Popular Posts

Monday, July 26, 2010

From Female Circumcision to Breast Ironing - The Plight of an African Girl

It’s quite amazing, though at times baffling, what some women or ladies would go through in this world to become or remain attractive.

While there’s consensus that a woman must always be beautiful, this beauty of course lies on the eyes of the behold-her. And this beauty is not only measured by facial appearance, but more besides. Right body size, extraordinary body shape, must be curvaceous or hourglass - model-like height, a stylish hair and a drooling ‘chest’ for want of a better word are just but a few of factors to consider when looking for a spouse or girlfriend.

I remember a period when a woman’s hips was the in-thing. I was only in first grade then and from the moment this became an obsession in the world of attractiveness, I started encountering women around the village who had developed big hips overnight!

However, it didn’t take long before word started doing rounds in the village that the owners of these hips had fixed big heaps of cotton wool around this area of interest to give it that extra ammunition.

That was at the start of the millennium. Since then, other issues have arisen and today, most women, if not all, are aspiring to own celebrity and model-like figures which are simply unattainable for most.

God is famed for working in mysterious circumstances. If he gives you a big buxom, he can as well ‘bless’ you with a close to nonexistence bottom. And since he offers no room for negotiation, you are either left to live with it, or consult science to add it to you, of course with side effects.

What if He gives you more than you would have wished for? Do you iron it down?


Well, this is what they do in Cameroon, as far as breasts are concerned. For the ignorant, Cameroon is a country of central and western Africa. It boasts of having produced one of the most deadly strikers in world football today in the name of Samuel Eto’o.

Cameroon is in the news for subjecting girls to a very weird and excruciating exercise, in the pretext of cushioning them from being sexually attractive to men at a tender age. A very tender age indeed if 9 years can’t add enough weight to the word am looking for.

It is called breast ironing, a traditional practice perfected in major villages in the country. When the little ones are growing up, the parents “use hot objects to massage (read massacre) their breasts, to press them so that they don’t grow,” as a lady in this video I watched explained to her young students in class.

To the mothers who subject their children to this uncouth painful torture without showing any slight sign of remorse, the route to a girl’s body is their breasts. The bigger the breasts, the more mature and sex-ready a girl seems to be. So in order to protect them from the prying eyes of men and also prevent early pregnancy, their breasts are ironed twice a day and in every two months to prevent them from growing.

Are you still with me?

Saying that the result of this leaves the victim’s breast look like pancake would be an understatement.

I wouldn’t want to start ranting here saying that these mothers are abusing the children, thanks to ignorance and lack of proper education and the social detachment between the government and her people. Or compare this to female genital mutilation. And before you laugh at this, remember that these kids need help and you can’t provide that help by laughing. 

One thing that I know for sure is that my wife wont come from Cameroon. I can’t just imagine being in the company of… May God Bless Africa.

And That’s thesteifmastertake!!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

World Cup Tops and Flops, Parrots and Octopus's

So the 2010 World Cup edition is over. Spain are the world Champions, Thomas Mueller got the Golden Boot and best young player awards, Diego Forlan collected the Golden ball, and the ice-cool Iker Casillas won the Golden Glove.

But not everyone won. Some were tops, many were flops. Here’s my list of the best performers in the world Cup tournament and those who should have just sat back and done the cheering. Do you agree? Leave your comments below.

PAUL THE OCTOPUS - Call him Mr. Eight. Eight goals in eight appearances. Eight tackles committed, eight tackles won, eight saves made, eight complete passes made, eight tentacles, but don't ate him. What a perfect score for Paul!

MANI THE PARROT - They don't say the octopus is intelligent for nothing. Just eat the parrot now since there's one, and only one undisputed champion in the world of predictions. And it has nothing to do with money, or mani for that matter.

SAN ÍKER CASILLAS FERNÁNDEZ – The La Furoja captain did not only lead his 10 men to lift the world cup trophy but showed the way, making two stunning saves and denying Arjen Robben a double in the cup finale

ROBERT PAUL GREEN – USA’s Most Valuable Player was to the English and the fans, the greenest thing to make it to a world cup match. May be we expected too much from the man wearing green, playing in a green surface and making a green appearance in the world cup with a green name.

CARLES PUYOL SAFORCADA – The forward-roaming Philip Lahm could easily have claimed my nod for this had he not been kept into his own half against the matador Spaniards in the Semi-finals. Barcelona’s Carles Puyol knocked Germany and Lahm out in the semis with a bullet header. And after a brilliant display in the finals, the full-back deserves to be recognized.

PATRICE LATYR EVRA – The North Koreans may have let in 7 goals against the Portuguese but they had a fairly good outing for a team returning to the World cup after a 44-year absence. But what happened to 2006 finalists and 1998 Champions in the Les Bleus is beyond understanding. Hence, I pick on Evra. You don’t go to the world cup to ship in goals and lead a rebellious group against your coach. And especially if you are the captain.

ANDRES INIESTA – Pass, pass, pass, pass, and goal. Spain inarguably have the best midfield pack in the planet. Thus, the midfield player of the tournament could have gone to Xavi, Xabi, Busquets and even Fabregas who showed solid performances from the bench. But Iniesta was my man of the match in the finals, hence gets the edge over his teammates.

SANI HARUNA KAITA - His straight red card for kicking out at Vasilas Torosidis in the 33rd minute of Nigeria’s crunch match against the Greek earns him this award.

DIEGO MARTÍN FORLÁN CORAZO – He did not win the Golden Boot award for nothing. The Atletico Madrid frontman had a vintage tournament from the word go. Scored screamers after screamers and gave nightmares to defenders.

WAYNE MARK ROONEY – Okay, he did not get enough services from his midfield. Okay, he might have gone to the World Cup feeling tired. But leaving the competition without a goal for a man who scored willingly for Manchester United before breaking for the world cup is inexcusable. Mentioning Nikolas Anelka on this space will be disrespectful for all the great names gracing this article.

JOACHIM "JOGI" LÖEW – Were it not for Paul the Psychic Octopus, Loew and his young team could have reached the world cup finale. But again, were it not for Paul, the Die Mannschaft couldn’t have gone that far. Whichever applies here, Loew has to be credited for leading such a young team to a respectable third in the World cup for the second time in a row, previously as an assistant coach to Jurgen Klinsman in 2006.

RAYMOND DOMENECH – His list of questionable attributes is far-reaching. Why did he refuse to shake hands with Carlos Alberto Parreira after loss to South Africa? Well, because he didn’t attend the world cup in the first place. If anyone sees him, you can show him some finger.

CARLOS ALBERTO TÉVEZ - Maxi Rodriguez did it for the Argentines in 2006. This year, it was the turn of the Money-Chester City forward. Will he ever get to hit a better one than that? Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s pile driver is worth mentioning as well as Diego Forlan’s reply in Uruguay versus Netherlands match. But Tevez’s cracker against Mexico at the second time of calling is my pick.

ANDRÉ DEDE AYEW - I could go on making a list for this. Germany’s Mesut Ozil and Muller are any bookmaker’s favourite for this award. And rightly so. But I have to give it to 22-year-old Ghanaian midfield whiz ANDRÉ DEDE AYEW. The future is bright for Ghana with this star on their side. If only Roy Hodgson could bring him to Anfield.

FABIO CAPELLO – Okay. I know he’s not a player. But by refusing to give his young players a chance to trouble opposition defences, he takes this with him. May be because his name has no Y but O at every end.

YAKUBU AIYEGBENI – Had Nigeria erected a tree in front of the South Korean goal instead of the Yark, the tree could have easily tapped in that ball for a goal. But instead, Lars Lagerback decided to use a Yark. Yark!!

Don’t we all know that goal that never crossed the line in USA versus England match?

ENGLAND, FRANCE, ITALY – It was a tale of one team which had no confidence, the other too rebellious and the other too old to kick a ball to save their lives.

SPAIN – Hail el Campeons!! What a dazzling generation of players!!

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Let Paul the Octopus Decide Whether He Wants to Live

If Adolf Hitler was told he was going to die before July 14 2010 (when Spain played Germany in the 2010 World Cup semi-finals), his last wish could have been to be served with a plate of grilled octopus. Paul the Octopus to be precise.

After all, the two-year-old German cephalopod is what denied his country folks their fourth world cup trophy, by predicting that Spain would beat Germany in the semi-finals. And this came to pass, to the chagrin of many Deutsche citizens. But this right prediction proved to be a wrong move for the octopus. It has now become the most endangered specie on planet earth and death threats are raining in faster than the goals the Germans scored against Saudi Arabia in the 2006 World Cup.

'Throw it in the frying pan', 'cut him in thin slices', 'delicious, octopus soup', 'throw him in the shark tank' are the screams people are making as they bay for the flesh of poor Paul.

A number of people however are pleading to German fans to give Paul one more chance to put things right. Spanish Prime Minister Jose Zapatero has even gone to the extent of offering Weymouth-born octopus state protection after his country became the second, after Serbia, to benefit from amigo Paul, who rightly predicted the Germans would lose against the two opponents.

"I am concerned for the octopus ... I am thinking of sending him a protective team," Zapatero said in an interview with German TV. I can only imagine how much a dish of Paul the Octopus would fetch. And who knows, may be, those who get the opportunity to dine on this creature may just genetically inherit some of his characteristics.

But now, the big question is, should Paul be on the menu after 'betraying' Berlin? I say, we should let him choose.

The aquarium workers should repeat the whole process. That is, lower two containers holding food into his tank. Each should contain symbols for death and life - a human skull and a vanita. If he eats from the container symbolizing death, I wont mind being the first to offer my services of at least throwing it in the frying pan. In fact af this point, it would already be a retard. A minute of silence should then be observed in honour of the specie should this legend depart the world of football.

If he eats from the container symbolizing life, he should live and be protected by every marine and endangered specie international bodies known to man. His life should be prolonged beyond the maximum five-year life expectancy by the doctors who should undertake this as an absolute obligation.

But in the meantime, the La Furia Roja can also help the eight-limbed oracle. How about they secure restraint papers from International Criminal Court at The Hague warning the German public to restrain from issuing death threats to their amigo? Or process his travel documents via the Spanish embassy in Germany and put him on the earliest flight from western German city of Oberhausen where he now stays to the city of Salamanca in western Spain. 

And before the Germans decide to throw him on the frying pan or barbecue him, they should not forget that the qualifiers for Euro 2012 are just some few months away. If they are that shortsighted, they should go ahead and make a meal out of the poor thing. If they are not, then they should realize that he will come in handy in the not so distant future.

Oracle Octopus Predicts Spain Delight
Meanwhile, the octopus has predicted that Spain will triumph over the Dutch in the finals to be played on Sunday. Maybe he's rewarding the Spanish citizenry for showing so much love for him. From Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero to the nation's environment minister Elena Espinosa who said he will be asking EU for a fishing ban on Paul the octopus to La Roja's famous chef José Andrés who took off the octopus from all his menus, the Spaniards have all but shown mad love for the cephalopod.

Does this mean that the Dutch leaving just in the west of Germany will also start issuing their own death threats to the octopus? Oh poor Paul. Will you live to see remaining length of this World Cup or any future competitions?

And that's thesteifmastertake!!

Intercontinental Hotel in Bid to Sum World Cup in Style

As the historic World Cup comes to a close this weekend, the football frenzy is still at high pitch with corporate companies and those in the hospitality industry gearing up to make a spectacle of the finals set for this Sunday.

Nairobi Intercontinental Hotel has already set up a cozy VIP lounge for the up market corporate guests to come and watch the finals in addition to its big screen that has been showing live football matches since the beginning of the World Cup.

The VIP lounge, which has been touted as exceptional and state-of-the art, is set to become a signature wrap to the much hyped world cup and provide a ‘lasting impression’ to the hotel’s customers.

Christian Lehman of Intercontinental Nairobi says the hotel has lined up assorted prizes for their predict-and-win promotion and other activities to be run during the finals.

“We have great prizes ranging from bottles of wine, merchandise, t-shirts among many others that we want our customers to enjoy”, said Mr. Lehman.

Other lined goodies include buckets of beer, bitings and assorted continental snacks to be enjoyed throughout the match.
Spain will face the Netherlands in the finals showdown with both teams aiming to win their maiden World Cup trophy.

Puyol Makes Paul The Octopus’s Dream Come True

A bullet header from Spanish and Barcelona veteran defender Carles Puyol was enough to finally squeeze flair out of the Germans and send Vicente del Bosque González’s side into the finals of the 2010 FIFA World Cup for the first time in history.

The European Champions dominated the game from the referee’s kickoff whistle with exquisite passing and telepathic understanding from defence to the frontline. Barcelona pair, Pique and Puyol marshaled the defence, Xavi, Xabi and Iniesta orchestrated the midfield while David Villa’s presence in attack kept the Germans vigilant. Even the ever forward roaming Philip Lahm was restricted to his own half as Del Bosque’s men bossed the game.

The Germans always came close especially on counter attacks but with San Iker Casillas guarding the goal post avariciously, the Die Mannschaft needed to do more than just shoot on target. It was on the 72nd minute that Puyol rose unmarked and thumped in a bullet header off Xavi’s corner kick sending the La Roja nation into a frenzy.

The Germans pushed for an equalizer but their efforts never materialized. I got to record some of the best moments of the game at Hotel Intercontinental in Nairobi and you can watch the video below or on You Tube.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Press Freedom Still Elusive in Africa

Over the last twenty years, the media industry in Africa has grown in leaps and bounds. More TV and radio stations as well as the print media are being introduced, while the entry of new media in the journalism landscape has transformed the way stories are told.  State-ownership and control has seen radical reduction.

However, with this growth, media freedom has is still being abused in many countries where journalists have been apprehended, their equipment confiscated, and in worst cases, some have lost their lives in the line of duty. Stringent legal, political and economic environment has restricted most institutions from operating freely as independent media outlets and journalists continue to face perennial harassment and violence from the regulators cum oppressors, the government.

Nevertheless, the expansion of democratic space, vociferous campaigns from the civil society and increased international and regional pressures on respecting human rights has witnessed better improvement from some countries within the Sub-Saharan Africa.

The entry of the New Media and social networking sites however has substantially improved the story-telling abilities of most journalists. With such forums like blogger, twitter and wordpress, the African journalist can now speak, albeit vigilantly. 

But with these advancements, huge challenges still remain in the scramble to tell the African story, the African way. Prohibitive constitutional and legal frameworks has really hampered the media from playing its role as independently as it should. Although media journalists are guided by ethical standards that need to be adhered to, some governments don’t have the trust in this, and as a result, they end up enacting legislations that are punitive to the media industry.

Africa 24 Media, Africa's first online delivery site for material from journalists, African broadcasters and NGO's from around the Continent, made a groundbreaking entry into the African media arena with its pilot initiative of establishing and providing African journalists with an online platform where they can tell their own stories, their own way.

The launch of the online platform revolutionized the African media environment, promising a brighter and better way for freelance journalists across the continent to submit their content that would otherwise not see the light of the day.

However, journalists still find it difficult to submit their content online due to inadequate internet speed caused by lack of bandwidth in most African countries. However, with the entry of undersea cable into the African telecommunication system, the future seems to be getting dazzling for the African journalist. Indeed, the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel is within sight.

Internet and social networking looks more certain to be the future for African journalists, while the role of the mass media in Third World development is indisputable. Indeed, a microscopic look into the success story of some African countries finds out that the more economically, socially and economically stable countries have their foundation firmly rooted on a free press.

But there’s still a long way to go. With independent journalists battling a losing battle on censorship every year, with increased violence and deaths reported every now and then in countries like Somalia, Libya, Madagascar and even South Africa and Kenya, exercising the right to information is still a quandary.

But there’s hope. There’s hope that one day freedom of disseminating information, damning or not, will be not only recognized in the constitutions as a human right, but treated as such. Hope that that journalist from Puntland in Somalia will still strive to tell his story without being shut down by the militia. Hope that that journalist from Kenya will report about corruption in Kenya without being ‘rattled’ by the ‘snake’. Hope that that Zimbabwean blogger will finally speak his mind out without being muzzled by the incmbent.

Hope that the whole of Africa will one day recognize the power of the media, not only in disseminating information, but also the bigger role it plays in economic, political and social prosperity.