Sunday, January 31, 2010

Could this be Racial Profiling?

Simply defined, racial profiling is the consideration that a member of a race or ethinic group is more likely to be involved in criminal behaviour due to his race or ethnicity. In the United States, the most common example of racial profiling is "driving while black" (DWB) - police target African-Americans for traffic controls because they believe African-Americans are more likely to be engaged in criminal activities. While racial profiling is illegal in most countries, it still prevails - certain people are being regarded as more likely to commit crimes simply because of their race or ethnicity. Unfortunately, not only the police make false assumptions about innocent people. A good number of ordinary citizens assume that certain people are more likely to commit crimes, which to them justifies disgust towards a race or ethnic group. Have you ever racially profiled someone? Betterstill, have you been a victim of racial profiling or DWB? Certain situations have left me asking myself - could this be racial profiling?

At about 5am, on a Saturday, in the winter of 2007, in the south-west coast city of Göteborg, Sweden - a 1.75cm (5.7 foot) tall, black male was driving home from work - in a 1992 Toyota 4runner SR5 SUV 4x4. He was pulled over by the police, one of whom approached the 4runner, gun-drawn. The approaching cop asked the driver of the 4runner to put his hands where he (the cop) could see them. With one hand, the cop opened the door and asked the driver to step out of the vehicle. The next thing the driver heard was, "händerna på taket (Swedish) - meaning, hands on the roof. The driver was searched by one of the cops and asked where he was coming from and where he was heading to, while the other cop pointed a flashlight into the SUV and asked the driver what he was carrying in the car. It is worth mentioning that the cops didn't even ask for a driver's license. After the brief search, the cops let the black male go, with the words - "today is your lucky day; See you around." Perplexed, he got into his 4runner and drove home. Could this be racial profiling? He wondered.

One year later, the same black male found himself in another shocking situation. You might be surprised, but this time, it was not a police incident. In the winter of 2008, in the southern city of Lund, Sweden, the 1.75cm (5.7 foot) tall black male law student of Lund University, entered a bank to make a deposit to his account. There were many people in the bank, so he walked to the queue number machine and took a queue number - as a matter of fact, he had to queue to get a queue number (it's normal in Sweden). When it came down to his turn, he did what you'd do - walk to the counter. As he approached the counter, he maintained eye contact with the middle-aged lady behind the counter and reached for his cell phone in the inner chest pocket of his winter jacket. You won't believe what happened - the counter staff freaked out! She was visibly frightened (with eyes popped out). The gentleman approaching the counter was, no doubt, shocked by her facial expression. When he took out his cell phone, the counter staff placed her hand on her chest, with a sigh of relief. By this time, her face was red (she blushed). Despite all the drama, the bank customer made the deposit to his account and left the bank, once again perplexed. Why was the bank staff frightened? Did she expect some kind of criminal behaviour from the customer because he was black? What did she think he was reaching for? And here's the big question: could this be racial profiling?

Make no mistake about it - racial profiling does not only occur during traffic stops! It happens in our everyday interaction with people.

NOTE: If you're stopped by the police and feel mis-treated, civil rights lawyers advise he following:
  • You are not required to give the police permission to search your car without a warrant. You can politely deny the request.
  • Don't argue!
  • Get the names of the officers, their badge and squad car numbers (license plate number, preferrably).
  • Make a note of the location and time of the incident.
  • Seek legal advise and file a complaint.
I look forward to reading your comments.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The World's Top 100 Universities - 2009

Growing up, I learned quickly that education is the key to success because it forms your mind, character and physical ability. All across the world, there're academic institutions designed to educate individuals. Basically, these institutions educate us on three levels - primary (elementary) education, secondary education and higher education. I don't know about you, but my parents understood the importance of quality education. Hence, they did not only send my siblings and I to school - they enrolled us in the best schools in Cameroon, namely: Our Lady of Lourdes Secondary School, Mankon, Bamenda; Saint Augustine's College; Bishop Rogan College, Small Soppo; Saint Bede's College, Ashing - Kom; Government Bilingual High School (G.B.H.S), Bamenda; Government Technical High School (G.T.H.S), Bamenda. Which schools did you attend? I bet the schools you attended didn't only make you able to compete in the labour market, but made you who you are, as a person. Correct me if I'm wrong! The calibre of person I'm today is a testament of the fact that education is a fundamental tool for creating responsible and empowered citizens of the world.

That said, while looking at the QS World University Rankings 2009, I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that LUND University - where I pursued a Master's degree in International Human Rights Law and International Labour Rights - is among the World's Top 100 universities. Below is the list of the World's top 100 universities for 2009:

2009 rank School Name Country

QS Quacquarelli Symonds ( With permission from QS Quacquarelli Symonds.
Copyright © 2004-2008 QS Quacquarelli Symonds Ltd.
Click here for copyright and limitations on use.

HARVARD University United States
2 University of CAMBRIDGE United Kingdom
3 YALE University United States
4 UCL (University College London) United Kingdom
5= IMPERIAL College London United Kingdom
5= University of OXFORD United Kingdom
7 University of CHICAGO United States
8 PRINCETON University United States
9 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (m... United States
10 California Institute of Technology (calt... United States
11 COLUMBIA University United States
12 University of PENNSYLVANIA United States
13 JOHNS HOPKINS University United States
14 DUKE University United States
15 CORNELL University United States
16 STANFORD University United States
17 AUSTRALIAN National University Australia
18 Mcgill University Canada
19 University of MICHIGAN United States
20= ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of T... Switzerland
20= University of EDINBURGH United Kingdom
22 University of TOKYO Japan
23 KING'S College London United Kingdom
24 University of HONG KONG Hong Kong
25 KYOTO University Japan
26 University of MANCHESTER United Kingdom
27 CARNEGIE MELLON University United States
28 Ecole Normale Superieure, PARIS France
29 University of TORONTO Canada
30 National University of Singapore (NUS) Singapore
31 BROWN University United States
32= NORTHWESTERN University United States
32= University of California, Los Angeles (u... United States
34 University of BRISTOL United Kingdom
35 HONG KONG University of Science And Tech... Hong Kong
36= École Polytechnique France
36= University of MELBOURNE Australia
36= University of SYDNEY Australia
39 University of California, BERKELEY United States
40 University of BRITISH COLUMBIA Canada
41 University of QUEENSLAND Australia
42 Federal Polytechnic School of LAUSANNE Switzerland
43= OSAKA University Japan
43= TRINITY College Dublin Ireland
45 MONASH University Australia
46 The Chinese University of HONG KONG Hong Kong
47= SEOUL National University Korea, South
47= University of NEW SOUTH WALES Australia
49= TSINGHUA University China
49= University of AMSTERDAM Netherlands
51 University of COPENHAGEN Denmark
52= NEW YORK University (nyu) United States
52= PEKING University China
54 BOSTON University United States
55= Technical University of MUNICH Germany
55= TOKYO Institute of Technology Japan
57 HEIDELBERG University Germany
58 University of WARWICK United Kingdom
59 University of ALBERTA Canada
60 LEIDEN University Netherlands
61= The University of AUCKLAND New Zealand
61= University of Wisconsin-madison United States
63= AARHUS University Denmark
63= University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (U of I)
United States
65 Catholic University of LEUVEN Belgium
66 University of BIRMINGHAM United Kingdom
67= London School of Economics And Political... United Kingdom
67= LUND University Sweden
69 Kaist - Korea Advanced Institute of Scie... Korea, South
70= University of YORK United Kingdom
70= UTRECHT University Netherlands
72 University of GENEVA Switzerland
73= Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Singapore
73= WASHINGTON University In St. Louis United States
75 UPPSALA University Sweden
76= University of CALIFORNIA, San Diego United States
76= University of TEXAS At Austin United States
78 University of NORTH CAROLINA, Chapel Hil... United States
79 University of GLASGOW United Kingdom
80 University of WASHINGTON United States
81 University of ADELAIDE Australia
82 University of SHEFFIELD United Kingdom
83 DELFT University of Technology Netherlands
84 University of WESTERN AUSTRALIA Australia
85 DARTMOUTH College United States
86 GEORGIA Institute of Technology United States
87= PURDUE University United States
87= University of ST ANDREWS United Kingdom
89 University College DUBLIN Ireland
90 EMORY University United States
91 University of NOTTINGHAM United Kingdom
92= NAGOYA University Japan
92= University of ZURICH Switzerland
94 Free University of BERLIN Germany
95= NATIONAL TAIWAN University (NTU) Taiwan
95= University of SOUTHAMPTON United Kingdom
97 TOHOKU University Japan
98 Ludwig Maximilian - University of MUNICH... Germany
99 University of LEEDS United Kingdom
100 RICE University United States

I'm honored to have studied at Lund University, which is ranked 67 on the list of World's Top 100 Universities - 2009.

Did your university make it to the list? If not, don't worry - you're educated, anyway.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Racial Discrimination in Night Clubs

Over the years, there have been allegations of discrimination of all kinds in night clubs all over the world. Personally, I must confess, I've faced racial discrimination (twice) in night clubs in Europe - Sweden and Finland. In both instances, I did nothing but feel sorry for myself and threaten to take action - which I never did. In one instance - in Finland - I called the Police and was shocked when the cops told me to go to another night club because the management of the night club has the right to decide who to let into the club. As a Law student (at the time), I knew there was more I could do, but for some reason, I let it go. However, on that fateful winter day, I promised myself NEVER to let racial discrimination go unheard by a competent authority.

Have you ever been a victim of racial discrimination in a night club? If yes, what did you do about it?

Guess what - a couple of night clubs in Sweden have been dragged to court and ordered to pay compensation to victims of racial discrimination in night clubs.

Four law students in Sweden were denied admission to a night club in Malmö (same city where I was a victim) and the club was found liable for discrimination on grounds of racial or ethnic origin. According to the facts of the case, four law students were denied admission to Escape Night Club in Malmö while their "Swedish-looking" friends were granted entry. The students video recorded the incident and produced the recordings as evidence in court. The bouncer at the night club was charged with unlawful discrimination. Note that the court accepted the secret video recordings as valid evidence. The court of Appeal ordered the night club to pay each of the students 15,000 kronor ($2,200) in compensation. Although the Supreme court later reduced the claim to 5000 Kronor per victim, at least damages were paid for racial discrimination at a night club (related document of the case is available, here).

In Sweden's capital city, Stockholm, a night club - Kickis Bar and Café, - was found guilty of ethnic discrimination against six men. In this case, when a group of sober (and respectfully dressed) dark-skinned men made their way to the door of the bar, they were told the club was full. Shortly afterwards, a group of light-skinned men were allowed to enter. Like in the Escape Night Club case, the court accepted video footage provided as evidence by the prosecution. The bar was ordered to pay each of the victims 40,000 kronor ($5,524) in compensation. This is good money, isn't it? Well, it's not about the money, anway, it's about justice being served.

I'm fully aware of the fact that many cases of discrimination go unheard because the victims worry about the cost of suing or due to lack of evidence. I don't know about other countries (you can enlighten me), but if you live in Sweden, it's not expensive - with a camera or a phone and with the help of Sweden's Ombudsman against Ethnic Discrimination (Diskrimineringsombudsman), you can drag any offender to court and your voice would be heard. It's high time managers and bouncers of night clubs, in Sweden and beyond, watch their behaviour.

Night club incidents that could be considered discriminatory include:
  • Being barred entry and told it's a "Members Only" night
  • Due to "dress code" restrictions, yet other similarly dressed people are admitted (happened to me)
  • Asked to produce more identification than others
  • Minority males barred entry because they are "too drunk" to get in, yet they are visibly sober (happened to me)
You got a camera or a phone - do not hesitate to [video] record a discrimination incident. You'd need the evidence in court!

Racial discrimination in night clubs is unlawful. Do not be silenced!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sweden's first black Prime Minister?

Recently, I've been thinking about the wind of change, which is blowing across the world. Now that the U.S. elected the first black president - who now sits in the highest office in the world, how long would it take countries in Europe to follow suit? While the world expects the first black Head of government in Europe to emerge from a country (such as France, Britain and Germany) with a relatively long history of people with mixed European and African descent - sometimes referred to as Afro-Europeans, my attention is focused on Sweden, despite the recent increase in "White Power" groups and outright violation of civil rights in the Scandinavian country. This might come as a surprise to you because you probably think Sweden would be one of the last countries in Europe to have a person of African descent occupy the highest office in the land - Office of the Prime Minister.

There's a black woman who stands out in the blonde Swedish government - her name is Nyamko Sabuni (see picture above), she is Sweden's Minister of Intergration and Gender Equality and she makes no secret of her ambition to be Sweden's first black Prime Minister (Sveriges Statsminister).

Nyamko Ana Sabuni, 40 (as of today), is currently serving as a minister in the cabinet of Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt. She is a member of the Liberal People's Party and became Sweden's first black minister on October 2006. She was born in Bunjumbura, in Burundi, where her father lived in exile from Zaire (DR. Congo). Her family was granted political asylum in Sweden in 1981 (she was 12). Sabuni grew up in north of Stockholm and got married to a Swede. Some would argue that she is not "Swedish" enough, but her political career so far has been commendable.

Politically, Sabuni's position has earned her death threats and round-the-clock security, but she has refused to be silenced. She has called for a ban on veils for muslim girls under 15 years old and compulsory gynaecological checks to protect girls against genital mutilation (female circumcision). Needless to say, more than 50 muslim organizations have accused Sabuni of being islamphobic. Whether this is true or not, is not my point of interest.

Contrary to what many people think, statistics show that Sweden has a more generous approach to immigrants and asylum-seekers, compared to many countries in the European Union (EU), including the UK. Sweden has taken more Iraqi refugees than any other country in the EU - an acceptance rate of 90% compared to the UK's 12% (just for the record).

When Barack Obama claimed victory in November 2008, he said in no other country on earth is his story even possible. Could this be true? Is it impossible for a person of African descent to be in the realm of political power in a European country?

If there is to be a black Head of government in Europe in general and Sweden in particular, education, complete integration and positive action to promote equal opportunity would be key. As if this is not enough, the emergence of a large and powerful black middle class in the continent is premodial.

Do I expect to see a black Head of Government in Europe in my lifetime? Absolutely!!

Call me a dreamer, if you will, but remember - a great American once said, "... there has never been anything false about hope."

The wind of change is blowing across the globe - it is only a matter of time before it takes Europe by storm, whether we like it or not! The first black Prime Minister or Head of government in the continent could already be in the making.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Introducing the CU-3000 Video Phone

In an earlier post, I introduced you to my favorite gadget - the CU-2000 video phone, remember? The video phone is a device I can't live without at this point. I'm used to talking and seeing the person on the other side, to the extent that talking on a traditional phone nowadays feels like listening to a football game on radio (Yes! It's that bad). I'm very excited about the video phone, especially the hugh window of opportunity it has created. This state-of-the-art technology is leading visionaries everywhere to financial freedom and guess what, the opportunity is global - it just hit the Nigerian telecommunications market (the biggest telecom market in Africa). To me, personally, Africa is where the opportunity truly lies. The hardworking people of the continent are hungry for cheap ways to connect with family and friends abroad and we have provided them with an opportunity to do so. You'd agree that technology constantly improves and when it does, people would use it. Mindful of this fact, our company has stepped up the game from the CU-2000 to the CU-3000 video phone (seen in the picture above). That's what I'm talking about! Permit me to introduce you to the long-awaited CU-3000 video phone:

What you want to do is, pay attention to the following features:
  • It's wireless (Wi-Fi enabled - no wires needed)
  • Big on color
  • Touch Screen (7-inch LCD)
  • Built-in camera
  • Internal rechargeable battery
  • 3-way video conferencing
  • Standard phone jack (for connecting to a standard analog phone)
  • Photo frame and web browsing functionality
  • Handheld remote
  • Docking station
  • Speaker phone and headset jack
  • Visual ringer
The video phone connects you with your family and friends like never before. In an earlier article - Cameroonian Mother Reconnects with Son Via Video Phone, I illustrated how the video phone adds value to me life. That was the older version of the video phone (just for the records). The latest version: CU-3000 takes the experience to a whole new level. Unfortunately, it's not available in stores. It's exclusively provided by licensed representatives, like me.

Above all, the video phone is a great business tool - you can make money every time someone pays a phone bill. This is a best kept secret!

See and hear the people you love!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Real Africans don't apologize for being African

In today's world, it's hard to be African - stigmatization, discrimination, poverty, desease, conflict, prejudice, you name it. People want we - Africans - to be who they want us to be and not who we truly are. It's difficult to find people who respect us for who we are without being influenced by prejudiced views of where we come from. Is this a good enough reason for us to apologize for who we are? In other words, should Africans apologize for being African?

There's one question that hunts immigrants everywhere - where do you come from? It's a question I have had to answer numerous times, sometimes multiple times a day. Over the years I've heard fellow Africans provide shameful answers to this very simple question. You've probably heard or provided one or more of such answers:

"My parents are from Africa but I was born in London. I only go to Africa for holidays."

"I'm from Jamaica."

"I'm from the United States. I just have many African friends."

"I'm French. Born and raised in France."

"... why do you ask?"

It' worth mentioning that some Africans choose not to answer the question (as if anything they say would be used against them). Interesting. Others stutter, stop and look at the person asking the question in a bid to figure out why they posed the question. Could this be due to low self-esteem? I have also come across a good number of people who find the question offensive (sounds rediculous but it's true). Everytime I hear shameful answers (like the above mentioned) from Africans, I'm baffled. Is there something wrong with being African?

I understand that for one reason or another, some people don't like being asked where they come from. That's cool. But I have no problem with the question. I've heard it many times and each time, I provide an answer without a blink. Those who know me know that I'd look you in the eye and tell you I'm African - born and raised in Bamenda, Cameroon, and I don't apologize. Living in a land where the majority of people don't look like me, I've been through a lot and at this point, the fact that I am African is rarely an issue for me. You could apologize for being African if you will, but it's my heritage and I'm proud of it.

It is true that you would be discriminated against at some point simply because you're African. But then, if you don't love where you come from who would?

What's my point? Well, it's simple - real Africans don't apologize for being African.

Photo Gallery: Zuzeeko's Photo of the Day 17/01/2010

Watching AVATAR (3D) in a movie theater - Tennispalatsi in Helsinki, Finland. The stereo glasses puts you right in the action in Pandora with Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and the Na'vi clan. Awesome!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Africa's Leaders of Tomorrow on Voluntary Exile

You would agree that the future of a democratic, entrepreneurial and innovative Africa, lies in the hands of future leaders of quality and calibre. Africa increasingly needs leaders who can make a real difference to the economy and the society. However, the question is who would make a real difference - with many of Africa's leaders of tomorrow on voluntary exile?

In my many years in school, teachers often reminded us (as pupils and students) that we are the leaders of tomorrow. We gave our teachers hope for the future. They did their utmost best to help develop and enhance Africa's leaders of tomorrow, with the hope that the leaders they create would move the continent forward - with a different approach. Personally, I was very excited by the possibilities. Weren't you? While growing up, did you have the vision to move your country and continent forward? What happened to the dream? Were your teachers wrong to regard you as a leader of tomorrow?

Today, the quest for "greener pastures" has stunted Africa's growth and the prospects of a better tomorrow. Most of Africa's leaders of tomorrow are on self-imposed exile from the continent. In other words, many innovative and enthusiastic Africans live away from their native countries - voluntary absence. Does this help or hurt the continent?

Recently, I was looking at one of my high school group photos. Out of  12 boys in the photo, 9 (including me) are on self-imposed absence from the country. I have been in contact with most of them and it might or might not surprise you that NONE is looking forward to returning home to lead in business, politics or civic life. Whenever we talk about returning home, focus is on entertainment, partying and spending money lavishly to impress the people back home. Is this what Africa needs? Have we misplaced our priorities? Some say they would NEVER return home until "things change." The question is: who would effect the change we expect to see in the continent?

It is true that circumstances force people to travel abroad and people have the right to live in any country of their choice. But it is also true that a continent - Africa desperately needs leaders with the ability to anticipate, envision and work with others to initiate changes that would create a viable future for the continent. Unfortunately, those with these leadership capabilities are on voluntary exile - working hard to further develop developed countries, while Africa lags behind miserably.

It is a good thing to travel abroad - after all, travel is fatal to narrow-mindedness. It's important to travel, educate and empower yourself. But don't forget where you come from. Your country and continent needs you! Make no mistake about it: you don't have to be a politician or run for President before you could contribute to the betterment of your country.

As a concerned African, I'm forced to wonder whether the continent would ever rise out of the stigmatization, misery and poverty that keeps it from being a major player in the international scene. This would not happen with the continent's leaders of tomorrow on voluntary exile. My wish is that Africans abroad commit to improving the continent for present and future generations. We have the power to change the destiny of the continent and its people.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

I'm Not Ready To Pass away Now!

It is no secret that the bus carrying Togo's soccer team was attacked on Friday 8 January 2010 on their way to the pretigious African Cup of Nations which starts today, Sunday 10 January 2010. The attack marked a bad start for the tournament and has sparked security concerns ahead of the World Cup, scheduled to take place in South Africa, later this year. According to team captain - Emmanuel Adebayo (seen in the picture), the Togo's national soccer team is pulling out of the competition after the deadly machine gun attack by rebel fighters, near the border between Angola and the Republic of Congo. The attack left three people dead (including the assistant coach of Togo's soccer team) and seven wounded. In response to the attack, captain Adebayo said, amongst other things - "... I'm not ready to pass away now." This statement got me thinking.

Are you ready to pass away now? In other words, if you were scheduled to die today, would you be ready? These are tough questions that you should consider with each passing day. The thought of death would keep you grounded and at your best behavior, especially if you believe in life after death. Growing up in a family with strong Christian values, the thought of death shaped my thoughts and deeds and pulled me closer to God.

Nowadays, many people - mostly the young (especially in the developed world) don't consider the possibility of dying abruptly. They mistakenly think death is reserved for old age - because of the long "life expectancy." I have no doubt about this because my "fear" of death diminished when I traveled to the developed world. The contributing factors to this lose of values include - good roads ( which reduce the risk of car accidents), advanced medical system, availability of potable water, low infant mortality rate, balanced diet, high security, low crime rate, you name it. Blessed with all these favorable factors, many people tend to forget the favor of God. In the past, I prayed before getting into a car. Now, I do it sparingly simply because of good roads. How rediculous! The truth is, all these amenities don't count!

I must confess I've fallen off the wagon quite a bite in recent history. But Emmanuel Adebayo's statement - "I'm not ready to die now," was a wake up call. It reminded me of how much the thought of death has escaped my mind recently; it reminded of the need to be ready at all times because anything can happen at anytime. The Togolese players never saw it coming, did they? They were on their way to play soccer, not to mourn. In the same vein, those who died in the attack, never thought it would happen on that fateful day. The bottom line is, nobody sees death coming. Not even you! Endeavor to have a healthy relationship with God and your neighbors (everybody!) at all times. Afterall, what He giveth, He can taketh away.

Strive to reach your full potential, live life to the fullest and don't be caught pants down and not ready to pass away like Emmanuel Adebayo. You might not be so lucky.

By the way, if you pass away today, what would you be remembered for?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Everyday Marketers Without Pay

In this context, a marketer refers to someone who PROMOTES or exchanges goods or services for money. From the definition, it's tempting to conclude that every marketer gets paid. Right? Wrong! There're many everyday marketers without pay.

Before I was introduced to the money making machine - Network Marketing on October 8, 2008, I was completely an everyday marketer without pay. Today, although I'm building a business and have a tangible product (which happens to be my favorite gadget) - the video phone, I still market some products without pay.

Recently, I marketed a sofa to a friend and never got paid for my effort. A close friend paid me a visit and was attracted to the sofa in my living room. He asked me many questions about the sofa - where I bought it, the price, how it was delivered to my home and whether there's a smaller size. Like a marketer, I provided him with all the information he needed. Guess what, he went ahead and purchased the sofa. Yes, I made a sale! But something went wrong - I didn't get paid! Can you related?

I bet you're already a marketer and chances are, you don't get paid for your efforts. Have you ever bought a product or service and recommended it to a friend, co-worker or classmate, who needed the same thing? Bear in mind that if they went ahead and bought the products or services based on your recommendation, you made a sale. Congratulations! Ladies, have you ever referred a friend to that place where you get your nails done? What about where you do your hair or where you shop those shoes? How much money did you make on that recommendation?

Real marketers make money from the sales they generate. Somebody makes money everytime people buy or pay for what they need. You might become confrontational and remind me that it's not all about making money. I've heard it before. Well, why spend the bulk of your waking hours on earth, working or seeking for a job? If it's not all about the money, stay at home and refuse to exchange your time for money.

Why don't you start a business and get paid for doing what you're already doing for free? You can start part-time and as your business grows, you'd make more money than you're making at your job (it has been done) - at this point, you might decide to go full-time. Trust me! Nobody likes working for someone else. Besides, a new survey says only 45% are happy with their jobs.

I endorse Multi-Level Marketing (Network Marketing) - a business model that compensates independent entrepreneurs who are licensed to represent a company. What they do is basically not different from what you're already doing everyday, without pay. Believe it or not!

Friday, January 8, 2010

African Albinos Fight for Survival

The quest for instant wealth has driven people to get involved in unspeakable illicit activities like modern-day slavery, but trade in human body parts is even more disturbing. In parts of Africa, there's a misguided belief that Albino body parts have magical powers, hence unscrupulous dealers hunting down fellow human beings - Albinos - for their body parts. These dealers can make up to $75,000 from a complete set of body parts, including all limbs, genitals, ears, tongue and nose. This hunt has resulted to a fight for survival by African Albinos.

Since 2007, 44 albinos have been killed in Tanzania and thousands have been displaced since the killings began. Many have been driven from their homeland and forced to seek asylum abroad simply because they look different.

The story of Mariam Staford Bandaba caught my attention:

Mariam Staford. Photo:
Like many other people living in the East African country of Tanzania, Mariam's life as never been easy, but it's more harder now. She lost her hands in 2008 in a barbaric attack by Albino hunters. She's a living testament to Albino hunting in Tanzania.

The latest Albino murder happened in Tanzania in late October 2009. The victim was 10-year-old Gasper Elikana. It's reported that the killing left his father seriously injured as he tried to save his son from "cannibals" who beheaded the boy and chopped off his leg.

I was born and raised in Africa (I don't apologize for it) and I'm fully aware of what Albinos in the continent have to endure - the scourging sun which puts them at risk of skin cancer, insults, discrimination and segregation. But I never imagined a day would come when they'll be hunted for their body parts. Are we moving forward or backwards?

"Albinism is one of the most unfortunate vulnerabilities," said Secretary General of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Crescent societies - Bekele Geleta. "And it needs to be addressed immediately at an international level."

Witch doctors are reportedly the source of these killings.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

14 Years in Prison for Wilful Murder!

As with most legal terms, the definition of murder varies between jurisdictions. But all jurisdictions agree that it's the most serious crime worthy of the harshest punishment. In common law, murder is defined as the unlawful killing of another human being with intent. It is worth mentioning that murder is different from homicide. The difference lies in the state of mind of the accused at the time of the offence. Where "intent" is established by the prosecution, it's murder! The absence of intent qualifies unlawful killing as homicide. Most societies, both modern and ancient, have considered murder the most serious crime because it deprives the victim of existence and inflicts grief upon the individuals close to the victim. Courts typically, slam murderers with life imprison (I like it with no parole) or the death penalty. Apparently, a Swedish court disagrees! A man in Sweden was given 14 years in prison for wilful murder.

Justice served?

A 37-year-old Swedish man wilfully murdered his ex-girlfriend and has been sentenced to 14 years in prison. On August 23 2009, the man - Martin Hensvold lost a custody battle with his ex-girlfriend - Frida Stenberg, over the couple's two children. Three hours after being awarded custody, Frida drove to a farm owned by Martin's parents, in a village in Luleå, north of Sweden. Before leaving with her kids, Martin returned from his car with some requested items and a bolt pistol (normally used for anaesthetizing livestock). He placed the bolt pistol against his ex-girlfriend's neck and fired a fatal shot! It's worth mentioning that the event unfolded in the presence of the couple's two children (2-year-old son and 4-month old daughter). The children looked on as dad murdered their mom. How traumatizing!

A prosecutor - Karin Hansson urged the district court in Luleå to sentence Henvold to life in prisonment (harshest punishment in Swedish law). She argued that the murderer had time to collect his thoughts when he went to his car to get the pistol. Hence, it was wilful murder. Do you agree?

There's a twist to the case - a psychiatric evaluation during the investigation revealed that the murderer wasn't suffering from any mental illness at the time of the killing. But a later examination showed that following the crime, the murderer started to suffer from deep depression with symptoms of psychosis.

With all these in consideration, the Luleå District Court sentenced the muderer to 14 years in prison, rather than time in a psychiatric care facility.

What does the "lawyer" in you think? Was justice served?

Looking at the facts, I respectfully disagree with the court's decision. Justice has not been served! Murder is the most serious crime and should be treated as such. It's worthy of the most severe punishment in the land. In my mind, the killing of Frida in the presence of her two children was premeditated. The murderer was in a sound state of mind at the time of the killing and as the prosecution rightly pointed out, he had time to think about his action when he went to his car to get the bolt pistol. The murderer had the intent to kill or to inflict grievous bodily harm resulting to death. In other words, the murderer's act (actus reus) coincided with his state of mind (mens rea). It's murder! What could be worst?

I'm not an advocate for the death penalty, but I favor a life sentence without perole. Make no mistake about it, I'm mindful of the Martin's state of mind after the killing and I sympathize with him. However, life imprisonment would have been the most appropriate punishment for him in this case. I'm confident that his mental health needs can be met within the Swedish prison.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Authentic Personalities on Facebook

Facebook is a social networking site that allows anyone to create a profile with a variety of personal information and pictures. Until recently, Facebook was an online community for college students. Facebook users provide personal information such as Home town, Relationship status, political views, interest, favorite movies/music/books/quotes and a section which contains a short description of the user - "About Me" section.

Since it's creation in 2004, Facebook has experienced unprecedented growth over the past couple of years, with an additional 20,000 accounts created daily. 60% of Facebook users log in daily and some, have become "addicted". Facebook has gone beyond connecting friends! It has aided criminal investigations and college disciplinary hearings; it has been used by employers to screen job applicants. As if this is not enough, insurance companies use Facebook to investigate clients. This has raised many questions about the social networking site. Are we entering a new reality in which Facebook profiles capture authentic personalities?
Many have argued that Facebook profiles don't represent the authentic personalities of users because users might upload the most attractive photos, update the most clever thoughts on status updates, carefully choose favorite books, movies, music or quotes - all in a bid to portray rose-tinted personalities. This is not the case. According to three researchers from the University of Texas at Austin - Samuel D. Gosling, Sam Gaddis and Simine Vazire - people's Facebook profiles reflect their authentic personalities.

Sam Gosling analyzed Facebook profiles of 236 participants - all of whom filled out personality questionnaires and didn't alter their Facebook profiles (profiles were saved onto a disc before Facebook was mentioned to the participants). The researchers matched the survey results against the participants' Facebook profiles. According to the results, people's online profiles were in keeping with their authentic profiles in real life.

The researchers agree that not all online profiles match real life profiles. But for the most part, online profiles represent the authentic profile of users. A psychologist, Sam Gosling, concludes that social networking sites are simply another medium for sincerely social interactions.

Does your facebook profile reflect your authentic personality? What qualities and traits are portrayed on your Facebook profile? What about your Facebook photos? What do they reveal about you? What about your status updates? These are questions every responsible Facebook user should consider because, believe it or not, Facebook has gone over and beyond helping you connect and share with the people in your life.

I totally agree with the results of the research on the "psychology of Facebook profiles". Facebook captures the authentic personalities of most of my close friends. In other words, Facebook status updates, photos, interests, you name it, reflect the personalities of Facebook users I've interacted with in real life.

It's true that if you're a jerk in real life, you'd be a jerk on Facebook too.

15-Year-Olds Permitted to Carry Guns in Finland

Finland is a country with a long tradition of hunting. Consequently, there're 32 privately owned guns per 100 civilians according to the Finnish Ministry of Interior. Finland has a population of 5.3 million people, out of whom 1.6 million, own guns. An international small arms survey in 2007 showed an averaged total of 2.9 million guns within a population of 5.2 million people. This is scary! A long tradition of hunting has let to Finland ranking among the top 5 countries in the world for civilian gun ownership. Until recently, gun crimes have been rare.

Three gun massacres in recent history - 2007, 2008 and 2009 have prompted politicians, religious leaders and social workers to urge tighter gun laws in the country where 15-year-olds are permitted to own guns if they have parental consent. The loose gun laws in Finland have had devastating consequences.

In November 2007, an 18-year-old went on a gun rampage at his school, in the town of Tuusula. He massacred 7 students, a teacher and shot himself in the head. His name was Pekka-Eric Auvinen. It's worth mentioning that prior to the incident, he posted a video on the internet pledging to "eliminate" those he saw as "unfit".

Less than a year later, in September 2008, a 22-year-old went on a shooting spree at a college, killing 10 people before killing himself. This second massacre caused a lot of outrage and many people (including me) wondered why the young man, Matti Juhani Saari was not stopped before he brought death to a college. He too had posted a video on the internet, showing himself firing a handgun, a few days before the killings. He was even questioned by the police, but his licence was not revoked. Were the authorities negligent? Could the police abort the massacre of September 2008? These are questions yet to be answered.

The massacres didn't stop in 2008! On December 31 2009, a gunman shot and killed 4 people in a crowded shopping centre, after killing his ex-girlfriend at her flat. This is the man!:

Ibrahim Shkupolli, raided a mall in Espoo, Finland, and killed a woman and 3 men. His body was later found at his home. The attack shocked many people who had gone shopping early on New Year Eve. It happened in one of Finland's largest shopping malls - SELLO, at about 10:20 AM.

Stricter rules for permits on pistols and revolvers were introduced in Finland after the 2007 and 2008 massacres. Handgun permits are no longer granted to first-time applicants. First-time applicants must do the following.
  • Train for at least a year at a gun club
  • Have a note from a doctor about their mental health
  • Face an interview with the police
Are the above measures enough to stop gun massacres? Should 15-year-olds be permitted to own guns? More importantly, what should be done to stop a safe and peaceful country like Finland, from degenerating into a "gun-infested" country, famous for gun massacres? I wonder.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Real Men Don't Hit Women!

Domestic violence refers to a pattern of abusive behaviors by one or both partners in an intimate relationship. The people in question could be married, dating or cohabiting. It has many forms and goes beyond physical aggression. It includes threats, emotional abuse, domineering, intimidation, you name it. It is worth mentioning that though the definition of domestic violence seems simple enough, it's application varies quite significantly. Why do men hit women?

When talking about domestic violence, emphasis tend to be on women, as victims, because statistics show that women suffer greater rates of injury as a result of domestic abuse.

Last year, 2009, many cases of domestic violence were brought to the lime light - the most conspicuous being the Chris Brown - Rihanna saga. Over the years, many women have been victims of domestic violence. Unfortunately, not all of the cases are reported. Celebrity cases, however, usually attract a lot of attention and media coverage.

On Christmas eve, last year (December 24 2009), one of my favorite actors - 44-year-old Charlie Sheen (in the picture above) was arrested and spent the better part of Christmas day in a Colorado jail cell. He was arrested on allegations of domestic violence and dragged to jail on Christmas morning by officers who responded to a frantic 911 call. Be rest assured, no one was hurt. An ambulance went to the house but the accuser, who later turned out to be his wife, Brooke Mueller Sheen, was not taken to the hospital.

I still can't comprehend why the "funny" star of "Two and A Half Men" would hit his wife. Keep in mind that this is still an allegation. He is innocent until proven guilty! However, according to the Aspen police spokeswoman - Stephanie Dasaro, Charlie is being investigated for second-degree assault and menacing, both felonies, along with criminal mischief, a misdemeanor. Charlie was released on bail ($8,500) and slammed with a restraining order. At the end of the day, was it worth it?

Sheen's publicist, Stan Rosenfield, warned that we shouldn't jump to any conclusion about the scandal. I agree. But what would prompt a "funny" guy like Charlie to hit his wife? No doubt, men frequently blame domestic violence on alcohol consumption, mental illness, their father beat their mother, love, fear, no self-control. Who cares?

When allegations of domestic violence are recurrent, as in Charlie's case, there's a major cause for concern. The perpetrator in question, needs to be stopped before it's too late. Charlie Sheen could be termed a "repeat offender" on the loose - in December 1996, he was arrested for attacking a girlfriend at his Southern California home. How many more 911 calls have to be made before he's stopped?

We can talk all day about domestic violence but it all boils down to the fact that there's no excuse for the offence. It should not be tolerated! I don't tolerate violence against women; nobody should. My wish is that survivors and perpetrators of domestic violence get help. In a civilized society, domestic violence has no place.

I'm not an advocate for divorce or break-ups. But I'm tempted to ask, why do women stay? If a man hits you, chances are he'd do it again.

I'm concerned about this subject because I know domestic violence is cowardly and the consequences are grave. Besides, I have a mother and 4 sisters! I don't want something like this happening to any of them. It's a shame that domestic violence still exists today.We need more men to stand up and challenge violence against women because REAL MEN DON'T HIT WOMEN!

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