Jun 24, 2011

Ahmed Musa: The Waiting is Over

In 2007, the News Tower Magazine approached local coaches in Bukuru, Jos South and requested to be introduced to any local player who is yet to find a professional site despite been good enough. We were introduced to Ahmed Musa. We then published his photo on the sports column with the title “Waiting for Siaisa.” The aim was to sell him.

Subsequently Musa found a local professional site, Kano Pillars, and went on to break the record of the highest goals ever scored in the Nigerian Premiership League. He scored eighteen goals to break the record set by Ishaya Jatau sometimes in the early nineties. That caught the attention of people scouting for talents and Ahmed found his way to the Netherlands. Another important milestone is the fulfillment of the prophesy we made as he eventually became a player under coach Siasia.

Back in 2007, Musa who played for Aminci Football Club of Bukuru an amateur site told us that he was waiting for any good club that God sends, but his ultimate dream was to play for Arsenal of England. We at the News Tower believe that he is just inches away from his ultimate dream.

Jun 9, 2011

Economic Networking in Africa

A neighbor of mine once took a decision to move away from his parents immediately he got married in order to prevent the possibility of rivalry between his mum and wife. He moved to another suburb of town about thirty kilometers away from his parents. After just about eighteen months he realized he had made a mistake and decided to go back to his parents. In the new environment, he discovered that each time he was broke there is no one to come to his rescue as he was completely a stranger.


In Africa where a lot of people are poor, a kind of economic networking becomes a solution through which people help themselves to overcome economic challenges. Students studying far away from their parents often survive difficult task of ensuring daily meals through networking. The wisdom here is that for a group of six friends, for instance, all of them cannot be without money at the same time. If you happen to be without money, you depend on your friends for your meals until when money comes from home. Tomorrow it will be your turn to support another friend. By so doing they beat the economic challenges that come with feeding.
Economic networking is also the wisdom used by persons that earn modest incomes that they cannot afford certain things like cars and houses of their own. Here, colleagues working in the same organization agree to be making contributions on a monthly basis that is given to a single member. Ten colleagues can decide to be making contributions of about $65 each every month end. The total is given to a member who uses it to buy an item that is highest in his demand scale of preference. A member’s turn to take the contribution is based on a raffle. In some cases a member can agree to be the last on condition that he will be the first in the following year. By that he saves his earlier contribution for just about a month or two at the end of which he adds that to the amount from the new year.

Economic networking can take the form of committee of friends. These are groups of friends who hold regular meetings. At the end of each meeting a fixed amount is paid by each member. The total sum is taken to a bank account belonging to the group. Members then resort to the fund when one of them is in need. The need could be wedding, ill health or other economic challenges that may be unpredictable.
My late mum used to belong to a committee of friends with other women. The meetings are held every month-end. A different member hosts the meeting every month. During her turn she prepares a variety of meals for members who come, feast and chat. At the end, every member gives a fixed amount to the host. The amount is not meant to cover the cost of hosting alone but is substantially huge enough that the excess is used by that member to address immediate economic needs. We often looked forward to our mum’s turn as we inevitable join in the feasting of the variety of dishes albeit behind the curtains.
Economic networking does have risks. A member could have his turn early in the year and refuse to give his own contribution to other members in subsequent months. If series of attempts made to recover the money fails, the other members can forget about it especially when the amount involved is deemed as something that can be sacrificed. If the amount involved is significant however, other members involved third parties, usually a respected person that is feared as a result. It does not always get to the police as it is something that was based on friendship. Rather members could decide to sacrifice what was involved but relationship with that member and his reputation are badly damaged.

Another member can die before his turn. When his turn eventually comes however, the only members that contribute to him are members for whom he had given, prior to his death. His contribution is taken to the closest relation that could be his wife, children, father, brother, etc. Boyfriends and girlfriends and exempted.

Tarokland and Possible Fluorine Deficiency

Township water treatment plants usually involve filtration of large millions of gallons of water at the end of which certain chemicals are added. Chlorine is added to kill germs, Iodine to prevent goiter and Fluorine to prevent tooth decay. In normal situations however, these chemicals are naturally present in various sources of water be they wells or rivers. Situations do arise however where an anomaly in the local geology of a region results in the deficiency of some of these elements. When this happens the local population stands the risks becoming victims of the corresponding ailment.

I have noticed that my friends who come from certain parts of Tarokland better known as Langtang in Plateau State in central Nigeria often have brownish dental coloration that could be tooth decay. That could mean that the water available in that locality has a deficiency in fluorine. I told this to one of my Tarok friends. He later told me that ever since I said this, he has come to the conclusion that it could be true. This is because he has noticed that he and his brothers that were born and raise in the city in Jos don’t have this dental coloration but he has noticed that his cousins, born and raised at the village all seem to have the problem.

Sadly, our governments always place emphasis on urban areas when it comes to modern water supply provision. There is though an effort to provide treated water to the people of Langtang that has however stalled for years despite the obvious difficulty of sourcing for water for domestic activities by the people of the area particularly in Langtang South where people walk for kilometers just to get a few jerry cans of water that is never good enough for human use. There is the need for the relevant government to be conscious of this and do the right thing to end the problem of the wrong water supply that could have unpleasant consequences.

Website Traffic Improvement

People have websites because they have information they wish to share with other people. Thus it becomes a disappointment when one’s website does not get visited.

What could be the reason why a website may not get visits or hits? This happens when a website does not rank high. A website ranks high when it ranks on top of other websites for searches made. If you are searching for something like Mt. Kilimanjaro, for instance, there could be millions of websites with the same information. The sites are listed so that the higher ranking websites appear on top of the list. Since the person making the search usually concerns himself with the few sites that appear on top, those below fail to get the visits.

High ranking websites are usually those with enough internal or inbound links form other websites. That is, they have enough links that point to them from other websites. One way of creating inbound links is by link exchange where you create a link for somebody on your website in return for a similar favor from his own website. Another way is to visit a website and leave a comment, your name and your link in the guess book of that website. I have tried this but discovered it is more cumbersome than a third method that I have come to embrace. There are sites I visit, waste my online time and discover that they have no guess book. Secondly I don’t enjoy spending my time to find sites with which we could exchange links. There are usually conditions that I don’t always like. This third option that I have come to like is the use of article syndication.

In article syndication, you write an article and send it to a website that publishes it and then add your name and a link to your website. There are many websites whose job is to receive articles from authors around the world and publish them. Your reward is the link they create for you. I have used www.selfgrowth.com only once. My traditional site for article syndication however, is www.ezinearticles.com On ezinearticles, someone could copy your article and publish it on his own site. I have an article about the significance of commercial motorbikes in Nigeria. Two organizations, one engaged in motorcycle racing and the other selling motorcycle parts have all copied this article to their own websites and created a link, for me, each. Thus for one story, I got three links.

Another way I attract articles to my site is to write unique stories. I have discovered that certain information about my locality can only be made available online by our own people. Since there aren’t many people here who post certain information about the locality, I find myself enjoying unique traffic by posting that information that few or no websites have.

With all other things been equal, a page on which the phrase “area boys” appears more frequently will pop up at the top of pages on which it appears less frequently. Thus the more a word appears on a page, the more it is going to attract traffic than other pages on which the word appears less frequently.

Keywords are also very important in attracting traffic to a site. You can look at a keyword as a word that helps the search engine to direct people to a website. If I write an article about Engineer Buba Galadima, I can add those three words “engineer, buba and galadima” as keywords. By this, I am telling the search engine that it can direct people searching for “Engineer Buba Galadima” to my website.

The way you write the title of your stories also matters. My story can have the title “Buba Galadima and Political Opposition.” I can also decide to rephrase my title thus: “Political Opposition as seen in Buba Galadima.” If somebody is searching for “Buba Galadima,” the search engine will bring the page with the first title on top. This is because search engines mostly look at the first few words in a title.

You can monitor the number of persons visiting your website by adding a hit counter that tells you how many people have visited the site. You can also sign in to Google Adsense. With Google Adsense, I am able to know how many people visited my website but also from which part of the world they came from. In addition to that, I am also able to know what they were searching for (keywords) when the search engine directed them to my site. Through this I am able to know what information people are looking for. For instance, Martins Kuye could be mentioned on a webpage in connection with a visit to Kenya. People looking for the biography of Martins Kuye could be directed to that page because the name “Martins Kuye” is mentioned. If you see many keywords about the biography of Martins Kuye, then it means that people are more interested in the biography Martins Kuye than anything else. You can write this biography and enjoy the traffic.

Cultural Obstacles to Economic Empowerment

Certain cultures are described as dynamic. It means that such cultures are open to changes as long as they are changes that can bring prosperity to the people. Certain cultures on the other hand are rigid and impervious to change. In such conservative cultures, it is normal to find poverty and social backwardness.

I am somebody who agrees that to have education is to have the third eye. When you have education, you are in a better position to understand your environment better and be in a position to subdue it rather than a situation where the environment gets you subdued. Education teaches one that the bigger the demand the higher the market and the more the prosperity. With education you can for instance, understand that your chance to economic freedom is slim if you insist on growing crops that are more native to you in a bid to preserve your culture. This is because only the small population of your village will buy the crop. Furthermore, education builds one’s capacity and enables him to aspire to higher jobs that pay higher wages thus paving the way for economic emancipation.

In Africa, communities holding on to the primary cultivation of native crops are among the poorest. One the other hand, communities that have come to embrace crops like corn and rice whose uses are universally have moved away from poverty for long.

Legislators from Northern Nigeria have often found themselves in dilemmas. As educated representatives, they are aware that legislations that help encourage formal education can help their subjects to move away from economic captivity. This however has been difficult to accomplish as cultural practices demands that girls should be married immediately they attain the age of thirteen. A girl aged thirteen is at the ripe age of enrolment to secondary school. Once married, the road to education simply closes. A piece of legislation mandating Nigerian girls to marry only after attaining the age of eighteen was rejected by subjects from Northern Nigeria as it goes contrary to cultural demands.

The culture of polygamy that is practiced by many across the whole continent of Africa has helped to entrench poverty even more. This is because polygamy encourages people to have more children. Caring for all the children for many who have them is an economically insurmountable challenge.

There is the need for governments and generous organizations to include teachings on the significance of cultural dynamism in their efforts towards economic empowerment of peoples.

The Ngas Tribe of Nigeria

A man with Ngas tribal marks
 Ngas people are found mainly in the state of Plateau in central Nigeria. Over the years, many have migrated to other states where they have become indigenes. These states include Bauchi, Kaduna, Nassarawa and Taraba States.

Beliefs based on legend suggest that the Ngas people migrated to Plateau State from the Northeastern part of Nigeria around Borno State and are actually relations of Kanuri people.

Basically, the culture of Ngas people is the same with those of most African tribes. In naming a new born for instance, consideration is given to the circumstance surrounding the birth of the child. Children are usually named by their own fathers or grandfathers. When permitted, a mother can also name her child.

Wong is an Ngas masquerade that comes out during festive occasions. A child born during such a festival is named Ngowong. The prefix “ngo” means “the one with” A male child born on a rainy day is named Ngofwan (the one with the rain) and Nafwan if the child is female. A name like Ngochuk (one with the knife) is usually given to a child that took an unusually longer period to urinate after he has been born. A knife becomes significant in the sense that if the situation persists, it will become necessary to use a knife to open up the urethra. Ngokwat (the hunter) is a name given to a boy that was born on the day of hunting or at a time when his father was always going to the bush to hunt.

Ngas people have a type of medicine known as mwolak. The mwolak of every family is unique and is meant to give protection to family members against evils. According to Ngas tradition, a man on a mission to fetch mwolak doesn’t talk to people he meets on his way. He gets to the bush, uproots the plant and comes back without saying a word to anyone. Before it is taken, mwolak is dissolved in a traditional brew in a fresh calabash that has not been touched by a woman. Members of a family take their turns to kneel down before the calabash with their hands held to the back while an elderly person dips a special straw into it and brushes it across the mouth. Later each family member again takes his turn to take a sip directly from the calabash. A child born at a time when this medicine is been administered is usually named Ngomwolak.

In Ngasland, parents usually contract marriage at a time when the kids are too young to understand what marriage means. The parents of a young child reserves a wife for their son from a family they hold in high esteem. The children are then informed when they are fully grown.

Paying for a wife involves farming for the eventual in-laws and lasts for as long the courtship lasts. There is also the offering of cakes of tobacco and salt for the father and mother of the girl respectively. In Ngasland, the parents of the girl don’t specify bride price. Traditionally, it is known that two goats are offered to the parents of the girl. One is for them and the second is to be taken to the maternal uncles of the girl. It is the formal way of informing them that their niece is getting married. When the use of money became relevant, it is offered in addition to the goats and is meant to assist the girl’s parents in the area of dowry. Again the amount of money offered is dependent on the financial strength of the boy’s parent.

In Ngasland it is customary for a mother to eavesdrop when her daughter attends to a visiting husband-to-be who usually stands and talks to the girl some meters away from her. The aim is to ensure that her daughter don’t get so close as to arouse temptation for the expression of sexual feelings. Where a girl makes the mistake of getting too close, the mother warns her against such carelessness after the boy must have gone.

Certain girls in Ngasland are usually set aside to be used for special rituals. It is a taboo and a grave offence for a man to even come in contact with such a girl as long as it is done with the intention of satisfying sexual covetousness. To save the man from tragic consequences, his family offers a goat and corn to be used in cleansing the girl. The goat is slaughtered and the corn is used in preparing a brew. These are offered to appease the gods in a shrine.

Another abhorrent thing in Ngasland is extra-marital conception. A girl that becomes a victim is not allowed to have her baby in the house to avoid defilement with the stain of her blood.

In the run up to a wedding, the eventual groom and bride join hands to build their own house. The boy with the help of his friends build the house and find the poles to be used in roofing while the girl with other women including her mother source for the grass to be used in roofing the house. The women also do the plastering of the house using mud derived by dissolving the anthills (luntezu) of tiny harmless termites (ntezu) in water.

When a bride (madzap) arrives her home, the first food prepared (ntanang) is special and is served to everybody in the house. The bride is nicknamed Ntanang as a result.

Situations do arise where a boy not engaged to a young woman by parents falls in love with her to a point that he wishes to have her as a wife. He then makes her his wife by compulsion. This is done with the help of his friends with whom he lays ambush on the girl on her way to the market or river. His parents immediately inform the girl’s parent that they shouldn’t worry about her whereabouts, indicating that she is in their custody. In some cases, the girl refuses and insists on marrying the man that has labored for her love. Where the girl wishes to remain, an arrangement is made for her sudden in-laws to pay the losing man by putting a commensurate amount of labor in their farm.

In the course of the year, Ngas people have two major festivals. There is the Moslum usually observed around March/April. During this festival, a local brew is prepared and is used in a ritual during which the people request the blessings of the gods for a good harvest. Moslum is celebrated in Lur which is a part of Kabwir district, Ampang, Munok, Mwel, Dungung, Kaler and surrounding neighbourhoods. Mustar, the second festival is performed around September to give thanks for a splendid farming season. It is celebrated in the villages of Dawaki, Gyangyan, Tablong, Seri, Shuwer, Gunji and environs. The people of Garam do have another festival that is peculiar to them.

Ngas people don’t practice inheritance as it is done in most African tribes. When a man dies, his land is not shared among his children. Whoever wishes to build a house, for instance, takes a portion of the land and builds his house on it. It is the same with regard to farming. Each son of a deceased man takes one of his father’s farms and uses it to grow his food. Since shifting cultivation is common in Ngas culture, he shifts to another piece of land when he so desires. Livestock belonging to a death man are also never shared but are taken and used to address the needs of any member of the family. This stands in contrast to the common practice of sharing them among his children as practiced in other cultures.

Offences are settled at the family level. Where this is not possible, it is taken to the palace of the king where the king passes his last judgment after hearing from the plaintiff, the defendant and their witnesses. Domestic animals are given as fines. Where the offence is involves murder, the offender is given away to the family of the deceased. He does all the work the deceased person would have done for his family and is thus compensation to that family for their lost one.

During their lifetimes, Ngas men often belong to different age groups. When a man dies, his spirit has to, in turn, be released by the different groups to which he belonged before his family can bury him. This ritual is a most as it is believed that anything contrary will set off series of heartbreaking events within his family. The dead in Ngasland are usually buried in vertical graves by placing them in sitting positions such that they rest their heads on their palms. A stone is placed on the entrance of the grave and covered with the excavated material. A small sign is placed on top, indicating that this is a grave. It is common for a relation to be buried in an old grave rather than have a fresh one dug. When one dies, the oldest grave is identified and the bones assembled and put aside to make way for the new corpse. There is however a single grave for kings within the same family in Ngasland. A king can be buried in a grave today and his successor buried in the same grave tomorrow if it becomes necessary.

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