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Friday, January 29, 2010

Al Qaeda's Ideologically linked Al-Shabaab Goes Overboard

For once, I would strive to write as little and be as detached as a pope preaching to bloodshot-eyed gentlemen sitting in front of a table dotted with liquor - cheap or not. Not because I fear this group of people, but because someone else in Somalia does - and someone else in Kenya has started trembling in fear, and someone else in America is idealess on how to stop them, and someone else in Europe and Yemen is either contemplating of joining them, or receiving rebel-like training that would give them a ticket to join this radical group. 

So it is in the spirit of brotherhood that I request you look around, then read the word... shhh... Al-Shabaab... in shhh -ilence.

If you have followed the instructions, you must be safe. I display the chequered flag. The reading track is all clear. Go ahead, read the under-mentioned. But if you failed the exam of reading instructions, your life could be, should be, but is not in danger. But do follow instructions next time because...

Hardline Islamist Al Shabab, the Somali militant group with ideological links to Al Qaeda, threatened to attack neighboring Kenya following a crackdown on illegal immigrants from Somalia in Kenya's capital, Nairobi. 

O.M.G am going AWOL!

In a recording posted on the internet, Ahmed Abdi Godane, also known as Sheik Mukhtar Abdirahman Abu Zubeyr (careful you don't break your tongue), threatened the Kenyan government that the fighters will enter Kenya. Please revise your decision al-Shh, we have not achieved our Vision 2030. And we would rather fight amongst ourselves. Yes We Can. Yes we have done it before.

"God willing we will arrive in Nairobi, we will enter Nairobi, God willing we will enter ... when we arrive we will hit, hit until we kill, weapons we have, praise be to God, they are enough." Boo! God will not will!

The crackdown by the Kenyan police followed a chaotic and destructive demo in Nairobi against the detention of Jamaican Muslim cleric Sheikh Abdullah al-Faisal, who has since been deported from the East African nation and arrived in his homeland, Jamaica, where he was received by the country’s police unit. Now why did we allow this factory reject to grace our land in the first place!?

It was after the chaotic violence that police raided Somali-inhabited area in Nairobi and other towns and arrested hundreds of illegal immigrants. The swoop on illegal immigrants has spread countrywide and more than 1,200 people have been detained. Most have been from Somalia, while Ethiopians, Cameroonians, Congolese, Rwandans, Mozambique, Tanzanians, Ugandans and Burundians are also in police custody. Eh... Okay. Na na Na na Na na na Hey Hey Kiss you Goodbye

The swoop was triggered by the demonstrations against the detention of the Jamaican hate cleric, who was arrested in Mombasa, the heart of Muslim in Kenya on New Year’s Eve at a local mosque (not bar?) and was initially accused of going against the conditions of his visa (which meant not indulging in drinking cheap liquor in a bar with fellow sinners!).

Faisal spent years travelling the UK preaching racial hatred urging his audience to kill Jews, Hindus and Westerners. I wonder why. But he must be having his reasons. Glad I don't fall in any part of his death-list.

 He is also said to have encouraged Kenyan Muslims to join the extremist group al-Shabaab. Now, there is where he went wrong!

Witnesses say Kenya has deployed more troops near a Kenya-Somalia border town, Dhobley where militants have taken control. Take it easy boys. Don't use the weapon if you don't have to. You copy? Over and out.

Extremist Islamists who have been relentlessly trying to oust the Western backed Somali government seem to be advancing and recently captured the Lower Jubba region in southern Somalia from Hizbul Islam, their former allies. Good idea, wrong execution.

However, Al-Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamud disavowed the threat on attacking Kenya as a “fake.” I was expecting that...

But am still going AWOL!

And That's theSteifmastertake!!

Oga Yar’Adua You Were Supposed to Return Home this Week...O??!!

Mr. President, you were supposed to return home this week? Wetin dey happen?(What is happening?) How far? (whats up?) Wetin dey do you sef (what's wrong with you?) I bi laik se yu go heaven (It seems that you went to heaven) Why Jonathan Goodluck no be acting big man (Why is VP not exercising power in your absence) or na una sabi (or that's your business not mine) Na you we dey look o (We look up to you.)

A me just can't stop writing about him o! But I'll try next time round and not scribe anything more on him, not unless something as unfortunate as him recuperating and getting back to oga-land, fit enof (read enough) to make him manage am so! I promise O. Lest the big man now send me somone to go beat the wods outo me brain. Me gone be sorry... A tell you now my broda and sisto oh... ahm... whatever!

But in the meantime, Make we de go (Let us get going), Make i gist you wetin happen (let me tell you what happened).

Nigerian President, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua "Oga", was set to return to his country this week (between 25-29 Jan) according to different reports by Nigeria’s local media. The President who has been receiving treatment in the Saudi Kingdom is recuperating from a heart surgery and was expected to return to the capital, Abuja, on Wednesday. It however takes only imagination to know that "Baba-go-slow" has not landed anywhere in the country. He is still coming.

Yar’Adua’s expected return was to come in the wake of a 14-day deadline given by the country’s Federal High Court, to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and the National Council of States (NCS), the two highest policy authorities in the West African nation, to access whether the President is capable of performing his duties or not and pass a binding resolution.

Yar’Adua, who has been in Saudi Arabia since November 23 last year, is still receiving medical treatment in Jeddah and his absence has sparked rage and debate over the legality of state decisions. The president has spent over two months in Jeddah for treatment for acute pericarditis, an inflammation of the membrane covering the heart.

The 58-year-old dubbed “Baba go slow” by his critics for his styled slow pace of action has not transferred power to his deputy, Vice President Goodluck Jonathan, triggering debate over the legality of government decisions.

The Chief Judge of the Court, Justice Daniel Abutu, in his judgment ordered the cabinet to pass a resolution on Yar'Adua's fitness within two weeks saying, "Having regards to the fact that the president has been away on a medical treatment since 23 November 2009, he is incapable of performing his presidential duties. The FEC (Federation Executive Council) should resolve whether the president is capable of performing his presidential functions or not and pass a resolution to that effect.”

The court was responding to a law suit brought by opposition activist and former Minority Leader, Farouk Adamu Aliyu who had sued the Attorney General of Federation (AGF) and FEC over the indefinite absence of the President.

"We will abide by the judgement of the court. The Executive Council of the Federation will within 14 days, as directed, consider a resolution on the state of the president's health," Attorney General Michael Aondoakaa said.

Yar’Adua’s absence has raised concerns over a power vacuum in Africa’s second biggest economy and the most populous nation in the continent. The high court ruled last week in a separate case that Jonathan can carry out presidential duties in Yar'Adua's absence without a formal transfer of power.

Meanwhile, Yar’Adua’s predecessor, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who has refrained to comment about challenges surrounding his point-man for the 2007 presidential elections, finally broke his silence saying President Yar’Adua should know the “path of honour and path of morality” if his state of health was making it difficult to “satisfy the people you (Yar’Adua) are supposed to serve.”

In Yar’Adua’s absence, demonstrations have been staged by civil right activists and other concerned citizens demanding him to hand full powers to his deputy, as top lawyers pushed of an end to a power vacuum in the country.

Nigeria has also had to cope with clashes between Christian and Muslim gangs in Jos, Plateau State, seeing over 460 people killed according to human rights activists, while fears have been expressed over the risk of resurgent violence in the volatile Niger Delta, Nigeria’s stronghold oil industry.

Yar'adua, is the 2nd President of Nigeria's Fourth Republic. He served as governor of Katsina State in northern Nigeria from 29 May 1999 to 28 May 2007. He was declared the winner of the controversial Nigerian presidential election held on 21 April 2007, and was sworn in on 29 May 2007. He is a member of the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP).

Me try be a newsman now.

And that's Thesteifmastertake!!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Mystery of Nigeria's 'Baba-go(heal)-Slow'

The last time I checked, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar'adua, Nigeria's president, had been bedridden in hospital for 61 days! Yes, you read it right, 61 good days. That's 1, 464 hours, 87, 840 minutes and over 5.2 million seconds... and counting. As I wrote this, it was still 61 days, but with seconds mating to give birth to bouncing minutes which are multiplying so fast to hours, which are elapsing.

And 'Baba-go-slow' is still 'recovering' slowly in his bed in Jeddah, as his impatient and tentative nationals wait with bated breath for his return. Return. That is the only thing Nigerians can be sure about. They are sure Mr. President will return. But in which condition? As a corpse? Or as a man who has taken a long vacation and can't wait to show his nation the way.

His critics call him Baba go slow for his slow pace of action. And may be it's time they changed that name, or add him another - 'Baba-heal-slow' (seriously).

The guy is just living up to his name. Go slow on reforms, go slow on revolutionalising the electoral system, go slow in seeking and bringing lasting peace in the volatile oil-rich Niger Delta, go slow in reforming the oil industry, go slow in solving inter-faith violence in Nigeria, go slow in sorting out electricity problems, Baba go slow in bringing confidence that you will be fit to lead the nation again, go slow in transfering power to Mr. Jonathan "bad"Luck, go slow in recoveirng (if you still can), Baba Yar'Adua, go slow.

And That's the Steifmastertake!!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Nigeria Must Win Nations Cup to Save the Country

If Nigeria lifts the Africa Cup of Nations trophy, the benefits to different individuals in the West African nation could be astronomical, if not unimaginable. First, Shaibu Amodu, ogre, you will definitely take the team to the World Cup. Secondly, Nigerians will have at least something to smile about.

The 150 plus million population must be the unhappiest population in planet earth, and even beyond - if there are Nigerians in the moon. From clashes in Niger Delta to inter-faith violence in Jos, and who can forget the French leave of President (read former if you believe he's dead) Umaru Musa Yar'Adua. Won't the cup guarantee some smile at least after the final whistle and during trophy presentation?

Yar'Adua. Perhaps he will be the happiest of presidents in the whole wide world if he sees (if he can still see) Joseph Yobo or Kanu Nwankwo or Yakubu or Peter Odemwingie - whoever is the Super Eagles captain in this event - lift the gold-plated trophy, designed and made in Italy. Whether this will get him off his bed in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a question that is better left to his doctors.

But isn't happiness only for those who are alive? And who knows whether the son of Fatima and brother to Habiha is still alive? Am one of those who believe he must be up there with Him. What happened when Guinea Bissau President was assassinated in March last year? Wasn't his death covered until it couldn't be anymore? Why did Yar'Adua "give" an interview to the BBC and not to a Nigerian broadcaster when he finally "addressed" his nation? Was it part of a cover-up by the British and America who wouldn't want yet another African nation to descend to anarchy? If that is/was the reason, why don't they pressure the Nigerian government to give presidential powers to Goodluck Jonathan as the constitution stipulates?

And if Yar'Adua is alive (http://thesteifmastertake.blogspot.com/2010/01/yaradua-dead-or-alive-its-over.html), when will he be fit to travel back and show Nigeria the way? Aren't Nigerians and those who care about the West African nation entitled to some answers?

So many questions, no answers. But the only available answer to Nigeria's woes right now may be lies in the feet, chest, head and gloves (Enyeama) of Nigerian footballers representing their country in the Nations Cup. May be, and just may be, triumphing and carrying the Nations Cup trophy to Abuja or Lagos or Jos will remind the warring factions that Nigeria is one country which loves and has faith in football as a unifying factor in the African continent and its 53 states.

Football has brought peace before in other African countries and world over. Liberia, Cote D'Ivoire, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, and now Angola is using football to mend patches brought about by civil conflicts.

When the Super Eagles are playing, no one cares if you are Muslim or Christian, Northerner or Southerner. The same perhaps will be said when the Super Eagles parade their trophy harvest from Angola in front of ardent fans.

And if that is what it will take to bring sanity to Nigeria, my support is even stronger. Go Super Eagles, go!

And That's the Steifmastertake!!

The Boys Have Gone Home, Men take Centerstage

So the pigeons in African football have finally been separated from the pigs. But what do I, and perhaps many, make of the group stages of the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations? Pathetic, pariah, dull and lacking the gusto and even a glimmer of panache that has been the Nations Cup in the years past. No impregnable defences, no telephatic understanding between any forwards, no outright midfield dynamos, no amalgams of speed, and no tenacity nor defiance.

Results? The list of quarter-finalists is a no-surprises one as the big guns have all made it through, albeit with a struggle.

But struggles never matter in football so long as you can grind out a result. At the end of the day, losers wallow at the bottom positions of the table, pack and travel home (by air, use road at your own peril, especially in Cabinda), winners move to the next stage, get closer to the coveted title, and, give their coaches the hope of retaining their jobs at least for some more time. Bye bye Mozambique coach Mart Nooij. Shaibu Amodu, you are next my brother. Even if you go past a tricky Zambian side, you are obviously not the right tactician to help the Super Eagles - not Super Chickens - fly in the World Cup mundial.

The quarter-finals shotlist has them though. The impressive Egyptian Pharaohs, the just-about-there Ivory Coast Elephants, the uninspiring Ghana, the labouring Indomitable Lions and... the home team Angola have all but booked a ticket to improve on their sub-standard and less than satisfactory football in the quarter finals. Did I forget any "giant"? Oh, the Super Egos of Nigeria.

No match gives the potency of fireworks than Egypt Versus Cameroon. Although the Pharaohs have so far had what can be the only Roy of the Rovers performance in the African football premier tourney, not the same can be said of the Indomitable Lions who can be accused of complacency. Alexander Song has been brilliant for the Lions, his Uncle Rigobert has been error-prone and Samuel Eto'o has been mediocre, somewhat. Compare to the rocket-speed Pharaohs who have marvelled at orchestrating jaw-dropping moves from their goal-mouth to their opponents', you can't seem to wonder what will happen in the game. Hassan Shehata's side go into the match as favourites, but rule out Eto'o and his men at your own peril.

Ivory Coast versus the Desert Foxes of Algeria will not be a dry affair. But I bet on your money the Elephants will walk their way through the desert without needing any camels.

Angola versus Ghana sounds less exciting. And righfully so. Ghana will be without their inspirational midfielder Michael Essien, who is out of the tournament. Captain Stephen Appiah won't come out of his date with the doctors and Inter Milan midfielder, Sulley Muntari only reminds Ghanaian football officials of the word indiscpline. The home team will be wishing their hitman Flavio will be fit and hungry to bang in the goals and have the golden boot remain in Luanda. Expect a good fight though between the Palancas Negras and the youthful Ghanaian side.

Which leaves us with Nigeria versus Zambia. Nigeria will easily beat the Chipolopolo. In fact, the Super Eagles will slice them into pieces of fours or fives. It is of my sincere advice that the Copper Bullets build something stronger than an eleven-man copper-wall in order to stray the firing from the Eagles, failure to which, they will travel back to Kinshasha with their heads burried in their hands. Such is the confidence and adrenaline rushing through the Nigerian side captained by midfield maestro, the one and only Augustine Jay Jay Okocha. It is thus so hard to contemplate the star-studded Nigerian side even concede a goal. With Julius Aghahowa leading the attack, Tijani Babangida in a sublime form, and Sunday Oliseh unplayable at times, the 1994 Super Eagles side won the Africa Cup of nations and Nigeria has never lifted the trophy since.

I know my football.

So if by know you haven't realized am not talking about the current Nigerian squad, then you must be one of the few looking forward to go back to Angola for tourism reasons.

With the Super Eagles' display always lacking the urgency in a manner commensurate with when such situation arises, I won't be surprised if they bow out courtesy of an earlier Katongo goal for the Zambians. Most Nigerian supporters are chagrined that their status as one of the Kings of African football is under a big threat. An unlikely but not surprising defeat to Zambia will almost certainly confirm their fear.

But if the Eagles improving form is not a hoax and they can fly past the Chipolopolo - without being seen to be struggling - they have the best chance among the "Big Four" to reach the finals. Ghana or Angola, teams which are beatable by Nigeria's expected standards, shouldn't be such a hill to climb en route to the finals. Ghana has an inexperienced side while Angola is not as favourite as the Super Eagles to lift the trophy. If Amodu's charges score and fail to concede against Zambia and Ghana/Angola, they will make it to the finals for the first in ten years.

So forget about all the many wrong offside calls, the goal differences, the head-to-head records, Togo and Cabinda rebels, the searing heat and all the that have marred the group stages of the 27th edition of the African Nations Cup. The masterpiece is getting better, European clubs are watching, the world is watching...

And that's the Steifmastetake!!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Africa Must be Wishing George Bush was Still in Office

Oh. Just how most Africans must be wishing that George Bush was still in office! Just how even more Africans must be wishing that US President Barack Obama had his ancestral roots in a land so far than a god-forsaken poor - though changing - village in Kenya.

One year, and counting. "Brother" Obama's presence in the most powerful seat in the world is yet to be felt in Africa - charisma, optimism, race, feel-good factor, and, more optimism aside. Just what happened? Did his term in office come four-years earlier or so many years late?

When the "handsome" president worked his way so hard and earned the trust of Americans (and the world) to occupy the house located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C, so high was the optimism in the World and so astronomical were the expectations within Africa that some thought finally, finally, a saviour, in the name of Barack Hussein Obama had come to save the Dark Continent and remove from its shoulders the bondage of abject poverty and other economic ills affecting it.

But, on his first Safari to Africa after being elected US President, Obama was all to clear, about what he expected from Africa saying; "Development depends on good governance that is the ingredient which has been missing in far too many places for far too long. That's the change that can unlock Africa's potential and that is a responsibility that can only be met by Africans."

"That's a responsibility that can only be met by Africans." If this statement didn't and still doesn't speak volumes to Africans on what they should expect from Obama, then nothing will till he bides White House farewell. And during his speech in Ghana, did anyone hear him say "I will do (this) to Africa." It's only the Chinese who are good at saying that to the continent - at least of late.

But just why would an American leader be good to African people if an African leader isn't good to an African person. Isn't Barack Obama's plate already so full with Afghanistan, Iraq, Republicans, Abdulmutallab (read, Terrorism), and now Haiti (read, disasters needing US support)?

In Kenya, it has been a case of tough love from a brother. Since Obama got into office and  remembered that Kenyans dared to riot due to a flawed electoral process, three words have killed the East African economic giant in the eyes of Baba Michel; Good Governance and Reforms. So many Kenyan leaders must be cursing whoever put these words in the dictionary, or better yet, in the articulate man's lips. And why shouldn't they? Whenever Obama thinks of Kenya, he breathes out and talks out good governance and reforms. This flu has even caught up with his topmost employee in Kenya, Mr. Michael Ranneberger - US Ambassador to Kenya.

So it's all been talk and talk on reforms and governance from Washington. The direct financial or developmental benefits, if there, are far and thin. Except...

Except for Obama's ancestral village, K'ogelo, which has risen from a sleeping suburb with close to zero amenities to a force to reckon with in the tourism business in Western Kenya. If visitors keep on streaming in on Mama Sarah Obama's home village, the ever-smiling octogenarian may soon enter the coveted Guinness Book of World Records as the person who has met so many people of different classes, cultures and backgrounds. From filthy-rich billionaire Sulaiman al-Fahim — the point man of mega-rich Abu Dhabi United Group, to poor students from Barack Obama secondary school in the outskirts of Mama Sarah's home, from Authors seeking to retrace the US president’s roots to visitors just dying to shake her hand. The list is endless and continues to lengthen, and so does Mama Sarah's life.

But what of other African nations? What more does Ghana has to remember besides the waning pride that she was the first country in Sub-Saharan Africa that attracted Obama. They benefited then, and now? What of Nigeria which declared two days national holidays to celebrate Obama's victory? So far, Abdulmutallab and Nigeria being mentioned in the top five terrorist nations reminds Obama of Nigeria and Nigeria of Obama.

Two things though. Either Barack is not a philanthropic President like George Bush, or he gives to those who are not only willing to receive but also to pass through to those in need.

Take for example, Kenya, Obama's ancestral land. Isn't this not a land where money meant for taking and keeping children in school to get the all important education goes on a safari to hang out with other funds swindled right from the noses of Kenyans. Isn't this not the place where the poor become poorer everyday even as they walk long distances to earn starvation wages - which are taxed - live in dingy dwellings marred by crime and grime, and no one seems to give a damn? And isn't this not one of the many states in Africa famed for an act which measures to the standards of inhumanity, where the rich become richer by proposing for increased salaries and allowances which are not taxed?

Obama seems to be the kind who never settles for something less than a clean bill of health. And which African state can claim it has one? Tanzania? Nope. Nigeria? Ghana (hmm), Somalia, oops, or is it South Africa? Really?

Whether he wins his second term or not, Obama's presidency has nothing to do with Africa. The continent has enough resources to feed itself and even have reserves for nations like Comoros and the Solomon Islands. What does an American leader has that an African doesn't? What did God - or is it Allah - give Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany or Sellapan Ramanathan and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore that He was selfish enough not to give to Mugabe or Kabila? A corrupt mind? Methinks the only difference is an African leader uses his brain to find a way to enrich himself at the expense of the majority, uses his eyes to look at what he can grasp for himself and close relatives, uses his hands to put everything he acquires fraudulently in his own pocket, uses his influence to run away from justice, and uses his legs to kick beggars from his doors. HE is the word because Africa is ruled by He's, minus Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, presidential-ly speaking.

If Africa wants Obama to help it solves its problems, there are only two ways to go about it. Good governance, and Reforms. Conceivably, they should also consider giving him a hand in Afghanistan and Iraq. Or better yet, why doesn't the African Union shelve the US the bother of having to deal with Somalia or Sudan? Don't they have trained officers who can deal with the shabby Al-Shabaab?

And by the way, the US economy was on a downfall just yesterday. The economy is now recovering, barely a year after it was hit by the recession. Can you say the same of most African countries which have had years and years to bounce back from economies beaten by inter-ethnic, inter-faith and other kinds of inter-vices?

Africa should mind about what their tribal chieftains and financial crooks are doing to them. Obama is a USA (United States of America) President, and not a USA (Unreliable, Useless Statesmen of Africa) President.

Leave "my cousin" and America alone! The guy can't just wake up from his dream of playing for Chicago Bulls basketball team, and write a bullish grant worth a billion dollars to Africa. Any funding must be of merit and needs to be vetted and scrutinized - even more keenly than it happened during the times of Bush, the man considered to have been the most philanthropic to Africa, even more than Bill Clinton.

So I won't be surprised if Barack leaves office without announcing a grant worth even one-hundred bucks to Kenya or any African country.

There's more to worry about for our flappy-eared Barack than helping a continent that is willing, but not ready to help itself. Uncle Barry, worry about how you would come to my village K'ogelo without being seen as wasting American taxpayers money. I'll be waiting.

In the meantime, do the right thing and bring the change that we believed in to the world. And don't start campaigning for 2012 elections now like some agenda-less crooks in your beloved Kenya are doing. Yes You Can.

And you Africans, you must be wishing that Bush was still in office to throw some manna from Washington. Sorry.

And that's the Steifmastertake!!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Haiti Reveals a Generous Side of Africa

For many years, the African continent has held the title of being the hub where international aid is directed. Torn by internal conflicts and sometimes being utterly punished by Mother Nature, who has at times brought disastrous drought and famine, most African countries continue to rely on financial and in-kind aid from their “bigger brothers” from the West.

This is a scenario that is still being manifested even today, especially in the war-torn Horn of African nation of Somalia, where plane after plane being navigated by the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) continue to drop metric tons of food on each flight.

However, the destructive earthquake that hit the Caribbean republic of Haiti, the nation’s worst ever in 200 years, seems to be changing the general belief that only Western nations, which are more endowed in all economic fronts than their African equivalents, can offer help if a disaster of Haiti’s magnitude were to strike any nation.

In the wake of the disaster, African governments and their people are also coming together with the world and have stepped up their gears in the rush to provide international assistance to the quake-ravaged nation, which unfortunately  enough also bears the burden of being the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

According to various reports, Nigerians are part of a 121-strong police contingent serving with the UN police mission in Haiti assiduously working to rescue people trapped in the rubble following the devastating 7.0-magnitude quake that also had dozens of aftershocks.

Rwanda, which benefited a lot from international assistance during the 1994 genocide, is reported to have contributed US$100,000, according to Rwanda's New Times newspaper, while the Liberian government is reported to have contributed $50,000.

While questions abound on where Haitians will go after the quake reduced almost everything to debris when it hit Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, the Senegalese government has promised to offer free parcels of land to Haitians willing to relocate to the country. The West African nation remains one of the most stable democracies in Africa and has had a long history of participating in international missions like peacekeeping.

The nation's President, Abdoulaye Wade, through his spokesperson, Mamadou Bemba Ndiaye is quoted to have said, ""The president is offering voluntary repatriation to any Haitian that wants to return to their origin...If it's just a few individuals, then we will likely offer them housing or small pieces of land. If they come en masse we are ready to give them a region."

Talk of feeling sufficiently philanthropic.

But many Senegalese nationals live outside Africa. Some permanently, most, temporarily. The fact that some of them may have been struggling to find life in Haiti cannot be ruled out. In matters football only, Patrick Vieira, Bacary Sagna, Patrice Latyr Evra, Lassana Diarra, Aly Cissoko and Batefimbi "Baby Drogba" Gomis are just some of the exports who departed their home nation of Senegal in their quest to taste life outside their motherland. They all ended up in France, where they joined another well-renowned Senegalese, a kitchen expert, Chef Rougui Dia.

So, whether out of pure heart, or perhaps knowing that the list of Senegalese in Haiti may be more than the list of Senegalese footballers in France, President Wade's generosity is so far unmatched.

In Kenya, the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) and The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has urged Kenyans to contribute towards a fund that will assist victims of the quake. KRCS secretary general Abbas Gullet said Kenyans had also benefited from international aid during major catastrophes in the East African nation, and as a result, they should help assist the survivors. Safaricom, the leading mobile network operator in Kenya has also set up an Mpesa (money transfer) account where donors can send money for Haiti.

Meanwhile, the South African government, albeit busy with preparations for the upcoming 2010 FIFA World Cup in June, “has announced a three-phase assistance package: deployment of doctors to a search and rescue team led by Rescue South Africa, a non-profit company; deployment of forensic pathologists to help identify bodies; provision of unspecified humanitarian aid in partnership with South African NGOs.” South Africa’s aid organization, Gift of The Givers, has also dispatched relief efforts totaling to about R10 million according to Times Live.

Whether other African countries will be tickled by the gesture extended by their counterparts to help Haiti remains to be seen. However, it is a bold step in the right direction and it further dispels the common belief that Africa is all about gloom and doom and more of a receiving continent than a giving one.

And That's the Steifmastertake!!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Solar Eclipse Traverses Africa - What a Spectacle!!

Africans woke up on Friday morning to a cold and chilly weather with a blanket of grey cloud covering the sky, but were soon nodding in satisfaction after witnessing one of the longest solar eclipses that travelled across several African countries.

In Kenya's Capital, Nairobi, the eclipse, which saw the sun completely ringed by the moon, began at about 8:20 am, prompting elated Nairobi residents to employ the use of mobile phones to record the spectacle. While some used sun filters to watch the eclipse, others were simply bemused at the sight even as the rare scene kept on disappearing under a thick and relentless cloud cover. Traveling and other businesses came to a standstill for some minutes as the eight to eleven minute annular solar eclipse – reported to be “the longest eclipse of the 3rd Millennium” by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) - marched.

The eclipse was also experienced in Western Kenya towns of Kericho, Kakamega, Mogotio, Mumias and Bungoma. Completely oblivious of what had become of a Friday morning, some residents in the suburb areas in Kenya panicked in thoughts that the world was coming to an abrupt end. And who could accuse them of ignorance after seeing images of the colossal quake that hit and crumbled down the people and
buildings near Port-au-Prince in the Caribbean nation of Haiti?

Some called radio stations expressing their disgust and disappointments about how much money they were leaving uncollected in their bank accounts. "I have not withdrawn even 500 shillings (about $7) in my bank account, who will collect them for me," wondered one of callers.

One doesn't fail to wonder how many people may have barricaded in underground tunnels trying to escape an "ending world."

Fears aside, the eclipse hit Chad and the Central African Republic, then reached the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Kenya, moved into the Indian Ocean, before marching to India.

After passing over Somalia, the eclipse crossed over the Indian Ocean, where it at one point lasted for over eleven minutes. From the Indian Ocean, the central path of the annular solar eclipse continues into Asia through Bangladesh, India, Burma (Myanmar), and China. A partial eclipse is seen within the much broader path of the Moon's penumbral shadow, which includes eastern Europe, most of Africa, Asia, and Indonesia.

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Sun and the Earth thereby totally or partially obscuring Earth’s view of the Sun.

If you missed it -  either you hid underground, it never occurred in your country or residential place or simply you covered your head tighter with the blanket under the belief that the world was yielding to the call of the Creator - you will never get to witness such a thing again! The next longest annular solar eclipse will be seen in 3043 (1,033 years to come). By this time, even your children children's children will be dead, and you will be a great great *10power10 grandmother/father. Not unless the death mortality rate in your country is a millennium.

But if you believe in reincarnation, you will see it again, or miss it again. Reason? May be you would have reincarnated into a SusanvonEsch-varkentje worm (they don't have eyes), or replanted to a human being but in a far far land where the term eclipse is only found in the internet and geography books.

And finally, let's help the people of Haiti. 
Here's one of the ways you can help:
or donate to MAP international to enable them respond to this tremendous crisis: http://mapi.convio.net/site/R?i=nQAUSq6-TySIt6RIvOgWOA or
Join the Barrack Obama for Haiti initiative: http://my.barackobama.com/Haiti.

And that's the Steifmastertake!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

There's No Longer a Powerhouse in African Football

Am not flabbergasted. But surprised - a little - I am. It's either that the so-considered "small teams" within the African football landscape have upped their game, or there's no longer an "African football giant" in the continent - with due respect to Egypt. Yes, Egypt. The Pharaohs are perhaps the only team that remains the one and true powerhouse in African football, in spite of not qualifying for the 2010 World Cup, a thing that still hurts the North African nation like the quake that just hit the Caribbean nation of Haiti.

The Pharaohs, aiming to win the title for an unparalleled three consecutive times and taking home their continental-record sixth trophy, are the only so-called "big teams" in the ongoing Cup of Nations which has not registered a result that is contrary to the one expected by many. Of course they have achieved this fete at at the expense of another giant (or is it sleeping giant) in the name of Nigeria, the "Super Chickens" (read "Super Eagles" if you still believe they are one).

Nigeria is undoubtedly a sleeping giant - if matters football are to be staged on the agora. But are they the only ones?

Nigeria -  From high-flying Super Eagles to Super "Chickens" who simply can't fly higher than a pig's height, Nigeria's situation on the field is growing from bad to worse, worse to appalling. After struggling to run away with a tentative, lucky but resounding 3-1 victory over Kenya and qualifying for June's FIFA World Cup in South Africa (thanks even to Mozambique), the Super Eagles are not only struggling for form but seems to have run out of ideas and creativity in defence, midfield, striking and perhaps goalkeeping position (if Vincent Enyeama's hauler for the first goal is anything to go by). This is in spite of a star-studded side oozing some of the best talents exported from the Black continent into European premier football. Wolfsburg hit-man Obafemi Martins (nursing an injury), Portsmouth's elixir of immortality Nwankwo Kanu - who came in for an under-par John Obi Mikel of Chelsea, Lokomotiv's Osaze Odemwingie (was out with a sore throat), Everton's Joseph Yobo and Yakubu the Yark Aiyegbeni, Olympique Marseille's Taye Taiwo, and Hoffenheim's Chinedu Obasi, to name but a few.

And in spite of going to battle with Egypt holding an impressive record of not having lost to the defending champions since 1963, all the Pharaohs had to do was kick the ball around, concede the first goal after 11 minutes of spirited display by the Super Eagles, level within the next 25 minutes, continue marauding towards Nigeria's goal and the rest could only be history as Hassan Shehata's diligent and more-hungry eleven brushed aside their slothful opponents with aplomb and almost annihilated them in the second half. It was such an upset, some thought.

To many though, this was not a surprising result as it just underpins the continuing drop and drop of the Super Eagles' stature as Africa's football giants.

So where and when did the rain start pitter-pattering the Eagles? Was it after the departure of their creative midfielder talisman in Augustine Jay Jay Okocha? Is it the appointment of coaches who have been described as "lazy and unable to scout, identify and nurture budding local talent"? Is it the all too evident nature of Nigerian players not showing enough commitment to the national team? Or is it that so much more is expected of the 1980 and 1994 champions than they could ever deliver at these times?

Whatever it is, the downfall of Nigerian football - marked by big-name but under-performing stars - started even before they were knocked out of the quarter-finals in the 2008 Africa Cup on Nations, a year in which they also failed to qualify for the World Cup. Since then, the results have not gone their way for one simple reason: they have not worked for it and hence, not earned it. And even though they qualified for the 2010 World Cup gala where the biggest players of them all converge, they may head to South Africa as a team that will be adding to the numbers, unless things improve. And how soon should the improvement be.

At least a semi-final berth will almost certainly guarantee out-of-favour coach, Shaibu Amodu, his position in the World Cup coaching bench. But with such a morale-thumping performance against the Pharaoh's, it will be tough enough for the Nigerians to go beyond the group stages, especially with a slick-passing Mozambique and a capable Benin able and it seems, willing, to stage an upset.

Hence it's obvious that Shaibu Amodu's reign as the Nigerian national team coach hangs with a small thread. The nation's football aficionados have no confidence in him or his ability, the players' notwithstanding. He may have led them qualify to the World Cup, but is he the right man to see them through the mundial? Time will tell.

Win or lose, Nigerian football has taken a deep tumble and the state of football in the nation can only be described as uninspirational, embarrassing, shoddy, lethargic and calamitous, going by the standard expected of the Eagles and of course their ability to meet such standards.

A stakeholder in Nigerian football and Team Manager of Nasarawa United, Mr Anthony Yamusa once said, "Most coaches in Nigeria are lazy. They don’t want to develop local players; they only rely on foreign players for their assignments. Even players that are not counted in the country, once they are abroad playing for one moribund team, our national team coaches will begin to scamper for them to come and play for Nigeria. All they want to make the national team is somebody who is playing outside the country. They forget that developing local players is what we need to develop football in the country."

May be it's time Nigeria chopped off the current crop of flops and injected some home-grown, fresh blood, fresh feet and fresh hunger into the squad, if they want to go beyond the round of 16 for the first time in the nation's world cup history. And may be this way, the Eagles may fly high enough and save itself from being a disgrace in the mundial.

Tunisia (2004 winners) -  Nicknamed Les Aigles de Carthage (The Carthage Eagles), Tunisia's football is also taking a dive down the pecking order, more or less at the same pace as the Super Eagles. Although they have qualified for four World Cup events (winning only one game with a 3-1 mauling of Mexico in 1978 in Argentina), they failed to qualify for this year's event to be held for the first time in Mama Africa's soil. With Kenya, Mozambique and a fast-fading Nigeria in their World Cup cum Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers group, it was a relatively easy group by The Carthage Eagle's standards. Of course it was going to be tough leaping ahead of the Nigerians in this group. But Tunisia had everything in control after beating Kenya home and away, drawing with Nigeria 0-0 and 2-2, beating Mozambique 2-0 before failing to attack and crumbling in the last match against The Mamba, losing by a 83' Monteiro solitary goal and failing to qualify for the World Cup at the expense of the less-deserving Nigerians.

Their Cup of Nations hunt has not started any better. Tipped as favourites to win their opening match with a fast-improving Zambian side, Tunisia were in the backfoot and played in their own half for most part of the first half, going down 1-0 in the 18th minute courtesy of Jacob Mulenga who fired a low shot past Tunisia goalkeeper Aymen Mathlouthi. The 2004 Champions however managed to grab a goal in the 40th minute when Zouheir Dhaouadi fired into the roof of the net to level matters against the run of play. This raised the tempo of the game and the Tunisians grew in confidence and game more in the second half, but escaped a late scare from the Copper Bullets of Zambia. At the end of 90 minutes, one would not shy away from saying Tunisians held the Zambians to a 1-1 draw. The 1-1 scoreline leaves the group open, but a draw against a side which has not gone past the group stages in their last five tournaments further proves the Carthage Eagles are no longer a force to reckon with in African football. Having squandered an opportunity to join the football elite in South Africa in their last World Cup qualifier game, Tunisia's progress in the group  highly depends on whether they can beat group favourites, Cameroon. And they can.

Morocco (1976 Champions, 2004 runners up)  -  The Atlas Lions of Morocco failed to qualify for this year's tournament. They finished as runners-up in 2004, were bundled out in Round 1 in 2006 and 2008, and finished last in their qualifiers group which had Cameroon, Gabon and Togo. It was a tough and tricky group but a Moroccan team boasting of a talent and hot property like Marouane Chamakh could and should have done better. They are a fine example of fallen giants in African soccer show.

Cameroon  (4-time winners, 2-time runners-up) -  The Indomitable Lions have simply not lived up to their fans' expectations of late. Gone are the dominant Lions who roared to two successive Nations Cup (2000 and 2002) titles at the opening of the 21st century. Although they qualified for the 2010 World Cup in an aptitude and perhaps convincing fashion, their deepening and fickle form can only be witnessed by their latest fall to Gabon, a team they beat home and away in the qualifiers. A major upset may be imminent in their group and Cameroon are not cushioned to an early shower. They were beaten hands down by Togo who qualified for the 2006 World Cup at their expense. But going into this tournament, and despite going down to Gabon, they still hold the tag as one of the favourites to lift Africa's premier football accolade.

If the Samuel Eto'o-captained side win the tournament, it will not be a major upset. But if they fail to pass the group stages and perhaps reach the semi-finals, it would be.

Cote D'Ivoire, winners in 1992 and Ghana, winners in '63, '65, '78 and '82 are the other favourites to lift the trophy. But with the way the results have swang so far, it will not be a rocket science scenario if any of the lowly-seeded teams win the tourney. Thus, no one should belittle the capabilities of Angola and Mali, who served the African continent with a rain of goals in the first match, or the fighting spirit of other low sides like Gabon and Mozambique.

And one can forget the defending Champions, Egypt, at their own risk.

And that's the Steifmastertake!!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Yar'Adua - Dead or Alive, It's Over!

92 days... These are exactly the number of days Nigerian President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua left his oil-rich nation, people and expansive resources to seek for medical attention in the Arab state of Saudi Arabia after complaining of some "chest pains". For 92 days, the over 151 million Nigerian population - of whom Yar'Adua is accountable to - knew nothing about the populous country's 2nd President of the Fourth Republic, who had been diagnosed with even more life-threatening conditions including kidney failure, stroke and massive brain damage, the latter which led to reports claiming Yar'Adua is brain-dead.

So what is the real condition of the Nigerian President at King Faisal hospital in the Saudi Kingdom? Is he dead or alive? Is his health condition getting better or deteriorating? Are there any signs of his recovery? Does he even have a chance of recovery? Will he even recover - if he is not dead yet? And if he does, will he be in a position to, in the least, supervise a swearing in ceremony of the country's Chief Justice or the 15 yet-to-be-sworn-in Permanent Secretaries?

Aren't Nigerians entitled to know the answers to such questions and more besides?

Unfortunately, no one has come out clear to set the record straight on the state of health of the President (or is it former President). A constitutional crisis is looming, a power vacuum is all there for  everyone to see - including a power-hungry military, the people are seating on tenterhooks of instability, the President is... where is the president?

Isn't that not the question that most people, including US President Barack Obama (interested in Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab's case) is asking?

“Your Royal Highness, Umaru Yar’Adua is not a private patient but our President and an employee accountable to millions of people. Information about his physical and mental well-being cannot be subject to the usual medical confidentiality of any ordinary citizen," said an open letter written to King of Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saoud by Nigerians in Diaspora under the aegis of Nigeria Liberty Forum.

As you would expect, no response has been gotten as yet.

So, what happens next?

If the case of when the government of Nigeria under the leadership of Major Generals Muhammadu Buhari and Tunde Idiagbon was overthrown in 1985 as a direct consequence of Tunde IdiagbonĂ­s prolonged stay in Saudi Arabia is not a case in point, then let the president be out for just some more time. Experience is the only teacher, but not for everyone.

It is so obvious that Yar'Adua's situation (I insist, if he's still alive... read along) has highly exposed Nigeria to chances of a military coup. And whether Yar'Adua is alive or dead, the latter becoming increasingly plausible, the country's Vice President, Goodluck Jonathan, should not delay in grabbing the stroke of good luck and assume office immediately. If he doesn't, then Goodluck's luck may as well run out and see his nation fight through a period of military rule, again.

Bottomline: Nigeria will suffer if the president dies while in office. May be it won't. Some sources report that Nigerian President, Umaru Yar'Adua is dead. "He died on the 10th of December at 3.30pm at an Intensive Care Unit at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center in Jeddah Saudi-Arabia. Sources at the Hospital say that the First lady wants to keep the news secret for the next few days for personal reasons." 

But is he? Dead or alive, it's over for Yar'Adua!

And that's the Steifmastertake!