Bad & Deceitful Counsel: Malawi’s unutilised advisers

YouthDevelopment2

There’s an old Ghanaian proverb that says When a King has good counsellors, his reign is peaceful.

This proverb essentially means a leader is defined by the circumstances and people around him. If a King is surrounded by good and honest people, wise men and women of good repute, truly knowledgeable and full of wisdom and grace, it is highly likely that they will provide sound advice to him; it is also highly likely that they will foresee potentially troublesome situations well in advance.

The result will be that the King will make good decisions, and fewer mistakes; the advisers will shine a torch for him, to see where the potholes are, all of which will benefit the people of the land he rules.

On the other hand, if a King’s advisers are unwise, evil or plain bad, if they are more interested in accumulating wives, wealth and personal possessions, and power, their advice is unlikely to be sound or helpful. They are more likely to give that King the wrong kind of advice, and if he listens or implements such bad advice, it is likely that his reign will be disastrous. Indeed many mistakes will be made, and the people of the land will be the ones who will suffer most.

The assumption implicit in these scenarios are that the King does listen to his advisers, since it is possible to have a wise King who happens to have a few bad advisers amongst the majority good ones, but who is strong enough (mentally) to filter out the bad advice he receives, selecting only that which is progressive and helpful for the realm, leaving out the crap.

There are too many examples of sayings or scenarios similar to this proverb throughout history, although a few are worth a mention.

In Genesis chapter 26 verse 26, we are told that Abimelech, the Philistine King went to Beersheba to see Isaac from Gerar with his adviser Ahuzzath and Phicol the commander of his army. This is one of the earliest mention of the presence of an adviser in the Bible and some scholars say Ahuzzath may have been a  ‘friend’ or ‘minister’ to Abimelech. But whichever way, if you read the story in full, you will see that throughout the period Abimelech lived at peace with Abraham’s son, save for a few minor scuffles between their herdsmen. It’s quite possible that this peaceful co-existence was largely due to the advice the Philistine leader received from his advisers. Indeed many stories in the old testament testify of the eventual downfall of Kings primarily because they listened to the wrong type of advice, ignored the right kind of advice, or sought no advice at all.

For those who disbelieve the Bible, dismissing it as a collection of fairly tales, maybe the influence of Piers Gaveston on Edward II of England will convince you. He was an adviser to Edward II and according to one account here

 Piers Gaveston was a knight’s son who had been Edward’s friend since boyhood. When Edward, still a prince, feuded with important officials in his father’s court, Gaveston was seen as the cause, and was sent to exile. Summoning him home was Edward II’s first royal act. Gaveston was made Earl of Cornwall, but his political fights with the existing nobility would define the rest of his life, which didn’t last long. The nobility, without whose money and prestige and feudal armies Edward could not run the country, forced Gaveston into exile twice more in the next five years. He was never openly attacked for his sexuality, but instead was hated because he gave advice to the king that was no good, and the king should be taking the real nobility’s advice, anyway. In 1311 a committee of aristocrats and bishops imposed a series of Ordinances on the king, which declared that “through bad and deceitful counsel, our lord the king and all his men have everywhere been dishonoured.”

Bad and deceitful counsel. It’s one of many stories but it always ends pretty much the same way.

Although it doesn’t mean that even wise counsellors don’t get it wrong sometimes. In Daniel chapter 2 verse 24, we have Daniel pleading with  the executioner Arioch, who King Nebuchadnezzar had appointed to execute the wise men of Babylon (after they failed to interpret his dream) “Do not execute the wise men of Babylon. Take me to the king, and I will interpret his dream for him.”

More recently, during President Ronald Reagan’s administration, despite a somewhat positive and respectable legacy, the US government was involved in so many controversies many of which were the result of bad counsel perpetrated by more than just a few dodgy advisers. Reagan’s White House aide Michael Deaver and national security adviser Robert McFarlane were convicted of various offenses. MacFarlane pleaded guilty in 1988 to four misdemeanors of withholding information from Congress and was sentenced, but later pardoned by George H.W. Bush. Deaver was convicted of perjury for congressional testimony he submitted to a congressional subcommittee and federal grand jury investigating his lobbying activities with administration officials. Then there was Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger who was indicted but later also pardoned by Bush? The question is why didn’t Reagan refuse to authorise all these botched schemes?

At this point let us consider the well-known English idiom Birds of the same feather, flock together, and ask the question under what circumstances will a sensible leader allow people who are unlike him to influence him in some material way in terms of making decisions that have particularly far-reaching implications? After all what do crows (akhwangwala) know about hawks? Isn’t one bird a cowardly scavenger ever pursuing after leftovers, whereas the other is a bird of prey that is not only an able hunter, but belongs to the same group from which the King of the birds come. Shouldn’t there be an exercise of judgement?

But what has all this got to do with Malawi?

Well, these days as I talk to Malawians from all over the world, and read what other progressives are writing about in terms of development and the general climate on the ground in Malawi, I’m left surprised by the sheer number of good ideas they have. From the writing by one Malawian originally from Salima,  to those of another (who is not from Salima, but is nevertheless inspiring), I feel these kinds of ideas should be listened to? In any case, just because someone opposed a certain thing doesn’t mean that what they are advocating is not valid.

On this blog, I’ve purposely chosen to echo some of such views not because I’m sunk in an illusory world of familiar opinion. Instead, I believe that in the right hands, with the right leadership and mechanisms of oversight, with driven effectors, those same ideas these people advocate can help transform our country positively.

I mean take a look at the recent news headlines coming out of Malawi, can you see anything that you can point that has a chance of transforming a country with 14 million people? The Banning of Satchets? Breaking up Escom? Tobacco Sales (the country’s largest source of export revenue) in Lilongwe Suspended again

The news that populates the airwaves is not that of innovative ways of helping young people, or of increased Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) as a result of a clean and conducive investment climate. Something which Paul Kagame in Rwanda has strived and just about achieved. No, the news on Malawi news channels is filled with accounts of dubious court cases (some on prosecution of embezzled funds by government officials, and another – a recent one –  in which it is alleged the president is suing a well-known UK-based activist); you hear of a presidential aide who is said to have bought a PhD from some serial con-artist – brilliantly seared here by one Pasteni Mauka (himself said to be a DPP insider in concert with other disgruntled DPP insiders, now turned against the clique running the show at Capital Hill);

As if this is not enough, then you read of charities pitying Malawians and sending them token gestures. And celebrities – all of which also serves to remind us all just how terrible the country’s situation is. Every single day I get about 3 different stories in my inbox, on various charitable efforts happening in Malawi. That’s over a thousand a year! What concrete progress has those efforts achieved all these years, especially in terms of sustainability and ensuring that the recipients stand on their own feet?

Here please allow me to digress: when was the last time you heard that some famous star had gone to Mauritius or to Malaysia to give alms? When did a wife of a billionaire wear a sari, mingling with the women who live in the slums of Mumbai? There are poor people in these countries – just as there are poor people in America, and in England. But such places are not ‘headline grabbing’. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, but the fact is you rarely hear of such charitable visits…Instead it’s always a poor African country at the receiving end of do-gooders (most of whom I doub’t know these facts). Most recently it’s increasingly becoming fashionable to go do something charitable in Malawi. Malawi is fast becoming the Oxfam of the continent, if it hasn’t already done so.

It seems it’s easier to give Malawians fish, instead of a fishing rod. Because if you give them a fishing rod, you probably won’t be able to go back in 2 years time and pose for carricatured photos demonstrating your charitable kindness. Photos which you can then put up on Instagram and twitter for all the world to marvel at your fantastic heart.

Then there’s the regionalistic hatred (‘Ntumbuka’ uyu, ‘Mbwenu Mbwenu’…azipita kwawo) spewed shamelessly on the comments of these news sources I refer to … which frankly speaking shouldn’t be authorised on any news site; there are stories of police beating up innocent people – over some lame vendetta. And oh, I almost forgot – a presidential press secretary who writes a memo encouraging government ministries to advertise on a radio station with links to the presidency. And then accuses the radio station of forgery???

And in most of these things one must wonder where Peter Mutharika or his advisers are. Fine, you can’t expect a leader to hold everyone to a leash, but there has to be some ground rules, some responsibility, some direction. And when people screw up at government level -be they advisers or otherwise, they need to face the music. That’s the only way to restore public trust in politics.

So then, next time you meet a King or a leader, remember When a King has good counsellors, his reign is peaceful.

The Other: What people say about Migrants

P1060325Once every now and again something happens that prompts me to troll through the comments people leave in response to articles on news websites. This exercise is purely a curiosity driven exploration of the range of views out there. And except for the clearly idiotic  (which there are many), I think most comments reveal a lot about the people who write them.

So maybe comments could be a way of gauging what a part of the readership of a publications thinks about certain issues. Maybe it can be used to gauge popular sentiment, but I doubt it is necessarily representative of a population or locality in the way that a referendum does. It couldn’t possibly be, for many reason including because not all readers in a locality read the same publication (or even read a newspaper). And for those who read a particular publication, not all of them leave comments. Even those who leave comments do not always show their true colours.

Still, comments being opinions are subjective and often filled with emotion even though as subjectivity goes some opinions are rather scary.

Also it’s interesting to see that the notion of freedom of expression in some countries is quite difficult to pinpoint, if not altogether warped, while in other countries, it’s the quickest ticket to persecution, jail or worse. To some people, expressing hate and what could come across as vile, equates to freedom of expression. To others its heresy. No surprises then that in this nirvana of duplicitous opinions found on newswebsites, certain subjects (in particular those praising certain dictators) are out-of-bounds and you can very quickly get in trouble, whereas praising other dictators (for example Stalin for some bizarre reason) is unlikely to get you in any trouble, leaving one wondering whether the measure used in deciding what is acceptable isn’t questionable in itself.

Criticising certain religious figures is likely to go unchallenged, while criticising others could elicit violence. Which is why lots of people leave comments from behind an alias unconnected with their physical person.

It appears that the criteria for determining what is acceptable freedom of speech and what isn’t, isn’t straightforward. Especially if you consider that in some countries what passes as freedom of speech would be deemed to be unlawful, slanderous, even criminal elsewhere.

So in the end, what you are not allowed to say in public is not uniform universally (and indeed cannot be).  It’s down to issues like where you live, the civil liberties you are afforded, the cultural bias of your community, what the dominant religion is, the threshold of what the presiding authorities deems to be acceptable, how well resourced the authorities are, how stringently the law is enforced, how brave / foolish you are, and so on.

Political correctness has a nationality, and a religion.

Anyhow, in this realm, it’s not uncommon to find the bizarre, hilarious, fascinating, truthful, misleading, ignorant, mockery, satirical and the poetic lying cosily next to each other.

Since 50 million people worldwide currently are refugees, asylum seekers or internally displaced within their own countries, then in light of the xenophobic attacks in South Africa, and frequent drownings of migrants in the mediterranean sea, I thought it appropriate to list some randomly picked comments that were written in response to articles that had something to do with migrants / refugees, from across the world.

Enjoy 🙂

From Swinging guns and fleeing foreigners: What is the state doing?  (Mail & Guardian)

Zuma giggles while SA burns. If you have no house , no job, no money, no propects of getting a job you may as well join a movement – any one will do. Unemployment is getting worse- a clothing factory in Durban has retrenched 300 workers and moved its operation to Swaziland -cost of labour is much cheaper and without all the unions red tape. Meanwhile our President is buying new jets to the value of 2 or 3 billion….hhe he hheee…..let them eat cake

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Stewart •   Is apartheid to blame for this? Egalitarians probably believe so, but the reasons behind all of this are too politically incorrect to air. This more or less standard operating procedure for countries nearing collapse and about to achieve failed state status. Its almost inevitable.

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uma’s announcement during SONA that no foreigners could own land in SA was met by probably the loudest applause of the night. It’s exactly that kind of anti-foreigner sentiment that gives some citizens confirmation that foreigners are the enemy that should be acted against.

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nocent black people? You mean those same people who moved from central west Africa and occupied Sub Saharan Africa? You mean those very same people who engaged in the Mfecane, cleansing the nearby peoples. Or perhaps the same people who displaced the Khoi whose paints are a start reminder in those isolated caves in the Drakensberg?

Stop telling lies about a history that only happened in the fertile tracts of your mind. Human history is a bloody one and there are no gentle peaceful tribes.

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While nothing good came of apartheid… The picture postcard of post-apartheid South African prosperity is nothing more than just a fairy tale.

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From  Incendiary SMS targets foreign nationals in Jo’burg  (Mail & Guardian)

Sibusiso •  The biggest walking fire is Zuma and his deafening silence….#ZUMAmustGO

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 Heraklit • South Africa open for business?
Gateway to Africa?
Looks more like Dante’s first stop over on his way into purgatory right now…

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Lets build my statues of Jan van Riebeeck, Rhodes, Ghandi etc….. -that should divert their attention for a while!

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From Rights violation charge laid against Zulu king  (Mail & Guardian)

BritinSA •  “The King is not to blame”. “The Kings words have been lost in translation”.

If you threw a match onto flammable material, then you DID start the fire.

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Brian • It is about time our governnment realize the cost of corruption they have created. Most foreign people in this country are not documented correctly if not at all. It is easy for them to do as they please. Some of the areas like Hilbrow and Kempton Park have been turned into little Lagos and drugs dealings is 2nd nature to them. Police are doing nothing about it. It is wrong for South Africans to take out their frustrations to our foreign brothers and sisters that are in the country legally and are contributing positively to the growth of this country. Not all foreigners in this country are criminals and sell drugs. Let those who are not documented correctly and committing all sorts of crime be broad to book and if possible deported back to their countries and that should be done within the law. As for the king and his utterances, it was wrong of him as a leader to say what he said.

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King Butter •  The Zulu’s should unite and fight this Monarchical Insubordination. Our damn King, in Our damn Province speaking to HIS people; and he gets insulted (BY FOREIGNERS??) for speaking the obvious truth, that ILLEGAL migrants should be repatriated.

Rod Baker to King Butter •  Exactly.He is YOUR king, the Zulus king, He is not my king, not the Xhosas’ king, not the Vendas’ king, Sesothos’ king etc. He is king of no one else but the Zulus.

So you go ahead and defend him – and while you are about it, also pay in full for his upkeep and leave us out of it. Our taxes should go to other things.

As for what he said, people in his position have to be extremely circumspect in what they say – and should know better than to say foreigners need to pack their bags and go. There are too many people out there who are willing to help the foreigners on their way, and help themselves to the latter’s good while they are about it.
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e should also be investigated by the nature conservation people for wearing furs and feathers of possible endangered fauna.

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From Katie Hopkins calling migrants vermin recalls the darkest events of history (Guardian)

SamStoneI was just about to write “the thing about Katie Hopkins is, absolutely no one likes her, so whatever she says, everyone automatically disagrees with her because she’s so ludicrous”

BUT….Then I just read the most up-voted comments about the same migrants article on the Daily Mail website, which said, starting with the most liked…

“She’s absolutely right!”

“Kate gets it right again.”

“I agree with her. She speaks a lot of sense and has the guts to say what others are thinking.”

And now I despair for humanity.

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Coolhandluke77 :    It is not unheard of for radical environmentalists to compare the whole of teaming humanity to locusts, cockroaches or other vermin. And many have less than progressive views on immigration.

Where is the outrage..? Where are the petitions..?

And speaking of hypocrisy, these immigrants are dying trying to get into Fortress Europe. That is the EU. But all the posturing by pro EU politicians has been against Farage, who is not even in power.

So apart from the fact that some should be choking on their own hypocrisy, I do agree with the article.

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 After we in the west have created the conditions under which tens of thousands of people feel so desperate that they will risk their lives to escape, we then turn round and say we can´t help them because we don´t have the capacity? We had the capacity to bomb their countries for weeks on end and create havoc where there had been stability. We really are a disgusting lot, dragged along on the coat tails of the Yanks year after year, doing the dirty work of international corporations that exist because they thrive on war and disorder. Speak for the ordinary people like yourselves, because that´s what these people are, just ordinary men, women and children taking the flak for the greed of the few.

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mizdarlin :  This is hate speech pure and simple..and should be dealt with as such..if she is as insane as she sounds, and having her taken away for psychological analysis for a few months might be the only way to find out-then do so at once and make her spew disappear…

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From Europe Considers Response as Hundreds of Migrants Die in Mediterranean Sinkings (New York Times)

Nancy , Great Neck:  That the countries of Europe are not monitoring the Mediterranean for attempted passages and such terrifying tragedies is beyond shameful. There is evidently a sense that monitoring passage attempts encourages them, but taking this as a justification for neglect of a humanitarian obligation is profoundly immoral.

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Rita,  California: Of course European countries need to work towards a common resolution of the refugee crisis. Borders are porous and the initial influx into one country will eventually disperse into others. The ultimate resolution requires stabilizing the region so that refugees can return home.

Massacre is the right word to describe the actions of those who take refugees’ money and then load the boats past capacity limits.

PS Erecting a wall or starting a naval blockade are not feasible solutions.

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John, Los Angeles:  A tragedy. But not Europe’s fault. At some point, political boundaries have to have meaning. If people want to risk their lives to illegally enter a country they are ultimately responsible for their own fate. Perhaps European countries should simply blockade north Africa and turn back all ships.

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Underclaw, The Floridas: Remember when President Obama launched an air attack in Libya that led to “regime change” in Tripoli (and the public execution of Qadaffy)? And remember how the United States then up and left Libya in chaos and anarchy? And remember how we were lectured about how Obama’s policy of “leading from behind” in places Libya was a “brilliant” foreign policy doctrine? Well, now look.

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From German Asylum: Attacks on Refugee Hostels a Growing Problem (Spiegel Online)

antfreire 04/11/2015  Since when is legal, or ethic that people that don’t have a satisfactory way of live where they live have to be accepted in countries where they decide to move? Does Germany have any commitment or moral duty to accept people from Sudan, or Siria, or Irak, etc. just because they are not doing well there? Will the people that promote this type of “serve yourself” inmigration bring a couple of this inmigrans to their house to live with them?

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Inglenda2 04/11/2015 When governments choose to ignore the wishes of their own people, it is almost impossible, for normal citizens, to take action against those responsible. The result is, that there will always be parts of the population, who express their justified, but falsely directed, frustration by violence against the weakest of the weak. In this case it is the refugees who are made to suffer. In psychological circles, such conduct is known as projection and is more common, for example in mobbing, than most of the general public are aware of.

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ernestokunn 04/14/2015  As Slavoj Zizek states, TOLERANCE IS NOT ENOGH. There are limits, certainly. It becomes an explosive problem if two ethnic or religious groups live together in close vicinity who have irreconcilable ways of life and, as such, perceive criticism of their religion or way of life as being an attack on their very identity. We all should stop with hypocrisy. Mainly our politicians.

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alfuryu 04/12/2015 It saddens me that again the Spiegel again only scratches the surface of what those outside Germany understand. After the war you did not pursue those animals that perpetrated crimes in fact you harboured them and protected them you even have specific laws that still protect them and the officials that support and still carryout what those outside of German would call racism. Your public bodies do not have open complaint procedures when such crimes are committed so inside the population we see the hatred or is arrogance of the Germanic race to think they are better than all. Come on Germany the world gave you a chance supported you after the war turned a blind eye to you not paying up what you were due in the 1950s or pursuing the guilty only the auschlanders are handed over funny old thing. The reality is there is a still a group of nutcases within Germany that need to be purged and it needs to be a bigger crime to be racist than it is to accuse someone of having the behaviour of a NAZI i.e. a bully, thug, a person who considers all others unequal. I see it

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From  Xenophobic attacks: Nigeria counts losses   (Vanguard – Nigeria)

Oldbendel • 5 High profile international football games cannot change the mentality of these big heads South Africans,send them to school where they can be tought some lesson on issues relating to globalization,cultural diversity etc,or else they remain barbarians forever.

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Micho • Nigeria is the most accommodating country in Africa. I can say that we are America in Africa. Go to all these African country, blacks are seen and addressed as foreigners, I could remember when I was in Gambia, they used to Address Nigerians as fucking foreigners while white and people from Mauritania and worshiped like gods. Nigeria just need good leaders we shall be very great. The wrath of God is on any country that maltreat foreigners, that is one of those warnings that God gave the people of Israel when they left Egypt.South Africa will be punished for what they are doing, but I pray to God to forgive them because of the faithful ones among them.

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Okoko • When the igbos shops were looted in Nigeria due to envy by other tribes, no one shouted. When igbos were deported in their own country, it was normal for yorobber folks. Xenophobia is everywhere, even in Nigeria.

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Somalis, Sudanese and Ethiopians are some no-nonsense taking people, i wonder why they played calm thus far. Hopefully they won’t follow trend and start blowing up South African investments and killing South Africans in their country. The situation is getting really out of control.

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Emma Kuyty •  Absence of love,hatred,wickedness,jealousy etc are synonymous among African Negro and Negra,it is only almighty JAH JEHOVAH that will help Africans.

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Ekwe111 •  Mandatory S.O.S. deductions were levied on Nigeria Govt. employee salaries and elsewhere in the 80’s, principally for the liberation of SA and Zimbabwe; countries that bitterly resent and spite our citizens today.

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From Paytriotism – Becoming British is a Costly Business  ( Economist)

Cutters. Apr 20th, 12:18

Becoming a UK national and gaining access to all the rights and privileges that go with it are far to cheap.

It is bad enough that the dregs of the continent are able to arrive unrestricted, putting massive pressure on local services and adding insignificant amounts to GDP (0.04% per head reported), without British citizenship being cheaply sold.

The cost could rise by 5x as much and demand would scarcely falter.

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guest-olwnaon Apr 19th, 15:56

When our govt receives fees for whatver – residency, health, visa renewal, citizenship, tuition fees, all amounting to billions, it keeps its mouth shut and go to the media to stoke animosity and hate against immigrants. What happened to all the money collected from applicants at the visa processing centres? Yet border staff were made redundant! what happened to the billions that our universities receive from genuine students? if one non EU student pays al least 12,000 pounds as tuition fees per year for a 12 month course, if universities admit 1000 non -EU students that gives a total of 12,000,000 per university. But we know that only the 1999 universities (new breed universities) charge the least amount. Other red bricks, Russell, 1964 universities charge a lot higher ranging from 17-26k. Unfortunately, when immigration figures are collated, 92,000 non EU students are added. What arrant nonsense! I see why vice chancellors and Principal live larger-than-life lives while PhD holds struggle to get regular teaching hours. Yet we are asked to blame immigrants. NO!

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 CA-Oxonian, Apr 16th, 18:39

The excessive fees imposed by the UK government throughout the residency and citizenship application process are just one more sad indication of how insular the UK really is. While the USA is stifling its tech industry with absurd visa restrictions the UK is stifling its entire economy. Apparently Little Britain is quite happy remaining a moribund, inward-looking, and rather stagnant sort of country. Too bad. Aside from the atrocious weather and inept approach to providing services, it’s not entirely a bad place to reside.

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From Rising tide of UK anti-immigrant sentiment (Al Jazeera)

Sayyed Musawi
one thinks that the arrogant Brits ought to remember they plundered the world for centuries stealing, including the Kohinoor diamond they stole from the Indians, the cheap labor they have benefitted from Immigrants, and the contributions made. Just imagine if all Immigrants were to leave britain today with their wealth and Britain were to be honest and give up the money they stole from Nations, the wealth stored up stolen, and the contributions made to it then I am sure britain will just be another empty, depressing European country.
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Arthur Coxon  TODAY THERE IS NO COHESION IN BRITISH SOCIETY WITH SO MANY DIFFERENT IMMIGRANTS, AND RELIGIONS IN THE COUNTRY. ONE FEELS AS IF YOU ARE LIVING IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY. IT’S A TOTAL NIGHTMARE !!!
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SeaNote  If immigrants don’t assimilate, get rid of them.
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Bohdan Chochoł
Oh yeah, the infamous ‘We’ (this & we that) approach to life. While there is a major generation gap now  between under and over 30-year-olds (the young being less prone to nationalist-ic ‘introversion’), the fact Poles became so numerous and at such break-neck speed cannot bode well for British civil society (for genuine civil society in Poland has yet to get into the air, even while the British institution is probably plummeting). The grounds for pessimism  are clearly enough expresed by the “editor-in-chief” (ah yes: hierarchy-mania) of “Our  Pages=Vantage Points=Side-s” (each meaning suggested by the /plural/ term “Strony”; cf.: [–link removed–]). Should it be for purely materialistic reasons that Poles have a right to live in Britain – en masse?
I abhore the so-called road the country went down from Thatcherism onwards; if it’s a road, it’s one that leads to living hell. I understand how difficult it is to get anywhere now in Poland if you’re young and without the kind of status symbols so conveniently listed by Pan Redaktor Naczelny Andrzejko. I equally appreciate how hundreds of thousands, if not millions Poles do not exactly live in Britain but exist as poorly-paid labourers, while others have truly found a place in the world where they wish to remain, because in Britain they’ve found something they could not find in a country like Poland. And yet, between those two more or less extremes is a lot of people who could almost certainly do more for their own country by living in it. Pressurizing the centralised bureaucratic autocracy there into responsible administration, for a start – rather than terrorising local surgeries for their -odding “prrreeskrrreeptsyon”, or ranting how well they know English at OAPs who can’t even begin to understand their Slavspeak, etc. And what about all those crumby shops on the High Street, money laundering or what?
No bad feelings intended, it’s just a subject that defies any softly-softly treatment .
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Mohammed Rahman Islam is a religion of peace.

I invite you and all the readers to study the life of prophet muhammad pbuh and decide on your own. 
He was totally against terrorism. The first three wars of badr , uhud , ahzab were defensive wars to protect the home city of medina. 
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Bader Rammal
No Muslim country invited you to invade and colonize their countries. You colonized….You pay the price….Don’t complain and whine about the results and outcome of your past reckless irresponsible behaviors.

From Britain’s criminally stupid attitudes to race and immigration are beyond parody – Frankie Boyle (Guardian)

GiulioSica  Brilliant writing and analysis, as ever. Thanks Frankie. It really is shameful the way the racists are unashamedly crawling out of the woodwork trying to rewrite history and ignore the present world problems.
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foralltime...”We have streets named after slave owners.”… Spot-on with that one, Frankie…

Penny Lane is a street famous worldwide thanks to The Beatles 1967 hit, but the Liverpool street owes its name to an outspoken Liverpool slave ship owner and staunch anti-abolitionist. James Penny was a Liverpool merchant who made his money from the transportation of slaves.

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atillazenun  Yet another article trying to guilt people and countries for their achievements. Where would the colonies be without the infrastructure that was created for them? Ever thought of that?
If you are so pro-immigration, please list your home address so that a family of four can be sent to live in your spare bedroom.
No?
But you are OK with tax payer money being used to support mass immigration “somewhere not too close to you?”. Get real.

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Fence2  Is the next generation responsible for past generations actions?
No, because if it were then there would be guilty atoms and molecules out there, which is ludicrous.

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moneymonkey  What a lazy article, roll out the tired old nonsense.

Everything we have, we stole from the immigrants in the first place…. UKIP are racist…

wacism, wacism, wacism….

etc etc.

orlandaowl responding to moneymonkey

…… monkey your effing self. Ironically, your beloved Fuhrer is married to a German!

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herbmonkey  Absolute rubbish. Why am I made to feel bad about events that ocurred before I was born. £11.4bn in foreign aid last year came from all our pockets. Yes we had our colonial past and faults but can we be really be held responsible for local corruption where african govenments drive around in Mercedes while their people starve. This piece once again paints the entire nation with a shitty sheen that is only representative of what pisses off the writer. I and my friends speak different languages, do show remorse for the terrible past crimes of our nation and do not display this “casual racism” that apparently the entire natioon should hang our heads in shame about.

*** ~ *** ~ ***

SimonBol Frankie: this is great stuff. You are saying in this single piece what sociologists and historians cannot say in a whole book.

The Root Causes

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I wish Oprah Winfrey would read this. I really do. In fact not only Oprah, I wish everyone from Spike Lee and Russell Simmons to Jay-z and … lets just saw the whole Afro – Caribbean ‘fraternity’ ( if such a thing could be said to exist) from African-Americans, to those in Europe, Asia or indeed elsewhere (those of us who are fashionably termed the “diaspora”) would read this. Not because its grand or mind blowingly fancy in any fantastical way, no, instead, considering our common history, it represents a summary of a profound truth regarding some of the major problems Africans and African-Americans routinely encounter. A truth which over the years has been distorted by ‘culture’, ‘theories’ and ‘ism’ of one kind or another to the point few know a practical formula on how to resolve the problems. I believe there has been a massive misunderstanding, which unfortunately leads many people to put a lot of the blame on Africans; African-Americans + Afro-carribbeans (with some people not even realising that they are doing so), without carefully understanding how we even got to these problems.

Thankfully, the premise to this post has been handed to me on a golden platter. In a thousand years of inspiration, I could never have arrived at a factual story so  farcical, entertaining and mind-boggling in almost equal measure:-

Two days ago we watched with disbelief on our TV screens  as Luis Suarez, the Liverpool striker, was at it again. Probably only slightly less mad compared to Joey Barton, Suarez was caught biting another player’s arm, in the middle of a match; in broad daylight view of the HD cameras patrolling the pitch, in front of thousands of Liverpool and Chelsea supporters…?? It beggars belief.  More surprising (this being besides his racist offence two years ago), is the fact that he’s bitten someone else before. At Ajax. Inevitably, most normal people are asking the same questions, why would a world-class player who is one of the top goal scorers of the Barclays Premier League this season bite another player out of the blue? Is this guy okay? What was going on in his mind? Now, we’ve seen bites in the Premiership before, like the one by Jermain Defoe on Javier Mascherano, but what exactly is going on in these peoples’ minds when they do these things? Is biting the same as headbutting which has also happened several times in football?

While Suarez has since apologised, among the many shocked (even the British Prime Minister has urged the FA to impose a tough penalty on Suarez), surprised, rational, amused (see cartoon here) and ticked-off voices on the matter are some who claim that Suarez needs anger management and counselling. In particular, they say his actions are signals of “unresolved issues” manifesting as “regressive anger” or “regressive emotion” which in simple english means he has some mental ‘issues’ to deal with.

As someone whose Mother is a qualified counsellor, and who has known two other counsellors for well over 7 years, issues relating to counselling are not new to me. I’ve been hearing about them for years! In fact I have proof-read 2 Diploma theses on some counselling topics I cannot presently remember (Mother’s, and another for her friend). I have digitized one of the theses (word for word) including the case studies. I have been in proximity to the books on the subject often, and found myself once or twice browsing through a number of them. I’ve heard the stories too (obviously with anonymity as to the subjects concerned and their location), watched some videos, all of which have inevitably influenced my viewpoints on the subject, things which you don’t hear in the media very often.

So, the claim that the Liverpool player might need counseling is particularly interesting for a number of reasons. Firstly, as one of my friends (who I doubt is a Liverpool fan) observed, does the law to which every ordinary human being in the UK is subject to, truly extend to football players (and one  might add ‘celebrities’)? If so, why then haven’t charges been pressed by the police, or indeed the victim? Isn’t it hypocritical that cases of racism are hyped, and a big deal made about them, but when it’s a case of violence, the authorities appear coy about it? In any case, if a member of the public bit another stranger randomly, say on the bus (or on the train), under the ever watchful eyes of the CCTV, wouldn’t the attacker be instantly charged with violent conduct and summoned before a judge? If such is generally the case, isn’t the fact that Suarez has not been formerly charged by the police giving out the wrong signals, especially to young people? That it is infact okay to behave in such a wildly unruly manner in the sport? You may get a small fine and a couple of matches suspension, but your career will be intact, safe and dry. Another friend even drew comparisons with doping in athletics, where he cited Dwain Chambers. “Whats the difference?” he asked “Suarez has cheated at the World cup, bitten someone before  — where apparently one newspaper nicknamed him the Cannibal of Ajax — he has been involved in a racist incident against a Manchester United player, and displayed bad behaviour several times, the sort of thing you would expect from Joey Barton, yet he gets to have his cake and eat it.”…

More importantly, it seems some of the people who require counselling will identify the roots of their problems way back in history, commonly in their childhood.  These causes range from extreme poverty, abuse (commonly by a family member), rejection, bullying, drug or alcohol addictions, to death of a loved one and suchlike. Some people who have had such experiences don’t even know that they need help. Which is where Suarez’s case is relevant to this post because, in my view, there are many Africans and Afro-Carribean out there who have experienced devastating and traumatic events in their lives, which have affected them so gravely, psychologically, so much that it influences their behaviour later on in life, and negatively affects their career prospects and family life. It sounds like a tenuous excuse for wrongdoing, but it’s not.  I’m not a Liverpool FC fan and if you told me that one day I would write this post, 10 years ago, I would have seriously doubted your sanity.

Let me explain  further. Those who read my previous post here, will have noted that I referred to the “needs” of Black and Afro-carribean kids in schools.

According to the Self-enhancement theory, individuals with low self-esteem may seek to enhance their self-concepts through the use of aggression in order to boost their already low self evaluations [Rosenberg et al (1989) postulated that individuals with low self-esteem may engage in aggressive acts to boost their low self-evaluations (e.g. , lack of prosocial avenues for expressing self-esteem) ]. This has been used to explain some of the ‘problems’ black children cause in class rooms. Further, it has been stated that individuals with low self-esteem are more prone to engage in risk-taking behavior out of a need to find an available avenue for expressing their self-worth [“subculture of violence”, Long ,1990].

But, while theories such as these hold much validity in explaining some of the psychological problems young black people face (especially in schools), there’s another simpler way of appreciating the bigger picture. I must state at this point that I have not studied this topic extensively, my opinion is based primarily on observations (in my own family and in the lives of others) and private research studies (over the last 7 -8 years) using sources such as are listed below. I do not claim that my viewpoint is the only likely explanation or that the observations below are the only ‘Root causes’, although I’m willing to risk my credibility by suggesting that by far they are the most common root causes. Further, some of my views are influenced partly by my interaction with young people in a Youth group in Nottingham that is affiliated to a religious organisation ( and at which I volunteered as a Youth coordinator for several years, quite a number of years ago).

So, with this in mind, a summary:

(1) Children are born to black parents who have little or no savings. The parents are preoccupied with trying to earn a living – The child is not properly supervised (the TV is tasked with some of that), and there are few or no role models about towards which the child should aspire.

(2) The anger, frustrations and issues from parent’s work / lives sometimes overflow and pours over onto the children, tainting  their childhood. (The sources of those frustrations numerous in number and possibly deserving a blog post of its own)

(3) Pressure of life can cause addictions in their parents &  many a time marriage breakdowns. There is anger in the home. In the homes of almost all their relatives. And no financial cushion to iron out some of the problems. The child bears all this on their head. And, inevitably,eventually, it can give birth to one or more of anger, confusion, frustration and pain.

(4) For example, in some cases, parents cannot afford to take them out on holiday or buy them certain things as they are growing up, things which most of the white kids (or other black contemporaries) in school have, so the black child grows up in want. Further, comparatively, most of their white friends have a from of luxury, they take holidays, frequent trips to interactive or sight seeing excursions , whereas most of the black kids’ parents can’t afford to take them for a holiday. The feelings / emotions regarding things such as these are largely ‘bottled-up’, repressed, and the child does not get to express themselves. They just observe, confused, thinking it is normal. To an extent this lack of exposure can limit their frame of mind.

(5) Since the parents have to work (often juggling more than one job), or because of single parenthood,  supervision is left to others (Friends, Aunties or parents’ siblings – who themselves have little training or fortitude to ensure that they provide the right upbringing), so bad company creeps in -> leading to bad habits. The child cannot excel academically if the parents are not pushing hard for it  (i.e. Private tuition, careful demarcation of time for study and play, religious instruction…etc) or cannot afford to pay for private tuition.

(6) As was well articulated here, even in the western media (as is the case back on the motherland) the children are bombarded by negative connotations of Africa, of being black, or their skin colour of everything to do with them. Public figures saying the wrong things, and half the time getting away with it. Why has the servant, or guard in the Hollywood movie most of the times have to be black or of Latino ethnicity? Even if such is merely a factual reflection of reality, what other message does it send, potentially, especially to younger audiences? The children see positive role models only in few professions, only in sport, film and music. They see more successful people who look like them  in videos such as this or  this, most often with a message of ‘drugs, guns, bitches and bling’. Which is why if you ask any random group of black 9 -14 year olds to name you their favourite music artists, very few, if not none will cite music of a rock genre. Their minds are not wired to appreciate rock music, even when there exists some very good rock bands that appeal to younger audiences.

And whilst the likes of Einstein and Michael Faraday are referenced to in Physics enough times for even non-physicists in the school to know who they are, Martin Luther King, Shaka Zulu and other ‘African heroes’ are found neither in GCSE Science nor English, not even in the History of the French Revolution or the American War of Independence, which is the kind of history which these kids first encounter (both in schools in Africa and in the West). Their own history is visibly absent. Further, few of them are informed that in the times as those in which Galileo, Einstein and even Henry Ford lived, black people were not really considered human in the western world, not really. So comparatively few got a decent education to provide a foundation for mastery in technical subjects. A situation that can probably be summarised with a cartoon that parodies this issue:

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In addition, few parents encourage their children to learn about their past. “It’s too painful” you hear. “Study to get a degree then get a job” is generally the advice that is given. So few will bother with history beyond elementary school, creating ‘critical’ gaps of knowledge regarding their own past – a factor that will have an effect much later in life.  Even their parents don’t know anywhere near enough about African history (or historians) such as these – who have over the years toiled to reconstruct and teach about African history.

While a 13-year-old Jewish boy knows what Yom Kippur is, and will give you an accurate account of the Holocaust including how many people died and other encyclopedic knowledge, why those who died must always be remembered each year, yet the African child of the same age doesn’t even know the estimates of how many black people were displaced or died during slavery, and what the impact of that was.  The answers to such questions will have to be solely and painfully mapped (source BBC) by very few of his kind through judicious study, much much later in life. [- – – – – > Burning Spear – Slavery days]

(7) If you visit the local library or a Museum, few or no Afro-carribbean kids about. How could there be any, their parents are busy or in work trying to earn enough to scrape a living.

The other day I took my 9 year old nephew to the Museum of Science and Industry which is the biggest in Manchester, and has quite a lot to see. But in a space of 3-4 hours on a Saturday morning, by conservative estimates I must have encountered maybe over 300 people, but I only saw one other black person with their child??Is this because of pressures of work or lack of interest? In any case, entry is free 🙂

(8) So by the time they get to highschool they are already troubled. Then comes the difficulty in managing them…the pain, confusion and trauma all the above factors may have caused, over many years, is alien to a teacher, who has not been properly trained in dealing with such deep and multi-faceted traumatic behaviour, and  who must be wondering what is wrong with these black kids?? Add to this spoonfuls of racism.

(9) If they are lucky enough to make it to college or University it doesn’t get any easier. They are constantly broke, they can’t fully participate in the collegiate school’s offerings, let alone socialize because of financial constraints. They have to take up part-time job which can interfere with their studies. Throw in coursework, friends and girlfriends, and the whole picture couldn’t be fuzzier. At Nottingham University, I had a white friend (who identified with Christianity) who innocently and with bewilderment asked me how come I could afford to leave Britain and go to the US in the middle of the University term (my US-based sister was going through a very difficult period at the time) when I didn’t have a job. The insinuation, without a shadow of a doubt, was ‘where did you get the money from…I thought you guys are broke?’. It was one of the most uncomfortable moments of my undergraduate degree, and it was said in a room where there were 8 – 10 other white christians listening, no doubt everybody wanted to know. 8 years on, I still remember the name of the boy who said it (including the fact that his father was a reverend).

So if someone gets through all this, relatively unscathed, guess how they will view the world? My guess, not exactly optimistically.

For those that don’t make it through, difficulty and struggle is standard, they fail to get credit at banks, some get into drugs, theft, fraud, get imprisoned and such like. They are not necessarily bad people, in my view, much of it (although not always) is circumstantial  and reactionary — similar to the Jewish resistance movements that mounted attacks against Hitler’s Nazis during the second world war. Reactionary. Most of the victims want to be good citizens, are raised up in families that have a Faith, they believe it is in their best interests to do the right things, but they can’t, not always, their circustances push them in the wrong direction. They are no worse, for example, than the barrister son of a judge who was found with cocaine, yet got to keep his job.

Plagued by deep, unresolved and complex psychological issues, these people will continue to suffer as society is not equipped (let alone sufficiently interested) to assist them overcome their troubles.

So, in view of  the ‘surface problems’ (such as lack of finances or not having affluent relatives who are able to lend them considerably large sums of money to start businesses, or to bail them out of life’s tricky situations) which disproportionately affect minority communities more than white communities ; without a quality education – their schooling having been somewhat biased, it follows that gang culture, drugs and other evils have an easier job in taking over many a life,  giving to some of them a sense of belonging, importance and identity they long for — and which mainstream society deprives them; while to a considerable number, taking all these away to the tune of a criminal record and several years behind bars.

(10) And even those who manage to get a degree or two are not spared. I know many people (including some Malawians) in the diaspora, who despite a decent education from western universities, some with postgraduate degrees, cannot get jobs or are  in jobs that pay them significantly less than their white colleagues. In some cases, they are not given suitable jobs for which they are qualified for, and few have the entrepreneurial drive (nor essential experience) to create for themselves a job. But even those who do are not exempt from the ‘onslaught’. Yet in view of this, as if by mockery, there are many relatively less educated westerners operating in Africa, who being armed with sufficient capital, are reaping huge financial windfalls…

So, where do you think they go from here? How do you think they will look at the world?

The majority who can’t make it to university, and who therefore can’t get the good jobs will settle for the odd jobs, some of them are plagued by the criminal records they got when they were younger (and irresponsible). They get deeper into the wrong groups, waste time with alcohol, drugs, women ..and debt piles up, desperation kicks in leading to crime, and as they grow older the cycle repeats itself,  in the lives of their children.

History has got its cruel and finely defined pathways.

Those who go to jail (some doing so for street cred) end up causing more hardships to their families (“Prison and the Poverty Trap”-New York Times ), for the women – unplanned pregnancies, many remain in abject poverty, some Christian young men convert to Islam, among those some end up radicalized. The others will be pushing drugs, credit-card fraud and survive on underground businesses, or via the charity of others. ‘Our Babylon’ some will say.

But how can this situation be rectified (not that it’s necessarily easy or straightforward to do so), assuming we somewhat can see more clearly where the problems lay? What’s the solution? Well, in my view, you can’t change the future when the systems of the past are still deeply rooted in the present. So that’s a big problem, as to borrow the biblical saying, old wineskins cannot carry new wine.

And then comes views from some of those who are enlightened and lucky to have ‘made it’, who will often blame the victims for being lazy, for not working hard, for not ceasing the moment, for living in the past…. etc, when it’s all a much complex maze tied to their past, and is beyond their control a lot of the times. And it’s not only in back communities. Even low-income white families in council estates are thwarted by such vicious circles.

To keep this post short, I have cut out the next section, which will form my next post. In it is a skeleton template for a workable solution that could accelerate the reversal of this terrible African tragedy that has affected all families of African descent in one way or another.

[PART 2 HERE]

Similar + sources:
1. Perspectives on the Educational Experiences of African/Caribbean Boys – Nisheet Gosai.
2. Black Youth Culture Blamed as Pupils Fail
3. “Is it ‘cos I is Black, Sir?” – African/Caribbean Males & British Higher Education
4. Challenging Racism – All London Teachers against Racism & Fascism, Russell Press, 1984.
5. Radicalised Boundaries, Floya Anthias and Nira Yuval-Davis, Routledge, 1992.
6. Poverty Has a Creation Story: Let’s Tell It

7. Manchester boy Watson selected by Raiders in NFL Draft