Sunday, 19 May 2013

Can You See Me? (Episode 7)

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

Fafo sat alone and isolated on the edge of the prison football field. His fellow convicts walked by him in twos and threes. A match was in progress between two wings within the medium category prison. Only a small number of spectators watched the match in progress. Some of the prisoners gave him a wide berth as they passed by him. A few sniggered, sneaked a peek at him and covered their noses as they walked by.

The leather pouch was back around his neck. He seemed resigned to that fact now, deciding to accept  that life would be much easier for him, at least while he served his sentence, to stop trying to ditch the bloody thing. Two years and eight months served, twenty months of which had been as a remand prisoner. With good behaviour, his lawyer had explained, he would be released and deported back to Nigeria in another four years.

The charm seemed to appear and vanish at will. The last time he tried to bring the thing to the attention of his custodians in a court cell, they had seriously considered sectioning him under the mental health act. After that incident, he had resolved to get rid of the thing on his own and bided his time. Alone in his cell at night, he noticed that he could easily remove it. He would usually place it under the rock hard pillow just before he went to sleep. 

Four days previously, Fafo had made his move. In the tiny cell, he had his own personal wash basin and toilet. He kept his cell scrupulously clean and the aluminium bowls gleamed. That night, he held the pouch in his left hand as he urinated. As soon as he finished, he threw pouch and leather string into his toilet and quickly flushed it down. To his delight, the pouch sank without a trace. He went to bed and slept soundly.

He woke the next morning and stepped into a flooded cell. The toilet bowl was brimming with sewage and faeces. The stink was overpowering. He waded through the terrible mess to the emergency button that will summon his jailers. The officers came but they were not in a hurry to open up and let him out. They had the whole prison wing to consider. The horrible smell that met them as they approached, also made them reluctant to rush to open the iron doors. Part of the mess had seeped through the bottom of the doors and was spreading through the corridor. The yelling and the banging on the door of several cells, added to their confusion. The officers had to go get rain-boots and protective clothing before returning to deal with the situation. By the time they returned to let him out, Fafo was in tears.

He was taken out, given the usual unscented soap and sent to the bathrooms to take a wash. It would have been worse if the plumbers knew what caused the flooding. Even they were baffled, they could not explain why this particular toilet, in this particular cell, overflowed the way it did. So Fafo escaped being put on report.

Escorted to another wing, he got a new cell. The heavy doors banged behind him and he heard the key turn in the lock. He looked inside the little wooden cupboard in the corner and froze. On the top shelf was the leather pouch and string. He couldn't believe his eyes...

To be continued.....



Thursday, 16 May 2013

Scams, Hype and Cynicism!

Don't Relax Your Vigilance On-line

This is a reminder to the many people who use the internet to search for products and services on-line, to be careful and not get conned or scammed.

The internet is a great tool to access information, a great medium, enabling the world to become a more intimate, caring, secure and enlightened global village. Amongst all the benefits and the good it can do for us, there also exists, the very bad.

True, on-line is where many of us are guaranteed the best prices and some fantastic deals, but it also has a higher risk factor, with a lot of scammers and con men poised to bilk us of our hard earned cash.  There are a lot of scam artists out there and they are usually very good at snaring their victims. Their methods are getting more and more sophisticated, so watch out.

Many victims of scams, are intelligent people. They are so embarrassed at their own perceived stupidity, they keep quiet about it. Big mistake! Shout about it from the rooftops because the con-men are counting on your silence. Intelligent people don't like to be perceived as stupid. Just remember that it was your trust that was abused by someone counting on your silence.

More and more people are encouraged to use on-line services by the government and the service industries without adequate preparation for the realities of the internet. Now the unemployed, those actively seeking employment and inexperienced users are referred online without preparation and warnings.

No matter how glamorous and exciting a site, an offer of a bargain, think twice. Better still, leave the site and do an on-line search for comments from people who have accessed that service before. Even legitimate sites have been known to be cloned. It was sometimes difficult for visitors to distinguish the genuine from the fake.

We live in an age where materialism is held on a higher scale than ethics and morality. An age where some of the biggest and most profitable companies are rumoured to engage in price fixing. An era where the rich get richer, the poor get poorer and those in-between are stretched and confused. Where the middle classes are offered scapegoats by the politicians who take handouts and campaign contributions without questioning the source of the cash. What more motivation does someone with larceny in their heart need?

Apart from cons, there is also misrepresentations where clients get less than they expect without recourse to a refund. Exciting and exotic looking posters advertising shows that will not deliver exactly what is promised. In short, the content on the poster, is more exciting than the actual event.

No matter how exciting a bargain, an offer or a scheme promising easy wealth, proceed with caution. Especially, if when you attempt to leave a site and a menu pops up asking you to reconsider leaving, my advice is to leave as quickly as you can before you are relieved of your cash.

Some time in the future, I will be writing, if not here, on other blogs, known scams and cons, terrible services etc. so readers can know what to look out for. Until then, say safe, surf safe and don't be quick to get your credit card out.



Friday, 10 May 2013

Remembering Fela Kuti's Unique Contribution...

Fela Kuti contributed immensely to popular music. His unique musical talent created a genre that revolutionised dance music. The play Fela told only part of the story. 

Fela's music was so powerful and hypnotic it was hard to ignore. A visit to his Afrika Shrine club in those heady days was a must for every recording star and celebrity that visited Nigeria. The list was endless, Paul and Linda McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Roy Ayres and all the top acts that performed at the first World Black Arts Festival that Nigeria hosted in 1977. Ginger Baker came and ended up staying, hanging out at the Afrika Shrine, jamming with the band and eventually setting up ARC recording studios, the first of it's kind in the whole of Africa.

A gig saluting the first Black President (as he was referred to by the many youths he politicised) is scheduled for next friday, May, 17th at 229, Gt. Portland Street in London's West End. The show will be featuring Tony Allen, the beat behind the Afrobeat, Ginger Baker who got to be a close friend of Fela and Dele Sosimi. They all had the unique experience of working with Fela at the height of his popularity.

Below are some comments from the music press:

“He was a truth-teller of tremendous power. We’ll be hearing a lot about Fela
this year.”
John Masouri – Echoes
“The whole catalogue of 50 albums or so is going to be re-released in three
great, joyous and generous tranches over the next six months by Knitting
Factory Records / Kalakuta Sunrise”
Damian Rafferty –
“It is certainly true that Fela’s music has lost none of its magic and raw energy
since being recorded”
Stephen Williams – African Business
“The Fela Juggernaut keeps rolling.”
Jane Cornwell – Jazzwise
“Before Obama there was Fela. A Nigerian icon and unanimously considered
the King of Afrobeat.”
The Buzz List – Pride magazine
“The legacy stock of Fela Anikulapo Kuti is higher than ever.”
Simon McEwen – Q Magazine
“Any set that opens with a masterpiece, in Everything Scatter, has to be worth
The Sunday Times
This 2CD compilation features epic versions of Kuti anthems.”
The Times
“A slow-burning treat.”
John Lewis – Uncut Magazine
“Nice Felas.”
Record Collector
“Today, Fela’s standing is higher than at any time during his life.”
Neil Spencer – Uncut Magazine
“Long live the Black President’s music. You really cannot argue with this
Isaac Ashe – Loughborough Echo
“Among the most intense ensemble playing – ever.”
The Arts Desk
"The 12 unedited tracks stay true to a delicate balance between classic and
Think Africa Press
"Their greatness is not found in short catchy tunes but the richness of their
overall sound, in which frequently sharp political statements are found
wrapped within arty jam-outs or jazz improvisation ... Great stuff."
Morning Star
"Opening with the near forty year old Everything Scatter which has become
one of the classic Afrobeat tunes and straight into Expensive Shit, the album
is relentless ... One of music’s true geniuses."
9.5/10 Louder Than War
"[The compilation] focuses on lengthy workouts. Go for “Black Man’s Cry”,
then the 16-plus minute “Sorrow Tears and Blood”. After that, home in on the
compilation’s zenith, 1975’s “Everything Scatter” ... some of the music here is
amongst the most intense ensemble playing ever."
The Arts Desk
"A fine place to start one's appreciation of an African musical legend."
**** UK Vibe
"A crucial glimpse for beginners into the African icon's work."
The Quietus
"Everything sounds fresh, upbeat, funky and more importantly, incredibly
modern ... A sleek combination of jazz, soul and tight percussion hasn’t dated
since its original release, essentially making it timeless and still something to
7/10 Virgin
"An unreservedly recommended purchase to the Fela Kuti neophyte ...
Collected here is sulphurous and fiercely funky magic that could hold its own
against all comers, and is likely to provoke obsession within all who hear its
righteous call."
BBC Music
"You will find convincing testimony as to why his music and politics continue
to make him such a vital and enduring icon."
**** Record Collector
".. you need this in your life..."
10/10 DJ Magazine
"This solid double-disc collection ... powerfully represents an icon who faced
down unthinkable oppression with the sass, confidence and irrepressible
genius of his music ."
***** Blues & Soul
“Many descriptions have been attributed to the man who captivated millions
across the world with his outspoken beliefs and oft-criticised personal life, but
the legacy that endures most vividly is that of the radical, awe-inspiring music
that continues to influence a myriad of artists worldwide.”
"12 mighty expositions of the Afrobeat genre including the fiery agitation of
Everything Scatter , a stinging critique of skin bleaching, Yellow Fever , and
an extended brooding Sorrow Tears and Blood about the Soweto riots of
The Irish Times

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. ...