Thursday, January 31, 2008

End the Rule of Agbaiya in Nigeria

I read with some pain the snub given to the speaker of the House of Rep by the PDP chairman, the President , ex-President et al. It is quite typical. I remember my chairman when I first started my company (in the UK) was nearly 70 then but in spite of it we worked as colleagues . Of course it was a little more complicated than that but more on it another time. Part of my initial problem was i had been brought up in an environment where you acted completely dumb around older people and acted subservient. I had real problems in my own business challenging any unproductive behaviour from him. It took a while but I came back to my real culture. People, our ancestors did not really believe in the absolute rightness of the older person. Worse still when someone is even one day older they try that bullshit rank pulling. We forget the reason for giving respect to age was that in the times of old access, exposure, experience and competence came with age as you were more likely to be most knowledgeable the older you were . It is frankly no longer the case. There are many things my children are more knowledgeable about than i am . I hope I have the wisdom from time to time to be open and allow them to educate me. It is the failure to be truly open that means that most government departments still you yahoo accounts for email in spite of the inefficient, insecure and disorganised implications. It is part of a failure to let young more knowledgeable talent through. Remember it is the same people born before independence constantly in a dick measurement exercise with each other that as imprisoned the country in a spiral of personal conflict. They treat the country as part of their family compound.

It is because of these kind of people my Yoruba ancestors came up with the word Agbaiya which does not fully translate literarily into English but it is the description of a undignified and unwise elder. You know them by their behaviour , many who use their age and exposure like a baseball bat on the ridge of the nose. Many of those who have gone before us have exemplified that name. They refuse to know when to bow gracefully of the stage, they are blinded by what they know to what they do not know, they exemplify hubris in their conduct and lifestyle. It is time to put them into pasture simply we are more in number than they are, it is time to bum rush them out. This is our country we are the future and they are the past we need to kick these people out period! Now!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Excellence the only answer to racism

Lets call it what it is really . When we call the kind of discrimination that classifies people and diminish them on what we call Race it is in fact tribalism. The kind of tribalism that can become a debilitating illness . There are degrees of the illness and the roles assigned by the afflicted to those he or she is incapable of humanising. It seems there is a special place in all of this for any Alpha male that is so called 'black'. The regular allegation of intimidating others if your teeth is not showing, the unlimited expectation of sexual aggression, the assumption of intellectual incompetence amongst many others. Part of the rule is if you are a so called 'big black man' you cannot raise your voice or show anger. The mental institutions are filled with such men whose relationship with range of emotions are now so distorted they cannot calibrate responses that will keep them functional. Even then they are not allowed to be just mad they are over medicated and often killed in an over zealous fear of their potential for aggression. This is all well established reality and is one of the many reasons why Senator Obama is a phenom. He manages to keep this monster largely at bay in others. He seems to have a reassuring presence and all the attempts to demonise him so far have only been marginally successful. Remember that originally he was not black enough as people like Stanley Crouch commented on his lack of slave roots. Then he was trying too hard to be accepted by black people and rejecting his white mother , that was Ellis Cose both commentators are celebrated mainstream 'black' commentators who helped make it more acceptable for the rest of the media to follow. Then in Nevada he suddenly is too black for Hispanic voters at least that is what the Clinton campaign put out there. The net was already circulated the protocols of Hussein Obama alleging he is part of a kind of islamic sleeper cell having attended a Madrassa at 10 years of age. Then suddenly he is a member of a racist church who Mr Cohen in the Washington Post tied too Minister Farakhan because the daughter of his pastor gave the minister an award. Finally he is just another 'black candidate' whose only support comes from the emotive community that is herded by tribal instincts but incapable of any rational decision. Bill Maher on his show said he new blacks would come back home to Obama as they did on OJ equating a Senator running for the presidency with an alleged murderer. It reminds me of a dinner party in the Forest of Dean many years ago. There were 3 black men amongst a party of over 40 people all white. Over a period of time people huddled and spoke mingling from time to time until these three black male strangers ended up in a group together. In less than five minutes a white woman came over and alleged that we were being 'racialist' for why were we the only blacks in the party in each others company? Go figure all the times we were talking to whites there was no problem and of course it is not racist for the whites who were talking to each other but when its blacks then they must be doing something unsavoury. The same thing accompanied the Obama win in South Carolina. So Obama is all things dangerous and underhand even when they are contradictory.

These are all not new, the main thing that is new is that we are watching a man in Obama who tries his best not to be imprisoned by the justifiable anger and desire for fairness that has crippled blacks for a long time. It is time to move beyond the dialogue about the injustice of such treatment. it is not only distracting , it is debilitating. In fact I will argue it is an excuse for us not to compete and pursue excellence because we have a ready made excuse. It is time to get over the victimhood and embrace the possibilities in spite of the unfairness. Senator Obama stands in a long line of great men who seek excellence as the only answer to injustice and unfairness. This is the lesson our children need to learn and focus upon. The world is an unfair and imperfect place it is not a good enough excuse to waste a life. Time now to set a new agenda that finds power to rise above adversity and laugh in the face of unfairness, recognising that no human institution can provide justice. Justice is a realm exclusively for God. In the meantime we are obliged to use the gift of life as the full expression of love that it is. In fact racism is and can be a catalyst for excellence and it could not happen to a better people. It is time for a new day in which self pity and sense of entitlement gives way to a hunger for a life that matters and makes a difference. No matter what happens this not a choice it is an obligation.

Obama Victory Speech

There comes a time once in a lifetime that a leader captures the essence of their time. It is like lightning in a bottle. Here is my generations chance.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

It is the Economy, Stupid!

To read the Nigerian press you would think that if we caught all the people that stole money and cleared the Senate of so called 419 lawmakers we would be in paradise and all problems resolved. Across the continent of Africa we have spent the greater part of the last century on battles around governance, accountability and political credibility. Try as we might as Kenya shows along with Zimbabwe, Nigeria even South Africa our politics is driven by the desire to consume and the addiction to control. We have largely assumed that if we get the politics and governance right the economics will follow this is in spite of the example of the Chinese.

We are now watching the so called credit crunch play out in the West with little or no analysis of its consequence for Africa. This is the same continent where intra- Africa trade still constitutes less that 10% of all trade. It is the same continent where capital flight i.e. money leaving the continent is far more significant than those that is coming back. The millions spent on sending people to study in UK and the US, the never ending holiday shopping sprees to London, Dubai and New York, the salting away of millions into foreign accounts. The Nigerian banks have now joined in this foolish pursuits by advertising perpetually on CNN for millions of dollars to what avail? Who are they really directing this adverts too? what is their return on such adverts when they are supposed to be investing in their economy especially SMEs in Nigeria. As this credit crunch takes hold think about its effects a little.

The sup-prime mortgage debacle will affect Nigerians abroad than most groups because they went into the buy to let property market far more that most nationalities. In the UK the middle class Nigerians who tried to spread their wealth creation through property investment are now scrambling to sell and pay mortgages as the value of houses start to drop. It also affects others not in the sub prime but maxed out on credit cards and other financial facilities. All these will have profound dampening effect on Remittances which have been quite a supplement to Foreign Direct Investment in the past five years.

It is also the case that many people are migrating back to Nigeria as a result of the dynamism that the policies of the last government started to create. It is the irony that the same policies are now being reversed every day destroying business assumption and generating economic uncertainties. For example a friend of mine who invested his life savings in Cassava Flour processing because of the Government directive on incorporating a percentage of cassava flour in bread is now facing ruin because of a recent reverse by the new government. As this people return they also face a labour market that is not meritocratic nor is it transparent enough with credible system of redress. In all the economy has not even opened up enough to accommodate the returnees.

The Nigerian stock market which registered the fourth largest growth in the world last year is also not organised to capitalise on the problems in the west since it takes forever to administer transactions. It is known you can wait over a year for your certificate reducing the possibility of transacting shares quickly and consistently.

Finally there are governments all over the continent who do not grasp the interdependent nature of the economies in this epoch. It is with concern one views the Nigerian government bogged down to inane dialogue about rule of law when the economic strategy is neither apparent nor is it consistent. It is time for a more considered dialogue about our economies and more importantly how we will make sure that we turn this commodities boom into a sustainable catalyst for growth before the `recession in the West destroys key elements that are making it happen. Wake UP!

Ire O

Business Leadership analysis of Presidential candidates

The FT is probably like Al Jazeera one of the few media outlets where what they write and put out is well thought out and has quality evidence behind it. I tries to deliver keeping news away from editorial. Here is a editorial piece that is truly worth reading.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Enough of the Madonna / Whore BS

I just have had enough of the crap that we as Nigerian males deal out and it is time we get called out on it. This whole libido severance shit in which we sort out women into Ije and Iyawo categories while we indulge our most crass and debauched desires at the expense of a cross section of women has to be blown wide open. I am not holier than anyone but help me here where are the real men these days. Men who take responsibility wherever it is rather than blame women for their choices. Ok what has me going on is the theatre of the absurd that is being played out by Obasanjo's son against is soon to be ex- wife. He seems an errant idiot of the type has not fully found manhood. He claims that his wife who he is fighting in divorce court was abused sexually by her father and that she in pursuit of business opportunities screwed his own father. As a result his solution is to swear an affidavit to the effect and also seek DNA testing of the children.

Once again I say crass stupidity. Is manhood that has majesty so alien to this person that he does not know that every child that was born during the currency of his marriage is his even if not so biologically. If he lacks male role models that can help him see this then sheer thinking should embarrass him . if after the test the kids turn out to be his children where does he go from there? How is it we no longer have warrior men who live for dignity, honour and the capacity to secure the future? His wife no matter how debauched was his personal choice no one forced him to marry her. He is the co-creator of the nightmare he lives. How does he take responsibility for that? He has chosen the most disgusting approach to breaking the back of a woman who he once shared intimacy with and thought to be the mother of his children. His thinking is not too difficult to fathom in a society where being a wife is the completion of a woman's humanity without which she is a fair game for all manners of proposition and pity. It is an attempt to put her firmly in the oversimplified whore stereotype since the Nigerian elite can process only one of this dimension of a woman at a time. Even if we assume the worst of the woman and find that there is enough evidence to support his claim is there not something here that totally makes her a victim of all the irresponsible males in her life?

imagine if it is true her father abused her , does that not truly shape her relationship with older men? A victim of abuse perhaps at a young age before she could actually form a real choice, does that not just frame the story into a tragedy in which men who have authority can continue to exploit her for their random pleasure. Then her father in law is implicated the ultimate father and ex president is that not itself a consistent role for her to capitulate too. Finally a husband and believe me I know about us . i wonder if he can pass the adultery abstinence test? Even if he does, then uses this facts to argue a divorce case in scorched earth attempt not pay some crazy alimony claim that will never survive a proper scrutiny before any credible judge. I think this woman has been totally failed by all the men in her life and if there is any shame to attach it should be to those who have, are and continue to try to exploit her .

Being a man is one of the few things I truly understand and respect. it is a source of great pain that in Nigerian society the quality of manhood is in free fall. if you cannot honour the woman anymore at least respect the memory of the illusion you once shared. Walk away and allow her to move on with her humanity and her motherhood intact. That is something that a real man automatically extends to anyone he interacts with.It is a mark of character or dare I say of Omoluwabi. If you do not then unfortunately it says more about you than it does of her. All this stuff has to stop . Women are entitled to their complexity and fuck ups the way we are. Until that happens it is a reflection that we are not yet the men that our society needs to be their partners for a better future. Check yourselves before you wreck us all.

By the way i still see women as my adversaries God knows they have their ways and they are not mine but the battle has to be fought with honour. Putting that stuff out their is just ugly.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Civil Rights 'Leaders' and Obama

After watching Congresswoman Jackson Lee defend Senator Clinton. This is a bit of powerful analysis of why Senator Obama is a breath of fresh air in Washinton Post from a Professor out of Spelman in Atlanta.

NH Analysis

Here is a good piece of straight analysis by Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal. It is worth a good read.

10 Steps to inspiring transformation

New Hampshire results on the Democratic nomination confounded the pollsters, pundits and the media but it was a symptom of what those of us who use the lens of complexity recognise as inevitable expression of self organisation . There are many analysis into how people who are paid to gaze into crystal balls got it so wrong and Senator Clinton won. Is it the 'iron my shirt' placards, the tears to stop the 'country falling back', the Barack Fairy tale remarks or is it the uncle from Kenya coming out of the woodwork. Never mind like most leadership educators i fancy myself an adviser to a great political leader. In this case i choose Senator Obama for many reasons that have been shared before. He only stands a chance if he can do the following things:

1) Connect back with the possibility of a United States of America which whimsically we glimpsed after the Iowa result. The lesson of Iowa is that everybody likes a dream coming true they just worry at what price and whether it will come true. In Iowa I suspect there are many children of Jane Elliot who had gone through the blue eye, brown eye experiment. They were open to possibility connect with that element.

2) Remember you got 37% in New Hampshire mostly white people so the dream is not dead it is living and it will take time to become fully owned by everyone . Concentrate on celebrating the fact that people have spoken and their message is that you need to close the deal and define the possibility of the change you can help them create in more concrete terms. remember perception is reality.

3) Do not buy the sense of unfairness and injustice that you might feel from the Bill Clinton kid remark or the racial undertone of some of the different comments even Hillarys MLK comment. They are distraction and very dangerous one. Do not let your so called friends suck you into any sense of racial polarisation. Ignore Donna Brazille and i forget her name the publisher of Ms magazine . this is not about what sets people apart but what brings them together. even if it is racism the only answer is excellence. Step up your game some more gears by having specific changes anytime you talk. For example a foreign policy that puts understanding as a pre condition to assertive or even aggressive behaviour.

4) Draw a distinction between your candidacy which is about transformation rather than about improving existing transactions.

5) Remind people that the Presidency is about leadership primarily not about management. It means that inspiration to get people to move towards another level of outcomes and the judgement to choose key people as well as the capacity to constantly improve are the key here.

6) For those who insist on details in every respect explain that in the times we are in that Alan Greenspan calls 'the age of turbulence ' the key is to be adaptive and flexible to evolve solutions to the unpredictable and unforeseeable.

7) Remind them that they have to find solutions for todays out of the mindset of tomorrow not from the same orientation with which it was created.

8) Go out on a limb and define yourself as you have always done by not just talking about your strengths but also your weaknesses and what you will do to manage them.

9) Remind people that this is about them not about you as to whether they want to be reduced to what they fear or be bold for what they desire.

10) Celebrate the process and ignore the win /loss equations from the pundits that is down to the people guess all you can do is your best. Eventually people get the President they deserve.

Do try to live in the moment and enjoy

Monday, January 07, 2008

Beyond Iowa ' the true determinant of leadership' unveiling the Players profile

This is dedicated to my Sister, Rosanna and Sherri a frequent poster on these pages both of whom are early supporters of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Senator Obama's win in Iowa is quite an eye opener even for people like me who are avid supporters but sceptics about the temperament and attitude of the people of the United States of America. This was a triumph for the spirit of possibility amongst the voters of Iowa and likely to be for the larger American populace. The question remains whether every day citizens can allow themselves to dream again. Beyond this the drama of this primary process allows for a broader discourse of leadership through the lens of the Omoluwabi dynamics. Without opening up the full 7 elements it seems more powerful to use a metaphor to explore the characteristic of adaptive, transformative leadership and locate the main candidates of the Democratic party on that continuum.

My metaphor for this exploration is the player. Yes the much abused word which has been reduced to either pimping or gaming but actually in this context is an expression of how we approach the game of life. In this context there are four domains in which we play and quite honestly through life we move from one to the other depending on environment as well as circumstances. These are not linear categories but circumstantial places in which we express parts of our complex and contradictory characters.

The four domains or orientations are the following:

1) The player orientation which is the most evolved of the four captures a disposition to be driven by mastery of ones own internal dynamics and self love which allows for an authentic expression of of the hungers and drivers that shape our journey. It allows for a coherent life narrative that focuses on personal evolution rather than a scarcity mentality. It manifests in the space of abundance and openness recognising that what matters is not the hands that life deals you but how you choose to play it. This is what Senator Obama is using to drive his movement for an American renewal and shapes how people experience him. Quite simply he is comfortable in his own skin which he wears with self love that allows him to embrace both the white and black part of his heritage without being disrespectful of either. He has mastered the Mo Lo of his own energy that makes him capable of running against the grain and yet exude a confidence. Those who deride his positions as naive and irresponsible are now forced to rethink and reassess. Here is the dynamics of the player as what matters is what delivers results it is the domain of leadership and it is always inspirational to experience. It seeks and delivers transformation.

2) The wanna be player is the second orientation which is often the space for specialism, authority and management. It is often shaped by a fear of failure and a need to establish what the playbook states rather than what ones intuition raises.It is a transactional space where it is driven by outside /in dynamics. It always is shaped by real politic and a need to win rather than succeed. Senator Mrs Sister Hillary 'experience from day one ' Clinton has this one nailed down. It assumes knowledge of the way the game has been played prepares you for the way it will be played in future. It promotes the fear of the unknown. It is a domain about technical competence rather than adaptive wisdom.

3) The Player hater is the a well worn orientation that is shaped by judgemental and blaming focus. It is about dividing and resentment of others. Former Senator John Edwards exemplifies this approach. It reduces all issues to who is fault and always finds a wedge issue to determine its priorities. It personalises all challenges and uses competition rather than cooperation as its main plank of operation.

4) Finally the played orientation which is where the majority of us act out a roles as pawns in the game of life living in the matrix of the contract of employment, mortgage payments, pensions or 401ks and escapism from retail therapy or watching channel O. We buy the next hysteria from the media abrogating our choice to live out or assignment.

I started writing this before the New Hampshire result. This Primary process is extremely rich in lessons about character and how it shapes destiny. Expect a lot of posting over the next few days.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Iowa and Elections

Whatever the polls say it is clear that I have posted in support of Senator Obama not because he is black or of African descent but for the possibilities of an America truly living for a greater good, grounded in its recognition of a common humanity and humbled by the interdependence of nations. Senator Obama exudes and authenticity that is both open and passionate. He represents hope that is beyond the limitation of contrived policy. His is an aspirations beyond partisan politics, vision beyond the artificiality of national borders. He is of course limited by his constituency in both party terms as well as nationality. However he more so than others recognises and exercises his judgement accordingly for complexity of our times. His positions are a congruent exposition of his character hence the truimph of his judgement on Iraq, Pakistan et al over so much touted experience.

He is Hope and Senator Clinton is Inevitability. I cannot see senator Obama winning because the fear of loss that has become the calling card of the psyche in the average American will not allow for them to look beyond their insecurity towards their possibility. The establishment of both parties thrives on division and conflict and the citizenry are addicted to the idea of winning too much to recognise that what is important is success which often times is abundant enough to allow for both competition and cooperation. I am sure that Senator Obama has run a good race and I hope he has become the warror of light for an American renewal but he will unfortunately not become the president.