Nigerian Teens Create Sci-Fi Movies With Smartphone

21 08 2019
Critic company

The saying that if you give a hungry man a fish, you will feed him for a day but if you teach him how to fish, you feed him for life is so true for 8 teens from northern Nigeria who are making science- fiction movies using a broken smart phone.

No doubt, they love watching Sci-Fi movies but unlike other teens their age, the Critics company, as they call themselves, are determined to make their own. They came together 2016, started creating short film with special effects they learnt from YouTube videos.

Using a broken tripod stand to hold up a smart phone with a cracked screen, they shot a ten minute film called ‘Redemption’.

This film caught the eye of international media organization like Reuters, Aljazeera and others who celebrated them for making history by successfully making first Nigerian sci-fi movie. According to one of the young filmmakers, Godwin Josiah, their aim was to show that kids in the north are doing something different.

Support has since started pouring in. Veteran film maker Kemi Adetiba, tweeted enthusiastically about them in June and helped them raise $5,800 to upgrade their equipment.

Imagine what they could do with a formal training in sci-fi movie production.

Ironically, this same youtube medium that can create porn addictions that wrecks the lives of other teens is empowering and enabling these 8 youngsters to acquire skills in movie production. This shows that it is not the media as such that is to blame when youths get hooked on internet porn but the lack of focus and motivation among young people.

Serious minded teens can sift out the best and useful things in social media and use them to advance themselves without necessarily falling prey to harmful contents as these 8 teen have aptly demonstrated.

Still, it takes guts and drive and thinking out of the box. It demands  finding a dream, pushing forward and following that dream to its logical consequences.

In life, honest and productive work is usually rewarded with fame and success, and Godwin Josiah and his cousins are making themselves useful with a broken smart phone

Nigeria has over 70million are teenagers, but still teen productivity is so low. Experts say that this is due to skill deficiency Nigerian educational curriculum, which is shockingly theoretical rather than practical, and many teen leave school ill equipped to earn a living. Hence the high rate of youth jobless, resulting in political unrest, economic instability, drug abuse, crime, prostitution, human trafficking, terrorism and kidnapping..

The Critics Company have alerted people to the possibilities of digital media like YouTube to tutor themselves in skills that can fetch money or jobs or even help them start their own businesses. 

Many handy skills can be learned via YouTube: from air-conditioning repairs to fashion designing and computer programming and countless free online tutorials on software development. Furthermore, an average low-end smart phone is chockfull of useful apps, such that an average user cannot exhaust 1% of its capability.  There are apps that can transform a smartphone  into a math lab, reader, and multimedia learning platform and many other things, and most are available free.

The triumph of these teen is good news for a region considered by most as educationally backward and where teens are often school shy. The Kaduna state governor, Malam Nasir El-rufai has praised their creativity, invited them to statehouse for special visit and is generally making a fuss of them. He has also offered the government’s support and constituted a team of senior officials to work on the details with their family.

Josiah and his cousin are blazing a path for African teens to follow, and confirming that with courage and determination, any African teen will not only survive, but actually thrive in these polluted waters through through hard work, unrelenting focus.

  Their fame and success has even wider relevance. Teens the world over should cease being passive consumers of social media content and become innovators, leveraging on these platforms to create and market their own ideas and become creators, and contributors to human progress.

They are an indictment of those who engage in online scams popularly known in Nigeria as “419”, a scam that has given millions of Nigerians a very bad name.

They are also showing up the so called Nollywood industry, still stuck in their abysmally low quality films, rife with poorly written scripts and stale story lines  revolving around time worn themes of sex, money and power.

They may yet give the Nollywood oligarchs a run for their money and possibly break their  strangle hold on the industry.

With sci-fi movies like Star Wars and Avengers grossing over $900Million and $800Million respectively, a sci-fi skill set is not a bad investment and the Critics company could be pioneers in a business that could bring much needed foreign exchange flowing back into African pockets. Time will tell.





No Excuses says 22yro youth born without legs.

17 06 2019

ZION

From the start, the odds were heavy against Zion Clark. His mother, a prostitute, gave birth to him while in prison for drugs. He literally hit the ground running with both hands because he had no legs, rare medical condition known as caudal regression syndrome, a consequence of his mother’s drug addiction.
He was whisked off to a foster home, where he was often beaten, hungry and unloved, yet he was determined to survive.
Had no time to brood over his misfortunes, had no on to gripe to how life has dealt him a bad hand. Rather he thankfully grabbed whatever life offered with two hands and ran with it.
One day someone offered to teach him wrestling, but how do you wrestle when you have no legs? Undaunted, he took up the challenge, began training day and night to be a wrestling champ. He wanted to be the best wrestler in the world, who could beat anyone, and he knew that without legs, he needed to work extra hard.
Daily workouts, iron pushups, he soon became a formidable opponent for his bigger two-legged contestants
He had plenty of help from his friends, especially his high school Couch Gil Donahue who guided him through thick and thin till he mastered the art of the throw
“He pushed me to the point past exhaustion,” Zion said. “And when I had mental breakdowns, he just talked me up, really got me going.”
He first heard that word “No Excuses” on the lips of his couch during a match in which his opponent jumped over him and collided with his head.
“I took a hard hit to the face,” he explained. “My nose was bleeding, my eye was cut. I had to be taped up to keep going. I said to my coach, ‘I can’t do this.’ Coach Donahue said, ‘you made it this far, you have to keep doing your job. Don’t give me any excuses.’”
“I went back on the mat, and when he jumped over me again, I caught him in midair and put him down on the mat,” Zion said. He went on to win the match – one of the most memorable of his high school career. He has since tattooed the word on his back.


As the old saying goes, “Men learn when they teach.” Coach Donahue himself learnt new ways of couching thanks to Zion.
“I’ve never seen anybody like Zion” said Donahue, “it made me look at coaching in whole new perspective. How do you coach a kid with no legs?” He said that he and his couching team tried different techniques, trying to take advantage of Zion’s strong point until the figured out a technique that worked for him.
Zion loves others.
There were many things Zion could have been mad at life about. He could have chosen the path of hate, raging at the life’s apparent unfairness, why this or that should happen to him, why people have to look at him funny the first time they see him. Why the first thing that comes up when his name is put on Google is “How does Zion Clark pee.”
But Zion chose not to walk down that path, rather his chose the path of love. He loves his present foster mom, Kimberly Hawkins, and is motivated to keep going because he wants to succeed, make enough money and by her a car.
He loves his Couch because he gets him to push himself harder to get the outcome he wanted in his matches. “Zion is one of the most coachable wrestlers I have ever coached, said his Coach, “He is a remarkable team player that is willing to do anything needed to help the team succeed.”
Coach Schlarb described Zion as a team motivator who always wears a smile and never says “I can’
So that is how he is able to take it all, how come he hasn’t come down with some major depression and wishing to kill himself big time.
Quick to point out the secret to his happiness, he said, “You want to be happy you have a challenge,” he said. “Things shouldn’t always be easy. Keep it simple, just have fun, work hard and be happy. And of course, make no excuses.” He is presently hoping to be part of the team USA at the Olympics games, and is determined to win a gold medal.
Like Zion, many African youths have great challenges. With both hands and feet tied by the economic hardships brought on them by their corrupt leaders. Studies show that 6 million Nigerians have slipped into extreme poverty recently. Sudan is on the verge of another civil war, Liberia is economically ruined, these chains threaten and submerge the African youth, many have taking to begging in the streets, and others are wallowing in idleness, contemplating crime or suicide.

Some may scoff at the fact that Zion lives in America, a land of opportunities, and hence can’t possibly be compared with their situation here in Africa, but they should remember that there are plenty of people living in the US who have both hands and legs, yet live in misery, feeling sorry for themselves and failing to make any success out of their lives. Worse, in America today some people argue that someone like Zion should be killed via abortion in their mother’s womb with their mothers consent, because their quality of life will be too low. Zion Clark has proved them wrong, and his story has inspired others to pull themselves out of whatever shackles holding them down and to fight, never settling for what has been achieved, but pushing ahead for that which is still out of sight.

So it doesn’t matter where you are, or what your challenges Zion says, “There are no excuses for those who refuse to push themselves and work at it till they get it right.”
Money cannot buy courage, but with mentorship and nature, many young Africans can triumph over the chains imposed on them by their purposeless and thieving leaders.

.Chinwuba Iyizoba





The Millionaire Who Loves Street Children

27 05 2019

by Chinwuba Iyizoba

Mully family

His father was an alcoholic and often beat his mother. At 6, he knew the pains of hunger, cruelty and indifference and at 17, he ran away from home, walking all the way to Nairobi. There, a kind lady offered him a job. He later worked for a construction company and started his own transport business, with one taxi, which grew to a fleet, then a bus company, a transport company and finally, an insurance company, and by age 40, Charles Mully was a millionaire.

He began living in luxury, enjoying the company of the rich and powerful and forgot his past.

“I associated with big people, rich people,” he said. His home life was also a happy, he and wife; Esther lived with their eight children in a beautiful, large home on a big spread of land near the Kenyan town of Eldoret.

Wake up call

One day, while parking his car, a group of street children approached and asked him for money. Suspecting that they probably would use the money for drugs, he ignored them. When he returned, his car was gone.

Shocked and dismayed, not for his lost car, but because for the first time, he remembered himself as a little abandoned boy fending for himself, with no one to help.

He saw himself in those street children. He realized that they must despise him as strongly as he had despised the rich and powerful who wouldn’t lift a finger to help him. Now he was rich and powerful, and he wasn’t lifting a finger to help.

The excuses the rich gave for not helping him were the same excuses he was not giving for not helping. He was no different. His was selfish, a coward and a lover of comfort. He wept for hours, wrestling with a hard decision that was pressing urgently upon him.

“I saw myself in their eyes,” he said of those desperate children. For the next three years, I saw the children everywhere.”

Finally, he decided. He would sell his businesses and take into his own home the children from the slums.

When he told his family of his decision, they were horrified. They had a comfortable life and didn’t want to be inconvenienced.

His wife was heartbroken by his decision. “People told my wife to take me to the hospital,” he said with a chuckle. “They thought I had lost my mind.”

Yet, she supported his plan to sell off his business and take in street children.  His biological children were alarmed when their father started bringing home children from the streets, their alarm turned to anger when they realized they had to share their rooms.

“Daddy will come home later from walking the streets, smells of streets children filling the house, and some skin disease,” his daughter said.

Soon, their large home had nearly 100 orphans from various tribes, sleeping in every corner of a house. The house was soon too small to carry on and they rented a much bigger house. After taking in hundreds of children the Mully’s needed even bigger house, and so they moved to a dry and deserted land with nothing on it, not even water.

The going was rough at first until, through a miracle, they discovered water, which transformed the land into a fertile land so that they could cultivate their own food and as time went on, they had a sizable farm from which food came to feed the growing number of children.

With God’s grace and hard work, they have transformed this dry patch land into a home where abandoned children can find a true home. Charles called it the Mully Children’s Family (MCF), and he is so happy to give these children, who call him and wife, dad and mom, a true home and loving family.

Today, the MCF has taken more than 23000 abandoned children off the streets and given them education and a future.

In Africa rife with startling inequalities, where a few have so much when millions have nothing, Charles Mully has shown that sharing with the poor is a way to make personal wealth more effective. Just as he built a great business starting with one taxi, he has built a great family starting with one child at a time, a family of every race and color. His efforts have spawned MCF vocational schools and colleges right within the community.  While the boys learn technical skills, like carpentry, electronics and mechanic, the girls are equipped with catering, fashion and dress making. The brighter children go on to college and higher education and many have become medical doctors, engineers and lawyers.

He could have used his hard earned money to build fantastic houses. He could have deposited his money in the bank, earning generous interests. Rather, he chose to lead the way by his example so that others can follow his footsteps helping and stop attributing their misfortune to laziness.

Though Mully isn’t Catholic, he would understand well the teaching of the Church on the universal destination of good, that every person should regard the external things that they legitimately possesses not only as their own destined to benefit not only themselves and their family but also all others.

Feed the people dying of hunger, because if you do not feed them you are killing them,” above all by giving them aid which will enable them to help and develop themselves. (Gaudium et Spes 68)

It is true that not everyone can be as courageous and generous as Charles Mully, but like Mother Theresa of Calcutta said, if you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed one.

Chinwuba Iyizoba





Abducted girl turns 16 in the forest

15 05 2019

by Chinwuba Iyizoba

Leah Sharibu pics

Her eyes were diamonds, sparkling brightly when she laughed. Leah Sharibu was only 14 in February 2018 when she and over a hundred of her companions were abducted from their school in Dapchi, by boko haram, the Islamic terrorist group that has been devastating parts of Northern Nigerian for decades. She celebrated her 16th birthday yesterday, Tuesday 14th May, in Sambisa forest.

They had broken into her school like infernal spirits, eyes red like open wounds; breath, foul and putrid.  Their laughter like clanging steel frightened the captured girls whom they herded like lambs into waiting Lorries and driven to the forest by night.

The girls knew neither where they were nor why they were there. Hunger and tiredness overwhelmed them. Bugs and flies tormented them. They cried until they could cry no more, and realizing that the dirty jackals could never be move by tears, they ceased wailing and collapsed in exhausted sleep.

When they woke, they realized their captors thirst for blood, cruelty and hideousness was just beginning. Soon, thugs ordered them to renounce their Christian faith and accept Islam, in exchange for their freedom. Repulsive fiends! Who would want to worship the god that made you so foul?

The ogres promised the girls freedom and food and many too tired and weak to resist, they broke down and gave in, and gave the yellow fanged jackals all they wanted. Only Leah stood firm. She will not succumb and the trees danced for joy.

Shortly afterward, they released all the yielding girls, except Leah. They then announced via social media that according to their Islamic faith, Leah was now their slave, and that they were permitted to do whatever they liked her.

O infernal vermin, who permitted you to do vile things in the name of God!! You permitted yourselves to do violence to a religion of peace!!

News of the freed girls broke the internet and parents and relatives jubilated, but for Leah’s mother, however, it was a nightmare just unfolding; she wept herself blind for her sweet child still in captivity, and called for help till her voice broke.  For 2 yrs, little seems to have been done, and nothing may be done for many years to come.

Rebecca sharibu

Like the Christian martyrs of old, Lear is ready to die for her faith. Still, how hard it was for her to watch her companions fall one after another, swept by fear, one by one, till she was all alone, like a lone leaf left on a storm swept tree. With no one to lean on, no friend, yet the Angels are with her. Her captors must have howled and jeered with their disembodied voices, flies and venom spewing between their crimson fangs.

They are fools, though. Leah has chosen to serve in heaven rather than to reign in hell, and her love is mightier than their hate, and for that we salute her. Her parent salutes her, her family salutes her, her kinsmen salutes her, her village salutes, and her Nation salutes her.

She may die before any one lifts a finger to save her, yet her blood would water the tree of life for generations of Christians yet unborn. The Christian faith that they seek to extinguish in Nigeria will only grow stronger because of her witness, her blood. If she accepts death in bondage, she would have accepted a temporal bondage that would yield eternal freedom in Heaven and it’s not a bad deal; though few know it.

Her companions testified that she sang daily in her cell praising God’s name.  Her voice carries to heaven breaking the hearts of God even as a busy bee, she flirted around the forest, and did many things to ease the pains of her companion while they were with her.

 But God is wisdom

The angels of God are watching keenly with flaming swords unsheathed. All but a nod from God and the heads of those infernal jackals will roll. Yet, God’s plans are all wise and He will not retract a freedom once given to men though they long misuse it.

They may imprison Lear’s body, but they cannot imprison her soul, dancing like a butterfly, touching us all with suffering. The curtain of night fell upon us the night they took her. The stars are still blinking and the winds still wailing nonstop until we see Leah free. Happy birthday Leah! May the Angels protect and keep you safe. Amen

 

Chinwuba Iyizoba

 





Forgive but Never Forget: 25yrs After Rwandan genocide

9 04 2019

By Chinwuba Iyizoba

crowd of Rwandan at 25 yrs of genocide

 

Forgive and forget is an old saying but not in Rwanda as it marks 25 years after the genocide that killed close to a million people. The people are convinced that peace will continue only if they never forget.

 

“We are family once again, but never again will this happen”, said Paul Kagame, the Rwandan president on April 7 during the lighting of the commemoration lamp that will burn the whole of 100 days, the time it took to end the genocide that began on April 7, 1994.

On 6 April 1994, a plane carrying then-President Juvenal Habyarimana – a Hutu – was shot down, killing all on board. The government blamed the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), a Tutsi led guerrilla fighters in the north. The next day a well-organized campaign of slaughter began. Youth militias (Interahamwes) were given hit lists of Tutsi victims. Many were killed with machetes in acts of appalling brutality. They set up road blocks to find Tutsis, incited hatred via radio broadcasts and carried out house to house searches. The killing lasted a 100 days ending when the RPF, led by Kagame and backed by Uganda, marched on Kigali. Some two million Hutus fled, mainly to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Unlike the sowers of hatred who orchestrated the genocide and ethnic division, Kagame has fostered unity and common brotherhood of all Rwanda.

Today, the country has recovered economically, with President Kagame’s policies encouraging rapid growth and technological advancement. Growth remains good – 7.2% in 2018 according to the African Development Bank.

“The arms of our people, intertwined, constitute the pillars of our nation,” Kagame said. “We hold each other up. Our bodies and minds bear amputations and scars, but none of us is alone. He added: “The fighting spirit is alive in us. What happened here will never happen again…”

From the constant bloodletting of Boko Harm in Northern Nigeria to the threats of vicious Somali gunmen in Kenya. African sees a lot of blood and horror. The African leaders present at the ceremony are hopefully here to learn how to stop the constant bloodshed, hatred and injustice in their own countries by building bridges that create spirit of brotherhood like Kagame has done in Rwanda.

 

True peace comes from Forgiveness

Immaculee Ilibagiza

The 1994 genocide destroyed the illusion that African fault line wars are triggered by lack of religious homogeneity. With an estimated population 5.6 million, 80 percent of Rwandans are Christians, mainly Catholics, yet they ditched the truths of the Catholic faith taught to them as children to heed the screech of murder and rape.

Immaculée Ilibagiza, a woman who survived the genocide hiding in a pastors toilet for 90 days with seven other women but lost her entire family with the exception of one brother who was outside the country, in her New York Times best-selling Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust, she talked about her struggles with hatred and desire revenge against those trying to kill her, and her initial inability to forgive. Then one day like one who had since been looking at a tapestry from behind seeing only a meaningless jumble of treads, she was finally given through prayers to see it upfront, and marvel at its beauty . She tells the story like this:

One night we heard screaming not far from the house and then a baby crying. The killers must have slain the mother and left her infant to die in the road. The child wailed all night; by morning, its cries were feeble and sporadic, and by nightfall, it was silent. I heard dogs snarling nearby and shivered as I thought about how that baby’s life had ended. I prayed for God to receive the child’s innocent soul, and then asked Him, How can I forgive people who would do such a thing to an infant?

I heard God’s answer as clearly as if we had been  sitting in the same room chatting: You are all my children . . . and the baby is with Me now.

In God’s eyes, the killers were part of His family, deserving of love and forgiveness. I knew that I couldn’t ask God to love me if I were unwilling to love His children. At that moment, I prayed for the killers, for their sins to be forgiven and for the first time since I entered the bathroom, I slept in peace”.

immaculee in toilet where she lived for 90 days with 7 other women

Immaculee in toilet where she lived for 90 days with 7 other women when she returned to Rwanda after the war

True, bad indoctrination can contribute to evil actions, but every evil act is still an individual act. Those who choose evil exercise personal freedom and thus are responsible for their acts.  It is heartening to note that many  Hutus chose to die rather than kill. They were true Hutus because they chose freedom rather than slavery of evil and their action are an indictment of those who took up the machetes to kill.

One can be trapped in the most horrendous and inhuman prison and yet be free, by accepting God’s will and by loving sacrifice, thinking of all the souls on earth Immaculée found her deepest relationship with God, learning to love all mankind, especially to pray and forgive her enemies.

She reached the peak of  forgiveness when she decided to visit Felicien, the man who killed her mother, and personally forgive him. After she had told him so, she asked him: “How can you have done this? Killing so many people, you can’t be at peace.” In rags, he seemed small and confused. “”I wanted to reach out to him,” she said. “I cried, and then he himself started to cry.”

The official in charge of the jail, a Tutsi who was a survivor like Immaculée  who was initially angry at her for forgiving the man latter came to her and said, “You don’t know what you did to me, when you went to the jail and forgave Felicien.  I was shocked but I learnt the necessity for forgiveness.”

Just like a tennis ball striking a soft pillow decelerates and loses its power to rebound, violence stops when it hits a forgiving heart. This is a lesson that Rwandans and millions of African victims of violence should take to heart and never forget.

By Chinwuba Iyizoba

 





Tears to Joy (Ekundayo)

4 04 2019

By Chinwuba Iyizoba

Tybello

Photo journalist, TY Bellow, who discovered the bread seller model also discovered an unsung hero, Ms Ekundayo, a woman who had single handedly cared for near 500 orphaned children without any public or private applause.

An economist graduate, who had a brief stint in Government, Bello is a passionate Christian who has an amazing eye out for underdogs. Transforming the life of an illiterate bread seller caught in her camera by accident to a supermodel. But she wasn’t done yet.

In 2003, on a whim of philanthropic spirit, she decided to go visiting orphanages round the country to see which was in dire straight and how she could help, to her great surprise, she discovered an unknown and unsung heroine, who had quietly fed and sheltered close to 500 children in the backwaters of Kogi state.

In 1959, Mama Ekundayo, a married woman with five biological children of her own, decided to take care of orphans and abandoned children as well. Without money or power, she set about her goal and by 2003, she had taken care of well nearly 500 children without any government or international aid.

mama ekundayo

Mama Ekundayo

“Ekundayo,” which translates, “(my) tears have turned to joy,” captured Bello’s sentiments the days she met this woman.

“After talking to her about 10 minutes, I just started to cry,” TY Bello said.

“I felt so empty, you know there is something about her that is very peaceful, very wholesome. You can tell that she was happy but I felt that my whole life was just about me and my project and the things that I wanted.”

Greatly edified by sheer munificence of the woman and the gloriousness of this hidden sacrifice and the contrast of her own life Bello wrote a song for her which she turned to a music video called “Ekundayo.”

ekunday ophanage

Just like many things in life, there are many unsung heroes, people who do good quietly while the world largely remains unaware. Men and women who spend their lives serving others selflessly, at the cost fortune and family. They are so noble, inspiring and out of the ordinary.

It is like catching a glimpse of that image of God we bear in our souls, so obscure and difficult to see in a world marked by unchecked greed and selfish ambition for power, lust and personal gratification.

Using one’s talents or money to serve the greatest number of people is obviously more rewarding and effective, yet it is strangely not common in Africa, and in Nigeria especially. The truth is that it requires degree of spiritual awareness rare and hard to acquire, and even more, it requires willpower and self mastery over the animal instincts of self preservation that only very few can achieve in society rife with insecurity and poverty.

Yet, the Ekundayos of this world aren’t superhuman. They are people with deep convictions who choose to live out the consequences no matter the odds.

ty bello with mama

TY Bello with Mama Ekundayo

But they are the truly free. Those who understand freedom as the radically arbitrary license to do just what they want and to have their own way are living in a lie, for by his very nature man is part of a shared existence and his freedom is shared freedom. His very nature contains direction and norm, and becoming inwardly one with this direction and norm is what freedom is all about.

It is this radical shift in thoughts and philosophy that distinguish Ms Ekundayo from many. Yet, all Nigerians retain the capacity to walk the footstep of this giant.

Admittedly this is no easy task from start to finish in Nigeria. From scarcity of adoption agency to fraudulent agencies that run orphanages with a mind of achieving a clandestine agenda, to lack of proper documentation, to legal challenges to bureaucratic bottle necks ensure that only the truly convinced can walk this course on scathe.

“Mama Ekundayo has shown us how you can do so much with so little. There are countless examples of people like her out there,” said Bello,   “I hope the videos inspire us to help make their work easier or at least spread the word as much as we can.”

EKUNDAYO – TY BELLO (video)

LYRICS: EKUNDAYO – TY BELLO

Ekundayo sugbon E mi ko

Ise Oluwa ni

Her words resound over and again

Undoubtedly I’ve been changed

Madam your life your heart touched mine

And finally I realized

Even I can give a life

Ekundayo sugbon emi ko oluwa lo fun mi se

Mo dele ever before open my door

Jojolo

 

Life was all about me

My life was all about me

Did not see nothing wrong

The life that I lived

Was far from her reality

Don’t know how empty I was

Madam your life your heart touched mine

I was struck by the purity of your smile

Now I know

Realize the change I can bring (Change I can be)

To suffering children who’ve got no home

Pray for me so I can see

Through your eyes

Repeat Do you know beautiful you become

When you make way

For the all little ones

Who otherwise would not have made it through their day

You become a part of their tale

Oh how beautiful are the feet of every man

Who brings tidings of hope to children broken

Blessings from heaven gate

Will shower you every day

Everytime you open the door to link a child

Open my door

Eje ko mode ko wa

Eje kan wa oh oh

 

Open up my door (Say yeah)

Open my door

Eje ko mode ko wa

Ki won wa oh oh

 

By Chinwuba Iyizoba





How to Shield Your Children from Corruption

24 03 2019

By Chinwuba Iyizoba

Robtel Neajai Pailey
Robtel Neajai Pailey

Rife in every section of Nigerian society, corruption is more visible in the armed forces who clog highways with sandbags and drums, and openly extort money from motorist.

I was driving with my 7 yrs nephew, Jonathan, by my side. It was a hot afternoon. We came to a police check.

“Do you want to be a policeman? “ I asked mischievously.

 “No,” the boy answered, without hesitation.

“Why?”

I was curious to know the reason for such categorical rejection. A police job is honored work in many countries.

“They are corrupt!” he quipped without blinking.

The policeman by the car in front crumpled something into his pocket waved him on. We were next.

 I wound down and greeted him cheerfully.

“Anything for your boys?” drawled the officer.

“Nothing today, sir” I said, sheepishly. “May be tomorrow.”

He waved us on.

We drove on in silence. I was wondering how much harm was done to children by witnessing daily daylight graft on our roads by men in uniform.

It reminded me of another story a woman told me, some time ago, about her 7 yr old son, Hamza. He had just joined the boy scouts, the uniform and badges gave him such a trill, he felt like an officer, and like officers do, he wanted money. The next day, on his way to a scouting activity, he stepped into the middle of a busy road and faced a fast approaching taxi. He had seen policemen do all the time. As the car raced towards him, horn blaring, he raised an authoritative hand. Stop!

 The car swerved at the last minute to avoid running him over, the driver spat at him, passengers cursed and showed him their five fingers. Passersby screamed as they hauled him by the ear out of the road and someone whisked him back to his shocked and grateful mother. That was the end of his scouting career.

The difference between Jonathan and Hamza, it occurred to me, was that Jonathan goes to a private school where Christian ethical codes were taught every week. During classes, teachers emphasize the difference between good and evil, and how lying, cheating–in a word corruption, harms. They help them discover good and do it, they help them uncover evil and avoid it; they learn that they can make mistakes and how to be quick in correcting themselves.

Hamza, on the other hand, attends a public school ill equipped to teach him Math’s and English, but very efficiently creates an environment that makes it hard for him to be virtuous.  He learns from older pupils how to steal, smoke, drink and climb school fences at night to visit brothels. He has never been furnished any argument against the corruption he sees.

Yet more Nigerian children attend public schools than private schools, and we cannot have it both ways. Either we teach these children about the evil of corruption now or we have corrupt citizens later.

This troubled Robtel Neajai Pailey, a Liberian academic, activist and author until she decided to do something revolutionary.

 In 2012, frustrated with all the rhetoric about fighting corruption in Liberia she wrote anti-corruption books for kids. The first one, Gbagba loosely translated, means ‘trickery’ or, ‘corruption’

 “I realized that integrity must be strengthened at the earliest stages in a child’s life in order to mitigate the practice of corruption in the next generation” she said.

Gbagba is the story of young twins, who leave the countryside to visit their aunt in the capital, Monrovia. The intrigues of adults in everyday corrupt practices—robbery, bribery, fraud, vigilantism—collide with the children’s strong moral sense of right and wrong.

Immediately after the children arrive in the city, a thief “in dirty clothes” snatches their suitcases in broad daylight. The description of the robber tells us that that the man is poor and desperate. But the idea that it is greed rather than dehumanizing poverty triggers the man’s thievery incites the threat of mob justice

And in no time, the twins later observe their aunt’s driver bribing a police officer. Their aunt’s indifference during this encounter stands in stark contrast to the twins’ sharp perception of the unfair advantage that takes place after the transaction.

You can watch the video adaptation of the book below and please share with your children

Pailey was inspired to write the book in order to give children the verbal tools to question the ethical and moral values of adults around them. The book received critical acclaim and has been adopted as compulsory reading by Liberian Ministry of Education

“Eight to 10-year-old children are the perfect targets because it is at this stage that they begin to form an ethical core,” Pailey continued.

 “In writing Gbagba, I imagined myself a proverbial anti-corruption pied piper, without the instrument of doom…. Even though Gbagba‘s setting is Liberia, it remains a universal tale about children’s emancipation from the confusing ethical codes of the adults around them”

As Pailey says, children are the moral compass of Liberia if not the world. When they start publicly exposing corruption for what it truly is, my hope is that adults will be shamed into living more honestly, with integrity.

The book has been turned into a play and the play was well received by parents, teachers, and school administrators in Liberian and other African countries.  It has also been converted to a play, and 200 theatre-goers enjoyed the performance in the audience on debut day.

A parent of one of the cast members informed Pailey her daughter is now the integrity police in their household, pointing out when her parents and siblings are being dishonest.

This is a worthy investment Nigerian government should consider making, inviting Pailey with her project and give children like Hamza the knowledge they need to fight corruption in themselves and later in the Nigerian society . Pailey has since written a sequel to Gbagba called Jaadeh.

By Chinwuba Iyizoba








%d bloggers like this: