Wednesday, December 23, 2009

2009

Where to begin. The year started off with the usual occurrences; New Year hangovers, resolutions, more hangovers, broken resolutions, big plans, little plans and a jug full of optimism. This was 1st and 2nd January.

3rd January was one of my best friends' wedding and he was getting married to my sister. It was a day for celebrating life and the union of two souls. I bought the only suit I have ever owned and looked the sharpest I possibly could. It was a good day. All my friends were in attendance, we got drunk and got up to all sorts of things. It was one of those nights that will always be memorable.

Two weeks later, the once happily married couple was separated. My dear sister had after all rushed into this without knowing exactly what she wanted and now the enormity of it all had sunk in. She was scared and wanted out, she told my dear friend as much and their lives fell apart. The storm clouds were just gathering.

Two and half weeks later, Brenda lay in the hospital dying. I watched helplessly as things went from bad to worse. Sarah called me one rainy morning in February to tell me Brenda had passed on. My world crumbled. I retreated into my head and have been there since.

I had come to hinge my life on her, whether she knew it or not, that I couldn't make sense of it anymore. I wanted to die and perhaps if I was less of a coward I would have slit my damn wrists. As it was I opted to run to far off lands, to spend the rest of my years seeing the world and giving back all that I could. This was April; I had spent the months before my departure dazed, saying my farewells, attempting to leave with as clean a slate as possible. I tried to tell my friends that there was nothing more important than the bonds between us; I hope I got through to them.

Two weeks later, on the other side of the world, I lay dying, afflicted by an exotic malady aptly named "break bone fever". Much to my dismay, I survived it with the handsome reward of destitution. I made my way back here with one goal in mind, to find my way back across the seas in a few months and to start a foundation while I was here.

On returning, I tried to figure out what kind of life I could hope to lead here. I set my mind to understanding life as humanity has known it and what I learned was depressing. Human beings suck! Yes, you suck! Life is so hard on its own but somehow we're not content with that, no sir, we must always find a way of making it harder for each other. We have persecuted each other since the dawn of time for being different. There are those among us who would have everything and not care if the rest had nothing. There are those who would kill others for the sake of material things. Others still will kill for their religion, apparently on the instruction of an unseen deity for the promise of a piece of heaven. I am taught to believe that all men are inherently evil and wish me harm, that no one does a good deed because it is simply right but because material benefits will accrue to them as a result. The world is such that without money, my life is worthless and my voice does not matter.

Anyway, as things were attempting to get back to normal, with new goals set and a new desire to enjoy life and do something meaningful creeping up on me, Eirene ups and leaves us, after only a month and twenty days here. A true visitor if ever there was any. I asked myself what possible meaning to take from that; the comfort that she did not get to see how ugly this world can be? The idea that she is an angel (whatever that may be) somewhere up there? I wondered what I could possibly tell the heartbroken parents to make anything better and I had no answers. I still don't. If I have learnt anything this year it is that "Life is suffering".

I have had no desire to work at all this year. I can't see what good it does, mankind is still headed in the wrong direction and I don't think anyone is ready to give me the reins. Many a time, I have not cared whether I went hungry or not, there doesn't seem to be much to live for. The conventional things to aspire to don't hold appeal for me anymore, I have no desire to etch my name on any piece of rock and call it mine for I know the truth is that it will never be mine. I am a visitor here; this strange blue green orb is not my home. I belong somewhere out there in the vastness of the universe, I simply keep this place for those that come after and my only duty is to make sure I pass on a world that will be better for posterity than it has been for me.

The months have blended into each other, helped by a steady dose of alcohol, tobacco and other herbs but I still feel hopeless and helpless. I have finally hit my low point, I knew it was always coming but depression has never been this bad. I need to get away from here. The world makes me sad, this place, doubly so.

But, here's the irony. This has undoubtedly been the worst year of my life yet, but it has also been the best. I like to get to the heart of things; if I have a problem, I like to deconstruct it down to the base elements and find a solution from the ground up. I fell in love with a girl and life denied me any chance of experiencing what could have been and I would have taken my life had it not been for the fear that wherever she is, she would hate me for that. Maybe I will overcome that fear, I don't know. All I know is that from that first moment I heard the news, I wanted to let go of this life and I decided that I would simply expend it doing some good. I decided that even if I never achieve all these lofty heights that we all aspire to, I will simply do the best I can. I have come to have an understanding of life and what it truly is all about that makes me yearn for nothing less than peace. I want to live in peace with my fellow man, I want to sit by the fire, drink and get caught up in the wonder of being alive.

I like to think that I am blessed with a modicum of intelligence; I have always been one to incessantly ask why until the would-be teacher admits the limit of their knowledge. I am humble enough to know that what I believe is not necessarily what the rest should believe and that I cannot hope to know everything, but as human beings, we gravitate towards the company of those who share most of our views. I have been fortunate to meet a whole bunch of you. I will take from this year among the many lessons I have learned, the knowledge that there's a good bunch of people out there. Having never really felt a fundamental part of any family, I believe that my friends are as much my family as anyone else, perhaps it is a display of naiveté but I frankly couldn't care less. So I would like to say, it's been one hell of a year but thanks to all you guys for pulling through and for dragging me along with you. To all those who got hitched, mazel tov, those who got unhitched, well congs to you too, those planning to get hitched, all the best.

The Nook Club, The PIFF, Coffee Korner Phnom Penh, my classmates in Cambodia, the lovely Lisa Fields, Rama (who got me started thinking about the piff), The MerminBunnells, Bloggers (you're all mostly mad but you rock!), Couchsurfers, Javas Classic crew, Bubbles, The Workzine, Maria, Sarah, Penny, Trish, Pat, Stella, Scharlyne, Phillis White, Dincy, Beqy, Jaq, Brenda, Fez, Darlyne, Baz, Joanna, Fifi, Dimples, Rosette, David and Niki, Angie, Suze Peru, Rob Percival, Becca Schwartz, the bajaj guy who sped off with my 5k the other day, the chick in Bangkok who conned me of a pizza promising me kb and all those who have bought me a meal and a drink here and there, thank you all. I could list all y'all but we would be here til the second coming so I'm just going to wish you a very merry Christmas and happy new year. May you find the child in you that makes the holidays magical. See you on the flip side and just so you know, "I aint dead, I aint done"

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Mega BHH

So, the party is on! @solomonking has all the details and I'm going to camp at his office, which by the way (Streetsider and Sleek) is above Banana Boat and not some alternate dimesnion between the ATM machines and FatBoys, until I get them.

See you guys there.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Festival of Dangerous Ideas


Remember those so called "bimezas" and "kabazos" that the government in its infinite wisdom banned? Well, some guys in Australia got together and organized one of those things, a public debate on some of the prevailing notions and beliefs around the world today. Hosted by the Sidney Opera House in the first week of October 2009 and dubbed "The Festival of Dangerous Ideas" it featured such topics as "Democracy is Not for Everyone" and "Religion Poisons Everything" among several others.

The festival's opening address was given by atheism advocate Christopher Hitchens on the topic of "Religion Poisons Everything", which was countered by Australian Roman Catholic Cardinal George Pell in a session titled "Without God We Are Nothing". The Crikey, the erstwhile controversial Australian electronic magazine, summed up the event in these words: "For the Darlinghurst secular-liberals most of these ideas were either safe, or so ridiculous as to be of no interest. Really dangerous ideas — ones that people might act on — didn't get a look in."

I don't know about the guys at The Crikey, but I watched the debate on "Democracy is Not for Everyone" and I was impressed with the arguments for and against the motion. It was filled with intellect, wit and more importantly a realism contributed by the speakers' honesty, analysis and experience. I would so much as go ahead to encourage everyone to watch these debates but I am afraid they can be classified as the stuff of intellectuals. Apparently that stuff is boring to most people, a notion I find silly because anyone who has the inclination and capacity for reason is an intellectual. I personally believe the average farmer is more of an intellectual than the average acolyte of the revered "corporation".

I find myself playing around with these dangerous ideas, I ask myself what is the true essence of "Life"? What truly is "Liberty" and how can I engage in "the pursuit of happiness"? I am delving into ideas that are merely given lip service these days so as to lend credence to mercantile misadventures.

A member of the audience remarked that it was high time humanity got back to the business of thinking and extending mental boundaries. It has become apparent that these ideas that we praise without reservation, ideas like "Capitalism", need to be revisited and fine tuned to fit the needs of all society and not just a select few. Perhaps the greatest coup d'état of our time has been the one on Liberty by the unrelenting greed that drives mercantilism. I personally believe we need to revisit the entire idea of capital as a factor of production and figure out a way of a giving it a social dimension from the ground up and not the half hearted handout that "corporate social responsibility" is. Don't get me wrong and assume that I'm advocating for a radical shift to "Socialism" or some other form of government; all I'm saying is that we would be better served by a combination of different ideologies than just one. The idea that to have a meaningful life, one must engage in the unending pursuit of "money", something that is by definition meant to be scarce, is fallacious at the least. It simply cannot be true because to say so would mean that more than half the world's population, including myself, lives a meaningless existence and will be doing so for a long time to come unless we do something about it.

I wish to teach my generation that as long as we dream and use our imaginations, we can achieve anything. The simple truth written in all these self help books is that we are what we think we are and all that's left for us to change is our thoughts and opinions.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The PIFF Speech That Never Was

Apparently I was supposed to make some sort of speech last Saturday; thankfully I managed to dodge it. I like to think that I know myself very well and I know that if I desired to master the art of public speaking I would do so. However, I know the kind of power and influence that comes with it and I do not wish to have it. The very thought of having people hanging onto my every word scares me. I believe that everyone should be able to think for themselves but for those of you who still have questions about the Pay It Forward Foundation Uganda and would like to hear all about it from the horse's mouth, well, here goes this horse.

First off, let me thank all of you who made The Masquerade Party what it was, it was great having you there! Thank you for all your support and enthusiasm.

The PIFF is above all else an idea, perhaps we're just idealists but we truly believe that the world can be a better place if we all just cared about each other a little bit more. Personally, the idea is premised on the kindness I have experienced in my life, without it, I would not be here today and I am very aware of that fact. The world today is set up as a ruthless jungle where the meek, poor, helpless, unfortunate and many others are trampled upon and considered nothing more than units of production. Somehow as a species, we seem to have lost that very thing that defines us, our humanity. The PIFF seeks to change this attitude by encouraging you to believe with us that being kinder to whoever you come into contact with can make the world a better place.

While I may have issues with the way the world is set up, I realise that we have to conform to certain standards if we are going to be able to do our work, however in all that we do, we aim to uphold the values of Kindness, Integrity, Forgiveness, Respect, Trust and Unity. We seek to dispel the belief in the outside world that we cannot help ourselves and must always depend on foreign nations to offer assistance and even manpower. I look at my generation and I see that there is potential to build a nation and a world that is truly better for all of us. We only lack the belief.

The PIFF aims to be a social network or movement or whatever you wish to call it that brings together people from all walks of life and gets them thinking about becoming better individuals who will build a better world by tackling today's social issues together. The role of building civilizations is not the sole domain of political organisations as we have come to realise but rather it is the duty of every man and woman.

We hope that many of you are asking yourselves how to become a part of the PIFF and to answer your question; you just have to believe that a kinder and better world is possible and that it begins with you. Many people have stood up throughout history and said as much, some have said that "you must be the change you want to see", that if you wish to build a better world; you should start with the "man in the mirror". We beseech you to make a conscious choice, "to live from the inside out rather than from the outside in."

So we're going to crunch the numbers, draw up the plans and then get back to you on how you can help us help others. Yes, we want your money, at least a little bit of it.


 

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

A Song for Keira

Here we stand by the fireside singing songs
Singing about tomorrow and the day that's gone
Thinking of the roads and tunnels long
We'll wander east and west 'til we get home.

The clouds are gathered, winds blowing,
Together huddled for the storm is coming
Pain pulls to the edge of night, falling
Searing and burning bright, we lie groaning.

Across the plains and up the mountains
With nature's towers and flowing fountains
We lay to rest your earthly form
A month and twenty days, your home.

Goodbye goodbye Goddess of peace,
Heart of innocence without sin
Your life with us a pleasant dream
One of us, forever we sing.

This world will not break our heavy hearts
For your laughter we have known, pure and light
Perfect forever you remain, peace to you we pray
One of us, forever we sing,
One of us, forever in our hearts.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Disestablishmentarianism: The New World Order

The world is changing. The financial meltdown brought to light a simple fact about the system of capitalism; that it is not without flaws. Excessive greed was at the heart of the crisis with the world's biggest financial institutions trading assets to the tune of several hundred billion dollars. When the housing bubble bust and these assets quickly turned toxic, these giants of capitalism, a system that dislikes government, found themselves having the "government of the people" as their lender of last resort. Some argued that these so called giants should be left to the fate of demand and supply but their voices fell on deaf ears. The impact, of the demise of Lehman Brothers at the hands of market forces on the global economy, forced governments all over the world to institute bailouts for their financial institutions. The BBC in its series, "Lehman Brothers: The Bank That Broke The World", reports that every tax payer in the developed world forked out £2000 to bail out the world's largest banking institutions. As the world struggles to recover from the recession, governments and businesses are trying to figure out how to prevent another such disaster. Questions like, "Why didn't we see it coming? How did it happen so fast? Who is responsible? How do we make sure it doesn't happen again?" have been on policy makers minds for much of the last 12 months and perhaps many more to come. The fact is simple, we need new thinking, and the mantra coined on Wall Street that "greed is good" has been shattered.

The world is changing. The issue of global warming can no longer be thought of as a fringe idea. The evidence is all around us. The ice caps are melting faster than before, the air is stale and full of gunk and the world's forests are disappearing faster than ever before. The results of our belief that it is our mission to go forth and multiply are only too evident now. The world's population stands at more than 6 billion people and according to number crunchers, that number will hit 9 billion by 2025. The current view is that we will need approximately one and a half earths to sustain such a population. We have been here before, some centuries ago a man of the cloth came to the conclusion that unless something was done, the population growth rate was going to quickly outstrip the food supply. His name was Malthus and his theory is still taught in classrooms today. We were saved by the agricultural revolution. Man set his mid to figuring out a way to sustain the world and was successful. Today the future seems bleak; a vast number of people are faced with starvation, the relentless march of industrialisation and all the ills that go with it threatens to engulf the world. At the current rate, The Federated States of Micronesia will be no more in about 20 years, Thailand will cease to exist by the turn of the century and much of Uganda perhaps will be nothing more than desert. The rapid change in the global climate and the threat it poses for many communities around the world will lead to social and political upheaval in many parts of the world. The fight for scarce resources will only intensify and the idea of a climate induced apocalypse is no longer the sole domain of Hollywood and science fiction writers. The way forward is not quite clear but it is evident that we cannot go about our lives as if it were business as usual, something must change. High on the agenda is discovering an energy source that is clean, cheap and abundant. I wish that one of my own could come up with this but instead it seems we might yet have to fight over the "black gold".

Something is happening in the Middle East. There is an organisation of the United Nations called the UNRWA (United Nations Relief Works Agency). It was formed sixty years ago to deal with the issue of Palestinian refugees. It is, according to the United Nations resolution that formed it, a temporary organisation. I imagine the idea was that the issues between Israel and Palestine would be sorted out quickly enough to allow peace to reign between the Jews and the Arabs; however it seems I am not the only one cursed with the disease of procrastination. The politicians tasked with solving the crisis have all pretty much given up on it and the consensus around the world is that there can be no peace in the Middle East. However the world has sat back long enough, the idea that one state can act unilaterally with impunity is distasteful to say the least. The Goldstone Report which has caused major political fallout is the beginning of a new trend and we cannot take the Israel's self serving propaganda at face value anymore. The idea that such a thing as the Dahiya doctrine is justifiable borders on the lunacy that led to WWII, the same lunacy that has been the oil feeding the fires of persecution throughout human history. Its results as evidenced by Israel's war on Gaza are nothing short of crimes against humanity. The greatest shame in all this lies on the Palestinian people for in the midst of persecution, they are divided. They fail to realise that if they presented a united stand to the world, they would go a long way in the fight for freedom. As for the so called people of the free world, it is nothing short of inhuman to witness such events and idly stand by claiming that it is not your duty to help. Those who purport the desire to do so clearly attempt to serve two masters, justice must supersede the interests of any state if the world is to live in peace. The time will come when Israel will attempt to cross the "Red Line" that is drawn by the Arab world at Al Aqsa mosque and may God be with us all on that day because it will no longer be as simple as matters that don't concern you or me, it will be a matter of religion for more than one third of the world's population and the idea of a holy crusade will not seem so alien to many people all over the world. As I write this, it has become evident that Obama has failed to get the Israeli government to cease settlement expansion, something that is in violation of previous agreements conjured up over the years in an attempt to make peace in the holy land. He finds himself losing credibility among the Arab nations as an impartial player which simply means that all those inspiring words he spoke in Cairo not to mention that Nobel prize have all been for naught. Yet, there is hope, even if it is the simple fact that I am now aware of these things and that I will never stop fighting for the rights of all who are oppressed. I add my humanity, whatever impact it may have, to the cause of freedom for all the oppressed, from the children of my country, to the Rohinya of Myanmar and to the people of Palestine. I wish to say that I stand with them in their struggle and I have hope.

I realise that I could go on and on about how the world is changing and how it affects you as a member of the human race but I believe that each one of us must make up their own minds as to where they wish to go and what they desire to do. I offer only one simple piece of advice, seek ye first knowledge and then pray for wisdom to choose the right path. We who are alive today are at the cusp of a new age in human history; it is the age of awareness. At no other point in history has mankind had access to information like we do today, we have the ability to hold a meaningful conversation with a stranger thousands of miles away at the click of a button and it would be silly of us not take advantage of this and build a better world. The idea that there is an institution in this world that cannot be changed or torn down is rooted in nothing more that people's acceptance of the status quo. As long as citizens all over the world believe that they do not have the power to change their lot in life, those who control and govern us will always do what they please at our expense.

For my part, I desire nothing less than peace on earth. I worship at the altar of Eirene and I will never stop seeking peace and happiness. This desire threatens to send me to the remotest corners of the earth, to sit in ancient temples and seek a path to enlightenment. Those of you who wish me to stay a little longer; I ask that you show the world that little bit of humanity. I ask that you come join us as we attempt to make the world just a little bit kinder and better.

PS: The Pay It Forward Foundation Uganda will be having a launch party this Saturday 07th November 2009 at Bricks Bar and Restaurant in Centenary Park at 4pm. All are welcome, especially you. If you would like to support the foundation, you can do so by buying a ticket or a tee shirt. See you all there.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Of this and that and the other

I've not been here in ages, sorry but life sort of caught up with me and I just managed to wriggle out of it's grasp for these few minutes to tell you what's up. I've been doing a lot of writing, unfortunately most of it's been done in my head. I can't seem to stop thinking about things, which reminds of a Robbie Williams song with the line "contemplating thinking about thinking". Yup, I've been doing that. I've been thinking about the Goldstone report and I will be telling you what I think about it soon. I Was watching Faultlines on Al Jazeera the other day and they had a special on Honduras, it's amazing how much injustice goes on out there and yet the powers that be stand by and watch.

The Listening post is doing a feature on Obama's Nobel and how it was reported in the media, what do you guys think about it? Afghanistan is in trouble, they have to organise a run off election before winter sets in, I wish them the best. Karzai attempted to pull a fast one even with all the world's cameras pointed at him and he nearly got away with it.Pakistan on the other hand is in danger of devolving, can you believe the chaps have nuclear weapons? The whole world seems to be comfortable with the idea of wiping out the Al Qaeda and make theTaliban powerless but I'm not sure it's going to be accomplished.

Back home, I've heard things about a homosexuality bill that makes us look like barbarians and apparently no leader on the continent deserves the Mo Ibrahim Foundation Prize.

Will fill you in tomorrow on other happenings. Later peeps

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Workzine Issue 6

I had to write the editor's word for the latest issue of the workzine and I found myself doing several versions. I feel that they're engaging but then again I know people don't like reading such stuff so I just thought I would throw this one here since I have license to torment you with my meandering mind.

We're back again! It seems way too soon but as the old adage goes, time flies... I have just come to a certain realisation; the world is run by the middle and lower classes. Forget the idea that the ruling elite call all the shots, if the middle and lower classes all over the world woke up one morning and decided to sit down until say for example they received higher wages, the world would come to a standstill. I realise too that I am not the first to see this; all those who have led civil society movements in the past have instinctively known this. Ghandi, MLK, Su Kyi and all the others have embraced this knowledge. This knowledge however is beginning to make its way into our daily lives; perhaps the time will come when it becomes a natural part of us, the idea that each and every one of us matters will be held above many others. A certain lady, Elinor Ostrom, has just won the Nobel Memorial Prize for economics; she shares it with an Oliver E. Williamson but it is the first time a woman has won this prize since it was awarded forty years ago. She accepted the accolade with humility saying that while it was good to win the damn thing, she knew she was only the beginning. Perhaps one of you will aspire to this award.

Interestingly their work (done separately) challenges traditional beliefs regarding resource management, conflict resolution and the theory of firms and markets. It is a load of boring stuff for those not interested in the business of economics which leads me to something that's been bothering me for a while. How do you manage to keep your world small? How do you not give a damn about what happens elsewhere in the world? At the end of the day everything is tied together, you might think such things shouldn't matter to you but any analysis of world events and history will show you that everything's connected. I have become obsessed with the world and I fear that I might burn out or end up sad, bitter and lonely but I know that I will never stop wanting to know more. The beeb's motto is "Never Stop Asking" and I guess I will always be doing it till I drop dead.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Faith, Hope and Charity or Pay It Forward: The Elevator Pitch

Abid was introducing the idea of the Workzine to bloggers last BHH and he was asked for an elevator pitch of the entire concept. An elevator pitch? I asked myself, then it dawned on me that it simply meant that you had to sum up the idea in the time it takes to ride an elevator to say 11th floor of Worker's house. If you can't pull it off then, you might as well proceed to the roof and take a dive. So I thought I would give it a shot and introduce The Pay It Forward Foundation Uganda before we get to the 10th floor.

Then I got thinking: Since when did our culture evolve to this point, when all the time another person has for your thoughts is an elevator ride? Obviously I wandered into debate concerning capitalism and socialism and many other places. I realised that I could not do it, I'm too wordy to sum up an entire concept thus. So I debated on how to introduce our idea of The Foundation and I came across a simple truth. I have the ability to take that which I wish from any religion in the world. So I decided to sample these religions and introduce this concept to you. I choose to go with a Judeo-Christian theme, complemented by the religion of submission, Islam and what I consider the true religion of Peace, Buddhism. My choices are simply because I have intimate knowledge of Christianity and I have chosen to discover these others. I have come to preach people, stop the elevator!

Romans 13:8-10 (Duties towards One Another)

Be under obligation to no one – the only obligation you have is to love one another. Whoever does this has obeyed the Law. The commandments "Do not commit adultery; do not commit murder; do not steal; do not desire what belongs to someone else"-all these and any others besides, are summed up in the one command, "Love your neighbour as you love yourself." If you love someone, you will never do them wrong; to love, then, is to obey the whole Law.

This is perhaps one of the most important messages in the bible. Paul, in his letter to the Christians in Rome, explains his understanding of Christ's message. I have read the bible and even though it is full of hatred, anger, death and destruction, it still contains a message of peace. Jesus may have proclaimed that there was no other path to paradise than through him and however much I may disagree with that I cannot fault his teachings on peace, love and kindness. In today's world, there are many who profess a belief in these teachings but act otherwise. I do not have the moral authority to condemn anyone for I too have sinned, but I have a belief that if you hold these words to be the living word of God, then you must follow them with all your heart. The call truly is simple; it is not beyond anyone's means or ability. You cannot say I am not rich enough or I do not have enough because all you're asked to do is to love your neighbour as yourself. It is a simple call to love one another genuinely, one that has been interpreted in many ways with life's hardships forcing us to ask who our neighbours truly are. Some have interpreted it to mean that a neighbour is one who shares your belief and helps you when in need and all others do not qualify but life in its randomness will provide for you no matter your beliefs for the tree gives of its fruit to all men alike. God, in his infinite mercy did not judge you unworthy of his blessings and sent you his only son. It is perhaps only right that we live our lives by Christ's example and message.

The Quran S. 2:62 Al Hilali & Khan

Verily those who believe and those who are Jews and Christians and Sabians, whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day and do righteous good deeds shall have their reward with their Lord, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.

Paramount to all religions is the message of faith. That you must first and foremost believe. The religion of submission to God's will, Islam has one fundamental difference from Christianity. While the latter requires only belief in Jesus Christ (and perhaps by extension his teachings) as the son of God to enter paradise, Islam requires in addition to belief in Allah, a belief in the Last Day of judgement and acts of righteous good deeds. I am not yet well versed with the Quran but I know that among Islam's five pillars is Zakat, the charitable giving that all able Muslims are called upon to perform. In Islam, every act of kindness performed is an affirmation of faith and brings you that much closer to paradise. It is the sacred duty of every Muslim and perhaps non Muslim to help those who are in need. Sura 99 states:

In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful

  1. When the earth is shaken with its (final) earthquake.
  2. And when the earth throws out its burdens,
  3. And man will say: "What is the matter with it?"
  4. That day it will declare its information (about all what happened over it of good and evil).
  5. Because your Lord has inspired it.
  6. That Day mankind will proceed in scattered groups that they may be shown their deeds.
  7. So whosoever does good equal to the weight of an atom (or a small ant), shall see it.
  8. And whosoever does evil equal to the weight on an atom (or a small ant) shall see it.

The Teachings of The Buddha

My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness. – Dalai Lama

Buddhism is not a religion per se but it can be interpreted as such. It is in my opinion the true religion of peace. At its core is the simple message that life in all its beauty, wonder and splendour is suffering. There is so much of it that nature will dish out of its own volition that we should hold all life, especially human, as sacred. We are simply called upon to try to the best of our ability to make it better for all others, and if we fail to do so, we should at least "Do No Harm", an oath that we require our physicians to take before practising. Buddhism holds the values of kindness and compassion above all others in this life. Belief in a deity does not matter, what matters most is that you are truly kind and compassionate.

The Torah

The beginning and end of Torah is performing acts of loving kindness. – The Talmud

Everything Else

Even if we profess a different faith other than the above or none at all, there are a few simple truths that life teaches us. The most important of these has been learned over millennia. Our ancestors knew it from the very beginning, from the moment the first of us became aware, it was obvious that life's journey could not be undertaken alone. We knew from the very beginning that "people need people". So we learned to live together in communities and have evolved thus far. Sometimes, actually most times it seems that we have lost something essential to our nature because we have managed to make the world seem like a very mean place when that shouldn't be the case. Those of us who believe that human beings are inherently wicked and selfish are sorely mistaken. The idea that it is a "dog eat dog" world serves nothing less than to doubt the true nature of God and God's promises to us, for we are made in his image, our bodies are his temple and should be treated as such.

So, with the above in mind, at least for some of us, we have ganged up together to start "The Pay It Forward Foundation Uganda". We seek to make the world a kinder place and believe that such a dream starts with us. We hope that you will join us or at the very least be a little kinder to those whose lives you touch every day.

Let me conclude this sermon with some of my favourite bits of the bible, the teachings about love as written in Paul's first letter to the Corinthians.

Love never gives up; and its faith, hope and patience never fail.

You may now restart the elevator, I am done preaching. May peace and the love of God, the all Merciful, be with you all.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Keira Phoebe Eirênê Wanyenze Kanyana Nagimesi


So I went to visit the Nagimesi family the other day and I am happy to report that both mother and child are doing well. She has been named: Keira because it's a cool name and that Knightly chick is hot! Phoebe after her grandmother (funky family this, I think my granny's name was some archaic catholic name); Eirênê, (ee re nee) after a Greek goddess of the same name who personified peace and was an inspiration for several ancient artists, writers and poets; Wanyenze (apparently Gisu names have no meaning); Kanyana, which has something to do with a calf; Nagimesi, the Gisu guys at it again.

Someone once famously asked what was in a name, his logic being that a rose by any other would smell just as sweet. The truth is that human beings are fascinated with names and this fascination permeates every aspect of our lives. I met a guy over the weekend whose first few sentences included the fact that he was the son of a prominent member of the ruling elite. If only he had been named after some form of pond life, the arrogance! Names have the ability to inspire us to achieve great things as in the case of the Kennedys whose name is synonymous with American politics, fame, glory and a healthy dose of sleaze. After the recent death of Ted Kennedy, most Americans wondered who would fill his shoes and keep the name going, I don't envy that person. For my part, it was decreed that I would be called a "wise protector" because of "God's love" but my friends have conspired to name me after wildlife for one reason or another. I carry my given names with pride but for myself, I will always be my mother's son. So what does your name mean?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Thug Love!

I have this playlist on my mp3 player; it's called "maybehip". See, at the heart of me, I am all about rock n roll. I believe that it will never die. However, I have always thought of myself as a hip guy though, so every now and then, I venture into the land of hip hop and update myself. My latest obsession in these realms is "Cash Flow – Ace Hood ft DJ Khaled, Rick Ross & T-Pain." This song represents my latest act of piracy; I fired up limewire yesterday and downloaded the damn song because I like it. I wouldn't mind giving Mr. Hood his cash flow but it's a little bit outside my sphere of financial influence at the moment. Perhaps that's why I like it, because I need my cash flow too. Some people have been hindering it and "am a come see ya!" Anyway, back to hip-hop. I guess like all music, it serves to inspire me. I listen to people like Tupac Shakur, and it's like reading poetry. Even such silly songs like "I Love College", serve to remind me to not be too serious about life. That perhaps the entire world is a college and you go through it trying to learn a few things, so you might as well have some fun while you're at it. I listen to Wyclef cry about "Gunpowder" and shout "No More War" and I feel the emotion in his words. I hear Ludacris and Alicia Keys talk about savouring the moments and doing things "Like You'll Never See Me Again". I take from them the simple message that we are not promised tomorrow, so let's do and say the shit that matters now. Whenever I'm feeling down, Tupac and Scarface come calling, whispering that "there's gonna be some stuff you gonna see, that's going to make it hard to smile in the future. But through whatever you see, through all the rain and the pain, you gotta keep your sense of humour; you gotta be able to smile through all this bullshit. Remember that." Perhaps that is why I place such a high premium on humour. I like to laugh truly, sometimes at myself. Whenever I'm in need of some pride, Lil' Mama comes through because she is "What It Is." Some of these songs tell me that in "Everything, Everyday, Everywhere", I should be myself and embrace who I truly am. Some move me to call out and ask "If You're Out There," if indeed you will stand up tell me that "A Change is Gonna Come." Jordin Sparks comes along and helps me say that you're all imprinted on the fabric of my life like a "Tatoo." I realise that I could go through the entire playlist describing each song and how it makes me feel but I will spare you that drivel. However, I must say that I feel T.I. is a genius; his words are reminiscent of Tupac's mastery on "All Eyez On Me". I was searching for words that could channel my fighting spirit and he came along singing "I Aint Dead, I Aint Done." So, let me clock out here and say, people, "Let It Rock", and to all the girls, "Thug love!"

PS: I will be updating this playlist with music sourced from Baz, Andrew, Lethal and other places.

1. Mary J Blige - Work That (3:32)

2. 2Pac - Pac's Life (Feat. T.I. & Ashanti) (3:37)

3. Akon - Beautiful Ft. Colby O'Donis And Kardinal Offishall (5:13)

4. Destinys Child - T-Shirt-easymp3s (4:40)

5. Akon - Troublemaker Ft. Sweet Rush (3:57)

6. India.Arie - Chocolate High (Feat. Musiq Soulchild) (4:44)

7. Akon - Ghetto (3:57)

8. Fabolous - Everything, Everyday, Everywhere f. Keri Hilson & Ryan Leslie (4:07)

9. Akon - I'm So Paid Ft. Lil' Wayne And Young Jeezy (4:23)

10. Lil' Mama - What It Is (Strike A Pose) (Feat. T-Pain) (3:58)

11. Akon - Be With You (3:51)

12. Wyclef Jean - Any Other Day (Feat. Norah Jones) (4:11)

13. Rihanna - Rehab (4:57)

14. Plies - Hypnotized (feat. & prod. by Akon) (3:10)

15. Eminem - Beautiful (6:32)

16. Tupac Shakur - 2 Pac-All Eyes On Me - Heartz Of Men (4:43)

17. Tupac Shakur - 2 Pac-All Eyes On Me - Life Goes On (5:01)

18. Tupac Shakur - 2 Pac-All Eyes On Me - Only God Can Judge Me (4:56)

19. Ace Hood - Cash Flow (ft. DJ Khaled, Rick Ross, T-Pain) (4:28)

20. akon ft karidinal offishall - Rush (2007) (4:15)

21. All y'all - Timbaland (4:35)

22. Asher Roth - I Love College (4:06)

23. Wyclef Jean - 5-Baby Daddy-Redman (4:03)

24. Beyonce Knowles - Halo (4:21)

25. Britney Spears - Circus (3:12)

26. Britney Spears - Gimme More (4:13)

27. Busta Rhymes Ft. Linkin Park - We Made It.mp3

28. Chris Brown - Superhuman (Keri Hilson).mp3

29. Colby O'Donis feat. Akon - What You Got [iM1].mp3

30. Destiny's Child, Eminem, Redman - Thug Love (Remix).mp3

31. DJ Khaled - We taking over (feat. Akon, Baby, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross & T.I.).mp3

32. Estelle-Come Over(Feat.sean paul)(clean).mp3

33. Fabolous_-_It's My Time Ft Jeremih.mp3

34. Hold My Hand---- Akon Remix feat. Michael Jackson.mp3

35. I Can't Win (His Mistakes) - Usher.mp3

36. I'm Not My Hair (Remix) - India. Arie Feat. Akon.mp3

37. If That's OK With You Shayne Ward (3:44)

38. India Arie - Video (4:12)

39. Jennifer Hudson-Spotlight.mp3

40. John Legend - Everybody Knows (4:35)

41. John Legend - Green Light f/ Andre 3000 (4:45)

42. John Legend - If You're Out There (4:23)

43. John Legend - No Other Love [Feat. Estelle] (3:59)

44. Jordin Sparks - Tatoo (3:55)

45. Kanye West - Flashing Lights (Ft. Dwele) (3:59)

46. Kanye West - Homecoming (Feat. Chris Martin) (3:23)

47. Kanye West - Stronger (5:11)

48. Kanye West ft. T-Pain - Heartless.mp3

49. Keri Hilson - Knock You Down ft. Kanye West & Ne-Yo.mp3

50. Kevin Rudolf feat. Lil' Wayne - Let It Rock.mp3

51. Lady Gaga - Just Dance (4:02)

52. Lemarvin - Thug Like Me (2:43)

53. Like I Never Left (Feat. Akon) - Whitney Houston.mp3

54. Like You'll Never See Me Again (Remix) - Alicia Keys Ft. L.mp3

55. Lil Wayne - Mrs. Officer (Feat. Bobby Valentino).mp3

56. Lil Wayne Ft. Lloyd - You (3:35)

57. Lionel Richie Ft.Akon-Just Go.mp3

58. Lloyd - Lessons In Love - I Can Change Your Life.mp3

59. Lloyd ft. Lil Wayne - Girls All Around World (3:31)

60. Love like this- natasha bedding (3:45)

61. Lupe Fiasco Ft. Young Jeezy & T.I. - Superstar (Remix) (3:41)

62. Maino feat. T Pain- All of the Above.mp3

63. Mariah Carey Feat. T.I. - I'll Be Loving You Long Time (Official Remix).mp3

64. Mariah Carey ft. Akon & Lil Wayne - Bye Bye (Remix).mp3

65. Mariah Carey&ampKrazie Bone - I Still Believe.mp3

66. Mary J Blige - Fade Away (4:18)

67. Mr. DJ - Swangz Ave Anthem.mp3

68. Nappy Roots - Good Day.mp3

69. Natasha Bedingfield - Pocketful Of Sunshine.mp3 (Yes, some rock creeps in)

70. Pussycat Dolls - I Hate This Part (3:39)

71. Queen Latifah - Love is a battle field (4:57)

72. Rick Ross Ft. John Legend - Magnificent.mp3

73. Seal - A Change Is Gonna Come.mp3

74. Sean Paul - Pepperpot (3:13)

75. Shayne Ward - Breathless (3:49)

76. Shayne Ward - Melt the snow (3:49)

77. Sorry Blame It On Me - Akon (4:55)

78. Syleena Johnson - Hypnotic ft R. Kelly and Fabol (4:49)

79. T.I. - Live Your Life (Ft. Rihanna) (5:40)

80. T.I. - No Matter What.mp3

81. T.I. - Slide Show (Ft. John Legend) (3:42)

82. T.I. - What Up, Whats Haapnin.mp3

83. T.I. - Whatever You Like.mp3

84. T.I. Feat. Justin Timberlake - Dead And Gone [feat. Justin Timberlake] (Explicit Album Version) (4:59)

85. The Boss Feat. T- Pain - Rick Ross.mp3

86. The Dream Ft Kanye West-Walking On The Moon.mp3

87. The Game - Dreams (4:49)

88. The Game Ft. Lil Wayne - My Life.mp3

89. Timbaland - Scream (Feat. Keri Hilson & Nicole Scherzinger) (5:41)

90. Timbaland ft Francisco & Keri Hilson - The Way I Are (Remix) (3:54)

91. Tupac - Changes.mp3

92. Tupac - dear mama.mp3

93. Tupac - I Wonder If Heaven Got A Ghetto - (Hip-Hop Version).mp3

94. Tupac - Letter to my unborn.mp3

95. Tupac - Smile.mp3

96. Tupac - Thugs Mansion.mp3

97. Tupac - Untill The End Of Time.mp3

98. U Know What - Avante ft.Lil Wayne.mp3

99. We Ride (I See the Future).mp3

100. Wyclef Jean - No More War (4:01)

101. Wyclef Jean - Apocalypse (3:51)

102. Wyclef Jean - Fast Car (Feat. Paul Simon) (4:03)

103. Wyclef Jean - Hot 91.3 Pussycat (3:51)

104. Wyclef Jean - Slow Down (Feat. T.I.) (5:17)

105. Wyclef Jean - We Trying To Stay Alive - John Forté (3:13)

106. Wyclef Jean - What About The Baby (Feat. Mary J. Blige) (3:36)

107. wyclef jean - wish you were here.mp3

108. Wyclef Jean LIFE New Day.mp3

109. Young Jeezy Ft Kanye West, Trae, Lil Wayne, Ludacris & Rick Ross - I Put On (Remix) (7:17)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Happy Birthday My Dimpled Friend!

Hi sweetheart,
I know it's been a while since I saw you but I guess you're caught up in this lovely mess we call life! I just wanted to wish you a lovely bday albeit belated. I hope you enjoyed it and that many more happy ones await you.
xoxoxoxo

Rhino

Monday, September 21, 2009

The “Pay It Forward” Foundation Uganda

So, I promised you a few months ago that I would be in touch concerning something that had occurred to me. I wrote down a few things and set about trying to realize this dream but I've been consumed by almost everything and everyone I come into contact with. I am juggling so many ideas in my head that I had put this aside while I sorted myself out. Dincy, Jacque and Becky have been kind enough to infect me with their enthusiasm and help me get this thing rolling. It is no longer just my dream but "Our" dream. Here it is as I envisioned it then, we will be meeting this Friday with a few other people to forge a way forward and then we'll organise a launch of sorts. I will keep you posted.

If you had a chance to change someone's life for the better, would you take it? The majority of us have experienced the kindness of strangers and not known or been able to pay it back. We have also had the chance to make our lives what we want them to be; we have been given that chance to have the power to change our lives. We have had parents or guardians who have provided the necessities that we have needed or need, we have gone to school and imbibed the ideas that have struck a chord with us. We have stepped out into the world armed with all these things that we have learnt and attempted to find our place in it. But for each and every one of us that has had this chance, thousands or even millions more have not been privy to this. Most times it is due to no fault of their own, it is just the hand that life or fate, if you will, has dealt them.

Some of us, if not most of us, have a desire to change this situation but it always seems so monumental a task that we are immediately demoralized. How do you feed all the hungry? How do you provide shelter for all the homeless? How do you send children to school? How do you give those without, the same chance that you've had to make your life what it is today? The idea of undertaking anything of this magnitude seems so overwhelming that we cannot even attempt to get started. It does not have to be so; each and every one of us has the power to change another's life for the better. We have the ability and the chance to perform acts of kindness that even if they seem small to us, can make a huge difference in someone else's life. We have the power to pay it forward and perhaps change a life and make the world a little bit better.

The main goal of this foundation is to simply spread the idea that anyone can, if they are willing, change lives by paying it forward. It is inspired in part by the movie "Pay It Forward", but mostly, the inspiration comes from the people that I have been fortunate to meet in my life.

Initially, the idea occurred to me when I was seated in a waiting room cum restaurant in Nairobi. I was on my way back from my first foray into the wide world and I was feeling a bit demoralized at having fallen sick barely a month after setting off. I met a young man of about eighteen who was working in the restaurant and I sat him down and prompted him for his story. He told me of how he was born in Kenya to a Ugandan father and a Tanzanian mother and that that was why he considered himself an East African. I asked about his education, work and dreams and he told me of how he had finished S.4 but could not manage to get the funds to continue his education, how he liked fixing electrical items and hoped to become an electrical engineer one day. He had plans of coming to Uganda and finding some sort of job so that he could work by day and study by night.

I was moved by this young man and I figured that it wasn't simply a coincidence that I had met him. I turned my attention to figuring out a way to help him out, to make his dreams come true and change his life. It then occurred to me that if I could get 100 of my friends to each spare a little something every month then we should be able to give this kid the same chance at life that we have had. He can go to school without any worries of where the tuition will come from, where he will sleep, what he will eat..etc. Then it occurred to me that it doesn't have to stop with this kid, we can find other people who are desperately in need of that helping hand, who need just that one break and pay it forward. So the idea of a foundation was born and I guess all that's left is for you to take part. Do you want to make a difference?

I should perhaps say that the idea of paying it forward is something that we can do in our daily lives. It is simply doing the things that may mean little to us but mean the world to others, like helping a stranger change a flat tyre or holding the door open for the mailman. The idea is simply to be truly kinder.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Rock N Roll Will Never Die

Crossposting from My Inspiration.

1. Maroon 5 - 08 Maroon 5 - Goodnight Goodnight (4:03)
2. James Morrison feat. Nelly Furtado - Broken Strings (4:15)
3. Avril Lavigne - Falling Down (3:54)
4. Avril Lavigne - Im With You (3:44)
5. Avril Lavigne - Anything But Ordinary (4:11)
6. Avril Lavigne - Things I'll Never Say (3:44)
7. Avril Lavigne - How does it feel (3:45)
8. Avril Lavigne - Nobody's home (3:32)
9. Bon Jovi - Always (5:54)
10. Bon Jovi - Bed of Roses (6:34)
11. Bon Jovi - You Give Love a Bad Name (3:44)
12. Breaking Benjamin - The Diary of Jane (3:22)
13. Breaking Benjamin - Until the End (4:15)
14. Bruce Springsteen - THE RIVER (5:00)
15. Bruce Springsteen - HUNGRY HEART (3:20)
16. Bruce Springsteen - BETTER DAYS (3:44)
17. Bruce Springsteen - STREETS OF PHILDELPHIA (3:16)
18. Bruce Springsteen - SECRET GARDEN (4:27)
19. Bruce Springsteen - BLOOD BROTHERS (4:34)
20. Bruce Springsteen - across the border (5:29)
21. (04) Bruce Springsteen - Nothing Man (4:23)
22. Bruce Springsteen - My City Of Ruins (4:59)
23. Brian Adams and Tina Turner - It's only Love (3:17)
24. Bryan Adams - Can't stop this thing we started (4:29)
25. Bryan Adams - Summer of '69 (3:13)
26. Santana Feat.Chad Kroeger - Into The Night (3:40)
27. Carlos Santana - Game Of Love (ft. Michelle Branch) (4:15)
28. Carlos Santana - 04 - You Are My Kind (Ft. Seal) (4:19)
29. Carlos Santana - Why Dont You And I (ft. Chad Kroeger) (4:35)
30. Carlos Santana - Feels Like Fire (ft. Dido) (4:39)
31. Coldplay - In My Place (3:46)
32. Coldplay - The Scientist (5:08)
33. Coldplay - Clocks (5:06)
34. Coldplay - Green Eyes (3:41)
35. Coldplay - A Rush Of Blood To The Head (5:49)
36. Coldplay - Shiver (4:58)
37. Coldplay - Yellow (4:27)
38. Coldplay - Lost! (3:55)
39. Coldplay - 42 (3:57)
40. Coldplay - Viva La Vida (4:01)
41. Coldplay - Violet Hill (3:42)
42. Coldplay - Strawberry Swing (4:09)
43. Coldplay - Death And All His Friends (6:18)
44. Coldplay - What if (4:57)
45. Coldplay - White Shadows (5:28)
46. Coldplay - Fix You (4:55)
47. Coldplay - Talk (5:11)
48. Coldplay - Speed of Sound (4:48)
49. Coldplay - A Message (4:45)
50. Coldplay - Low (5:32)
51. Coldplay - Hardest Part (4:25)
52. Coldplay - Swallowed by the Sea (3:59)
53. Coldplay - 'til Kingdom Come (4:10)
54. Counting Crows - Round Here (5:32)
55. Counting Crows - Mr. Jones (4:32)
56. Counting Crows - Time and Time Again (5:14)
57. Counting Crows - Sullivan Street (4:29)
58. Dido - Don't Believe In Love (3:52)
59. Dido - Quiet Times (3:16)
60. Dido - Grafton Street (5:57)
61. Dido - Us 2 Little Gods (4:48)
62. Dire Straits - Brothers in Arms (4:57)
63. Dire Straits - Romeo and Juliet (6:08)
64. Dire Straits - Sultans of Swing (5:53)
65. Evanescence - Going Under (3:34)
66. Evanescence - Bring Me to Life (3:57)
67. Evanescence - My Immortal (4:24)
68. Evanescence - Tourniquet (4:38)
69. Evanescence - My Last Breath (4:07)
70. Five for Fighting - Superman (3:47)
71. Five For Fighting - The Beautiful (5:48)
72. Five For Fighting - The Riddle (You & I) (3:53)
73. Five For Fighting - 100 Years (4:11)
74. pink confetti.wma (3:47)
75. Freshly Ground - I am the man (5:03)
76. Freshly Ground - Vanish (5:26)
77. Freshly Ground - I'd like (6:31)
78. Freshly Ground - Doo be doo (5:21)
79. Freshly Ground - Things have changed (4:23)
80. Freshly Ground - Father please (4:09)
81. James Blunt - 1973 (4:40)
82. James Blunt - Same Mistake (4:58)
83. James Blunt - Carry You Home (3:56)
84. James Blunt - I Really Want You (3:30)
85. <Unknown> - jennifer knapp - A Little More (Acoustic) (3:28)
86. Jennifer Knapp - A Little More (3:24)
87. Jennifer Knapp - Come Freedom Come (3:29)
88. Jennifer Knapp - Fall Down (4:16)
89. Jewel - Stand -21St (3:13)
90. Jewel - Run 2 U -21St (3:37)
91. Jewel - Leave The Lights On -21St (3:21)
92. Jewel - 2 Find U -21St (3:14)
93. Jewel - Fragile Heart -21St (3:31)
94. Jewel - I wont walk awa (4:46)
95. Jewel - Standing Still (4:30)
96. Jewel - Till We Run Out Of Road (4:46)
97. Katie Melua - Mary Pickford (3:12)
98. Katie Melua - What I Miss About You (3:48)
99. Katie Melua - If You Were A Sailboat (4:02)
100. Katie Melua - In My Secret Life (4:23)
101. Katie Melua - Nine Million Bicycles (3:15)
102. Katie Melua - Piece By Piece (3:24)
103. Katie Melua - Just Like Heaven (3:35)
104. Katie Melua - I Cried For You (3:38)
105. Katie Melua - I Do Believe In Love (3:00)
106. Katie Melua - Sometimes When I'm Dreaming (3:38)
107. Keane - Somewhere Only We Know (3:57)
108. Keane - This Is The Last Time (3:29)
109. Keane - Everybody's Changing (3:36)
110. Kelly Clarkson - Breakaway (3:56)
111. Kelly Clarkson - Since U Been Gone (3:08)
112. Kelly Clarkson - Behind These Hazel Eyes (3:18)
113. KT Tunstall - Other Side of the World (3:34)
114. KT Tunstall - Suddenly I See (3:21)
115. KT Tunstall - Through the Dark (3:49)
116. Lene Marlin - Hope You're Happy (4:19)
117. Lene Marlin - One Year Ago (4:51)
118. Lene Marlin - Sitting Down Here (4:17)
119. Lene Marlin - Unforgivable Sinner (4:18)
120. Lene Marlin - Where Am Headed (4:33)
121. Linkin Park - Somewhere I Belong (3:33)
122. Linkin Park - Breaking the Habit (3:16)
123. Linkin Park - Numb (3:09)
124. Maroon 5 - This Love (4:26)
125. Maroon 5 - She Will Be Loved (4:17)
126. Maroon 5 - Sunday Morning (4:11)
127. Michelle Branch - Everywhere (3:38)
128. Michelle Branch - All You Wanted (3:35)
129. Michelle Branch - I'd Rather Be In Love (3:55)
130. Natalie Merchant - Build A Levee (4:47)
131. Natalie Merchant - Golden Boy (4:12)
132. Natalie Merchant - Frozen Charlotte (5:23)
133. Natalie Merchant - King Of May (4:09)
134. Natalie Merchant - Ophelia (5:10)
135. Natalie Merchant - When They Ring The Golden Bells (9:33)
136. Natalie Merchant - San Andreas Fault (3:58)
137. Natalie Merchant - River (5:32)
138. Natalie Merchant - Where I Go (4:00)
139. No Doubt - Don't Speak (4:23)
140. Oasis - Wonderwall (4:20)
141. Oasis - Champagne Supernova (7:29)
142. Peter Gabriel - Don't Give Up (6:33)
143. Peter Gabriel - Mercy Street (6:21)
144. Peter Gabriel - Blood Of Eden (6:37)
145. Puddle Of Mudd - Blurry (5:06)
146. REM - Losing My Religion (4:28)
147. R.E.M. - The Great Beyond (4:12)
148. R.E.M. - Everybody Hurts (5:20)
149. Robbie Willams - Feel -21st (4:23)
150. Robbie Willams - Come Undone -21st (4:38)
151. Robbie Willams - Me and My Monkey -21st (7:12)
152. Robbie Willams - Better Man (3:22)
153. Robbie Willams - If It's Hurting You (4:10)
154. Robbie Willams - Rock Dj (4:18)
155. Robbie Willams - Singing For the Lonely (4:31)
156. Robbie Willams - Supreme (4:18)
157. Robbie Willams - Somethin' Stupid (2:50)
158. Robbie Willams - Heaven (3:04)
159. Robbie Willams - Jesus in a camper van (3:38)
160. Robbie Willams - Man Machine (3:32)
161. Robbie Willams - Millenium (4:09)
162. Robbie Willams - No regrets (5:08)
163. Robbie Willams - One Of Gods Better People (3:34)
164. Robbie Willams - She's the one (4:18)
165. Robbie Willams - Win some lose some (4:17)
166. Rod Stewart - Run Back Into Your Arms (3:29)
167. Sarah McLaughlin - Fallen (3:40)
168. Sarah McLachlan - Stupid (3:23)
169. Sarah McLachlan - Perfect Girl (4:43)
170. Sarah Mclachlan - Sweet Surrender (4:00)
171. Sarah McLachlan - World on fire (4:22)
172. Simply Red - So beatiful (4:58)
173. Simply Red - Say you love me (3:41)
174. Simon Webbe - No Worries (3:29)
175. Anouk - One Word (4:01)
176. Racoon - Laugh About It (3:30)
177. 3 Doors Down - Here Without You (3:54)
178. U2 - One (4:37)
179. Staind - So Far Away (4:06)
180. Staind - Epiphany (4:16)
181. Staind - It's Been Awhile (4:24)
182. Staind - Outside (4:50)
183. Sting - Fields Of Gold (3:36)
184. Sting - When We Dance (5:55)
185. The Calling - Adrienne (4:51)
186. The Calling - Wherever You Will Go (3:50)
187. Calling The Calling - Things Will Go My Way (4:00)
188. Calling The Calling - Anything (4:02)
189. Cardigans - Communication (4:25)
190. Cardigans - You're The storm (3:51)
191. Cardigans - A Good Horse (3:14)
192. Cardigans - And Then You Kissed Me (5:59)
193. Cardigans - Couldn't Care Less (5:27)
194. Cardigans - Please Sister (4:33)
195. Cardigans - For What It's Worth (4:16)
196. Cardigans - Lead Me Into The Night (4:28)
197. Cardigans - Live and Learn (4:13)
198. Cardigans - Feathers And Down (4:26)
199. Cardigans - 03.45: No Sleep (3:39)
200. Cardigans - If There is a Chance (4:10)
201. Cardigans - For The Boys (3:24)
202. <Unknown> - Animal Instinct (3:31)
203. The Cranberries - Linger (4:34)
204. The Cranberries - Ode to My Family (4:30)
205. The Cranberries - When You're Gone (4:58)
206. The Fray - How to save a life (4:24)
207. U2 - If God will send his angels (4:33)
208. U2 - Beautiful Day (4:10)
209. U2 - Stuck In A Paddle (4:32)
210. U2 - Elevation (3:47)
211. U2 - Walk On (4:56)
212. U2 - In A Little While (3:39)
213. U2 - Wild Honey (3:46)
214. U2 - When I Look At The World (4:17)
215. U2 - Miracle Drug (3:59)
216. U2 - Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own (5:09)
217. U2 - City Of Blinding Lights (5:47)
218. U2 - All Because Of You (3:39)
219. U2 - Man And A Woman (4:30)
220. U2 - Crumbs From Your Table (5:03)
221. U2 - One Step Closer (3:51)
222. U2 - Original Of The Species (4:41)
223. U2 - Yahweh (4:22)
224. U2 - Bad (10:39)
225. U2 - With or without you (4:40)
226. Blink 182 - I Miss You (3:47)
227. Selah - You Raise Me Up (5:02)
228. Vertical Horizons - I'm Still Here (3:51)
229. Vertical Horizon - Best I Ever Had (Grey Sky Morning) (4:30)
230. Vertical Horizon - Everything You Want (4:39)
231. Vertical Horizon - Finding Me (4:32)
232. Vertical Horizon - Send It Up (3:42)
233. Vertical Horizon - We Are (4:01)
234. Vertical Horizon - You're A God (3:57)

In Search of Knowledge

The most important things I have learnt in life have not come from the classrooms; they have come from the words written down by men and women throughout the ages. They have come from humanity itself. Hence I have a strong belief that any well rounded individual must have a desire to learn, a love of words, written or spoken and an intellect that serves to define first the world and the individual's place in it. I have always fancied myself as someone with the ability to multi task so I find myself reading several books at once, trying to follow different events at home and abroad and letting my mind wander every which way. Anyway here's a list of material that I have recently consumed, are consuming and plan to consume.

"A Power Governments Cannot Suppress" by Howard Zinn is the best book I have picked up in a while. It touches on some of the biggest issues in the world today from America's foreign policy under the Bush administration to such grand themes as war and peace. It is an excellent read for anyone who desires to understand how western governments work and the role of civil society in any country in the world.

Ryszard Kapuscinski's "Travels With Herodotus" is perhaps one of the most inspiring books I have read this year. He was a polish foreign correspondent who reported from all corners of the globe in the decades before the internet brought the world that much closer. He saw civilization like few people did at the time and his tales simply stir wanderlust in me. One reviewer of the book simply says it is "A final gift, a call to wander widely and see deeply."

"An Intimate History of Humanity" by Theodore Zeldin is lying on my table. I had barely gotten to page 50 when I picked up Mr. Zinn's book and had to leave this for a while. It is however a compelling read so far, the title alone rouses my curiosity. I picked it up from my aunt just before I left for Cambodia and on the first page is a note from the previous owner to a friend; "Dear ____, A book I'm very fond of. Hope you'll enjoy. Love Wolfgang." I am compelled to find out why Wolfgang, whoever he may be, is very fond of this book. I will let you know when I am done with it.

"Al Jazeera: The Story of the Network That Is Rattling Governments and Redefining Modern Journalism" by Mohammed El-Nawawy Adel Iskandar is without a doubt recommended reading for anyone with journalistic aspirations. It points to the future of global news networks while telling the story of a people much maligned in the west and their aspirations for peace.

There is a program run by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) called Open Course Ware (OCW). It is a free publication of MIT course material that reflects almost all the undergraduate and graduate subjects taught at MIT. It is not a degree-granting or credit bearing initiative, however you can work through the materials at your own pace and in whatever manner you desire. It is for those of us who simply desire the knowledge and could care less about the piece of paper that is called a degree. When I decided that I wanted to become a writer, I took a short trip to the OCW website and downloaded the course materials for a degree in literature. That is how I come to be reading John Milton's "Paradise Lost" and Homer's "The Odyssey" among many others. The former is considered a seminal book in classical literature for many reasons, not least of which is its deconstruction of religion and its role in human lives. I have barely begun book one but even going through the introduction is a lesson in history and literature that is priceless. Of the latter, the first paragraph is enough to strike you with wonder, it goes thus;

"Tell me, O muse, of that ingenious hero who travelled far and wide after he had sacked the famous town of Troy. Many cities did he visit, and many were the nations with whose manners and customs he was acquainted; moreover he suffered much by sea while trying to save his own life and bring his men safely home; but do what he might he could not save his men, for they perished through their own sheer folly in eating the cattle of the Sun-god Hyperion; so the god prevented them from ever reaching home. Tell me, too, about all these things, O daughter of Jove, from whatsoever source you may know them."


 

I have a collection of BBC's all time top 100 best novels; it contains such masterpieces as George Orwell's "1984", Dostoevsky's "Crime and Punishment", Tolstoy's "War and Peace", Hermann Hesse' "Siddhartha" and many other wonderful tales. I figure that by the time I am done reading all this stuff I will have honed my skill as a writer and then I will proceed to tell my tales. Why? You may ask. Why put all this garbage in your head? Well, it's simply because Stephen King told me, in his book "On Writing", that if I desired to write and do it well, I could do myself a favour by reading a lot and writing a lot.


 

I have a desire to understand the Middle East, I am curious as to why this place that is the home of these religions that purportedly teach peace is not peaceful. I want to understand every side and make up my mind whose cause I sympathise with. So I went and found myself Mehran Kamrava's "The Modern Middle East: A Political History Since The First World War". I will be telling you tales of what I learn, I am absolutely sure it will be worth the time. Incidentally the Israeli foreign minister was in town recently and he urged Uganda to use its position as non permanent member of the UN Security Council to pressure Iran on nuclear weapons. How do we make up our minds if we do not know the history?

I have been reading newspapers a lot, something I never imagined myself doing. I am addicted to the news as I've confessed before. Your blogs are a source of knowledge, humor, beauty and the occasional madness. I enjoy them thoroughly especially Tumwi, Greenfinity, Princess, Chanel, Miss Cheri, Heaven, Spartakuss, Lulu, Basics, Streetsider, Nevender, Baz, Antipop, Liz, TMS Ruge, TRP, Normzo, Sleek, and many more.

I recently joined a mailing list called I-Network and it's amazing the amount of information and expertise available in this forum. I am tracking all sorts of ICT related issues from here. There are discussions about the so called broadband, the fibre optic backbone project run by the ministry of ICT, mobile operators' service standards, ICT laws being discussed and passed in parliament and lots more. I discovered from this mailing list various job opportunities, reports like the NSSF audit, parliament's approved budget for the ministry of ICT, a new local magazine called "Enterprise Technology" and many other things.

I am currently looking for books about Afghanistan, The German View of WWII, Iran, Japan and most importantly a good analysis of our history since independence because I need to apply my mind to the Buganda question and the issue of Federo. I also desire to explore the oil question, how others have dealt with it and how we can learn from them. One of my dreams is to write a collection of tales that I can say is the world from my point of view and of those that have bore witness.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

My Country Burns!

Why? At the end of the day at least fourteen people are dead. It may seem, at least to the rest of us, that they have given their lives in vain. Their deaths may be referred to as unfortunate by the world and then quickly forgotten. But for those they leave behind, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers and all manner of loved ones, the pain has only just begun. We should all feel it; we should all share the blame for their deaths, we should all learn from the mistakes that have been made.

On the face of it, it seems the riots were simply about a power hungry kingdom and an increasingly authoritarian government. The government and many others would have us believe that the Mengo based kingdom is to blame for the mess. I say look harder at the facts.

First and foremost, the decision to restore monarchies in Uganda was taken against many calls to do otherwise, the law governing these cultural institutions is supposed to ensure that they do not engage in partisan politics. Yet here we are today and these very Kingdoms threaten to bring us down. Why is it that they have come to have so much political power? How did they get to this point? What plans did our leaders put in place for such an eventuality? Did they see it coming? The truth is that the very people who said that these kingdoms should not have political power are the ones who went ahead and gave it to them. Political power is simply having influence over the people’s vote and because it was nothing more than a political move to restore these institutions, they in essence inherited this power. Further courting of these institutions by politicians has ensured that this power grow to what it is today. The situation simply brings one thing to light, that our leaders have been myopic and selfish. In pursuit of short term goals, perhaps driven by greed, they have made decisions that have impacted the country negatively. They have displayed a lack of foresight, the kind of which we expect from those that lead us.

Second, the idea that those engaging in the riots were simply opportunistic hooligans who wanted to pillage is nothing short of naiveté. Any self respecting citizen who is engaged in profitable economic activity does not simply take to the streets for anything less than the defence of human rights. The fact that the bulk of today’s youth can be considered hooligans is evidence of the failure of our government to create a thriving civilized society. It is common knowledge that things out there on the streets are tough, that some in places of power and influence are corrupt, that government has done a lot more to divide us than otherwise. Contrary to what you, the elite, may think, there is a lot of anger out there. Many people feel that the government does not work for them; they feel that it’s simply not enough to be honest and hardworking. The idea that one must know someone in a position of influence to get ahead is prevalent in our society. We have developed a thieving culture and perhaps before we point to the young man on the street and call him an opportunistic thug, we should look first at ourselves. It is not hard to see why any message of a different future would appeal to the youth and perhaps that is where these kingdoms get their political power, they appeal to the people and offer a different future. The government is aware of this and that is why something as simple as a king addressing his subjects gives them sleepless nights, they realise that it threatens to erode support for the ruling party. If the government was doing right by these young men and women, there would be no need for something as simple as “Buganda Youth Day Celebrations” to incite the kind of violence that unfolded in Kampala and around the country.

Third, the lack of respect for the rule of law is prevalent in our country. This is because the institutions set up to create, apply and enforce the law have been compromised. Our faith in them has been undermined by those without integrity and we have come to believe that recourse to the law and those sworn to uphold it, is at best futile. We all know that among our leaders are those who have engaged in activities contrary to the law of the land and still they walk free among us, unapologetic, unashamed and unrepentant. It is not hard to imagine what kind of message this sends to the average Ugandan. This disregard for the rule of law has been translated down to the very last of us. Some have resorted to apathy and hopelessness; others who cannot bear to be indifferent have resorted to violence and the very lawlessness that they seek to fight. It is simply wrong and we must find a way of addressing these issues in a civilized manner.

In the midst of the rioting I engaged the police officers in conversation and from that I gleaned the simple fact that they are inadequately trained for the job. I have no doubt that the government is doing something about this but I think it could do better. One police officer remarked that he was willing to shoot anyone who attempted to throw bricks at him while another however, had resisted taking such a course of action despite his life being threatened by the angry rioters. If you had seen the size of the bricks being thrown you would understand the former’s sentiments and applaud the latter’s conduct. These situations sometimes get really ugly and the policemen and women find themselves fighting for their lives, all because people have lost respect for law and order. This phenomenon is evident in our daily lives, in any traffic jam there are always those who feel their business is more important than others’ and proceed to make other people’s lives harder. There is a belief among us that once you know someone in high places, you can flout the law to your heart’s content. A good number of us have gotten into arguments that have ended with one party asking “DO YOU KNOW WHO I KNOW?” and proceeding to make various phone calls to so called security operatives. We need to empower our policemen and women so that they can serve and protect us. We need to first and foremost give them the kind of respect we desire from them.

Fourth, there is a lack of inspirational leadership. I have been looking around, for someone in my generation who aspires to lead the nation and I am yet to find one of you. Our leaders have failed miserably to inspire us, you will find when you talk to the youth of the nation that we have gone out there to borrow the heroes of other lands. We seek inspiration from without because our very own fail us. Most people, both young and old, feel that there is no viable alternative to President Museveni. Why? How is it that in twenty six years the entire nation has failed to produce just one person that we can rally behind? The opposition would have you believe that they can do a better job but looking at their leadership, the divisions within, we are left with a lot of doubt. Perhaps that is why many of us resort to the old adage “better the devil you know...” I have always had a lot of respect for President Museveni, but I am beginning to think that my faith is misplaced. A simple glance at an article in the Weekly Observer titled “Why President Museveni will give Mengo Federo” reveals that his principles are always shifting to suit his needs. His recognition of the Obusinga cultural institution is a departure from whatever he believed when he stated that he would not be blackmailed by the people of Kasese into making unprincipled decisions. Now he makes these decisions and we are left to wonder whether he simply plays political games or has become wiser and learnt something he did not know before, something so important that he has had to change his principles. It is only natural for a human being to acquire new knowledge and change old beliefs based on this knowledge, but we must ask ourselves whether we require anything less of our leaders than steadfastness in their, and by proxy, our principles. The idea that what transpired the last couple of days was simply the result of political games is as scary as it is appalling. Our leaders should not play with our lives in such a manner.

Fifth, it would seem that the government has failed to appropriately plan for such situations. The government would have us believe that there are evil masterminds behind any sort of demonstration and have in light of that enacted laws that bear the hallmarks of authoritarian regimes. In the event of a riot, there should be a system for disseminating information from the government that lets the people know what is happening. The police could even simply set up an SMS service that is recognised and trusted by all. This would ensure that everyone knows that the government is doing all it can to minimise the loss of innocent lives. We should embrace the technology available to us. You have to wonder why someone in that place called “above” whence come orders to arrest certain people has not yet thought of this. Surely there are brighter minds than mine being applied to these matters! At least, I hope so. The people reserve the right to assemble and associate freely, some of us have abused this right by engaging in acts of violence that lend credence to the government’s decision to infringe upon these rights. We need to work hand in hand with the government to make sure we have an appropriate strategy for these situations.

Finally, our greatest enemy is apathy. There is a lot of it out there and it saddens me. When the riots were underway, I took a breather from my duties as a citizen journalist and had a chat with my friends. I could not believe how unconcerned they all were. It seemed as if the chaos did not have anything to do with them. I told them that this violence represented far bigger concerns that just Mengo and the government. I told them that there is a lot of bitterness out there and any self respecting citizen should pay attention. There were reports that some people were being targeted because they had “long noses” which meant that they hailed from lands other than Buganda. The tribal and religious divisions among us threaten to lead to chaotic times not dissimilar to those of ages past and there is no doubt that the government has enacted policies that have greatly exacerbated this problem. It has become clear that fragmentation of the country has served little else than prop up the ruling party and benefit the well connected while the ordinary Ugandan slips further into poverty and desperation. We must all wake up to reality; we can no longer afford to be indifferent. Even those of you who have no desire to engage in partisan politics should realise that it is up to us the people to fix our nation. Our leaders can only do so much if each one of us does not give to the other the very rights we reserve for ourselves. People have died, let their lives not go unnoticed; let us learn from these things. Let us remember the dead.

Soundtrack:
U2 – Walk On

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

WordPlay

Scrabble with Lulu and Streetsider was nice, apparently it was a friendly but at one point no one was smiling. They know some English and Streetsider wasn't even putting in any effort. I'm looking forward to the real deal, so I'm polishing my word list. Lulu has promised to host the championships at her place, complete with lunch cooked by Flavia, an aspiring chef. As soon as the details are hashed out, I'll let u guys know.


In other news, I have decided to push my brain to the limit. Apparently human beings use about 10% of the available brain power at any one time. I'm not sure about the research but it seems the human brain is still much of a mystery to us. Anyway I have decided to consume anything that my mind finds interesting, which means that I will be reading and analysing a lot of stuff. If my mind goes south, I'm sure I'll appreciate some visitors in the asylum, though I'm certain Streetsider will join me at one point.

I just got through the NSSF audit report, its mind boggling the crap these so called educated bastards get up to. It makes for some depressing reading. I'm also in the process of doing a website for the mayor, yup, our very own Seeya. I have many ideas for it but it remains to be seen if he's up for them, you know how these politicians can be. Apparently he's off to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, probably to secure some funding for his next campaign; I hope he gets enough to pay me handsomely for my services!

I am looking for a good book about Uganda's history since independence, I know there are tons out there but I need one that will give me a feel of the people at the time. Anyone know a good one?

For our children and our children’s children

Dear little girl,
Welcome to this place of beauty, wonder and knowledge. We here are your people and we dedicate our words and deeds to making this life as fulfilling for you as it can possibly be. You come to us at a time of great change, heralding the dreams of tomorrow and giving us a reason to hope. You signal our rebirth as a people and we can only hope that we do right by you. May you "live long and prosper."
Your crazy uncle,
Rhino

There is a new life among us, a little girl. Nicole and David Nagimesi are the proud parents of a bouncing baby girl. She is not yet named because David and Nicole are the "happy go lucky" kind of people who will get round to it when the time comes. I told David that I had to have my own special name for her and I am thinking of something that means "rebirth" because it resonates perfectly with my life. It amazes me that I am a part of this moment; I did not see myself experiencing it. I imagine that these new parents are filled with excitement and joy; they have set about starting a family, one of the most joyous and fulfilling endeavours of life. The decision to bring a new life into this world is one that I have decided to pass up; I have had a hard enough time being responsible for myself that I don't feel adequate to parent another life. Perhaps I will always live vicariously on that part, like my good friend Lisa Fields. Be that as it may, I cannot help but imagine what it feels like to be a parent. To come to the realisation that you are solely responsible for another life must be overwhelming and yet euphoric. I love this child and it's simply because she is my fellow human being, we have the fortune or misfortune of sharing the same planet, I am bound by nothing less than natural law to love her. I want her to grow up in a world that is peaceful, a place that affords her the best chance at becoming the person she was meant to be. I look at the world I live in now and I feel that I must change something about it, that I must do my darnedest to make it that much better for her. I dedicate my life to such endeavours and perhaps I am too idealistic but I must try, at least for her, for our children and our children's children.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Lockerbie: Truth, Realpolitik and the future of International Law

I have been doing some reading, Stephen King says that the spark of a writer is innate, the most important thing an aspiring writer must do is read a lot and write a lot. Yes! I have been doing some reading and now I come to share.

The political fallout and international debate surrounding the release of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi seems to be centred on the possibility of "under the table" deals between the United Kingdom and Libya as well the morality of releasing a convicted mass murderer from prison. Most in the west, not least of who are the families of the victims of that heinous act, believe that Megrahi's release was an injustice, a view that is shared by many around the world. Having tried to read as much information as there is available in the public domain concerning the trial, conviction and subsequent appeals, I have come to the conclusion that the furore concerning this man is aimed at keeping us in the dark as regards the truth surrounding this case.

The media, especially in the west, has chosen to highlight Megrahi's release on compassionate grounds as a possible outcome of trade negotiations with Libya, downplaying the circumstances surrounding his appeal. I have already stated my views concerning his release but what I have discovered is far more important than the question of financial deals and moral significance. At the heart of matter is a test of the independence of judicial proceedings in the international political arena. To quote the one person at the trial of whose independence we can be assured, simply because he was the representative of the people, the UN international observer, Dr Hans Köchler,

"Whether those in public office like it or not, the Lockerbie trial has become a test case for the criminal justice system of Scotland. At the same time, it has become an exemplary case on a global scale that its handling will demonstrate whether a domestic system of criminal justice can resist

the dictates of international power politics or simply becomes dysfunctional as soon as "supreme state interests" interfere with the imperatives of justice. Fairness of judicial proceedings is undoubtedly a supreme and permanent public interest. If the rule of law is to be upheld, the requirements of the administration of justice may have to take precedence over public interests of a secondary order, such as a state's momentary foreign policy considerations or commercial and trade interests. The internal stability and international legitimacy of a polity in the long term depend on whether it is able to ensure the supremacy of the law over considerations of power and convenience. Contrary to what skeptics and the advocates of the supremacy of realpolitik try to make us believe, the basic maxim of the rule of law is not fiat justitia, pereat mundus but fiat justitia ne pereat mundus –'let justice prevail so that the world does not perish."


 

It would be folly of us if we did not right this wrong; we who wish to teach the world that there can be a lasting peace among us should not be party to such acts as denying an accused person the right to examine evidence brought forth against his or her person. Why is it that our leaders will not comment on these matters of great import? All they can say of the matter is that this man's release is "highly objectionable!"

Dr Hans Köchler's article in the National Law School of India Review appropriately titled "The Lockerbie Trial and the Rule of Law" should be brought to the forefront of the matter, discussed and addressed. Let us make peace with each other, let us be truly compassionate and then perhaps this tragedy will have served to teach us something, to make us better people.

I'm off to read about the Middle East, Uganda, Afghanistan, Rwanda, America, Japan and of places here and there.

Witness

“Though their history does not remember the oppressed, her words will not be forgotten. While I am travelled, his spirit will wander far farther than he has ever been. Intimate accounts unveiled for the world to see. Witness, documentaries to open your eyes, at this time on Al Jazeera.”

Witness
19:00 GMT
Al Jazeera

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Land of the Brave

The decision to release, on compassionate grounds, the man accused of taking part in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland has caused a lot of uproar around the world and especially the West. A lot has been made of the decision with many suspecting the Scottish government of carrying out secret financial deals with the Libyan government in exchange for Al Megrahi's release with disregard to the victim's families and international law. This they say is a miscarriage of justice. It is not difficult to see why anyone would imagine secret deals took place behind closed doors. In a world where material wealth is exalted above all else, the idea that one man, no matter the consequences, would uphold his values and beliefs, and do the job his people called on him to perform is considered a display of naïveté unbecoming of today's political reality.

Personally I believe that Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill should be hailed for upholding the very ideals that we so often profess but fail to live up to. In a world where greed has compromised most upstanding world citizens, it is refreshing to see a display of such qualities that are reminiscent of the great John Adams who stood up for the rule of law when it was perhaps the most unpopular thing to do. He wrote in his diary after the defence of Captain Preston and his men that:

"I . . . devoted myself to endless labour and Anxiety if not to infamy and death, and that for nothing, except, what indeed was and ought to be all in all, sense of duty..... The Part I took in Defence of Capt. Preston and the Soldiers, procured me Anxiety, and Obloquy enough. It was, however, one of the most gallant, generous, manly and disinterested Actions of my whole Life, and one of the best Pieces of Service I ever rendered my Country. Judgment of Death against those Soldiers would have been as foul a Stain upon this Country as the Executions of the Quakers or Witches, anciently. As the Evidence was, the Verdict of the Jury was exactly right."

MacAskill, it would seem, having no other recourse than the law and his humanity did what he perceived was right, something that should stand out as an example to all who profess such ideals as compassion for your fellow human being. Those who perceive it as a victory for terrorism should look hard at the facts and realise that it is instead a victory for democracy and liberal ideals.

Everyone seems to be disgusted by the fact that Al Megrahi was given a hero's welcome back home in Libya. Instead of attempting to understand why it is that these people would embrace a convicted mass murderer in light of international rebuke. There are so many misunderstandings and divisions between the Arab people and the West that ordinary politicians cannot address but which only ordinary citizens can resolve and heal. The attempt to boycott all things Scottish in protest is as foolish as it is unjustified simply because many wonders have come from the true "Land of the Brave" not least of which is penicillin and in doing so, you would seek to punish those who attempt to show the way forward. You would be no different from those that perpetrate these very acts of terrorism against civilians in the hope of punishing their leaders.