Monday, March 26, 2007


If there be anyone to whom much credit should be given regarding her role in abolishing slavery, it is the American author and religious leader, Mary Baker Eddy, whose name is boldly written on the American Women’s Hall of Fame. She was married to the famous Colonel Glover of Charleston, South Carolina, who was considered wealthy, but much of his property was in slaves. Upon being deceased in 1844, Mrs Glover Eddy (as she was then known), refused to inherit her husband’s wealth of slaves. As she later wrote in a letter to The Mother Church in 1902, page 15, “I could never believe that a human being was my property.” She had taken this stand in spite of the abject poverty and political persecution she was facing at that time, coupled with her publisher’s refusal to pay her royalty on her first published work, Science & Health with key to the Scriptures. As she later wrote in that book, “Legally to abolish unpaid servitude in the United States was hard, but the abolision of mental slavery is a more difficult task. Men and women of all climes and races are still in bondage to material sense, ignorant how to obtain their freedom. The rights of men were vindicated in a single section and on the lowest plane of human life, when African slavery was abolished on our land. That was only prophetic of further steps towards the banishment of a world-wide slavery, found on higher planes of existence and under more subtle and depraving forms. Slavery is not the legitimate state of man. God made man free.” Paul said, “I was free born.” “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. Love and Truth make man free, but evil and error lead into captivity.” (ibid. 225). As the world celebrates the abolision of slavery, it will only be fair and just to remember the pioneers such as Mary Baker Eddy, who vehemently resisted the urge to sacrifice her woes on the altar of human slavery.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Periscoping Benin (2)

With a couple of days before the 5th legislative elections in Benin is held, candidates have resorted to grassroots close-door strategy. The fanfare and motorized carnival that characterised the first week of the campaigns have completely disappeared. Though president Boni Yayi came onboard as an independent, some group of political parties have formed a coalition to carry his banner of 'change' which has since become a household slogan in the country.
This campaign of proximity has seen every available hotel and restaurant within the city fully booked. The most catchment targets are the youths, market women and housewives. This has to be the case because business activities seem to have grinded to a halt owing mainly to diversion of attention to politicking to the detriment of business preoccupations. This situation is compounded by the incessant power outages which ironically appears to many to be the only visible evidence of the regime of 'change'.
With the election of a new National Electoral Commission Chairman in the person of Eugene Capa CHICHI , there is renewed hope of conducting the election of the 83 Deputies as scheduled, because he has pledged to ensure that the voters' lists which had been confiscated by some Commission representatives will promptly be retrieved to facilitate planning.
One factor which is most likely to fool the candidates concerning the huge turnout at their campaign meetings is that success at the polls cannot be measured by these numbers because most of them come not to listen to manifestos but for the stipend and snacks that are distributed during such gatherings.
Preponderant majority of the contestants come from the old brigade of politicians who had contested during the 2006 presidential elections and failed, but have found it not derogatory to condescend to vying for a seat within the 83-member Parliament. The desperation to stay within the corridors of power is apparent among this group judging from the amount of resources they seem to pull together against the meagre input of the greener candidates. Needless to say, generally the campaign has been peaceful and orderly, typical of Benin culture of modesty and decency.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Periscoping Benin republic

Benin republic (république du Bénin), originally known as DAHOMEY, is a country of about six million inhabitants. It is lying between Togo/Ghana on one side and Nigeria on the other side – all in West Africa. Its chief export product is cotton. Its official language is french, having been a colony of France. After gaining her independence in August 1960, the country came under Marxist-socialist rule for a long uncomfortable period of time. By 1990, democracy was installed after a national constitutional conference. This transition was embraced with mixed feelings because it was the once-feared military dictator who succeeded himself after he had personally undergone some spiritual transformation to become a true Christian. In order to perpetuate himself in office beyond the constitutional mandate, this born-again Christian sought to amend the constitution which attempt was vigorously opposed by the Parliament. By March 2006, presidential elections was held. Former Economist and Regional Bank Director who had contested as an independent candidate emerged victorious. A few months before the end of tenure of the Parliament, clandestine overtures were initiated to elongate their life by one year. This effort was quashed by the Executive. On the 15th day of March 2007, some unidentified gunmen shot at the presidential convoy as he was returning from a campaign rally for Legislative election at which he had given support to some loyal contestants sympathetic to his administrative. By 20th March, some six suspects had been taken into custody by the Police in connection with the attack on the presidential entourage. This same day, the president of the republic held crucial meeting with members of the Autonomous Electoral Commission at the end of which the Chairperson was sacked for administrative irregularities. Legislative elections are to be held on Sunday March 25. Meanwhile, some Electoral Commission agents have confiscated some voters’ list from some constituencies alleging that some allowances are being owed them.