“I WAS NGAA” 1991 – 1997

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The disgusting news coming out from India about men randomly and repeatedly raping women is a testament of a culture with dysfunctional and stone-age ideas about women. I don’t know where Indian men get their education and orientation from, but the permissiveness to violence against women can best be described as pathetic.

But I know a place where boys are trained and educated to be men, men who respect women, men who get up there and make a mark, who stand up to be counted, who remember where they come from wherever they may chance to go. And so last night, the class of 1997 of Government Secondary School, Owerri met to celebrate fifteen years of graduation. The party was fun: the drinks flowed and the food was amazing, but the highlight was meeting up with “pallies” from way back. Guys one spent six years of the most formative years of one. Brothers one grew up with, fought with, and finally became friends with.

For all of us privileged to have passed through the walls of Government Secondary School, Owerri the unanimous position is that G.S.S.O was the best part of one’s education. The place where academic, moral and behavioral foundations where laid. Although we vigorously “defaced” the walls with our scratched mementos of: “I was ngaa,” to the chagrin of our teachers. Unfortunately, schools don’t come that good anymore. Of course they don’t because people like Ikeazota, Isika, Ninja, Sufferson, Whiskers etcetera are not there to chase kids around – on foot or with their cars – anymore. And so the class of 1997 used the opportunity of the gathering to present an award of the best Mathematics teacher to Mrs. N.N.F Ikeazota (Ph.D).

And while the Math doctor danced with boys she once chased around the school grounds, effusive in her happiness that all their hard work had borne fruits; and the wine flowed and the cutlery clinked, I wondered again, where the rapist Indians got their education from.

@sirwebs

 

A Merry Christmas

Move over Shakespeare, take a seat Tolstoy, stop whining Joseph Anton, it’s time for the greatest story ever told: the story of the infant baby boy born in a Manger just over Two thousand years ago. The story of the advent of Jesus Christ is as old as time; time as we know it, as our calendar starts from the time mother Mary, unable to find an inn or house, is forced to put to bed in a manger surrounded by livestock.

The story, told a million, billion times, charts the miraculous birth foretold by the prophets ( ask Herod), seen in the stars by wise men or astrologers, or magi, if you’re poetic. The unique birth of the saviour of the world, the saviour of Mankind. The evergreen story of the birth of Jesus, who came in human form to die for me and you. This story is the story of Christmas (Christ not X), the “most wonderful time of the year.”

Christmas is a time to show love and charity: to be happy, to reunite with family and remember friends, “for love came down at Christmas.” Not a time for gross mercentalism but for philanthropy; never a time for loud hullabaloos but of “Silent Nights.”

Merry Christmas and a happy new year to you all.

@sirwebs

AMERICAN PSYCHO

newtown kidsOnce again America has shocked the world with its exceptional penchant for producing lone, lonely, gun-toting, bullet spraying, mass-murdering psychos. The classic misguided American psycho, who takes out his anger on helpless and hapless school children, be it at Columbine or Newtown, or as exhibited in a movie theater in Aurora, is threatening to become as synonymous with the USA as McDonalds and Hollywood.

Such tragic incidents always revive the age-long debate over gun control. America, a country with a sickening love for guns and the right of citizens to carry it, always splits down the middle at times like this (the mother of the Newton was a gun aficionado and owned the three semi-automatic guns used by her son to kill her, 26 others and himself). I’m still waiting to hear the NRA make their usual guttural and irresponsible remarks of “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”

Yes, guns don’t kill people, but guns give a psychotic and crazy person the ability to wreck maximum and massive damage with minimum effort. Easy access to guns help a misguided or mentally handicapped fellow to play out his or her fantasies at huge costs. The culture of guns makes the American psycho a more dangerous and gory, glory-hunting specimen, who destroys families while making a firestorm exit.

Mental illness is a global phenomenon, but nowhere else in the world is that deadly combination of  easy accessibility to guns and end to end media coverage which fuels this copy-cat crime of unloading magazines on school kids. Gun ownership might have been useful in 1812 but certainly not in 2012.

Adieu beautiful ones.

@sirwebs

TWO TRAGIC DEATHS AND MEDIA ETHICS

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It’s been a trying and intriguing week in the world of mass media.  The picture of the man about to be crushed by a subway train in New York published on the cover of the tabloid New Yorker, raised ethical issues about appropriateness. And the not less tragic case of British nurse, Jacinta Saldanha, who committed suicide after falling for a prank call from Australian radio station DJs pretending to be the Queen and Prince Charles and connecting them to the phone in Kate Middleton’s room elicited outrage from the public.

In both cases, the photographer who took the pictures and the DJs have technically broken no laws but ethics is a different ball game all together, and is such a slippery ground. And, most importantly, the consequences have been tragic with deaths involved. The question on everybody’s mind is could the photojournalist have tried to help the man who had been pushed on to the tracks instead of busily ‘snapping’ away? The freelancer has made funny excuses about why he took the pictures but the New Yorker, a classic tabloid paper, is not making any excuses for running the images on its front page.

Both cases have inspired heated debate online, with the DJs having to shut down their Twitter accounts, and the Facebook page of the Radio station, 2Day Fm, inundated with messages from the absurd to plain idiotic. Journalists and media critics have dissected the position of the New Yorker from varying angles and maybe a journal article will come along soon to “throw more light” from this now classic case study.

In the midst of all these I was attending the annual conference of Public Relations people in Nigeria. And even though great papers were delivered on the theme of managing public opinion in critical campaigns, not one mention was made of the place of social media in critical times. Critical indeed.

@sirwebs

THIRTY YEARS OF THRILLS

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Friday November 30th, 2012 marked the thirtieth anniversary of the release of the best selling album of all time: Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Released on the last day of November, 1982 the album changed the face of music for all time and installed Michael as the King of Pop, the most popular black musician of all time and a global icon. Growing up in the eighties and nineties, every home with a VCR had a tape of Thriller and the songs Billie Jean, Wanna Be Startin’ Something, and Beat It where trendy fare.

Thriller, the sixth album of Jackson, produced by the masterful Quincy Jones and featuring Paul McCartney and Eddie Van Halen, went 29x Platinum but the main story is that it reset cultural norms forcing TV stations and record companies to start respecting Black acts and giving them airplay. MTV infamously known for being cold towards black musicians, at the height of the Thriller run, played the 14 minute-long video once every half hour. Music historians have noted that Michael Jackson, and the success of Thriller, inspired and empowered a generation of black musicians a la Usher, R. Kelly, Prince etc.

Thriller was a critically acclaimed collection mixing pop, rock and funk with great song writing and genre defining music videos to produce an album that received the maximum five stars from All Music and Rolling Stones. Generations since then have continually warmed to the album and even though it sold a million copies a week in 1982, nearly thirty years later, the album is still topping music download charts. In total the album is estimated to have sold over 100 million copies. As biographer Randy Taraborelli is quoted saying, “At some point, Thriller stopped selling like a leisure item—like a magazine, a toy, tickets to a hit movie—and started selling like a household staple”.

The King is dead, Long live Thriller.

@sirwebs