By Prof Anekwe Oborji
Lamin Sanneh (1942-2019), a foremost African theologian of our time from Gambia in West Africa, was called to great beyond on January 6, 2019, the Feast of Epiphany of our Lord Jesus Christ to the gentile world. Sanneh suffered a stroke and died at the age of 76, in his place of abode, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut in the United States of America. Until his sudden demise last January, Professor Lamin Sanneh was the D. Willis James Professor of Missions and World Christianity at Yale Divinity School and Professor of History at Yale University. Sanneh is internationally, respected and acknowledged as the world’s foremost theologian of World Christianity and Islam.
He was also a co-founder and joint convener of the Yale – Edinburgh Group on the History of Missions and World Christianity. The Group’s annual Conferences, meeting in Yale and Edinburgh alternately, have been an input feature of the academic contribution of this illustrious son of Africa to the world. And as one of the tributes in his honor rightly notes, “the title of Professor Sanneh’s autobiography (“Summoned from the Margin: Homecoming of an African” (2012), appropriately states, Sanneh’s felt “summoned from the margins” in a small island on the Gambian River in West Africa.” From his Gambian environment in Africa, Sanneh was transformed by his Christian faith, embarked upon a distinguished career in the academy, and leaving behind an extraordinary scholarly legacy.
Professor Sanneh also taught at the University of Ghana, Accra, where an Institute, “Sanneh Institute” was established last year in recognition of his illustrious academic career and strive to continue his mission of offering scholarship as a tribute to God with the other within hearing distance. John Azumah, professor of World Christianity and Islam, Colombia Theological Seminary, and director of the Sanneh Institute at the University of Ghana in Accra, shared the following words from Sanneh’s last but one email to him, days before his sudden death last January:
“When I was thwarted in my wish to study theology and be ordained, I went through a terrible period of confusion and doubt. It was like a sickness in which I wondered whether God really wanted me. I started to emerge out of that hole when I saw that I could offer my training and scholarship as a small tribute to the God of Jesus, with Muslims within hearing distance.
Call it a sense of vocation if you like, but I was determined to do the best I could to appeal to Muslims not to dismiss Christians when they give evidence that following Jesus does not mean speaking or thinking ill of others. The resulting proximity should make Christ less a stranger to all of us when his spirit moves in our midst.”
Professor Lamin Sanneh was supposed to present his keynote paper “Themes in Reconciliation and harmony with Reference to Contemporary Africa” at the International Harmony Conference organized by Bishop Prof. Dennis T.W. Ng in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on 7 January 2019. It turns out to be his last paper and was read out at the conference after a moment of silence and prayer.
Tributes have been coming from far-and-wide since the sad news of the demise of this great son of Africa, Professor Lamin Sanneh. Many professional associations, academic institutions, research institutes, libraries, editors of Journals and international Newspapers like New York Times and Washington Post, as well as professionals of all classes have all published in their platforms, tributes of landmarks in honor of this great African scholar of our time. These are colleagues and groups, Professor Lamin Sanneh had in one way or the other interacted with and influenced positively while with us in this mortal world.
As expected, most of these tributes in honor of Professor Sanneh highlighted his contribution to dialogue between World Christianity and Islam, an area he had dedicated much of his life and publication since his conversion from Islam to Christianity as young adult, and all through his university teaching profession.
However, the purpose of our present tribute is to highlight the African dimension of Professor Lamin Sanneh’s writings and theological thought. Although, he worked at the limelight of international stage in the world of academia, Professor Lamin Sanneh had always written and lectured from an African perspective and context. Africa remained the animating spirit and goal of his theological writings and engagements from time immemorial till death snatched him away from us last January.
Who is Professor Lamin Sanneh?
Professor Lamin Sanneh was born and raised in Jinjanburch, Gambia (West Africa). He descended from the nyanchos, an ancient African royal line. His earliest studies in Gambia were with fellow chiefs’ sons. He was born into and raised in an orthodox Muslim family and grew up practicing Islam as his religion. However, as divine providence would have it, he converted later in life to Christianity. He became first a member of the Methodist Church and later moved into the Catholic Church, where he remained a practicing member until his demise on January 6, 2019.
Lamin Sanneh was married to Sandra Sanneh, who is a Professor of isiZulu at Yale University. They are blessed with a son, Kelefa Sanneh, who writes about culture for “The New Yorker”, and a daughter, Sia Sanneh, who was a Research Scholar in Law, Senior Liman Fellow in Residence, and lecturer in Law at Yale Law School.
Professor Lamin Sanneh was educated in four continents, namely, Africa, America, Asia and Europe. He studied precisely in Gambia his native land, University of Birmingham, The Near East School of Theology, Beirut and University of London.
He went to the United States on a U.S. government scholarship to read history. After graduating, he spent many years studying classical Arabic and Islam, including a stint in the Middle East, and working with churches in Africa and international organizations concerned with inter-faith and cross-cultural issues. He studied classical Arabic and Islam for his M.A. and subsequently received his Ph.D. in African Islamic history at the University of London.
A seasoned scholar, highly busy and committed Professor, Lamin Sanneh was Honorary Research Professor in the School of Oriental Studies, University of London, and a life member of Clare Hall, Cambridge University. He was Chairman of Yale’s Council on African Studies. He was an editor-at-large of the ecumenical weekly “The Christian Century” and a contributing editor of the “International Bulletin of Missionary Research.” He served on the editorial boards of several academic journals and encyclopedias, and was a consultant to the Pew Charitable Trusts.
Professor Lamin Sanneh is listed in “Who’s Who in America.” He was an official consultant at the 1998 Lambeth Conference in London and was a member of the Council of 100 Leaders of the World Economic Forum. In 2004, Pope John Paul II appointed him to the Pontifical Commission for the Historical Sciences, and Pope Benedict XVI appointed him to the Pontifical Commission on Religious Relations with Muslims.
He had received an award as the John W. Kluge Chair in the Cultures and Societies of the South by the Library of Congress. For his academic work, he was made Commandeur de l’Ordre National du Lion, Senegal’s highest national honor, and is a recipient of an honorary doctorate from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. His other academic awards include: Carneige Trust of the University of Scotland, 1980 and the Pew Scholars Program, University of Notre Dame, 1993.
As a professor, Lamin Sanneh had taught and worked at the University of Ghana, the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, eight years in Harvard University and since 1989 took the position of the D. Willis James Professor of Missions and World Christianity, Professor of History and, also Chair of Yale Council on African Studies at Yale University.
According to the Yale University website, “He was an Honorary Research Professor at the School of Oriental and African Studies in the University of London, and a life member of Clare Hall, Cambridge University. He served on the board of Ethics and Public Policy at Harvard University, and Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham, Alabama.”
Professor Lamin Sanneh had delivered a series of lectures in different parts of the world. In fact, Joel A. Carpenter on pages 25-26 of International Bulletin of Missionary Research, vol. 37, no. 1 of January 2013, described him as “one of the most original and influential Christian thinkers of our time … whose “intellectual biography is thus one long tale of his finding occasions to look across the grain of conventional wisdom and come to conclusions. He has enjoyed the combined gifts of a relentless critical curiosity and a very different cultural vantage point from that of most Western scholars. Those gifts prompt him to see things that others do not.”
In all his writings, lectures and inter-personal and communal encounters, Professor Sanneh always brought with him his magnanimous spirit. What is most evident in such encounters is his great contagious humanity, humility and friendship. This is most apparent in all his works and writings, which he always did from an African perspective on the North-South global dialogue. He proved himself really, an authentic ‘African ambassador’ in the world of academia and theological studies.
Lamin Sanneh was the author of several books and over a hundred articles on religious and historical subjects. He wrote mainly on the relationship between Islam and Christianity and the study of World Christianity as well as Missions. His books include, “Encountering the West: Christianity and the Global Cultural Process: The African Dimension” (1990); The Jakhanke Muslim Clerics: A Religious and Historical Study of Islam in Senegambia (c. 1250-1905)”,(1990); “Religion and the Variety of Culture: A Study in Origin and Practice” (1996); “Piety and Power: Muslims and Christians in West Africa” (1996); “The Changing Face of Christianity: Africa, the West, and the World (co-edited with Joel A. Carpenter”, (2005); “Disciples of All Nations: Pillars of World Christianity” (2008).
Among his first works I read and which made me fall in love with his writings include, his Magnus opus, “Translating the Message: The Missionary Impact on Culture” (1989/2009); and his, “Whose Religion Is Christianity? The Gospel Beyond the West” (2003).
Finally, I was glad to read his masterpiece autobiography, “Summoned from the Margin: Homecoming of An African” (2012). It was a parting gift of this great African scholar to the world. There are other countless works of his, too numerous to mention here, all bordering on his favorite subjects, World Christianity, Islam, History and Missions, all of which he discussed always from an African perspective for cross-cultural encounters and inter-faith dialogue.
My first contact with Professor Lamin Sanneh was through his writings. Before then, however, we have admired each other’s academic commitment of African scholarship from long distance. He later invited me to the Yale Divinity School to participate as a resource scholar for that year’s annual “Yale-Edinburgh Conference”, which he organized together with Professor Andrew F. Walls of the Edinburgh University. However, because of pressing academic loads at the time, I could not honor this last professional invitation from Professor Sanneh at the Yale University. He was gracious enough to understand.
Professor Lamin Sanneh had been a great source of inspiration and model scholar to many young African theologians and beyond. My consolation here is that through my suggestion and under my direction, one of my students in Rome, in 2017, wrote his doctoral dissertation on the thoughts of Lamin Sanneh on the theme of “transcultural and translatability of the Gospel in missions.” Again, Sanneh’s life experience, his religious and conversion journey from Islam to Christianity, and from one Christian denomination to the other, had singled him out as a unique figure and man of rare faith.
Sanneh’s Theological Thoughts from an African Perspective
Lamin Sanneh was born, brought-up and studied earlier in life as a Muslim in his native Gambia in West Africa, and from there, converted to Christianity. In Christianity, he was first a Methodist before becoming a Catholic. He studied in four continents and specialized in many fields of studies. He also travelled wide, spoke many languages and interacted with different cultures.
All these experiences put together helped to shape his theological perspective. His theological perspective, reflected in his writings, covers two major areas, namely, the relationship between Christianity and Islam, and the study of World Christianity and Missions. He wrote always from an African perspective, highlighting the place of Africa in the emerging world Christianity and in the increasingly globalizing world.
In this way, Western scholars and Asians as well, were able to identify easily with his writings and recognize him as a theologian of class of all seasons. This is the most distinguishing aspect of him in comparison with some other African theologians that have remained at the level of critical analysis of the activities of the past colonial Christianity in the continent. Professor Sanneh wrote for post-colonial and post-modernity Africa.
In addition, he had an ecumenical and interreligious theological perspective. He was an ardent apostle and advocate for the timely acceptance of cultural plurality. He maintained that cultural plurality is a fact of historical and religious experience of humanity. God created people differently in many ways and as such gave room for cultural plurality. He held strongly that the incarnation is a defining event in human history that showcased the importance of culture in the lives of peoples. He was an advocate of “mutual respect, mutual understanding and co-operative existence between adherents of different religions of the world because all believe and call on the same God who is Creator of all.”
However, Lamin Sanneh’s writings were all African contextualized and homemade, even though, during most of his adult life, he operated from North America and Europe. His writings portray the effort of an African theologian who wanted to show how the two religions, Christianity and Islam, could live side-by-side with the religious traditions and cultures of African people, in spirit of dialogue, respect, mutual enrichment, encounter and tolerance.
He wrote extensively about the translatability of the Gospel into African culture. Sanneh contends that the translatability of the Gospel into local cultures, different contexts and languages, is something very unique to Christianity, among the other world religions. This can’t be found in Islam since only in Arabic it was believed, Allah spoke to Mohammed. Therefore, translations of Quran into other languages and cultures, is considered anachronistic in Islam.
Sanneh used this argument to explain why Christianity made more inroads in those places in Africa where traditional religion was strongest but very little progress where Islam had been planted during the Arab invasions of the continent:
“Africans best responded to Christianity where the indigenous religions were strongest, not weakest, suggesting a degree of indigenous compatibility with the gospel, and an implicit conflict with colonial priorities… Muslim expansion and growth, which occurred, were most impressive in areas where the indigenous religions, particularly as organized cults, had been vanquished or else subjugated, and where local populations had either lost or vaguely remembered their name for God. For this reason colonialism as a secularizing force helped to advance Muslim gains in Africa. The end of colonial rule inhibited the expansion of Islam in Africa, whereas the opposite seems to have happened with Christianity.” (Lamin Sanneh’s “Whose Religion Is Christianity: The Gospel beyond the West” (2003, 18-19).
Speaking further on the importance of African local languages in spreading the Gospel, he writes that:
“Christianity has felt so congenial in English, Italian, German, French, Spanish, Russian, and so on, that we forget it wasn’t always so, or we inexcusably deny that the religion might feel equally congenial in other languages, such as Amharic, Geez, Arabic, Coptic, Tamil, Korean, Chinese, Swahili, Shona, Twi, Igbo, Wolof, Yoruba, and Zulu. Our cultural chauvinism makes us overlook Christianity’s vernacular character.” (Lamin Sanneh’s “Whose Religion Is Christianity” (2003, 105). See also chapter three of his “Translating the Message: The Missionary Impact on Culture” (1989).
Furthermore, Professor Sanneh advances the argument of the significance of Africa of the new southward shift in Christian landscape. In this context, he argues that the significance of Africa of the new southward “shift” must be located within the global transformation of the Christian landscape by the new centers of Christianity in the southern continents. He adds that the growth of Christianity in the southern continents does not mean a displacement of the “old centers” of the faith. It does not also mean a redefinition of the missionary concept or goal. Rather it is a confirmation of the history of Christian mission that faith travels through the missionary movement of believing community:
“When the Christian faith first traveled from Jerusalem to Athens, North Africa and then to Rome, none of the previous centers was displaced by the new ones. And none of the new centers was considered inferior to the “old centers” of Christianity. Each encounter was, rather, a manifestation of how the evangelizing church was fulfilling its mission in the world.” Indeed each encounter was a demonstration of Christianity’s universal appeal. Moreover, none of the centers, “old” or “new”, considers itself the sole bearers of the Christian mission. Each center sees itself as a full participant in the evangelizing mission of the church. (cf. Lamin Sanneh’s “Whose Religion Is Christianity”, 36ff.).
Seen from this perspective, the new southward shift in Christianity is not a matter of worries but the triumph of its universal expansion and adaptability to all peoples of the world. Sanneh adds that the history of Christian expansion and adaptability enabled Christianity itself to break the cultural barriers of its former domestication in the Northern hemisphere to create missionary resurgence and renewal that transformed the religion into a world faith. He opines that there is much to be gained by respecting this historical missionary paradigm. Modern African Christianity provides us with an indispensable example of what is at stake.
In this context, Sanneh presents an argument about the limitations of the concept of mission as one-way traffic, from the West to the rest of the world. In fact, his critique of the idea of Christendom advanced at the Edinburgh 1910 Missionary Conference. He makes the case most forcefully in connection to African experience:
“African Christianity has not been a bitterly fought religion: there have been no ecclesiastical courts condemning unbelievers, heretics, and witches to death, no bloody battles of doctrine and polity, no territorial aggrandizement by churches; no jihads against infidels, no fatwas against women, no amputations, lynchings, ostracism, penalties, or public condemnation of doctrinal differences or dissent. The lines of Christian profession have not been etched in the blood of enemies. To that extent, at least African Christianity has diverged strikingly from sixteenth and seventeenth-century Christendom.” (Lamin Sanneh, “Whose Religion Is Christianity” (39).
This is the perspective from which Sanneh advances his basic argument on intercultural process in the history of Christian mission. In the first place, he acknowledges that statistical weight has moved Africa firmly into the Christian orbit, and that happened only a few years ago, which is why the notion “Africa is a Christian continent” is so novel and dramatic. But we should bear in mind that Christianity from its origins was marked by serial retreat and advance as an intercultural process. Bethlehem and Jerusalem were superseded by Antioch and Athens, while Egypt and Carthage soon gave place to Rome. Rival centers multiplied the chances of further contraction and expansion. Then it was the turn of the North Atlantic world to inherit the mantle before the next momentous phase brought the religion to the southern hemisphere, with Africa representing the most recent continental shift. Sanneh writes:
“These developments went beyond merely adding more names to the book; they had to do with cultural shifts, with changing the books themselves. This serial feature of the history of Christianity is largely hidden from people in the West now living in a post-Christian culture. Even in Africa itself the churches were caught unprepared, and are scarcely able to cope with the elementary issue of absorbing new members, let alone with deeper issues of formation and training” (“Whose Religion Is Christianity” (36-37).
The point here is that the concept of Christendom (“mission as one way-traffic”) imprisons the study of non-Western Christianity within a Western theological framework and thus impoverishes understanding of its nature and significance. It entrenches the notion of Christian missionary movement as “one-way traffic”, as a movement from the “old Christendom” (the West) to the so-called “non-Christian land” (or “mission land”).
The missionary significance as well as the real Christian identity of Christians from the former “non-Christian land” or (“mission land” – southern continents), is thus suppressed by the concept of “Christendom” – mission as one-way-traffic. Moreover, the experience of Christendom perhaps predisposes Westerners to think of religious phenomena in terms of permanent centers and structures of unilateral control.
These were some of the strands in contemporary missiological thinking, Lamin Sanneh, masterly discussed in his writings from an African perspective. They all constitute the strength of his scholarship and contribution to mission studies, World Christianity and Islam.
In Professor Lamin Sanneh’s religious itinerary, life experience and scholarship, whether as a Muslim or Christian, we meet an example, a model of what a typical African scholar is likely to undergo. That is, whenever he comes to grips with the religious and cultural layers that underpin our African cosmology and religious worldview amidst other world religions and cultures in our increasingly pluralistic and globalizing world.
His, was the effort of an African scholar, struggling to reclaim his colonial dispossessed cultural and religious identity, and contribute to African renaissance in theological and missiological scholarship. It was an effort aimed at overcoming the crisis of cultural and religious identity of African people, and rediscovering the riches of African religious and cultural traditions after over five-hundred years of colonialism, the Western and Arab conquest of the Black continent.
Professor Lamin Sanneh had been on international scene for most part of his adult life and scholarship itinerary. It is not surprising therefore, that most of the colleagues evaluated his scholarly contribution to World Christianity, Islam and Missions, sometimes with the lens of Western scholarship other than African that it truly was.
However, as we have tried to demonstrate in this tribute in his honor, the fact remains that, beneath Professor Sanneh’s writings, is the effort of an African scholar. His was an effort of a former African Muslim, now converted to Christianity, doing a dialogue with his African reality and background. From that baggage of his religious experience and itinerary, he grappled with the question of the place of his people in the increasingly globalizing pluralistic world of different religions, cultures and philosophy of life. In his scholarship of dialogue with religions and cultures, World Christianity and Islam, his African experience, always loomed large.
Over his 30-year at Yale Divinity School as well as stints at the University of London and two Pontifical Commissions, Sanneh brought World Christianity and African presence to the forefront, drawing a global network of scholars and friends around his scholarship in the fields of study and research.
My condolences to his widow, Sandra Sanneh, their son Kelefa, and daughter Sia, as well as to his numerous friends and students in the world of academia and sciences. With the demise of Lamin Sanneh, Africa has lost one of his greatest scholars and theologians of our time. May God receive his good soul and strengthen the family he left behind. Adieu Professor Lamin Sanneh!
Francis Anekwe Oborji is a Roman Catholic Priest. He lives in Rome where he is a Professor of missiology (mission theology) in a Pontifical University.
Ramadan heralds new probe for Nigeria’s Emir of Kano
The holy month of Ramadan began on a good and peaceful note for many Muslims around the world, but not for Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the former Central Bank governor who is Emir of Kano, in northern Nigeria.
Officials of the Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-corruption Commission have reopened investigations into allegations of corruption against Sanusi, at the supposed behest of Umar Ganduje, governor of Kano and its most influential citizen.
Sanusi, who was recently named to the board of MTN Nigeria, has been Emir of Kano since succeeding his late grand-uncle in 2014. The flamboyant monarch is regarded as one of the top three in the hierarchy of traditional rulers in northern Nigeria.
His ascension to the throne came after he was controversially suspended as central bank governor by former president Goodluck Jonathan $20bn that went missing earlier that year.
Two years ago, the Kano state parliament suspended a probe into Sanusi’s lavish spending and alleged misappropriation of council funds. The affairs and needs of the Emir and his council are funded by the emirate council, which has done the same for previous emirs for centuries now. The investigation was suspended after vice-president Yemi Osinbajo and Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote – who is also from Kano – intervened.
The payments being looked into span the years 2013 to 2017, going back even before Sanusi became Emir. While he himself has not yet been questioned, four of his staff have been.
Legislators in the Kano state House of Assembly are also considering a bill to create more emirates in the state, which would reduce the Emir’s constituent territory.
Pot calling the kettle black
Ganduje’s feud with the Emir stems from the latter’s often sensational comments about Northern leaders. The outspoken Sanusi had criticised the governor’s many foreign trips and romance with Chinese contractors.
Interestingly, more than five videos showing Ganduje stuffing wads of dollar notes into the folds of his robe – alleged kickbacks for infrastructure contracts – surfaced in 2018 and almost marred his election during the March 2019 polls.
The former Central Bank governor is believed to have backed opposition candidate Abba Yusuf of the PDP in the elections, which analysts say were marred by violence and widespread intimidation of voters.
Yusuf is a political godson to Ganduje’s foe and former benefactor Rabiu Kwankwaso, the ex-governor who is still apparently on good terms with Sanusi.
Does Ganduje stand a chance?
It will be a hard task to dethrone the Emir. Should Ganduje and his band of killjoy lawmakers take the easier route of creating new emirates, they will successfully weaken his influence and leave him as a glorified district head, thus stripping away the powers of what is historically one of Africa’s most celebrated royal positions.
The royal father will have to fast steadily this Ramadan and pray for a déjà vu: to triumph like his predecessor Ado Bayero. In the 1980s, the then governor Abubakar Rimi, in a bid to settle scores with Bayero, created new emirati councils to whittle down the Emir’s powers. Rimi’s successor reversed the action a few years later.
Nigerian police accused of abusing prostitution suspects
ABUJA – Nigerian police are investigating allegations that officers sexually assaulted women arrested in nightclub raids during a crackdown on prostitution.
There has been widespread public outrage over last month’s raids in the capital Abuja.
Various women among the dozens arrested said they were not prostitutes but were detained randomly.
“They did all manner of things to us,” said one 27-year-old student, speaking on condition of anonymity among around 200 people during a protest march over the weekend.
The woman told Reuters she was groped, beaten and pepper-sprayed after being picked up in a club and held for three nights at the end of April. Other women said they were raped.
Long accused of widespread human rights abuses, the Nigeria Police Force said it was looking into the accusations.
“Investigations have commenced,” Usman Umar, deputy commissioner for Abuja police, said on Saturday, promising anyone found guilty would be “fished out” and punished.
At the protest, marchers carried messages such as “to be a woman is not a crime.”
Marcelle Umar, a member of Coalition to End Rape, said police were ignoring men involved in the prostitution business and targeting women indiscriminately.
“Women are walking on the street, wearing short skirts and they are tagged prostitutes for nothing,” she said, as protesters chanted behind her.
Similar to the global #MeToo movement, Nigerians have been using social media to highlight mistreatment of women, using the hashtags #SayHerNameNigeria and #AbujaPoliceRaidonWomen.
Obiano, Ambode are NACJ Integrity Governors of the Year
Nigerian Association of Christian Journalists (NACJ) has declared the Governor of Anambra State , Willy Obiano and his Lagos State counterpart, Akinwumi Ambode , as the Integrity Governors of the Year, for their Annual Integrity Lecture/Award holding later this month at Sheraton Hotel, Lagos.
Their nomination was predicated on their transparency and accountability in governance with high sense of integrity.
The annual event which is designed to discourage corruption, especially amongst leaders would have distinguished Senator Dino Melaye as the keynote speaker on the topic: Integrity: Essential Ingredient for Effective Legislation and Building a Virile Nation. Also, the famous journalist and ace broadcaster, Mr Patrick Oke will be on hand to speak on the theme: Integrity is Everything.
A statement from the Secretary General NACJ, Charles Okhai, said: “The focus of the annual event is on Integrity because integrity is the direct opposite of corruption and if our leaders are mentally integrity conscious, cases of corruption in our society will be drastically reduced.”
Other eminent Nigerians to be equally honoured include at the ceremony are Hon. Alex Egbon, Hon Nkem Abonta, Hon Chris Azubogu, Senator MAO Ohuabunwa, Engr Chinedu Orji Majority Leader Abia State House of Assembly, Hon Sunday Ibuot, and Hon Daniel Chimezie Okeke all in the parliamentary category.
Others in the religious category are Apostle Wole Aladuni, Prophet David Babalola, and Dr. Paul Obadare. The entertainment industry is not left out as popular DJ Jimmy Jatt and Charles Oputa, aka Charlie Boy will be honored as Young person of integrity and man of integrity award respectively.
In the Judiciary Category, Justice Morenike Obadina and Justice Sedoten Sosi Ogunsanya will be conferred Woman of integrity Award. His Royal Highness Sir Henry Micah and a few others are also on the roll call of honor at the event.
Several eminent personalities have been slated to grace the occasion in their support for the fight against corruption in our society.
Willie And Ebelechukwu Obiano, Like Minds In Development
BY COMR. IFEANYI OKECHUKWU
More feathers were added to the already congested caps of the first family of Anambra state, Chief Willie and Chief Dr Mrs. Ebelechukwu Obiano last week when the workers in Anambra state, under the aegis of Trade Union Congress, TUC, bestowed another award on the duo. The awards were jointly presented to them at the Dr Alex Ekwueme Square, Awka during the 2019 May Day celebration.
The workers, who spoke through the state chairman of TUC, Comrade Ifeanyi Okechukwu, said, quote; “Our labour-friendly governor has shown a lot of goodwill and favorable disposition towards the welfare of workers. Since the inception of his administration, salaries, pensions, gratuity and leave allowances are regularly paid as and when due. This has earned him the nickname, THE ALERT GOVERNOR, because workers receive the alert of their salaries on or before the end of every month. His Excellency’s kind dispensation and goodwill towards workers are equally manifested in his promise to be one of the first governors to implement the new minimum wage”. End of quote.
The TUC chairman acknowledged Governor Obiano’s concept that it is nice to take good care of human beings at the same time social amenities which the governor often say, “analu olu, ana alu mmadu. It is therefore for these reasons that the workers honoured the Obianos with the award.
No doubt, workers, globally, remain the engine room of every civilized society. They constitute about five to seven per cent of the population of every society. This infinitesimal percentage does not however, in any way dwarf their influential capabilities towards policy formulation and charting the modus operandi for societal development. This truism reflected in the United Nations resolve to set aside first May every year to celebrate workers globally
Happily, the multiple award-winning governor of Anambra, Chief Willie Obiano, soon after his inauguration on March 17, 2014, keyed into the vision of the United Nations by recognizing the imperative of a motivated workforce. This he proved by increasing workers’ salaries by fifteen percent in 2015. In addition, his administration formulated an unprecedented policy of ensuring that on or before the twenty-fifth of every month, workers smile to the banks to receive their salaries.
Furthermore, the governor has demonstrated in unmistakable terms that workers’ welfare is sine–qua-non to enhanced productivity by ensuring that every year their leave allowances are paid along their December salaries. Also, workers are given a bag of Anambra rice every December. This innovation, which has been running for five years, was made possible by the Obiano administration. No other state government in the federation has achieved this feat.
The governor has equally directed the civil service commission to commence the process of promotion in line with the civil service rules. In the area of transportation, the present administration procured mass transit buses to ply the Onitsha, Ekwulobia, Nnewi and Otuocha routes. The essence is to convey workers to work from their places of residence at highly subsidized rates.
To further demonstrate his penchant for motivation, the governor inaugurated a 10-man committee to study the issues concerning the welfare of workers in the state. The committee is headed by the state deputy governor, Dr. Nkem Okeke. Graciously, Akpokuedike announced, in the last May Day, that government had accepted in principle to implement the recommendations of the committee. What a worker friendly governor.
Fortunately, the same milk of human kindness equally flows in the blood of the governor’s wife, Chief Dr Ebelechukwu Obiano. There is no jewel in the world so valuable as a chaste and virtuous woman. Osodieme is clothed with strength and dignity and she touches the poor and the vulnerable without fear of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise and she gives instructions with kindness.
Chief Dr. Ebelechukwu Obiano, Osodieme, is by all standards, the icon of our time. The assumption of office by her husband, Governor Willie Obiano, in 2014, thrust her forward for the role of first lady. She assumed the responsibility and within a very short-while, she acquitted herself creditably as an icon and beacon of hope, to the admiration of many, including widows, children, youths, women, the physically and mentally challenged and indeed the hoi poloi in the society.
Glory be to God that the first family of Anambra state, the Obianos have paid their dues in the governance of the state and every member of the different strata in the society are better for it. Her Caring Family Enhancement Initiative, CAFE, projects have brought solace to multitude-orphans, helpless ones, fatherless and the rest. Hence, he has won many awards, nationally and internationally.
For sure, it is well with Anambra state, the Light of the Nation.
The Duchess of Sussex gives birth to a baby boy
Meghan Markle has given birth to a baby boy, Buckingham Palace has confirmed.
MEGHAN, THE Duchess of Sussex has given birth to her first child with Prince Harry.
The Duchess gave birth to a baby boy on May 6 at 5.26am, Buckingham Palace has confirmed.
In a statement shared on the couple’s official Instagram page, it reads: “We are pleased to announce that Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Sussex welcomed their firstborn child in the early morning on May 6th, 2019. Their Royal Highnesses’ son weighs 7lbs. 3oz.
“The Duchess and baby are both healthy and well, and the couple thank members of the public for their shared excitement and support during this very special time in their lives.
“More details will be shared in the forthcoming days.”
The baby is seventh-in-line to the throne and is the Queen’s eighth grandchild.
It is believed that the birth took place at the Sussex’s home in Frogmore cottage. It was confirmed that Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland is also at the cottage with the couple and their newborn.
The Duke, 34, and Duchess, 37, married nearly one year ago in a lavish ceremony at Windsor Castle after dating for 16 months. They announced their pregnancy in October 2018 at the start of their first official royal tour in Australia.
At the time, Prince Harry said: “We couldn’t think of a better location to announce the upcoming baby…be it a boy or a girl.”
Prince Harry spoke to the press following the birth and has confirmed that the couple plan to make an appearance as a family in two days time to introduce their son to the world.
kidnappers paradise : In Nigeria, the rich also cry
Nigerians great and small are living through a kidnapping pandemic.
Two weeks ago, I took the train from Kaduna to Abuja for a reporting assignment. I turned up over an hour early at the Rigasa terminal after being warned that tickets could be completely sold out.
Still I had to join a very long queue that looked like child’s play when we got to Abuja, where ticket racketing and hoarding schemes have become the norm. Despite train tickets being almost double the price of interstate vehicles and both journeys being approximately the same time, no one wants to go by road.
The reason is simple.
The Kaduna-Abuja Expressway is one of the most dangerous in the country, thanks to kidnappers who now lurk in the bushes day or night.
Not even the wealthy in their chauffeured SUVS ensconced within security convoys want to travel by road.
To put it plainly, the entire Northwest region is currently the most unsafe place in the country outside northeast Nigeria where Boko Haram still routinely attacks.
The fear of being abducted is now the beginning of wisdom.
Outside the region, there has also been a resurgence of kidnapping elsewhere as criminal elements are emboldened by the exploits of their comrades in the North West.
According to the acting Inspector-General of Police, Alhaji Mohammed Adamu, at least 685 persons were kidnapped across the country in the first quarter of 2019 alone. This is in all likelihood, just a conservative estimate.
Consequently, millions of naira in ransom have been exchanged over the last few months, with each transaction further stimulating the kidnap-for-cash industry.
While the rich have been able to squeeze out monies needed to secure their release, the poor have kept faith in charms and ethnic militia who are gradually joining the bandits to make quick bucks.
To add salt to the injury, the government of Zamfara is officially recruiting over a thousand charmers to keep citizens safe. That an elected official deems it necessary to recruit shamans and spend taxpayers’ money borders on ridiculous if not insane.
So what is Nigeria doing keep its citizens safe?
President Muhammadu Buhari – currently overseas for a private trip – has proved exceedingly nonchalant about the situation.
Earlier this week, the district head of his hometown Daura in Katsina State and father-in-law to his aide-de-camp, was captured by unknown gunmen. Perhaps that will finally push him to act decisively seeing as few things change in Nigeria until a big man or his relative becomes a victim.
Little has changed since separate convoys of Kaduna State governor Nasir El-Rufai and popular policeman Abba Kyari both dramatically charged into the bushes surrounding the road like cargo-cult Jack Bauers, claiming to be in pursuit of the criminals’ and their hideouts.
On some levels, the government is moving: but it still took injury to the powerful to drive action: “MTN was fined $2.2bn as Nigeria was unable to trace owners of SIM cards used by kidnappers of former finance minister Olu Falae, who was freed after his family paid a ransom”.
And beyond the noise, there are more questions than answers. For instance,
What are governors doing with the monthly millions (billions perhaps?) they get as security votes?
Why are the governors paying large sums as ransoms and amnesty to gangsters who then reinvest in newer, more sophisticated weaponry?
While the current constitutional structure does not permit for state and communal policing, how well equipped and regulated are the local vigilante and neighbourhood watch services they are setting up?
Is the federal government properly financing the intelligence unit so security outfits can share information in real-time?
It is imperative that a state of emergency be declared first on Zamfara and Katsina States ahead of a proper overhaul of Nigeria’s security apparatus.
The ineffectual security chiefs who like most of Mr. Buhari’s cabinet in his first tenure have been ornaments possessing neither shine nor lustre, need to go ahead of the president’s second (democratic) coming.
If Nigerians have to provide their own electricity, water, healthcare, transport and security on a year-to-year basis despite paying taxes in a country that parades itself as socialist, of what importance are the elected officials at every tier of government to them?
Would it not be better the country were divided into small lots, with each household having its own governor to administer to their wants and needs?
This article was written by Eromo Egbejule
Osodieme Lends Support to Anambra born Mayor of London Borough of Brent
By Emeka Ozumba
The wife of the governor of Anambra State, Dr Mrs Ebelechukwu Obiano (Osodieme), Wednesday lent support to first Anambra born new Mayor of London Borough of Brent, Mayor Ernest Ezeajughi at an impressive Annual General Meeting and Mayor Making ceremony held at the Brent Council Centre, London.
The new Mayor of the London Borough of Brent, Mayor Ernest Ezeajughi who until the investiture was the Deputy Mayor, is an illustrious son of Anambra State and the state government under governor Willie Obiano has a clear policy of supporting Anambra indigenes who through hardwork and dedicated service to community have brought honour and dignity to State in particular and Nigeria as a whole.
In view of the political weight of this development, the wife of the governor attended the London event to reassure the new Mayor that Ndi Anambra are with him in this moment of glory and high responsibility and expect him to do his best in the service of his mayoral district and humanity.
Speaking on the significance of the event, Osodieme said that we came to support our son who has made us proud by distinguishing himself and is being honoured with more responsibility by the people of Brent as their Mayor. According to Osodieme, “I am particularly happy because it is not every time that we get to hear bad story about our country. This is one good example and ndi Anambra and our governor are delighted and we have no doubt that he will continue to excel.”
In his reaction, a member of Anambra State delegation to the Mayor Making and Member Representing Ayamelum Constituency in Anambra State House of Assembly, Hon Uche Okafor, eulogized Mayor Ezeajughi for showing good focus and competence while presiding over the Council meeting and commended the governor of Anambra State and his wife Osodieme for rallying round the new Mayor.
Earlier in his acceptance speech, Mayor Ernest Ezeajughi expressed his appreciation at the honour done to him by various dignitaries who attended the event from across the world especially Nigeria. He singled out the wife of the governor of Anambra State and thanked her and her delegation for their support. He also pledged to work closely with her NGO, Caring Family Caring Family Enhancement Initiative (CAFÉ) and others in his chosen cause for charity during his tenure.
Ezeajughi, a 1998 graduate of Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka is a native of Awgbu, Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra State, was elected Councillor by the College of Councillors of Brent, London as a member of the Labour Party representing Stonebridge Ward at Brent Council in 2014, re-elected in 2018 and was until recently Deputy Mayor of Brent.
Other members of Anambra State delegation to the epoch Mayor Making event include; three members of the Legislators Wives Association (LEWA) led by Wife of Deputy Speaker of Anambra State House of Assembly, Mrs. Sylvia Oseke, and wives Honorable members of Mrs. Lilian Ibuzo and Mrs Uche Enwezor.
Pix 1(L-R): Wife of the governor of Anambra State, Dr Mrs Ebelechukwu Obiano (Osodieme) and Mayor of London Borough of Brent, Mayor Ernest Ezeajughi after his Investiture.
Pix 2(L-R): Wife of the governor of Anambra State, Dr Mrs Ebelechukwu Obiano (Osodieme) and Mayor of London Borough of Brent, Mayor Ernest Ezeajughi (centre) flanked by Member Representing Ayamelum Constituency in Anambra State House of Assembly, Hon Uche Okafor, and Wife of Deputy Speaker of Anambra State House of Assembly, Mrs. Sylvia Oseke, and wives of Honorable members of Mrs. Lilian Ibuzo and Mrs Uche Enwezor after the Mayoral Investiture at Brent.
Pix 3(L-R): Mayor of London Borough of Brent, Mayor Ernest Ezeajughi and his wife the Mayoress.
Pix 4(L-R): Mayor of London Borough of Brent, Mayor Ernest Ezeajughi signing after investiture before the Brent Council Executive, Mrs Carolyn Downs and his predecessor,
Pix 5(L-R): Wife of the governor of Anambra State, Dr Mrs Ebelechukwu Obiano (Osodieme) and new Mayor of London Borough of Brent, Mayor Ernest Ezeajughi flanked by Anambra community in London after the Investiture.
Anxiety grips Ministers as cabinet reshuffle looms
The joyful disposition of Nigeria’s ministers as they arrived for Thursday’s meeting of the Federal Executive Council belied anxiety over who would be retained in President Muhammadu Buhari’s next cabinet.
President Buhari had, last week, directed ministers to submit status reports on policies, programmes and projects on their ministries, departments and agencies to the Audit Committee in the Office of the Vice President, fueling speculations over imminent dissolution of the cabinet.
The deadline for the submission of the reports was Wednesday, the 24th of April, but the cabinet meeting was postponed to Thursday because of the Easter holiday.
The ministers arrived for Thursday’s meeting accompanied by their aides who had boxes and bags, probably containing the reports in compliance with the president’s directive.
Before the commencement of the meeting, which has Vice President Yemi Osinbajo presiding, the ministers were seen exchanging banters excitedly.
However, uncertainties still pervade how the new cabinet will look as President Buhari prepares for his second term in May.
Nigeria must tackle its doctor brain drain
Nigeria’s minister of labour, Chris Ngige, has caused a furore by denying that Nigeria has a medical brain-drain problem.
The minister, a trained medical doctor himself, said on national television that the country has a surplus of doctors:
“We have surplus. If you have surplus, you export… Who said we don’t have enough doctors? We have more than enough. You can quote me. There is nothing wrong in them travelling out. When they go abroad, they earn money and send them back home here. Yes, we have foreign exchange earnings from them and not just oil.”
According to the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, doctors cost an African country between $21,000 and $51,000 to train. Nigeria is one of nine countries who have lost more than $2bn since 2010 training doctors who then migrate.
Meanwhile countries like the UK benefit. With one in 10 doctors working in the UK coming from Africa, the country saves around $2.7bn by recruiting these doctors.
Ever-faster brain drain
And the Nigerian medical brain drain is accelerating. Prompted by a comment from former Commonwealth secretary-general Emeka Anyaoku, Africa Check revealed that the UK had 5,250 Nigerian-trained doctors on its books in April 2018, a rise of 10% on the previous year. That is an average of 12 doctors a week fleeing to the UK. A recent NOI poll showed that 88% of Nigerian doctors are considering working abroad.
Other countries such as the US, Canada, Australia and South Africa are also attracting Nigerian doctors in droves, with Saudi Arabia aggressively recruiting in the country.
Why the exodus?
With its status as the poverty capital of the world and home to an estimated 13.2 million out-of-school children according to UNICEF, Africa’s most populous country is battling to keep the attraction going for its citizens. In September 2017, its economy marginally exited its first recession in over two decades and experts warn that it could yet dip again.
- Nigerian state-employed doctors earn as little as N150,000 ($416) a month, with top salaries for consultants rising to N800,000 a month – still way below what they could earn in Western countries.
- Medical professionals are also frustrated at the lack of investment in the health sector, where a paucity of equipment and frequent strikes prevent them from doing their job to the best of their abilities. In 2019 only 3.6% of the annual budget of N8.8trn was allocated to health services.
No support from politicians
Contrary to what labour minister Ngige said, the country has not got a surplus of doctors – at least by global standards: the World Health Organisation recommends one doctor to 600 people. Health minister Isaac Adewole argues that at one doctor to 4088 people this is better than other African countries. He also made the facetious comment when questioned on the lack of residency placements for young doctors that “we can’t all be specialists… the man who sews my gown is a doctor. He makes the best gowns.”
- The data cannot be ignored, however, that Nigeria has one of the worst health records in Africa, including the second highest population with HIV and the largest number of deaths from malaria. Although its has significantly reduced its maternal mortality rate since 1990, Nigeria’s is lagging behind other nations.
- That Nigeria’s number one citizen, President Muhammadu Buhari, regularly jets to London for medical checks is a damning assessment on the state of the health sector. He too is unfazed by the brain drain: “Others who feel they have another country [to go to] may choose to go”, he said casually.
Bottom line: Only greater investment in health will reduce the brain drain of Nigerian doctors. This needs to start with an acknowledgement by the government that the brain drain is costing the country more than it benefits it in remittances.
Nigeria vows to capture killers of aid worker couple
Nigeria’s government vowed Tuesday to track down gunmen who stormed a luxury hotel and murdered two aid workers, a British woman and a Nigerian man, before abducting three other people.
“The security agencies will leave no stone unturned in their efforts to apprehend the killers and bring them to justice,” the minister of information and culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said.
Police were doing “everything possible” to secure the safe release of the three kidnap victims, he added. The hostages are understood to be staff at the hotel.
Gunmen burst into the Kajuru Castle resort late on Friday night, spraying bullets as people relaxed at the top-end hotel over the Easter weekend holiday.
The luxury resort, built on a hilltop and resembling a medieval fort, is in Kaduna state, some 230 kilometres (140 miles) north of Nigeria’s capital, Abuja.
Faye Mooney, a British aid worker employed by Mercy Corps, and Matthew Oguche, a Nigerian working for the International NGO Safety Organisation (INSO), were both shot dead.
The pair were reportedly inside the hotel when the gunmen opened fire, and fled the building at the sound of gunshots.
“They rushed out of the room in panic,” one local resident said. “As they descended down the open staircase, the gunmen took aim and shot them. This was why they were the only ones killed.”
Mooney had been based in Nigeria for nearly two years, working on a programme to help countering hate speech and violence. Oguche helped train aid workers on staying safe in dangerous areas.
-‘Brave and dedicated’ –
Both organisations paid tribute to the murdered pair. Mercy Corps called Mooney “dedicated and passionate”, and said her colleagues were “utterly heartbroken”.
INSO said that Oguche was “a kind, intelligent and outward looking young man with a passion for learning, and a deep commitment to helping others.”
The UN aid chief in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, mourned the “brave and dedicated aid workers” in a message of condolence.
“This horrific tragedy has left the entire humanitarian community in mourning,” Kallon said.
In Kaduna and the wider northwest region, kidnapping for ransom has become rampant.
Local residents claimed the kidnappers had made extortionate cash demands for the three hostages, but Kaduna state police spokesman Yakubu Sabo said he was “not aware” of ransom demands.
Kidnapping in Nigeria’s oil-rich south, has long been a security challenge, where wealthy locals and expatriate workers are often abducted.
Yet the problem has escalated in northern areas too, like Kaduna, where criminal gangs made up of former cattle rustlers have been pushed into kidnapping after military crackdowns on cattle theft.
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Aguleri , The Citadel Of Igbo Civilisation
Five years after Boko Haram kidnap, 112 Nigerian girls still missing
Announcements, Arts & Books
Driving Job Creation for Africa’s Youth: Mentor to Watch.
Ada Osakwe, CEO of Agrolay Ventures
Ada is an award-winning food entrepreneur and investor. She was also a lead in the launch of the Youth Employment in Agriculture Program (YEAP) that supported the rise of a new cadre of food-entrepreneurs in Nigeria through training, mentorship and financing. Ada is a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum and a Desmond Tutu Leadership Fellow.
In 2016, she was Entrepreneur of the Year and featured on Choiseul 100 Africa list consecutively from 2016 to 2018. She received the ‘Achiever in Agriculture’ Award and was on the 2014 Forbes 20 Youngest Power Women in Africa list. She is also a mentor on the Future Global Leaders Fellowship.
Uzodinma Iweala : CEO of The Africa Center in New York.
Uzodinma is an award-winning writer, filmmaker, and medical doctor. He is the CEO of The Africa Center in New York, promoting a new narrative about Africa and its diaspora through a focus on culture, policy and business. He is the author of three books: Beasts of No Nation (2005), a novel also adapted into a major motion picture; Our Kind of People (2012), a non-fiction account of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria; and Speak No Evil (2018), a novel about coming-of-age in Washington, D.C. His books have been mentioned by Time Magazine, The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, The Times and Rolling Stone. ‘Uzodinma Iweala completed his undergraduate studies at Harvard University and he earned a medical degree at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons.’
ENTER NIGERIA Winning Sunday with The Young Netpreneur for the Week :Ken Nwadiogbu @kennwadio
Ken Nwadiogbu (b. 1994) is a Nigerian born Multidisciplinary Artist, popularly known as KenArt, whose practice is primarily centered around hyper-realistic drawings and works on paper.
Nwadiogbu believes that the society speaks- This voice inspires his art, which evaluates, interrogates and challenges socio-political structures and issues within the society. In his reply to this society, he is able to inspire one or two people to also re-valuate their socio-political structures as we know it. The desire to change his society and the way people think is what drives him to create art every day. Gender equality, African cultures, and Black power are a few aspects of his current research and artistic practice.
Nwadiogbu was born in Lagos, Nigeria and holds a B.Sc in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Lagos, Nigeria. His art career started in the university, and with no formal training, has pushed him to become one of the most interesting young contemporary artists from Nigeria, creating works that question life- calling out some of the problems and becoming very grounded in human consciousness..
Nwadiogbu has been featured in lots of local and international group exhibitions and fairs, including the Insanity exhibition, sponsored by Frot Foundation, in Omenka Gallery, Nigeria; the TMC’s It’s Not Furniture, curated by Winifred Okpapi; the Artyrama’s group exhibition curated by Mr Jess Castellote; Art X Lagos, sponsored by Artyrama Gallery, in Lagos, Nigeria; the Moniker Art Fair, sponsored by Creative Debuts, in Brooklyn, NYC; the Anti-Trump show organised in UK; the Afriuture Exhibition by Ramati Art Africa in association with Commonwealth Africa Summit, in Toronto, Canada; amongst many others. He has been televised and publicized on different platforms like Guardian Life, Tush Magazine, WIRED Magazine, Candid Magazine, Bored Panda, BBC, CNN, and more as well as inspiring and encouraging young creatives through public speaking appearances like TEDx. He co-founded Artists Connect NG, the largest Nigerian artist gathering that took place at Lekki Leisure Lake, in Lagos, Nigeria.
To Nwadiogbu, Art is indeed timeless, it is his solace and hiding place, a safe haven he has found to be devoid of restrictions, boxes and boundaries.