Monthly Archives: April 2013
Don’t get fooled by the litigious nature of today’s topic. Frankly, we don’t like lawyers much. They tend to be an overbearing, cagey, self-infatuated, narrow-minded, briefcase slinging lot with an overblown estimation of their own relevance. Today’s post is not a free advert for lawyers, so don’t punch a hole through your screen yet—and the gods know, you have every reason to do so at the thought of those assholes. We’d sooner demand for the left eye of your only child than send your innocent psyche into the tortuous mindfuckery of a lawyer’s solicitations. And if you are any part of humanity, you should be fuming right now at that nefarious idea of having to interact with a lawyer.
But, leaving the vexatious issue of lawyers aside. There’s that whole problem of ensuring law and order in a society. In other to have an organised and functional society, some form of law is necessary. You need a system of rules that, at the very laziest, ensures that folks do not trample other folks’ right and provides a system of settling disputes—so that we won’t all resort to dragging out fans of opposing teams on the streets and slashing their throats at the end of every football match.
But such a system of rules will be ineffective if no one utilizes or implements it. And that’s what you’ll see in Nigeria today: a scenario where the freaking rules exist only as a mere shadow which we pay lip service to. The real substance of our legal system is whatever shitty action happens to be the generally acceptable standard at the moment—such as throwing tyres around people’s necks and setting them on fire, calling soldiers to kick the ass of your debtor, burning down a whole village or lying in wait for the person who insulted you on the internet and punching their face into another dimension.
Take another example: the inherited idea from the English legal system that everyone is “innocent until presumed guilty”. This optimism may work well in a society with proper police investigative techniques and sufficiently motivated law enforcement and judicial officers. But in a country where there are several loopholes for a suspect to sidestep the system, it is just more convenient for folks to stone the person to death instead of having him arrested. Now, we have no proof of our next statement, but a system of “guilty until you can prove yourself innocent” should make plenty folks happy here. Once you get arrested for any reason—you’re screwed and its up to you to unscrew yourself, which should be easy, if you’re actually innocent.
This avoidance of the judicial process is, again, not entirely your fault. Our legal system is not “ours”. Instead, it is the bastard child of the English colonists—more suited to the judicial procedures of a Kirikiri fiefdom than to the adjudicatory rules of a civilized society. And that is why some anomalies occur—such as a man going to jail with hard labour for stealing a phone while another pays a fine for defrauding the country of billions of Naira. Because, you see, when they were drawing up the criminal laws, it didn’t occur to the damned colonists that black folks might be clever enough one day to steal more money with a pen than with a machete.
And that’s why you need to take the legal system of your society more seriously—don’t be afraid to sue or be sued. Oh, of course, there’s those damned lawyers who come in and fuck up the entire process till doomsday. What with their adjournments, processes, pleadings, writs, motions, injunctions, objections, appeals, vegetables and rotten tomatoes. But, here’s the fact: lawyers and their application of law are only a fragment of society—and not greater than it. That’s why you can elect politicians into the executive and the legislature—so they can enact and execute the rules that make up the judicial system. You, as society, can change the entire legal system. You can rewrite the rules and limit—or increase—the fuckery of lawyers within the system. And the feeling of achievement you get from that alone is totally worth the effort.
And we’re absolutely not joking. We need a proper, “home grown” legal system. Law and order is too important to leave into the hands of the English system trained lawyers and judges you find around today. Few of these lawyers are interested in the betterment of the legal system, rightfully too. That’s your job—not theirs. You should be able to rewire your political mindset from the question of which candidate can arrest some specific individual to the question: “who can effect a system-wide legal reform?”
There are more important aspects to the functioning of a society than the simple arrest of corrupt officials. Any body can arrest anyone, but it is only a rational human that can create an effective system of rules for the allocation of resources and the settlement of disputes. When that system is set in place, you will not have to worry about lawyers and their headaches—you will be more concerned about the rule of law. And if you disagree with us on this, we are going to hunt you down, wait for you to step out of your door and hit you in the face with a lawyer’s briefcase.
Let’s take time off our political rants today—and despite all that evidence to the contrary, we are not a political blog—and get cracking, instead, on some important stuff that’s bound to make you a happy person in life. Of course, there’s plenty of things we could show you to achieve this: how to marry happily, how to pay your taxes; how to find good food and how to successfully manipulate your company’s financial records without getting caught.
But, before we focus on your future welfare let’s quickly dig up a favourite nightmare from the past—exams. Of course, at this stage of your life, you’ve probably gone way beyond the dreadful claws of examinations. You now have a job, you pay your monthly tributes in the name of bills and you have even attained the privilege of punching school teachers in the face. But no matter what age you are now, that primeval fear of exams and the horrific memories of those days of torture will always be there to mock your dreams. And every time you hear the sentence, “There’s going to be a test”, you’re bound to shiver inwardly. Sorry. Now that we’ve kicked away the lid of your subconscious, we’ll just give you a few seconds to shiver and recover from the repressed memories.
Now, here are some other reminders. Those damned examinations often come in two main types of indigestion-inducing questions: there’s the “objective” or multiple choice question and then there’s the “subjective” theory, or essay questions. And of course, you remember the rules—the “objective” questions are the ones that require you to give an objective, undisputed answer—usually achieved by simple guesswork, elimination processes and outright gambles of Las Vegas proportions.
You don’t even have to believe in rightness of the “objective” answer—just pick the freaking correct one, according to the dictates of the examiner. And unless your examiner is the Second Coming of Satan, there’s going to be only one correct answer. For example, when you see the question: “Was Hitler an evil person? You had better choose a “Yes” as quickly as possible or you’re on your way to a life of failure and hardship, or worse—a career of producing music videos for Tonto Dikeh.
Unlike objective questions, essay or “subjective” theory questions have no “right” answers. What you have are: fucking good answers, fucking bad answers and “whatever” answers. Answering a subjective question is where students prove their mettle. This is the point where your hours of posing at the library begin to count, and then you begin to write furiously as you dramatically defend your position—or, more likely, if you are human like the rest of us, you take up a sudden interest in the architectural structure of the examination hall ceiling while hoping the paper will sort itself out.
And here is the point we’re trying to make in today’s post: life works like a freaking examination administered by a bureaucratic examiner who keeps throwing you a bunch of objective and subjective questions in the guise of decisions and dilemmas. Your objective questions are easy to figure out and spout. It doesn’t take any effort to give the correct answers. Even the most superficial person can easily state all the nice principles of life objectively: “Love Your Neighbour as Yourself”, “Do Good to All Men”, “Democracy is Good”, “Corruption is Evil”, “Babies are Assholes.”
But when it comes to the subjective, essay, questions, things become less clear and the shit begins to spray around. That’s where life asks you to stand up, unzip your pants slowly and show the world your balls. Do you begin to count the ceiling at this point or do you draw up, and submit, a kick-ass paper?
Take a socio-economic scenario, for example: the objective answer states that “corruption is bad”, but when the President decides to cut down the bogus civil service—and you end up losing your job, how glad will you be that you have sacrificed something to fight corruption? When your 15-year-old car is impounded, do you praise God for the objective joys of road safety? When your beautiful house is demolished for the superhighway, do you rejoice in the objectivity of town planning and infrastructural development?
And here’s our moral for the day: a strong education is built, not on the ability to pick objective answers, but also to subjectively defend them. It’s the essay questions that get the high marks. The existence of a disconnect between your objective answers and your subjective arguments is a premise to failure. Your principles should be more than just agreements with objective facts, they should also have subjective application. You, as an individual, should be willing to defend your paper—otherwise, you will always be apprehensive whenever an exam is around the corner. Or if you prefer, you can always call in sick.
P.S. The upcoming book, Sorry Tales is still in progress. Keep your fingers crossed, folks, and also bear with our fortnightly publication schedule. We’ll be back to weekly in no time, seriously. 😉
Hello again, folks! Its a new month, April Fool’s day, a holiday and yes, despite all evidence to the contrary—at least in this part of the world where we are consistently spiritually fastidious—it’s a Monday!
And while there are better ways to celebrate such a rare day—the best of which we think is to lie in bed all day—we have decided to take some time off our lazy schedule and cook you up your regular Monday dish. Consider this our Easter Message to you—but more on that later. First of all, let’s take a quick look at the idea of conspiracy theories—aka “I’m totally nuts” mentality. You know, that idea that someone somewhere is actually running the show for you.
We all have that friend—except if that person is you—whose neck we want to wring whenever a debate starts. The one friend that doesn’t take issues at face value but believes that there’s always a secret agenda, by a secret group of people, to control the ups and downs of social interaction. Try to explain to this friend that, for example, the value of the Naira is falling because of unstable Central Bank monetary policies, and he or she will argue that actually, it is the Intergalactic Confederation of Biafra that is trying to destroy the Nigerian economy.
Of course, there are some kick-ass situations that have once been regarded as outlandish conspiracy theories, but before you reach the conclusion that fiction is actually fact, a little scientific principle called Occam’s Razor should have been set in place. Occam’s Razor, to explain it as simply as possible, advises that in solving a problem, the simplest explanation is usually the right one, and that, you should not increase, beyond what is necessary, the number of entities required to explain anything.
And that’s how you do it in everyday problem solving and activity—starting with the most simple explanation: from basic problems such as deciding whether to ignore the sound of a door opening in the middle of the night or bringing out your shotgun and firing wildly to solving complex socio-political problems—such as the vexatious Boko Haram issue—and this brings us to Goodluck Jonathan’s and the Easter message.
If you were sensible enough not to bother about the goodwill message, permit us to intrude upon your blissful ignorance through this link. And for those of you who still can’t be bothered, the gist of the message is that we should love one another and not allow terrorists to destroy our unity—-very basic stuff, really. But in the midst of these yawn inspiring exhortations, an insightful inkling into the mindset of the president slips out. He tells us whom he thinks is responsible for the crisis in the North.
As far as the president is concerned, the Boko Haram issue is not a local problem—it’s a global problem, far bigger than the domestic concerns of Nigeria. In fact, there is little or nothing Nigerians can do about this problem except suck-up to God in fervent prayer, while hoping that the “global terrorists” will have the decency to leave us in peace and go bully someone their own size.
And that’s the lure of conspiracy theories—it allows you to be lazy and indulge in wishful thinking. Even worse, it encourages you to think that whatever failures you have are not your fault—but the fault of some other factors; ignoring the fact that some other person was successful despite the presence of those same factors.
There are no global terrorists plaguing our country: Boko Haram is a mash-up of bad policies, religious illiteracy and political ambitions, and someone has to explain that to GEJ. Meanwhile, here’s the proper Easter message for today: troubles cannot be wished away by referencing some external controlling agent. If you cannot tackle the issues that you face with proper diligence, then you will continue to suffer. Stand up and go kick that “cabal” in the ass—or die trying. Just sitting around, moping about your circumstances will achieve absolutely jack shit.