Murmurs

murmurs

In my opinion when a group of people make a statement saying “We don’t believe our lives matter” and any response other than, “Of course, you do matter” is inhumane. It is inappropriate to choose that moment to state all the other lives which matter instead of addressing the pain that is currently being verbalized.

I am personally perplexed that people can shed tears over a dead dog or pretend to care about orphans in south east Asia or Africa when there is a whole generation of kids in your backyard who don’t believe their lives matter.

I have met several people in academia who believe that the overall response to the “Black Lives Matter” movement has inappropriate to say the least but they will never say something in public for fear of offending someone else’s feelings. As Alain de  Botton so appropriately stated, “Many people in the intellectual elite are very scared of shouting. They insist on very quiet murmurs”.
murmurs

Personally, I never want to become so educated or get a title so important that I fail to respond to a fellow human’s cry for help.

Too educated

So let me emphatically say it; Black Lives Matter! You do matter to me at least. Of course other lives matter, white lives, Asian lives, Hispanic lives, Police lives etc, etc, But that is not the question at hand. The issue at hand is, a certain demographic in the United States feels systematically marginalized and targeted by law enforcement. And when they make a statement as a way of affirming themselves, any other response other than yes you do matter is WRONG! We as a people were provided with an opportunity to respond and we failed, the political leaders failed, the civic leadership failed, even the church failed.

So here is my advice to all the proponents of human rights in third world countries from the United States.  Before you condemn another dictator’s leadership and assert yourself as the self appointed  human rights police force for the rest of the world it would be nice to address the issues you have in your own backyard. Such as, the fact that a good percentage of your population is actually questioning whether or not their lives matter.  To all the awesome people who love travelling around the world to make a difference in the lives of other children 10,000 miles away, would you please consider addressing the issues here at home as well?

Disclosures: I happen to be black and I am also a part of the academia who ignorantly only voiced my disapproval in murmurs. Well, not anymore!

I leave you with a quote from Gaston Bachelard “The subconscious is ceaselessly murmuring, and it is by listening to these murmurs that one hears the truth”.

murmurs1

I recognize  that we are all overworkedover exposed and over stimulated today but if you liked this article, consider liking it and sharing it with a friendfamily member, colleague, hater or frenemy!

Share your thoughts below, I can’t wait to hear from YOU!

 

Ramblings of an overworked ENTJ

Truth be told, I have always had the reputation of a hot head who is neither lacking in opinions nor shy with sharing those opinions. However as I grow older, I have come to understand that being brazen rashness that may have by mistaken for bravado and may be even admired in your twenties is not cute when you are in your 30’s. As I begin to explore the idea that may be there is a different way to view and process things rather than just the usual I think I am right so therefore I am right.
During the pass decade I have grown so much and gotten so much more than I have ever hoped or planned or even dreamed of. But in order to understand my journey may be it’s important to understand my history up to this point.
I am the fifth girl in a family of 8 and growing up I was sort of a conundrum in the sense that even though I was clearly an extrovert and mostly outspoken and outgoing, I spent most of my child hood as a bookworm. Spending hours in our family library which is really an overstatement. It really was a small room may be 4 x 6 m with a small dingy window and poor ventilation with a collection of books that my dad a journalist had collected over the years. It was in the tiny room that my family and I affectionately called “small room” that I was introduced to Dicken’s flair, Bronte’s eloquence and Twain’s story telling abilities. It was my chance to escape into a world of possibilities and I lived an enchanted life.
It was a kind of escape and as I began to delve in the literature I felt liberated of sorts. It was at this time that I realized that I did not have to live solely on the basis of my experience but I could begin to draw from the experiences of others. I began to entertain the idea that there is more to life and to the world that just what I had seen or experienced. Also it did not hurt at all that my father was such a great story teller who had spent the majority of his working life travelling for his job.

The Education Quandary

Education

My dad taught me this principle at a very young age. I guess we each have to decide which conversations we want to keep having.

I recognize  that we are all overworkedover exposed and over stimulated today but if you liked this article, consider liking it and sharing it with a friendfamily member, colleague, hater or frenemy!

Share your thoughts below, I can’t wait to hear from YOU!

I grew up in Africa. Don’t be sorry for me

I grew up in Africa. Don’t be sorry for me by Naofal Ali in Medium

To understand this article, two precisions are needed. I was born and have grown up in Benin (a west African Country), and I’m presently living in Paris.

A simple fact makes me write this post. Each time my European colleagues and friends ask me about my life course, I naturally answer them i’m from Benin. It’s my birth country and the place I have grown up in. Then, something incredible always follows: I read pity in their faces.

At that moment, their facial expressions silently shout at me “Oh the poor little guy. How sad and traumatic his childhood should have been”. People feel sorry for me, sorry I was born and have been raised in an African country.

Dear people, henceforth, do not be sorry for me anymore. I’m okay! Actually i’m even fine, and growing up in Africa is still the best thing ever in my life. I’m going to tell you why, with the hope it will make your vision less naive.

“In countries like Africa”

For your information Africa is not a country. It’s a 54 countries continent and each has its own realities. Are North Korea and South Korea the same ? Colombia and Brazil ? France and Italy? You know they are not. So when the will you understand the same goes for us ?!

“The war zone”

Even if all you heard about Africa is CNN sad news and safaris, be smarter than that. There are not conflicts all over the continent ! Of course we have our own issues, but who hasn’t ? You got FARCs in South America, Ukraine issues in Europe, and Palestine in Asia. You see ? Problems are everywhere, not only in Africa.

“Poor people”

I know it can sound weird but the notion of poverty is a way more complex than you actually think. According to you, is someone with an annual wage of 10 000 euros a year poor ? I guess yes. Actually, with that ‘’low wage’’ in Benin you can live four times better than with the quadruple in Paris. Your house will be better, your food will be better, you’ll have more people to count on, your job and your life will be less stressful, and as bonus you’ll get a tropical wheather 7 days a week. Don’t just make currencies’ calculations, it just distorts reality. As far as your means allow you to live in comfort where you are, you are not poor, and many of Africans are in the case.

‘’No social life’’

In Africa, family and friendship mean so much to us. No matter the situation you are dealing with, someone always got your back. Our grandparents don’t live in rest houses, our mothers don’t feel concern in who will keep their babies because all their relatives want to. We have the lowest suicide rate in the world, and it shows how much we appreciate life. We do not wait for Facebook to have hundreds of friends, we do not wait for Blablacar to share cars. We do not wait for Airbnb to welcome people in our houses for free. We do not wait for “vizeat” to share our home-cooked meals. In fact, your social revolution is our everyday life. Sharing is not a new business trend in Africa. We got it in our DNA. Values, help, friendship, sharing, and sense of family. That’s what social life is made of in Africa. Not only of stupid images you watch on TV.

‘’No technolgy’’

I confess we have no high speed internet, many electricity issues, no subway, no high speed trains, only few malls, and sometimes, it really turns out to be problematic. But take a step back, and look around you. See the life that we’re living these years in western countries. Parents are afraid of GMO’s in their babies’ food, citizens are afraid of terrorism threats, people are being watched permanently by governments, banks are playing dirty with workers savings, Isis is turning vulnerable teenagers in radical islamists on the internet. So, maybe Western countries have opportunities that we don’t. But the same goes for their problems.

Once again dear non-African reader, don’t be sorry for me. Growing up in Africa is the best thing life ever gave me. Just raise your eyes. The world is larger, and more complex than you might think.

Hi, I’m Naofal. I’ve grown up in Benin and I’m fine.
Nice to meet you.

Dr. Tina: I loved this article so much, I am inspired to write my own article titled “I grew up in Cameroon, please don’t feel sorry for me”.

Someone Tell France: We know what you did

#SomeoneTellFrance: We Know What You Did by Kathleen Ndongmo on Medium

FCFA Member countries

My father had good reason not to stand the French and anything to do with France. From as young as age 12, he made sure he detailed the diabolical deeds and atrocities that France committed on us as a people. How she not only wiped out thousands of indigenous people but also successfully chained our nation to a lifetime of slavery and economic bondage.

I remember the first time a very young me went for a French transit visa in Yaounde. I found the visa officer particularly hostile. For no apparent reason, she persistently bullied me with inconsequential and condescending questions. At some point, she asked rather haughtily:

“Why do you want to go to France?’’

Without blinking, I shot back:

“I am going through France because I am obliged to. My parents have paid taxes to the French government since 1960!”

The second line was probably not necessary. But I was young, passionate, irritated and at that point, flat-out angry. My mind reeled.“Is it because of a common transit visa that someone will reduce me to nothing this early in the morning?” I couldn’t have cared less if the visa was issued or not. But it was issued. Don’t ask me why.

That was 16 years ago.

I am much older, wiser, and angrier. Allow me to break down the reason for my anger in the following graphic, which hopefully should ruin your day:

A lot has been written about how France loots its former colonies, but you have to admit that seeing the figures in real time and putting them into perspective is quite staggering.

  • According to German publication Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten, France’s former colonies must put $418 billion (400 Billion Euros) into the French treasury every single year! This economic slavery is important for the development of the French economy.
  • If the FCFA zone has an estimated 147.5 million people (as at 2013), that means each person in the zone is paying an annual colonial tax of $2824 — almost $3000 — to the French government. One can no longer be left wondering why citizens of these countries pay some of the highest amounts in taxes on the planet. Now, consider that only those in the working age (15–59) actually pay in sweat, that amount doubles. The babies and elderly pay indirectly (poor healthcare and nutrition, lack of education and social services, roads that kill, etc …) — basically — the ripple effects of economic bondage.
  • Here is the kicker: The combined GDP of the FCFA countries stood at $166 billion in 2012. Basically, France is “eating” 2.5 times more than its former colonies annually — all of this from our sweat and blood.

Are you weeping yet?

The imperialist defenders of “French civilization” have made every effort to keep its brutal colonial rule, economic exploitation and continuous crimes under the radar. But they do not fool most of us. What France did to Guinea and Sékou Touré in 1958 traumatized three generations of African leaders. We are beseeched by imperalism and neo-imperalism by the same colonial master. The subsequent disasters have been felt repeatedly since independence. They are still being felt.

  • On January 13, 1963, an ex French Foreign Legionnaire army sergeant called Etienne Gnassingbe killed Togo’s first elected president. Sylvanus Olympio had just started printing Togo’s own currency three days before. It is reported that Gnassingbe received a bounty of $612 from the local French embassy for the hit man job. He went on to become president.
  • On June 30, 1962, Modibo Keita , the first president of the Republic of Mali, decided to come out of the trap of the French Colonial Pact. On November 19, 1968, like, Olympio, Keita will be the victim of a coup carried out by another ex French Foreign legionnaire, Lieutenant Moussa Traoré who went on to become president.
  • On January 1st, 1966, Jean-Bédel Bokassa, an ex french foreign legionnaire, carried a coup against David Dacko, the first President of the Central African Republic. The greatest mistake Dacko made was asking Bokassa — incidentally his cousin — to reorganise the army. Bokassa went on become president.
  • – On January 3, 1966, Maurice Yaméogo, the first President of the Republic of Upper Volta, now called Burkina Faso, was victim of a coup carried by Aboubacar Sangoulé Lamizana, an ex French legionnaire who fought with french troops in Indonesia and Algeria against these countries independence. Lamizana went on to rule till 1980.
  • and the list goes on… coup after coup after coup… over 16 of them in Francophone Africa alone in the last 50 years at the behest of France.
These are the 22 presidents assassinated by France since 1963. *Read about it here [FRE]*

After what happened to Laurent Gbagbo in 2011, leaders in the FCFA zone are probably terrified of anything contrary to what France says. As ludicrous as that sounds. Part of the Colonial Pact carries ‘defense agreements’ between France and its former colonies allowing France to pre-deploy its troops and keep military facilities locally entirely run by them. No one ever asks why they are stationed, when they will leave or what their intervention entails. For those curious enough to, some excuse is usually found for why they are deployed on the ground. Something along the lines of; to protect economic interest, occupy strategic points or defend an ally among the local politicians. It’s the same sob story from Djibouti all the way to Cote D’Ivoire.

French military stations in Africa as at 2015

Why are international bodies not concerned? Well, the old boys in the club know that France is a “superpower” — albeit — with an Achilles heel. They know that the FCFA issue has been steak with an expiration date since World War II. Imagine it for a second. If France lost access to that $418 billion tomorrow, the EU trade bloc would reel from the effects a thousand times worse than Brexit! They have interests, so they turn a blind eye. France itself has seen this coming. I hear they’ve been scouring the planet trying to make new rich friends. Vietnam and Saudi Arabia have been invited to join the Francophonie party. Whether they would agree to be fooled is another story.

The good news however is this: the FCFA is increasingly becoming a poison pill even for France, costing it great diplomatic prestige. The fact that Germany (via Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten) is beginning to tell the story of France’s scandalous acts in Africa is telling. The Germans are at the receiving end of the backlash of migration of Africans into the EU — and the headache it is giving the Bundesregierung— is only one symptom of the many French colonial relics. Siphoned resources from FCFA countries means no hope for their citizens. It’s a clear catch 22.

Back home, the leaders of these countries may be sitting pretty being puppets on the strings of a colonial master but its young generation is having none of it. Recently, a group of young panafrican activists began advocating against the economic stranglehold that France has on its former colonies through the French Colonial Pact. The movement happened simultaneously in several African cities and in the diaspora led by Senegalese writer and activist Kemi Seba. Similarly, Benin Republic’s NonAu FCFA’’ movement took a protest march to its leaders on Nov 30th 2016.

Front Anti CFA sensitisation and peaceful protest day on January 7, 2017 across cities and in the diaspora

A Franco-Cameroon colloquium focusing on the topic: ‘Cameroon’s perilous path towards independence’ is being planned for June 2017. It has got me wondering; when will France start paying back the loot? Do French people know they are living off the wealth of a part of Africa? Can the descendants of victims of the Cameroon War perpetrated by France jointly sue them for reparations? More importantly, what is it going to take for this state of indentured servitude to end?

We cannot continue to defend France’s grotesque reign of violence and intimidation as ‘Western Civilization’. We should not be mute when France — in nothing but racist rhetoric — celebrates its country’s “colonial endeavor.” We should hit back at Nicolas Sarkozy’s insistence that the “ancient Gauls” are the ancestors of all French people, whatever their origins. We should shut down prime minister François Fillon’s description of a deadly colonization as the simple “sharing of culture.”

#SomeoneTellFrance — #DitesALaFrance:

  • We know what you did. Your colonial crimes, your diabolical legacy and your current continuous theft is not lost on us. You have done everything to hide it, and failed.
  • We will fight you, until you free us completely — whether our leaders remain your puppets or not, whether you continue to stage coups or not.
  • Your Africa-France jamboree holding in Bamako on the 13th and 14th of January is an opportunity for us to tell you: we will no longer pay for the crimes you committed against us.
  • Stop being a leeching neo-imperialist coward. Look at your colonial past and your monstrosity toward human beings in the face and deal with it.

Own your narrative

Narrative1

Britain did this for years. For a long time, most of the world’s history was told from the perspective of the English. The US now plays that role. Rightly or wrongly,  it provides context for the rest of the world from music to movies to politics and science.

Ever wondered who controls your narrative? Is it a parent, a spouse, a friend or an enemy? Is this person alive or dead? Yes, I did say dead, you would be surprised how many people are controlled by the dead. Do you allow your parent’s successes or failures to stunt your growth.

Either way, it is your story and you can choose to have a say how it is written or you can give up control of your narrative either intentionally or unintentionally and miss out on the life you were designed to live.

I want to encourage to you to take the time to share your thoughts with friends, colleagues and even frenemies. 

I recognize  that we are all overworkedover exposed and over stimulated today but if you liked this article, consider liking it and sharing it with a friendfamily member, colleague, hater or frenemy!

Share your thoughts below, I can’t wait to hear from YOU!