The Inyang Effiong Show

The PodCast About People and Events around Nigeria and West Africa

Category: BlogPost (Page 1 of 3)

Slavery and the issue of language – When words fail

One of the languages, if not the only one that has retained its form over centuries is Arabic, most other languages have evolved and meanings have changed so much even for words that are still the same, when you add in language drift, the meaning of the word now and what it meant a hundred years ago in most languages is very different.
For those who may not be aware, Arabic has retained its form and meanings because of the Quran.
How does this relate to slavery?
When you translate or interpret, you look for the nearest word or concept in the other language that has the same or similar meaning and use that word or expression, sadly, a lot of things get lost in translation. So you have the common habit among Yoruba people of saying something first in Yoruba and then telling you what it means in English, which is a way of saying they have not really captured the essence of the sentence in English but will try.
A lot of things or concepts called slavery are not the same
I will illustrate with two examples.
Take a war between the remnant of the Oyo Empire in Ibadan and the Egba Nation in Abeokuta, people are captured from both sides, taken away and made slaves. What is the fate of such people?
Well, they will be used as farm labourers, first in line for serious war front duties and a lot of other unpleasant things. They will be at the lowest rung in the society they find themselves in and their freedom will be severely restricted, at least at the beginning.
But, a very big but, they are basically the same people as their masters. Same colour, facial features and within a short time, will speak the same language or dialect. Their accent may not integrate fully though.
Imagine one of them is industrious enough or has a good enough master – which happens a lot- and gets some level of freedom, a bit of farmland and a shack to call their own. Why they cannot vote or join the _Ogboni_ society, life for them after a few years may not be much different from what life is for the freeborn poor people around them.
And jump ahead to their kids, if they continue the hard work, they may for all purposes be indistinguishable from the lower class freeborn and after a few generations, if they are crafty and relocate, may even be taken as freeborn.
And they are called SLAVES.
Elmina Castle

Old Slave Port Elmina Castle

Now, take slaves that are sold outside their area of origin, either to Arabs or Europeans, now, that is some serious stuff, if you survive the journey across the Sahara or across the Ocean, you end up in a world totally alien to you. The masters are different from you in look, language and everything else. You stand out everywhere you go. Everyone, every SINGLE PERSON that looks like you is a slave too. You CANNOT blend in. Your descendants have the mark of slavery on them just from their features, they cannot blend in. Hard work, being crafty, being smart is not a solution, you are a slave or the descendant of one – which is basically the same thing.
If you look through history, in almost all parts of the world, there are stories of slaves and children of slaves rising up to become rulers, senators, people of substance in their society, but go back and check those stories and almost all of them if not all of them refer to slaves that are the same stock as the people they find themselves among.
So, calling the two situations slavery is just an issue of the limitations of language, they are not even close to being the same thing. One is e coli living peacefully in your gut, the other is e-coli from a bad batch of cabbage that you took with your salad and is now ravaging your interior while you are hooked up to life-saving equipment, same name, same structure, different outcomes.
It is popular to preface or add to discussions about slavery the line,”but most communities had slaves and people were buying and selling each other before external actors arrived”, no, they are not the same thing.

Exploring Nigeria – Hiking across Obudu Mountain (Day 1 of our camping trip)

How long is the ideal holiday?

A week, two, one month? Who has all that time for a holiday when there is the constant hustle of modern life?

Day 3 Stop Location - HobbitsvilleWhat if you can pack in a holiday into one long weekend and still do more than most people get to accomplish in a lifetime? And since you can cram so much in, why not repeat as many times as you can.

Holidaying in Nigeria is hard, no glossing over it. Roads are not all good, information about holiday places is scarce and may be out of date when you get to your destination, but, the rewards are so high one should not even think of not doing it.

Take an adventure holiday in Nigeria and you will be hooked, before you know it, you will become the evangelist at the office/party/gathering and can not just wait for your next getaway.

I went hiking across Obudu Mountains in April 2018, we stayed on some trails and sometimes went off trail, it was three days of hard hiking, fun and fantastic camping with some of the best landscapes in the world.

The Sankwala mountain range is at the South-eastern corner of Nigeria and the mountains run into Cameroon where it rises to become the Bamenda Mountain range, going North East, it merges into the Taraba mountain range which has the highest peak in Nigeria (Obudu is second). Elevations are from 1400m up to the 1800m.

The 3 days trail exploration started on Saturday, starting off from a hotel in the village next to the mountain resort, we headed west towards our first target of the day, a waterfall, nestled in a deep valley. Just 1km into the hike and my knees were not happy at all, hmmm, what could be the problem?

I have been on point with my weight workout and reasonably fit, aha, going down was the problem, where is my trekking stick? Stick sorted and it was ok from there forward. We made the waterfall in good time, doing down was not easy though, quite steep and we went off the trail to cut right to the rocky outcropping at the top of the fall.

An early break for a meal and brief rest then we forded the stream that was the source of the fall and headed up to the next ridge. My first real climb and the sweat was flowing freely, this was a good test of my backpack (10kg load and 2kg camera kit). We made it to the next ridge and then it was a long stretch to our next rest point by a cattle holding.
ObuduHikeDay MavicPro Day 2-101
Water taste so sweet when you are boiling and really really need every drop. Campsite identified and we left our packs with the herder-person, then headed to summit the big one, 1750m and it appeared to be the highest peak in the range. The middle section was a tough one but without our packs, it was not just head down, leg in front of the other until we made the summit

Then the weather gods turned against us and the clouds rolled in. Ok, that done and dusted, time to go down, well, that was the plan but the rain had other plans, cold water started coming down right close to a herders hut. No one at home but we invited ourselves in and waited out the worst of the rain

Headed down and made it back to camp in good light.

Day 1 Campsite

Camping right by a stream had its privileges, lots of water, nice and cool. Dinner was by the campfire, then the rain started up again and drove us back into the tents. Good reason to have an early night, and head down and drift off……

Want in? Contact OutdoorsTour at this link

Card Paper and Coin Money

How Crytocurrencies really work (and what you can do with them)

In this 3rd part of the series on money and cryptocurrencies, we dive deeper into the mechanism of cryptocurrencies.

At the very core, a cryptocurrency is basically a token that is created and maintained on top of a blockchain, the blockchain is a distributed digital database with no centralized control. Any change on the blockchain has to be agreed upon by the majority of users, what this actually means in practice is that changes to the blockchain will follow the rules set up during the creation of the blockchain.

Various Money Types

To use the old banking vs cryptocurrency example once more, your bank can change your banking records at will, but that should not happen on a blockchain since there is no central body like your bank in charge.

Getting a Bitcoin
So, how do you get a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin or Ethereum, you can walk down to the nearest bureau de change or bank and ask for some, you will not get it though (as of February 2018), so that option is out. There are only two ways you can get a cryptocurrency now,
  1.  You can be a miner and produce some, be prepared to invest in hardware and the power to run in or
  2.  You can buy Bitcoin or your preferred cryptocurrency on a cryptocurrency exchange.

Using a cryptocurrency
And how do you spend them? No practical way at the moment, you can go back to the same exchange and trade your Bitcoin back into regular money, outside converting Bitcoin and her sisters back into regular currencies, there  a few places available to actually spend them, it was – and still is – a popular method for underground payments for things the buyers will rather not have traced back to them.

Miners are at the heart of the blockchain and one of the reasons blockchain applications are currently limited to money applications, miners run the software that builds the blockchain. Miners check that transactions are legitimate and aggregate transactions into a block, their reward is being given a newly created currency as their reward.

What does it take to be a miner?
Power, as much power as you can get.
Kainji Dam looking downstream
Computing Power- The mining process is like a fixed lottery, every miner is given the chance to build a block, the first miner to solve a puzzle wins, the puzzle is a mathematical problem that needs a lot of computing resources to solve and the more powerful your hardware – read the faster your compute engine- the more faster you can solve the puzzle and be the chosen one.
Electrical Power – One side effect of computing is power consumption and dissipation in the form of heat. You will need power your computers and also keep them cool, the faster and more powerful the computer, the hotter they run and the more cooling you will need, which translate to you guess it, more power. Some mining operations are located near dams to get cheap electricity.
But do not be discouraged, there are ways to be a miner without running a warehouse full of specialized computing hardware.
  • use your present hardware and join a distributed mining combine, this is a decentralized group of people/computing resources that took together their processing power to solve the puzzles and the rewards are distributed back to members in accordance with their contribution.
  • build a specialized mining rig and join a mining combine to pool together your computing resources.
  • run mining software on other peoples machine over the net either with their knowledge or without their knowledge.

How are Cryptocurrencies valued?
The key question.  Just like any medium of exchange, the cryptocurrencies are valued based on what people will pay for it. Right now, cryptocurrencies are treated more like assets/commodities than money.
1000 naira note

Nigerian Naira

Their current value is based mostly on what people think they will be worth in the future or will do in the future, not on the present usage. If you are buying a cryptocurrency, a little research helps.

There is even a cryptocurrency -DogeCoin-  that was set up as a joke by Jackson Palmer and now has a market capitalisation of over 1.2 billion dollars, you can listen to the story on NPR PlanetMoney
 Why does the value of crytocurrencies appear to only going up and keep going up?  FOMO – Fear of missing out and it may be a bubble, then again, it may now. Caveat Emptor 

Current Challenges
What generation is the underlying blockchain the currency is based on? Bitcoin is generation 1, Ethereum is generation 2, some generation 3 blockchains are coming up. The main differences are transaction speed. One of the shortfalls of Bitcoin and even Ethereum is the slow transaction speed. Bitcoin is maxed out at 7 transactions per second, compared to say Visa which handles 2,000 transactions per second and can hit 50,000 tps

The Bubble issue
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies can go all the way up, or crash, it depends on so many factors and if you are going into cryptocurrencies, do as much research as you can. There are predictions for 60,000 USD per bitcoin and also 5,000 USD dollar per bitcoin, sometimes coming from the same source ().

Our last article in the series will focus on other uses of the blockchain apart from cryptocurrencies. Do keep the comments coming in.

Understanding Money and Cryptocurrencies (Blockchain applications part 2)

Bundle of Money

A cryptocurrency is simply currency/money that is based on strong cryptography to secure its use for transactions, to control the creation of additional units and to verify any operations done with it. Most definitions like to add that cryptocurrencies operate independently of a central bank, but there is no intrinsic reason for it to be so.

In part one, we defined cryptography as a way of encoding or hiding information so that only the person with the correct key can have access to it. No one else can access your encrypted information without the key. Now, this single way of accessing your information is very important to keep in mind. In a traditional banking system, you can access and recover your account even if you lose your bank account details, as far as you can satisfactorily show proof of identity. But the very nature of cryptocurrency means that proof of identity is not required. The only way to show you own your cryptocurrency is to have the digital key!

With currently available technology, the present cryptographic systems are for all intent and purposes immune to hacking and other methods of compromises. This makes cryptocurrencies a very secure way of keeping your valuables safe and secured!

What is the link between cryptocurrency and the blockchain? The validity of the cryptocurrency coin is provided by the blockchain. Currency creation, management, issuance and control is all done on the blockchain. Since there is no central bank managing the cryptocurrency coins (for now), the blockchain provides the security and database that any form of currency needs to satisfy the users that it is actually worth using as a means of exchange and store of value.

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A simple explanation of blockchains and crypto currencies

Chained to a bank?, not anymore.

What is the blockchain?
Say you have an account with Union Bank of Nigeria, every time you pay in money, the bank records it on your account sheet (ledger), every time you do a transfer to another account, it is recorded too. At any point in time, your account statement has a record of all the money inflow and money outflow which then gives your bank balance.
What happens if your record of inflow and outflow does not match with what the bank has? Well, you have to bring all your payment receipts and as much evidence as you can get, the bank looks at this and decides if it should change your balance or not. If you do not agree with their figure, your options are quite limited


The bank has a single database keeping all your transaction records and that of millions of other customers money too. The integrity of the data depends solely on the bank (and the competence of its IT department)

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Nigeria Adventures Day 3 on the road – leaving Oyo to Niger

Just face north and drive, there is only one road out of Kisi in Oyo across Kwara then into Niger state if you are aiming for New Bussa. The Garmin GPS and Google maps both agreed I was on the right route, my compass showed I was heading north, but my eyes had a time believing the track I was on was really a major interstate road.

Broken bridges – check

Rough road, washed out portions, ruts – check

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More Adventures around Nigeria Day 4


Mokwa to Bida was pure bliss! Smooth roads, with enough curves to keep one busy and little traffic to worry about. My target in Bida was the Federal Polytechnic, I did my national service there 30 years ago.

Bida Federal Polytechnic Mechanical & Electrical Engineering

Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Departments at Federal Polytechnic, Bida

Once in a while, you get pleasantly surprised, not a normal occurrence in Nigeria but this was one of those. The school was bigger, neater and hopefully better. I stayed longer than planned, going around the Mechanical Engineering department, talking to students and lecturers and poke-nosing into the labs and workshops.

School tour over, I headed over to Pategi to cross into Kwara state. Summary- 42 km took slightly over 3 hours! and to use the ferry, I had to pay for 10 cars! For a ferry that takes a maximum of 4 cars, long story…

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Adventure around Western Nigeria in a Jeep Rubicon Day 2

One thing with camping out is you just have to wake up early!

Ready to go but the sun was not out till 0645, finally headed out and arrived Ado Awaiye in the early morning. The hills were shrouded in mist, just the way I like them!

Climbing the Oke-Ado Mountain – another name for the hills –  to the hanging lakes was not as simple as driving to the foothills and going up, I first had to go see the ‘Kabiyesi’, the chief of the town, get permission then go with my guides to the entrance to the climb and start going up. I had a guide and three additional chaps who came along on their own, oh well.

40 equivalent floors later, we had reached the top and started making our way to the first lake. The stands of trees up here were quite big and thick, surprising for such a rocky place.

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Six Days in September – My trip around Nigeria Day 1

Have you heard of Ofada Rice? If you live or have visited Nigeria, it is likely you have heard, seen or eaten Ofada Rice, usually served at Upscale Restaurants trying to give diners that home cooked feel, with designs and National Geographic simulations of how we should have been eating back in the good old days.

I looked up Ofada on the map and it is really close to Lagos, under an hour if you exit Lagos at Ikorodu and take the expressway leading to Ibadan. But that timing is on paper and getting it in real life is a dream, especially if you decide to travel on a public holiday which I did. I took off for Ofada and points West and North during the Eid holiday weekend, we left on Saturday a day after the holiday had started to reduce the traffic shock but I still went in a long loop.

Rather than go North from Lekki, I did a 100 km more by going through Epe, Ijebu Ode then Sagamu before descending into Ofada Town. Nice steady driving as against staying in traffic fending off crazy drivers on a mission to wreck their cars before they get home at past midnight.

I arrive Ofada town and then started looking for the rice fields….

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EP19 HowTo Improve Business Skills and Disability Advocacy

Discussion with AVM Femi Gbadebo (rtd.) on starting and running a sustainable business & his work in disability advocacy. He talked about his journey from a fighter pilot to the higher echelon of the Nigeria Airforce, transiting to civilian life, his experiences in disability management and why we should all look into and contribute towards making Nigeria a place where the disabled (and their family) can lead a fulfilled life.

In this interview, we discussed;

  • His Airforce Journey
  • Teaching at the airforce and in civilian life
  • What it takes to start a business
  • How to make your business have staying power/growth
  • Living a life for others and so much more

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