Thursday, January 26, 2006

To google or not to google,a sense of deja vu and jazzed liberal democrats

There are too many things on my mind today, so I'll just ramble- First off was yesterday's news that Google had agreed to censor sites available on its Chinese site in a deal with the Chinese government to be able to continue to do business in China. I felt this was in direct contradiction of its corporate motto "Don't be evil" and so my first instinct was to move my blog from Blogger (which is owned by Google) in protest. Easier said than done.
As soon as I got online I did a Google search (!!!) for "leaving Blogger”. This didn't yield much in terms of practical advice for an IT-challenged blogger like me...(or maybe Google had filtered out the best options...thinking conspiracy here...). And so I had to weigh my options- was it better to stop blogging completely, or to continue using Blogger in spite of my disapproval of Google’s actions? As you can see I chose the latter, and ended up staying put.

So having started with that little dilemma, I moved to reflect on Nigeria-two days ago there had been a planned peaceful demonstration in support of the illegally impeached governor of Oyo State. Yesterday’s newspapers had a photograph of a policeman dragging the leader of the demonstration away, in a brutal display of force that immediately took me back to the late 199os when Sani Abacha the military dictator held Nigeria in his iron grip. To add to the feeling of déjà vu, the Nigerian Information minister, in a manner reminiscent of Abacha’s uncouth ministers attacked Wole Soyinka, the Nobel Prize laureate for his suggestion that in supporting the breakdown of the rule of law in Oyo State, President Obasanjo had committed an impeachable offence. The “honourable” minister, Frank Nweke, whose most recent memorable legacy was unveiling the anti-homosexuality law a few days ago, asked what Wole Soyinka could lay claim to as a legacy beyond the establishment of the Pyrates Confraternity, which he claimed had led to the proliferation of cults in Nigerian universities. This style of guttersnipe communication, where any government criticism was met with a barrage of blistering personal attacks was honed under the Abacha government, and for those of us who lived through those dark days, seeing a return to such tactics under a so-called democratic government was sad.

And so to the UK where the leadership race for the Liberal Democrats, the nation's third largest party collapsed into farce. If this had happened in Nigeria, everyone would be asking "Dem jazz dem?" or to paraphrase "Are they under the influence of supernatural forces?- (jazz being a colloquial euphemism for what I suppose the Westerner would call juju)

Considering that the race had been necessary because a section of the party had insisted on Charles Kennedy stepping down as a result of his drinking problems, the withdrawal of one of the contenders at the weekend over revelations that he (Mark Oaten, a married father of two) had paid for the services of a rent boy only worsened the perception of a party unravelling at the edges. This wasn't helped by the disclosure this morning by yet another front-runner (Simon Hughes) that contrary to his previous avowals (some as recent as last week) that he was not gay, he has had both homosexual and heterosexual relationships in the past. The media, especially the tabloids have lapped this up and gone to town- there's nothing like a bit of sex scandal to get the tabloids here going- but I can't help marvelling at the naivete of the two candidates. Did they really think that in this media obsessed culture, they could run for such a high profile position and keep their secrets safe?


Anonymous said...

That leader you say dragged away in that photo was Mashood Erubami. I will be leaving Canada on Feb 6th to volunteer with his organisation. I'm looking forward to seeing the Nigeria not in the photos you discribe. For those that wish to see it, it can be viewed at:

Anonymous said...

Here is an article that throws more perspective: