Tuesday, February 22, 2011

NEIGHBORHOOD PEOPLE: UGO, BARBER AT TINO BABY BARBING SALON

How often do you remember your local barber? Not often right, or maybe not until your hair looks shabby and dirty.

Unfortunately, the barber is always there, waiting for you, whenever and wherever you remember him. A local joke I used to play around with is whether the barber barbs himself? Well, not to worry, it’ll never be your problem because he’ll surely be barbing your hair if you walk into the salon and ask for a haircut.

That is what I did one sunny Saturday. I asked Ugo for a haircut, and so because I had to wait for some minutes before it was my turn, I thought: “Ugh, why not make my local barber the blog feature for the future?” So I asked and he agreed.


Ugo barbing a custome. credit: nnaemeka david

You can see Ugo holding the clippers on a customer’s hair. He told me the profession itself does not pay skyrocketing salaries but he can take care of himself, especially by supplementing his income. But it does pay well in terms of personal satisfaction and living a simple lifestyle.

“I supplement my income at Filterland,” he said. Filterland is a local company close to Satellite town, Ijegun precisely, that makes filters for cars, buses, motorcycles etc.

We joked about life in Satellite town. “I close late here,” he said. I had the opportunity one night to see him close shop at about ten o’clock late. The store does not only render haircuts as a service, it also rents local and foreign movies burned onto Blu-ray discs. “It’s what everyone does these days,” we joked. He also sells music CDs.


Front view of Tino baby barbing salong. credit: nnaemeka david

The picture above is a shot of the front of the salon. You can see the salon’s name painted on the right gate. The two loudspeakers are not imported; they are the ingenious creation of some local engineer. Do they blare out great sound! The two racks are where the Blu-ray discs for the Nollywood and foreign movies he sells are placed. Ugo just opened shop when I walked in. And the table is the place where he keeps the music CDs.


Some of ugo's customers while i was there. credit: nnaemeka david

The three children on the above picture were waiting for a barb while I took the pictures. They are some of the lovely children you can find at the neighborhood. How lovely they look. Chinasa, the first girl, the one at the left, was dancing to some music as the shot was taken. It really was a great atmosphere.

How to find Tino Baby Barbing Salon at Satellite town?

It’s simple. The salon is on Kessington Broadway, it’s among the low cost shops one sees on the left, before the woman who fries akara and yams, before Lizzy’s Business center where recharge cards are sold.

You can call the barber yourself. His mobile lines are: 07041348401, 08185540406, and his name is: Ugochukwu Ugkwuoma. His email address is: UgochukwuUgkwuoma@yahoo.com.



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Saturday, February 19, 2011

SPECIAL PEOPLE AND WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A DISJOINT SET IN HUMAN ABILITIES

A set is a collection of things where each thing in the collection is supposed to be unique. A collection of students in a class where each student has a distinct name is a set. As respects human abilities, a collection of the skills humans possess can be likened to a set because each individual, with a name, can be the set itself and the abilities and skills that individual possesses the objects or the elements of the set.

In brief, your abilities are a collection where each ability is unique within you and the control for each of them resides in your nervous system.


The set for human abilities is finite. This is because the abilities or skills follow biological, chemical and physical principles which of themselves are constant, well defined and unchanging. What is infinite is the ability of individuals to enhance these skills. A good example is Usain Bolt, the fastest man on earth. Running fast is a skill which many persons possess but they possess it to varying degrees. Because the focus is on the generality of skills and not the specific, “Fast Runner” skills is a single element in a set. This observation is pertinent because a set can be the element of or contain another set.
Therefore, we can visualize a universal finite set of human abilities which I choose to call the UniversalSkill.

What is a disjoint set? If two sets do not have any common element(s), then they are said to be disjoint. That means disjoint sets do not intersect. In human language, they do not share anything in common. They are unique. Some examples are the set of local governments in Lagos state and that of local governments in Imo state.

We humans can be likened to disjoint sets if an individual possesses skills or abilities that are common only to him or herself.

In a situation where people are interdependent, is this possible? I think it is not, but the possibility could arise in some situations. There are cases of people who are termed mavericks or eccentricities because they have a way of doing things that are common only to themselves. It turns people off, not so? Such persons are usually thought to be self-centered, people who refuse to share what they have, who refuse to participate in the master mind network of intelligent persons, hiding whatever they have as to discoveries and research.

I think someone who tends towards the disjoint should be a superman or superwoman. I wonder how such a person can survive? If you look at the situation closely, a disjoint set is expected to know nearly everything that he needs to in order to solve his problems; he should not rely on anyone but himself. He should be a closed object, impervious to intersection. But is that possible in a networked interdependent world?

I was watching a game on television, football precisely, when my mind drifted to these thoughts. I was so bent when I realized one point: special people are persons like you and I. They did not fall from some planet. They share the same skills and abilities like all of us but they have so practiced and trained themselves over the years on these skills that they have fine tuned them to a high degree of sophistication.

The implication is that there is no special person who can claim to be a disjoint set. Special people are persons who have been helped by all of us to succeed. A good example is Jose Mourinho, who is presently coaching Real Madrid. Without the support of the players in all the teams he’s coached, the management of those teams, the media, his coaching crew, FIFA, and time and experience , he would not have honed his coaching skills to the high degree of sophistication for which we admire him today. Same also for Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and so on.

On very close observation, one should realize that as the set of special persons intersect with other sets, these other sets who are unknown and mediocre, help the special persons to solve problems which are of a less important degree so that the special one can concentrate on solving the problems that are more important and more abstract.
That is why special people are paid better.

On the other hand, one contribution of having disjoint sets in leadership positions is that they tend to increase the level of powerful nucleuses in a region. These are the men called Great, but of what use is a Great person where he is unapproachable, narcissistic and highly selfish? What use is an autocratic to the survival of the greater society? Surely no one appreciates any of these so they need violence and force to succeed.

This is my working definition of a special person: Someone whom the society has helped to succeed more than others by solving his less abstract problems so that he’ll ensure the survival of the greater society or of other persons in the society by solving their more abstract or sophisticated problems.

Can we make some nominations from Nigeria? There are so many: Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Tafawa Balewa, Doctor Nnamdi Azikiwe, Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, Professor Chike Obi, etcetera. Unfortunately, all these names are from older generations.

It’s so difficult making a nomination from my generation. Can anyone help me out?
I promise to send a prepaid recharge card credit to anyone who nominates someone for the position of special person, according to the working definition above, who is below forty (40) years i.e an individual of our generation, someone born after 1970. Read my lips. Send your answers to my twitter account or my mailbox: nnaemeka.david@gmail.com; note the dot between both names.


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Saturday, February 12, 2011

NEIGHBORHOOD PEOPLE: ELIZABETH, PROPRIETOR OF LIZZY BUSINESS CENTER.

I know LIzzy, the proprietor of Lizzy Business Center, as one would know a friend and a neighbor. I know when she started her business. When she came to the neighborhood, she was working under a master, (I wish he was in Satellite town when this story was being written). He used to only take care of her meals and other stipends, but how amazing that with a skillful use of thriftiness and rising early for the day, LIzzy has been able to make a humble business, that of selling prepaid cards for GSM networks in the country and offering mobile phone calls at fifteen naira (N15.00) per minute, an enviable one.




Granted, the business of selling prepaid recharge cards and offering paid mobile calls to the public requires humility and a readiness to serve. I think that is why many persons look down on this sort of business. But, how many persons know what the profit will be when you first start the business. You have to ask Lizzy and she’ll tell you that your profits will be next to nothing.

She had to offer other services to make ends meet like renting of Nollywood films nollywood films. Those services have been discontinued. It is amazing how much thriftiness is required for a startup in this business but when the momentum has been put forward, you’ll never want to stop.
Lizzy is one of the first business people to open her shop for the day. She’s up as early as 6:30 am. Very interesting indeed. She has to do this so that her customers who want to make early morning phone calls before they go for their business during the day can find her sitting down at her yellow canopy, a handset on her hand and a smile on her face.



At these times of poverty and high unemployment, we need to celebrate women of thrift like Lizzy. I believe so.

One thing though she should do is expand the business. She should return to the days of renting Nollywood movies. It will really do her much good. She can also offer snacks and make the place a little beehive for her nighttime customers, just my suggestions.

And if you think she looks lovely in the picture, then she could be your woman. She is still searching for the perfect man. I wish her all the best in her search.
This is my take for this week on people around my neighborhood who have to be admired in one way or the other because they bring smiles to our lives.

To reach her:

Name: Elizabeth.
Business place: Lizzy Business Center, Kessington Broadway, by Michael Orija Street junction, Satellite town, Lagos.
Mobile Phone numbers: 234-8036942874, 234-8084844825
She sells recharge cards for all networks in Nigeria. Her calls per minute are fifteen naira (N15.00).   


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SOME SUGGESTIONS ON HOW WE CAN MAKE THE NEXT ELECTIONS A TOWN HALL AFFAIR.

Town hall elections are elections where every stakeholder is present when the votes are cast and counted, and the stakeholders leave the hall knowing who won and lost. But in a country as big as Nigeria of a hundred and fifty million (150m) people, town hall elections are impossible, right?

Well, they can be possible.

The Independent National Electoral Commission, or INEC, as she is fondly called, was created to make sure our elections are free and fair and exempt from rigging. Well, that is the utopian case. INEC tries its best to do its job, but we know they can do better. That is why every party are on their feet to work with and watch them work.





In a simplified description, this is how the elections are conducted here in Nigeria:

1. On election day, possibly April 9 this year, voters meet at selected polling centers to cast their votes.

2. The ballot papers are counted by Electoral Commission officials in the presence of Party officials.

3. The balloting results are compiled by the parties in 2 above and verified.

4. The results are released to the public through the press and other media.
If we consider the recent events at Ivory Coast, greater involvement of the voting public in the stages above can increase the confidence in the results released. And by the way, they’d reduce our reliance on foreign observers.

It takes the use of technology and ingenuity by members of the voting public.

If we can make use of social media, the elections can be put in the hands of the public and the distrust taken out of the hands of the parties.

How?

It involves a cycle of tweeting results (or posting facebook updates), compiling them by categories and retweeting the results of the compilation (or posting facebook updates) until we get the total aggregate results.

First, if just seconds after the hour when the election ends a volunteer for a polling center posts the results to a facebook wall or twitter noticeboard, and another does the same for another polling center in the same ward, eventually, people following that channel can pick these, collate them and produce a total results for the polling centers under a ward. These total results are then reposted through these channel as total results. These will take approximately five minutes.
Also, another channel dedicated to collecting results for a local government area collates the posted results for wards under a local government, less than fifteen minutes after the hour, the public will be informed of the election results for candidates in that local government. Eventually, another channel collates the local government total results into state totals and posts the results, eventually, less than forty minutes after the hour, with a little accommodation for errors, Nigerians in every state will log onto their facebook accounts or twitter timeline to be informed of the results for their candidates by parties, assemblies, etcetera, for a state, either using a PC or a mobile device.

Eventually, if another channel is dedicated to collating state results, less than an hour or an hour and thirty minutes after the election’s last hour, the public will be informed of who is the next president, their state governors, their senators and so on and so forth even before INEC begins the arduous task announcing the results.

By the way, this can be the People’s INEC, an alternative but unofficial way for the general public to be well informed of what they had cast on the election day. I believe it will in a big way forestall our witnessing another drama the like of Gbagbo versus Ouattara that just occurred recently at Ivory Coast.

But because these channels are unofficial, then there is the risk that fifth elements can hijack them. That is why it is beholden on members of the public to coerce the news media and other NGO’s in the country to take up this cause since they have the machinery on the ground, and the confidence of the people. It will involve people management and also political neutralism for this suggestion to see the light of day.

To prepare for such, such groups of persons, organizations or medium, should create alternate channels in case twitter channels are clogged. Status.net has a server that is free, open source, and effective as twitter.com. Also, for social networking, there are alternate sites to facebook.com like Diaspora.  

Well, I wonder if anyone has other suggestions like mine. It is unwise for Nigerians to wait until a drama the like of Ivory Coast occurs at our doorsteps which could lead to a mass exodus of persons as was witnessed during the Abiola and Babangida debacle. I wish we don’t have a repeat of such in this country. It will also be wise to carefully read the “promotions guidelines” document on the facebook website.


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