Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Igbo Politics: The Struggle Against Orji Uzor Kalu's Cults And Demonic Gangsters

I have written long time ago in praise of Orji Uzor Kalu and Igbos political future, in which I expressed my profound gratitude. I was driven by Kalu’s “pragmatism” when the Fourth Republic came into being, and upon the course of the fate of Nd’Igbo, notably, a Biafran memorial museum, Biafran veterans who hanged around the motorways by Oji River begging for dimes to make ends meet, and a final resting place for Biafra war heroes. The struggle was arduous as Igbo politicians and related governors argued over what should be done to avoid complicating matters with Olusegun Obasanjo’s-led administration in an issue that had to do with Biafra.

It also had to do with a lost civil war, and that Igbos were getting back on a good political footing with Kalu’s no nonsense approach towards Igbo leadership and political future, which presumably should be handled with caution, in other words, diplomacy, to secure a final resting place for Biafran war heroes by way of a memorial.

The veterans, among a case load of Igbo problems, grand and small, weren’t an issue. The case of the Biafran war heroes and a memorial seemingly was the main issue when the gulf between Obasanjo and Igbo leaders began to surface on the premise Obasanjo, then head of state, and a civil war commander who bridged the gap resulting to armistice, coupled with leading a political party that was in power, had Igbo political leaders cornered to avoid a misinterpretation of the war and Biafran heroes which may be detrimental to a “new republic” that had been on a litmus test.

Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu had had sleepless nights when the idea of a Biafran war heroes and a memorial was not coming through based on the tactical debate which came along with it, with regards to a conflict of interest between Igbo related governors and Obasanjo. Specifically, the tactical debate was about where in particular should Biafra memorial be situated and which of the governors would be bold enough to pull the bull by the horn and take some action since the initial location at Uli had been backpedaled by Chinwoke Clement Mbadinuju of Anambra State. Apparently, there were none but Kalu who stood bold enough to scorn Obasanjo and take the heat, notwithstanding the fact he belonged to the same political party with the president, which probably could lead to disloyalty and violating party principles.

Kalu had thought about it and the ripple effect it might have on his political career; that is, if he okays a final resting place for Biafra war heroes in his home state of Abia. Eventually, Kalu made up his mind and Biafra war heroes were finally recognized by way of a memorial in Umuahia. Kalu had gained my respect doing that; and I had adored him, henceforth. I would be wrong in my assumption and Kalu would be full of it, not knowing a gangster and a demonic cultist had emerged.

But the case of Biafra war heroes was of concern to every Igbo – at home and in Diaspora – for historiography and the importance of the struggle for self-reliance, as in the Balkans, for posterity. As it happened, the hackles raised on the Biafran subject reflected much on the youngish intellectuals who founded Biafranigeriaworld –BNW -- and its sister related sites, which embarked on extensive to near exhaustive commentaries and analyses on keeping the Biafran struggle alive. The founders of BNW were adequately consulted to every move in establishing a resting place for Biafra war heroes. Kalu was part of the negotiations and a new born BNW backed him up based on his front as Igbo pragmatist.

Kalu’s life and stewardship to Abia State would turn out to a full blown Orwellian and Shakespearean drama, with mean spirited characters and tragic stories transcending the opening acts. But since the gangster-like operations initially in Umuahia, and especially with the revelations at the Okija Shrine and how Kalu orchestrated every deal at the oracle, so many among the deadly culthood under Kalu’s orders took different positions becoming obvious and impossible to tell where they will come out in any new situation because of a political switch for a bargain not too favorable to Abia citizenry.

The abomination and unbecoming conducts at the Okija Shrine and other related shrines where these shameless politicians had convened has triggered a whole series of heated debates among the pundits, about a questionable past election in which Kalu’s party, Progressive Peoples Alliance –PPA – won two gubernatorial seats from the seven Igbo related states; and thanks to Obasanjo who engineered every move in a rigged election never ever seen in the nation’s history.

There has been much discussion of the voodoo and what had been going on at the shrines in Okija and elsewhere. What is more disturbing about the Okija visits and invocation of agwuisi, is the nature from around which civilized people supposedly should have preferred a sound political order typical of organized societies than resorting to the spirits dancing in the flesh and witchcrafts, just for the purpose of attaining a public office by which they have pledged during the course of election campaigns to do their best and make their respective zones and states better, by way of providing "basic amenities," as proclaimed in their campaigns.

The Okija incident and other cases of abominable character may be opening our eyes, suggesting such a spooky, and demonic scenes had been an ongoing affair within the power structure of a so-called neo-democratic experiment; the power seekers and the ones that had already taken a grip to power; thus, the ability in a likewise position to dictate to would be power brokers on how democracy works in a “Nigeria” set up – ala, the legitimacy to voodoo and witchcraft in sustaining a viable and intact government – and what that actually means to a new kind of democracy which may also suggest visiting the shrines and swearing to “fetish oaths” makes these states in question viable and may no longer be viable the moment it stops visiting the shrines. It is the norm and accepted when the citizenry of these related states are not complaining, and not doing anything about it, practically.

“Governor” Theodore Ahamefule Orji of Abia State whose Okija visits was all over the news with more questions popping up, and a Youtube video of the governor seen in his underwear proved the governor had agreed to a “fetish oath” as a done deal to fulfill the terms of his stewardship to the people of Abia State. Orji had been locked up for corruption charges before winning the gubernatorial seat and was released some few days to inauguration, and hurriedly sworn-in to succeed Kalu who had suddenly given up his executive throne knowing scores of charges will be leveled against him, as well, by federal agents upon leaving office. However, the constitution’s immunity clause saved Orji from further prosecution until probably he serves out his term, that is, if he survives an election tribunal that may likely nullify his election and send him back to jail.

What has transpired in the Orji and the Okija affair is an Igbo tragedy, which calls into question the validity of Orji and his master Kalu. And what that means is, Kalu and his cohorts who ultimately believed in igwo nshi, of the bewitched and sorcery in the name of power politics, and which as it happened, rendered the people who reside in Abia State and elsewhere in AlaIgbo without a say in what supposedly should have been a nascent democracy having nothing to do with elections conducted by means of a social contract or any form of contract; should be basis for an ultimatum and sanctions, especially when such demonic scenes like the Okija episode and Umuahia are not healthy to a democratic fabric, and civilization, in particular.

If elections in a democracy with regards to power belonging to the people by means of electoral process based on the rule of law, and then, all of a sudden, fetish rituals springs up, making it valid for would be politicians seeking political appointments and things like that to pledge allegiance through bloodsucking and igba afa, invocation of the gods in order to struck a deal according to the principles of ndi dibia and agwuisi, soothsayers, idols, and so on and so forth; then, upholding and respecting democracy, the said election should be declared null and void for the simple fact democracy and demonic rituals does not add up.

And I believe most of the nonsense that keeps hanging around Igbo states should be blamed on a failed leadership. I remember the World Igbo Congress convention which was held in Los Angeles on Labor Day weekend of 2005. And I also remember Igbo politicians and “power brokers” who came from Igbo land. It was not inspiring and one was left to ponder what happened to Igbo people. When Kalu spoke, a vulnerable Igbo Diaspora applauded, and applauded for reasons I’m still having problems trying to figure out and what had happened to a people who are now politically impotent, demolished and conquered.

Somehow, Kalu had inspired his admirers when he quoted himself saying “I want to be the next president of Nigeria” noting it was time the Igbo man gets on the block for the nation’s top job. The entire chant turned out to be a political gimmick to persuade Igbo Diaspora that much need to be done regarding an Igbo president, a post that had eluded top-notch Igbo politicians since the post-civil war era. Kalu seemed to be talking tough when his entourage began a campaign on a different political setting realizing his pursuit of the presidency would not be entertained within the framework of the ruling party, Peoples Democratic Party – PDP – which had already been designed for the president to handpick a presidential candidate from the Sultanate North, to be precise, Umar Yar’Adua, younger brother to the late Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, and the president’s best crony during his military dictatorship was the predetermined choice.

Kalu regrouped and formed the Progressive Party Alliance with a platform that he wrote. His friends and kitchen cabinet members backed him up including Orji who would be the flag bearer of the party for Abia State, and a kingpin of the Okija saga where demons invade the natural being through rituals which sets the tone on how to follow the deadly rules when one is elected into public office.

On the other score, nobody can say for sure what had been involved in the visits to the shrines, even with abstract revelations, which would amount to nothing; for instance, say, if human heads and other body parts are linked to the rituals. Nobody knows the whole truth yet, and in this case, the question is, why hasn’t the government permanently closed these abominable shrines of demonic worships after discovering and excavating body parts from these places? Why would such a cult that has destroyed all aspects of civil liberties and dangerous for practicing Christians be allowed to operate without questions asked whatsoever? Why are devoted Christians engaged in affairs against the will of God?

It all boils down to agreeing to a catch phrase “oath of allegiance” based on a deal, and in reality looks very bizarre considering the fact that both Kalu and Orji had been friends since the Fourth Republic popped up. The whole story seems bizarre, indeed, and Orji, in particular, according to a series of newspaper reports did not care about the consequences if one should look at it the other way with his humble beginnings through Holy Ghost College (Arugo High School), and University of Ibadan. Orji must have been desperate or perhaps blindfolded to have gone mad exposing himself to dumb and stupid characters.

From the scheme of things, however, Kalu has denied getting involved with anything relating to the shrines in his native village and the ones in Okija even though he knows nobody is buying that hogwash. In a Tell magazine report, Kalu declares:

“The only shrine I know in my life is the shrine (grotto) of the Virgin Mary, revered in the entire Catholic Church. I am a devout Christian, God-fearing, and I wish to state categorically that I do not have any business with the Okija Shrine. I challenge the accuser to make available to the police his letter of employment, identity ca5rd, pat slips and other such accoutrements of legitimate employees to substantiate his claims”

The hook up here and Kalu’s denial is dangerous. First, starting with one Gordy Duru, former Chairman of Abia South Local Government, and Kalu’s mother lover boy over the years, has been the brain behind all the messy stuff because of his sexual relationship with Kalu’s mother, and his political connections to Kalu himself. The Duru of a guy who powered the entire episode and captured the events at Okija knows it all, and surprisingly, he is not telling much which has something to do with the “oath of allegiance” coupled with his courtship with Kalu’s mother, his own mother in relative terms since Kalu is age mate to the said Duru who ran Abia South Local Government and had nothing to show for it but an abandoned Aba Township which is uninhabitable by human standard, a cult fellowship satanic in nature, and sad that Christians had contacts at night with arushi, the devils that invade the spirits after paying homage to a Catholic Priest during the day for redemption. It is sad indeed, and it got to stop if we really want to come to terms with reality. Apparently, we have become more of idol worshippers with evil intentions than the Christian doctrine we proclaim to uphold.

With an ordained Christian doctrine that we pretend to respect and uphold while we crawl at night to invoke Agwuisi and Amadioha, the gods of our fathers, which never meant any harm from its origin on a traditional standpoint necessary to keep its values related to a socio-cultural concept as history demands in keeping up with the status quo – the ability to maintain those values for a healthy society – was all they prayed for in their endeavors. It had nothing to do with putting someone under duress on the grounds of vulnerability which is the case with Kalu’s cults and demonic gangsters who altered the way we use to be in that capacity. What beats me is the pretense to use God as a cover to deceive the people when Kalu insinuates he is a “devout Christian.” Just like the devil in the flesh, they walk around to preach the Gospel but yet they are evil in character. They will pray, and pray, praising the Lord, and after all the prayers, they end up committing all sorts of atrocities.
This is the true nature of how we destroyed all that our forebears created with their good intensions, despite their limited learning capability and exposure.

The idea that our forebears worshipped idols does not make sense at all, compared to what an “educated” folk like Orji reduced Igbo land to by drinking some concoction of human blood and swearing to an oath that would sustain his power as governor, and under the same oath, to answer to his master who had made it possible for him getting to that political height in a state turned to empire and anarchy by thuggish elements. Our forebears did not have the kind of resources we have today, yet they prevailed. They were true republicans. They functioned as a democratic fabric with transparency and accountability taking its right course. They had values and upheld, and respected our cultural heritage which is why they gave us a sound and quality education based on the status quo.

I can understand a cultural phenomenon, like Owu, Okorosha, Ekeleke, Ogbamgbada, Ogbu Opi, Egwu Onwa, Ikeji, Ifo, and things of that nature – which was established by our forefathers – as a norm to our well being culturally and socially; but when a group of thugs hijacks this very phenomenon to a level unimaginable, then, the Igbo people have a problem which did lead to another Igbo tragedy when the intellectuals stood by and watched these abominable acts unfold in an era where civilization thrives to make life better for the citizenry. These thugs, who, overnight gerrymandered the electorates with lists of ghosts as voters proves the democracy as we thought it to be is nothing but quasi. A democracy and an election where vulnerable voters are left with no choices but take gifts – bags of rice, meats and bottles of soda – to succumb to a state of empire and anarchy in what supposedly should have been a true democracy where elections are free and fair should have us ponder why we got trapped by the Kalus and the rest political thugs who now call the shots in our land.

The failures of Igbo intellectuals and a confused, collective, efulefu, worthless Diaspora are reasons why people like Kalu are running the affairs of state in AlaIgbo today, which is now typical of fascism. Of course, Kalu seems to have known his way around in dirty politics, having spent more of his time as a crook in high school, swindling his peers, and his stunt without credentials at University of Maiduguri where deception to the nadir took its course. But one shouldn’t be amazed on how Igbo intellectuals and its efulefu Diaspora bunch did not get things done in a way that would have kept the Igbo on top of the game in politics and leadership, which under normal circumstances should be based on merit, and not the Kalu ilks who hijacked the citizenry with looted public funds.

Never mind Igbo intellectuals and a confused Diaspora bunch. Kalu had succeeded in his cruel behavior and criminal activities because of an inept and corrupt judiciary in the state which lacks judicial independence due to external pressures and a combined “Ghana must go” bags which did compromise the integrity of their rulings. In any democracy the judiciary must be independent and accountable; accountable which requires that the laws that they interpret based on its judicial decisions responds to the constitutional values of the state. A state that lacks this very measure in its democratic fabric ends up in anarchy, and that is why the Kalus have gotten their way and calling the shots.

The saga continues!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Mugabe's Grip On Zimbabwe Still Tight

Despite economic chaos, the authoritarian president looks likely to be reelected. A challenger from his party has gained some traction.

By Robyn Dixon, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

March 25, 2008

HARARE, ZIMBABWE -- It takes 55 million Zimbabwean dollars to buy a single American one. Schools have no teachers. Hospitals have become mortuaries. And inflation has topped 100,000%.

As President Robert Mugabe, 84, seeks a sixth term in elections Saturday, Zimbabwe's financial catastrophe takes the words "It's the economy, stupid," to a new level.

Yet even with a crisis so intractable it would finish off any leader in a genuine democracy, Mugabe is expected to maintain his grip on power.

His tools are the same ones that have worked before: gerrymandered electorates; an electoral roll full of ghost voters; tight control of state television and radio; preelection gifts of tractors, plows and cattle to the rural chiefs who will get in the ruling party vote; pay raises for public servants and the military. And, above all, fear.

The major streets of this capital city are lined with posters bearing an old photograph of Mugabe, fist raised, and the slogan "Behind the Fist." To most, it conveys little beyond the fear associated with his rule, from Operation Gukurahundi in the early 1980s, when as many as 20,000 political enemies were slaughtered, to Operation Murambatsvina in 2005, when at least 700,000 people were driven from urban opposition strongholds into the countryside. Many have not recovered.

A party divided

But even when elections are not real elections, they raise hopes. And one thing has changed this time around: A charismatic presidential challenger from within the ruling ZANU-PF has divided the party and thrown Mugabe's campaign off balance. Former Finance Minister Simba Makoni, whose first name means "power" or "strength" in Zimbabwe's Shona language, announced his bid last month and was promptly ejected from the party.

Mugabe, whose grip on power has never weakened since independence from Britain in 1980, needs 51% of the vote to avoid a runoff against Makoni and the other main challenger, Morgan Tsvangirai, who was savagely beaten by police last year and whose opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, or MDC, has split into two main squabbling factions.

There are signs Mugabe is rattled by the challengers. In the weeks before the election, he signed a law forcing foreign- and white-owned companies to sell black Zimbabweans a 51% interest, a move that will send investors fleeing and further undermine the economy, but enable him to dole out plum favors to loyalists.

The Information Ministry warned that white foreign journalists would be barred from covering the election. And in case anyone was in doubt about the regime's determination to cling to power, the police and army chiefs announced that they would never work under the opposition.

At rallies, Mugabe rails bitterly against people such as Makoni, calling them enemies and traitors. Yet Makoni, 58, has much in common with Mugabe. He comes from a similar traditional rural African background, rose through education (both got degrees in Britain) and was politicized in the liberation struggle and in ZANU-PF. Even now, Makoni does not directly attack either Mugabe or the party.

But there is a heady exhilaration about his campaign. Part of it is the sheer novelty of hearing a ZANU-PF stalwart proclaiming what everyone thinks but most are afraid to say: "We got corrupted by power. We started serving ourselves. . . . We've destroyed our own country," he said at his launch rally in Harare early this month.

'Power to the People'

Makoni's slogan, "Simba Kuvanhu," or "Power to the People," is a famous old refrain from the liberation struggle, a Mugabe favorite that the president has not quite gotten out of the habit of using at campaign rallies.

Even some opposition figures see a reform ZANU-PF candidate as the best and only hope of change. Arthur Mutambara, leader of one faction in the opposition MDC, recently declared that no one in the opposition could beat Mugabe.

"Makoni is the only person who can defeat Mugabe. Not Tsvangirai, not Mutambara," he said at a recent rally, campaigning for Makoni instead of running for president himself.

But Makoni waited until late in the game to enter the race, convinced that popular discontent with Mugabe was so deep that it needed only one credible candidate to sweep away both the president and the disappointing opposition.

He claims to have many heavyweight ruling-party backers, but few ZANU-PF bigwigs have defected to his camp, making it difficult for him to muster enough ruling-party support to sweep Mugabe aside.

Makoni, boyish-looking and articulate, is from a large and powerful clan and has dozens of cousins and hundreds of close relatives. In his childhood village, nearly every shop and business was owned by a Makoni.

He faced the first real test of his support on a recent balmy Sunday at the Zimbabwe Grounds in Harare, the sports fields where big political rallies are held.

The crowd of a few thousand consisted mainly of educated men, including bureaucrats and professionals.

Many of those in attendance were former opposition supporters, disillusioned over Tsvangirai's letting his party split and failure to capitalize on popular anger after previous elections.

"People are impatient. They now want Makoni to be president," said university lecturer Simba Matsika, 36.

"People will support anyone and any program that opposes the incumbent party and president. People need change at any cost."

Makoni impressed the sports-facility crowd; the problem was the modest turnout. Even the riot police were halfhearted: One small police van made a desultory sweep and retreated to wait by the gate.

'Getting a crowd'

"If you are going to launch an attack against Mugabe, you really have to find a way of getting a crowd by hook or by crook," said Lovemore Madukhu, director of the National Constitutional Assembly, a nongovernmental organization lobbying for reform.

"You don't go to the Zimbabwe Grounds and get a crowd of three to four thousand. It was a crowd smaller than Mugabe addressed and smaller than Tsvangirai addressed. I think that blunder will eat into perceptions of his capacity to divide Mugabe's support."

Makoni's daily meet-the-people walks in towns across Zimbabwe connect him with hundreds of voters, but not the thousands he needs. Tsvangirai may be discredited, but he still has a broader reach, with a strong urban support base that Makoni lacks.

Building a profile and swinging the electoral tide in a few short weeks is a tall order for Makoni, especially with no access to television and radio.

Many analysts believe Makoni will poll third after Mugabe and Tsvangirai. A recent opinion poll put Mugabe's support well behind Tsvangirai's, but the electoral boundaries have been redrawn to give rural voters (among whom Mugabe's support is highest) a much greater weight than residents of pro-opposition urban areas.

As finance minister from 2000 to 2002, Makoni stood up to Mugabe and called for the devaluation of the ailing Zimbabwean dollar as the economy went into free fall after the president's seizures of white-owned farmland. He was removed as finance minister but stayed in the powerful politburo, and some opposition supporters see Makoni as just an ambitious member of the party that has destroyed the country.

"I was part of the system. I was in the leadership of this country for quite a long time and in public office for quite a long time. But collective responsibility does not mean that everyone agrees with every decision all of the time," Makoni said in an interview in Harare after returning late from a day's campaigning. "I strove for change from within. Throughout the time I was in the leadership, I kept trying to show my colleagues that there were better ways than we were doing."

If Makoni fails, he and his supporters could be isolated and made examples of by the ruling elite, a move that might discourage others in the ruling party from defying Mugabe.

But Makoni argues that his presidential bid is having the opposite effect, saying, "Many Zimbabweans are feeling emboldened and encouraged that you can actually speak your mind and Armageddon will not befall you."

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Campaign '08: Obama Intensifies Attacks On Clinton,s McCain's Plan For Iraq

"Sen. Clinton, Sen. McCain and President Bush have all distorted and derided this position, suggesting that I would invade or bomb Pakistan. This is politics, pure and simple," Obama said. "The same three individuals who now criticize me for supporting a targeted strike on the terrorists who carried out the 9/11 attacks, are the same three individuals that supported an invasion of Iraq -- a country that had nothing to do with 9/11," he said. [MORE>>>]

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Chike Obi, Renowned Mathematician, Dies at 87

Chike Obi, renowned mathematician, dies at 87
Vanguard Online Edition - Friday, 14 March 2008

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

News in Brief, PM Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Apparently, everything seems to be major news these days. Governor Eliot Spitzer of New York is said to have resigned in disgrace over a scandal that perhaps shouldn't have been a big deal if he had taken a different approach in his desire for prostitutes. The talk now is he may be facing criminal charges for his actions. From series of news-related updates about the scandal, the Emperors Club VIP has been shut down pending further investigations.

In politics, former vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro is stepping down for her infalamatory remarks about Barack Obama, noting Obama couldn't have gone that far if he wasn't black. In her letter first reported by CNN, Gerraro said, "Dear Hillary, I am stepping down from your finance committee so I can speak for myself and you can continue to speak for yourself about what's at stake in this campaign. The Obama campaign is attacking me to hurt you. I won't let that happen. Thank you for everything you've done and continue to do to make this a better world for my children and grandchildren. You have my deep admiration and respect, Gerry."

Gunmen striked at the oil hub of Port Harcourt in Nigeria's Garden City, hijacking a vessel, taking hostages to unkown destination. According to Associated Press report monitored in Lagos, the gunmen were "demanding ransom for the hostages."

Thursday, March 06, 2008

News Desk Thursday, March 6, 2008

8 Africans named on billionaire list

FORBES magazine has released its annual list of the world's richest people, with eight Africans on the 1,125 member list for the first time. Egypt's Naguib Sawaris with a net worth of $12.7 billion and Nassef Sawaris ($11 billion) top the list of the wealthiest Africans in the world. Onsi Sawaris ($9.1b) and Samih Sawaris ($2.9b) are the other two Egyptians on the list. MORE>>>

AFRICA INSIGHT: After Mau Mau, Kenya’s December polls second lesson for Africa

Television pictures and graphic radio reports of burning and looting of property across Kenya, have combined with local experiences of election-related violence across Nigeria during the 2007 national elections and current primaries of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party to cast grave doubts about the wisdom of conducting elections. MORE>>>

ICPC to try suspects in N3.32b UBE funds scam

SUSPECTS in the N3.32 billion Universal Basic Education (UBE) fund mismanagement are to face the law, it was learnt yesterday. The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) may prosecute them. Of the funds, about N2.3billion has been recovered from about 20 state governments. MORE>>>

FG lists treason offences against MEND leader

The Federal Government on Wednesday accused the detained leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta, Mr. Henry Okah, of committing treason. It said that Okah and his co-detainee, Mr. Edward Atata, were involved in terrorism and disappearance of weapons in the Nigerian Army central depot in Kaduna. MORE>>>

Two Army generals, four others face court martial

The Nigerian Army Headquarters on Tuesday inaugurated a five-member court martial to try two Generals and four other senior army officers, who were accused of misappropriation of funds. MORE>>>

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

A Barack Obama Campaign Diary

“Yo, What u think about da Obama guy, man!?” I’m getting pissed with the crazy ass white folks, they ain't mean well, brotha!

“Hey, that hardball politics ain’t gonna fly, man!” “You feel me?”

“I feel you, dawg!”

“Obama ain’t black. He ain’t got no clue what been happening in the hood, man.”

“I hear you my brother. I ain’t voting for nobody. Nothing’s gonna change, man! You feel me?

“I feel you dawg!”

Another voice would pop up and say, “Hey, man, you listening to the damn liars? They ain’t nothing but liars, man. They ain’t got nothing for you, and you better quit dreaming, man! You feel me, though?”

“I feel you dawg!!”

“Ammo take it like it is man. I’m a hustler hommie and I don’t give a damn about what u guys say. Ammo hustle man to keep food on the table. Ammo do anything to survive, man. I’m a soldier, man. I got five little kids, hommie. Ammo hustle and buy dem bad ass rims, hommie. Dem lying politicians ain’t gonna buy toys and clothes for my kids, man. ‘Am a hustler hommie and ammo keep it straight. Ammo keep it straight, man! You feel me?”

“You da man!! You da man!! You da man, and I feel you dawg!!!”

“Hey, you guys ain’t real, man. Obama is the man and he is giving us hope that one day we shall overcome our predicaments. You see what I’m saying? And that’s for real man. Obama ain’t no educated fool. He got game and he is for real, my brother!”

“I hear you dawg, Obama is the man; he's the man!”

“Come on, man, you guys just don’t get it. Ammo tell you why. Obama ain’t black and he ain’t white either and you guys better quit playing the race card. He ain’t got nothing against anybody. Brother just wants the damn crooked politicians to get out of the way so America can be a better place for us all. Obama is the man and he got my vote. You feel me, man?”

“I feel you dawg, but hey, he ain't gonna watch your back!”

“You guys been tripping. What’s all the fuss about da Obama ain’t black or white? Ammo tell you guys something. I need money. I need a job. I need to hang out in the hood and do my thang. I need to cruise in my Chevy Impala low-rider with dem tight chicks on Crenshaw and no damn cop chasing me cuz I’m black. I wanna be free, man. You feel me?”

“I feel you dawg, but Obama ain't coming to Crenshaw, you know that!”

“Ok, let’s be real guys. Ammo go out there and vote for Obama. I don’t care what you guys say cuz I know Obama is for real man. I know and you know Obama gonna change America. And If I vote and you vote we know he’s gonna win and that’s all we need my brother. You feel me, man?”

“I feel you dawg!”

“Okay, guys, why don’t we agree on one thing. The Clintons and the Bushes been running this country for a while and ain’t nothing happening but lying to the people, man. They been fighting and throwing bombs here and there making America look bad, man. They been throwing bombs all over, man. They been killing my brothers in Africa, man. They been taking all our treasures, man. These white folks are bad, man. Let’s give the black man a chance and you see what’s gonna happen. You feel me?”

“I feel you dawg, but brothas are worst than white folks!”

“Look man, I don’t know what you guys been talking about. Ammo stick to the dude about dem tight gals and low-rider on Crenshaw, man! Dem cops been chasing us around cuz we been driving while black. You see what I’m saying? For real man, they been all over us cuz a brother been making some little change, hustling, man, hanging out in the hood with dem hoes. I got to hustle to help my baby mama put food on the table, man! I don’t care about no damn politician. He ain’t gonna put food on the table, man!! You feel me?”

“I feel you dawg!!!”

That’s the story of the regular guy on the street who is getting by on a daily basis doing the best out of a very bad situation which is typical with the “hood rats” in the projects and South Central Los Angeles. Some of them with records beyond imagination and they wonder how change is about to come, all of a sudden, with a black president who was raised under humble circumstances and had no clue what’s been going on in the projects with majority of these kids not knowing who “their daddy is.” They wonder how a polarized system can change all that.

It is a  case of sad reality when one thinks about it. The 18th Street Gang. The 48th Street Crips. The East Los Angeles Gang stretching from Boyle Heights to Alhambra, the Gangs of South Central Los Angeles, Watts, Compton, Long Beach, Lynwood, Hawthorne and the Crenshaw District are areas of political interest now that “change” has become the keyword in this fascinating campaign. What kids in these gang infested neighborhoods are calling for is a profound leadership that would give them a sense of purpose, to rise above the limitations imposed on them for a better future. And the Obama campaign team should put this into perspective and make it a priority with regards to “change” and “yes we can.”

Though Obama is talking about change, and perhaps, it’s about to happen, that is, if he gets the mandate in a polarized American culture. I’m not sure if he has taken that into perspective throughout his campaign that seemingly would change America for good and California in particular, dating back to the Gold Rush when aggressive slave power was the subject matter and when a financial oligarchic class took laws into their own hands.

The fears expressed by these young kids in the ghetto, and programmed projects as in welfare state would definitely not change anything considering the fact that these underprivileged kids have been programmed through all sorts of government regulated social programs to have limited abilities to unshackle themselves from the bondage that is coupled with a government which has persistently maintained the status quo, with limitations imposed in the hoods, and associated with widespread crime waves that has no end in sight.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Obama and I want him to be the next president of the United States with no color lines but for the fact American is desperately in need of change and the time should be now in order to get rid of a very deceptive and corrupt administration typical of Ulysses Grant, Warren G. Harding administrations, respectively. The George W. Bush administration has destroyed America, in its entirety, and nobody is really sure how long a new democratic administration, be it Clinton or Obama, would administer in putting America back on track in terms of its economy and its relationship with the Western World and other relative global leaders.

And we hope if Obama wins, a new age of prosperity and the “era of good feelings” would resurface which is why Obama should be given the chance on the ground he was raised a common man knowing in detail what it means surviving the odds. He had gone through Occidental College in Los Angeles, Columbia University in New York and Harvard University in Cambridge, all in quest for a “common purpose” Americans like him needed. Are the “hood rats” listening? I hope so!! Are they? I hope so, I hope so!! I definitely hope so!!!

Just at the end of 43rd Place and Degnan Boulevard that stretches down from series of black businesses at Leimert Park in Black Township, if you are a tourist or just poking around, you will notice one thing typical as the political campaigns heats up with Barack Obama posters here and there hyping up the idea that a black president is around the corner. And it has been atmospheric like introducing the next president of the United States, Senator Barack Obama. The name is all over the place and one can tell a second generation immigrant has shown that it is possible, and of course, “Yes we can.”

So when I bumped into black fellas from all walks of life at this historic place known for its thriving businesses relating to African cultural heritage – Papa’s West, African Treasures, Kumasi Gift Shop, World Stage Performance Gallery, African Heritage & Antique Collection, Hisam’s African & Urban Wear, Eso Won Book Store, Zambezi, Ackee Bamboo Restaurant, Lucy Florence Cultural Center, 5th Street Dick’s Coffeehouse, Leimert Park Eye Wear, etc. – I had the ultimate feel that Obama has arrived and it’s about time for the white folks to show some respect after hundreds of years of slavery, the separate but equal Jim Crow ballast and the Civil Rights Movement from around which blacks went through hell in America.

Of course, Obama is the “man of the hour,” never mind the “hood rats,” though their point remains very relevant because it is perceived to be the “same old song,” over and over again, which is typical of political campaigns. But Obama has changed a whole lot and we are beginning to see a difference since the history of political campaigns in an America that survived slave labor, segregation, Civil War, free speech, annexation and international conflicts.

I have not digged into Obama and all that campaign slogans with Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator John McCain until browsing Shelby Steel’s new book “A Bound Man: Why We Are Excited About Obama and Why He Can’t Win,” which is about an emerging black president, even with the debates and tabloid sensationalism as I have thought I should make a sketch and caricature that comes along with cocky politicians of our day, checking my mailbox during the course of my usual runs, was March 2008 edition of Ebony Magazine and guess what, Obama was on the cover with bold prints, “IN OUR LIFETIME: ARE WE REALLY WITNESSING THE ELECTION OF THE NATION’S FIRST BLACK PRESIDENT?”

I read every bit of the story starting with “How Team Obama & Black America Are Making History,” a detailed campaign run covered by Sylvester Monroe, Kevin Chappell & Brian Monroe exclusively for Ebony Magazine. The tale – without tell-flaws -- was electric, Shakespearean, and amazing with an interesting opening act. 30-year-old Karen Richardson who studied law at Howard University had in 2005 interned at Senator Obama’s office in Washington D.C. She got hooked with “Obama fever” and abandoned every other project in her ensuing career committing herself to some great stuff when called upon to take the position of political director in Iowa State. That leadership role gave Obama Iowa without qualms. And so the story goes.

Richardson doesn’t have many words to explain her excitement when picked to run the show in Iowa. Well traveled and dedicated to change she said:

“When they asked me to stay on, I was sort of on a different course. But I looked at Barack and the way he interacted with his staff. I knew he was brilliant, and I looked at his character. There are a lot of smart people, but being on the Senate staff with him, you knew there was something special happening. All that combined to keep me there. It just felt right.”

What is more touching to me in the Obama for President Campaign is the drama at the barber shops. I did have to poke around and do some crazy stuff notably with the interest I have picked in this energetic and brilliant man who has survived all battle wounds growing up not knowing much about his father. Barber shops to me are like the comedy clubs where if you can’t control your emotions you will leave with cracked ribs.

My first point of call was a newly opened barber shop called Total Body Retreat Barber Shop on La Brea and Florence just around the corner from Inglewood’s bubbling Civic Center where everybody is talking about politics, the coming of age in the 21st Century and precisely “change” that would perhaps turn things around based on a new generation of voters. Obama’s sign graced every lawn in this barber shop and loquacious clients and youngish barbers had begun to engage in the kind of politics never seen before in a generation that is beginning to get the awareness of why “my vote should count in effecting change.” A new generation has popped up and like the saying goes, “politics make strange bedfellows.” The coinage should be rather “new age politics make good buddies” feeling how these kids are sticking together for change.

There was not much ado about the other barber shop – Magic Artistic Barber and Beauty Salon – down the street just by the Inglewood Car Wash on La Brea and Hardy. It was kind of mellow, lacking enthusiasm with old school flavored politics. Though politics was discussed but it had a nagging and who cares kind of flavor typical of the old guards the youngish entrepreneurs are clamoring for its change.

But the TV talk shows and radio commentators on both sides of the political spectrum – the left and the right, or perhaps the progressives and the neo-cons – doesn’t really matter in what has been going on at these barber shops as these young generations deals with reality, on a day-to-day basis, with all hopes being dashed by an outrageous administration. They have seen the downsizing, the ridiculous hike in gas prices, the increasingly crime waves in the neighborhoods, the slowing business activities as a result of the so-called “Bush Doctrine” which only benefits the rich, widening the gap between the haves and have-nots, and the whole concept that America is falling apart with every situation “not getting any better.” They have seen the “American Dream” slip away by hopelessness.

About a decade ago, not too many black folks were interested in voting to decide who the next president of the United States would be on the basis an election would not “change anything,” that the same old politicians and their sugar-coated mouth would continuously be the story, and that once these politicians are elected into office, the story changes and nothing gets done. But now, this new generation of “progressives,” from about a decade ago which seems to be diminishing the strength of the Baby Boomers are doing something different. They now belong to the political elite class. They have been raised humble from the past baby booming years, and they are beginning to realize American destiny should be in their own hands, thus the desperate need for a change of the guards. They want out of the old school kind of politics. And they mean it. And that is one of the reasons why they are now totally engaged in making sure change comes about with a new kind of leadership.

So, when one delves into the Obama campaign camp, it has increasingly become obvious that a new generation of political pragmatists have emerged sounding off on the continuous cliché of “change.” Nonetheless, the black vote is very relevant and just like Professor Ronald Walters of University of Maryland observed, “The Black vote is extremely important. The problem is that it is more powerful when it coalesces. It is weaker when it is divided. The name of the game is power not representation.”

Of course, “power” is the keyword and if Blacks should come out and vote en-masse for “change,” a derailed “Bush Doctrine” will be history in American politics just for the economical damage it has caused the American people.

For the last few months, anybody reading the newspapers and journals or watching talk or political TV shows could only conclude that the way of American politics has changed and Obamanian quest for change is spreading across America. It has been very interesting! It has been interesting, indeed!! And we hope it gets more interesting as the conventions draws nearer.

And with Obama defeating Clinton in the Vermont primaries some hours ago as I wrap up this piece, Ohio, Texas and Rhode Island is now up for grabs to probably determine the party's presidential nominee. Whatever happens and who ever gets the ticket, we hope they will practice what they have preached all along, that is, in the event any of the democratic nominee wins the presidency.

For Obama, "yes, we can!"

"So, yo, go out there and vote, dawg!!!"

News Desk Tuesday, March 4, 2008

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Monday, March 03, 2008

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