Are you sure you want to do that?

Over this past week my wife has witnessed two apparent crimes, or at least incidents that looked like something was awry.  Both times I was with her but not paying attention or looking in the direction she was.  Both times her first inclination was to call the Police, and both times I cringed and cautioned her to think carefully before acting.

The first time we were on our way home from church when my wife witnessed what she described as a carjacking.  I was driving, my wife was next to me in the passenger’s seat, with our three children in the 2nd row of our minivan.  I heard tires screech and looked in the rearview mirror just in time to see a woman standing in the road looking visibly shaken and exclaiming that someone just stole her car. Her vehicle did a 180 and drove full speed against traffic in the wrong direction.  One of the nearby motorist invited the woman in, and they sped down the road in pursuit.  All of this took place in the span of 10 seconds or so. My wife, who saw more than i did, brought out her phone and cried out “Someone just stole that lady’s car!  I’m going to call the Police!”  She repeated it two times afterwards, which got our oldest son anxious.  He said he was scared and started crying.  Now I was upset because he was now effected by this incident.  I’m trying to calm him and my wife down, without conveying my growing anger towards her at the moment (we talked it over later on that day and I apologized for being insensitive at the time).

As calmly as I could:

Me: “What are you going to tell the Police when you call them?”  Did you see the person who supposedly stole the car?  Did you see a scuffle or an exchange?  Did you get a make/model/tags?”

My Wife: “No”.

Me: “So what were you going to tell them?”

My Wife: “I dunno; just what happened.”

This afternoon, we were both sitting at our dinning room table which is adjacent to a large window which overlooks a major intersection in the downtown area.  Again, my wife sees something that I don’t.

My Wife: “Look at that!  Look at those guys running!  They came from that car, and they threw something over the tracks (train) and are running away from that red car?  I think the stole it!  I’m going to call the police!”

Me: “What car.  Oh I see.  Those guys ran from that red car?”

My Wife: “Yes!”

Me: “How do you know they stole the car?”

My Wife: “They left the car right there and ran.  The trunk is open!”

Me: “Ok.”

Half an hour later or so, the red car with the open trunk was no longer there.  Someone must have moved it.

I love my wife, and I trust her instincts.  She is more pure hearted and optimistic than I am.  But in these instances, I cautioned her.  Put aside the events of the past 24 months involving the Police.  As a person from Alkebu-Lan, I have always had to think twice before involving Law Enforcement in any situation I’m a part of.  I could only imagine the interview/conversation that would have ensued had she gone through with her intentions, with the little info she could provide.

The Police serve a purpose, just not in these two incidents.

Alkebu-Lan (better known as the Country of “Africa”)

A few weeks ago I was having a casual conversation about what, I cannot recall at the moment.  What I do remember is an incident that occurred during the talk.

The topic of discussion was fairly random; from current events, to sports, to the going ons in our respective homes.  My acquaintance then began commenting on a colleague he knew from “Africa”.  Nowhere specific, just “Africa”.  This individual held some particular beliefs that my acquaintance found odd, to which he asked me, “But isn’t that how most African’s are?”  I looked at him, trying to hold back my incredulity and calmly responded, “How should I know?”

As I’ve mentioned before, I am a first-generation Nigerian, born and raised in the U.S.  Outside of a few stints here and there, I have spent the entirety of my existence in the U.S.  I do posses what many would call a “traditional Nigerian” name.  Regardless, I have come across this phenomena of People referring to Alkebu-Lan (the place most call “Africa”) as a single country on countless occassions.

It’s important to note that my acquaintance himself is the descendant of people taken forcibly from Alkebu-Lan (the place most call “Africa”) hundreds of years ago.  To him, Alkebu-Lan (the place most call “Africa”) is a homogeneous, unvaried region.  It is his fault that he holds such views.  The many cultures, societies, and people who comprise Alkebu-Lan (the place most call “Africa”) is well documented.  My concern is that incidents like this are not isolated.  Read most articles or listen to most radio shows or television programs, and you will get steady dose of this narrative:

Africa = one big wild, weird, backward, tragic country. 

There’s almost a pride in knowing the least about it or being uninformed.  I’m curious as to how such an erroneous account became the standard.  Like all places, Alkebu-Lan (the place most call “Africa”) has it’s share of problems.  Poor leadership, tension between ethnic & cultural groups, and difficult economic conditions have plagued the land.  But these are not unique to Alkebu-Lan (the place most call “Africa”).  All people, since the creation of time, have experienced violence, greed, poor governance, war, and economic hardship.   Like all places in this world Alkebu-Lan (the place most call Africa) is made of many different people with many different thoughts, views, and opinions.  I have yet visited or heard of a place where everyone though, felt, and acted the same way about anything.  Even here in the U.S., the bastion of all things civilized and well with mankind, you’d be hard pressed to find a state, let alone an entire region, who get alone and work together on a consistent basis.

So if it hasn’t been said, I’m saying it now:

Alkebu-Lan (the place most call “Africa”) is a continent comprised of 54 sovereign countries, and Western Sahara, a member state of the African Union whose statehood is disputed by Morocco.  There are people of all shape, size, color, and variety.  The continent has virtually all the types of landscapes found on this Earth.  It is place where people love, live, and do the best they can with what they’ve been given, just like we all try to do on this planet.

Spread the word.

Our Obsession with Zombies

A few years ago it was Vampires.  That’s not completely out, but today it’s definitely all about the undead.  Everywhere you look, they’re there.  Movies, TV, Video Games, even cartoons for the kiddies (what’s up with Monster’s U though?).  We can’t get enough of Zombies, and there appears to be no sign of it slowing down.

Most people will say it’s harmless fun.  Other’s will simply ignore it and wait for the next societal infatuation to sweep over us.  But wherever you are on the Zombie spectrum, the phenomenon has lead me to think about why it has struck such a cord with so many.

Mankind inherently understands the concepts of good an evil.  No matter where you are from, what culture or society you were raised in, all humans know the difference between what is right, and what is wrong.  It’s what separates us from animals, the ability to reason and make judgments based on our circumstances and surrounding environment.  As we’ve gotten more “civilized” and “enlightened” as a people, the clear cut definitions of right and wrong have become hazy.  Is it right that I have the ability to run my children’s bath water for 5 minutes until it gets to the perfect temperature, or purchase a ridiculously inexpensive toy made by modern day slave labor?  Is it right that Geo-Political forces destabilize the governments of most of the World’s poor and disenfranchised, while the “developed” world lives relative stable and free lives?

But there’s no interpretation or rationalization needed when it comes to Zombies.  They are universally evil creatures with one purpose: predation.  It doesn’t matter who the Zombies were or what walk of life they possessed before they turned.  Once they transformed, anyone who is not like them becomes their enemy.  Zombies are relentless in their pursuit of their prey; anyone still living.  It’s no accident that virtually all Zombie premises take place in a post-apocalyptic world.  It is our presumption that all layers of society will have to break down in order for such a thing to occur.

What if that weren’t the case?  What if the resonance of the Zombie end times is due to society’s realization that things in the World are not right, and have not been right for quite sometime?  Maybe people yearn for a time when things were clear again: this is good, that is bad, and our focus wasn’t comfort, wealth accumulation, or success in our vocation?  What would it take for us to see things as they really are.

City Life

I put on no airs about my affinity for City Life. Growing up in NYC during the 80s & 90s imbued my soul with a dose of urban living and culture. It is no secret that it is my preference. This was the main reason I relocated my family from Chesapeake to downtown Norfolk. Even though the distance of 7.1 miles can be traversed in 15 minutes by car, it is well worth it.

Living in a City affords one the opportunity to experience a great deal of humanity. Most healthy cities offer a great mix of cultural flavors which make urban living so appealing. The City itself is a dynamic entity; no true city ever remains the same for long.

My love of walking is rewarded now that I’ve relocated. There is nothing like experiencing a neighborhood on foot; you get to really soak in it’s rays. To find a new quiet spot, peculiar building, or slice of nature; these are the things that let us know we are alive.

But the greatest benefit to City Life is that it forces us to collide with one another and nature.

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It’s all connected.

It takes a great deal of effort and deliberate action to flee humanity in the urban setting. Life and activity surround you at all times. Next door neighbors, their dogs, refuse collection, our avian friends, all meld into one, each with equal right to coexist. It is sublime.