Wednesday, 31 October 2012

The Flaming Flamingoes (Part 11)

Stories are all works of fiction. Names, characters, places and events are the product of the author's imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events and places is totally coincidental

Scoring a deliberate own goal in soccer is practically unheard of, especially if there is no obvious financial gain to the exercise. The stunned silence that followed my action soon evaporated, my team mate's shock and amazement galvanised them towards me before any of the spectators could react to what I had just done. 

Some of the spectators found it funny, others found it intriguing but many were furious, especially those who had invested money with the smart-ass because they were sure of a return on their investments. Many were dumbfounded but amused at the reaction around them. Of course, all I wanted was to get out of that place, pronto. As soon as my guys got to me, I advised them we should stick close together and not let anyone separate us from each other. We headed out of the area as quickly as we could.

Fights and arguments were going on all around the pitch, confusion and mayhem reigned all around us. The gangsters were more interested in collecting their winnings from the bookie, he was arguing and refusing to pay them out. As crooks, they obviously had money to burn and they had placed big money bets with the enterprising bookie. Convinced that he would make some quick and easy money off them, the smart ass had greedily accepted those bets. He couldn't pay  them out and he was now being beaten to a pulp by some of the bad guys. This smart-ass was fast realising he would have been better off remaining a jackass.

We'd left the pitch and were about seventy five yards away from the mayhem, our transport was still about fifty yards away from where we were at. As we started to relax our vigilance, a group appeared from a side street and surrounded us. Some from this group though angry, wanted me to explain my actions and were basically blaming me for causing a riot in their area, the others were not interested in explanations and were encouraging their friends to beat us up. Cut off from our vehicle, we didn't stand a chance with this mob. I was already resigned to the fact that we were going to have to fight our way out of the situation, when a shadow fell over all of us.

He was a giant of a man, at least seven feet tall and built like a tank. Dressed casually in a chequered blue and white short sleeved shirt, his biceps looked like they would split the hem of the shirt any second. A path magically opened up in front of him as he strode uninterrupted through the circle toward us, his beige trousers were tucked into what looked like army boots ready made for kicking ass. It took just a look from him for the path to get wider as he ushered us Flaming Flamingos through the now dissipating mob who a few minutes before were intent on doing us harm.

Hostile glares followed us as this guardian angel shooed us toward a silver Range Rover with tinted windows. Inside the vehicle sat a smiling Dan and a relieved looking Jackie. Following their instructions, we quickly got into our ride and left the area with the Range Rover following close behind. I felt a massive weight lift from my tiny shoulders, and a sense of gratitude that I was lucky to have such a good friend as Jackie.

My team mates were in high spirits, joking and laughing about what we had just been through. I was now confident of my team and although I had deliberately thrown that last match, I knew my fellow Flamingos would follow me through thick and thin. WE had all faced a dangerous situation and had stuck together. I was totally confident that I had a team that was going places, ready to kick ass and do our sponsor and our fans proud. The big guy that had extracted us from the mob was Dan's driver, Rab, who sometimes doubled as his bodyguard. I was so glad that Jackie had somehow found out about my trial game, got concerned enough to bother his uncle and both had come looking for us.

(To be continued)...


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Monday, 29 October 2012

Joseph Koni, What is Happening?

Prior to my post of 7th march 2012, I had heard sporadic stories about the group that called itself, the Lord's Resistance Army. A lot of atrocities, some with a supernatural twist accompanied a lot of the reports. The abduction of children dominated a lot these, together with reports of torture and mutilation of the civilian populace by the LRA who were led by a man called Joseph Koni. These crimes by Africans upon fellow Africans from the same region outraged and saddened me.

Jason Russell's slick documentary on behalf of Invisible Children Inc., to address the outrage and focus world attention on Joseph Koni on 20th April this year seemed an ideal solution. The documentary went viral on YouTube shortly after my blog post and a lot of famous people and celebrities in show business joined in the campaign to bring the issue of Koni to the attention of the whole world. 

There have been different reactions to the documentary and the campaign to make Joseph Koni famous. This campaign was subsequently derailed when Mr Russell had a breakdown of some sort and was filmed wandering around stark naked on the streets of San Diego. Public attention and perception now seems to have changed, relegating the campaign to stop the brutalizing of the children of Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African Republic to the back burner. Although some argue that Koni is dead, the problem of war and child abduction still exists in that region of Africa. So what exactly is happening?

Below, is my post of 7th March 2012: 

The campaign earmarked for 20th April 2012 has been designed to stop the leader of a sinister rebel group who call themselves the Lords resistance army. This group has been operating in the Ugandan bush and its environ for years. Their leader Joseph Koni enjoys a reputation for brutality and mercilessness. The main stock in trade of this sinister group has been the kidnapping of children who are then turned into child soldiers. The continued existence of Joseph Koni and his bloodthirsty agenda is amazing to me.

In an era of enlightenment, thanks to the advancement of technology whereby our planet seems to have shrunk, I find it hard to believe that one individual can escape being caught and put on trial by the international community for crimes against humanity. There is a campaign that is gradually gathering momentum and will reach a climax on the 20th of April, this year to bring the world's attention to bear on Mr Koni and his rebel army. In short it is to make Joseph Koni famous.

The legend of Koni and his group surfaced many, many years ago when they acquired a reputation of possessing supernatural powers. The people of the region believed that the Lords resistance army had charms that could stop bullets, and also that the LRA soldiers could disappear at will from the battlefield, thereby making them immune to attack from the Ugandan national army. Of course this type of reputation is worth its weight in gold and it could only have helped this rebel group.

Nobody really knows what the LRA is fighting for or against. It has been said that Koni claims to have no ideology or cause and it is believed he just revels in creating havoc. I suspect there is more to learn about the LRA and there are people in the shadows, who arm and finance this group. Who are the bankers and suppliers and what are their motives?

I worry that even if Joseph Koni is stopped, somebody else will step into his shoes and continue the brutality. There seems to be a lot that we don't know about the LRA and what makes it tick. All everyone seems to know is their brutality. I support any moves that will bring peace and stability to the continent of Africa and solutions must include blueprints and plans that will ensure that situations as these do not occur again or rear their ugly heads elsewhere.

How I ask myself, do the arms dealers who arm Mr Koni make contact? How are they paid? Where do the rebels get the funds to buy these arms? Who are the people who have the most to gain by the destabilization of the region that these rebels operate within? If western intelligence agencies don't have the answers to the above questions, they should. Someone out there, is modifying assault rifles to fit into little hands (i.e. children).

Most of the arms used in conflicts in Africa, are manufactured outside the continent. The world must be serious in pursuing and exposing those that arm the likes of Joseph Koni and his army. Anyone known to be promoting the agenda of the LRA should also be exposed on 20th April

Peace to all,


Tuesday, 9 October 2012

The Flaming Flamingoes!

Stories are all works of fiction. Names, characters, place and events are the product of the author's imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events and places is totally coincidental

They were kicking us good and proper. The fouls came at us relentlessly. Every time we were a goal up, it got worse and I got worried. The only one amongst us not particularly intimidated by this was Sol the centre half who gave back as good as he got. It only made things worse for the rest of us.

I was looking for worthy opponents to play against whilst we were waiting for the crucial match against Monarchs. Someone suggested we go play sets as a unit and told us about a particular part of town where we could drop in to, wait our turn and then see how long we last out there. Stupidly, without checking it out first, I took us there. Now, hindsight as they say, is twenty twenty vision, I was wishing we weren't here. Sooner or later, someone is going to get hurt and I had a feeling it would not be any of the guys we were playing against.

We'd easily knocked out two previous teams within twelve minutes of arriving and were beginning to get cocky and complacent. You see, the way sets work is this and these are just the basic ground rules as I understood. The first people to arrive will divide into two teams or a team will arrive and the people at the ground who want to play will put a team together to play the away side. Usually, as better players arrive at their home ground, they will replace the weaker players and gradually get stronger. A team gets knocked out and another one replaces them if they concede by more than two clear goals, another team then replaces them, usually, the new team ends up being a mish-mash of the previous guys and the latest  arrivals, who are usually the most skillful players. Others are just big scary fellows who nobody can dare not pick. 

Knocking out the previous teams in under twelve minutes seemed like a record of some sort and before long the pitch was surrounded by spectators cheering both sides. Word had spread and the better players emerged and were quickly absorbed into the opposition. At the same time that they were getting stronger, we were beginning to tire. The third team we played went down 1-3 to us, it took us over forty minutes and loads of pain to beat them, we took a rest while the next team organised themselves. 

I was already trying to figure out an exit strategy from the middle part of the last match after eavesdropping on the people behind my goalposts, the overall vibe was changing and the situation started to become tense. Somebody was taking bets on the game and the news filtered through to me somehow. This jackass had obviously decided to be an enterprising bookmaker, he had now become a smart ass, I could now hear him selling his bets.

My team mates during this break were excited, they hadn't experienced this level of attention before and when I dropped a hint about wrapping it all up so we could get out of there, I was quickly overruled. I didn't tell them about the gambling. Someone is bound to bet against us, and if we win they wouldn't be very happy about losing their money which may result in complications. Always an optimist, I kept my concerns to myself and we went back on.

The lads we were facing knew each other and it quickly became obvious they were the best players around, they also seemed much bigger than us. They quickly scored against us with a blatant offside nobody noticed happened, least of all, the scared looking referee. The section of the grounds that cheered the goal the most, had in their midst, some of the scariest looking people you could ever meet. I didn't object to the offside goal, in fact I was a little relieved it was allowed. Etemeke my fleet footed friend was targeted and chopped mercilessly several times by this other guy who didn't like the way the crowd cheered whenever a dribble or some skillful move made him look clumsy. He was a big guy and the "who you looking at?" look he was giving the referee made the man not even look in his direction.

Despite all his troubles, Etemeke had to go and score, levelling the game. The goal was exceptional, it was greeted by hand claps by those who see real art in soccer. Despite my misgivings about scoring, I couldn't help clapping from between the sticks. Cheers and smiles from our new fans, scowls of anger from the gangsters. They were gangsters, one came up behind me as I was clapping and slapped the back of my head hard, I turned just in time to see him disappear back into the crowd. Mr "who you looking at?" looked like he was half instructing and half threatening the referee. Obviously a local man, the ref really looked stressed and defeated. We were on our own.

They were now openly committing fouls on us with impunity. I got an elbow in the face while punching out a ball. The next time the guy ran toward me with the ball, I used the heel of my boots to scrape his shinbones from the knees all the way to his ankles, he screamed, I played dumb but it didn't work. The ref gave them a penalty to appease them, they scored and went back into the lead. By now, things were getting so rowdy we all wanted it over, at the same time we knew it was too dangerous to leave as winners because the gangsters had money to collect if we lost, so winning the game was out of the question.

The cross came, floating as if in slow motion. I made a grab for it about a yard outside the keeper's box, landed firmly on the balls of both feet and waited as the players dispersed themselves back into the field of play, waiting for the customary kick out. With the ball at the end of my outstretched arms, I swivelled around and volleyed the ball straight between my goalposts. You could have heard a pin drop, every jaw hit the floor. Then, pandemonium!

You Have to Wait for the Next One!!!

Later friends,


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Friday, 5 October 2012

Why not Adapt This for Kids too!

Google have introduced Ads for Bloggers, while skimming through, I came across this one product that was relevant to a conversation I had three weeks ago with a friend of mine on Facebook. I saw a picture taken in a town in Nigeria with a woman riding a bicycle with a baby strapped to her back, another child about eight years old was riding pillion behind also with a baby strapped to her back too. All this on a busy Nigerian road with cars and trucks whizzing by.

I exclaimed my horror at the danger all four faced and commented that this risk would never be tolerated anywhere in Western Europe in contrast to other comments who were praising this obviously enterprising mother's ingeniouity. My friends disagreed and claimed I had been away too long. Obviously, they have somehow been desentisized to this sort of thing and look at this as normal.

I would appeal to NGOs operating in Nigeria with overseas aid to at least try and facilitate mothers such as these with a rickshaw type vehicle or a product similar to the one below but modified for people instead of animals.

This product is ideal for ailing pets and even fit ones who would like to accompany their owners on a bike ride. It is uncanny how a conversation I had a few short weeks ago is suddenly reflected on this particular advertisement. In short, I'll recommend it! The most durable is the one below and NGO's interested in child safety in developing countries should consider a way to adapt and mass distribute this  piece of equipment. 

The Dogon Tribe

And The Ancestors From Space The Dogon people of Mali in West Africa have a Space history, and it's quite a compelling one too. ...