Sunday, May 13, 2012
Members of the business community in Cotonou woke up this morning to be greeted by the menacing presence of hundreds of armed soldiers, policemen, combat-geared fire-service personnel and a couple of bulldozers probably deployed overnight by some government agencies to completely demolish the historical international market of Cotonou popularly known as Missebo market. This market established in 1972 by Biafran refugees has up till this moment been serving traders from as far as South Africa to the two Congos among other African countries. It also accommodates a good percentage of wholesale merchants from the middle and far east. One of the images shows stranded traders standing in clusters, unable to rescue some of their merchandise that have been covered in the pile of rubbles. Other images emerging from the scene prove that the demolition exercise has not been completely free from being bloody. One of the images captured by anonymous observer shows a woman wounded on her back with blood oozing from the deep cut said to have been inflicted on her by some members of the armed policemen. Amidst the crowd of helpless onlookers are some of the international traders who are unable to locate their customers except to track them by mobile phone calls. No official from the government agency in-charge of markets administration in Cotonou has agreed to speak to me. Surprisingly, the entire Benin press is blacked out from covering the event. No statement is issuing from any quarters whatsoever as to resettlement plans for the more than 1.5million displaced traders. STOP PRESS: A woman has just dug up the remains of her one-year old baby said to have been crushed by the bulldozer while sleeping in the woman's stall as she was trying to scavenge some of her burried merchandise.
Saturday, May 05, 2012
Friday, January 27, 2012
Imagine having to leave a high-paid job as Principal of the prestigious Federal Government College which is regarded across West Africa as the best among equals in the field of education. That was exactly what His Royal Majesty UKOHA did when his maternal uncle passed on from the throne. The Community wanted no other than the distinguished academician who knew nothing of traditional headship but had spent the greater part of his life within the four walls of classrooms either as a student or teacher. Ever since his ascension to the throne in a kingdom founded by a woman, His Majesty has changed the perception of his people from that of hewers of wood and pitchers of water, peasant farmers and warriors to that of intellectuals, successful industrialists and international merchants. He has also completely eradicated illiteracy, gender discrimination, laziness and hooliganism from amongst his people. In a culture where Kings are entitled to marry as many wives as there are beautiful maidens around, His Majesty is constrained by his religious inclination to remain attached to his glamorous wife who also had to subjugate her role as school Headmistress to adorning the regal beads and playing the role of “First Lady.” Their twenty years on the throne is being marked this month with pomp and pageantry and by exhibition of cultural displays amidst recognition of eminent citizens among whom is one Chief EBULU whose illustrations spanning over a period of more than fifty years, could be found in the pages of most school textbooks used across Africa and beyond. Surely, this event and the personalities deserve emulation; to serve as role model to other communities where the primitive lifestyle has remain unchanged.