Wednesday, 28 August 2013

I Have a Dream


Before you start to read this rather long article, let me advice that if you are not very patient or you are not such a good reader, you are better off not reading it. If you live in denial and can't handle the truth then this article is not for you.

  I was following the story of the 50 year anniversary of the march on the Lincoln memorial in Washington DC by Martin Luther King Jnr. where he gave one of the world's most popular speech.
Before the day of the anniversary I saw a documentary of a guy who was with Martin Luther king on that day, standing right behind him as he made the speech.  The man talked about their determination as young men, how bold and courageous they were even with the knowledge that they were not safe. They knew they would be stepping on the toes of very influential people and the state security but did not care about their safety. They went ahead to carry the weight of the black race on their shoulders knowing that there will be consequences for their revolt and protests against injustice and inequality.
 They did not know what the Outcome of their struggles would be at that time and did not know how the black race would turn out fifty years from that day. They were not sure about the future at that time but they knew they had a responsibility, they knew they were born to lead; they knew that it was a part of their purpose and destiny to fight for the rights of the black race. They wanted to fight for the rights of the people of color who were also citizens of the country through no fault of theirs. They did not ask for their forefathers to be dragged to America through slavery and now that they are here, you want them to remain as slaves from generation to generation even when the slave trade ended? Why?
 So now that they are here and have had all their children here and no one to start tracing their roots to know where they originally came from, where are they supposed to go when America is the only home they know?

I started thinking about the kind of fearlessness, boldness and determination to make a difference. To stand in front of hundreds of thousands to declare that even as a minority you still have rights and you are not afraid to stand for what you believe in.
That popular "I have a dream "speech is something that even our children are made to memorize and recite. But I wonder how many people have ever actually sat down to read that speech and really understand everything he was saying and preaching about. How many of us have thought about it as not just an inspirational speech but as a speech of revelation and evolution. How many of us even know what he said in the full speech? Most people start to read it from I HAVE A DREAM, not realizing that there were lots more. For the benefit of those who do not even know the speech or who do not know all that he said, I took the liberty of writing it out for you so you can understand where I am going.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

I Have a Dream

delivered 28 August 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.

“ I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksand’s of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquillity in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvellous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.

We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: "For Whites Only." We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until "justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest -- quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day -- this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.

Land where my father’s died, land of the Pilgrim's pride,

From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that:

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

                Free at last! Free at last!

                Thank God Almighty, we are free at last

These were not just wishes from a man who wanted to be noticed, they were visions and revelations that would cause evolution's and changes that would benefit the black race. He did not read the speech on paper anymore, he spoke from his heart.
He used the speech to also empower the people to continue the fight regardless of the opposition.
I saw some comments from some heavily retarded people who said he wasted his life for nothing because the black race is still struggling for equality and desegregation. How tremendously stupid can they be?
Do they not realize that it is not magic? Fights like this continue for years unto generations but the most important thing is that someone decided to start somehow for there to be something to continue. He did not start the fight on that podium; he didn't start the fight on the 28th of August 1963. He started in his home, as a person with a vision planted deeply in his heart, he started with a small group of people who believed in his vision and who were also tired of the injustice, he started in small venues even though they were disrupted and beaten by the police and other people, he continued even after they were humiliated, spat on, disgraced, and threatened. He kept pushing and going everywhere he could get to, television, radio, print, non violent rallies. As a result of this people could not help but pay attention to this black clergyman who was determined to give hope to the future of his kind.

He knew his life would be in danger, he had a wife and four children whom he knew were not safe as well but he believed that his existence was not about him but for the emancipation of the black race.
This reminded me so much of Jesus Christ and his death on the cross for us to be free from sin. Jesus gave us our freedom and the more I thought about it the more I was convinced that God sent Martin Luther King Jnr. to stand up for the black race alongside other human rights activists.
This was not the only thing that caught my attention. There was something else that I never paid attention to before now which we all already knew. I sat down on the floor and started thinking about my own life and wondering if I had been playing my part as regards the purpose for which I was created. He was 34 years old when he went on the march and made the public speech.
Most people today who are at that age will not even come out to help a neighbour crying for help, most people at that age will not even come out of the car when they see two boys beating up a little girl on the side of the road, they will not even call the police for fear of questioning. Most of us will turn away and say "I try to mind my business please I don't want any trouble". When it comes to helping people, standing up for others, speaking the truth regardless, we are quick to MIND OUR OWN BUSINESS. But when it comes to gossip, scandal, controversy, envy, backbiting and the others, then we FORGET to MIND OUR OWN BUSINESS.

years after, blacks can go to schools of their choice, they can eat in restaurants of their choice, they can be the biggest star on television and own the biggest studios, they can be the highest paid musician in the world, they can make Forbes list of the wealthiest and most influential, they can win the highest awards ever and they can now be THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. We must remember that someone sacrificed himself not just for his children but for every black man, woman and child to have a chance. Nobody can get up and say America is the same way it was 50 years ago. The battle is not over yet but the changes are as result of the struggles of these people who sacrificed everything for others to live free. He did this at 34.

For the rest of us, what are we standing up for if not our personal achievements? We fight for our families, career, our own children, our own houses, our own everything, SELF SELF SELF.
Here we are claiming we are better than those that lived before us, we are more intelligent, better technology, freedom, education. Yet at that age how many of us today can boldly say we are courageous enough to fight for the rights of our people. When somebody tries to do that, the person is immediately condemned and labelled an ATTENTION SEEKER.

So when we condemn everyone who tries, who will do the work? Who speak and who will stand? Who speak for the young girls given out for early marriage, who speak against communities who send their daughters out willingly for prostitution, who speak against a people that will  beat and burn four young men who had their future ahead of them, who will speak against those who are looting our money and cleaning out the nation's account while we stand and get distracted by who is driving who out of Lagos, who will speak against the high cost of petroleum products in an oil producing nation while we are blindly following the shameless fights between members of the national assembly? I can go on but what's the point?

My prayer for Nigeria is that one day we will open our eyes and see what we have allowed a few men to do to our children and their future, one day we will open our eyes and see that our nation is about to be sold of all in the name of agricultural and infrastructural development. One day we will be bold enough to say we have had enough and this time put our hearts into it TOGETHER.
Until then, good luck to you all.

May the soul of Martin Luther King Jnr. and the souls of all the human rights activists all over the world who were killed, rest in perfect peace.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Would you Buy This?

Have you tried holding a pack of Benson and Hedges in your hands? I still remember visiting the mallam’s kiosk to inquire about the price of cigarettes and I was able to get an empty pack from him. Holding the pack almost made me feel like I had just won a trophy. The pack is plated in gold and the edges are perfectly folded. When you lift the partially detachable lid along the slant divide by the sides, the word that best describes what you see is - Flawless.

I can say that what I held in my hand was designed to be comely and attractive. An addictive product packaged attractively and with comeliness will win the heart and mind of its users and effortlessly record new converts. Without a doubt, no responsible and concerned Nigerian citizen would want to have a product proven to be the world’s leading cause of preventable death to be so gracefully packaged and presented to the general public but sadly, that is what is currently obtained in our country.

Nigeria had actually made some major attempts at regulating the tobacco industry in order to discourage the deadly act of smoking. The most notable one was in 1990 when the Tobacco Smoking (Control) Act was enacted and it is as a result of this law that cigarette packets now bear the amount of tar and nicotine contained in them. The law also got us familiar with these sentences-  
·                      “The Federal Ministry of health warns that tobacco smoking is dangerous to your health”
·                     “Smokers are liable to die young”

The Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) went a step further in August 2011 when it banned the advertising or promotion of tobacco products on television and restricted advertisement in print, billboards and on radio. Although the move was opposed in some quarters which led the council to extend the deadline for enforcing the ban from January 1, 2001 to January 1, 2004, the ban is largely in effect across the country today. I guess the APCON ban explains why the jingle "Siga Target o, na wa, siga target o na super" ceased on radio and why Golden Tones concerts have long stopped paying the bills in Nigeria’s showbiz industry.

It will interest you to know that the African continent has been recording increase in smoking rate (4.7% annually) while other parts of the world such as North America and Western Europe are seeing notable decrease in smoking prevalence. This shows we need to institute stronger measures that will produce the much desired results of 0% increase in new adopters and decline in number of people who smoke. 

We believe these desires and even more can be met through enactment and enforcement of the new proposed National Tobacco Control Bill that requires among other provisions that all cigarette packs bear clear health warning messages and/or labels covering 50% of the pack’s display area (The health warning on packs at present only covers approximately 30% of the front and 40% of the back). In addition, the new law will also empower the Minister of Health to prescribe that these warnings should be in form of pictures or pictograms.

Based on this, cigarette packs might be looking like any of the pictures below.

 Now, how many people do you think you will be enticed into buying this product with their money?You can join our campaign to ensure a smoke-free Nigeria by signing up as a Tobacco Control Cause Champion. Simply send your 1) Name, 2) Email address, 3) Telephone No and 4) Location to info(at) Signing up will get you a chance to have a specially designed Facebook, Twitter and G+ profile banner graced with Stella Damasus' picture.

You should also actively participate in the discussions presently ongoing on the following social media platforms:
- Twitter: Follow @TobaccoCtrl
- Facebook: Visit and like Tobaccoctrl
- Google Plus: add Tobaccoctrl to your circle
- 2go: add Tobaccoctrl


Friday, 2 August 2013

What You May Not Know About Secondhand Smoke

If you have been following the posts on Tobacco Control (, you would by now be familiar with the term Second-hand smoke. However, for the privilege of those who may not know, second-hand smoke is a mixture of the smoke given off by the burning end of a cigarette and the smoke exhaled by smokers. It is also often referred to as Environmental Tobacco Smoke.

You may have been treating the issue of second-hand smoke with triviality and not have made any attempt to protect yourself and loved ones. If you are yet to ensure people don't smoke around you or you still frequent settings where  people smoke, you should know that you are endangering your life significantly.

Based on diverse researches conducted over the years, it has been scientifically proven that second-hand smoke impacts negatively on the health of non-smokers and in particular, has debilitating effects on children and pregnant women. It is important for us to be informed of these effects so that we will all have a better understanding of why Nigeria is in dire need of instituting and enforcing a smoke-free country.

I have compiled various health effects of inhaling second-hand smoke (SHS) and they are presented below:
SHS immediately affects the heart, blood vessels, and blood circulation in a harmful way:

A short time in a smoky room can cause your blood platelets to become stickier, damage the lining of blood vessels, decrease coronary flow velocity reserves, and reduce heart rate variability.

SHS causes lung cancer in people who have never smoked. Even brief exposure can damage cells in ways that set the cancer process in motion. (SHS is classified as a “known human carcinogen” (cancer-causing agent) by  the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a branch of the World Health Organization. In the United States, approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths are known to occur annually among adult non-smokers as a result of exposure to SHS.

It increases the risk of heart disease and heart attack. A new study at Mayo Clinic (a leading medical practice and research group) suggests that SHS also increases the risk of sudden cardiac death.

Persons who already have heart disease are at especially high risk of suffering adverse affects from breathing SHS, and should take special precautions to avoid even brief exposure.

Babies who are exposed to SHS after birth are more likely to die from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) than babies who are not exposed to cigarette smoke.

Exposure to SHS while pregnant increases the chance that a woman will have a spontaneous abortion, stillborn birth and other pregnancy and delivery problems.

Mothers who are exposed to SHS while pregnant are more likely to have lower birth weight babies, which makes babies weaker and increases the risk for many health problems. 

Babies exposed to SHS after birth have weaker lungs than other babies, which increases the risk for many health problems. 

It causes acute lower respiratory infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia in infants and young children.

- Exposure to SHS can cause new cases of asthma in children who have not previously shown symptoms.

- It makes children who already have asthma to experience more frequent and severe attacks.

Smoking by parents can cause wheezing, coughing, bronchitis, and pneumonia, and slow lung growth in their children. 

Children exposed to SHS are at increased risk for ear infections and are more likely to need an operation to insert ear tubes for drainage.

Finally you should know that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Inhaling even a little of it can be harmful to your health.

You can join our campaign to ensure a smoke-free Nigeria by signing up as a Tobacco Control Cause Champion. Simply send your 1) Name, 2) Email address, 3) Telephone No and 4) Location to info(at) Signing up will get you a chance to have a specially designed Facebook, Twitter and G+ profile banner graced with Stella Damasus' picture.

You should also actively participate in the discussions presently ongoing on the following social media platforms:

- Twitter: Follow @TobaccoCtrl
- Facebook: Visit and like Tobaccoctrl
- Google Plus: add Tobaccoctrl to your circle

- 2go: add Tobaccoctrl