August 2007

I did a post previously over at the Afrospear on cyber-activism. I wanted to raise the issue of the real and perceived dangers associated with blogging about topics that may catch the attention of government agencies, primarily in the “West”. For me this discussion was primarily an intellectual exercise. Here is an email I received from a fellow AfroSpear member from a country in Africa:        

“Bloggers are not exactly appericiated in my part of the world so I was hoping to remain anonymous. When I first started blogging, I didn’t think that my identity will be a problem but in in 2006, some bloggers were jailed in Egypt. My blog is usually random, sometimes political but I never directly criticize governments however, there is more censorship now and after some long conversations with concerned friends and family members, I decided to stick to “kizzie” and never mention my real name n personal information.”

This is indeed troubling. In this age where reaching out to others around the world through cyberspace can happen in a matter of seconds…. of sharing ideas, exchanging information…. which can have the effect of bringing power to truth…. the pen (keyboard) is certainly mightier than the sword (gun) in moving and changing people…. in inspiring the masses…. (here is an interesting post from Field Negro on the “keyboard revolution”) So yes, governments are fearful. Some more than others. Hence the threat to life in some parts of the world for engaging in this activity. 

The above email has given me cause to reflect…. not so much on how good I have it here in Canada…. the non-existent possibility of arrest, torture or other physical reprecussions for blogging on political and social topics…. but on my responsibility to write what I “feel” concerning what I “see” and understand about issues, that others may not or cannot do.

May Allah keep you and your family safe “Kizzie”.    

Michael Vick’s statement following his guilty plea in U.S. District Court to a dogfighting conspiracy charge:

“For most of my life, I’ve been a football player, not a public speaker, so, you know, I really don’t know, you know, how to say what I really want to say. You know, I understand it’s – it’s important or not important, you know, as far as what you say but how you say things. So, you know, I take this opportunity just to speak from the heart. First, I want to apologize, you know, for all the things that – that I’ve done and that I have allowed to happen. I want to personally apologize to commissioner Goodell, Arthur Blank, coach Bobby Petrino, my Atlanta Falcons teammates, you know, for our – for our previous discussions that we had. And I was not honest and forthright in our discussions, and, you know, I was ashamed and totally disappointed in myself to say the least. I want to apologize to all the young kids out there for my immature acts and, you know, what I did was, what I did was very immature so that means I need to grow up. I totally ask for forgiveness and understanding as I move forward to bettering Michael Vick the person, not the football player. I take full responsibility for my actions. For one second will I sit right here – not for one second will I sit right here and point the finger and try to blame anybody else for my actions or what I’ve done. I’m totally responsible, and those things just didn’t have to happen. I feel like we all make mistakes. It’s just I made a mistake in using bad judgment and making bad decisions. And you know, those things, you know, just can’t happen. Dog fighting is a terrible thing, and I did reject it. I’m upset with myself, and, you know, through this situation I found Jesus and asked him for forgiveness and turned my life over to God. And I think that’s the right thing to do as of right now. Like I said, for this – for this entire situation I never pointed the finger at anybody else, I accepted responsibility for my actions of what I did and now I have to pay the consequences for it. But in a sense, I think it will help, you know, me as a person. I got a lot to think about in the next year or so. I offer my deepest apologies to everybody out in there in the world who was affected by this whole situation. And if I’m more disappointed with myself than anything it’s because of all the young people, young kids that I’ve let down, who look at Michael Vick as a role model. And to have to go through this and put myself in this situation, you know, I hope that every young kid out there in the world watching this interview right now who’s been following the case will use me as an example to using better judgment and making better decisions. Once again, I offer my deepest apologies to everyone. And I will redeem myself. I have to. So I got a lot of down time, a lot of time to think about my actions and what I’ve done and how to make Michael Vick a better person. Thank you.”

Was Michael Vick sincere in his statement and apology? Was he just going through the motions of reading a statement scripted by his lawyers to say what the courts, NFL and public wanted to hear, in an effort to mitigate his sentence, suspension and rehabilitate his image? 

There is a lot of speculation and most of what I have heard in the media has been cynical. However, I will give Michael Vick the “benefit of the doubt”…. so to speak. I will believe that he was sincere in taking full responsibility for his choices and actions, and in his plea for forgiveness. I for one will wish him the best and hope that he will be successful in transforming his mind, values and spirit to become a much better Michael Vick.

More on responsibility, accountability and values.

I read a very troubling article in the African Executive on the growth of human sacrifice in Liberia. Culled from the article:

Locally called “Gboyo” – the practice of killing people so that their body parts can be extracted and offered as sacrifices to bring power, wealth and success has not been addressed by Liberian elites. This has made the practice to grow to such an extent that on June 29, 2005, prior to Liberia’s current democratic dispensation, its interim leader, Gyude Bryant, warned any aspiring presidential candidates tempted to boost their chances by carrying out human sacrifices that they would be executed. “If you think you can take somebody’s life in order to be president, or the speaker (of parliament) or a senator, without anything being done to you, then you are fooling yourself,” he warned. 

The highlight of Liberia’s human sacrifice was supremely seen during the 14-year vicious civil war (1989-2003), where a mixture of the negative aspects of Liberia’s traditional cultural values and the criminal behaviour of its mindless “Big Men,” who have the cultural belief, like most Africa societies, that it is culturally right to sacrifice their victims for their various ambitions prevailed. In this atmosphere, child soldiers ate their victims’ hearts and other body parts for spiritual powers.  

How is the oldest “Republic in Africa,” supposed to be a shining light of Africa, so challenged by negative cultural practices that threaten to undo its developmental gains? That the growth in human sacrifice appears not to go away 150 years after independence shows that Liberia is yet to have a wholistic grasp of its cultural values (positive or negative) that drive the foundations of development.

                                                                                                                                                                The article written by Kofi Akosah-Sarpong of the Expo Times Independent Sierra Leone is very troubling to say the least. It confirms once more what the Bible states about the “heart of man” in Jeremiah 17:9:

                                                                                                                                                               “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

In an effort to have more focused discussions over at Afrospear, we are starting a monthly carnival with rotating topics.  As I understand it, the way a carnival works is that those who wish to participate, post an essay on the topic on your blog page and forward the link to us at We will post all the links and then have a discussion on the essays which have been submitted.      

I am re-reading “The Mis-Education of the Negro” by Carter Woodson. The first edition was printed in 1933. I am stunned by how many of the issues he discussed then, appear to be relevant today…. in 2007.  

It has inspired me to submit for the first topic of our monthly carnival, the issue of education with the Black/African community. Some questions to consider: Are we currently suffering from mis-education? What is your opinion and/or perspective on how our young are being educated? Are they being mis-educated and if so, what are the dynamics and results of this process of mis-education that you see? Does education have the power to change our lives and if so, do we, as a people, truly value and take advantage of that opportunity? What solutions and/or strategies do you propose to the education dilemma which is facing our community(ies)? It would be beneficial and enlightening to hear from different regions of the Diaspora and from the Motherland itself.

Please have your link submitted by Friday 31 August and the carnival date will be Monday 03 September. We also welcome your suggestions on topics you would like to see discussed here in the future.