Sunday, 29 November 2015


Today, Sunday 29th November 2015 would have marked the 95th birthday of Senator Amatari Zuofa, but he left us a few weeks earlier after having played a pioneering iconic role as a agent of development of the Niger Delta and a beacon for the Izon people.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Captain Mini Obubo - The Ancient Mariner Joins His Ancestors In Style

The Obubo Family and indeed the larger Gboluzigha Family of Igbainwari, Opokuma was at their creative best as they saw off one of their elders, Capt. Mini Jackson Kurabai Obubo fondly called "Uncle Mini" in artistic style. It is not often that you see people being buried in caskets that depict their professions but such was the case in Igbainwari as Marine Captain Mini Obubo was laid to rest in a beautiful marine vessel - a replica of the boats that had become his second home as he crisscrossed the waterways of the Niger Delta in his work as River Master. True to his witty and intelligent personality, he had expressly requested that his final voyage to meet his ancestors  be undertaken in a familiar setting.
Capt Obubo's Special Casket during the Open Air  funeral service before the interment
Captain Mini Jackson Kurabai Obubo was born on the 20th of July 1938 into the family of Chief Kuraibai Obubo of Agadawari Quarters in Igbainwari Town of Opokuma Clan in Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. He followed a family tradition of marine occupation begun by his uncle Captain William Kimitonmoghaye Obubo who excelled in the colonial Marine Department and was even decorated for his meritorious services in troop transport during the second World War and became one of the earliest Nigerians to be made captain of a marine vessel. In fact The baby boy,  Mini, was named after a marine vessel MINI which served as pilot boat that guided ships into the harbour at Calabar. 

True to his name, Uncle Mini picked the marine services profession and joined the marine service of West Minster Dredging Company in the 70s and worked his way up the professional ladder eventually becoming a River Master and earned the title Captain. In this role, he travelled through all the nooks and crannies of the Niger Delta waterways. With this wealth of experience he moved over to SeaTruck, when this oil service company needed the services of a seasoned mariner who knew the creeks of the Niger Delta like the palm of his hand. He  served meritoriously until his retirement in the late 80s.

Uncle Mini was married to Mrs. Janet Obubo for over four decades until she met an untimely death in a road traffic accident in 2011. This marriage was blessed with five children - "The Mini Jackson Five". At his time of departure, he was also blessed with fifteen grand children.

Captain Obubo had a challenging childhood as he was the last of child of his father and was born posthumously. His mother, Madam Eretibinana Obubo was undaunted by this calamity and single-handedly brought up Mini and his older siblings.

In his old age, his wit and humour went into full bloom and he was a readily available wise counsellor to the young, always seeing the lighter side of life and spicing good advice with humour. He was popularly known by his numerous traditional titles -  Owei Igbo, Tun-Abadi, Abadikubili among others. The family will forever miss his quick wit, his amiable disposition that endeared him to young and old, his depth of analysis of issues and the numerous captivating  mariner's tales.

Izonebi Rodger Obubo

Friday, 16 January 2015

A War Between Two Worlds

A War Between Two Worlds is republished with permission of Stratfor.

Read more: A War Between Two Worlds | Stratfor 
The murders of cartoonists who made fun of Islam and of Jews shopping for their Sabbath meals by Islamists in Paris last week have galvanized the world. A galvanized world is always dangerous. Galvanized people can do careless things. It is in the extreme and emotion-laden moments that distance and coolness are most required. I am tempted to howl in rage. It is not my place to do so. My job is to try to dissect the event, place it in context and try to understand what has happened and why. From that, after the rage cools, plans for action can be made. Rage has its place, but actions must be taken with discipline and thought.
I have found that in thinking about things geopolitically, I can cool my own rage and find, if not meaning, at least explanation for events such as these. As it happens, my new book will be published on Jan. 27. Titled Flashpoints: The Emerging Crisis in Europe, it is about the unfolding failure of the great European experiment, the European Union, and the resurgence of European nationalism. It discusses the re-emergingborderlands and flashpoints of Europe and raises the possibility that Europe's attempt to abolish conflict will fail. I mention this book because one chapter is on the Mediterranean borderland and the very old conflict between Islam and Christianity. Obviously this is a matter I have given some thought to, and I will draw on Flashpoints to begin making sense of the murderers and murdered, when I think of things in this way.
Let me begin by quoting from that chapter:
We've spoken of borderlands, and how they are both linked and divided. Here is a border sea, differing in many ways but sharing the basic characteristic of the borderland. Proximity separates as much as it divides. It facilitates trade, but also war. For Europe this is another frontier both familiar and profoundly alien.
Islam invaded Europe twice from the Mediterranean — first in Iberia, the second time in southeastern Europe, as well as nibbling at Sicily and elsewhere. Christianity invaded Islam multiple times, the first time in the Crusades and in the battle to expel the Muslims from Iberia. Then it forced the Turks back from central Europe. The Christians finally crossed the Mediterranean in the 19th century, taking control of large parts of North Africa. Each of these two religions wanted to dominate the other. Each seemed close to its goal. Neither was successful. What remains true is that Islam and Christianity were obsessed with each other from the first encounter. Like Rome and Egypt they traded with each other and made war on each other.
Christians and Muslims have been bitter enemies, battling for control of Iberia. Yet, lest we forget, they also have been allies: In the 16th century, Ottoman Turkey and Venice allied to control the Mediterranean. No single phrase can summarize the relationship between the two save perhaps this: It is rare that two religions might be so obsessed with each other and at the same time so ambivalent. This is an explosive mixture.

Migration, Multiculturalism and Ghettoization

The current crisis has its origins in the collapse of European hegemony over North Africa after World War II and the Europeans' need for cheap labor. As a result of the way in which they ended their imperial relations, they were bound to allow the migration of Muslims into Europe, and the permeable borders of the European Union enabled them to settle where they chose. The Muslims, for their part, did not come to join in a cultural transformation. They came for work, and money, and for the simplest reasons. The Europeans' appetite for cheap labor and the Muslims' appetite for work combined to generate a massive movement of populations.
The matter was complicated by the fact that Europe was no longer simply Christian. Christianity had lost its hegemonic control over European culture over the previous centuries and had been joined, if not replaced, by a new doctrine of secularism. Secularism drew a radical distinction between public and private life, in which religion, in any traditional sense, was relegated to the private sphere with no hold over public life. There are many charms in secularism, in particular the freedom to believe what you will in private. But secularism also poses a public problem. There are those whose beliefs are so different from others' beliefs that finding common ground in the public space is impossible. And then there are those for whom the very distinction between private and public is either meaningless or unacceptable. The complex contrivances of secularism have their charm, but not everyone is charmed.
Europe solved the problem with the weakening of Christianity that made the ancient battles between Christian factions meaningless. But they had invited in people who not only did not share the core doctrines of secularism, they rejected them. What Christianity had come to see as progress away from sectarian conflict, Muslims (and some Christians) may see as simply decadence, a weakening of faith and the loss of conviction.
There is here a question of what we mean when we speak of things like Christianity, Islam and secularism. There are more than a billion Christians and more than a billion Muslims and uncountable secularists who mix all things. It is difficult to decide what you mean when you say any of these words and easy to claim that anyone else's meaning is (or is not) the right one. There is a built-in indeterminacy in our use of language that allows us to shift responsibility for actions in Paris away from a religion to a minor strand in a religion, or to the actions of only those who pulled the trigger. This is the universal problem of secularism, which eschews stereotyping. It leaves unclear who is to be held responsible for what. By devolving all responsibility on the individual, secularism tends to absolve nations and religions from responsibility.
This is not necessarily wrong, but it creates a tremendous practical problem. If no one but the gunmen and their immediate supporters are responsible for the action, and all others who share their faith are guiltless, you have made a defensible moral judgment. But as a practical matter, you have paralyzed your ability to defend yourselves. It is impossible to defend against random violence and impermissible to impose collective responsibility. As Europe has been for so long, its moral complexity has posed for it a problem it cannot easily solve. Not all Muslims — not even most Muslims — are responsible for this. But all who committed these acts were Muslims claiming to speak for Muslims. One might say this is a Muslim problem and then hold the Muslims responsible for solving it. But what happens if they don't? And so the moral debate spins endlessly.
This dilemma is compounded by Europe's hidden secret: The Europeans do not see Muslims from North Africa or Turkey as Europeans, nor do they intend to allow them to be Europeans. The European solution to their isolation is the concept of multiculturalism — on the surface a most liberal notion, and in practice, a movement for both cultural fragmentation and ghettoization. But behind this there is another problem, and it is also geopolitical. I say in Flashpoints that:
Multiculturalism and the entire immigrant enterprise faced another challenge. Europe was crowded. Unlike the United States, it didn't have the room to incorporate millions of immigrants — certainly not on a permanent basis. Even with population numbers slowly declining, the increase in population, particularly in the more populous countries, was difficult to manage. The doctrine of multiculturalism naturally encouraged a degree of separatism. Culture implies a desire to live with your own people. Given the economic status of immigrants the world over, the inevitable exclusion that is perhaps unintentionally incorporated in multiculturalism and the desire of like to live with like, the Muslims found themselves living in extraordinarily crowded and squalid conditions. All around Paris there are high-rise apartment buildings housing and separating Muslims from the French, who live elsewhere.
These killings have nothing to do with poverty, of course. Newly arrived immigrants are always poor. That's why they immigrate. And until they learn the language and customs of their new homes, they are always ghettoized and alien. It is the next generation that flows into the dominant culture. But the dirty secret of multiculturalism was that its consequence was to perpetuate Muslim isolation. And it was not the intention of Muslims to become Europeans, even if they could. They came to make money, not become French. The shallowness of the European postwar values system thereby becomes the horror show that occurred in Paris last week. 

The Role of Ideology

But while the Europeans have particular issues with Islam, and have had them for more than 1,000 years, there is a more generalizable problem. Christianity has been sapped of its evangelical zeal and no longer uses the sword to kill and convert its enemies. At least parts of Islam retain that zeal. And saying that not all Muslims share this vision does not solve the problem. Enough Muslims share that fervency to endanger the lives of those they despise, and this tendency toward violence cannot be tolerated by either their Western targets or by Muslims who refuse to subscribe to a jihadist ideology. And there is no way to distinguish those who might kill from those who won't. The Muslim community might be able to make this distinction, but a 25-year-old European or American policeman cannot. And the Muslims either can't or won't police themselves. Therefore, we are left in a state of war. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has called this a war on radical Islam. If only they wore uniforms or bore distinctive birthmarks, then fighting only the radical Islamists would not be a problem. But Valls' distinctions notwithstanding, the world can either accept periodic attacks, or see the entire Muslim community as a potential threat until proven otherwise. These are terrible choices, but history is filled with them. Calling for a war on radical Islamists is like calling for war on the followers of Jean-Paul Sartre. Exactly what do they look like?
The European inability to come to terms with the reality it has created for itself in this and other matters does not preclude the realization that wars involving troops are occurring in many Muslim countries. The situation is complex, and morality is merely another weapon for proving the other guilty and oneself guiltless. The geopolitical dimensions of Islam's relationship with Europe, or India, or Thailand, or the United States, do not yield to moralizing.
Something must be done. I don't know what needs to be done, but I suspect I know what is coming. First, if it is true that Islam is merely responding to crimes against it, those crimes are not new and certainly didn't originate in the creation of Israel, the invasion of Iraq or recent events. This has been going on far longer than that. For instance, the Assassins were a secret Islamic order to make war on individuals they saw as Muslim heretics. There is nothing new in what is going on, and it will not end if peace comes to Iraq, Muslims occupy Kashmir or Israel is destroyed. Nor is secularism about to sweep the Islamic world. The Arab Spring was a Western fantasy that the collapse of communism in 1989 was repeating itself in the Islamic world with the same results. There are certainly Muslim liberals and secularists. However, they do not control events — no single group does — and it is the events, not the theory, that shape our lives.
Europe's sense of nation is rooted in shared history, language, ethnicity and yes, in Christianity or its heir, secularism. Europe has no concept of the nation except for these things, and Muslims share in none of them. It is difficult to imagine another outcome save for another round of ghettoization and deportation. This is repulsive to the European sensibility now, but certainly not alien to European history. Unable to distinguish radical Muslims from other Muslims, Europe will increasingly and unintentionally move in this direction.
Paradoxically, this will be exactly what the radical Muslims want because it will strengthen their position in the Islamic world in general, and North Africa and Turkey in particular. But the alternative to not strengthening the radical Islamists is living with the threat of death if they are offended. And that is not going to be endured in Europe.
Perhaps a magic device will be found that will enable us to read the minds of people to determine what their ideology actually is. But given the offense many in the West have taken to governments reading emails, I doubt that they would allow this, particularly a few months from now when the murders and murderers are forgotten, and Europeans will convince themselves that the security apparatus is simply trying to oppress everyone. And of course, never minimize the oppressive potential of security forces.
The United States is different in this sense. It is an artificial regime, not a natural one. It was invented by our founders on certain principles and is open to anyone who embraces those principles. Europe's nationalism is romantic, naturalistic. It depends on bonds that stretch back through time and cannot be easily broken. But the idea of shared principles other than their own is offensive to the religious everywhere, and at this moment in history, this aversion is most commonly present among Muslims. This is a truth that must be faced.
The Mediterranean borderland was a place of conflict well before Christianity and Islam existed. It will remain a place of conflict even if both lose their vigorous love of their own beliefs. It is an illusion to believe that conflicts rooted in geography can be abolished. It is also a mistake to be so philosophical as to disengage from the human fear of being killed at your desk for your ideas. We are entering a place that has no solutions. Such a place does have decisions, and all of the choices will be bad. What has to be done will be done, and those who refused to make choices will see themselves as more moral than those who did. There is a war, and like all wars, this one is very different from the last in the way it is prosecuted. But it is war nonetheless, and denying that is denying the obvious.
Editor's NoteThe newest book by Stratfor chairman and founder George Friedman, Flashpoints: The Emerging Crisis in Europe, will be released Jan. 27. It is now available for pre-order.


Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Pomp And Pageantry As Opokuma Clan Heralds A New King

Saturday May 10 2014 will go down in the annals of Opokuma history as a very special day; the day of accession by Okpoitari Diongoli to the Opu-Okun chieftaincy stool of Opokuma Clan. King Diongoli has succeeded King Ogionwo who returned to his ancestors after a 29-month reign from  the 11th of August 2007 to 5th of January 2010.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Glorious Exit Of An Icon - Dr Pianto Egberipou

Saturday, March 3 2012 was a day to remember in Kaiama, Headquarters of Kolokuma Opokuma Local Government Area. It marked the final funeral rites and interment of one of the giants of KOLGA, Dr Pianto Idonbagha Egberipou MB BS (Lagos); FRCS, FWACS, MHR, MNIM, JP. Friends and family from far and wide flocked to Kaiama to pay their last respects to a great man. Old friends from his alma mater, Okrika Grammar School, colleagues from the Nigerian Medical Association, erstwhile legislators all came to an open air service at his compound at Kaiama to pay tribute to a wonderful friend and illustrious associate. Former Minister of Science and Technology Professor Turner Isoun came in the group of Okrika Grammar School Old Boys to the funeral service. The ceremony was graced by the cream of Bayelsa and Rivers State societies and indeed from all over Nigeria.

Speaking at the ceremony the President of Okrika Grammar School Old Boys Professor Emmanuel Opuwaribo recalled how Pianto then a young school boy at OGS introduced the great linguist Prof Kay Williamson (then at the beginning of her illustrious career) to Kaiama at the beginning of her language research. This chance event brought the Kolokuma dialect of the Izon language into prominence through her research.

The Diriyai family of Kaiama has indeed a lost a beacon, a true guiding light. Dr. Pianto Egberipou was a great Nigerian, vast in the history and culture of his people, even though a trained medical scientist, he was a renowned traditional historian. He was the chairman of Kaiama Historical Society. He was indeed a bridge between the young and the old. His death therefore marks the end of an era.

As an infant, and even as a small boy who looked ever fragile and sickly from birth, Pianto was never given any chance to survive childhood; he was consigned to the death row by everyone in Kaiama (his home town) except his dear mother, Mienaki who kept not only faith with God but even told all who cared to listen that her only child would not only live but he will end up a medical doctor!!

Pianto confounded both old and young by living up to and even beyond the biblical three scores and ten! He then went on to fulfill his mother's profound prophesy by becoming the first medical doctor from his paternal and maternal clans of Kolokuma/Opokuma in 1969; before capping it all with a Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (1976). In 1988 he was honoured with the award of Fellowship of the West African College of Surgeons (FWACS).

The child doomed to die from birth lived to practice medicine and surgery from 1969 and even had the time and energy to veer into the hectic and topsy-turvy politics of Nigeria. He was in the Federal House of Assembly in 1979 till 1983 when he returned to full time medical practice till his death in January this year .

In honour of his mother who did not live to see her dream come true, Pianto named his first child and daughter MIENAKI after her. She read the only lesson from the bible at his funeral service.

Pianto did not stop with Mienaki; he created ELEVEN others in his image to populate the DIRIYAI FAMILY. The last of them, Zuofa Egberipou is a final year medical student at the University of Benin Medical School.

His age mates, especially General Wanka Maxwell Appah, his family, especially General Stanley Womotimi Diriyai and the entire Kolokuma Opokuma will miss Pianto, the mobile encyclopaedia, the strategist, the sweet story-teller, the historian and the great humorist!

When shall another like him come to us again as his class rapidly depletes!

O God , Accept his Gentle Soul in your Bosom!
Filed by Ekpein Appah and Izonebi Rodger Obubo