Monday, November 24, 2014
2.1984 by George Orwell – 1984 still holds chief significance nearly 60 years after it was written in 1949. It is widely acclaimed for its haunting vision of an all-knowing government which uses pervasive, 24/7 surveillance tactics to manipulate all citizens of the populace.
3.To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – The story surveys the controversial issues of race and economic class in the 1930’s Deep South via a court case of a black man charged with the rape and abuse of a young white girl. It’s a moving tale that delivers a profound message about fighting for justice and against prejudice.
4.A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess – A nightmarish vision of insane youth culture that depicts heart wrenching insight into the life of a disturbed adolescent. This novel will blow you away… leaving you breathless, livid, thrilled, and concerned.
5.For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway – A short, powerful contemplation on death, ideology and the incredible brutality of war.
6.War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy – This masterpiece is so enormous even Tolstoy said it couldn’t be described as a standard novel. The storyline takes place in Russian society during the Napoleonic Era, following the characters of Andrei, Pierre and Natasha… and the tragic and unanticipated way in which their lives interconnect.
7.The Rights of Man by Tom Paine – Written during the era of the French Revolution, this book was one of the first to introduce the concept of human rights from the standpoint of democracy.
8.The Social Contract by Jean-Jacques Rousseau – A famous quote from the book states that “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.” This accurately summarizes the book’s prime position on the importance of individual human rights within society.
9.One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez – This novel does not have a plot in the conventional sense, but instead uses various narratives to portray a clear message about the general importance of remembering our cultural history.
10.The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin – Few books have had as significant an impact on the way society views the natural world and the genesis of humankind.
11.The Wisdom of the Desert by Thomas Merton – A collection of thoughts, meditations and reflections that give insight into what life is like to live simply and purely, dedicated to a greater power than ourselves.
12.The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell – Gladwell looks at how a small idea, or product concept, can spread like a virus and spark global sociological changes. Specifically, he analyzes “the levels at which the momentum for change becomes unstoppable.”
13.The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham – Arguably one of the best children’s books ever written; this short novel will help you appreciate the simple pleasures in life. It’s most notable for its playful mixture of mysticism, adventure, morality, and camaraderie.
14.The Art of War by Sun Tzu – One of the oldest books on military strategy in the world. It’s easily the most successful written work on the mechanics of general strategy and business tactics.
15.The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien – One of the greatest fictional stories ever told, and by far one of the most popular and influential written works in 20th-century literature. Once you pick up the first book, you’ll read them all.
17.Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot – Probably the wisest poetic prose of modern times. It was written during World War II, and is still entirely relevant today… here’s an excerpt: “The dove descending breaks the air/With flame of incandescent terror/Of which the tongues declare/The only discharge from sin and error/The only hope, or the despair/Lies in the choice of pyre or pyre–/To be redeemed from fire by fire./Who then devised this torment?/Love/Love is the unfamiliar Name/Behind the hands that wave/The intolerable shirt of flame/Which human power cannot remove./We only live, only suspire/Consumed by either fire or fire.”
18.Catch-22 by Joseph Heller – This book coined the self-titled term “catch-22” that is widely used in modern-day dialogue. As for the story, its message is clear: What’s commonly held to be good, may be bad… what is sensible, is nonsense. Its one of the greatest literary works of the 20th century. Read it.
19.The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – Set in the Jazz Age of the roaring 20’s, this book unravels a cautionary tale of the American dream. Specifically, the reader learns that a few good friends are far more important that a zillion acquaintances, and the drive created from the desire to have something is more valuable than actually having it.
20.The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger – This novel firmly stands as an icon for accurately representing the ups and downs of teen angst, defiance and rebellion. If nothing else, it serves as a reminder of the unpredictable teenage mindset.
21.Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky – A smooth-flowing, captivating novel of a young man living in poverty who criminally succumbs to the desire for money, and the hefty phychological impact this has on him and the people closest to him.
22.The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli – This book does a great job at describing situations of power and statesmanship. From political and corporate power struggles to attaining advancement, influence and authority over others, Machiavelli’s observations apply.
23.Walden by Henry David Thoreau – Thoreau spent two years, two months and two days writing this book in a secluded cabin near the banks of Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts. This is a story about being truly free from the pressures of society. The book can speak for itself: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
24.The Republic by Plato – A gripping and enduring work of philosophy on how life should be lived, justice should be served, and leaders should lead. It also gives the reader a fundamental understanding of western political theory.
25.Lolita – This is the kind of book that blows your mind wide open to conflicting feelings of life, love and corruption… and at times makes you deeply question your own perceptions of each. The story is as devious as it is beautiful.
26.Getting Things Done by David Allen – The quintessential guide to organizing your life and getting things done. Nuff said.
27.How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie – This is the granddaddy of all self-improvement books. It is a comprehensive, easy to read guide for winning people over to your way of thinking in both business and personal relationships.
28.Lord of the Flies by William Golding – A powerful and alarming look at the possibilities for savagery in a lawless environment, where compassionate human reasoning is replaced by anarchistic, animal instinct.
29.The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck – Steinbeck’s deeply touching tale about the survival of displaced families desperately searching for work in a nation stuck by depression will never cease to be relevant.
30.The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov – This anticommunist masterpiece is a multifaceted novel about the clash between good and evil. It dives head first into the topics of greed, corruption and deception as they relate to human nature.
Sunday, November 16, 2014
I hope this letter meets you well. Don’t ask me what well means though; because you lot have a way of always having problems.
Anyway, it’s been almost four years since I got in touch with you. I suppose you will be wondering why I have not stayed in touch with you for a while now since you voted me into office (And I say ‘voted’ with reservations). The thing is I have been too busy. Too busy siphoning public funds for life after office. You will agree with me that it can be very tough for us politicians after office. So, it is only sensible that I stuck up enough for the uncertain days after my tenure is over.
Fellow Nigerians, as you are well aware of by now, your constitution does not allow for more than two terms in office, so that means I have to bow out in 2015 (If only those dumbasses have allowed the third term agenda to be realized). Anyway, as a great leader I am, I have re-strategized to ensure I don’t lose out entirely. Very soon, I will be letting you know my next political move. What will I expect from you then? Just break your heads to ensure I get what I want. That is political loyalty, and that is the reward I ask from you for eight sterling years of good governance and democratic excellence.
For the main time, what do I ask? All I want from you is to support my anointed successor. He is the one to lead us to the Promised Land and perhaps even take us to Eldorado. Support him with all that you have. Fight, and if it comes to that, kill! That’s my charge to you. Even if you die for this cause, your name will remain etched upon the sands of time. You will forever be remembered for such a priceless loyalty to a just cause. I am sure that even my unborn grandkids when they read of your heroics while studying in Harvard or Stanford, they will be so proud of you. By the way, word has reached me that INEC said you should register and get your voters card, please get it o, even though we know those things won’t matter eventually. Just get it, let it be like we are committed to a free and fair election.
Again, let me ask that you continue to turn out in your numbers in all our political rallies. We spend a lot to organize those rallies, and I believe you have been getting the ‘little appreciation’ we have been showing you for turning up. Remember, you are our rented crowd, and we have to continue to show the world that we are on top. And trust me; many of them will fall for it.
As a way of reaffirming my commitment and that of my party to you, I promise you plenty in reward for your votes and support. I hear that a political party (Or was it mine?) offered some of you small bags of rice at an election recently. In truth, I was really ashamed that you accepted such a petty offer. How could you have sold your conscience that cheaply? Well, I will more than better that effort. I have made arrangement already for an international food dealer to supply you bags of rice in their litanies. Trust me, I will feed you. In addition, I have concluded plans for you to be provided with enough salt. Afterall, you won’t eat boiled rice like that na. So, trust me, the package we have for you is mega.
Finally, thank you for your mandate in this past eight years (Though I am not sure why I should be thanking you, as I am unsure if it was your mandate that really gave me power). All the same, thank you. For all of you who carried guns, stole ballot boxes, wreaked havoc for my two terms in office, I salute you for your uncommon courage. And I ask you to show the same gusto and unrelenting sagacity to see that my anointed successor wins the next election. Whatever it will take, please do.
You will hear from us more frequently these days till we get the issue of 2015 elections out of the way. After then, will I let you have some peace till 2019.
Thank you once again, and talk to you again very soon. I have to take a break now to attend to my busy schedule of saving for the rainy days.
Your great leader!
Monday, November 10, 2014
2.You can’t be truly happy unless you’re unhappy sometimes too. – If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome. Feelings, good and bad, always come and go. The trick is to be grateful when your mood is high and graceful when it is low.
3.You still have many blessings that you can make count. – Yes, always count your blessings, but don’t forget to make your blessings count too. There’s no good reason why you must settle for anything less than the very best life has to offer. Start now by sincerely appreciating the things you have and making the most of them. Happiness and success in life are not the byproducts of limitless resources. Happiness and success stem from stretching the limits of the available resources.
4.You can learn something important from any situation, if you want to. – Experience is not what happens to you; it is what you do with what happens to you. Take everything as a lesson learned. You are the books you read, the films you watch, the people you meet, the dreams you have, and the conversations you engage in. You are a combination of what you take from these. You are the sound of thunder, the breath of fresh air, the brightest light and the darkest corner. You embody every experience you have had in your life. You are every single day, even the bad ones. So drown yourself in a sea of knowledge. Let the experiences run through your veins, and let the lessons grow your mind.
5.Your best bet is to take a chance on the present moment. – Every moment gives you a new beginning and a new ending. Be thankful to start from where you are now. Wishing for a different past will only waste your energy. If you’re feeling down right now, each second that passes is another moment to turn it all around.
6.You are not a victim. – You have an interesting life and it is magnificent, even during the toughest times. Keep this in mind, and live it accordingly. You are in control. Change your thoughts. As long as you think that the cause of your problem is “out there” somewhere else – as long as you think that someone or something else is responsible for your suffering – your situation is hopeless. It means that you are forever in the victim role, that you’re suffering even in paradise. Don’t do this to yourself. Be your hero, not your victim.
7.You are not who you once were, but who you believe you can become. – You ultimately become what you believe yourself to be. If you keep on saying to yourself that you are incapable of doing a certain thing, it’s likely that you will end up becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if you have the belief that you can do it, despite your struggles and frustrations, you will likely acquire the capacity to do it, even if you can’t do it right now.
8.You CAN move forward from here. – Even the darkest night will eventually end and the sun will rise. Remember this. If you take another step, and another, you’ll be surprised to know how far you can go from the point you thought was the end. So say this to yourself, and mean it with all your heart: “I just need you to never give up on me, no matter how hard things get.”
9.The best way to move forward is one tiny step at a time. – You can’t lift 1,000 pounds all at once. But you can easily lift one pound 1,000 times. In repetition, your little actions have great power.
10.What others think about your situation is not important right now. – If you really want to be happy again, then stop being afraid of being yourself, and stop thinking about what others think of you every second.
11.In relationships, agreeing to disagree is sometimes the best solution. – Be selective in your battles. Sometimes peace is better than being right. You simply don’t need to attend every argument you are invited to.
12.It’s OK to give yourself some space to breathe and regroup. – Sometimes a short break is the best step.
Sometimes you need to pause so you can move forward – you need to turn away from something for a while so you can see why you fell in love in the first place.
13.There’s so much you can let go of in life, without losing a thing. – It’s called growth. Letting go of the old, makes way for the new. Letting go of what isn’t working, makes way for what will. So remember, when the pain of holding on is worse than the pain of letting go, it’s time to let go and grow.
14.There’s no shame in starting over again, and changing things up. – When things aren’t adding up in your life, it’s time to start subtracting… the habits, routines, and circumstances that are holding you back. Sometimes you’ve got to create what you want to be a part of from the ground up – you’ve got to work harder than ever before to get more than you ever dreamed of. Be a dreamer. Be a doer. Know what is truly important to you and why. Then act on it with all your might.
15.The struggle isn’t found on the path, it is the path… to greatness. – There will be big mistakes and heartbreaking surprises along the way. Learn from them, adapt and grow. If you want the benefits of something in life, you have to also want the costs. If you want a fit body, you also have to want the sweat, the sore muscles, the early mornings at the gym, and the low-fat meals. If you want a successful business, you have to also want the long days, the late nights, the risky business decisions and deals, and the possibility of failing fifty times to learn what you need to know to succeed.
16.A little extra effort always pays off in the end. – Even when things aren’t going your way, don’t slack off. Never skimp on that extra effort, that additional few minutes, that soft word of praise or thanks, that delivery of the very best that you can do. It doesn’t matter what others think, it is of prime importance, however, what you think about you. You can never do your best, which should always be your trademark quality, if you are cutting corners and ducking responsibilities. You are special. Act like it. Never neglect the little things.
17.Be a little kinder to yourself than you have to. – Yes, be extra kind to yourself today. Accept who you are, and revel in it. Treat yourself with love and respect. The better you feel about YOU, the more value you can create for your world. If you can’t do a lot for yourself right now, do a little. These small moments of joy will add up. They will keep you pointed in a positive direction.
18.Because of today’s pain, you can feel the tenderness, beauty and freedom of healing. – Pain feels like a fast stab wound directly to the heart sometimes. But then healing feels like the wind against your face when you are spreading your wings and flying through the air. As humans, we may not have wings like a bird, but healing is the closest thing that will give us that soothing sensation of wind against our faces.
Monday, November 3, 2014
To put a perspective on the unfolding drama, elections in Nigeria have always assumed some sorts of war, with all the attendant upheavals that follows a watershed. Political prostitution, war of words, mindless killings among others are features of our eternal nascent democracy at times like this. However, there is a premonition about 2015 that makes the omen even more ominous.
The defection of the Speaker of the House of Reps to the main opposition is definitely not going to be the last of many such moves; but this is only a small tip of the iceberg that gives credence to the fears of many. The elections next year is setting up to be the most gruesome in the country’s history. The untold general insecurity wrecked by the Boko Haram insurgents has added a fearsome dimension to the elections. One must also remember that the over 200 girls kidnapped in Chibok, are still in captivity. What is more? Never in our democratic history since 1999 have we had an opposition that is truly worthy of the name in all ramifications. The All Progressive Congress (APC) might be a conglomerate of strange bed fellows, but it will be foolhardy to dismiss the threat that they carry. While rivalling PDP is a big ask, the possibility should not be dismissed. And it is also for this reason that the 2015 elections look messy indeed. Particularly, in states like Rivers, Lagos, Adamawa, Nassarawa and Oyo among others, the elections will be a fierce battle.
Perhaps, as the bickering continues the clear message from the politicians, governors, legislature and the presidency is simple, ‘Until the elections are over in 2015, do not expect governance to function anymore. We are currently facing a more serious battle than thinking of your warfare now. We are fighting for our lives. However, don’t forget to give us your votes or we take it in our own way.’ May God help us!