Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Cartoons for a laugh

Light entertainment to keep you laughing. Expect more very soon...

Forget democracy mate. I call the shots!

I'm trying sooo hard not to look...of course Mr Berlusconi, we can see that!

"Food your majesty"
"Good heavens! they look more like WMDs  (weapons of mass distraction)"

Schei├če!That scared the living daylights outta me

Welcome Daddy! What did you get me?

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Pope 'locks lips' with Imam

I don’t know if you’re like me, but when I read a story online I’m always eager to get to the bottom of the page so that I can laugh or roll my eyes at the motley of comments left by readers.

May I say it is rather tantalising reading a controversial story because it guarantees an avalanche of fascinating and sometimes hilarious exchanges between readers.

Today I came across a story on yahoo about a controversial Benetton ad which showed the pope kissing Egyptian Imam, Sheik Ahmed el-Tayeb. The clothing company posted the doctored image briefly across Milan, New York, Paris, Tel Aviv and Rome but was forced to take them down after a protest from the Vatican.

The Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi called the ad an "unacceptable" manipulation of the Pope's likeness and said it offended the religious sentiments of the faithful.
The ad is part of a wider “Unhate” campaign by Benetton featuring world leaders from opposite sides of the religious and political divide kissing each other on the lips.

According to the clothing company, the campaign is aimed at encouraging global love and tolerance. But the Vatican clearly did not see things that way.

Most of the commentators on Yahoo slated the Vatican for overreacting.

One commentator wrote:

Taking the current Catholic churches reputation regarding child abuse and the complete denial by those upon high within their ranks and also the fact they try to cover these child abuse cases up. I think this advert is the least of their worries.

Lets put things in perspective!


so its ok to condone the rape and abuse of children and vulnerable adults ,but dont show a picture of this paedophile kissing another man wow,grow some balls benneton ,i wouldnt have pulled the add

There were few criticisms like these:

this ad isoffensive.

Benneton , they always use strange photos , The photographer is Italian , and they dont want the Pope , They only want Corruption which that photo proves , sick minded people love it , its about LOVE not SEX , to use the head of the Catholic Church in a most disgusting way is sad , they cant expect people to buy their clothes now , they are finished..

At the risk of sounding like a moralist, I’ll have to agree with the last commentator above. Maybe I’m missing something or just downright old-fashioned but how does two men locking lips translate to love and tolerance?

For me the mental images that love and tolerance evoke are ones like these:

Being a Christian, I was raised to believe that love is kind, patient, longsuffering, tolerant, forgiving and sacrificial. Love is going the extra mile for another person. Love is letting the other person win the argument even when you’re right. It’s about accommodating other peoples’ weaknesses and idiosyncrasies.

When I saw the fake image of the pope kissing an imam, my first thought was ‘yuk’. That does not look tasteful on any account. Even if it were two women or a man and a woman I fail to see the connection with love and tolerance.

What worries me most is the thought that many children will be feasting on lustful, dissipated images like this in the name of advertisement. It’s just insane that adverts are no longer about selling a product on its own merits but rather about pushing the moral boundaries to the limit. So we when we see ads for perfume, hair products and even food, we’re not told much about the merits of the product. But we do get any eyeful of sensual indulgence by often scantily-clothed models. Unfortunately the ‘sex sells’ mindset has permeated into the cultural fabric of many Western countries. So we have artists like Rihanna and Lady Gaga striving to take the racy/eccentric stakes a notch higher with every subsequent video they release.

But a salient question is, what lessons do the younger generation take away? What moral blueprints are we leaving them? When it's cool to talk down religion and high moral values; when we subscribe to a  ‘postmodernist’ way of thinking where there are no boundaries. Nothing is right or wrong. Each man is a god to himself. What are we saying to the younger generation?

Of course, individuals have the prerogative of choosing whatever ideology suits them – be it religion, morality or atheism. However we must bear in mind the 'seeds' we sow in children/young peoples' minds will determine how they will turn out tomorrow. Using computer terminology, it is a case of  garbage in - garbage out. Somewhere along the line this madness has to stop.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Presidents that made us laugh

Gaffes, blunders, mistakes…couch it in whatever language you may but it is often entertaining to catch the tete-a-tete exchanged between politicians behind closed doors.

This week the media kicked up a fuss over a private conversation between US president Barack Obama and his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy at the G20 summit. Both were unaware their conversation was being picked up by the mics.

Sarkozy: ‘Ah Monsieur Obama, I can’t stand that man Netanyahu! He’s such a liar – no?’

Obama (guffaws): ‘You’re sick of him? Dude, I have to deal with that guy every day!’

I sure had a good laughing reading and re-reading the conversation. Couldn’t understand the fuss by the media. Two grown men are allowed to express their opinions in private – no?

Another PM that bit the dust this week is the spruce, scandal-attracting Silvio Berlusconi of Italy. While members of the opposition might not be sad to see him go, we can’t help but miss his flair for unreservedly forthright statements. Here are a few that cracked me up:

On meeting Barack Obama, turns to aide “He’s young, handsome and suntanned.”

Politically correct brigades begin to murmur.

Berlusconi rolls eyes: ''God save us from imbeciles... How can you take such a great compliment negatively?"

On judges pursuing former Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti on charges relating to the Mafia: "Those judges are doubly mad! In the first place, because they are politically mad, and in the second place because they are mad anyway.

You can find a refreshingly hilarious list of Berlusconi quotes at

Former US president George Bush, bless him sprinkled so many ‘juicy’ quotes in his interviews and speeches; you’ll have difficulty choosing a favourite gaffe/quote.

“I have opinions of my own, strong opinions, but I don't always agree with them.”

"Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream.”

"You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test."

"You know, one of the hardest parts of my job is to connect Iraq to the war on terror."

"They misunderestimated me."

"There's an old saying in Tennessee -- I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee -- that says, fool me once, shame on --shame on you. Fool me -- you can't get fooled again." --Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 17, 2002

I promise you I will listen to what has been said here, even though I wasn't here.

Ninety-year-old Prince Philip (husband to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth) may not be a world leader but he can give any of them a run for their money when it comes to making blunt statements. Here are a few of his honest views:

"It's a vast waste of space." Philip entertained guests in 2000 at the reception of a new £18m British Embassy in Berlin, which the Queen had just opened.

"You ARE a woman, aren't you?" To a woman in Kenya in 1984, after accepting a gift.

"The problem with London is the tourists. They cause the congestion. If we could just stop the tourism, we could stop the congestion." At the opening of City Hall in 2002.

"Can you tell the difference between them?" On being told by President Obama that he'd had breakfast with the leaders of the UK, China and Russia.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Democracy is more than a label

It has been weeks since the death of Gaddafi and events in Libya have moved on.  However the macabre manner of his death will be remembered possibly for years to come. The image of the once invincible dictator being dragged through the streets, killed and then flung onto the floor of a meat room as a spectacle for Libyans was indeed pathetic.

Given the improvements Gaddafi brought to his citizens’ lives – free education, medical care, water and electricity amongst other things – one might have expected a more pensive mood. But anyone who has lived under the oppressive yoke of a dictatorial, military regime will understand the outburst of celebration that took place on the streets of Libya.

Benghazi, Libya

Nigeria faced a similar situation between 1993 and 1998. Its military dictator, General Sani Abacha, like Gaddafi, was ruthless. During his tenure, he defiantly sent nine men to the hangman’s noose. He shut down uncompromising newspapers; jailed critics. Like Gaddafi he also attracted international condemnation: Nigeria was suspended from the commonwealth; the EU imposed sanctions. Had death not cut him down, there were rumours that he was planning to make himself president for life.

General Sani Abacha

When he died mysteriously on the 8th of June, 1998, celebration erupted all over the country.  His death was followed by a period of transition, just as it is in Libya at the moment, in which the modalities for a return to civilian rule were worked out.
 Nigeria officially returned to civilian rule on the 29th of May 1999, and ever since has worn the democratic label very proudly. The problem is, in many ways it is nothing more than a label. Things have changed since the return to civilian rule – both for better and for worse.

Niger Delta militants
There is greater freedom of speech but no corresponding action to show for it. There is greater press freedom but journalists continue to lose their lives violently. There is greater personal freedom but the number of kidnappings by militants and criminals plus terrorist bombings has exploded; it was unheard of in Abacha’s time.


Last Saturday terrorist group Boko Haram killed more than sixty people in a bombing in Damaturu, capital of Northeastern Yobe state. President Goodluck Jonathan said he was ‘greatly disturbed’ by the attack and was working hard to hunt down the perpetrators. The U.S has since warned of further attacks but the government is striving to downplay the scale of the problem. The government’s placid response shows the sheer level of negligence and indifference it has towards its citizens.

When dictators are brought to book by the international community it is often due to their disregard for the sanctity of human life; stifling of personal liberties, press freedom and brutal suppression of the opposition. A civilian government may not be noted for unbridled brutality towards its citizens but is it any different if it is noted for colossal negligence to protect its citizens?
Are countries like Zimbabwe and Uganda better off simply because they bear the democratic label?

 Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC)  on its website set out its outline for a ‘modern, free and united state’. It includes:
·         Upholding the values of international justice, citizenship, the respect of international humanitarian law and human rights declarations, as well as condemning authoritarian and despotic regimes
·         Guaranteeing and respecting the freedom of expression through media, peaceful protests, demonstrations…in accordance with the constitution

The NTC’s outline for a democratic government should be the standard for every government. Democracy is more than label that governments can adopt, and hide behind to disguise lousy governance. It is a system of government that should improve the lives of citizens by guaranteeing basic human rights, promoting equality and good governance. After all what counts is not the label a country adopts but its adherence to the rule of law and ability to give citizens a better life. As political philosopher Alexander Hamilton put it, “Real liberty is neither found in despotism, nor in the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments.”

*In case you're wondering why the same topic was treated twice, this is a freelance article I sent to news sites. Just thought I'd also put it up on the blog. 

Friday, 4 November 2011

Libyan democracy: can it deliver?

For a few moments I was paralysed. The text flashing across the TV screen felt surreal ‘Gaddafi captured.’ For six months NATO had been bombing Gaddafi in a bid to take him out. But Gaddafi remained defiant calling opposition fighters ‘rats’ and vowing to fight till the end. After a while news of Libya had all but slipped out of the headlines.

Quite frankly I had begun to believe Gaddafi was invincible. So it came as a rude shock when the headline ‘Gaddafi captured’ hit my TV screen. I stared at the young men spraying bullets in the air amid shouts of jubilation, and didn’t know what to make of it.

I flipped between CNN, Euronews and Aljazeera. On each channel reporters cautiously pointed out that the National Transitional Council had overblown issues in the past so we shouldn’t take the news of his capture as the final word.

Nothing prepared me for the video footage that flooded media outlets later on in the day -an injured and bloodied Gaddafi looking petrified and disorientated as he was jostled towards a car by a group of gun-wielding men. Then he was lying on the floor of an ambulance, dead.

 Events reminded me of a particular date: 8th of June 1998. It was the day Nigeria’s military dictator, General Sani Abacha, died. His death was sudden and mysterious. Like Gaddafi, he was ruthless. During his 1993 to 1998 tenure, he defiantly sent nine men to the hangman’s noose. He shut down uncompromising newspapers. Jailed critics. Like Gaddafi he also attracted international condemnation: Nigeria was suspended from the commonwealth; the EU imposed sanctions. Had death not cut him down, there were rumours that he was planning to make himself president for life.

General Sani Abacha
A common trait found among dictators is an illusive belief in their own omnipotence and invincibility. When Gaddafi threatened to wipe out opponents in Benghazi he could never have imagined the resulting reaction.

Protests were sparked off after the discovery of a mass grave said to contain the remains of 1,270 inmates killed by government security forces at Tripoli’s Abu Salim prison.

Gaddafi responded to the people’s protests with military might. Unfortunately the violence meted out to him at the end must have defied all his imaginations - being dragged through the streets, shot in the head then flung onto a meat floor as an object of spectacle for his former subjects to watch.

On 28th April, 1945, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini met a similar fate. He along with his mistress and government officials were caught by Italian partisans as the allies closed in on him. They were shot, kicked and spat upon. Then their bodies were hung upside down on meat hooks from the roof of a filling station; people below hurled stones at them.

Mussolini 2nd left, mistress 3rd left & govt officials

When dictators lose their footing the consequence can be damning. According to a BBC interview with one of Gaddafi’s former henchmen Mansour Dhao Ibrahim, he believed Gaddafi died an angry and disappointed man. According to Ibrahim, Gaddafi felt he had done so many good things for Libyans and his people should love him until the end.

Indeed when Gaddafi seized power in 1969, Libya was a barren land with little infrastructure. The roads, airports, hospitals, power plants and other infrastructure existing today were built during his leadership. Under his rule, citizens enjoyed free public education and medical care. Per capita income in the country rose to more than US $11,000, the fifth highest in Africa.

Tripoli by night
That wasn’t enough to save him. There is something about the human spirit that detests suppression of civil liberties; infringements on personal freedom; unjustified violence and an atmosphere of fear.

The Oxford Advanced Learner’s dictionary defines dictator as a ruler who has COMPLETE power over a country…OR a person who behaves as if he/she has power over other people.

I believe it is this unfettered exercise of power that gets under people’s skin. They want a leader who brings economy prosperity and progress to the table; but they also want a leader who gives them room to voice their opinions and participate in the matters that affect them.

That is why democracy holds so much sway worldwide. Abraham Lincoln famously described it as the government of the people, by the people, for the people.

Democracy among other things:

• Guarantees basic human rights

• Promotes equality

• Checks and balances the exercise of power, and

• Ensures good governance

Established democracies like the United States, United Kingdom, and the Netherlands are a demonstration of the merits of democracy. Hence it becomes a one-way route for countries emerging from other forms of leadership like Libya, who are charting their way to a democratic system of government.

The late Nigerian Afrobeat singer, Fela, famously described democracy in pidgin English ‘as dem (them) all crazy’. And it does seem crazy. After General Abacha died Nigeria returned to civilian rule. Officially Nigeria is a democratic country. And yes, a lot has changed, both for the better and for the worse.

There is greater freedom of speech but no corresponding action to show for it. There is greater press freedom but journalists continue to lose their lives violently. There is greater personal freedom but the number of kidnappings by militants and criminals plus terrorist bombings has exploded. It was unheard of in Abacha’s time.

Militants in Nigeria
It is somewhat confusing. Dictatorship has not delivered the goods; neither has democracy. For many African countries democracy remains nothing but a myth. So what leadership is best suited to countries like Libya and a lot of African countries with their complex cultural, tribal and geographical make up?

Stepping back in time, many African countries did have successful systems of government that would probably not fall under the tag democracy. In Chinua Achebe’s novel ‘Things Fall Apart’, he depicts an African society where individual villages are governed by a council of elders. They deliberate on matters that concern the village; lay down the rules and settle disputes. The villages had their unique traditions, customs, and religion. There was relative peace, order and harmony.


Things began to fall apart when the European missionaries arrived with a new religion and order of governance. Slowly their influence began to erode the structures that had held the societies together for so long. To their credit, the missionaries abolished the killing of twins; promoted the equality of all people/discouraged the caste system. They also brought western education.

However they did not understand the ways of the people; the laws of their lands and their cultural practices so there were conflicts between both systems. One had to give way.

Personally I do not support the mindset that blames it all on colonialism. Countries are responsible for their own success or failure.

For the time being, all eyes will be on Libya. Will the new system of government deliver the goods? Or is it about time developing countries began to explore new systems of government?

                                           Ten dictators who died violently