Monday, 31 October 2011


Vatican Basilica
Wednesday, 1 November 2006
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Our Eucharistic celebration began with the exhortation: "Let us all rejoice in the Lord". The liturgy invites us to share in the heavenly jubilation of the Saints, to taste their joy. The Saints are not a small caste of chosen souls but an innumerable crowd to which the liturgy urges us to raise our eyes. This multitude not only includes the officially recognized Saints, but the baptized of every epoch and nation who sought to carry out the divine will faithfully and lovingly. We are unacquainted with the faces and even the names of many of them, but with the eyes of faith we see them shine in God's firmament like glorious stars.
Today, the Church is celebrating her dignity as "Mother of the Saints, an image of the Eternal City" (A. Manzoni), and displays her beauty as the immaculate Bride of Christ, source and model of all holiness. She certainly does not lack contentious or even rebellious children, but it is in the Saints that she recognizes her characteristic features and precisely in them savours her deepest joy.
In the first reading, the author of the Book of Revelation describes them as "a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues" (Rv 7: 9).
This people includes the Saints of the Old Testament, starting with the righteous Abel and the faithful Patriarch, Abraham, those of the New Testament, the numerous early Christian Martyrs and the Blesseds and Saints of later centuries, to the witnesses of Christ in this epoch of ours.
They are all brought together by the common desire to incarnate the Gospel in their lives under the impulse of the Holy Spirit, the life-giving spirit of the People of God.
But "why should our praise and glorification, or even the celebration of this Solemnity, mean anything to the Saints?". A famous homily of St Bernard for All Saints' Day begins with this question. It could equally well be asked today. And the response the Saint offers us is also timely: "The Saints", he says, "have no need of honour from us; neither does our devotion add the slightest thing to what is theirs.... But I tell you, when I think of them, I feel myself inflamed by a tremendous yearning" (Disc. 2, Opera Omnia Cisterc. 5, 364ff.).
This, then, is the meaning of today's Solemnity: looking at the shining example of the Saints to reawaken within us the great longing to be like them; happy to live near God, in his light, in the great family of God's friends. Being a Saint means living close to God, to live in his family. And this is the vocation of us all, vigorously reaffirmed by the Second Vatican Council and solemnly proposed today for our attention.
But how can we become holy, friends of God? We can first give a negative answer to this question: to be a Saint requires neither extraordinary actions or works nor the possession of exceptional charisms. Then comes the positive reply: it is necessary first of all to listen to Jesus and then to follow him without losing heart when faced by difficulties. "If anyone serves me", he warns us, "he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also; if any one serves me, the Father will honour him" (Jn 12: 26).
Like the grain of wheat buried in the earth, those who trust him and love him sincerely accept dying to themselves. Indeed, he knows that whoever seeks to keep his life for himself loses it, and whoever gives himself, loses himself, and in this very way finds life (cf. Jn 12: 24-25).
The Church's experience shows that every form of holiness, even if it follows different paths, always passes through the Way of the Cross, the way of self-denial. The Saints' biographies describe men and women who, docile to the divine plan, sometimes faced unspeakable trials and suffering, persecution and martyrdom. They persevered in their commitment: "they... have come out of the great tribulation", one reads in Revelation, "they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" (Rv 7: 14). Their names are written in the book of life (cf. Rv 20: 12) and Heaven is their eternal dwelling-place.
The example of the Saints encourages us to follow in their same footsteps and to experience the joy of those who trust in God, for the one true cause of sorrow and unhappiness for men and women is to live far from him.
Holiness demands a constant effort, but it is possible for everyone because, rather than a human effort, it is first and foremost a gift of God, thrice Holy (cf. Is 6: 3). In the second reading, the Apostle John remarks: "See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are" (I Jn 3: 1).
It is God, therefore, who loved us first and made us his adoptive sons in Jesus. Everything in our lives is a gift of his love: how can we be indifferent before such a great mystery? How can we not respond to the Heavenly Father's love by living as grateful children? In Christ, he gave us the gift of his entire self and calls us to a personal and profound relationship with him.
Consequently, the more we imitate Jesus and remain united to him the more we enter into the mystery of his divine holiness. We discover that he loves us infinitely, and this prompts us in turn to love our brethren. Loving always entails an act of self-denial, "losing ourselves", and it is precisely this that makes us happy.
Thus, we have come to the Gospel of this feast, the proclamation of the Beatitudes which we have just heard resound in this Basilica.
Jesus says: Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed those who mourn, the meek; blessed those who hunger and thirst for justice, the merciful; blessed the pure in heart, the peacemakers, the persecuted for the sake of justice (cf. Mt 5: 3-10).
In truth, the blessed par excellence is only Jesus. He is, in fact, the true poor in spirit, the one afflicted, the meek one, the one hungering and thirsting for justice, the merciful, the pure of heart, the peacemaker. He is the one persecuted for the sake of justice.
The Beatitudes show us the spiritual features of Jesus and thus express his mystery, the mystery of his death and Resurrection, of his passion and of the joy of his Resurrection. This mystery, which is the mystery of true blessedness, invites us to follow Jesus and thus to walk toward it.
To the extent that we accept his proposal and set out to follow him - each one in his own circumstances - we too can participate in his blessedness. With him, the impossible becomes possible and even a camel can pass through the eye of a needle (cf. Mk 10: 25); with his help, only with his help, can we become perfect as the Heavenly Father is perfect (cf. Mt 5: 48).
Dear brothers and sisters, we are now entering the heart of the Eucharistic celebration that encourages and nourishes holiness. In a little while, Christ will make himself present in the most exalted way, Christ the true Vine to whom the faithful on earth and the Saints in Heaven are united like branches.
Thus, the communion of the pilgrim Church in the world with the Church triumphant in glory will increase.
In the Preface we will proclaim that the Saints are friends and models of life for us. Let us invoke them so that they may help us to imitate them and strive to respond generously, as they did, to the divine call.
In particular, let us invoke Mary, Mother of the Lord and mirror of all holiness. May she, the All Holy, make us faithful disciples of her Son Jesus Christ! Amen.

© Copyright 2006 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
''The truth might be hard to say, painful to bear or even drastic for the truth sayer but still needed to be said''. ALISON.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Africa's most influential celebrity is author Chinua Achebe -

Author Chinua Achebe is Africa's most influential celebrity, according to Forbes magazine. The octogenarian author beat out dozens of musicians, soccer stars, two supermodels, a film director, a talk-show host and the world's top long-distance runner when he topped the 40-person list.
Achebe was born in Nigeria in 1930 and came of age when European colonies in Africa were making their way toward independence. His novel "Things Fall Apart," published in 1958, is said to be one of the most widely read works of African literature. His 1975 essay "An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness'," remains a significant work for its combination of literary criticism and politics. As Brown University, where he is now a professor, puts it: "This critique is recognized as one of the most generative interventions on Conrad; and one that opened the social study of literary texts, particularly the impact of power relations on 20th century literary imagination."
In the late '60s, Achebe was involved in politics, serving as an ambassador from Biafra. He has lived in both Africa and the U.S., where he spent 15 years at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., before taking his current position at Brown in Providence, R.I. In 2007, he was awarded the Man Booker International Prize for his lifetime body of work.
Three other authors also made Forbes' list. Two are from Kenya: 40-year old Binyavanga Wainaina, author of the widely read satirical essay "How to Write About Africa" and winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2002, and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, 73, author of "Wizard of the Crow," who is a professor at UC Irvine. The youngest is 34-year-old Nigerian-born Chimamanda Adichie, educated a Johns Hopkins and Yale; her novel "Half of a Yellow Sun" won the 2006 Orange Prize, and she was awarded a MacArthur "genius" Fellowship in 2008.
It's interesting to see so many authors among the ranks of African celebrities. In America, we often have celebrities first who only secondarily become authors -- like, for example, "Jersey Shore's" Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi, whose second book, "Confessions of a Guidette," comes out Tuesday.

''The truth might be hard to say, painful to bear or even drastic for the truth sayer but still needed to be said''. ALISON.

Sunday, 23 October 2011


A reader of has sent us an email with this open letter to the president of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan. We publish it here below. These are his own views and we have no responibility in it.
Dear Mr President,
after a period of hesitation, I decide to write you for an important issue that disturbs every responsible Nigerian. I am sorry if you would have wanted it to be a private letter but I think that since it represents the preoccupation of many Nigerians, I should make it known to all. I must commence by saying that the situation of my dear country Nigeria does not surprise me. For instance, already during the electoral campaign that brought you to power, I foresaw the impasse in which we were heading to and I started expressing my doubt on your capacity of running this complicated country. Mr President, from all indication, you could be a good candidate for a country, but I am afraid, it is not for a country like Nigeria. It might sound hard to hear but your two great errors are hunting you and your regime. Firstly, you had always counted on your good luck forgetting you do not run a county by luck. Though your good luck helped you to have a weak opposition and indecisive electorates who out of frustration and poverty went for any laudable candidate who you were it does not also permit to be more realistic and quick in action taking. Your second and most important error is that you counted on the help of the party under which you ran your election but unfortunately the party has neither reputation nor scope. My dear President, your downfall started just when you accepted to run for such a vital post under a political party without a determined manifesto and plan of action. When you accepted to run for such a post under a party that for more than a decade has ran Nigeria under a day to day planning, I knew the tenure was to be a moon dance like tenure.
Mr President, when you won this honourable post, I was among those who wanted to sit back and see where you will leading this country to, but seeing the pandemonium that is reigning in my beloved country; seeing that the labour of our heroes pas are trying to be in vain, I decided to write you as a loyal and humble citizen of one Republic of Nigeria. I know that you might be more preoccupied than every other citizen of this country but I am thinking you are yet to understand well the situation of things in the nation. And what pains me most is that your Excellency has very few members of your crew who really are ready to help out matters in the present circumstance. However, I must state that you are not the cause of the Nigerian problem, but the right heir of a disorganized system.
His Excellency, I will not only blame you for your errors but I will also propose what could make your tenure a successful one. As you rightly know that the major problem of Nigeria is security, I must then say that there are situations that only when they are resolved the nation will know peace. However, I would not want to advice you on the matters of policy keeping and employment creation for you are surely aware they are necessities that every nation must redress.
Permit me to say that the techniques applied till now on the matters of crime fighting in Nigeria have not yielded enough fruit for reasons that are very simple. In one of our last article, “Why neither FBI nor CIA might be able to help Nigeria resolve her security problem” We were trying to show why the differences in the duration of time necessary for the discovery of an author of a terrorist attack from one country to the other. His Excellence, it occurs to me very often to ask myself why we spend huge amount of money buying helicopters and arms to fight those we do not know their identity? Do your security advisers ask themselves why proves of robbery and other crimes serve less in the identification of their perpetrators? How can one prove that a man whose birth was not registered and who has no electoral card exist? What does a finger print left on a dead body serve to the police who have no digital record of the citizens? How do you determine that a man declared death is dead in a country where there is no death registration? How can you know a citizen in a country where there is till now no National Identification Card? Does it occur to His Excellency that these are the secrets behind crime fighting? How many telephone numbers has an average Nigerian? How could the police trace a caller in a country where millions of telephone numbers are not registered and are changed as clothes? Mr President, should I continue to mention the irregularities that mar the work of security agencies in Nigeria, it will never be exhausted.
All these and other related problems are the reasons that permit all sorts of evil in Nigeria, ranging from robbery, kidnapping, bombing and so on. And as long as there is no new redress of the system, there will be no progress in crime fighting.
Though I know it will take much to change the mentality of the people; though it might need many years of sensitization, I think it is a sin non qua non to crime fighting. Mr President, you might not be understood as you start this crusade but I think the nation need to be identified. We need to register all new born babies obligatorily, we need to declare every death that occur in the nation, we need to have citizens that move about with their identity cards; citizens that identify themselves to the police at necessary checking points. We need a country where the security agencies have dignity, a place where they know their duties and rights.
Finally, I would advise you, as a loyal and humble citizen of Nigeria, to be man enough to assume your office as the President elect of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. You should forget some of your friend who are not helping out matters in the building of the nation; you should abandon some outdated individuals who continue hunting your tenure. Call it your duty to make a history or tarnish the image of the nation by remaining inactive and insensible to the national plight. Thanks Mr President as you make the best decision of your tenure in listening or not listening to this plea.
Yours faithful and humble citizen

Published in:

''The truth might be hard to say, painful to bear or even drastic for the truth sayer but still needed to be said''. ALISON.

Cry My Beloved Country, Articles | THISDAY LIVE By

Cry My Beloved Country, Articles | THISDAY LIVE
 Many have come to a conclusion according to which the nation instead of progressing is seriously moving to its damnation . Some false patriots call such men who refuse to bow down to unnecesary glorification of an unprogressing State non patriots. But I am thinking that there is a cause for a national reflection on which way forward. This is exactly what Dele Momodu is proposing in the this beautiful article that make a potrait of a decaying nation.
Fellow Nigerians, I’m in one of those foul moods and please don’t blame me if I choose to spoil your day a little. Recent events have made it impossible for me not to be angry. Some ardent readers of this column recently described my apparent frustration with the Nigerian state. They are right in their interpretation and assessment of my intermittent outbursts on this page. Every right-thinking, and truly patriotic, Nigerian should be worried about our state of anomy and abject backwardness and, as a matter of utmost urgency, join others in rescuing what God created to be one of the greatest nations on earth. I believe we were not created to be led by a set of ruthless, recklessly wasteful and incompetent leaders. But the way we have been conducting our affairs seems to suggest otherwise. The manner we allow government to trample on our fundamental human rights calls for general
Let me start with what should have been a simple and straight-forward matter, the arrest and detention of a popular Nigerian actor, Babatunde Omidina, alias
Baba Suwe, who was booked to fly to Paris, France, when he was stopped for a routine body scan by officers of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency. According to reports, the result from the scanner showed very clearly that the talented comedian had buried within his belly many wraps of an illicit substance suspected to be cocaine. The news was as unexpected just as it was most shocking. Until that fateful night, Baba Suwe was a folk hero. He was a god of Yoruba drama who was worshipped at home and abroad. He was supposed to be on his way to Paris and was booked to be the compere at the naming ceremony of the child of an Air France staff in Paris when his ordeal started like a horror movie. That was the beginning of this incredible tragi-comedy.

All hell has broken loose since then. I didn’t know Nigerians were such great fiction writers. The superlative tales that poured out of the decadent Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos made me wonder why we have not produced our own Sidney Sheldon or James Hardley Chase since all these years. I read some incredible pieces on the internet and on Blackberry in particular. A broadcast on Blackberry on October 14, reported: “Just confirmed from NDLEA that as at 3pm, Baba Suwe had excreted 16 wraps of Cocaine. Scanner machine confirms more drug substance in his stomach.” Even Alfred Hitchcock would have marvelled at the delivery of such suspense. There was also a comic side to this report: “Unconfirmed Report from NDLEA Maternity Ward! Cocaine! Celebrate with us Baba Suwe is reported to have excreted 16 pallets of cocaine”
Yet another one wrote: “…Baba Suwe 16 wraps ‘cocaine’ delivery, NDLEA insists cocaine examination results inconclusive. Baba Suwe formerly known as Adimeru would now wish to be addressed as Ajesara. All former documents remain valid.” The same reporter returned later to write that NDLEA said Baba Suwe had excreted only twice in six days and there was a minimum number of excretions a suspect must make to fulfil all righteousness, or fail so woefully, which was three times. After the man had excreted three times, a new theory emerged that he would have to do it six times as some of his predecessors started delivering their babies by the fourth push after falling into labour. It was not stated if they needed any epidural support.

Somewhere in between this melodrama, some newspapers interviewed several Nigerians on their view of Baba Suwe’s tribulation. The responses were as varied as they were instructive. While some sympathised with him, most of the respondents convicted him with automatic alacrity. Some even said Nemesis had caught up with him. Some of the most vociferous voices were those of his actors’ clan. They claimed they had always suspected him of augmenting his income from acting by engaging in such illegal business. The rumour-mongers even linked the earlier death of his wife to this type of hanky-panky. There were those who blew hot and cold air at the same time. They couldn’t make up their minds on whether to support or reject him. Such is the fall of man. Only success breeds many friends and families. Baba’s Suwe’s cataclysmic fall from the pinnacle of the temple to the pit of hell was the classic definition of adversity.

In the midst of this sensational hullabaloo, Baba Suwe was wasting away in detention with no reasonable justification about why the NDLEA should have such monstrous power to hold our citizens, or anyone for that matter, beyond the mandatory time span stipulated by the Nigerian Constitution. If after one week the NDLEA’s investigation has remained inconclusive, the NDLEA should have gone to court to seek permission to detain Baba Suwe further. In fact, the Agency should have done that before attempting to detain the man indefinitely. The manner NDLEA chose to celebrate the arrest so gleefully as if it had a cast-iron proof of his culpability was most unfortunate. For me, this is the crux of the matter.
Fellow Nigerians, I chose to cry out today because it seems we are not ready to do away with the jackboot mentality in our country. In a civilian dispensation, Nigerians continue to be harassed by military and paramilitary agents. I have never seen an airport swarming with all manner of uniformed and plain-clothed agents like it is in ours. It makes a trip to the country very cumbersome and suffocating. In one airport, you are at the mercy of Health protection officers, NDLEA, Quarantine, State Security Service, Immigration, Customs & Excise, etcetera.
The biggest victims of too much protocol at our airports are media practitioners. The moment you fill media or Journalist under the profession column on the immigration form, you are likely to face a barrage of questions from the State Security Service. Your documents would be searched with a toothcomb. On one occasion a female officer was being over-efficient as she looked through my Nigerian passport. She handed me a form and insisted I must fill it. I looked at other passengers to see if they had filled any forms and discovered to my utter consternation none had been handed a form.
The unimpressed lady stood her ground and told me in a very firm voice, “Oga, you are a VIP and must fill a form.” If I thought it was a poor joke, the lady refused to release my passport and I also refused to fill an illegal form. Some senior officers had to step in to rescue my dear old passport from this stubborn officer. I politely reminded the officer that since I’m still a Nigerian, I did not have to fill a form. Depending on who you meet at our hellish airport, a simple journey can be turned into a nightmare.
We’ve witnessed so many instances where some members of the armed forces unleashed terror on fellow citizens in order to settle personal scores. A friend’s wife recently lost her pregnancy in the hands of some Naval officers in Calabar for daring to enter into an argument with them. Instead of showing some remorse these supernatural guys are still carrying on with the intimidation of the hapless lady’s family. Let’s even buy their argument that the lady provoked them to high heavens, is that enough reason to beat her into a pulp and stupor?
Have we lost our sense of mercy and compassion?
The essence of my epistle today is to encourage our citizens to rise up vigorously against all manner of kangaroo justice. No matter what you want to say about the Boko Haram sect, we must all admit that the Nigerian state has created a terrible menace by summarily killing their leader. That stupid and erratic decision has put the lives of so many Nigerians and foreigners at risk. It was the same foolishness that gave birth to militancy in the Niger Delta. Ken Saro-Wiwa did not carry a gun when he and others were killed and buried like common criminals. What was our reward? A strange crop of militants who would not speak big grammar and write beautiful prose like Ken descended on our land with a vengeance. Before our very eyes, the Niger-Delta was turned into a theatre of war. And we soon realised that in Nigeria, the gun is mightier than the pen.

The big lesson in it is that the arbitrariness of our leaders must be resisted and curbed. Every Nigerian must be allowed a say. Every Nigerian must be protected under the laws of Nigeria. Even certified criminals must be given access to their lawyers. A situation where a man is arrested on mere suspicion and cannot be allowed to brief his lawyer is totally reprehensible and unacceptable. We cannot continue to pronounce Democracy in words only and not in action.
I’m sure it took the arrest of Baba Suwe to bring our attention to this unfortunate matter. Only God knows how many passengers have gone through this ordeal, how many passed the test, how many failed and how long they spent before they were released. In the cases of those who were heavily scandalised before they were released, as the case at hand about Baba Suwe is likely to turn out, what compensation was awarded to the victims? How would a Baba Suwe be able to clean up his name and image if he’s found to be free of drug trafficking?
I know why I’m asking these questions. It is because I know for a fact that Immigration officers at many advanced airports now have easy access to Google. It is certain that an alarm would flash wherever the passport of Baba Suwe turns up. Those who are laughing at this matter and over-dramatizing it don’t seem to know the big trouble awaiting Baba Suwe whenever he walks out into freedom. If indeed he carried the drug as suspected by NDLEA, then deserves whatever degradation he has suffered. But if he’s innocent, his life would have been damaged beyond redemption. He will carry that heavy Cross forever.
What a pity!
As I was ending this piece reports flew in again that NDLEA has finally done what it should have done since last week. The agency has gone to court to ask for permission to detain Baba Suwe in its custody for another 15 days. But what I find curious is the argument that the man will die if he does not excrete this expensive drug. Is it possible for a man to control this act? If his life is in such danger, are we going to watch the man die?
Someone should please educate me…


''The truth might be hard to say, painful to bear or even drastic for the truth sayer but still needed to be said''. ALISON.