I am a Nigerian – Nkiru Asika

Have you ever thought about a battle cry for Nigerians, a battle cry to remind us of our true root(not that the British gave us), or that evident in the media of our brothers and sisters drowning while trying to cross a sea of ‘perceived hope’, a battle cry to help us overcome as a people the falsehood of our supposed representatives, a battle cry to help us face our glorious future – a battle cry to help us face a past that was denied and a future that feels very present. Here it is, poem by Nkiru Asika –

I am a Nigerian.
I am one in 5 Africans.
I am one in 8 Black people, anywhere in the world.
I am a Nobel Prize Winner.
An Olympic Gold Medalist.
A Grammy Award Winner.
A Soccer Champion.
A Prince of the Vatican.
An Oscar Nominee.
A Giant of Literature.
A Distinguished Scientist.
A Musical Icon.
My roots lie in the dusty Sahel of the North; in the rich rainforests of the East;
in the Savannah plains of the West; in the oil-filled swamps of the Delta;
in the warmth of our villages and the vibrancy of our cities.
My strength flows from the waters of the Niger and the Benue.
My joy springs from the rush of Gurara Falls and the natural wonders of Yankari.
Nigeria is my rock.
Nigeria is my hope.
Nigeria is my home.
I am the voice of two hundred tribes, speaking three hundred languages.
I am the dance of the circle of life.

I am the laughter of the world’s happiest people.
I am nourished by the crop of the soil, fed by the bounty of the rivers.
I am your neighbour.
I am your friend.
I am a warrior, priest, king.
I am a mother, teacher, queen.
I am my brother’s keeper.
I am a sage from an ancient civilization.
I am a child in the youngest nation on earth.
I am the beauty,
I am the sound,
I am the vision,
I am the spirit,
I am the passion,
I am the soul of a Continent.
I am a Nigerian.
I am the HEART OF AFRICA

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When Trust is Not Enough

Trust is like hoping a storm never strikes.
It’s the childish idea that the world is always on your side.
A contract is the elite rescue team that swoops down in a chopper–
And gets you out no matter how bad things are.

We trust easily as humans. It can be something due to our culture(I don’t hold this position – naivety is more to blame).

This ‘trust’ has been the genesis of many countless sad business/money stories we hear all too often. The sad stories as they go can be avoided when we put a literary “RING” to it – draw up a contract or an agreement; create a document that binds your engagement, and in the case of scammers – something to use as a proof of your position/story and of course to nail them to the wall with.

Here is a story of a popular public speaker – name withheld to protect his identity –

“The president of a multi-billion dollar manufacturing firm threatened to sue me.
Because I asked him to reimburse me after canceling a speaking engagement.

“Jason,” he called me one day. “Come talk to us about economy, manufacturing, and commodities.”
We fixed a date and I booked my flight and hotel.

A few weeks later, I got an email from him. “Let’s find a different time.”

“Sure,” I replied. “Could you please pay for changing my flight and hotel?”

“Never mind,” he wrote back. “We’re not interested.”

The terms were in writing, but we hadn’t signed anything.
This was someone I knew for years and trusted.

I was shocked.

I’d turned down two talks worth $20K+ to make it happen.

“Tell them you’ll write to Dun & Bradstreet’s Credit Reporter,” a tough negotiator friend said.

I followed his advice and sent out an email.
Two days later, FedEx delivered a letter.

The firm was threatening to sue me.

The irony?

They paid their lawyers more than it would have cost to reimburse me.
And they weren’t climbing down that tree.

I learned my lesson that day.”

He learnt his lessons, and moved on –

For things that involves money or business – your shield like a soldier on a battlefield will be your contract/agreement – signed and sealed safely!

The benefits are numerous but I will give you three –

1. It can help force seriousness into unserious clients – preventing waste of time and energy on everyone’s part.
2. It protects you in the event of being double-crossed! And believe me, there are so many double-crossers out there.
3. It is an insurance to ensure you get your reward for effort put in – if it is written, it is proof! And will hold water even if the case is taken to heaven.

Although there is something called “gentlemen agreement”, a case where a man’s words is his bond – however, my friends those gentlemen can be impossible to come by when money is on the table.

A contract might even help you turn some difficult people into gentlemen – and we all love staking our resources with gentle folks.

Next time you are going into an engagement with anyone, rather than first being over excited about the prospects ahead – first and foremost, draw up your contract/agreement, then you are free to think wide!

NYTimes: Social Media – Destroyer or Creator? You Decide

 

From Thomas , New York Times:

Over the last few years we’ve been treated to a number of “Facebook revolutions,” from the Arab Spring to Occupy Wall Street to the squares of Istanbul, Kiev and Hong Kong, all fueled by social media. But once the smoke cleared, most of these revolutions failed to build any sustainable new political order, in part because as so many voices got amplified, consensus-building became impossible.

Question: Does it turn out that social media is better at breaking things than at making things?

Recently, an important voice answered this question with a big “ yes.” That voice was Wael Ghonim, the Egyptian Google employee whose anonymous Facebook page helped to launch the Tahrir Square revolution in early 2011 that toppled President Hosni Mubarak — but then failed to give birth to a true democratic alternative.

In December, Ghonim, who has since moved to Silicon Valley, posted a TED talk about what went wrong. It is worth watching and begins like this: “I once said, ‘If you want to liberate a society, all you need is the Internet.’ I was wrong. I said those words back in 2011, when a Facebook page I anonymously created helped spark the Egyptian revolution. The Arab Spring revealed social media’s greatest potential, but it also exposed its greatest shortcomings. The same tool that united us to topple dictators eventually tore us apart.”

In the early 2000s, Arabs were flocking to the web, Ghonim explained: “Thirsty for knowledge, for opportunities, for connecting with the rest of the people around the globe, we escaped our frustrating political realities and lived a virtual, alternative life.”

And then in June 2010, he noted, the “Internet changed my life forever. While browsing Facebook, I saw a photo … of a tortured, dead body of a young Egyptian guy. His name was Khaled Said. Khaled was a 29-year-old Alexandrian who was killed by police. I saw myself in his picture. … I anonymously created a Facebook page and called it ‘We Are All Khaled Said.’ In just three days, the page had over 100,000 people, fellow Egyptians who shared the same concern.”

Soon Ghonim and his friends used Facebook to crowd-source ideas, and “the page became the most followed page in the Arab world. … Social media was crucial for this campaign. It helped a decentralized movement arise. It made people realize that they were not alone. And it made it impossible for the regime to stop it.”

Ghonim was eventually tracked down in Cairo by Egyptian security services, beaten and then held incommunicado for 11 days. But three days after he was freed, the millions of protesters his Facebook posts helped to galvanize brought down Mubarak’s regime.

Alas, the euphoria soon faded, said Ghonim, because “we failed to build consensus, and the political struggle led to intense polarization.” Social media, he noted, “only amplified” the polarization “by facilitating the spread of misinformation, rumors, echo chambers and hate speech. The environment was purely toxic. My online world became a battleground filled with trolls, lies, hate speech.”

Supporters of the army and the Islamists used social media to smear each other, while the democratic center, which Ghonim and so many others occupied, was marginalized. Their revolution was stolen by the Muslim Brotherhood and, when it failed, by the army, which then arrested many of the secular youths who first powered the revolution. The army has its own Facebook page to defend itself.

“It was a moment of defeat,” said Ghonim. “I stayed silent for more than two years, and I used the time to reflect on everything that happened.”

Here is what he concluded about social media today: “First, we don’t know how to deal with rumors. Rumors that confirm people’s biases are now believed and spread among millions of people.” Second, “We tend to only communicate with people that we agree with, and thanks to social media, we can mute, un-follow and block everybody else. Third, online discussions quickly descend into angry mobs. … It’s as if we forget that the people behind screens are actually real people and not just avatars.

“And fourth, it became really hard to change our opinions. Because of the speed and brevity of social media, we are forced to jump to conclusions and write sharp opinions in 140 characters about complex world affairs. And once we do that, it lives forever on the Internet.”

Fifth, and most crucial, he said, “today, our social media experiences are designed in a way that favors broadcasting over engagements, posts over discussions, shallow comments over deep conversations. … It’s as if we agreed that we are here to talk at each other instead of talking with each other.”

Ghonim has not given up. He and a few friends recently started a website,Parlio.com, to host intelligent, civil conversations about controversial and often heated issues, with the aim of narrowing gaps, not widening them. (I participated in a debate on Parlio and found it engaging and substantive.)

“Five years ago,” concluded Ghonim, “I said, ‘If you want to liberate society, all you need is the Internet.’ Today I believe if we want to liberate society, we first need to liberate the Internet.”

Social Media: Destroyer or Creator? http://nyti.ms/1R0Yh9h

 

On Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Boot Camps

Sometimes, the best things will come only after some patience, and letting ego dissipate. I read a response on Quora on the benefits of Hillary accepting Obama’s request to be Secretary of State. Now I cannot remember to author, but it went like this – Appointing her to secretary of state was an extremely astute move. It was really very masterful. After the 2008 nomination, a substantial minority of the Democratic party was loyal to Clinton, not Obama. Leaving her off the presidential ticket allowed him to more effectively consolidate the party behind him. Nominating her to secretary of state put her in a travel-focused role that kept her out of Washington and gave her no room to maneuver for a bid against him in 2012. He protected his own interests.

At the same time, Clinton genuinely lacked foreign policy experience. Some of her missteps in her first year as SecState were pretty embarrassing. The job gave her a real chance to develop expertise on topics that a future president needs to know and build relationships with foreign heads of state. Moreover, by including her in his inner circle, Obama kept her involved in the biggest events of his administration and raised her stature above that of a mere senator. SecState wasn’t exile — it was boot camp.

Obama turned a serious rival for control of the Democratic party into one of his staunchest allies and helped her gain experience and stature, all without risking his own job security. This was brilliant politics, and was characteristic of the kind of positive-sum outcomes he has always sought in his best moments.

On Consumer Reports Watchdog Denouncing the Tesla AutoPilot.

Instead of backing away from self-driving technology as some council in the US make us convinced especially Consumer Reports Watchdog, the Germans stuffing black boxes in them should be better consensus – technology must be allowed to progress, advances come with known risks: instead of hiding under rocks at the sight of progress.

Consumer Reports on July 14th asked Tesla to do the following:

Consumer Reports Calls for Tesla to Do the Following:

  • Disable Autosteer until it can be reprogrammed to require drivers to keep their hands on the steering wheel.
  • Stop referring to the system as “Autopilot” as it is misleading and potentially dangerous.
  • Issue clearer guidance to owners on how the system should be used and its limitations.
  • Test all safety-critical systems fully before public deployment; no more beta releases.

Washington Post wrote:

“The earlier you are to market — the closer you are to [being] first — the more you become highly associated with that technology,” Lu said.

Companies that successfully claim that mantle may be be in a better position to out-innovate others, particularly as governments clamp down on emissions and shifts in energy technologies force manufacturers to adapt to new circumstances.

And amid mounting scrutiny over this technology, German officials are proposing that all new vehicles equipped with autopilot features come with a “black box” akin to the flight recorders found on airplanes.

The only way to get these driver-less cars to mass-market product is to put them on the our roads, to break few things and ‘learn’ from the mishaps; as against ‘waiting till  forever’ until the technology is ‘perfect’. Technology can never be perfect, it is always a work in progress.

The truth is, the feud between Tesla and Consumer Reports is similar to an argument between an Engineer and an accountant over beauty of the control vale of an internal combustion engine. Accountants will never get it!

 

Obama vs The Big Banks

Obama sees the legislation in more complicated terms. He said that he liked the film “The Big Short” — a vivid portrayal of the 2008 crisis with a special emphasis on the avarice of its main architects — but not its ending. It suggests, wrongly, he said, that nothing has changed on Wall Street. The financial sector “is bigger, absorbs more resources and maybe most importantly, more talent than I would like to see. I would like folks who are really good at math to be going into engineering and the sciences more than they’re going into trying to build algorithms to beat the market and to work arbitrage,” he said.

“But there is no doubt that the financial system is substantially more stable,” he said. “It is true that we have not dismantled the financial system, and in that sense, Bernie Sanders’s critique is correct” — a reference to the Vermont senator and presidential aspirant who regularly calls to break up America’s biggest banks. “But one of the things that I’ve consistently tried to remind myself during the course of my presidency is that the economy is not an abstraction. It’s not something that you can just redesign and break up and put back together again without consequences.”

From NYTimes – President Obama Weighs His Economic Legacy

Most Important Truth About Learning to Programme

Not a week past that a  greenie strait out of CS not ask me how to be a better programmer or most important of all, how to learn to programme and worst would be they asking me to TEACH them. One thing have learnt over the years, Programming can never be taught to you by anyone – because it is not Accounting, it is more like a path or journey in which the would be pilgrim must thread alone and face all his or her worst fears about abstract and creating thinking, logic and finally the act of solving the problems of others without needing to throw a brick.

I stumbled on Barry Rountree answer to the question What are the five most important programming concepts? and never felt a question better answered – thus I will direct all future observer of my acts to read thus, before I  open my mouth to answer you this same things:

  1. Programming is, ultimately, self-taught.  You can take classes to help that process along, but eventually you have to form and refine your own mental models of the language, the machine, and your program.  If you’re not spending time outside of class doing this work, you’re memorizing trivia, not learning to program.

  2. The audience for computer code is other human beings, in particular, you six months from now.  Be considerate to these people.

  3. Coding is easy,  debugging is hard.  Code to make debugging trivial.  That can be test cases, source control, smaller and well-defined functions…. basically all of the “best practices” out there speak to this.

  4. A debugged, tested, and documented line of code costs on the order of $100.  The best code is code that’s never written because you were able to come up with a non-coding solution or reuse existing code.  The second-best solution involves deleting code to get the functionality you need.  Remember that as a programmer, you’re hired to solve problems, not write code.

  5. Back when you were learning to read and write, you spent far more time reading than writing.  Current pedagogy emphasizes writing code over reading code — what was the last programming class you took where you started with an existing 1k line program and read it?  As a professional, you’ll be spending most of your time reading code you didn’t write in order to find a bug or add a feature.  It’s a skill worth developing early.

Reason I think programming is hard for most here is because it teaches you honesty – you can never effectively lie to the computer, there are no shortcuts: “garbage in garbage out” is forever a timeless saying afterall.

Eventually, when I meet that new guy or girl willing to face their worst fears, smile at the sight of a beautifully written code 10k long or a function 5 lines long, but with calls to tons of others(most beautiful abstraction ever) or at what it accomplishes(seeing those countless lines of codes which made it possible) or behold the look of awe on that fella whom you just help solve an almost impossible problem – I mostly send them a link, hoping they pass the first test – after which the desired treasure trove will be unhinged.

Most of the time actually, you will not need to open your mouth for they would have found the truth themselves.

Happy coding, never a profession more noble!

On Made in Nigeria Quests

[2:11PM, 2/18/2016] ‪+234 803 397 5746‬ – Noah: Just got this from a group.
Mr David Ahmed Okoro started the day early,
having set his alarm clock (MADE IN FINLAND) for
6am. While his teapot (MADE IN CHINA) was
perking, he shaved with his clipper (MADE IN HONG
KONG). He put on his shirt (MADE IN THE UK), and
designer jeans (MADE IN ITALY) and shoes (MADE
IN THE USA).
After cooking his breakfast in his new electric
cooker (MADE IN INDIA) he sat down with his
calculator (MADE IN MEXICO) to see how much he
could spend today. After setting his wristwatch
(MADE IN TAIWAN) to his radio (MADE IN
VIETNAM) he got in his car (MADE IN GERMANY)
filled with petrol imported from (SAUDI ARABIA)
and continued his search for a good paying
NIGERIAN job…
At the end of yet another discouraging and
fruitless day checking his computer (MADE IN
MALAYSIA), Mr David Ahmed Okoro decided to
relax for a while. He put on his slippers (MADE IN
BRAZIL) poured himself a glass of wine (MADE IN
SOUTH AFRICA), while fiddling with his mobile
phone (MADE IN SOUTH KOREA), and then
wondered why he cant find a good paying job in…
NIGERIA.
He felt achy and sore in his left kneel, he decided
to take one tablet of his TRAMADOL TABLETS
(MADE IN BANGLADESH) to relieve the pain. Lying
down on his bed and wondering why NIGERIAN
External Foreign Reserve has depleted to under $
28billion which has translated to free fall
depreciation of Nigerian NAIRA to US DOLLAR at
PARALLEL MARKET…….
Fellow Nigerians, let’s us start producing, let us
start buying made in NIGERIA goods If our
economy is to grow and create better jobs.
How can a country like Nigeria be importing
toothpick, cutting bud, cotton wool, matches,
rubber band e.t.c? And we complain at d same
time that there is no jobs for our teeming youths?
The situation is even pathetic now when you see
Nigerians ( in Lagos) prefer Cotonou garri to that
of Ijebu, buy cotonou pineapple and they say it is
better than that of Nigeria. That is why frozen
foods will be exported to Cotonou from farms like
that of obasanjo repacked and imported back to
Nigeria bcos they know Nigerians always prefer
made in outside Nigeria goods .
That is why you will see an expatriate renumeration
will be juicy than that of his Nigeria counterpart
even if that Nigerian is more certificated than d
expatriate ( This also happen in government
parastatals).
Any nation that import majorly foreign made
goods/ services rather than producing their own
are hurting its people….
When we keep importing foreign made products into
Nigeria, we keep importing poverty into our
country and exporting jobs abroad…
Let’s go back to the land to grow and patronise
MADE IN NIGERIA products…
PLEASE SHARE FREELY TO ENLIGHTEN ALL
NIGERIANS.

[5:04PM, 2/18/2016] Olabode James: Nice post Noah, glad Nigerians are really talking about this now. I hope we can have a thorough debate in this country on the issues raised
[5:07PM, 2/18/2016] Olabode James: The economy of scale does not favour Made in Nigeria goods – so you see our challenges are never about patriotism, as the article above projects
[5:10PM, 2/18/2016] Olabode James: The TRUTH is – it is cheaper to have Made in India toothpick in Wuse Market than Made in Nigeria toothpick on same market
[5:10PM, 2/18/2016] Olabode James: Of same quality
[5:12PM, 2/18/2016] Olabode James: Simply because the cost of production is extremely high in Nigeria. There is simply NO HOPE FOR MADE IN NIGERIA GOODS in our Nigerian economy
[5:13PM, 2/18/2016] Olabode James: They can never compete with anything outside this shores within this shores
[5:16PM, 2/18/2016] Olabode James: As against appealing to sentiments of ‘patriotism’  we must first band foremost fix our roads, railways, electricity, and education system so we produce graduate with useful-relevant industry skills to develop our production processes
[5:21PM, 2/18/2016] Olabode James: In the 60s, 70s, and early 80s when we were truly giant of Africa and effortlessly attract foreigners without globetrotting from our leaders – we had those four figured out.
Where are the ground nut pyramids, the  cocoa or the palm trees plantation
[5:24PM, 2/18/2016] Olabode James: But always and since our leaders put less focus on items likely to made Nigeria fix itself in 5 years
[5:26PM, 2/18/2016] Olabode James: While we hunt down all the Dasuki of this life, we must also put equal vehemence into building roads and bridges and making electricity available for industries and home, and no one will need to ‘beg’ anyone else to patronize made in Nigeria stuff
[5:27PM, 2/18/2016] Olabode James: The foreign items will fizzle out
[5:47PM, 2/18/2016] Olabode James: Worse is we can’t even refine enough crude in Nigeria to meet our daily consumption!

Being the President is not a good reason to be Boring

I stumbled on this rap featuring the First lady of the United States

This got me thinking: One can always still have fun while carrying certain restrictive responsibilities(like being First lady), truth is – this is what the times ‘accept’ as correct information. Welcome to the age of Taylor Swifts, Katy Perrys, …

I was trying to imagine the contrary situation in which FOTUS was trying to communicate the college idea while seating, staring at the camera, discussing it at talk shows(by the way most of the target audience cannot withstand the torture of talk shows), holding a conference of ‘important’ people, and so on – you know, the way our crop of head of states and presidents, politicians, wives … normally will go about it. One will really not be completely surprised most of these efforts have achieved nothing except a plateau in interest.

While some might question her method(I noticed a particularly high down-votes on the YouTube post), but boy(or girl) I will say she is a genius – this method should be another strategy into getting things to achieve intended objective.

Thus, in crafting message for accountants, try to look like an accountant, to appeal to politicians, try to look like one and to get the buy-in of young people, try to put it in a RAP 😉

What is the Best Way to Learn

Many times we desire the most optimal route, the shortest cut, the most efficient or energy saving plan whereas the truth which always can be maligned from the facts, can simply be simple – Just Do it!

Below is a Pottery story to convey the point –

A pottery teacher split her class into two halves.  

To the first half she said, “You will spend the semester studying pottery, planning, designing, and creating your perfect pot.  At the end of the semester, there will be a competition to see whose pot is the best”.

To the other half she said, “You will spend your semester making lots of pots.  Your grade will be based on the number of completed pots you finish.  At the end of the semester, you’ll also have the opportunity to enter your best pot into a competition.”

The first half of the class threw themselves into their research, planning, and design.  Then they set about creating their one, perfect pot for the competition.

The second half of the class immediately grabbed fistfulls of clay and started churning out pots.  They made big ones, small ones, simple ones, and intricate ones.  Their muscles ached for weeks as they gained the strength needed to throw so many pots.

At the end of class, both halves were invited to enter their most perfect pot into the competition.  Once the votes were counted, all of the best pots came from the students that were tasked with quantity.  The practice they gained made them significantly better potters than the planners on a quest for a single, perfect pot.

In work, life, relationships, business whenever you are at the crossroads of looking for the most efficient way out, always remember to – Just do it, just start it, just initiate it, just venture FIRST – then iterate after; that’s always the most efficient way.

As you venture to conquer the world in your own ways, remember to make lots of pots.

Story from Art & Fear