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CURTAIN CALL

Hello everyone,

I haven't posted anything new in a long time and that is because I have decided to discontinue 'Akumbu Writes'.

A big thank you to all my subjects and readers.

Thank you all for subscribing, reading, contributing to and promoting this blog.

Your support has meant a lot to me and it's something I'll always treasure.

 

– A. Uche

 

Essays · News

AMMUNITION

by Akumbu Uche

You must be familiar with the details by now: at a Colorado screening of the latest Batman movie, a young man opened fire in the darkened theatre room, killing 12 people and wounding 58 more.

This is the menu Al Jazeera and CNN have been dishing out lately, sandwiched between the tugs of war that are Red America versus Blue America, pro-Assadists versus anti-Assadists and the gist is trending, not only on the Internet but in the newsroom where I work.

When we are not pitching, covering or filing our own news reports, you can find us, rookies and veterans alike, discussing, debating and opinionating.

Stricter gun control, get rid of guns, the individual’s right to bear arms.

Echoing the panelists on talk show after talk show, our discourse is mostly about guns.

I remember similar debates stemming from similar headlines – Columbine, Virginia Tech, now Aurora.

I also remember a similar incident that occurred closer to home; in South Africa, a young man caught his girlfriend and his housemate in a compromising situation. The day after, the disgraced lover picked up a loaded rifle that just happened to be laying on the table and shot dead the adulterer; he too had also once been his lover.

Naturally, it caused quite a stir and fuelled the newspaper industry in that country but the news was not broadcast via satellite TV and Facebook links. Instead, I read about it in Nadine Gordimer’s book, The House Gun*.

In the novel, the young man’s actions posed a challenge to his lawyer’s track record and to his parents, a shocking quiz.

Was it mental insanity, inability to deal with trauma or uncontrollable anger on their son’s part or was it neglectful parenting on their own part?

Beneath his professional detachment, Gordimer’s fictional judge may have also felt compelled to cast blame somewhere, seeing as he proclaimed in addition to his sentence,

It is unfortunate that a deadly weapon, a gun, was casually accepted as part of the household…. (pg 258)**

and

But that is the tragedy of our present time…. Part of the furnishings in homes, carried in pockets along with car keys, even in the school-bags of children, constantly ready to hand in situations which lead to tragedy, the guns happen to be there. (pg 267)

 

On my TV screen, I watched someone say, a knife couldn’t have done that much damage. I disagree; hatred and fear not bullets are the ammunition in situations like this.

In my continent as in yours and yours too, many a massacre, many a war, many an accident have been made possible by some kind of blade. Let’s not forget too, that every day; explosives are made from ordinary domestic cleaning agents.

The question of the gun problem (as with nuclear proliferation) has its place but it seems to me that we place much more emphasis on the weapon of choice and not the individual’s choice.

The way I see it (and I may be wrong), an object is only as useful or useless as its handler’s intent.

Club, guillotine, machete, arrow, chemicals, anthrax, H-bomb, drone. All become destructive when our killing instincts are aroused. Aroused by what? Annoyance, insults, threats? What makes man desire, decide to kill his fellow human being?

Do we then blame Godlessness, moral decline, power without discipline or our evolutionary origins? What is the root cause of the rise in mindless, devastatingly bloody violence the world over?

That is a more challenging question but it can start a thread and that’s a conversation I would like to participate in.

 

*You may also want to read We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver.

**Citations are made from the1998 Penguin Edition.

Entrepreneurs · News · Science & Tech

NIGERIAN STUDENT CREATES SOCIAL NETWORKING SITE

by Akumbu Uche

A 22-year old Nigerian student has created a new social networking service, Ploggin.com

Its creator, Nnoduka Eruchalu, is a student at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) where he is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering.

Nnoduka Eruchalu*

Ploggin is an online platform that encourages worldwide interaction over the Internet. Much like popular social networking sites Facebook and Twitter, the site supports micro-blogging and live-feeds.

However, there are a few distinguishing features. Users have the option of posting comments anonymously and a user can upload a media stream containing a maximum of seven audio, picture or video files.

The site’s slogan reads, “Your collage defines you. Your anonymous feedback defines others.”

“I noticed that on other sites, people usually post a lot of unnecessary pictures and information. Again, the posting format I have created allows users to be more authentic, honest and less self-censoring”, explained Eruchalu.

“It took me about three months to write code, programme and set up the website. During this time, I was also working as a Teaching Assistant at school and interning at Microsoft”, he said.

Asked about plans for the future, Eruchalu said, “I hope that Ploggin grows but I am already working on my next idea. There is a lot of speculation about what the next major platform will be and when it comes, I want to be a part of it.”

Since its launch in November, Ploggin has attracted 250 users and a growing number of visitors.

 

* Photo courtesy of Nkemka Uche.

Humour · News

FUEL SUBSIDY REMOVAL TO TACKLE NIGERIAN WEIGHT PROBLEM

It is hardly news that Nigeria started the New Year with Fuel Subsidy Removal (FSR). Since January 2, 2012, the cost of 1 litre of petrol has soared from 65 naira to 150 naira.

This has prompted many to abandon their Mercedes Benzes in favour of their Leggedes Benzes and rusty old bicycles.

(c) Ojiugo Uche

According to an undisclosed and unofficial source, this is hardly an inconvenience but one of the many benefits of FSR in that it will enable Nigerians lose those excess kilos gained from too much chicken and sodas during the Christmas holidays.

Not your idea of effective reduction? You could always take to the streets to march and wave placards. Depending on your level of fitness, you could also engage some black boots belters in martial combat.

After all, we all know that those trendy Occupy Protests are just slang for outdoor group aerobics.