Thursday, July 19, 2007

A tale of two Londons, thieving Nigerian governors and Nollywood in London

I went to visit a friend at Woolwich last weekend. I took the tube to North Greenwich station where the ill-fated Millennium Dome now enjoying a second lease of life rebranded as the O2 lives. From there I was to catch a bus to my friend's flat. On getting on the bus I was struck by the fact that there were only a handful of white faces in the seething mass that waited to board the bus. On coming closer to the few white people on the bus, it became obvious that they were eastern European- new migrants from the newly expanded EU. There was a single mother and child speaking in the characteristic Sarf London accent and as they huddled by the busstop, the mum pulling on her fag, I began to be more appreciative of what it must feel like for the people born and bred in the area to see this influx of immigrants seemingly swamping their country. I'm sure they think it's all right for David Cameron and Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and all the politicians to talk glibly of integration and tolerance. The streets and buses of the salubrious parts of Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster and Islington where they live haven't changed that dramatically. Now I understand what people like Margaret Hodge and co were struggling in their ham-fisted ways to say. I tried to think of a similar analogy- say walking into an area in say Abuja and finding myself the minority black person among many white people, and I thought, well that has happened to me in some exclusive clubs. The difference of course is the poverty and powerlessness in the current situation. While good old fashioned prejudice no doubt plays a part in some of the complaints, I wonder how many British MPs have been on buses like the one I was on.... Methinks MPs on both sides of the immigration debate need to hop on that bus 472 for some fresh insights...

I had already applauded Jacqui Smith, the new Home Secretary on her measured response to the latest round of terror plots. This morning I wake to a media furore as she admits having smoked cannabis at university 25 years ago. I'd earlier blogged about the hypocrisy surrounding the media and politicians and cannabis in the UK and so applauded her honesty, but a friend pointed out that a large proportion of older people in Britain are still very conservative and will be horrified even if she qualified her admission with the acknowledgement that it was illegal and she was wrong to have smoked it.... I think it was frank and honest, but we'll see...

Back home in Nigeria, ex- governor Turaki shed tears as he was remanded in prison as he faces charges of corruption. His erstwhile colleague, the thuggish Orji Uzor Kalu was more resolute, comparing himself to Mandela and Obasanjo who had both risen from prison to higher things. The cheek of him- as if Mandela was imprisoned for stealing money. Meanwhile my debate with friends in Nigeria continues over whether they are being witchhunted for their opposition to Obasanjo. Granted, there are many others who ought to be facing the music- James Ibori and Peter Odili who resource-controlled their way to billions for instance. Or even Obasanjo himself with his private university and multiply enlarging farm businesses. But we have to start somewhere and none of the accused has vociferously denied the charges. Instead we hear things like " The money was given to Obasanjo for the PDP campaign or for the third term bid". If this is the case, they must say so and show the evidence.

I am reading The Shackled Continent: Africa's Past Present and Future by the erstwhile Africa correspondent of The Economist, Robert Guest at the moment. It's fairly well-written and hopeful but is shot through by his inexorable belief that the market can cure everything that ails Africa. He makes valid points about reducing the cots of doing business in Africa but appears to want to divorce morality completely from economics, arguing for instance that the fact that people in Africa are willing to do jobs which misguided activists in the West see as exploitative, is purely a matter of choice. If there were better alternatives, then the exploitative Western companies would find it impossible to recruit.Applying that analogy to, for instance, the use of children as chimney sweeps in Victorian England would be problematic to say the least.

Meanwhile Yaradua continues to fiddle and diddle with his ministerial list. I was sad to see Mrs Diezaeni Allison-Madueke's name disappear from the list as she was one of the few I had high hopes of. Well I promised to hold my fire, and give Yardy a chance, so here I go biting my tongue. I must confess it's getting more and more difficult...

Meanwhile, the British Film Institute has some Nollywood related events coming up in London soon- Amaka Igwe and Tunde Kelani feature...

11 comments:

oo said...

Abeg my broda,no bite your tongue until you cut am o....
Now, if I was any kind of petty, I would say "I told you so!" wrt UmYar and his ministers/sycophants. However, today I feel quite rational, mature, measured and the very antithesis of petty really (if I may say so myself) so I'll leave this for another day.

You're welcome :D

Orji. Not even in the same sentence as Mandela. As for Turaki, perhaps he was crying because he forgot to steal the 100 Naira left in the treasury after he took 20 billion. Actually, I'm markedly disinterested in what happens to the lot of them, cunny man die, na cunny man go bury am.

-oo-

Chxta said...

The accomodations at Kuje Prison are too spartan for the tastes of the personalities that would be adorning the place soon. Let's begin a campaign for a refurbishment of the place, what say you?

Atutupoyoyo said...

I was staggered to find out recently that there are an estimated 750,000 Poles living and working in the UK. An entire ethnic group has been created in the space of what? Three years?

By the time the 2012 Olympics roll round, it is suggested that London would have become the world's first capital in which it's indigenes are a minority.

As you say, I am as thankful as the next guy for the UK's open door policy but can't help but feel that the door hinges are starting to creak somewhat.

I was halfway through reading The Shackled Continent but was not really moved to finish it. My grasp on economics is not the strongest but it struck me that some of his ideas were far too idealist and not practical enough in such a diverse continent. Let me know what you think when you finish abeg and save me the trouble.

NIGERIA POLITRICKS said...

I think we have enough room in Kuje prison to house all the crook Nigerian politrickcians; crocodile tears shedding or smiling ex-governors and OBJ inclusive.

Jumi said...

Thanks for info on Amaka Igwe and Tunde Kelani showing in U.K. I hope you are able to attend and you bring updates. Happy weekend.

Ekoakete said...

"I tried to think of a similar analogy- say walking into an area in say Abuja and finding myself the minority black person among many white people" LOL. I liked that slight jab at Naija exclusivity. I have honestly thought the same (Remember the "Ghana must go!" episode in Naija back then?) But would be careful about such opinions lest the right-wing extremist parties get some encouragement (like they need any, the nimrods...)

About Jaqui Smith, it's too boring to praise her for learning from her mistakes and discouraging other from making the same. How many newspapers is that going to sell?? I'm actually surprised by the number of politicians that come out to jump on the bandwagon of criticizing the lastest media victim. They all have skeletons in their closets. Sooner or later a bone is bound to pop out...

Kafo said...

wow so much to digest
okay don't know where to start so i'll just dive in

immigrants: i do not feel sorry for anyone. yeah not exactly the kosher or politically correct answer but seriously after all those years of colonization the Brits need to feel the pressure at home. This is how i see it. They came to Africa and made us basically serfs on OUR OWN LAND, used us to harvest these goods and then SHIPPED them back to there continent to live off of. So this whole immigrant invasion thing from the East naaaa sorry, they started this. They created the global village they created the mess in Africa, them and the Porteguese and Belgiums so yeah

it is time to reap

o ma seee oooo

Snuffleupagus said...

They have a whole board of Nollywood posters at the Museum of Docklands. Take a look!

30+ said...

Did you just say Bus 472, oops you never know who may be on the bus with you o. If you you hung around Woolwich enough you probably will have seen them begging for money. I was in Woolwich one time and this able bodied man wearing shirt and trousers, tucked in shirt o with one raggedy jacket like was begging for me for money (not sick or crazy o)I was like go back to your country jo.

Now I know no one from my country will do that; they will rather do early mo mo.

jadedjune said...

that bus 472 is little africa i swear.....the odds of meeting people you know are very high.

uknaija said...

@oo- Yes ma
@chxta- No-oo- if they did not refurbish it when they were in power, that will be a lesson to others no?
@atutupoyoyo- this your name sweet o. The Shackled Continent is not THAT economic, come on..:-)
@nigeriapolitricks- i second the motion
@jumi- wish I could, I cant- work no gree
@ekoakete- na so
@kafo- but it's not the poor buggers in south east London that gained from that most, plus they probably dont know enough history to make sense of your argument..
@snuffy-thanks for the heads up
@30+ na you siddon behind me?
@jadedjune- see you there?