Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Former child soldier from Nigeria celebrates 25 years serving as priest

Image: Stephen D. Cannerelli/The Post Standard

By Sarah Moses/The Post Standard/Syracus

Salina, NY -- The Rev. Ejike Innocent Onyenagubo was 12 years old when he made a life-changing promise to God.

“There was a civil war for three years in Nigeria, and I was fighting the war at the age of 12,” he said. “I prayed, promising if I survived the war I would give my life to service God and his people. I prayed for my family to survive, too.”

Onyenagubo, who is known by many as Father Innocent, said about 2 million people died in the war. His family survived and he kept his promise. Earlier this month, Father Innocent celebrated 25 years as an ordained Catholic priest.

Father Innocent, 57, was born and raised in Nigeria. The civil war lasted from 1967 to 1970, and he fought for about two years in the conflict. After the war was over, he was reunited with his family and went back to school. “There was the temptation not to continue with education,” he said.

But he did, and while he was in secondary school, which is similar to high school, he said he remembered his promise to God. “I went to the pastor of my parish and I asked him to show me the way to get to the seminary,” he said.

After 10 years in the seminary, he was ordained in the Diocese of Owerri as a priest in 1986. He served for a number of years as a priest and pastor in several different parishes in Nigeria. “Then one day the bishop called me and told me I was going on a mission,” Father Innocent said. “He told me I was going to Syracuse and I said, ‘Where is it?’”

In 1999, Father Innocent arrived in Syracuse to serve as the parochial vicar at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, in Salina. His journey from Ahiazu Mbaise in southeast Nigeria to Central New York was part of Bishop James Moynihan’s international recruitment effort for the Syracuse Catholic Diocese in the late 1990’s.

He served seven years at the church and has been the Chaplain of Upstate University Hospital since 2006. Father Innocent said working in the hospital reminds him of his childhood in Nigeria. “Here there is pain and agony that goes with death and suffering,” he said. “It’s the same pain as there was in wartime in Nigeria.”

He said he saw many people die of hunger and die in battle during the war. He said he sought comfort in God. In the hospital people seek their chaplain. “They seek comfort in God through me,” he said. “And that is the job satisfaction I have here. The people get that comfort when I tell them that the Lord is with us.”

Father Innocent recently celebrated his quarter century as a priest with a celebration of his life at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church. “They brought my sister from Nigeria, without me knowing it,” he said. “It was the surprise of my life. When I saw my sister, I had tears of joy. I never expected it.”

Father Innocent became a United States citizen in 2008. He said Syracuse is a home for him, but he will go wherever the church needs him. “I’m happy here,” he said. “But I’ll go anywhere God sends me.”

Jonathan And His Many Women

By Tunde Ogunesan, Nigerian Tribune

President Goodluck Jonathan has made good his promise by giving 32 per cent slot in his cabinet to women. Tunde Ogunesan examines the qualities of the women in Jonathan's cabinet.

"I promised women a 35 per cent slot in my cabinet and I fulfilled that vow, because it is my desire to ensure a level playing field in Nigeria by heading an administration where ethnicity, gender and religion do not hinder qualified persons from fulfilling their potential. It is also the reason I ordered the admission of women to the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) a first in Nigeria. Women should brace up to be all they want to be in life as this administration will be an enabler of your progress.”

Those were the words of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan on his Facebook wall, announcing to his over 25,202,873 friends of his loyalty to the female folk. The president reaffirmed his support and love for the Nigerian women by making two firsts as regards the female folk in Nigeria. The first; he became the first Nigerian president ever to give such percentage to women in his cabinet as far as federal appoi-ntment is concerned. Secondly, as revealed on the social network page, he, for the first time in the 52 years history of the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) “ordered the admission of women” into the military school. Demonstrating his love and desire to work with more women, President Jonathan, appointed 13 female ministers as members of his cabinet more than any of his predecessors, cutting across the geo-political zones of the country.

Jonathan’s vow of increasing the percentage of women in his cabinet might not be unconnected with the resolution from the 1995 conference in Beijing, when women agreed that despite their widespread movement towards democratisation in most countries, women are largely under-represented at most levels of government, especially in ministerial and other executive bodies, and have made little progress in attaining political power in legislative bodies or in achieving the target endorsed by the economic and social council of having 30 per cent women in positions at decision-making levels by 1995.

With the Women for Change Initiative campaign championed by his wife, Patience, Jonathan even went beyond the 30 per cent Beijing recommendation to appoint 13 women out of 41 ministers as ministers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

They are: Hajia Zainab Maina;Minister for Women Affairs, Adamawa State; Mrs. Stella Oduah-Ogiemwonyi- Honourable Minister of Aviation, Anambra State; Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke; Minister for Petroleum, Bayelsa State, Hajia Zainab Ibrahim Kuchi, Minister of State for Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Niger State; Prof. (Mrs) Viola Onwuliri, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Imo State, Prof (Mrs) Ruqayyatu Rufai, Minister of Education, Jigawa State; Erelu Olusola Obada; Minister of State, Defence, Osun State, Chief Olajumoke Akinjide; Minister of State for FCT, Oyo State.

Others are: Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Minister for Finance, Abia State; Mrs. Hadiza Ibrahim Mailafa; Minister of Environment, Mrs Omobola Johnson Olubusola; Minister, Communication Technology, Mrs Sarah Reng Ochekpe, Minister, Water Resources and Ms. Ama Pepple; Minister, Lands and Housing.

Women’s political profile in Nigeria began to rise from 1960 when Mrs. Wuraola Esan from Western Nigeria became the first female member of the Federal Parliament to 1961 when Chief (Mrs) Margaret Ekpo won elections in Aba Urban North constituency under the National Council of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC) platform to become a member of the Eastern Nigeria House of Assembly and in 1966 as Mrs. Janet N. Mokelu and Miss Ekpo A. Young also contested elections, won and became members of the Eastern House of Assembly.

But it was not until 1980 when Chief (Mrs) Janet Akinrinade was appointed as Minister for Internal Affairs and Mrs Adenike Ebun Oyagbola as Minister for National Planning that women joined the Federal Executive Council. In 1983, few numbers of women were appointed commissioners in states. In 1983, Ms Franca Afegbua became the only woman to be elected into the Senate. Since then, women have not looked back, heading strong ministries like information, finance, petroleum and resources, education, aviation and performing excellently well in such areas. Globally, the campaign for more women participation in administration, gender equality first started at the famous Beijing conference in 1995. Nigeria’s former First Lady, Mrs Maryam Abacha led other prominent professional and political members of feminine class to the conference, which aftermath began the call for more women recognition for political consideration.

However, the 13 female ministers were appointed on merit.

In the case of the minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison – Madueke, she fought many battles to return to the cabinet and the ministry which she had earlier held before the last April polls despite coming from the president’s home state, Bayelsa. Also, Olajumoke Akinjide, from Oyo state who was appointed as minister of state for FCT while two professors were appointed, Viola Onwuliri (Imo) – Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Ruqayyatu Rufai (Jigawa) – Minister of Education; while he made sure that he made a woman, Mrs. Omobola Johnson Olubusola the country’s first minister of Communication Technology.

Olubusola, until her appointment was the Managing Director of Accenture, Nigeria, the first woman to hold the position in the country. She holds a bachelor's degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from the University of Manchester, and also has a master’s degree in Digital Electronics from King's College, London. She joined Accenture, then Andersen Consulting in 1985.

These are the women who the president in his bid to take crucial decisions towards the achievement of Nigeria’s vision 20: 2020.

Interestingly, none of these women has ever given the President any headache over their appointments over their pasts or otherwise. Though, Mrs. Diezani Alison – Madueke, minister of petroleum resources almost went on house-to-house campaign against her detractors over the president’s intention of retaining her for the plum petroleum position, the former Shell top shot, against all odds retained her post not for anything but her sheer professionalism.

Despite his promise of 35 per cent slot for women, President Jonathan, himself a Ph.D. degree holder in Zoology from the University of Port Harcourt, ensured his push for more women participation was not based on just numbers. His team of women are made up of tested technicrats; two professors, a lawyer, a World Bank finance expert, astute administrators, educationists, ICT expert and other professionals who have made laudable impact and achievements in their various professional callings.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Africa State, Genocide and the Exigency of AFRICOM

(Paper presented on the panel “US Africa Command and South Atlantic Security”, V ENABED, Fifth national conference of the Brazilian Association of Defence Studies, Seara Praia Hotel, Fortaleza, Brazil, Monday 8 August 2011*)

Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe

The state in Africa demonstrates a glaring inability to fulfill its basic role to provide security, welfare and trans-formative capacities for society’s developmental needs and aspirations. The state is virtually at war with its peoples, having murdered 15 million in Biafra, Rwanda, Darfur, southern Sudan, Uganda, Guinea-Bissau, the Congos, Angola, Côte d’Ivoire and elsewhere on the continent between 1966 and 2011. Since January 1956, fifty-five years after the beginning of the so-called restoration of African independence process in the Sudan, it is the case that the state in Africa is essentially a genocide-state, the bane of African social existence. It is what constitutes the firestorm of the emergency that threatens the very survival of the African. It is not the “debt”, “poverty”, HIV/Aids/other diseases and the myriad of socioeconomics indices often reeled off in many a commentary.

This state, which the European conqueror-regime (Britain, France, Portugal, Germany, Belgium, Spain) created originally in Berlin in the 1880s, cannot lead Africans to the reconstructive change they deeply yearn for after the tragic history of centuries of foreign occupation and plunder. Such a change was and never is the mission of this state but an instrument to murder, expropriate and despoil Africa by the conquest and its aftermath. As this paper demonstrates, the very presumptions, predilections and exigencies that encapsulate the thinking and strategic goals of the planners of the United States Africa Command, AFRICOM, the subject of this panel at the August 2011 conference of the Brazilian Association of Defence Studies, here in Fortaleza, are based precisely on this evaluation of the utterly unviable ethos of the contemporary Africa state and the palpable, widespread feeling of alienation towards it expressed by most constituent African peoples or nations. In other words, AFRICOM wishes to exploit the critically unresolved seismic crisis within the African political landscape created by the history and devastating consequences of conquest.

Tragically, this is equally the background against which an array of foreign powers and international/transnational institutions or organisations have often acted, with impunity, in African socioeconomic and political affairs and development in the past 55 years, despite this epoch of presumed restoration of African independence and sovereignty. The ongoing flagrant Anglo-Franco-US-led NATO unrelenting aerial and naval bombardment of Libya, which has gone on for four months, and the French-led violent military overthrow of the government of Cote d’Ivoire earlier on in the year, during which an estimated number of 2300 Africans were so ruthlessly murdered, underscore this staggering impunity. Africans, themselves, must therefore resolve the contentious issues generated by the extant genocide-state that fuels the conflictual existence of its peoples before achieving urgently needed socioeconomic transformation. This is an imperative, internal political question, whose answer or solution is also imperatively internal – definitely not external, howsoever the “rationalisation” is construed. Thus, Africans’ own strategic goal for change remains the dismantling of the architecture of alienation and subjugation posed to African existence and progress by the “Berlin state” emplaced. There is no more profoundly urgent case to illustrate this grave emergency in Africa than to focus on the very country from where it first originated. This country goes by the name Nigeria and it is to it that we should now turn.

Igbo genocide and its aftermath – The tragedy of Africa’s unlearned lessons:

In 1966, soon after the world commemorated the 21st anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and made the customary, solemn declaration of “Never, Never Again”, Nigeria defiled that season of reflection, commiseration and hope. Its military officers, the police, Hausa-Fulani emirs, muslim clerics and intellectuals, civil servants, journalists, politicians and other public figures planned and executed the Igbo genocide – the foundational genocide of post-(European)conquest Africa. This is also Africa’s most devastating genocide of the 20th century. A total of 3.1 million Igbo people, a quarter of this nation’s population at the time, were murdered between 29 May 1966 and 12 January 1970.

Most of Africa and the world stood by and watched, hardly critical or condemnatory of this wanton destruction of human lives, raping, sacking and plundering of towns, villages, community after community in Biafra and elsewhere... Most Igbo people were slaughtered in their homes, offices, businesses, schools, colleges, hospitals, markets, churches, shrines, farmlands, factories/industrial enterprises, children’s playground, town halls, refugee centres, cars, lorries, and at bus stations, railway stations, airports and on buses, trains and planes and on foot, or starved to death – the openly propagated regime-“weapon” to achieve its heinous goal more speedily. In the end, the Igbo genocide was enforced, devastatingly, by Nigeria’s simultaneously pursued land, aerial and naval blockade and bombardment of Igboland, Africa’s highest population density region outside the Nile Delta. Earlier on in 1945 and 1953, under the very watch of the British occupation, the Hausa-Fulani political leadership had carried out two premeditated pogroms on Igbo immigrant populations in Jos and Kano, cities in north Nigeria, in opposition to the Igbo vanguard role in the struggle for the restoration of the independence of peoples in Nigeria from the British conquest. Hundreds of Igbo were murdered in each occasion and tens of thousands of pounds sterling worth of their property looted or destroyed. Neither in Kano nor Jos did the occupation regime apprehend or prosecute anyone for these massacres and destruction. Tragically, these pogroms turned out as “dress rehearsals” for the 1966-1970 genocide.

The perpetrators, who subsequently seized and pillaged the rich Nigeria economy appear to have got off free from any forms of sanctions from Africa (and the world) for what are, unquestionably, crimes against humanity. The consequences for Africa have been catastrophic. Several regimes elsewhere in Africa are “convinced” of the conclusions that they have drawn from this crime by their Nigerian counterpart: “We can murder targeted constituent people(s) at will within the state we control … Haul off their prized property and livelihood … Comprehensively destroy their cities, towns, villages, communities – precisely their agelong, priceless, inheritance ... There will be no sanctions from Africa – and the world”. As a result, the Igbo genocide becomes the clearing site for the haunting killing fields that would snake across the African geographical landscape in the subsequent 40 years with the murders of additional 12 million Africans, since January 1970, by regimes in further genocide in Rwanda, Darfur and Zaïre/Democratic Republic of Congo and other killings in Liberia, Ethiopia, Congo Republic, Somalia, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Côte d’Ivoire, Chad, south Sudan, Burundi.

Yaki, it isn’t

The records of those who carried out the Igbo genocide make no pretences, offer no excuses, whatsoever, about the goal of their dreadful mission – such was the maniacal insouciance and rabid Igbophobia that propelled this project. The principal language used in the prosecution of the genocide was Hausa. The words of the ghoulish anthem of the genocide, published and broadcast on Kaduna radio and television throughout the duration of the crime, are in Hausa:

Mu je mu kashe nyamiri

Mu kashe maza su da yan maza su

Mu chi mata su da yan mata su

Mu kwashe kaya su

(English translation: Let’s go kill the damned Igbo/Kill off their men and boys/Rape their wives and daughters/Cart off their property)

The Hausa word for war is yaki. Whilst Hausa speakers would employ this word to refer to the involvement/combat services of their grandfathers, fathers, uncles, sons, brothers, other relatives/friends in “Boma” (reference to World War II Burma [contemporary Myanmar] military campaigns/others in southeast Asia, fighting for the British against the Japanese) or even in the post-1960s Africa-based “peace-keeping” military engagements in west, east and central Africa, they rarely use yaki to describe the May 1966-January 1970 mass murders of Igbo people. In Hausaspeak, the latter is either referred to as lokochi mu kashe nyamiri (English: “when we murdered the damned Igbo”) or lokochi muna kashe nyamiri (English: “when we were murdering the damned Igbo”). Pointedly, this lokochi (when, time) conflates the timeframes that encapsulate the two phases of the genocide (May 1966-October 1966 and July 1967-January 1970), a reminder, if one is required, for those who bizarrely, if not mischievously, wish to break this organic link.

Elsewhere, genocidist documentation on this crime is equally malevolent and brazenly vulgar. A study of the genocide-time/“post”-genocide era interviews, comments, broadcasts and writings on the campaign by key genocidist commanders, commandants and “theorists” and propagandists including particularly Yakubu Danjuma, Ibrahim Haruna, Yakubu Gowon, Benjamin Adekunle, Olusegun Obasanjo, Oluwole Rotimi, Obafemi Awolowo, Allison Ayida and Anthony Enaharo is at once revealing and profoundly troubling. Adekunle, a notoriously gruesome commander, had no qualms, indeed, in boasting about the goal of this horrendous mission when he told an August 1968 press conference, attended by journalists including those from the international media: “We shoot at everything that moves, and when our forces march into the centre of I[g]bo territory, we shoot at everything, even at things that do not move”. True to type, Adekunle duly carried through his threat with clinical precision both on his “everything that moves”-targeting, especially in south Igboland where his forces slaughtered hundreds of thousands, and on the “things that do not move”-assault category. Adekunle’s gratuitous destruction of the famed Igbo economic infrastructure, one of the most advanced in Africa of the era, was indescribably barbaric. A brief review of Olusegun Obasanjo’s own contribution (published in his memoirs, pointedly captioned My Command) that focuses on his May 1969 direct orders to his air force to destroy an international Red Cross aircraft carrying relief supplies to the encircled and blockaded Igbo is crucially appropriate. Obasanjo had “challenged”, to quote his words, Captain Gbadomosi King (genocidist air force pilot), who he had known since 1966, to “produce results” in stopping further international relief flight deliveries to the Igbo. Within a week of his infamous challenge, 5 June 1969, Obasanjo recalls nostalgically, Gbadomosi King “redeemed his promise”. Gbadomosi King had shot down a clearly marked, incoming relief-bearing International Committee of the Red Cross DC-7 plane near Eket, south Biafra, with the loss of its 3-person crew. Obasanjo’s perverse satisfaction over the aftermath of this horrendous crime is fiendish, chillingly revolting. He writes: “The effect of [this] singular achievement of the Air Force especially on 3 Marine Commando Division [the notorious unit Obasanjo, who later becomes Nigeria’s head of regime for 11 years, commanded] was profound. It raised morale of all service personnel, especially of the Air Force detachment concerned and the troops they supported in [my] 3 Marine Commando Division”. Yet despite the huffing and puffing, the raving commanding brute is essentially a coward who lacks the courage to face up to a world totally outraged by his gruesome crime. Instead, Obasanjo, the quintessential Caliban, cringes into a stupor and beacons to his Prospero, British Prime Minister Harold Wilson (as he, Obansanjo, indeed unashamedly acknowledges in his My Command), to “sort out” the raging international outcry generated by the destruction of the ICRC plane...

What “internal affair”? Whose “internal affair”?

There was an extensive coverage of the Igbo genocide in the international media throughout its duration. The United Nations though never condemned this atrocity unequivocally. U Thant, its secretary-general, consistently maintained that it was a “Nigerian internal affair”. The United Nations could have stopped this genocide; the United Nations should have stopped this genocide instead of protecting the interests of the Nigeria state, the very perpetrator of the crime. In the wake of the Jewish genocide of the 1930s-1940s during which 6 million Jews were murdered by Nazi Germany, Africa was, with hindsight, most cruelly unlucky to have been the “testing ground” for the presumed global community’s resolve to fight genocide subsequently, particularly after the 1948 historic United Nations declaration on this crime against humanity. Only a few would have failed to note that U Thant’s reference to “internal” was staggeringly disingenuous as genocide, as was demonstrated devastatingly 20-30 years earlier on in Europe, would of course occur within some territoriality (“internal”) where the perpetrator exercises a permanent or limited or partial or temporary sociopolitical control (cf. Nazi Germany and its programme to destroy its Jewish population within Germany itself; Nazi Germany and its programme to destroy Jewish populations within those countries in Europe under its occupation from 1939 and 1945). Between 1966 and 2006, the world would witness genocide carried out against the Igbo, the Tutsi/some Hutu, and Darfuri in “internal” spaces that go by the names Nigeria, Rwanda, and the Sudan respectively. The contours of the territory where genocide is executed do not therefore make the perpetrators less culpable nor the crime permissible as the United Nations’s crucial 1948 genocide declaration states unambiguously.

The very central role played by Britain in support of the Igbo genocide no doubt reinforced the scandalous failure of the United Nations to protect Igbo people during this catastrophe. Britain, a fully-fledged member of the United Nations – indeed a founding member of the organisation who enjoys a permanent seat on its security council and participated in drafting the anti-genocide declaration – supported the Igbo genocide militarily, politically and diplomatically. It is extraordinary that in his otherwise informative study, Crimes Against Humanity: The Struggle for Global Justice (London: Penguin Books, 2006), Geoffrey Robertson, a British human rights lawyer, a queen’s counsel, does not discuss the Igbo genocide anywhere in his 759-page text nor Britain’s instrumental role in perpetrating this foundational genocide of post-(European)conquest Africa.

Britain was deeply riled by the Igbo lead-role in terminating its occupation of Nigeria and had since sought to “punish” them for this. A senior British foreign office official was adamant that his government’s position on international relief supply effort to the encircled and bombarded Igbo was to “show conspicuous zeal in relief while in fact letting the little buggers starve out”. Indeed as the slaughtering of the Igbo progressively worsened, Prime Minister Wilson was unashamedly unfazed when he informed Clyde Ferguson (United States State Department special coordinator for relief to Biafra) that he, Harold Wilson, “would accept a half million dead Biafrans if that was what it took” Nigeria to destroy the Igbo resistance to the genocide. Such was the grotesquely expressed diminution of African life made by a supposedly leading politician of the world of the 1960s – barely 20 years after the deplorable perpetration of the Jewish genocide. As the final tally of its murder of the Igbo demonstrates, Nigeria probably had the perverted satisfaction of having performed far in excess of Harold Wilson’s grim target… Predictably, it was to Wilson that the Nigerians turned to, in 1969, to “sort out” the international revulsion generated by the latter’s destruction of the ICRC aircraft as we have already stated.

Arms ban

Without British active involvement in the perpetration of the Igbo genocide, it was highly unlikely that this crime would have been committed. Nigeria did not have an arms-manufacturing capacity then to embark on this terror without external support. Forty-five years on, Nigeria still does not have such an internal military capability. It still relies heavily on Britain, currently the world’s leading arms exporter to Africa, for its supplies.

One immediate move that Britain, the West, and the rest of the world, including Brazil, particularly, can make to support the ongoing efforts by peoples in Nigeria and elsewhere in Africa to rid themselves of the genocide-state is to ban all arms sales to Nigeria and the rest of Africa. This ban must be total and comprehensive. Nigeria and other Africa genocide-states require the political and diplomatic support from abroad and the deadly array of arms ever streaming into their arsenal from Britain and elsewhere to exist and terrorise the people(s) in their territories. This is part of the cardinal and enduring lessons of the Igbo genocide. The legacy has, in fact, been catastrophic and feeds into the overarching strategic permutations of AFRICOM which the latter, in turn, exploits.

A total and comprehensive arms ban on Africa will radically advance the current hectic quest on the ground by peoples across the continent to construct democratic and extensively decentralised new state forms that guarantee and safeguard human rights, equality and freedom for individuals and peoples – alternatives to the extant genocide-state. Africans know very well that there are alternatives to the genocide-state. They have both the vision and the capacity to create these alternatives. For Africans, indeed, the creation of these alternatives is imperative in this age of pestilence. Nothing else.

*I wish to thank Professors Mônica Dias Martins (Universidade Estadual do Ceará, Fortaleza), Sued de Castro Lima (Observatório das Nacionalidades), Manuel Domingos Neto (Univeridade Federal Fluminense) and Gustavo Raposo Pereira Feitosa (Universidade de Fortaleza) for an excellently organised and successful conference and for their immense hospitality during my visit to Fortaleza. Obrigado. Tchau!

Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe is the author of Readings from Reading: Essays on African Politics, Genocide, Literature (African Renaissance, 2011) which is available at amazon.com (US$29.95), Barnes & Noble (US$29.95), amazon.co.uk (£19.95) and elsewhere.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Q & A Interview With Professor Alvin Lim

I bumped into Professor Alvin Lim at West African Documentary (WAD) that I begun at Facebook, trying to explore the concepts of the region, and at the same time putting research into perspective on the vagaries and uncertainties of an entire continent that has so much to offer in terms of human capital and natural resources. Alvin and I argued on the concept of Chinese exploration of Africa and its determination to develop the dark continent by way of dedication, commerce and financial security, insisting China has no intention of colonization. We talked about many other stuff including his employment at American University of Nigeria (AUN) where he would now sit as professor of Asian politics and International relations. Alvin just got to Nigeria some days ago and having a feel of Abuja in his new 2-bedroom apartment.

Tell me about yourself.

I am from Singapore, which like Nigeria was a British colony. I studied Philosophy and Southeast Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore, receiving my BA (Hons.) degree in 1999 and my MA in 2002. I moved to Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, to lecture in Philosophy at Pannasastra University in 2005, and in 2008 I moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, to start my Ph.D. studies in Political Science. I graduated with my Ph.D. in May 2011, and am currently expanding my dissertation into a book, "Cambodia and the Politics of Aesthetics."

Let us talk about your teaching assignment in Nigeria. How did the Nigerian project get started?

Back in February I saw a notice from the American University of Nigeria looking for a professor in Asian Studies. At that time I was completing my dissertation and felng assignment in Nigeria. How did the Nigeria project get stat that this was an interesting opportunity to pursue. I had always been interested in Africa, the cradle of humanity, and my interest had been peaked by my Ph.D. readings in postcolonial African writers like Frantz Fanon, Léopold Sédar Senghor, and Achille Mbembe. I sent in my job application and was pleasantly surprised when I was contacted in March for the job interview.

How would you describe your feelings when you picked up your STR Visa confirming the assignment to lecture in one of Nigeria’s universities?

I felt very excited - this is a big move for me, as this will be my first time in Africa, a continent I've only read and dreamed about.

What would you be doing in Nigeria?

I'll be teaching courses in Asian politics and international relations. I'll also be completing "Cambodia and the Politics of Aesthetics" and starting on my second book.

From your point of view, what area of discipline needs more attention as the country’s higher institutions faces the challenges of better education?

There's always a tension in the relationship between the economy and education, in that the graduates of the education system may not have the knowledge and skills necessary for job creation or even to fill the available jobs in the economy. Cambodia and the USA are having big problems with unemployed and unemployable graduates, and this problem exists in many other countries as well. The challenge is to encourage entrepreneurship on one hand and on the other to ensure a match of knowledge and skills with the existing needs of the job market.

What do you hope to accomplish?

I hope to equip my students with a good understanding of Asia, especially if they plan to do business or make a living there after they graduate.

Chinese migration to Nigeria has overwhelmingly grown over the years. The general feelings are that the country is facing another era of colonization. What’s your take on that viewpoint?

I agree with Dambisa Moyo that Nigeria and other African states should take advantage of the investment offered by China to accelerate their economic growth. In addition, China's economic boom has created a vast consumer market that the world's firms are doing their best to expand into, and Nigeria's entrepreneurs should not get left behind. Does this economic engagement represent a new form of colonization? Nigeria has to weigh the economic opportunities against the social impact of the new migrants.

Do you think Chinese migration to Nigeria has any favorable economic impact?

Consider a recent example. In April it was announced that China will loan $900 million to Nigeria to rehabilitate its rail and communications networks. Such an improvement in transportation infrastructure, in particular, the planned construction of the rail link between Abuja and Kaduna, promises substantial economic benefits.

You speak several languages. How are you integrated with Chinese language and culture?

Singapore has a bilingual education policy, such that students have to learn English as well as their mother tongue, which in my case is Mandarin Chinese. Culturally I belong to the Straits Chinese, that is, the culture of the Chinese migrants who settled in British Malaya, the territory that later became Malaysia and Singapore.

When you read the letter from Routledge’s Editorial Board approving your book for publication, what was your reaction?

I felt as happy as I did when I passed my dissertation defense. I was on tenterhooks the past several months as my manuscript went through the peer review process, and was relieved when it passed both the peer review as well as the editorial board's selection process.

You gave a hint that the book was an expansion of your dissertation, ‘using political and aesthetic theory to reflect on the violent history of Cambodia.’ Why did you pick Cambodia?

I chose Cambodia for my Ph.D. research based on the developments I had witnessed during my 3 years of work in Phnom Penh. Cambodia has suffered one of the most violent transitions in recent history, and I was deeply impressed by the resilience of its people.

Monday, August 08, 2011


Relax my dear intellectual friend. The ghost has materialized. I won’t reveal the name, you will work it out. They say … ”The greatest enemy to a tyrant, is an Activist”. I parachuted into a sea of tyrants in Nigeria, November 30th 1994, a few months after my legendary Animal Rights street theater in the Queen’s property… Trafalgar Square London.

Just tell my darling family and particularly my Princess Hannah Zainab Saint-George, that Daddy ‘Okro soup’ is alive but under security harassment because of my Activism and Tuareg garb, Security Agencies think that I am part of OSAMA’S POP GROUP, can’t write them at all for security reasons. Tell her to use E-mail: crimsoncourtrecords@rocketmailmail.com or Rihanu2011@yahoo.com Tel (Nigeria) Mobile 07035259333.

Been living a monk’s lonely life and writing articles for News papers and writing the new Ozo album, in the Desert of Yobe for Security reasons-but campaigned for President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and he won and I have now regained a bit of protective security cover.

Loved the interview with my blood brother in the legendary Ozo, Vernon Cummings. I am now creating an E. Commerce Website (www.crimsoncourtrecords.com) for the launch of my new Ozo Music CD-“THE LETTER “O” FOR OBAMA (THE CHAIN IS BROKEN)-12 TRACKS WITH THE 21St century re-recording of the LEGENDARY “LISTEN TO THE BUDDHA” and "Anambra River" track now retitled “THE LETTER “O” FOR OBAMA (THE CHAIN IS BROKEN). IF YOU USE "GOOGLE" and type in ABDULLAHI KENI SAINT-GEORGE, you will see a whole lot of my critical writings. Some caused dis-affection within the political and military establishment, hence several assassination attempts, the recent one only inches, away. The particular writings are of course “DEATH OF A PLANET, HOW THE UNIVERSE BEGAN”, “OBAMA, BUSH’S NEMESIS AND OUR AFRICA”. LEADERSHIP NEWSPAPER AND “WHY I DON’T WANT TO GO TO HEAVEN” in the DAILY TRUST NEWSPAPER. Here, I nearly got a Fatwa or Islamic death sentence, just like the British Author, Salman Rushdee’s death sentence from Iranian Mullahs. You will catch all of them and more @googleabdulahikenisaintgeorge.
I campaigned for OBAMA throughout West Africa, 2008, as 3.5 million West Africans live in the USA and are eligible to vote. See enclosed my correspondence with OBAMA. I am gearing up for OBAMA second term 2012 Election campaign with the release of Ozo’s Music CD… THE LETTER “O” FOR OBAMA (THE CHAIN IS BROKEN). Then I will reactivate my “OBAMA APPRECIATION SOCIETY IN SUB-SAHARA”, OASIS (E-mail:oasis1946@yahoo.com). His administration will partner my NGO, TEN (TRANSFORMATIONAL ENVIROMENTAL NORMS) FOR SUSTAINABLE ECO-SYSTEM, to fight Climate Change in Nigeria and Sub-Sahara.

Tell Mike Davis to send me an E-mail: crimsoncourtrecords@rocketmail.com, about Ozo licensing for a compilation. And if he would help me license “THE LETTER ‘O’ FOR OBAMA (THE CHAIN IS BROKEN) ALBUM, through ACADEMY RECORDS, my former Record Label, AMHERST RECORDS, BUFFALO NEW YORK OR ROIR (REACH OUT INTERNATIONAL RECORDS) Prince Street Station, New York. I will need an advance for Video filming in Buddhist Tibet, South China for the track … “LISTEN TO THE BUDDHA” my new single for American market. Please advice me on the viability of internet record sales.

MONK/SPIRITUAL MASTER (he liveth in the light of


Bombs are going off every week in my country, Nigeria, killing and maiming hundreds of innocent civilians, military and police personnel. The funnel of wrathful fire is coming from the Muslim Fanatics from Northern Nigerian. Aided and abated by criminal politicians and ominously, OSAMA BIN LADEN’S AL-QAEDA IN ALGERIA, YEMEN AND SOMALIA.

I have now registered a CIVIL SOCIETY… “RELIGION IN HARMONY FOR NATIONAL UNITY” (RIHANU) Email: rihanu2011@yahoo.com. A spiritual concept to harmonise all religions, remove the main ingredient of angst…THE THREE NEGATIVE CENTRISMS, VIZ., EGOCENTRISM, ETHNOCENTRISM AND RELIGIOUS-CENTRISM. As abject poverty, unemployment, hopelessness and hunger are abroad, then I have to apply a bit of socialism.