sacred place of pilgrimage.
He was the lavish high priest at this paradoxical temple of sin and salvation. Fela combined great respect for the pantheon of traditional Yoruba deities and cosmology with sinful sex and drugs. He was also a committed Pan-Africanist, who believed fiercely in the culture and heritage of blacks on the continent and in the diaspora. A 10-month trip to the United States during the civil rights  struggle in 1969-1970 seemed to radicalise him.  He celebrated Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey, and Thomas Sankara.  But Fela also had his critics. He was often described as an autocratic band-leader, and was accused of misogyny by feminists who regarded his stereotypical portrayal of the “real” African woman as “strong, submissive and subordinate” as antiquated.

In order to pay homage to “Abami Eda” (the Strange One), I recently visited the Kalakuta Museum on a trip to Lagos. This was the house in which Fela had lived and in which he lies buried. As one enters the building on Gbemisola street in Ikeja, Fela’s graveside is on the left hand side of the house. It is a simple tomb with a triangular design and a sign above the grave that simply reads: “Fela 1938-1997”.

 

The house has three floors with intimate family photos hung up all along the walls. These pictures depicted scenes from Fela’s life and times: his father, the family patriarch and famous educationist; his indomitable mother who was one of Africa’s first female activists; his  two main wives and six children; Fela’s two medical doctor brothers, one a former health minister and the other a human rights activist; the family home in Abeokuta; Fela with his two fists clenched and raised in defiance; his “dancing queens” with horrific injuries following the 1977 attack by soldiers; Fela’s “wedding” to 27 of these “queens” shortly afterwards in a powerful demonstration of solidarity with women whom the establishment had sought to depict as prostitutes;  life performances with the “Africa 70” and “Egypt 80” bands; and Fela lying in state in a glass coffin with a huge spliff of marijuana in his hand. 

 

Fela’s second-floor bedroom has been preserved with his wardrobe of multi-coloured outfits, a saxophone, a deep freezer, and the mattress on the floor on which he slept. In a side-room next to the bedroom are his multi-coloured shoes, two mannequins in underwear, and his fur-coats, used for travelling to colder climes. In another room are newspaper cuttings from The Daily Times with headlines of important events in Fela’s life such as some of his detentions by the police, and legal battles with several governments. In the same room is a type-writer and the manifesto of Fela’s Movement of the People (MOP) party set up in 1979 to contest presidential elections. Yet another room had wood carvings and paintings of Fela by an artist, while outside was a colourful mural.      

The recent event that posthumously cemented Fela’s reputation as a global musical icon was the Broadway show “Fela!” which debuted in New York in 2009 before travelling to Europe and Lagos. A 2014 documentary “Finding Fela” captured highlights of this musical, interspersed with live performances by Fela and interviews with him, his children, his managers, his former band members, and two biographers: Carlos Moore and Michael Veal. Paul Mccartney also describes a memorable visit to “The Shrine”.The musical, “Fela!”, was choreographed by Bill T. Jones, who is extensively interviewed in the documentary.

Fela!”  was set in “the Shrine” in Lagos. The musical tells the story of the life and times of its subject: his priestly, musical grandfather and father; Fela being sent to London to study medicine and turning instead to music before experiencing racism for the first time; his political education in America during its civil rights struggle; and his innovative creation of Afrobeat. “Finding Fela” is a journey of discovery, showing how the Afrobeat star grew up in a musical household playing the piano and singing in the school choir. Fela’s incredible courage and commitment to social justice are enduring characteristics that come through clearly in the documentary. 

“Finding Fela” travels to the bustling megapolis of Lagos, the social life of which Fela had contributed massively to shaping. It visits the sites of Fela’s “shrines” where he would have “yabbis night” and “ladies night”, the high priest effortlessly educating and entertaining the flock. Fela’s son, Seun, talks about his father’s incredible creative genius in which he would let songs gestate, and then, as if poured forth by his ancestral muse, produce the perfect song in one single session. We also see how Fela would take different parts of his musical band as if a master chef mixing diverse ingredients into an odoriferous stew.

The insights of Fela’s children – Femi, Yeni, and Seun – are particularly interesting as they note that their father treated them like other members of his commune, insisting that they call him “Fela” rather than “daddy.” This was a difficult childhood in which Femi, in particular, feared that Fela’s constant confrontations with Nigeria’s securocrats would get them killed. His children were often the last to receive his attention and affection, and the chaos of the “Kalakuta Republic” – with an estimated 250 people mulling around - is well captured in the documentary, with even a time-table of which wives would spend the night with the Afrobeat star. Yeni cries in the documentary as she recalls the terrible events of the military attack on Fela’s home in 1977 in which both her father and grandmother suffered broken legs.

The documentary then goes through Fela’s repertoire: “Jeun ko ku” (chop till you quench) which was his first big hit, and “Alagbon Close” when he first directly confronted military misrule. “Zombie”, “Sorrow, Tears, and Blood”, and “Coffin For Head of State” represent anti-securocrat anthems of this rebellious period. During a raid on his home in 1981 – under the supposedly democratic government of Shehu Shagari – Fela was so badly beaten that he was bleeding from the head. These frequent confrontations with authority seemed to fuel his fearless creativity.

The documentary then goes on to show the extravagant, well-choreographed set of “Fela!”, involving his skimpily clad “dancing queens” with braids and braces and painted faces. The stage is exuberant, with a picture of Kuti's mother, Funmilayo, permanently on display. She helped shape Fela’s radical pan-African political views and the show is centred on this relationship. The musical sees a melancholy Fela constantly hallucinating like a black Hamlet in a haze of smoke, while using African masquerades as intermediaries to visit his mother in the land of the ancestors in the spectacular “Dance of the Orisas”. Other figures from the  Yoruba pantheon such as Ogun, Sango,  and Esu – guardian of the crossroads - also feature in this performance. The documentary and musical further highlight the role of another woman who greatly influenced Fela's political awakening: former Black Panther, Sandra Izsadore, who introduced the Afro-jazz star to the work of Malcolm X, Angela Davis, Miles Davis and John Coltrane. The musical captures well Fela’s insatiable musical and sexual appetites that seemed to fuel his genius.

After Fela was sentenced to five years in jail by General Muhammadu Buhari’s regime in 1984 for currency trafficking, he came out of jail 18 months later (after the judge famously went to jail to apologise to him),  a seemingly broken man.   There was a certain sadness in Fela’s eyes as he stared coldly ahead as if in a trance, his eyes glazed, morose and disillusioned that two decades of defiant struggle had not changed the Nigerian situation. This led to the final creative phase of his life in which such hits as “Army Arrangement,” “Beasts of No Nation,” and “Teacher Don’t Teach Me Nonsense” were released. Fela saw himself as playing classical African music in the mode of Bach and Beethoven, and felt the need to express himself through these more spiritual, highly-percussioned songs.

 

When Fela died of AIDS in August 1997 at the age of 58, a million Nigerians lined the streets of Lagos to bid him farewell: a scene well captured in “Finding Fela”. In an event that symbolised the passing of a legend, rain poured down even as the sun shone, as a great son of Africa joined the ranks of the ancestors. Today, Fela's legacy is carried forward by his sons, Femi and Seun Kuti, who play music inspired by their father's Afrobeat. But the struggles against which Fela fought – corruption, state abuse, African disunity – still continue to blight our contemporary landscape. Even many who dismissed Fela during his lifetime now regard him as a visionary prophet who was ahead of his time. As the Afrobeat star memorably noted: “To be spiritual is not by praying and going to church. Spiritualism is the understanding of the universe so that it can be a better place to live in.”  

 

Professor Adekeye Adebajo is Director of the Institute for Pan-African Thought and Conversation at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa.

 

The Guardian (Nigeria), 23 August 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The President and the Playwright

Adekeye Adebajo

 

One of the most curious mutual admiration clubs of recent times has been that between recently re-elected president of the small land-locked Central African state of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, and Nigerian Nobel literature laureate, Wole Soyinka.  In his rich 2006 memoirs, You Must Set Forth At Dawn, Soyinka described Kagame as “seven foot plus, every inch exuding intelligence and discipline…a formidable force to encounter….one of the continent’s rare breed of leaders.” The Nobel laureate went on to note that “Kagame belongs to that uncommon leadership order beside whom one would willingly march into battle.” In 2012, Soyinka was a guest of honour at the celebrations of Rwanda’s “golden jubilee” as an independent nation, during which he praised the country as “a model of reconstruction [which] must be regarded as a model of how great human trauma can be transformed to commence true reconstruction of people”, before going on to note that “Rwanda has indicated that however thin the hope of a community can be, a hero always emerges.” A year later, Soyinka described Rwanda as a “paradigm for the continent” in a talk at Howard University in Washington D.C.  Kagame returned the favour by delivering the keynote address at a launch of a book of essays honouring Soyinka’s 80th birthday in Accra in 2014, describing the Nobel laureate as “an unapologetic exponent of the universality of African values.”

 

Wole Soyinka has been one of the most consistently eloquent campaigners for human rights across Africa over the last six decades: he was detained for 27 months by General Yakubu Gowon’s administration during Nigeria’s civil war, an episode captured in his 1972 prison notes, The Man Died; he wrote a stinging rebuke of autocrats that alluded to Kwame Nkrumah’s repressive rule – Kongi’s Harvest - in  1965; and lampooned Uganda’s Idi Amin, Central African Republic’s “Emperor” Jean-Bédel Bokassa, and Equatorial Guinea’s Macias Nguema in the 1984  A Play Of Giants. Soyinka was also the most eloquent critic and a formidable activist who was forced to flee General Sani Abacha’s repressive military junta to go into exile in the United States (US) in 1994. He was subsequently sentenced to death in absentia three years later, and returned to Nigeria only after Abacha’s death in 1998. In his satirical 2002 play, King Baabu, the Nobel laureate portrayed Abacha as a bumbling, brainless, brutish buffoon and a semi-literate, greedily corrupt military general who exchanges his military attire for a monarchical robe and a gown. With this stellar fictional and activist background, it is hard to understand the mutual admiration between Soyinka and Kagame: one of Africa’s most repressive rulers.

 

To no one’s surprise, Paul Kagame was re-elected to a third presidential term this month with 98.6% of the vote. The election was scarcely free and fair, as genuine opposition was not allowed to compete against the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) ruling party which uses not just political muscle, but control of key economic sectors, to maintain itself in power. Nine supposedly independent political parties had supported Kagame for president  – reminiscent of the five parties that had backed Abacha in 1998, famously dismissed by veteran politician, Bola Ige, as “five fingers of a leprous hand”. The Green Party and an independent were the only opposition candidates in Rwanda’s recent polls, and even they complained of harassment of their members by government officials. In contrast to the vociferous Western  condemnation of neighbouring Burundi’s Pierre Nkurinziza’s creatively interpreting the constitution to run for a third presidential term last year, the condoning of Kagame’s similar shenanigans by guilt-ridden Western donors resulted in a deafening silence in the Rwandan case. 

 

Kagame had earlier been prevented from running for president again after two terms, but a “spontaneous” petition had resulted in a 2015 referendum in which an incredulous 98% of voters handed him another potential 17 years of power that could see him have five presidential terms and rule until 2034. Only 10 people voted against this constitutional amendment in a population of 11 million people!  It is unlikely that Kagame – a member of the Tutsi minority - would win a genuinely free and fair election in Rwanda. After the country’s Hutu president, Pasteur Bizimungu, resigned in 2000 and subsequently formed a political party, he was arrested two years later and sentenced to 15 years in jail for “inciting ethnic violence”, thus ensuring that he could not contest the 2003 presidential election against Kagame.

 

In his defence, Kagame’s supporters rightly note that he and his army halted the 1994 genocide that killed an estimated 800,000 people, when powerful members of the international community had spectacularly abdicated their own responsibility: the United States (US) and Britain in particular, insisted on the withdrawal of the 2,500-strong United Nations (UN) peacekeeping force in Rwanda which could have stopped the genocide if strengthened, while France trained and armed the génocidaires. Kagame’s supporters further point to high economic growth rates of 8% in the last 17 years; falling poverty and socio-economic inequality; and increased gender equality (with 56% female parliamentarians). Rwanda’s per capita income increased from $150 in 1994 to the current $700, and poverty reportedly fell from 57% in 2006 to 40% in 2014. Kagame’s fans also note that the regime has tackled corruption; attracted foreign investment; created a national air-line; kept the streets clean (even banning the use of plastic bags!); established the country as a technology hub; and built infrastructure such as roads, a conference centre, and a new airport. It is not only Wole Soyinka who has been infatuated with Kagame. Former US president, Bill Clinton – who ironically did the most to prevent any international action during the 1994 Rwandan genocide - and former British premier, Tony Blair, have also praised Kagame’s “visionary leadership”, leaving one to wonder whether they apply different standards in measuring the achievements of African leaders.

 

Kagame’s apparent achievements must be closely scrutinised. He has consistently won presidential polls with over 90% of the vote (95% in 2003; 93% in 2010; and 98% in 2017) as if acting like a cheating student, awarding himself marks in an exam whose results have been predetermined. Such large presidential majorities are the preserve of  dictators such as Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, Tunisia’s Ben Ali, and  Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir. They are not how democratic leaders are elected. In response to claims that Kagame has kept the streets clean, Italian dictator, Benito Mussolini, also famously made the trains run on time. 

 

Rwanda is a highly militarised state in which soldiers are ubiquitous.  Kagame clearly runs a police state in which dissent is brutally suppressed. Human rights organisations and civil society are stifled; opposition parties harassed; and the media muzzled. Even talking of Hutus and Tutsis is regarded as “divisionism,” as if such a complex phenomenon as ethnicity can simply be wished away with an autocrat’s magic wand. Though he often likes to portray himself as a media-savvy president, Kagame’s regime has clamped down harshly on media freedom. According to the BBC – whose Kinyarwanda service in Rwanda was blocked in 2014 - in the last two decades, an estimated eight journalists were killed or “disappeared”, 11 were convicted to lengthy jail terms, and 33 have been forced to flee the country into exile. Many journalists thus tend to self-censor (though there are some critical call-in radio programmes), and investigative journalists are frequently harassed. Last February, for example, the police seized the computers of two journalists of the East African newspaper. 

 

Critics such as Belgian academic, Filip Reyntjens, have also questioned the fiddling of Rwandan government economic figures to make the regime look better.  Part of Rwanda’s economic performance is further accounted for by the fact that this growth was from a low base, and fuelled by Western guilt at having passively watched a genocide and prevented international action to stop it. Half of Rwanda’s budget a decade ago was accounted for by foreign aid; it remains about a fifth today. Like many African countries, Rwanda has also experienced growth without transformative economic development. About 80% of its population still lives below the World Bank’s poverty line of $3.10 a day. In a fit of folie de grandeur, Rwanda is sometimes described as the “Singapore of Africa”. The comparisons between Kagame and Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew are, however, pure fantasy: though Lee was autocratic, he was also a genuine Cambridge-trained intellectual who transformed his city-state into becoming one of the world’s most developed economies.

 

Paralleling domestic repression, Kagame’s regime has also been accused of sponsoring assassinations of its opponents abroad. His former intelligence chief, Patrick Karegeya, was killed in a plush Sandton hotel in Johannesburg in 2014. Though Kigali officially denied involvement, Kagame noted shortly after the murder: “You can’t betray Rwanda and not get punished for it. Anyone, even those still alive, will reap the consequences.” This chilling warning seemed to equate betraying the country with betraying its leader: a common trait of fellow autocrats like Zaire’s Mobutu Sese Seko and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni.

 

Aside from his repressive domestic role, Kagame has also played a destabilising regional role. Several UN reports have accused his soldiers – and those of Uganda - of looting the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) mineral resources, after Kigali and Kampala invaded the country twice from 1997,  becoming embroiled in a conflict that has resulted in over 3 million deaths.  An estimated 200,000 people – including, doubtless, innocent civilians – were killed when Kagame’s troops entered the eastern Congo in 1996/1997 in pursuit of former genocidal militias who were launching attacks into Rwanda. Kagame has also sought to “launder” his image by hosting the African Union (AU) summit in July 2016, and chairing a report to reform the continental body.

 

Wole Soyinka once described Nigeria - under the brutal regime of General Abacha - as enjoying the “peace of the graveyard”. Rwanda, under Kagame, now appears to be in a similar situation. Though one should acknowledge the progress that the country has made 23 years after a traumatic genocide, Kagame’s repressive rule could paradoxically make another genocide more and not less likely. By establishing a system that relies for its survival on a man suffering from a “messiah complex” rather than on the more solid foundations of stable institutions, the demise or elimination of that ruler could bring to the surface all the pent-up frustration, resentment,  and anger of the suppressed Hutu majority. The seeds of the system’s destruction may, in fact, lie within it. Kagame once noted, that if he had not been able to groom a successor by 2017, “it means that I have not created capacity for a post-me Rwanda. I see this as a personal failure.” He is, of course, correct. The mistake that autocrats like Kagame often make is to assume their own personal immortality. 

 

The big puzzle, however, remains why Soyinka, an activist Nobel literature laureate – who famously noted that “the man dies in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny” – and who has spent a six-decade career championing human rights across Africa, can not see through the myth of a developmental dictator, and condemn this repressive system unequivocally. What explains this curious relationship between the president and the playwright? 

 

 

Professor Adekeye Adebajo is Director of the Institute for Pan-African Thought and Conversation at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa.

 

The Guardian (Nigeria). And Business Day (South Africa), both published on 21 August 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

Professor Adekeye Adebajo

Director, Institute for Pan-African Thought and Conversation

University of Johannesburg

5 Molesey Avenue Auckland Park 2092

Johannesburg, South Africa

Tel: 011 559 7232

Fax: 086 527 6448

http://ipatc.joburg/

 




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Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Today's Quote

CAO,

Like all things in life, the cheapening of degrees will eventually make degrees worthless, and then it would be clear that you really do not need one to be successful in life!

It is happening as we type.  I have an adopted daughter pursuing law who is also doing tailoring and fashion design on the side.  I advised her to concentrate on both as either will bring her fame and fortune just as both may!

I have a poem from a friend to share with you.

Cheers.

IBK



_________________________
Ibukunolu Alao Babajide (IBK)
(+2348061276622)
ibk2005@gmail.com

On 23 August 2017 at 11:45, Chidi Anthony Opara <chidi.opara@gmail.com> wrote:
Instead of increasing, Nigeria is lowering university admission cutoff mark! Must everybody have a degree? Must one have a degree to be useful to his/her society? Must one have a degree to be "educated"? Must one have a degree to be successful in life? Those who can, should have degrees and those who cannot, should have what they can!

CAO.


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Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Today's Quote

"It does appear that if we must address the concern you have raised, there is a need for a total overhaul of the educational system in Nigeria, starting from the National Policy on Education (NPE) down to the Ministry of Education and other educational structures and institutions like the NERDC"(Adeshina Afolayan)

Agreed, totally.

CAO.

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Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Today's Quote

Oga Chidi,
I felt so depressed when i read the news yesterday too. And the excuse is that the cut-off must reflect the falling standard of education in Nigeria; a silly excuse if you ask me. It does appear that if we must address the concern you have raised, there is a need for a total overhaul of the educational system in Nigeria, starting from the National Policy on Education (NPE) down to the Ministry of Education and other educational structures and institutions like the NERDC. For instance, i have had to fight with the school my children are attending because of a proper lack of attention to the textbooks recommended to the students; textbooks riddled with grammatical and factual errors that the teachers and the management of the school take for granted. 

Unfortunately, i doubt we are even near any such comprehensive reform of the education system. Ergo, the cut off will continue its downward spiral. I see the day when the cut off for the universities is lowered to 80. 
 
Adeshina Afolayan, PhD
Department of Philosophy
University of Ibadan


+23480-3928-8429


On Wednesday, August 23, 2017 9:47 AM, Chidi Anthony Opara <chidi.opara@gmail.com> wrote:


Instead of increasing, Nigeria is lowering university admission cutoff mark! Must everybody have a degree? Must one have a degree to be useful to his/her society? Must one have a degree to be "educated"? Must one have a degree to be successful in life? Those who can, should have degrees and those who cannot, should have what they can!

CAO.


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USA Africa Dialogue Series - Today's Quote

Instead of increasing, Nigeria is lowering university admission cutoff mark! Must everybody have a degree? Must one have a degree to be useful to his/her society? Must one have a degree to be "educated"? Must one have a degree to be successful in life? Those who can, should have degrees and those who cannot, should have what they can!

CAO.


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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - ASUU: Moderator's Caution

Moses:

Despite your puritanical churlishness in your defensive riposte psychoanalytically Gloria's response is in order because the African big manhood which you 'inadvertently' alluded to has sexual subliminal undertones in the African male specifically and global male psychology in general.

I have bracketed inadvertently in particular because you yourself may not be in total control of all the unconscious forces guiding your use of words and examples despite your 'conscious' assertiveness. So Gloria owes you no apologies in this connectiin even though you seem to have cornered her into offering one.

I have watched with disbelief how you seem to have stereotyped African intellectual exceptionalism of coveting the mansion and the jeep when you and I know that American professors in the main share this trait too. Many of them take full and adjunct roles at the same time to pay the note on their mansions (which they proudly display to colleagues at the slightest pretext (nothing bad in that of itself) that they hardly sleep seven complete nights in the mansion in their attempts to get adfitional employments to get the credit notes paid.

Now there is nothing wrong in working hard to afford what we want on all sides of the Atlantic. Yes, many of the men on all sides of the Atlantic see their mansions as as extension of their manhood as  Gloria CORRECTLY inferred.  What she was rightly stating is that it must be indeed a diminished and disfunctional manhood without pithiness if academics use tbeir profession to get a symbolic rise that is not justified by HARD work.  Im in total agreement with her!



On Aug 23, 2017 12:59 AM, Olayinka Agbetuyi <yagbetuyi@hotmail.com> wrote:
Moses:

Despite your puritanical churlishness in your defensive riposte psychoanalytically Gloria's response is in order because the African big manhood which you 'inadvertently' alluded to has sexual subliminal undertones in the African male specifically and global male psychology in general.

I have bracketed inadvertently in particular because you yourself may not be in total control of all the unconscious forces guiding your use of words and examples despite your 'conscious' assertiveness. So Gloria owes you no apologies in this connectiin even though you seem to have cornered her into offering one.

I have watched with disbelief how you seem to have stereotyped African intellectual exceptionalism of coveting the mansion and the jeep when you and I know that American professors in the main share this trait too. Many of them take full and adjunct roles at the same time to pay the note on their mansions (which they proudly display to colleagues at the slightest pretext (nothing bad in that of itself) that they hardly sleep seven complete nights in the mansion in their attempts to get adfitional employments to get the credit notes paid.

Now there is nothing wrong in working hard to afford what we want on all sides of the Atlantic. Yes, many of the men on all sides of the Atlantic see their mansions as as extension of their manhood as  Gloria CORRECTLY inferred.  What she was rightly stating is that it must be indeed a diminished and disfunctional manhood without pithiness if academics use tbeir profession to get a symbolic rise that is not justified by HARD work.  Im in total agreement with her!





Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.


-------- Original message --------
From: Moses Ebe Ochonu <meochonu@gmail.com>
Date: 22/08/2017 16:13 (GMT+00:00)
To: USAAfricaDialogue <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com>
Subject: Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - ASUU: Moderator's Caution

Boxbe This message is eligible for Automatic Cleanup! (meochonu@gmail.com) Add cleanup rule | More info
Abeg o, Gloria, there was no anatomical reference in the quoted excerpt. I was merely referring the African concept of the big man (or big woman). And of course you conveniently left out the "neglect its obligations" part in your riposte. I was responding to Falola, who said Nigerian lecturers are pursuing the Nigerian dream of ostentatious success defined by mansions and jeeps. My argument, which Malami elaborated upon, is that it is wrong for academics to define their success in those terms, especially academics who do not take the obligations of their professions seriously. Falola was basically that Nigerian lecturers participate in a political economy of twisted values and vulgar definitions of success that permeate all of society, and that their lax approach to their work and their poor commitment to the non-meteral values and rewards of the profession should be understood in the context of this societal understanding of success. A somewhat valid explanation, but one that also rationalizes the rot and absolves incompetent, uncommitted lecturers of blame for their infractions and misbehavior.

On Tue, Aug 22, 2017 at 7:31 AM, Emeagwali, Gloria (History) <emeagwali@ccsu.edu> wrote:

"To get into academia, neglect its obligations, and merely use it as a platform to fulfill

 your dreams of African big manhood is wicked." MEO


 I suppose camels,  donkeys and one-  room shacks are for ASUU.

 I really can't talk about their manhood   but presumably it should be

 less endowed. 







From: usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com> on behalf of Olayinka Agbetuyi <yagbetuyi@hotmail.com>
Sent: Monday, August 21, 2017 8:29 PM
To: usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com
Cc: Olayinka Agbetuyi

Subject: Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - ASUU: Moderator's Caution
 
We must be cateful not to create the the impression American academics hate living in mansions and riding in jeeps contrary to their Nigerian counterparts.

I know they do and many take on additional adjunct duties in addition to their main posts to fulfill these yearnings so much so they have little time to sleep in the houses they are paying so highly for.



Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.


-------- Original message --------
From: Moses Ebe Ochonu <meochonu@gmail.com>
Date: 20/08/2017 23:34 (GMT+00:00)
To: USAAfricaDialogue <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com>
Subject: Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - ASUU: Moderator's Caution

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Malami,

Although the moderator's questions were directed to you, I was tempted to jump in and tackle them. You have however done an outstanding job in your riposte. I keep saying it: academia is not for everyone. It is for those who derive joy and satisfaction from the life of the mind and from the immaterial satisfaction of pedagogy. If you want to live like an African big man with the obligatory mansions and jeeps, find another field. To get into academia, neglect its obligations, and merely use it as a platform to fulfill your dreams of African big manhood is wicked. The victims of this way of thing are the thousands of Nigerian students who are being shortchanged. And then to turn around and invoke the alibi of a wider society with inescapably twisted values and aspirations is even more wicked. Why should the academy mirror the aspirational standards of society rather than work against them?

So no, it is not that the academic is helpless against the value distortions in Nigerian society. I refuse to accept this kind of societal rationalization. If you're not motivated by the love of learning as its own reward, you have no business in academia. And those who recruit people who lack this fundamental commitment are equally complicit in these academics' malfeasance. Which is why for me the VCs bear much of the blame; for they are the ones, for the most part, who hire incompetent, uncommitted, and big men wanna bes into the profession.

It is wrong to pander to lecturers who make the choice to define their priorities and aspirations in purely material terms, in terms of mansion and jeeps. Academics are supposed to critique and demonstrate more progressive possibilities for the larger society, not ape its deplorable aspirational values.

There is no greater consumerist and conspicuously capitalist society like the US. If the causal logic of larger societal definition of success had any validity, one would expect US academics to be ostentatious and to be motivated by the aspirational materiality of American definitions of success. However, that does not seem to be the case, despite the fact that many academics do quite well financially and are comfortably in the American middle class. 

So committed to austere and modest living and so desperate to go against the material markers of American capitalist success that academics intentionally and somewhat theatrically eschew conspicuous consumption and refuse to acquire the material goods that signify success in the American social imagination. American philosopher, Stanley Fish, once wrote a brilliant essay on Volvo cars and academics. The essay is a critique of academics' pretentious modesty and showy rejection of conspicuous consumption, which they display by driving Volvo cars. Stanley's critique is valid of course, but is also indicates the ways in which American academics, unlike Nigerian ones, strive to distinguish and define themselves away from the prevailing capitalist aspirations and  their material markers.

Finally, to me it is a bid contradictory (responding to Falola) that in one breadth we are told not to generalize because there are some good, hard working members of the Nigerian professoriate and in another breadth we're told that the distorted larger societal system renders academics incapable of exhibiting the basic qualities of the profession. Doesn't the fact that there are academics in the system teaching and publishing in good venues and not engaging in abuse and crass materialism demonstrate that it is possible to transcend this larger system that purportedly overdetermines everything? Doesn't it indicate that societal, structural impediments are not a deterministic prison from which there is no escape? 

Forgive my rambling; I'm trying to cram several thoughts and responses into this single post.



On Sun, Aug 20, 2017 at 1:27 PM, 'Malami buba' via USA Africa Dialogue Series <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com> wrote:
TF,
It's a different kind of aspiration with academic life, I think. If you keep at it, and go through its rigour, the best essay and a good lecture are part of its spending money. And N500k in Sokoto, for example, is not a bad wage for the level of exertion demanded of us! 

The trick, I think, is to have a significant number of good people, who nurture and channel aspirations into a different but equally fulfilling pathway. At 17, Prof Shehu Galadanci was my VC and role model. As a student, then, I used to stand very close to his parking space to catch a glimpse of the great man. He didn't know this then. He knows now. Collette Clarke introduced me to Hamidou Kane and Albert Memmi, Late Dr Shehu  Lawal forced us to buy Fanon and Rodney after our first History lecture, at which he asked all of us to 'keep our religion outside', and so on. 

Fast forward today, Aspirations and inspirations of my junior colleagues are outside, in spite of our continuing presence (and relative success) inside. In that sense, we've all failed by our inability to pursuade colleagues and former students that there's more to life than 'a meal ticket'. 

On the other hand, most of the VCs I know now cannot match Galadanci's humility, presence and straight back at 80+!  And I'm sure you know many of your friends and former mentees who possessed all the bounties in 4 … and  counting … 

I may be wrong.

Malami
 

On 20 Aug 2017, at 18:36, Toyin Falola <toyinfalola@austin.utexas.edu> wrote:

Malami:
I need your help
1. Can you stop a lecturer not to aspire to own a jeep and a big house?
2. How did this aspiration emerge? Can we say the Unions created them?
3. Once one buys into those aspirations, where does the money come from?
4. Is the successful lecturer the one who writes the best essays and teaches with dedication or the one who sources for the jeep and the big house? 
TF

Sent from my iPhone

On Aug 20, 2017, at 8:50 AM, 'Malami buba' via USA Africa Dialogue Series <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com> wrote:

Dear Moses et al,
It helps to spread the net a bit wider, and you'll find at the centre of this continuum/cycle of degeneracy a failed society/system. Its capacity for self-harm is only matched by its ill-will towards decent men and women.

You'll be surprised at the number of VCs, who became, for example,  ministers and MDA CEOs - after a lifetime of student activism and ASUU conradeship in the precious decades. As students, they led local and national unions with the (financial) backing of state and national governments. As academics, they turn their attention to the 'big picture', in order to deflect our attention from massive local frauds and other illegalities. Rare is a union leader who raises specific local  problems of staff and students with the VC (the one and only management that counts)! 

You can now begin to see the connection between the various crumbling structures of a failing society at all levels. Local cases of sexual harassment, cash-for-answers, contract inflation and forgeries are too close to the authorities, i.e student leaders, union leaders, the VC and ultimately the power brokers in the locality where the university is situated. Add the damage of zero perks to agitating staff and the picture of a union  of malfunction becomes perfectly formed! 

In my experience, the election of  a 'rougue' union leader, whose focus is the local issue of academic malaise and adminstrative incompetence is as rare as the metaphoric Hausa hab'o 'nosebleed'. Reforming this incestuous (your word, Moses) and incapacitating system requires the election and appointment of local 'nosebleeders'; but with Union leaders, who are also heads of departments and chief imams, there's a long, long way to go! 

(I know, because I am here, and have been (on/off) for more than three decades!)

Malami

On 19 Aug 2017, at 22:55, Moses Ebe Ochonu <meochonu@gmail.com> wrote:

Oga moderator, are you saying that the ills of the Nigerian academy that we have been outlining are products of larger societal forces? If so, is that not a cop out and a recipe for inertia and helplessness? Do we wait until these larger forces are extirpated before we expect or demand better from ASUU and its members? That would be music to ASUU's ears. It would also amount to exculpatory pandering to our colleagues in Nigeria. Perhaps before your important questions come into play, we need to first persuade our colleagues to take responsibility, hold themselves accountable, acknowledge the enormity of the rot beyond the familiar rhetoric of funding, and quit being defensive.

Not sure I get the logic of the reference to Senators and the police. Are we wrong to expect that academics who write tomes criticizing the excesses of the two groups should do much better in their professional lives and in their obligations than those they criticize?

And what is odd is that many of our Nigeria-based colleagues seem to have two separate scripts on these problems, one private and one public. It is understandable, but it still rankles. In private, the defensiveness gives way to brutal honesty. You know this as well as I do. I guess their attitude is analogous to your "don't empower our enemies" and "don't ruin the chances of the honest ones who want to apply to things on this side of the water."

On Sat, Aug 19, 2017 at 3:45 PM, Toyin Falola <toyinfalola@austin.utexas.edu> wrote:

Small  questions for you to move the argument forward:

1.  What forces and processes create values and habits that we find disturbing?

For instance, what forces produced the Senators we dislike, and the police that take bribes from us? How do we unleash counter forces and processes to eliminate those things? Why are you not asking me and you to do the reform?

2.  Can an institution, as in the police, reform itself or does it require greater forces outside of it to reform it?

3.  Can the abnormal not become the new normal if 2 does not occur?

TF

 

From: dialogue <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com> on behalf of Shola Adenekan <sholaadenekan@gmail.com>
Reply-To: dialogue <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com>
Date: Saturday, August 19, 2017 at 1:29 PM
To: dialogue <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com>


Subject: Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - ASUU: Moderator's Caution

 

Prof Aderibigbe, you said "Why don't we all go back home take over from the "never do good" Nigerian ASSU members and live happily thereafter and forever. Just a thought!" If I have a dollar for every time someone gave that response with regards to debates about ASUU's strike actions, I'll probably be a (US) dollar millionaire by now.

 

With due respect, what you wrote  above is a cheap shot. What people like Moses and I are advocating for is actually what we advocate for in Europe and America, which is that it is the duty of academia to be the guiding lighting for societies. It is our job to speak truth to power. What we call for is that ASUU needs to take a closer look at itself and examines its imperfections. University teachers should of course, be well-paid but earnings should be deserved. 

 

ASUU will get its members the pay-rise it is asking for, but what then? Will ASUU fight  the culture of nepotism within its rank? Will it tackle sexual harassment of students (https://www.jstor.org/stable/24487380?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents)? Will it address the frequent intimidation of junior colleagues and students(http://www.vanguardngr.com/2016/11/students-lament-compulsory-handouts-tertiary-institutions/) ? And what about corruption within the university system (http://www.gamji.com/article6000/news7987.htm)?

 

 

Shola

 

 

 

On 19 August 2017 at 21:33, Ibigbolade Aderibigbe <gbolaade.aderibigbe@gmail.com> wrote:

On a comic NOTE Why don't we all go back home take over from the "never do good" Nigerian ASSU members and live happily thereafter and forever. Just a thought!!!!

 

On Sat, Aug 19, 2017 at 2:09 PM, Moses Ochonu <meochonu@gmail.com> wrote:

Nothing right wing about calling out the disruptive  antics of a tactically outmoded union, or highlighting the failings and hypocrisies of its members. Nothing exhibitionist about calling for introspection on the part of conceited colleagues or advocating on behalf of students and parents. Protecting the careers of that honest academic who wants to study in Canada is not as important as protecting the interests of abused, neglected, and poorly instructed students. Those who glibly patronize and justify mediocrity need to take a look in the mirror and recognize their complicity in a rot from which they are safely protected.

Sent from my iPhone


On Aug 19, 2017, at 12:28 PM, Emeagwali, Gloria (History) <emeagwali@ccsu.edu> wrote:

 

"We must always criticize, even express anger, but we must strike the balance, protecting those who do honest work in a difficult environment. And we must be aware that what we say can undercut the application of an innocent woman or man to a school in Canada."

 

 

Agreed.  Well said.  It also throws a shadow on a generation of Nigerian academics -  and not only students.

Don't feed the beast  through exaggerated, self-righteous,  rightwing, intellectual exhibitionism.

 

 

 

 

Professor Gloria Emeagwali
 www.africahistory.net

Gloria Emeagwali's Documentaries on

Africa and the African Diaspora

8608322815  Phone

 


From: usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com> on behalf of Abdul Salau <salauabdul@gmail.com>
Sent: Thursday, August 17, 2017 4:24 PM
To: toyin
Subject: Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - ASUU: Moderator's Caution

 

     
 

Any movement which adopts as its beginning compromise is doomed.

 

" The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of earnest struggle. The conflict has been exciting, agitating, all-absorbing, and for the time being, putting all other tumults to silence. It must do this or it does nothing. If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.

This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.  "Frederick Douglass

 

Education just like other institutions in Nigeria such as marriage, family, health care, security, governance, and justice are dead..  What happened is that everybody is feeding on the dead bodies of these educational institutions.    Certain people with material and class interests are pleading for peace.  Where are the people advocating for peace for students, parents, and our country that has been abused and trampled upon by people without human compassion. Education was the first institutional infrastructure that was destroyed before other infrastructures collapsed on top of it.  Education is the foundation which all other things are built upon when it is destroyed symbols of its destruction are everywhere for people to see.   Evidence of the destruct ions are everywhere violence among youths, plights of migrants, kidnapping, corruption of political classes, judges, lawyers,  secession demands, religious fanaticism, ignorance, and anti-intellectualism of youths without socialization which  educational institutions provide. 

 

At this critical juncture when the leadership of ASUU is needed to train and socialize these youths to use their critical capacities to deal with problems confronting us as a nation.   Putting millions of youth out of universities at this time is a recipe for disaster at the highest scale.

 

On Thu, Aug 17, 2017 at 1:15 PM, Ibrahim Abdullah <ibdullah@gmail.com> wrote:

Difficult to caution discordant voices when things are beyond the pale. Let those who want to grieve do so. This is not a Nigerian problem; it is as global as education is the means to get things right.

 

And that globality is amplified even as the discordant and other voices compete for space in an unending conversation about where we wanna be!

---

Sent from my iPhone


On Aug 17, 2017, at 5:33 PM, Jibrin Ibrahim <jibrinibrahim891@gmail.com> wrote:

Thanks Toyin for your words of caution on our choice of words:

 

"We must always criticize, even express anger, but we must strike the balance, protecting those who do honest work in a difficult environment. And we must be aware that what we say can undercut the application of an innocent woman or man to a school in Canada."


Professor Jibrin Ibrahim

Senior Fellow

Centre for Democracy and Development, Abuja

Follow me on twitter @jibrinibrahim17

 

On 17 August 2017 at 17:09, Toyin Falola <toyinfalola@austin.utexas.edu> wrote:

Great friends:

 

Regarding ASUU, and the Nigerian university system, we must be very careful of the words we choose in presenting our disagreements. Words must always elevate, and criticisms must always be measured. Calling our colleagues corrupt, fake professors, rogues, sexual predators, harassers etc. etc., I think, represent word choices that we must not use, certainly not as an umbrella for all people. Our freedom stops where that of another person begins!

 

Our young men and women are mobile: they apply to graduate schools from London to Malaysia, Edmonton to Austin. We want them to grow, and this must be our mission. We want them to receive good education, and we must always protect their future. We cannot tarnish hard workers, honest school teachers who do their work diligently, and think that change will come. Let us identify the misfits and crucify them, but let us not lump the diligent with the corrupt.

 

From Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar to the University of Malawi, I have seen my colleagues carrying 200 scripts to grade—and better believe this, I even requested to join them in grading where the system allows me to. I use Skype to teach for free. The work is hard and difficult for some of  our colleagues, and we must not use words that will torment them. Our words must recognize their contributions to the continent. We are all in the space of underdevelopment, irrespective of our location.

 

Let me tell you personal stories. There is a lady that is based in Michigan State at the moment who narrated how one book that Ken Harrow gave her was decisive in launching her PhD program. I listened to the story and became emotional.  I once met yet another at the Nkrumah museum in Accra, and with three books that I sent to her, she was spurred and she wrote a statement for a PhD admission. She is writing the final chapter of her PhD in a top British university.

 

Nothing is wrong with our brains—it is our resources and how we allocate them that something is wrong with. Let us do small things. Our values may be compromised, against the background of globalization, failed modernity, and incoherent capitalism, but values are never stable—Saul became Paul!

 

We must always criticize, even express anger, but we must strike the balance, protecting those who do honest work in a difficult environment. And we must be aware that what we say can undercut the application of an innocent woman or man to a school in Canada.

 

TF

 

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Regards,

Dr. Shola Adenekan

African Literature and Cultures

University of Bremen

 

Editor/Publisher:
The New Black Magazine - http://www.thenewblackmagazine.com

 

 

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