Archive for November, 2011

I don’t talk2much – I just like exposing my mind.

Posted in Uncategorized on November 30, 2011 by Dante Bello

I am an advocate of a free minded and open society – a society where people are free to express what is in their  head space without fear of being prejudiced into a box of sentimentality. A world where people are free to choose their lifestyle, right of association, right to choose their religion and whatever that soothes them as long as it does not hurt the next man.

I came about writing this blog after a dear friend of mine sent me this text message yesterday: “U talk 2 much, pls let me be”, – this is so not me – oh well this came about after an earlier telephonic exchange we had.

Over the years as I evolve in my life’s journey, I have come to believe in vibes between people – like connection between friends or in any kind of relationship. People connect in my many mediums and spaces.

I am very passionate about everything I do, so much that it sometimes comes across as obsession which actually it is not. I connect with my friends so much that I tend to intuitively feel and know when they are in a good space or in a bad space – I am sure we all have those moments though some people do ignore such hunches from their spirit but for someone like me I take attentive cognisance of it, thus it mean a lot to me and most often times define my relationship with people.

So, earlier I had made a call to my friend and the vibe on the other end of the phone was kinda like “offish”, as I had sensed it – I did not feel that good vibe, but rather an “irritable disclosure” and the possibility  of me being wrong is also very possible – I ended the call but my mind was like going on about the offish vibe so I decided to send this text message: “Hey #Justsaying if me calling you is disturbing you do let me know – I suspect a cold shoulder from you – at the same time I’ll not like to assume.” Thanks. My friend then reply: “U talk 2 much, pls let me be”then I replied again: “I don’t talk2much – I guess you’re not used to open-minded people like me – I speak what’s in my heart hence I am a free soul with no hidden agendas.”

My friend never replied back. I began to think about the scenario in a deeper way in trying to decipher the reason it is an issue when people speak about how they feel to others, it most times pan out to be a problem of some sort. I realise we have been conditioned and constructed as beings by society that we negate a lot of things about our humanity which if we appreciate and embrace will ease off a lot of things that might come back to bite us because by then we would have had the chance to renegade the situation or fix it before it is too late if necessary.

The notion that silence is golden is a valid wisdom and relatively so, at the same time it has boxed a lot of people into holding back their true feelings about a thing all in the name of pleasing another or trying to wave off confrontation because of difference in views and opinions. In such cases I believe it is deception and unfair to the other party. I rather have an honest truth than a fake smile and corrosive intent towards me.

We all can’t handle the truth which is a fact – what is rattling in my head space is when will we start handling the truth as friends, brothers, sisters, acquaintances etc – when will we hear an honest word from a friend and take it in good faith – seeing it coming from a good place without tagging it with all sort of names and manufactured intent that probably was not even part of the original intention of the person?

I am all for open-mindedness with responsibility. I think it’ll bring better and cohesive understanding in any relationship bringing in check and balance – the need for wrong notions and perceptions to be corrected before it is taken out of proportion or otherwise.

When people speak their mind, it is out there and you know what you are dealing with and will not be caught by any kind of surprise – Nevertheless it does not mean because you are open-minded person you cannot be wrong about your feelings and assumptions towards others – there is a thin line here – let your intuition guide you – most times it is right.

Open minded people speak about how they feel about a thing and what is in their head space that does not necessarily translate to them being “TALKATIVE.”

I think we as humans need to get to that place of appreciating people for speaking their mind instantly about how they feel about an issue than being all silent with a congested heart filled with issues unspoken about.

I believe when a person speak their mind about how they feel – the mind is exposed, it is out there and does not nurse deception – but we’ve been conditioned to believe being silent is “maturity” – actually it is not.

Honestly, I appreciate people who will tell me how they feel about me, things I have said, done or about an issue than a person who nurses their ill feelings all in the name of not wanting to “offend” me.

I don’t intend to change my open-mindedness, so far it has been working for me – I’ll keep speaking my mind – exposing it to checks and balances which is being a free-spirited person it thus helps me to die to my ego daily and be a better friend to my friends.

Seriously though, I don’t talk2much.

@dantebello – Twitter.

 

Postcard from Freetown: Good to be Home but there’s a Lot of Work Ahead

Posted in Uncategorized on November 25, 2011 by Dante Bello

It is getting all tropical in West Africa; the raining season is over as the Freetown skies lit up each morning with grey blue skies and silver lining clouds shining in blissful ambience.

Most mornings in Freetown you’ll wake up to the soothing wind kissing your face as you open your window pane, so refreshing that getting out of bed seem impossible. Inhaling nature’s freshness is a relishing treat, a gift of nature worth cherishing each passing day in Freetown.

Freetown has been good to me in a way – I am reconnecting with old friends, making new ones and being all random, taking things as they come – the amazing reality is it is good to be home in any case.

I am beginning to understand more about myself and the diversity in my humanity and the tenacity of depth in me as I evolve in handling my challenges – choosing my battles wisely about the things I can control and those that are beyond me – I guess it comes with age – Oh well it’s not like I am that old though.

I feel so free after years of living under the shadows of issues that once held me back from exploring higher heights in life in South Africa – I am happy for what happened to me during the start of the year that led to me coming home – honestly I am – with no regrets whatsoever.

I have somehow lived a befitting life, taken from no man – I have seen it all, been there done that, got the T-Shirt. But the more I get older the more I realize so much that is evolving that I need to know, understand and experience in life – basically the deeper you go into life, the more there is to know – it is an unending experience.

It has been one helluva of a journey home, seeing my dad again and reconnecting with him after years of being apart – the “hate” and the resentment I had for him had since dissolve when I made a conscious choice to let go off the pain and embrace him in love and be the change I wanted to see in him – So far we are a bit distant apart, but getting closer little by little, doing things together in common and talking often – I guess it is a sign that things can only get better.

My sisters have been marvellous, they are a true blessing since I have been back home – they’ve grown, big girls they are I tell yah, but each day we tie our bond of loving one another, reminiscence the sages and stories our late mother taught us when we were growing up – It feels so amazing now that I am more grateful to have come home than I was feeling few months back – It all makes sense now that if I had resist what the universe was lining up for me I would have somehow missed these priceless moments.

Let me switch my thought to something else and share with you my recent discoveries in Freetown – I am sure you’ll like to know as the postcard series continues, though I have not written much about it lately.

Generally, “Sierra Leone is a broken country” – rebuilding her will not be an easy task but it is very much possible. Each day as I walk around Freetown I see sons and daughters that are angry, people are vexed with life – poverty is eating the centre core of our people’s life in this country despite the government relentless effort in trying to provide the basic amenities of life for its citizens and the amount of mineral wealth and fertile land for agricultural that we are abundantly blessed with. “Everybody wants to make it big in a quick – hush-hush way…”

When you walk around Freetown, you’ll see able bodied young men, well educated people roaming the streets aimlessly – some have somehow given up on life as their seem to be no bleaker of hope in them that things will improve someday – “There are no jobs in this town.” The few jobs that are here is like the scramble for Africa – everybody is trying to make sure that they get a piece of it because it is not enough in the first place to go round.

The truth is, – Sierra Leone is way behind in all aspect of life – it is like the plus decade of civil war stole everything from this country – seriously though, it did or how else can one explain her present challenges?

I live in a society where in the 21st century people can still have the audacity to stone another person for example because of their sexuality and lifestyle preferences – it is like we are living in medieval times – Ha! You sure do know we have a big problem in our hands in educating people about the freedom of choice and the right of each person to choose the way they see it fit to live their lives as long as it does not hurt anyone.

Sierra Leoneans in general are so comfortable with what they know that anything else outside that foray of their comfort zones will be rejected – in short, it must benefit them or else take it somewhere else or they’ll frustrate your effort till it is all messed up.

Tribalism and nepotism are like two inseparable prostitutes in this country. The qualified and experienced hardly get the job – “it is about who you know and not what you know” and what tribe or part of the country you are from – the worst is, if they realize you’ve lived outside the country before – it is perceived; “you are well to do and do not need a job” – imagine such gibberish – A complex crass of a people is the best description I can give them.

Sierra Leone is littered with street kids everywhere – there are estimated to be about fifteen thousand of them in Freetown alone, up country not included – these are kids with no father figure in their lives, they scavenge during the day for food and at night they commit petty crimes and sleep anywhere the dead of the night meets them.

Teenage pregnancy is like a burst water pipe splashing water everywhere – Kid are giving birth to kids – it makes no sense that a 12 years old who depend on her parents for her schooling and upkeep is giving birth for a 16 year old boy who also depend on his parents for his upkeep – so who is going to take care of who?

Single parenting is on a high rise in this country, fathers are nowhere to be found, and even if they are around – they’re not capable of taking care of their family – the burden now rest on the shoulder of the woman – being the kind of creäture women are – they never stop to carry the family regardless of the pain and struggle – I take my hat off to all of y’all.

I get so emotional at times when I look at the present day Sierra Leone from where we were before the war – everything has been broken, it is messed up here but the resilience of the people to fight on bring chills to my spine – the few dedicated Sierra Leoneans keep working tirelessly, pulling their resources together to get this country going forward.

Kudos to President Koroma for a job well done so far though a lot more is on the cards to be done – if we have ten of his kind right now – I am certain we would have been seeing more progress of what is he doing – nevertheless Aluta Continua – Sierra Leone must surely rise again to her once glorious state.

I hope that all these effort to rebuild Sierra Leone will yield in due season all that the war has taken from her – it is my desire to see people getting up from their comfort zones, get their hands dirty and start working for the betterment of this country before posterity judge us wrongly.

I have hope in you Mama Salone – Still you rise.

@dantebello –Twitter

Bondo Society and Female Genital Mutilation in Sierra Leone

Posted in Uncategorized on November 23, 2011 by Dante Bello

The other day I was having a conversion with my brother when like every other chat we got distracted off  to something else we never planned of talking about. Actually what let to that was that as we were chatting about – honestly I can’t remember as we were hip hopping randomly around trends and happenings in the country in general, before I heard drums rolling from the main street outside – I could hear adults and young girls singing and clapping their hand.

I went outside to look at what was happening and there were these young beautiful girls dressed up in well designed African regalia, faced painted with white chalk and clay singing traditional folk songs and dancing behind a masquerade as they go from house to house performing dance acts and money will be given to them in appreciation.

I was stunned by the whole ambience, the rhythm of the music and the percussion coming from the drum got my head nodding to the tune – therein I was made to understand that these girls were celebrating their rite of passage from “Bondo” (a traditional society school for women).

In Sierra Leone it called “Bondo Society” – What usually happen is young girls, mostly in their puberty stage are taken to a secret place in an enclosed hut or house somewhere (bush) in the village/town/city which looked like a fenced forest, locally called “Bondo Bush” – therein these girl are said to be trained and taught the tenets of womanhood and genitalia mutilation procedures will be carried out on them by elders in completion of the rituals which mean they’ve now become a “full woman”.

It is a norm or let me say a tradition and expectation in Sierra Leone that as a woman if you have NOT attended “Bondo” society school you are an “incomplete woman” – it is a kind of a cliché that carry so much fuss and “August meeting effect” that parents especially mothers go all out to make sure that their child goes through the school before they reach 18.

It is believed among women in Sierra Leone that girls that have undergone female genital mutilation (Bondo School Society) earn more respect among their peersa than those who have not or never did.

I was made to understand these girls undergo painful experience as their elders will use crude penknife to cut off part of their clitoris – some even bled from excessive loss of blood and they passed out in the process – some of the girls do die of pain from the experience.

Girls from age 11 are undergoing this ferrous experience daily in the Sierra Leonean society, all in the name of tradition.

It is estimated that between 100 and 140 million girls and women worldwide have undergone female genital mutilation – the removal of all or part of the female external genitalia as part of traditional institution rituals or marriage preparation customs.

The government of Sierra Leone I was made to understand has forbidden the practice for under age children but it not outrightly banned in the country so the practice is still being carried out despite NGO’s tremendous effort in raising awareness, among victims and perpetrators of this tradition.

According to statistics from the Family Support Unit of the Sierra Leone Police, sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) on teenagers has increased by 18% – the report also revealed that for every 100 (SGBV) related cases only 20 is likely to be prosecuted. These figures are a call for concern despite the mass education and awareness programs that is being carried out by the government to address this problem.

In February of this year, four female journalists were brutally attacked by the Bondo Society in Kenema, one of Sierra Leone’s largest cities. They were abducted, stripped and marched through the city after being accused of reporting on an anti-FGM campaign – this is how gross it can be with traditional fanatics in Sierra Leone – it took the Police and human right organization intervention before they were released.

FGM, partial and total removal of the external female genitalia continues to be practiced illegally throughout Africa today – 28 African countries are said to be involved. The shocking side of this practice is, about an estimated three million young women annually are forced to undergo FGM as an initiation into womanhood. FGM is also a custom in parts of the Middle East and Asia.

The affluent and élite families in trying to modernize the practice – seek the services of medical personnel to avoid the dangers of unskilled operations in unsanitary conditions – it still does not make it right as I battle in my mind to come to terms with the right or wrong reason of this tradition.

Studies have shown that the practice of FGM can result in infertility, pregnancy and childbirth complications, and psychological problems through inability to experience sexual pleasure.

Last year August, I read a Lancet researchers study online which made the strongest link yet between extreme forms of female genital mutilation and female fertility. Their findings offer the most compelling evidence to date that girls who have undergone genital mutilation in childhood could be at risk of infertility later in life.

As I ask further about the Bondo Society, my neighbour a female was telling me that in Sierra Leone FGM is performed crudely and sometimes with razor blades, penknives and even broken glass as key part of the initiation ceremonies that prepares the girls for womanhood and marriage – this left me gutted because I find it inhumane and barbaric for young girls at such a young age to go through that kind of pain without anaesthetic – Frankly it is not about being young or old – I don’t think any woman should be subjected to such practices in any form whatsoever.

UNICEF estimates that 90% of Sierra Leonean women are subjected to genital mutilation and by my watch with what I’ve seen since I have been in Freetown – I’ll agree because almost like every other weekend – girls are being graduated from these Bondo Society initiation schools.

66% of the Sierra Leonean population is illiterate and strongly inclined in traditional practices so educating the people will empower them to make right decision.

Religious leaders are beginning to voice out their distaste and opposition to the practice, making public declaration that their daughters will never be initiated – Pastors and Imams within local communities are preaching about the need to discontinue the practice, public awareness campaign are in motion by the government to the local communities as well.

I hope that people will drop their knives, parents and girls to become open about the practice, victims coming out to talk about the practice without vilification and for them to express their right to say ‘No’.

Open dialogue, communication and education seem the proactive way forward in curbing and bringing this practice to an end or else we will be subjecting young girls to this brutal and barbaric practice (Bondo Society) initiation that is killing and disfiguring young beautiful girls’ bodies all in the name of tradition.

@dantebello on Twitter

The Dilemma of Africa’s Over-Dependence on the West

Posted in Uncategorized on November 18, 2011 by Dante Bello

It is time we accept this fact – the west will never take it hands off Africa. Maybe it might happen in the future but definitely not any time soon. The scramble for Africa is gaining moment with each passing day. African politicians are like “zombies” waiting for the next command from western countries for them to carry out their instructions in full precision and obedience – this is the effect of a slave master mentality syndrome.

The west gave Africa independence but they have never left the shores of Africa for Africans to handle their affairs. They make sure that Africa’s socio-economic independence is in their hands and were never part of the totality of the independence package they “sold” to us.

Though many will deny and refuse to accept that our political wellbeing is remotely controlled by the powerful western nations and the so-called conscripted NGO’s that crop up themselves in every corner of Africa using charity as a means of profit, and to gather intelligence about Africa’s developmental progress and to suck her dry of all her potential to be sustainable and independent.

So, I ask – why is it that after plus 50 years of independence, Africa is not able to control her economic and political independence without the outside interference of our colonial masters who seem to portray themselves as our rescuer at any instances when there is internal problems, invited or uninvited?

I have realised that the west always have a way of putting their corny intervention ploy to prove their continued presence in the political and economic state of African countries be it as they simply put it – dictatorship, human right abuses, bad governance and most of all the bloated and arrogant summation that Africans cannot manage their resources and political stability and therefore Africa need the self-appointed west to aid for her salvation.

To make it more convenient for them, the western countries hide behind the purported international community foray and the rhetoric notion that they have the right to intervene in the various issues in Africa as part of the new global trend they are selling to Africa – Global Unity – Global Village, even though the UN charter prohibits the interference into internal affairs of member states and respect for their territorial integrity.

A recent classic example is Libya. The US under the disguise of NATO, Sarkozy and Cameroon twist the hands of the UNSC member states to comply with their personal vendetta and agenda against the Gaddafi regime to carry out regime change in Libya using the UNSC Resolution 1973 as their decoy. Now that Colonel Gaddafi has been executed, we now hear of oil contracts to the west as they punt their agenda in full view to the world. This is the expected dividend the new government of Libya has to pay the west for “helping” them overthrow a man who refuse to follow the dictates and agenda of the western world as far his country’s resources is concern.

African leaders are reluctantly refusing to read in between the lines that the west need Africa for their survival and development hence they will always have their hands all over Africa.

The unfortunate fact is we have overzealous greedy power mongers and dictators in Africa as leaders that only care about their pockets and they are left aloof to the agenda of serving their country and people.

The stalk reality is I am trying to find a tangible reason why African countries should be or stay in a “stagnant position and not making constant and consistent headway to-date in terms of development and providing basic amenities for it citizens in the 21st century.”

As Africans in Africa we find ourselves over depending on western countries that it look like the entire destiny and progress of the continent lies in their hands – they are still calling the shots despite our independence.

The west dictate every sphere and step of our development and survival as independent nations – this reality make me grin – the science of this reality need to change and this change is now – not tomorrow but starting from now.

Have you see that when there are conflicts in Africa, we ran to the west as the last resort to salvage the situation. We have an African Union that is “practically dead” – Personally I regard the AU as a useless organization that is being controlled and orchestrated by the west and lack the capacity and voice to instil and handle Africa’s issue and challenges on all fronts.

This is very sad because the African Union the way I see it will probably never be in a position to amicably solve the problems of Africa without asking for the intervention from the International Community, either in logistics, finance or personnel and otherwise.

African countries lack the bilateral and multilateral cohesion within member states of the continent. It is also a fact that our sub-regional and continental organizations hardly do anything or be seen to be effective without instructions from these so-called international organisations.

I am not disputing that African countries should negate being part of the United Nations or any international organisation but my issue here is, decisions taken at these level about Africa most often time sway on the side of the western countries agenda – their interest supersede all else hence you see the selective approach as to which conflict or trade partnerships they get themselves involved in.

Also African representation in the United Nation Security Council is minimal and incapable of making any impact in decisions making that concerns and benefits Africa – I still cannot put to thoughts why this is so.

In other to run with the agenda of Africa that is non-dependent on the west, it is necessary to bring the Pan-African agenda to play. The thinking of our Pan-Africanist forefathers need to be resurrected – the philosophy and ideology of late Kwame Nkrumah, Sheku Toure, Kenneth Kaunda, Thomas Sankara and others need to be drivelled into the mindset of our present leaders and generation.

Africa is blessed with abundance of resources to cater for it citizens but we still adhere to call on those who will exploit our resources and never allow us to tap into the full potential of our wealth for the good of our people.

After years of achieving independence this ugly scenario is still eating the core of our society. We are “cursed” with leaders that do not understand the tenets of democracy and wealth distribution but rather see it befitting for them to flaunt kleptocracy and autocracy until the people take up arms to force them out of power.

How do we achieve African Unity when the west creates artificial boundaries to intentionally keep us apart and in disunity to keep their dominance in the socio-economic development of the continent?

Why do we have the United States controlled UN presence in almost every country and invariably dictating the pace of development and indirectly and directly involving in their local politics and instituting leaders that they can control to further their interest? Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire comes to mind at this juncture.

The recent famine in the Horn of Africa is a sad scenario for a continent so blessed with agriculture but cannot feed her own – Poverty is a cancerous disease eating the core of our psyche and rebel wars and insurgent (Boko Haram/Al-Shabab) is forever in the news about African and seemingly unending.

Our leaders have refused to see the reality that they have to start working for the people and it is their responsibilities as leaders to get us out of this situation.

Whenever the western worlds have issues, you will never hear of an African presence to help mend their fences or disputes but the opposite is so when it comes to Africa – the west using morality posturing and grandstanding to judiciously be the saviour that we need – this also has to change.

It is time our so-called leaders start thinking and change the science of their politics and starts working for the people and carry out visible and achievable policies and set realistic goals that are attainable.

Our leaders need to proactively foster trade and economic integration within the African states and understand that the only way we will have a voice in the international scene is to get this initiative working and Africans controlling their resources and set the terms and conditions for any bilateral or multilateral trade with the western world.

If Africa is to survive, this should be given utmost consideration not only for our survival but also for posterity and the furtherance of our continent’s development for the generations to come.

It is time for Africa to cut off from the over dependence on the west and be independent enough to man up to it responsibilities, explore it vast natural resources, man power capacity for the benefit of the people.

Ashe!

@dantebello  on Twitter