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Current Affairs Analysis

ON MY JOURNEY TO GOD: LEARNING THE LESSONS LIFE SERVED ME (Part 2)

ON MY JOURNEY TO GOD: LEARNING THE LESSONS THAT LIFE SERVED ME (Part 2)

I began this by telling the story of the events leading up to my mom getting shot by armed robbers on the streets of Lagos.

We found that the bullet had snapped her spine clean and she instantly became a paraplegic. Maybe not instantly, as I am sure the multitude of “Good Samaritans” that came to her aid helped her on the path to paralysis in no small measure.
After she parked the car by the side of Adelabu Street to pick us up from school on that busy Lagos afternoon my mom heard a coarse voice that bellowed, “Madam get out of the car.”

You see my dad had just bought her a brand new Peugeot 505 2.0 sedan. In the mid to late 80s that car was “da bomb”. To me right now it looks like an antique that got blown out of the 2nd World War French Resistance but back then I felt it was KITT in the Knight Rider.

And I obviously wasn’t alone in thinking that as most armed robbers in Lagos probably thought same.

As she spun round to assess what gave the speaker the temerity to ask her out of her car she saw a gun pointed at her.
Immediately she said, “Take the car but please let me take my child first.” My last brother, Kenechi, who was 3 years old at the time was right behind with his classmate from Madonna Nursery School, Ufanette.

The robber had an accomplice, and while he was patient with my mom as she tried to pull the kids out of the car the accomplice was not. He pulled his gun and shot point blank at my mom. The first bullet missed her by inches but in either an inebriated or anxious state, or maybe just because he was demon possessed, this guy shot again and the bullet went through her neck.
As she dropped to the ground the first robber shouted, “You have killed her!!”

They tossed my mom out, as well as the 3 year old boys who had just experienced the most traumatic day they probably would ever have in their lives. Then they got into the car and drove down Adelabu Street towards Ogunlana Drive. They had done less than 30 meters before the car stopped them. The car had a demobilizer and my mom had turned it on when she parked the car.

They got down a few meters after the NEPA office and then opened fire on a man driving past in his Volkswagen Santana. I guess they killed him instantly but then they threw his body in the trunk of the car and drove off with him with an irate mob hot on their tails. With a few more shots in the air they made their escape.

Several other people rushed around my mom and grabbed her from the floor, all bloodied, and rushed her into a vehicle. I can imagine they only meant well but as there were no emergency services they, in their bid to save her life, must have broken her spine irreparably while trying in their overzealousness to pick her up.

I remember when my dad came back from his trip with his driver bringing him in from work. As he opened the door with a normal delighted demeanor at seeing his kids the expression changed to intense confusion as all of us had words tumbling out our mouths in a cacophony of cries.
He leapt back and before we could say anything we saw him jump into his car and shoot out of the compound as Mama Obiora, a neighbor of ours, and Aunty Ethel (Ufanette’s mum) who was another neighbor of ours almost tumbled out of the car as they frantically tried to join him.

He went off and we didn’t see him till very late at night. Family friends of ours, the Nnochiris, came to pick us up. Uche was my elder brother’s friend and agemate, Ezinne was my agemate, and the last kid was Kachi Nnochiri; I think he was my kid brother’s agemate.
Shortly after, young children that we were, we forgot our mother and played with Uche and Ezinne till late. We were getting ready to go to bed when Uche’s dad told us we couldn’t pass the night as our dad had come and insisted on taking us back home.

We cried but knew it wouldn’t change anything as my dad would never let us sleep outside the house under any circumstances (the first time I went on any sort of vacation without my parents and siblings was just after Secondary School).
He took us back home and woke up early in the morning to bathe everyone of us and take us to school.
He did this everyday for the next week or so.
I remember waking up and walking out into the sitting room. It was very dark, but I could tell from the digital table clock that the time was 4:00am.
My dad was sitting down with nothing but his towel wrapped around his waist.

He was looking down at the floor. I could see him crying because the limited light from the electrical appliances that were switched off and the digital clock had cast on him so I could make out that he was sobbing. He didn’t see me until I came close. When he saw me he carried me till I fell asleep and then returned me to my bed.

It was later in the week that my mom’s kid sister came. Aunty Uzoyibo became for many years my second mom.
She left her education and all to move in with us and take care of us while my mom was taken to Frankfurt, Germany for further treatment.

Say what you may about Ibrahim Babangida, the former “military president” of Nigeria, but I will not forget how my dad told me he gave him the sum of 50,000 Deutsche Marks to help him offset the cost of keeping her in one of the best hospitals in Europe.

Medicine didn’t do much though, as after a year plus she came back paralyzed and completely unable to move anything from her neck down.
The doctors in Germany put a pacemaker in her chest and said to her, “Sorry you will never be able to walk again.”

After my mom got shot things went south really fast. It didn’t help that earlier that same year I was involved in a life defining motor accident. A few months before my mom’s incident.

I remember I was at home watching T.V with my younger ones. I even remember what was on T.V- Robin Hood.
It was showing on NTA 2 Channel 5 (unlike the present satellite and cable T.V generation we were spoilt for choice with a grand total of 4 extremely exciting stations in the aforementioned Channel 5, NTA Channel 10, NTA Channel 7 Ikeja, and Lagos Television/Lagos Weekend Television. 3 of them were as exciting as watching paint dry).

On this eventful day, the water suddenly stopped running out our taps at home and so momsie had to make contingency plans.

My elder brother, Chiagor, and our domestic aide, a Togolese girl named Nonusi (I think that’s the spelling) went across the road to get water.

Our house at Nnobi Street, Ikate, Surulere, was adjacent to “Franca Fashions”, a boutique which was owned by a lady who my mom was friendly with.

So they went to get the water and I wanted to go with them. My mom said no. I sat down on my chair sulking, but as soon as she went into the kitchen that thing that said it will not rest till it finished me said to me, “This is your chance. Go now.”

And so I ran out the door and across the road till I got to where my brother was getting water. The maid had gone and so I rushed to get mine. The moment I had filled my little Jerry can I made to run back home but my brother said, “No, don’t go anywhere, wait for me.”
But once again that thing that brought me out against my mom’s instruction wanted to complete its work and so I disregarded what my elder brother said and made to run across the road as I left the compound of “Franca Fashions” on Nnobi Street.

Halfway through the journey across the road after miscalculating the distance from oncoming vehicles I was slammed into by a commercial (danfo) bus. As it hit me and my little 9 year old head smashed the windscreen I got tossed under this bus that dragged me under it for well over 10 meters.

When they had pulled me out from under the bus my green T shirt and shorts were ripped open and blood red. The gash on the side of my head exposed my skull.
There was no way a 9 year old could have survived that. But I did
I was told my brother dropped his Jerry Can and ran home screaming, “My brother is dead. They have killed my brother.”

As I write now and relive those incidents (mine and my mother’s accidents) tears are welling up in my eyes.

I am told that the moment bystanders dragged me out from under the vehicle all I kept saying was “Jesus I don’t want to die”. ”
I kept saying it over and over until I fell into unconsciousness.

I was 9 years old.

Anyway, my mom heard the unintelligible things my brother said in his delirious state and after looking for me in the sitting room where I was meant to be with my siblings she saw I wasn’t there and so ran out into the street…just in time to see them dragging my bloodied body out from under the danfo.

She collapsed on the road fainting immediately.

(to be continued)

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Current Affairs Analysis

ON MY JOURNEY TO GOD: LEARNING THE LESSONS LIFE SERVED ME

ON MY JOURNEY TO GOD: LEARNING THE LESSONS THAT LIFE SERVED ME (Part 1)

Growing up I was not a religious person.

My father visited our family church, St. Saviors Church close to Tafawa Balewa Square, on occasion, and it was our mom who usually drove us from our home in Surulere to Lagos Island on Sunday mornings.

She would take us all, the Ken Emechebe offspring, and ferry us off to church while Ken Emechebe himself would recline on the sofa reading his weekend papers.

I detested that drive and I remember telling him, when I was no older than 7 years of age, that I didn’t want to go to church.

I remember what his rejoinder was.

In effect it was a quip that basically meant I would need to grow up and be an adult before I could stop going to church.

That response convinced me that going to church was not a rational and grown up thing to do, so I decided to bide my time and ride it out as I was sure I would be an adult soon enough. “Maybe in 3 years time” I told myself.

We moved church to Chapel of the Healing Cross in Idi-Araba, and I gave up on going to the children’s church and stayed listening to the Rev. Olaitan, the vicar of the church, even when I wasn’t listening to too much of what he was saying.

Life happened shortly after that and something that altered my family came with it. My class at the time in Fountain Nursery and Primary School was a Primary 4 class and it had a vantage position where it overlooked the main road of Adelabu street.
One afternoon, when parents and drivers had come at the close of school and were all parking at the space outside the school walls my classmates and I suddenly saw a huge crowd running and instinctively we knew what it was.

This was Lagos in the 80s. That sort of movement only meant one thing.

We spoke among ourselves in class and groans of “All these armed robbers and their wickedness, when will Babangida deal with them finally? Only God knows who they have killed now.”

As we looked out the window, I saw my teacher Mrs. Nwandiko looking with us. Shortly after, another member of staff who I cannot remember now walked up to the door of our class and beckoned on Mrs. Nwandiko, she went to her and whispered something in her ear. Almost immediately, my teacher’s face contorted in an eclectic mixture of horror, pain and grief as she let out an inaudible scream.

She bent over and held a wall to steady herself. When she had straightened herself out she walked straight to me. As I saw her approach I wondered what I had done, as I peered with fear into her oncoming face my fear left as I saw she didn’t have any anger etched on her face, but the fear was soon replaced by a deep sense of unease and worry as I saw the streaks of tears running down her cheeks and her expression of deep concern.

She gently led me by the hand to the office of the Headmistress, Mrs. Olaitan. As I walked in I saw my other siblings in her office. The only person who wasn’t there was my kid brother who was in Madonna Nursery School at the time.

Another parent, we later learnt his name was Mr. Sanni, took us on the short drive to our house on Nnobi Street. We were wondering why it wasn’t our mum or the driver that came to pick us up.
As each of us glanced at ourselves and engaged in soliloquy and Mr. Sanni turned off into Agbonyin Street on our way home he stopped to exchange pleasantries with another motorist who was another Fountain parent.

As her eyes alighted on the back seat she saw us and asked, “Are these not Uzo’s children?”
“Yes they are”, Mr. Sanni replied, and then he continued in a shocking level of callousness that instantly eclipsed his previously congenial and warm disposition, “she just got shot by armed robbers.”

The collective consternation that erupted in the car is better imagined…..

(To be continued)

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Current Affairs Analysis Infomation News

DONALD TRUMP’S STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS AND DANGEROUS RED LINES

The late Nobel Prize winner and political economist Thomas Schelling is said to have noted 2 critical things in international politics and diplomacy- “Threats when they fail and promises when they succeed.”

In his recent State of the Union address I was particularly interested in what President Donald Trump had to say about U.S foreign policy and how it affected internal security interests, and so naturally I was interested in what he had to say about North Korea.
I heard Trump say North Korea will not be allowed to develop a nuclear weapon.

Now considering the fact that Pyongyang under the uncontrollable tyrant Kim Jong Un is said to be just 3 months from having nuclear weapons President Trump will either already have a strategy to stop that or risk losing credibility and looking like a fool when North Korea crosses the red line in exactly the same way Bashar Assad made President Obama look really weak and stupid when he crossed and recrossed the chemical weapons red line.

Kim Jong Un has shown he isn’t someone to be pushed around. He has shown he has a similarly thin skin and is not willing to let any sort of attacks against him go without a response- sometimes just adequate, most other times disproportionate.

I am trying to wrap my head around exactly how President Donald Trump intends to handle this conundrum.

Another thing that caught my attention was his statement on Pakistan and the funds his administration will withhold from them. To be clear, the U.S does not owe Pakistan but only sends aid to the country and has done so since at least two years after Pakistan was founded in 1949.

Between 1951 and 2011 the United States has committed more than $67 billion to Pakistan and they have done so for a variety of reasons that underscore Pakistan’s strategic importance.

For starters, Pakistan borders Afghanistan (where US is fighting a 17 year war), Iran (which is both traditionally anti-American and a major player in the Middle East), China (America’s biggest trade partner BUT also its biggest rival), and India (an American ally and the biggest democracy on earth).

Secondly, Pakistan provides access to Central, West, and South Asia – three of the most critical regions for world peace.

Number three, Pakistan is one of the most populous countries on Earth.

Number four, Pakistan is very unstable and incidentally combines this instability with being a nuclear power.
By financing Pakistan, the US influences who runs it and essentially keeps it from becoming another Afghanistan.

IMAGINE WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF A TALIBANESQUE GOVERNMENT TAKES OVER PAKISTAN.

Now, with this cut in Pakistani funding it has increased the prospects of this country that is a state sponsor of terrorism trying to further destabilise the region by increasing hostility towards India, fomenting more crises in Afghanistan, and a tactical tilt towards Iran.
None of the above is good news for the United States, but even worse news is the fact that Pakistan will do more deals with and depend more on China which is America’s direct rival in practically everything presently.

Trump’s “America First” policy has given China a mindboggling advantage on the global scale and pushing the likes of Pakistan into the hands of China is not very strategic.

China has spread its web across the globe. Only recently speculations were rife that China planted secret mics and other espionage equipment in the African Union headquarters a Chinese company built in Addis Ababa.
They have their fingers in pies across the Middle East, Asia, and Africa and the foreign policy of the Trump administration is likely to only make it even moreso.

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Current Affairs Analysis Infomation motivational

COMMUNICATION: 5 STEPS TO BETTER COMMUNICATION IN MARRIAGE

5 STEPS TO BETTER COMMUNICATION

STEP 1
TAKE OUT TIME FOR EACH OTHER:
Time must be invested in any relationship that will work.
Time, although a highly expendable resource, is an invaluable one.

We usually exchange our time for what we place value on.

If you are on a 9-5 you exchange those work hours for a salary at the end of the day or month. So, invariably you are paid for your time, and your worth to your organization is determined by how much your time added value to them and the attainment of their objectives.
So in a sense we can say “Time is life”. If this is true then it is true that I cannot claim to commit my life to someone if I cannot commit my time to her, and the truth is that I will never get to know who I do not spend time with. 

If I really want to have a productive relationship with my beloved I will need to have unhindered communication with her, and if I am going to have that sort of unfettered communication I must first know her, I must know her thoughts and be accustomed to the vibes she emits.
There is no way I can know this if I do not spend time with her.
The first step to better communication and a relationship that works is- make out time for each other.

STEP 2
BE RESPONSIBLE FOR COMMUNICATING YOUR THOUGHTS & FEELINGS:

Clearly express your thoughts yourself.

This is a critical point and is not one that can just be wished away. 
Do not say things like “she should have known what I meant” or “we’ve been together long enough for him to know what was on my mind.”
As romantic and appealing as some of that sounds we need to understand that the responsibility for communicating our thoughts, feelings, and emotions is no other’s.

Take responsibility for saying and expressing exactly what you mean.

I cannot underscore this point enough because if I tried to tell you how many times I have seen people trying to shift the responsibility for conveying their message to those that are meant to be recipients of the message I probably would lose count.

STEP 3
REALIZE THE DIFFERENCE IN PERCEPTIONS:

Every human being is different. We all have different mindsets, personalities, and orientations, and in order to have meaningful conversations and communication with others we must put this into consideration.
 Do not condemn the other person for being different; rather put yourself in a position where you can understand and utilize this difference. Most times others see things about us and in us that we ordinarily are unable to see ourselves. So don’t be the sort of person whose attitude always seems to say “It’s either my way or the highway”.

Realize that views are meant to be complimentary as no one person sees everything he/she needs to know at every point in time.

STEP 4
BE AN ATTENTIVE LISTENER: 

There are three different ways to listen while someone is talking to you. 

These ways are attentive listening, passive listening, and selective listening.

* ATTENTIVE LISTENING :- In this sort of listening full and maximum attention is given to the speaker. When you listen attentively you put your whole being into receiving the message the speaker is trying to pass across to you.
This is the most effective type of listening but it is also the one that demands the highest amount of effort.  It takes practice, patience, and respect for the other party to get yourself to the position where you listen attentively to them every time.
A person that listens attentively will always hear.

* PASSIVE LISTENING:- This sort of listening implies listening to what is spoken yet not necessarily tuning in to it. Let me say it this way- looking is to seeing what listening is to hearing. 
So it is not everything you look at that you see, in the same way it isn’t everything you listen to that you hear. Passive listening is listening without hearing; it is a situation where a person listens without paying attention and so ends up missing the message.
An example of passive listening could be when a man’s wife is talking to him during a football game or some other thing that has his full attention; he could be listening to her without hearing anything she would be saying because his full attention would be on his game.

* SELECTIVE LISTENING:- This type of listening is what happens when a person gets to hear only what he/she wants to hear. 
There are those circumstances and situations where some people either listen only to get points to fortify their positions or listen to get ammunition they can use to attack others; now you do not want to be in that position if you genuinely intend to have good communication and a fruitful and productive relationship.

STEP 5
CONFIRM WHAT YOU HEAR:

The final step to better communication is to confirm what you hear.

As much as it is the other party’s responsibility to pass across their thoughts and feelings it is also important that you confirm what you think you have heard.
This is because there are many cases where there is a disconnect between the sender and the receiver of the message and this disconnect is seen in the message being transmitted.

I will explain this by breaking down a typical communication process.

Let us take a look at the 6 steps in a typical communication process-
(a) First of all is what the sender of the message intends to say
(b) Second is what he/she eventually says
(c) Third is what the recipient hears
(d) Fourth is what he/she makes out of what they heard
(e) Fifth is what the recipient decides to say in response
(f) Sixth is what the recipient eventually says

Now when we take a look at the process above it becomes clear why there can be so many potential land mines in what should ordinarily be a simple and straightforward dialogue; but most times it is anything but straightforward and it is for this reason we must confirm everything we hear.

So, before you respond you need to ask- “Excuse me, is this by any chance what you intended to pass across?” or “Is so and so what you meant when you said so and so?”

This makes life much easier for everyone. 

I trust you learnt something through this whole series.
Click on our other articles, read them, comment and ask questions, and share this site with everyone you know.

Cheers and God bless you

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Current Affairs Analysis Infomation motivational

COMMUNICATION IN MARRIAGE: 3 OBSTACLES TO EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION

We began this series talking about Communication.

In an earlier episode we defined the term and spoke about the various carriers of communication.
Having identified them, and having resolved that Communication is the lifeblood of a successful relationship we will in this Instalment speak about the hindrances to effective communication.

There are 3 Obstacles to Effective Communication

LACK OF TRUTHFULNESS:- Marriage is built on trust.
Trust is easily one of the most important factors in successful and effective relationships; once there is a breakdown of trust there will be no openness and this will make the communication process strained and laborious.

Now there can be no trust if there is no truthfulness. Trust is the first casualty in duplicity and a lack of honesty.
So each time trust is violated a new impediment to an otherwise fruitful relationship would have been introduced. 

Most people will evaluate others and decide how much to open themselves to them using a mental frame of reference and appraisal that is mostly contingent on either their past experiences with the individual in question or with people the individual reminds them of. 
So Miss A is inclined to relate with Mr. B either on the basis of the outcome of their past interactions or of her interactions with Mr. C who happens to look like Mr. B or come from the same place as he does or sound like him, and so on.
Now if those interactions are anything but memorable a lack of trust would immediately become an inhibition to further communication.

This happens even in already established relationships.

If a spouse is economical with the truth while dealing with the other and it turns out that the other eventually discovers it would be an issue because trust would have been violated, and where trust is violated the free flow of communication will be hindered.

Most of us have either seen or been in a circumstance where trust was violated.
It could be someone who betrayed your trust or possibly someone whose trust you betrayed; it could be someone you are dating who is yet to recover from the hurts of the past relationships and so transfers the aggression to you, or it could be you who has chosen not to move ahead from the trauma of past infidelities.
Whichever way it is the point still remains that a violation of trust hinders free flowing communication.

MISMANAGING CONFLICT:-

Conflicts are inevitable in marriage.

I wish I could say this a million times over until it gets stuck in your head and subconscious.

There is no way two people of different genders with different backgrounds, and in most cases conflicting or divergent interests, will not have friction and disagreements.

The good thing about it is that if the conflict is channelled properly it will end up leading to better relationships. Bad conflicts mess everything up because they end up turning attention to what should not be given attention.

When conflicts are mismanaged they make us focus on the person rather than the problem. When we do not manage conflicts properly we try to fix the person and not the problem.
This sort of thing will inevitably lead to the next obstacle to effective communication.

DEFENSIVENESS:- The first law of nature is Self-Preservation.
Many people give into the law of self-preservation and defend/protect themselves, and they would naturally do so if they felt they were being attacked.

 Most people are prone to not accepting wrongdoing when they are attacked.

So it’s a two way street here; if you want honest and productive communication with your spouse or your intended you need to learn how not to come across as though you are on the attack.

Even if someone has done something wrong you want to put yourself in a position where you can address the issue without making it look like you are on some sort of mission to take the other person out.

And on the other hand if you are the one that seems to have done something untoward you need to swallow your pride, admit your faults, and ask for forgiveness. 
It really will not take anything out of you but will instead boost your relationship and enhance your communication with your loved one.

Okay, so let’s take a look at how we can solve these hindrances. If you read between the lines I am confident you must have gotten some points that will help in sorting the issues out, however,we can glean a little more from what we read and develop a course of action to help take out those hindrances.

HANDLING A LACK OF TRUTHFULNESS
How can we handle a lack of truthfulness in our relationships? We will speak from two dimensions here.

First of all, let’s say you are the one that has violated trust, so how do you handle it?
For starters you need to be truthful about your commitment to the relationship. If you really love the other person then you want to keep them at all costs, and if you do not then there is no need to keep putting the person in a position where you will cause him or her pain.
Kindly note that what I have just said above does not cover you if you are already married. If you are already married to that man or woman then you must keep your commitment, you cannot just get up one day and say you aren’t committed to them anymore. It should never work like that.

And if you are not yet married but decide you are committed to this person and will want to take it to a logical conclusion after you have already violated trust or you are already married and acquiesce to the fact that you must make it work the only way you will be able to do that is swallow your pride and own up to what you did in the past.

Depending on the character and mental strength of your spouse or intended you may have to be eclectic in picking the details of your past discrepancies.
You don’t want to go into unnecessary details if the other person cannot handle it.
You don’t want to tell her the most minute details of your
indiscretions with several other women if she does not have a personality that can handle it.
You don’t want to tell him how your boss held you or what position you took while he had his way with you.

You must take responsibility for what happened and go over how it happened to the extent that you and your spouse can work together to plug the holes in a bid to ensure the occurrence is not repeated.
And after you have done that you will need to make a commitment to ensuring it doesn’t happen again and then take the further step of being accountable to your spouse.

Now if the reverse is the case and the other party has violated your trust you will need to FIRST forgive them. After you have done so you must decide whether both of you are committed to the relationship. If you are and if the other party is repentant for what they did you will need to work on re-establishing that trust.
One way you will not be able to re-establish it is to keep reminding him/her what they did to you at every turn. You will only push them further away.
The way to do it is to make them feel they can trust you enough to tell what their issues are at anytime.
After forgiving you must reassure the other party and make them see you are not going be victimizing anyone.

This is imperative to get everything back on track.

HANDLING A MISMANAGEMENT OF CONFLICTS
If encounters have gone South between both of you and you see that you have allowed your disagreements become crises you can remedy the situation by dialogue.
This dialogue is to find out what stimuli provoke you both and end up making you lose the lessons you should get from the friction.
You want to be sure that it’s not just destructive friction and a toxic environment you generate when you have disagreements, and if that is the case then maybe you are just not compatible (We will be treating “Compatibility” in a later article) and you may need to part ways.
If it just is not working and try as you might you are unable to pass your message across or get the other party’s message objectively then you might just need to call it quits.
If you are already married then I can only tell you that as long as that conflict does not degenerate to any form of abuse you must work on it, and even when it does lead to abuse a separation should only be considered when it becomes physical.

HANDLING DEFENSIVENESS
The first thing to do here is take responsibility. If you are involved in deflecting blame or abdicating responsibility you will only end up causing a festering of problems.
No one will get an award for winning an argument. You might even have noticed that if you are inclined to winning arguments even when you are wrong you have won several of them and afterwards looked at yourself and asked yourself what you have gained.
You might intimidate your spouse/intended through your verbosity or eloquence, or if you are the loquacious type you run them off course by talking nineteen to the dozen, but afterwards you scratch your head and wonder why you have a sense of defeat on the inside even though you were victorious in the argument.

You need to understand the maxim “live and let live”.
You need to always remember that in a marriage relationship it is more important to be in agreement than it is to be right.

We will continue later with the last Instalment of this “Communucation” series.

If you have any questions or comments please feel free to use the comments section.
Then go read the other articles on this blog and share the site with your friends and loved ones.

Cheers and God bless

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Current Affairs Analysis

SWIMMING AGAINST THE TIDE: A PRACTICAL LOOK AT HOW PARTS OF CULTURE IMPEDE NIGERIA

In the two installments of the article- “Swimming Against the Tide: How Society determines our behavior and how to buck the trend” we established the fact that society and culture can shape the values, and by extension the behavior of its members.

We then went further to give the technical definitions of each of the Dimensions in Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions Theory and to note the scores of some countries, in the framework we used for the analysis. 

Now I want us to see the practical implications of these for Nigeria.
Where the article mentioned above was basically descriptive this one will be more germane because we will be applying these thoughts in a much more relevant manner.

After applying them we will see why we must deliberately manage culture so we can accomplish what we want in the building of a better society and we will see why we must take very seriously the process of selecting those we allow to lead us.

Beyond the first impression we get when we hear the word “culture” (which usually evokes thoughts of our tribal affiliations) we need to realise there are other vistas the word alludes to and these include-
Domestic Culture, Organizational Culture, Societal Culture, National Culture and so on. 

Now it is imperative that we realize all these different types of culture are set by leadership. 
I cannot underscore the above point enough.

All types of culture are set and determined by leadership.

Think about this for instance; there are tribal practices that are transmitted from generation to generation and very few people ask how those traditions were developed in the first instance. What many have not considered is that much of what we have come to refer to as our culture today is usually the aggregate of the personal preferences of communal leaders from generations past.
One person’s preference for plump women for instance could have been traded to his son who would also trade it to his until it becomes a custom to have fattening rooms where brides are first sent before the marriage is consummated. And these things could happen without recourse to the preference or understanding of the recipients; young men who intend to get married in such communities could just find themselves saying “That’s the way it’s always been here, I don’t know why but I will just have to do what my forebears have done.”
Such people then invariably give in to what society expects of them; expectations that in many cases began with either one or just a handful of people.

It is the same thing with other forms of culture. I have seen dress codes in entire organizations determined by the personal preferences of the Chief Executives. Some people even go as far as deliberately looking and talking like some of these Executives, particularly if they are such as inspire confidence, respect, and admiration in those that follow them.
For this reason more than any other as much as lies within our power we must be deliberate in picking who leads us because it is that choice that will determine which sort of culture will influence us.

In Hofstede’s “Cultural Dimensions Theory” we find 6 Dimensions through which we can assess and understand the impact of a society on the values and behavior of its members. Geert Hofstede delineated the Power Distance Index, the Individualism vs Collectivism Index, the Uncertainty Avoidance Index, the Masculinity vs Femininity Index, the Long-Term Orientation vs Short-Term Orientation Index, and the Indulgence vs Restraint Index as the 6 Dimensions for cross-cultural communication and through which we can measure the effects of societies on their members.
The highest score on each dimension is 120 and the lowest 0.

Now let us take a practical look at how these Dimensions affect us, particularly in Nigeria, and how we can ensure we fight the trend to take us backward.

When I think of the Power Distance Index (PDI) and try to relate it to Nigeria I shake my head at how we have allowed the absence of values set our national culture.
A simple explanation of the PDI is it is an index that measures how the lower members of society expect and accept that power is unevenly distributed. 
It simply assesses how much of a gap there is between social classes and how those that make up the lower reaches of these classes relate to inequality in society.
If the PDI is high then it means that the members of lower classes accept and even actively enforce the fact that there are those that are “superior” to or ahead of them in society, but if the PDI is low then it implies that the members of lower classes reject that those in higher classes are either superior to or ahead of them.

Nigeria has a score of 80 and the U.S has a score of 40 for instance. This is why in Nigeria it is taken for granted that a person who was born before you, or has more money than you do, or has a political position over you, or is your leader at church or work is “superior” to you.
In Western societies with much lower scores such thoughts are unacceptable.
This is why you will find scenarios where a young lady will refer to another person who is old enough to be her mother by her first name (anathema to the average African). 
It is for this reason that you will find the average Yoruba man in Nigeria prostrate when greeting an elder, but the average Westerner will take the elder by his hand in a handshake, look him in the eye and ask “How are you?” sometimes with a tap on the back or on the head.
Having grown up in Nigeria I cannot forget the shock I felt when I first witnessed the above in the United States.
But its the culture. 

Part of the reason why this is so in very practical terms is a variety of reasons top of which is the degree of the sense of entitlement members of a society have.
The level of education, exposure, and mindset concerning the rights of members of a society will determine to a large extent what the score on the PDI will be for varying societies.
In a place where over half of the people live under the poverty line most people will not be as interested in challenging decisions of government as they would be in deifying those who dole out stipends to them to curry favor and votes.
In a place like Nigeria where politicians capitalise on the poverty level to use bags of rice and salt to buy votes the PDI level will be high, but in a place like the United States where the State is required by law to take care of its weaker members there is a greater sense of entitlement and providing basic amenities is not as revered as in places like Nigeria.

Another point here is to realise that most of those societies that are high on the PDI Scale are societies that have equalizers inbuilt in them. By equalizers I mean factors that most establish social equilibrium.
One such equalizer that a country like the U.S has is the fact that it is a nation of immigrants. Anyone who is not a Native American is an immigrant or the descendant of an immigrant. Now most Americans know this and are conscious of it so there is a sense of entitlement they have. The thought is something like “why does he have to lord it over me? Afterall we are all equal”

This fact is embodied in the Bill of Rights.
It is part of the Culture.

As we have said previously there are different types of culture and these are all set by leadership. Unfortunately in Nigeria on a national scale we have allowed men of base values who are bereft of honor set the values thus establishing the national culture. It no more is about how much integrity a person has or how knowledgeable a person is, it’s now more like how much money a person has or what position he occupies in government. Not many people seem to be interested in how the person gets the money or the position.

I have witnessed the angst people in a country like the United Kingdom feel when it appears their elected representatives depict an insular attitude or show in any way that they are more privileged than those that elected them to represent them.
I have heard from British voters who vote against a candidate they once voted for because he employed a driver.

One told me “who does he think he is employing a chauffeur to take him around, does he think he is better than the rest of us?”
I have been in the London Subway and seen MPs (Members of Parliament) riding the train. I understand that even the Prime Minister rides the train as well.
I saw David Cameron riding in a 2 or 3 car convoy when he was P.M, just like I saw Gordon Brown before him.

But in Nigeria, because of the national culture as seen in the PDI score not just political office holders, but even those still trying to woo voters to stand behind them, and every Tom, Dick, and Harry, will drive in large convoys terrorising hapless road users.
It is in Nigeria that we can find career politicians who have no relevance and make no contributions outside the corridors of power.
Simplicity is something totally alien to most political officeholders.

Everything is about a show of force.

It’s only animals that behave that way.

If you were nurtured in a society where the PDI score is high and you find that you have the tendency to make much of the hierarchical structure in such societies and boss people around or enforce the social stratification obtainable there you must now realize you need to embrace simplicity while you are in positions of power and authority and buck the trend of oppressive and strongman leadership.
The position is not an end in itself, it is simply a tool for service, and as leaders the people whom we serve must not be made to feel like outsiders or inferior.
That is not the way to effective leadership.

Another dimension Hofstede gave is the Individualism vs Collectivism Index (IDV). This measures in a society the extent of integration by its members into and their involvement in in-groups. 
When the score of a society is high on the IDV scale it means it is individualistic and when it is low it is collectivist.
Most Western countries are individualistic and most African, Middle Eastern and Latin American countries are collectivist.
Nigeria has a score of 30 and this indicates it is a collectivist society.

Collectivist societies have many benefits, but when they are not managed properly can also present problems and disadvantages.

We find that in collectivist societies there is a greater tendency that more consideration is given to tribal affiliations and clannish connections than to most other factors. The challenge is that in most areas of national or community life where the grade is low (indicating it is a collectivist society) merit tends to be sacrificed on the altar of mediocrity because clannish thinking is the norm.
In a place like Nigeria where loyalty is more towards tribal and ethnic nationalism than towards many other considerations we find that it is not unusual for people to be asked what their surnames are or where they come from before they get employed or promoted.
This is more often than not the bane of such societies.
Nepotism becomes prevalent, and this more often than not opens the door to corruption.
If you are prone to such bigotry you must deliberately fight it. Most people do not understand the utter evils of tribalism and racism.
We won’t get into that today, but suffice it to say that one must buck that trend if one finds one is clannish.

The next dimension is the Long-Term Orientation vs Short-Term Orientation Index (LTO). As you can see the terms are self-explanatory and highly descriptive. So the questions here are basically about whether the society adopts a long-term or a short-term approach in planning and execution. 
Societies with a high degree in this index (long-term) are pragmatic societies who rather than being uncomfortable with societal change and treating it with suspicion hold to generating innovations in the long term and being pragmatic with problem solving.  Societies with a low degree here (short-term) are normative societies who are mainly traditional and are usually uncomfortable with change.
Such societies tend to be comfortable with what they are used to and do not deliberately institutionalize the pursuit of innovations. 

Imagine China with a score of 118 over 120.

You take a look at all they do and realize they are very long term oriented in their thinking. 
When a Chinese man goes to the West to visit or school he usually is not going there for mere pleasure, more often than not he would be going there to see what knowledge he can gain so he can take back to his country to implement.
The Chinese have a long term plan for virtually every sector of society. 
Looking at China’s rise in science since at least 2002 we see that China is the second largest producer of scientific papers after the United States and 4 factors have been stipulated to favor China’s continued rise and eventual dominance in global science: a large population and human capital base, a labor market favoring academic meritocracy, a large diaspora of Chinese-origin scientists, and a centralized government willing to invest in science.
They invest in science and technology and have a selection process for picking the best potential scientists from their infancy, they then place them in facilities deliberately equipped to groom them to become world class scientists.

It’s the same thing in sports. Take gymnastics for instance- At the London Olympics in the summer of 2012 China came second in the Olympic Table after racking up an astonishing 88 medals- 38 of which were gold. 
An academy called the Ningjin Acrobatics School was founded in 1959 deliberately for the purpose of developing world class gymnasts. Most of the students at the Academy begin as early as 4 years of age and start training with the hope they will be recruited into the national team.

In Nanning there is another sports school that has just one word hung on its walls- “GOLD” 
As a Daily Mail correspondent said “Charges are often taught by rote that their mission in life is to beat the Americans and all-comers to the top of the podium.”

There are many such sports schools and academies in China designed to ensure they keep churning out world class athletes.
 
In basketball China is playing out a 100 year plan for global dominance that has already started producing results half-way into it. The likes of Yao Ming, Wang Zhizhi, Yi Jianlian and Sun Yue are notable basketball stars in China and the U.S, with Yao Ming in particular, the former 7 foot 7 inch center  for the Houston Rockets being the poster boy for the new wave of Chinese basketball superstars.
In a book titled “Operation Yao Ming”, author Brook Larmer said the Chinese government convinced Yao’s parents, both basketball players and fitness experts, to get married so they would produce a world class athlete. After this Yao was given special treatment to enable him become one of the best basketball players.
It is this concerted effort with a long term agenda that we find consistently in practically everything the Chinese do.

Now let us contrast this with our beloved Nigeria; with a score of 13 over the maximum 120 we have a clear measurement of how ephemeral the decisions we take are and the mindset of impermanence employed by policy makers and “leaders of thought”.
Both at the Federal and State levels we find this same short-termism in practically everything. Billions of naira are spent to undertake and flag off projects by each administration and at the expiration of the tenure we find situations where successor administrations come in and either abandon them completely or go further to dismantle what has already been put in place.
All these at the cost of the taxpayers.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) based in France, had, in a study aimed at ranking the world’s cities most exposed to coastal flooding, revealed that Lagos was at the risk of being submerged in the next 50 years. The sea levels have risen far beyond the projected 20 centimeters especially with the melting of polar caps in the North and South poles, and not much seems to have been done to effect a change in this pattern.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has projected a conservative rise in ocean levels of 65 cm by the year 2100 and this has since been adjusted to over 100cm. Yet in Nigeria there does not seem to be concrete data on the amount of rainfall that has caused the recent deluges in Lagos and there is insufficient knowledge as to what can catalyze the estimated forecast.
This is just where we find ourselves in Nigeria. Short Term thinking in practically everything.
And it is this sort of mindset that pervades much of our decisions and our decision making process. 

Another Dimension is the Indulgence vs Restraint Index (IND).
This basically measures how much a society invests in pleasure and is comfort driven.
With a score of 84 in Nigeria we come quite high and this is evidenced by the manner in which the average Nigerian spends money and what he or she spends it on.
A society that is given to ostentation and status symbols is prone to throwing money around very easily and throwing that money around on trivialities.
Not many can forget “projects” like FESTAC 77 that added very little value in human capacity development or the building of any other resource.
There are places in Nigeria where it is almost customary to borrow money to host parties that are not for the celebration of any occasion.
People will hire cars, suits, and regalia to put on a show even when there is absolutely no need for that.
When any society has more pleasure spots than learning and development centers it is more the rule than the exception for very little of significance to come out of such a society. In fact it is anomalous for anything of relevance to come out from it, and for this reason we must learn the virtue of temperance, delaying self-gratification. 
In Nigeria the prevalent mindset is one of gratification without production, while strong and virile societies put production before gratification. 
There is much work to do to change this, but it can be done, make no mistake about that. 

The next dimension in the Cultural Dimensions Theory is the Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI). This refers to the extent to which members of a culture or society are uncomfortable with unknown or inexplicable circumstances/situations and how their  belief systems and religious/cultural institutions either avoid or handle these situations. It also refers to how a society deals with unexpected outcomes.
Societies that score a high degree in this index have stiff codes of conduct, guidelines, and laws. They rely on the premise that one truth explains everything that exists and there is no room for relativism.
A lower degree in this index shows a society that imposes fewer regulations and is more accepting of divergent thoughts/ideas. 
So what this shows is that countries high in this Index are usually more religious and superstitious than those who are low in it and those who are low in the Index seem to be more liberal and tolerant of divergent views.
Although not as high as a lot of Middle Eastern and Latin American countries Nigeria is nonetheless still marginally high with a score of 55 on the UAI.
Not as high as it once was it would seem a hybrid of liberalization, modernization, and westernization has begun to make its mark as the Nigerian society, though still largely superstitious, is not as superstitious as it used to be. 
Then when we think about how we handle unexpected outcomes we can take the case of the water levels rising and the potential submerging of coastal cities like Lagos as an example. In a place like Nigeria we will have housing development and real estate people building more housing units in the same areas that are flood prone and even building them over water canals and drainage systems. We are likely not to have a care about climate change as everything is in God’s hands and we will somehow be protected from the forecasted submerging.
That is just the mentality we have in a place like Nigeria.
And this is the mentality we must change. 

We can change our country if we will first work on changing ourselves one person at a time. Then we must demand for the right type of leaders to set our culture.

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Current Affairs Analysis Infomation motivational

SWIMMING AGAINST THE TIDE: HOW SOCIETY DETERMINES OUR BEHAVIOR, AND HOW TO BUCK THE TREND (Part II)

We began this series by speaking about the effects of culture on behavior and how to buck the trend if the behavior isn’t favorable.

We spoke about Geert Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions Theory and began to use it as a framework for analysis. We explored the 6 Dimensions and looked at 4 of them with some depth while I promised we would settle on the Power Distance Index, at least a little more than we did the others.

So we will begin this second Instalment by looking at the next Dimension before we settle on the PDI.

Indulgence vs. Restraint Index (IND) is the dimension that measures happiness and whether or not simple joys are fulfilled. It is the extent to which people try to control their appetites, desires and impulses. Indulgence is defined as “a society that allows relatively free gratification of basic and natural human desires related to enjoying life and having fun,” while Restraint is defined as “a society that controls gratification of needs and regulates it by means of strict social norms.” 
Indulgence scores are highest in Latin America, parts of Africa, the Anglo world and Nordic Europe; restraint is mostly found in East Asia, Eastern Europe and the Muslim world.
Nigeria’s score here of 84 is really high. 
People in societies classified by a high level of Indulgence generally exhibit a high level of willingness to satisfy their impulses and appetites with regard to their enjoyment of life. They are usually more optimistic about life and put premium on leisure and pleasure and as a result are not restrained from spending money as they please.
This is obviously the basis on which Nigerians were once called the happiest people on earth, but there is a big downside to the score on this dimension. Any society or individual that places gratification ahead of production or leisure ahead of work will stagnate at best and will in all likelihood retrogress in almost unquantifiable proportions.
The fixation on pleasure is what is responsible for the expending of large sums on frivolities and the constant frittering away of the collective patrimony on private and temporary interests rather than capital projects that will benefit the generality of people it is meant for.
In societies and countries like Nigeria that score high on this dimension consumerism and not production is the economic culture that is pervasive. This is very unfortunate because nobody gets rich by spending more than he produces.
So if you are an indigene of or resident in such a society you need to be deliberate in your resolve not to give in to the mentality of indulgence if you want to do anything meaningful with your life.
Temperance (the ability to delay gratification) is a discipline that becomes all the more important for an achiever who lives in any culture high in this dimension.

As we don’t have all the time to do a critical assessment of all 6 dimensions we will select one and use it in an exhaustive analysis of societal behavior, see how it affects us, and how to stop the tide from keeping us at a disadvantage.

Let’s analyze the Power Distance Index-
This dimension deals with the fact that all individuals in societies are not equal and expresses/evaluates the attitudes of the various cultures in different societies towards these inequalities.
A higher degree of the Power Distance Index indicates that hierarchy is clearly established, social classifications on the basis of all indices of power (political power, economic power, religious power etc) are set and these standards are enforced in society, without doubt or reason. 
A lower degree of the Index signifies that the majority questions authority and attempts to distribute power to attain equality.
Such societies are generally more rebellious to authority.
In this dimension, inequality and power are both perceived from and measured by the followers, or the lower level. 

West Africa has an average score of 77, Nigeria in particular has a score of 80, and the Arab world has a score of 80, which means that in all the aforementioned places people accept a hierarchical order in which everybody has a place and which needs no further justification. Hierarchy in an organization is seen as reflecting inherent qualities, centralization is popular, and subordinates expect to be told what to do. In this environment the ideal boss is a benevolent autocrat. 

While the Power Distance Index shows very high scores for Latin and Asian countries, African areas and the Arab world, the Anglo and Germanic countries, on the other hand, have a lower power distance (only 11 for Austria and 18 for Denmark).
The  United States has a 40 which is low compared to Guatemala (where the power distance is very high at 95) but still much higher than Israel where it is very low (13), so the United States is closer to the middle.
In Europe, power distance tends to be lower in northern countries and higher in southern and eastern parts: for example, 68 in Poland and 57 for Spain vs. 31 for Sweden and 35 for the United Kingdom.

America’s Power Distance Index is what causes it to want to unseat every “dictator” in the Middle East. By viewing the world through their lens they assume they are doing Iraq and all the other Islamic countries there a favor by 
 removing their leaders and instituting a form of government where accountability is given premium.
On the flip side, it becomes clearer why autocracy and tyranny seem to thrive in places like Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. The Power Distance Index is much higher in places like the aforementioned because the culture is such that a hierarchical structure is very clearly defined.

Note the following statements very carefully:-
This is why the level of respect shown to elders and parents by western youth is inappropriate and even completely unthinkable to others. 
This is why, as far as many others are concerned, western women have very little understanding of and respect for the place and role of their husbands as the heads of their families.
It happens all the time; a young lady addressing people thirty years older than she is, people probably older than her parents, by their first names.
A young man challenging the authority of those that have been placed above him and even getting to the point of fighting them.

Israel has a Power Distance Index of 13. That is very low.
Most analysts and commentators speak favorably of something very common with Israeli culture- the concept of “chutzpah.” 
Chutzpah is audacity, temerity and flagrant boldness. Overriding confidence that does or says things in such a way that is shocking to others. 
Reading a very good book like the “Start Up Nation”, a lot of emphasis is placed on the concept and on how integral it is to the progress Israel has made as a modern state.
Every instruction is questioned to the letter, not for the sake of merely being rebellious but with the understanding that instructions that have no explanations do not help in building systems and processes that can be replicated.
The downside of the authoritarian manner children are raised in Africa to obey without questioning is that morale and initiative are likely to be low, the good thing though is that a measure of discipline and respect for authority is inevitable. However it would be much more productive if people understood how to strike a balance between both.
We must learn not to view all cases of subordinates questioning instructions as attempts to undermine our authority as superiors; no doubt there will always be rebellious people but the demigod status many leaders (political, institutional/organizational, religious, traditional etc) adopt in Africa leads to more rather than less rebellion, and the reason is quite simple really- human nature is such that repression only drives dissent underground where it foments and gains more steam.
But if leaders can engage their subordinates more often in a climate that is devoid of fear and any acrimony it will create the potential for a greater buy-in and thus multiply the loyalty of the subordinates as it increases their commitment to the cause. Good leaders know this, and the great ones have developed consummate skill in applying it.

Take a look again at all the 6 Dimensions and see where you will need to buck the trend.

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Current Affairs Analysis

SWIMMING AGAINST THE TIDE: HOW SOCIETY DETERMINES OUR BEHAVIOR, AND HOW TO BUCK THE TREND

SWIMMING AGAINST THE TIDE: HOW SOCIETY DETERMINES OUR BEHAVIOR, AND HOW TO BUCK THE TREND

Different societies, just like different individuals, have different ways they view and relate with the world. It’s the concept of the colored sunglasses at play. 
We tend to view the world not the way it is but the way we are; and it is this view of the world that determines our aspirations, prejudices, and patterns of behavior. It is this view that determines how we interact with our world. 
When we think of the foreign policies of nations and how they interact with other nations it becomes apparent that just like it is a determinant of how individuals interact it also is of how nations interact.
How often have we seen situations like this- 
The United States invades Iraq to “liberate” the country and “enthrone democracy.” Afterwards the U.S President declares “Mission Accomplished”; but except that mission was to throw Iraq into a series of intractable crises that has caused a regression of monumental proportions it is anything but accomplished. 
The above is just one case out of a plethora of interventions that have been a demonstration of Western foreign policy in other climes and cultures. 
The U.S foreign policy in particular is premised on what it believes the rules of engagement with other nations should be. In most cases a determining factor in these rules of engagement is what they think is good for other countries.

This has led to failed attempts by Western countries to impose on others and several of those other countries to adopt what they think will be an improvement on their cultures and methods of administration, and this has produced Asian, African, and Middle Eastern kids who sag their jeans, eat McDonald’s lunches, and listen to the likes of Rick Ross and Jay Z.
This has led to attempts at implementing in Gulf States and Africa a Western brand of democracy, and these attempts are made without recourse to the unique circumstances and conditions of different societies. So we try to copy what was not designed for us and we fail.
We fail because we do not appreciate that the things we try to adopt were tailor made for those we try to copy them from.
We fail because we do not understand that people groups behave differently and this behavior leads us to create models that best suit our uniqueness. What may work for one may not necessarily work for another.

So why do people behave the way they do? Why are certain types of behavior prevalent in certain places and why are these behavior types as well as different perspectives unique to different cultures?

The purpose of this article is to first highlight the fact that culture is a major factor in determining how individuals and nations relate with themselves and others, both positively and negatively. And then we will veer into using this to understand how we can ensure we do not let our immediate environments hinder us from attaining what we have the potential to.

There is an interesting theory propounded  by a man named Geert Hofstede.
He is responsible for what is called the “Cultural Dimensions Theory”; it is a framework for cross-cultural communication and it very expertly describes the effects of a society’s culture on the values of its members, and how these values relate to behavior, using a structure derived from factor analysis. 
The theory proposes six dimensions along which cultural values could be analyzed: individualism-collectivism; uncertainty avoidance; power distance (strength of social hierarchy), masculinity-femininity (task orientation versus person-orientation), long-term orientation versus short-term orientation,and indulgence versus self-restraint.

Now, I will crave your indulgence and ask that you please follow me as this article is extremely important in understanding your behavior and how to change the trajectory if it is heading the wrong way. I will do my utmost to ensure it is not technical and that it is easy to understand.
Let’s run through each of these six dimensions-

Power Distance Index (PDI) deals with the fact that all individuals in societies are not equal and thus it expresses the attitude of the culture towards these inequalities amongst us.
Power Distance Index is defined as “the extent to which the less powerful members of institutions, organizations, communities, societies, and countries expect and accept that power is distributed unequally.”
So the PDI is essentially the way different societies cope with inequality.  We will explain this in full detail and use it as a framework for understanding the subject matter of this discourse later.

Individualism vs. Collectivism Index (IDV) explores the “degree to which people in a society are integrated into groups.” 
The core objective of this dimension is the measurement of the degree of interdependence a society maintains over its members.
Individualistic societies have loose ties that often only cover nuclear families and relate an individual to his/her immediate family. This dimension evaluates whether people’s self-image is measured in terms of “I” or “we.” 
 Collectivism on the other hand describes a society in which tightly-integrated relationships tie extended families and even go beyond those to bind kinsmen into in-groups. Now these in-groups place a very high premium on loyalty, this loyalty overrides even societal rules and regulations and leads to a position where each member is required to take care of and support each other when a conflict arises with another group.
In collectivist societies offense leads to shame and loss of face, while employer/employee relationships tend to be viewed in moral terms just like in family settings. Then the hiring and promotion of individuals in the workplace tend to take into account the nature and composition of the employee’s in-group as well as his position in it. 
So it is not uncommon to see within collectivist societies that the families and communities a person is a part of are taken into account on an equal footing with his qualifications.
The danger here is that a clannish mentality or paradigm might be deployed where it should not and this would lead to nepotism and not meritocracy.

North America and Europe can be considered as individualistic with relatively high scores (an 80 for Canada and 91 points for the United States show they are highly individualistic societies). In contrast, Asia, Africa and Latin America have strongly collectivist values: Colombia scores only 13 points on the IDV scale and Indonesia 14. Nigeria with 30 points is more individualistic and is not as collectivist as Guatemala with 6 points, yet is far more collectivist than Western countries.

When we see this scale it becomes clear to us that some societies are more community oriented than others while others are more individualistic.

We understand for example how Nigerians have a tendency to shift their loyalties to their ethnic nationalities and how this trend must be deliberately fought against and resisted if significant progress will be made in any society, community, family or organization.
We also see how behavior patterns vary and how these can affect how people interface with each other. Think about marriage for instance.
A man who picks a bride from a Northern European or North American culture is not likely to have the same level of scrutiny and invasion of privacy as one who picks a bride from the Middle East, Africa, or Latin America. In the same vein the person who picks a wife from a more collectivist society is more likely to have access to a communal social support system than one who picks a wife from a more individualistic society. They are more likely to have more people empathizing with and supporting them than the couple from a more individualistic culture.

Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI)  is defined as “a society’s tolerance for ambiguity.” It measures how people either embrace or avert something unexpected or unknown; it evaluates the extent to which societies either accept or repel from an occurrence or event that is not consistent with the status quo. The question here would be something like this- “since we cannot know the future in certain terms should we try to control the future or should we just go with the flow and sing ‘Que. sera sera, whatever will be will be..?'”
So this refers to the extent to which members of a culture feel threatened by ambiguous or unknown circumstances/situations and have created beliefs and institutions in a bid to either avoid or handle them.
As one writer has put it “Societies that score a high degree in this index opt for stiff codes of behavior, guidelines, laws, and generally rely on absolute Truth, or the belief that one lone Truth dictates everything and people know what it is. A lower degree in this index shows more acceptance of differing thoughts/ideas. Society tends to impose fewer regulations, ambiguity is more accustomed to, and the environment is more free-flowing.”
Uncertainty avoidance scores are the highest in Latin American countries, Southern and Eastern Europe countries, Japan, and certain parts of Africa. Nigeria scores a 55 on the UAI scale, but the results are much lower for Anglo and Nordic countries.
So this explains why a country like Nigeria is not that open to divergent ideas that are not in consonance with the prevalent moral thought and traditions.
This shows us why Western European and North American countries are more pliant in their belief systems and are not as religious as Africans, Asians and Latin Americans.

Masculinity vs. Femininity Index (MAS) defines masculinity as “a preference in society for achievement, heroism, assertiveness and material rewards for success,” while femininity refers to  “a preference for cooperation, modesty, caring for the weak and quality of life.” People in the respective societies tend to display different values. 
A high score on this dimension is referred to as masculine while a low score is referred to as feminine.
A high score indicates that the society is driven by hard work, competition, achievements, and success- and success will be defined by who comes out tops or is best placed through school and up to the organizations he/she works in.  A low score indicates that what is most important in that society is quality of life and care for others. 
In feminine societies, both men and women are primed to share modest and caring views. But in more masculine societies, women are more emphatic and competitive, even though less emphatic than men. Invariably, in masculine societies people still recognize a gap between male and female values.
The fundamental difference in both societies is what motivates people between wanting to be the best at what you do (masculinity) and liking what you do (femininity)
Masculinity is extremely low in Nordic countries. Norway scores 8 and Sweden only 5. In contrast, Masculinity is very high in Japan (95), and in European countries like Hungary, Austria and Switzerland influenced by German culture. In the Anglo world, masculinity scores are relatively high with 66 for the United Kingdom for example. Latin countries present contrasting scores: for example Venezuela has a 73-point score whereas Chile’s is only 28. Africa is generally high, and Nigeria’s score on this scale is 60; this makes it a masculine society. And such a society is work oriented with a requirement for managers to be assertive, firm, and decisive because the emphasis is on competition and performance. 

Long-Term Orientation vs. Short-Term Orientation Index (LTO) evaluates the connection of the past with the present and assesses how past practices influence future actions or challenges. 
This dimension evaluates how every culture must maintain links with its past while dealing with the challenges of the present and future. A lower degree in this index (short-term) points at normative societies where traditions are honored and kept, mostly to the detriment of innovations. Societies with a high degree in this index (long-term) are pragmatic societies who instead of holding societal change with suspicion in the way the normative societies do view the ability to adapt and be pragmatic in problem-solving as a necessity. They plan in advance and mostly engage in a tactic called “reverse problem-solving” by anticipating future challenges and developing solutions to them even before they come up.
Traditions are usually only of as much value to them as how much they help the society evolve and develop contextually and circumstantially.
Research has shown that a poor country that is short-term oriented usually has little to no economic development, while long-term oriented countries continue to develop.
High long term orientation scores are typically found in East Asia, with China having 118, Hong Kong 96 and Japan 88. They are moderate in Eastern and Western Europe, and low in many parts of the Muslim world, Africa and Latin America. 

Nigeria has an abysmal score of 13 which shows it is normative with a high inclination to tradition and a small propensity to save and plan for the future.
Think about that, with a score of 13 it is now perfectly understandable why a whole country with over 180 million citizens does not have accurate data to plan with. With a rating like that on such a critical score it is now understandable when one sees the amount of mediocrity that has pervaded the different strata of leadership in Nigeria, and it is apparent that short-termism  is something to fight against if you are a Nigerian that wants to buck the trend.

We will continue this in another Instalment.

See you then.

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Current Affairs Analysis Infomation

WHAT HATE SPEECH IS NOT

WHAT HATE SPEECH IS NOT

This will be a very simple and straight to the point kind of article.
Considering that this Blog is essentially a life class module we will delve into something that is a bit discordant even though it affects all who are Nigerians reading this.

The most important resource on earth is the human resource. As difficult as it is to deal with many human beings anyone who has a passion for and has worked in the field of human resource management and capacity building for any length of time will acquiesce to the fact that the most fulfilling thing on earth is making deposits in people and seeing them come good.
It is knowing you have actually been instrumental in the transformation of another individual.

 I have been involved professionally in human resource development for at least 15 years and I have had the opportunity to meet all sorts of people from all kinds of backgrounds. There are difficult ones, but there are many more good people. In fact, I can authoritatively state that there are good people from everywhere.
I have personally witnessed them.

For this reason I find people who are bigoted very parochial. Having grown up in the South-West Nigerian mega city of Lagos I have a lot of Yoruba friends and know a good proportion of Muslims, including from the North of Nigeria, although I am indigenously Igbo and a Christian from the South-East of Nigeria.
Understanding what I know now about the average human being I consider
anyone who judges a person on the basis of what he cannot change a malevolent and divisive bigot.

No decent or reasonable person castigates a person over what he or she cannot change.
It is for this reason that the most myopic and disgusting people are racists, tribalists, misogynists and the like.
All those that use social stratification and differences in social phenomena to quell their insecurities by claiming false superiority are the most base of humanity.

YOU DO NOT JUDGE OR CONDEMN ANYONE, ESPECIALLY OVER WHAT A PERSON CANNOT CHANGE…
And these include Race, Tribe, Gender, Physical Deformities and so on.

Although I have not added religion or “sexual orientation” to that list I believe nobody has the right to condemn anyone else over anything at all, including the aforementioned two. 
But the reason I have not put them in the category above is not because people should be condemned for either of them but because I believe religion and sexual orientation are both personal choices (I know some will not agree with me and if a person feels a homosexual urge or other form of sexual perversion like sexual attractions to children, animals or corpses it is pure perversion and can be handled should they choose to have it handled) and a person can change either.

I will get back to the above later.

Having pointed out my disdain for those who are critical of others for the sake of it, and those who antagonize others over what they cannot change I want to make a very clear point here- I do criticise. 

But what I criticise is institutions. 
Unfortunately there are those who think it is hate speech to do so.

On his return from an extended medical leave in the United Kingdom the Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, was rushed on set to read the Riot Act to millions of Nigerians who eagerly waited some sort of communication from their President. He came on and true to script (the script of some individuals and not the script of the masses) admonished Nigerians to toe the path of unity and promised that those who questioned this path would be summarily dealt with.
He understandably said Nigeria’s unity was non-negotiable.
No reasonable Nigerian would expect him to say anything less, but considering the intensity of the acrimonious tide that has bathed the country thus far it would have been advisable to have drawn a distinction between “negotiable” and “debatable”.

The Federal Government seems to have placed a blanket ban on any sort of speech that is critical to the government of the country as well as anything it views to be even remotely inimical to the unity of the country.
There are some who also share the view that any sort of criticism (whether constructive or destructive) against the government or against any institution is “hate speech”.

I earlier said I criticize institutions. 
Institutions do not mean only government. Let me explain.

I criticise the contradictions and extremist tendencies of religions when they put people’s lives or their way of life at risk, for instance like some elements in Islam, but I acknowledge there are many very good people who are Muslims. 
I will NEVER condemn anyone merely for the faith he chooses to practice, particularly when it does not affect the liberties of others.

I support people’s rights to their actions (as long as they harm no other person) although I may not support some of those actions. For instance, while I respect people’s rights to their sexual preference and will never condemn anyone on that basis I still will never support any such lifestyle.
Anyone has the right to find his/her sexual satisfaction in anything as long as it does not disturb another.
I will not begrudge you that right although I am convinced it is NOT a right but a wrong.
Just because it might be legal doesn’t make it moral.
I believe there is a moral code put in the conscience of every human being to guide him in the right direction.
Borrowing a leaf from God I respect people’s rights to their lifestyles although I might not approve of that lifestyle.
A person has a right to be an atheist or freethinker, a homosexual or bisexual, or any other thing they might want but I also have a right not to support that lifestyle.
Like I said earlier, God respects people’s rights and this is why He will not impose Himself on anyone. He wants everyone to know Him and willingly follow Him and although He knows not everyone will He still will not compel anyone to.
But the fact that He will allow people make up their minds to go to hell if they choose to does not mean He supports or endorses anyone going to hell. It is not His wish. But be that as it may it is still the way He works.
I like that style and have adopted it.
I will love people the way God loves them and always strive to make a distinction between the act and the actor.

My reservations and dislike are channelled towards institutions, lifestyles and systems, NEVER towards people.

I criticise atheism because it is a godless and soulless contraption that will spawn more tinder for hell. Although I consider that they are deluded and blind to the Truth I still love atheists and it is my desire to do what I can to help deliver them from the fires of perdition.

I love humanity, but I hate all things that attempt to deride and pervert humanity.
I hate oppression, injustice, deception, perversion, nepotism, inequity and all the evils I have elucidated above.
Especially when they are institutionalized. 

I will speak against them.
That is NOT hate speech….

I will speak about and demand better conditions of living and the need for everyone to come together and have a meeting to arrive at a unanimous decision for our collective destiny.
That is not hate speech.

I read a beautiful article by one Tayo Oke in a Nigerian daily (Punch Newspapers. September 5th, 2017) and I will put up some excerpts from it-

“The ruling elites in this country, with the quiescence of the mainstream media, fearful of the rising tide of demand for devolution of powers, have done the law-abiding citizens of this great country a great disservice by conflating legitimate political agitation, and ‘hate speech’…the Ministry of Information and Culture has since been airing advertisements on the horrors of ‘hate speech’…the premise upon which this benevolent ‘public information’ effort is based is seriously flawed, and is potentially dangerous. It is like a landlord who chooses to evict (rather than talk to) a recalcitrant tenant loaded with a gallon of petrol and a match in his hand.
What happens next to that house does not even bear thinking about for all concerned…..
Nigeria’s nationality question is not one of territory, but one of governability. It will remain (so) until it is resolved through a Sovereign National Conference of all ethnic affiliations, at the end of which the people would have spoken. 
That said, I am conscious of the fact that although it may well be shared by millions of others in the country, this is only one person’s view being set out here.
 It is equally important to acknowledge the fact that there may well be other equally large number of people with an interest in maintaining the status quo under the guise of ‘protecting Nigeria’s unity’. Others, still may wish to recreate their own latter day version of the Berlin Conference (the partitioning and slicing up of Nigeria into independent entities) here and now. If this is so, we need to hear the argument in either of these directions so it can be debunked. We cannot maintain Nigeria’s unity by stifling the voices of dissent, and hiding behind the nebulous epithet of ‘hate speech’…When a speech challenges authority and the status quo we baulk and sniff at its audacity and ‘divisiveness’. Why? Because that takes us into the realm of power and politics; the exclusive preserve of the ruling elites, or, so they think…
Contestation of ideas and controversy over who gets what, where and when do not amount to ‘hate speech’; it is the bread and butter of modern democratic politics. By putting a blanket ban on ‘hate speech’, the Nigerian establishment may be gathering for dinner on a powder keg. Apart from that, there is no gainsaying that any attempt to silence dissent would simply drive it underground. The police and other security agencies have been ordered to be on the lookout for perpetrators of ‘hate speech’…
For those who wish to use this to muzzle the quest for devolution of power in this country, I only wish they would heed Victor Hugo’s timeless aphorism: ‘There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world, and that is an idea whose time has come.'”

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THE CONCEPT OF DEJA VU (Part 2)

THE CONCEPT OF DEJA VU (Part II): OTHER “EXPLANATIONS”

We began this series on understanding the phenomenon of Deja Vu by pointing out the various potential explanations I heard a group of people giving over this phenomenon. 

We first defined Deja Vu, and one of the definitions we gave of it was- “…a feeling of familiarity that is brought about after the sensation that a person has been through the exact same sequence of things he is presently passing through.” And in the first installment we saw how the concepts of Monism and Pluralism fail to explain Deja Vu, because the best way to understand the world is through a dualist perspective. 
Another explanation proffered for the occurrence of Deja Vu in that group talk was the “Multiverse Theory”. 
Let us just give a brief overview of the multiverse thesis- from www.allaboutscience.org:-

“The multiverse concept is founded upon the idea that what we have hitherto considered to be ‘the universe’ is but a small component of a vast assemblage of universes. According to the multiverse thesis, each universe may differ with regards to their physical laws, in such a way that all conceivable constants and laws are represented in a universe somewhere. The hypothesis is intimately associated with the so-called Anthropic Principle, which states that our own existence acts as a selection principle determining which properties of the universe we can observe. That is to say, any observed properties of the universe which may at first seem to be astonishingly improbable can only be seen in their true perspective after we realize that other properties couldn’t be observed by us, since we can only observe properties of the universe which are conducive to our own existence. The Anthropic Principle is thus used by many people, often in conjunction with the Multiverse principle, to show why we shouldn’t be surprised at the astonishingly improbable fine-tuning of the universe for intelligent life…”

Let me pick it up from here. 
So the multiverse theory basically states that the universe we all live in is just one of many other universes, and all the things we observe in our universe are a result of a selection principle that makes us only able to take note of phenomena that apply to us as human beings. The implication is that there is really nothing that is ruled out because even if we are able to thoroughly explore this universe in which we belong we still will never know all there is to know because there are other universes running concurrently.

Now, the interesting little twist the people in that discussion group put into this was the thought that the multiverse was a number of many different universes all running simultaneously with different versions of the same individual existing and living parallel lives all at the same time. By way of illustration, let’s assume you are Mr. A and you obviously live on planet Earth in the Milky Way galaxy which is one of many galaxies in our universe, according to this theory you will have as many equivalents (different versions of you) as there are universes, and each version of you will be living out his life in a different and specific universe at the very same time. All of these supposed versions are connected in some way.
So they try to explain Deja Vu as recalling in your universe something that had happened to another version of you in another universe.

This sounds pretty nice and mystical except for some apparent flaws in that argument.

One of such flaws would of course be that as a scientific construct it falls flat against basic scientific procedure.

The same article continues- 
“Without a scientifically rigorous means by which such a multiverse concept can be tested, verified and falsified, the idea remains as but a conjecture — a fudge factor invoked merely to evade the apparent design of our cosmos. In addition, the idea suffers from a number of scientific difficulties and problems — but a handful of which are discussed herein. 
Whereas one knows that one universe exists, one does not — nor can — know whether more than one universe exists. Once observers exist in universe A, the theory of general relativity indicates that the space-time envelope of that universe can never overlap the space-time envelope of any other possibly existing universe. In other words, even if God made ten universes, we would forever lack the scientific means to detect any universe besides our own. The sample size of universes therefore is limited to one. Thus, the only rational option is that there exists only one universe and that God exquisitely designed the universe for the benefit of mankind.”

The scientific means to detect parallel universes does not exist so such a thought will remain at the level of speculation.

But I find that an even more rudimentary flaw in this argument is this- it will not be possible for different versions of an individual to live at the same time in different universes while having the same experiences happening simultaneously and still be able to have the memory of a certain experience that has happened to an equivalent in another universe. Strictly following the multiverse logic this argument will defeat itself because since you cannot have a memory of something that is either yet to happen or is presently happening it will make no sense to imply that a version of Mr. A would have done something in a parallel universe before another version of Mr. A does it in another universe if they are both meant to be occurring at the same time.
So, if we rule out the multiverse theory as being responsible for Deja Vu could there be other explanations?

Someone else came up with an intelligent presentation of what he believed was responsible for the Deja Vu phenomenon- Temporal Lobe Epilepsy.
According to Wikipedia “Temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) is a chronic disorder of the nervous system characterized by recurrent, unprovoked focal seizures that originate in the temporal lobe of the brain and last about one or two minutes. TLE is the most common form of epilepsy with focal seizures. People with TLE may experience simple partial seizures that only affect the temporal lobe or complex partial seizures that spread to other regions of the brain.”

One type of TLE is classified into simple partial seizures and complex partial seizures and among other things symptoms of simple partial seizures include amnesia and déjà Vu according to them.
Now all these sound nice and scientific but for one thing. 
I will explain what that thing is-
Arthur Funkhouser (PhD) has done over a period of years an in-depth study of and an extensive research into the concept of deja vu and made some interesting observations and classifications. 
Funkhouser states that there are three forms of déjà vu: déjà vecu, déjà senti, and déjà visite. 
“Déjà vecu is most similar to the widely acknowledged definition of déjà vu. It is the feeling that the present scenario has been experienced in the past – the details are identical and it is possible to predict what will happen next. While in the midst of déjà vecu, the detail of the experience is astounding, and the person is conscious that the present scenario conforms to their memory of it. Déjà senti is best described as an act of reminiscing, triggered by a thought or a voice. It is distinguished from déjà vecu by the following: 1. it is primarily a mental occurrence, 2. there are no existing precognitive aspects where the person has the ability to foretell an action and 3. it often times escapes the person’s memory afterwards.  Déjà visite, unlike the other forms of déjà, is overtly physical or geographical. The experience is associated with a location, familiar inanimate objects, or a particular situation. Commonly it is experienced as the feeling of a location seeming familiar, despite the fact that it is, in the present, a new experience. Furthermore, Funkhouser adds to the phenomena of déjà vu by mentioning that it is possible to experience the interplay of all three forms of déjà vu and other phenomena exist, which closely resemble this synthesis.”

Now, the most common type of deja Vu among the three listed by Funkhouser is déjà vecu. This one in addition to producing an awareness that the present being experienced has occurred previously also makes the person passing through the experience able to predict exactly what next would happen.
And this is where the flaw in the Temporal Lobe Epilepsy explanation shows up. 
How does a seizure, any type of seizure or mental/physiological condition,  enable a person predict, most times in the exact sequence, the nature and order of things that are about to follow?
In these cases we see they are not mere prognostications but actually predictions.
It just makes no sense to claim any physical or psychological ailment could be responsible for the ability of a human to foretell a set of actions or phenomena in the exact sequence especially when they have absolutely no or very little control over them.

And so I now offer my thoughts on what is responsible for the phenomenon of deja Vu.

Man is a very interesting creature. He transcends every other creature and even those that do not believe in Intelligent Design and the supernatural will readily assent to the fact that human beings are in a different class of being to animals in several respects.
Although materialists might scoff at this even when they clearly do not have the answers it is apparent that man has a deeper dimension of existence and reality than do animals.
Man is essentially a spirit being, he has a soul and he lives in a body. In the soul there lie the mind, emotions and willpower, but these are faculties that belong to the human spirit, and it is the human spirit that is the real man.
As a result of this all human beings, whether they know it or not, exist in a spiritual realm. It is the physical body that exists in time and changes with time, but time in and of itself does not change the human spirit; this is because the human spirit exists in a realm without calibration. The human spirit exists in the realm of eternity. As a result of this there are things the human spirit knows and information it is privy to that the human mind has no access to.
In fact, through my experiences and the studies I have done I have come to the conclusion that just like the body carries the DNA that carries the coding of everything in a person’s past with regard to where he is from the human spirit has a coding as a result of its connection with the unseen world that has everything in a person’s future and where he is going to.
In fact a portion of the Bible clearly highlights this-

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” 
Ecclesiastes 3:11 (New International Version)

The “human heart” the above scripture speaks of is the human spirit. The implication of this is everything that has to do with my future is coded in my spirit.
Now I am convinced that what we call déjà Vu is an occasional glimpse into what has already been deposited in the human spirit concerning certain things that are yet to happen. They seem to have happened because in eternity there is no past, present, or future; there is no five years ago or five years later in the spiritual realm. Invariably everything is an endless sea of “now”, so the human spirit has the tendency to treat everything as now. But when it occurs we have a feeling that this has happened before, because in a sense it already has.
So phenomena like these occur as windows are opened connecting  and the human spirit to the human mind and transmitting thoughts from the former to the latter.

This is what I am convinced is the explanation of the phenomenon of deja Vu.