Thursday, November 09, 2006

Poppy brouhaha, farewell to Rummy, no to IBB, missing Gukira& looking for a new mobile network

I remember as a child in Nigeria the teacher selling and us wearing red poppies in primary school. I'm not sure I knew what they were for but I remember pulling at the black disc in the centre which always reminded me of a sweet, and I remember my shock that it was plastic. I was probably about four then. Looking back I suppose that was when Nigeria still remembered its war heroes on the 11th of November following the British tradition honouring the end of the First World War on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. Later it switched to the 15th of January, honouring I think the end of the Nigerian civil war or the military coup of 1966- not sure which. Similarly instead of the poppies, we had red vaguely heartshaped symbols with the Nigerian flag and a bleeding heart in the middle. This tradition continues.....I give this history because poppies are in the news here in London- yesterday in the free Metro newspaper given out on the tube, a certain person wrote in from Doncaster chastizing non-white Britons for not wearing the poppy. She/he argued that he had noticed that it was mostly whites who wore the poppy and stressed that the soldiers whose memory the poppies honoured had died for everyone- white and non-white. There were no figures to back his assertion- just something he/she had noticed. Predictably it drew angry responses today, one chastizing the correspondent for trying to turn the whole thing into a race issue and others attacking the broad generalizations in his statement. Another black person said he/she refused to wear the poppy because the contributions of non-white soldiers had been ignored by the British establishment...and so it went on. Then on the radio this morning, a Christian group Ecclesia called for a white poppy, which Christian pacifists could wear, arguing that the red poppy glorified war and blood....... I wore a poppy last week on my way to a meeting in Scotland, simply because I felt sorry for the elderly veteran selling them outside the train station. But on getting to my meeting I was the only person under 40 wearing one- never mind that I was the only black person in the room.....who'd have thought poppies could cause such a fuss?

Rumsfeld's gone and I cannot hide my glee. In many ways he epitomized the casual, sneering arrogance of the Bush administration and this was evident in many of his photographs- or perhaps I just imagined the sneering smugness driven by my antipathy to his utterances and policies. I wonder though if it isn't a deft move by Dubya to put the Democrats on the wrong foot... A kind of "Okay you asked for Rummy to go and he's gone, watcha gonna do about Iraq now?" The new nominee for Defence secretary is described as a realist where Rumsfeld was a neo-con ideologue so perhaps good things may yet come from this...

In what was obviously a sad moment for Nigeria, the amoral military dictator- almost single handedly responsible for entrenching a kleptocratic culture in Nigeria- picked up a nomination form for the presidential primaries of the People's Democratic Party yesterday. With his glamorous fashion-plate Evita-like wife beaming at his side he spoke eloquently as always of how he had come to seek the votes of the Nigerian people. Knowing him and his Machiavellian tendencies, I worry for my country and am almost driven to make the kind of vow that die hard military apologists made in the hey day of the Abacha regime, when they swore to leave Nigeria if Abacha was not allowed to continue as President. I cannot help thinking that if, we Nigerians by omission or commission allow Babangida to return to power it will make it difficult for many not to be convinced that the country has a death wish....He says he believes in democracy - let us tell him in no uncertain terms that we want no part of him and his cabal. Any of our IT whizzes up for an anti-IBB website?

Meanwhile Omoyele Sowore of Saharareporters continues to serve up stories of the misdeeds of Obasanjo's close aide Andy Uba who was indicted in the US for bringing in USD 170 000 undeclared in cash on the presidential jet. The court documents can be seen here http://saharareporters.com/eLibrary/
As long as people like these continue to be clasped close to OBJ's expansive bosom, and continue to be promoted for higher office (in Uba's case as governor of belaguered Anambra State) his frequent anti-corruption noises will continue to ring hollow in the ears of people like me, even if foreigners are taken in.....

Returning to the blogosphere, I note a gap where Gukira, the highminded, beautifully written blog of Keguro Macharia, a Kenyan postgraduate student in the US used to be. He tells me he's concentrating on his dissertation and will be back. I have however stumbled, courtesy of Jeremy of Naijablog on Funmi Iyanda's blog http://fiyanda.blogspot.com/ . Years ago, I loved Funmi's column in Tempo, the Lagos evening newspaper . Called Jisting, the writings of an opinionated female- it hit the spot totally. Ah the ebb and flow of the blogosphere....

Finally I would appreciate recommendations for a mobile telephone provider in the UK, having had it up to here with Orange. Right now I have a headache having been on hold for twenty five minutes and then being passed from Directory Enquiries to Billing and back trying to sort out errors on my bill. I'm finally told to write a complaint to a given address as this is the only way they deal with complaints- a mobile phone company asks me to write a letter- not call? Not even threatening to leave the network wakes them up....They claim it's the same with all the other networks but if anyone knows a network that at least picks up their customer service number within 10 minutes, please let me know..... (I know 10 minutes is still a lot but Orange have forced me not to aim too high)......Dang if I had a couple of hundreds of million quid maybe I could set up my own all singing and dancing customer focused network....

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I've worked in the Orange UK HQ as a contractor. And many of the people working there either have no clue what they are doing (great for contractors!), or have such a little amount to do they can spend their extended lunchtimes in the local pub, and come in the afternoons smelling like a brewery. I believe things got much worse when france telecom bought the company and innovation there slowed to a crawl.

If you call Orange and ask for your PAC code so that you can take your number to another network, you will probably find them bending over backwards to keep you. If they don't impress, moving will be good for you.

There's a thread about it here

I've used Vodafone since 1996 and have had very few problems. They are big, ugly, probably immoral, but it works, and the few problems I've had have been sorted very quickly over the phone!

Tesco Mobile seem to have some good offers and they use the O2 network I think, may be worth a shot, you can pick up a sim card with your groceries.

Nkem said...

Poppies have been on my mind a long time. I've never worn one, and I refuse to do so for the very reason someone outlined. The contribution of non-white Commonwealth nations has been overlooked for decades. I used to know a Nigerian who was a WW2 pilot, yet you never hear about these people. The treatment of Gurkhas, the list is endless. It's something I've been meaning to blog about for ages.

As for IBB, I've already said I'd go into exile if he becomes president...

uknaija said...

@Aaron Thanks for the recommendations- I did ask for my PAC code and Orange have made some efforts and because I can't be arsed with the hassle of having my number out of commission for nine days while the number's roamed to a new network- I've taken the lazy man's way out and sticking with Orange for the time being. But now I have a direct line number for someone at Orange who's asked me to call ANY time I have a problem with my line...perhaps now the future will indeed be bright

@Nkem- I ffel you but there's the other side as well witness this piece by Yasmin Alibhai Brown who's not one of my favourite columnists but still http://snipurl.com/11tth

ayoke said...

IBB for President? My conclusion is that the devil finally wants to kill the man by pushing him to pick up a nomination form... It will be interesting to see how IBB will go down. Yes, he will go down. Ha! These are the things one will miss experiencing directly in Nigeria.

Anonymous said...

Have a listen to the Remembrance podcast on iTunes or on the Royal British Legion blog. It's a good way to remember.

Talatu-Carmen said...

So, check out IBB's official election website. I suppose he really has no sense of irony. The picture gallery itself is worthy of a satirist: http://www.ibrahim-babangida.com/