Sunday, August 31, 2008

Demographic Deficiencies Down-Under

There exists a dearth of men in Australia, not that most are homosexuals or have evolved into effeminates, but that the exodus of men between 24 and 34 years old, have depleted supply. Global warming may be bringing another damaging dimension, this time to the social weather of Australia. After losses caused by the drought, the men have sought better opportunities in other parts of the globe, leaving their country in male aridity or "man drought". There are about 100,000 females more than males Down Under, a paradise for men with Islamic orientations, but a woeful disadvantage for women with monogamous intentions.

The situation has become a game of musical chairs. Large numbers of Australian women have abandoned the countryside, moving to the cities for better job opportunities and lifestyles - leaving communities loaded with much younger males. The men have left the cities for jobs overseas. The gender imbalance in the countryside that's populated by many young men, and the concentration of many unattached women in the major cities, have compelled Australia's demographers to draw a "love map" to plot how the clusters of unattached men and women are distributed across the continent.

Australia is a big place, and even if the map could show these gender clusters, who should make the sacrifice of leaving their jobs and their lifestyles just to meet and mate? It sounds awfully primitive and predatory but that seems to be the concern of demographers because of the far reaching implications of a slump in the "happiness and gratification index", that would affect productivity and mental stability. Or, fears of a sharp rise in same sex relationships and marriages in the countryside and cities that would lead to a birth rate too low to sustain the current and future operations of the economy. No mention was made of adopting from Asian and African countries as an option, nor inter-racial marriage with the Aborigines.

A new approach was made by Mount Isa Mayor John Molony to draw women to his remote mining town which has an oversupply of men. He invited "beauty disadvantaged women" to Mount Isa where happiness awaits. He even stressed this description by citing the fairy tale "The Ugly Duckling" which turned into a beautiful swan - implying that getting a mate or the derivation of physical pleasure from such an arrangement will make any woman happy.

The invitation is ludicrous. It means that any woman who goes there admits to being ugly and desperate. And, any man who marries a visiting woman would have an ugly wife. Also, the presumption that a woman with a man would be assured of happiness only because she obtains a live instrument of manhood is a gross misunderstanding of what makes women happy. It looks at women as starved for sex; and men, as gifts from God, would satisfy this want by making them receptacles for their urges. But the mayor did say that beauty is only skin deep. However with the thickness of the mayor's skin in his declarations, it would perhaps take an eternity for the women to dig deep into that skin to find any semblance of beauty in the men's attitudes and values. If it exists at all.

Perhaps the absence of women has already affected their thinking patterns and reasoning abilities. No such pronouncements has been aired by women who seem to be going about their business enjoying freedom and independence in their careers and lifestyles. If the officials of Mount Isa are fearful of the transformation of their community into "Brokeback Isa", perhaps they could try kangaroos instead. They don't seem to have any preference for looks anyway.


Saturday, August 30, 2008

GOP's Gender Gambit

After 8 years of making the office of the Vice President the de facto President with Dick Cheney, a maneuver stealthily undertaken by Cheney and David Addington; the Republicans are now proposing to transform the same office into an apprenticeship program for the highest office of the country. George W. Bush was rendered a puppet President by the previous alteration that became so obvious he had to declare himself the "Decider" (sic). Now, the GOP hopes to make the office of the Vice President a scholarship project with experiments in gender acceptability and suitability.

The selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is undoubtedly a brilliant move. She will add luster to the boring campaign of John McCain and energize the tired and geriatric appearance of the GOP Presidential candidate. No sooner than her selection was announced, the Republican propaganda machinery headed by Fox network, expressed public opinion influencing statements extolling her qualifications and background. The media machinery of the GOP has been busy promoting her and creating news stories that step over the main candidate. Conservative bloggers who had previously rejected McCain but consistently bashed Obama are all praises for theVP nominee, and state that they will now vote for McCain because of Sarah Palin; who is a stunner and a former beauty queen.

They have now changed their minds because of a woman, after trashing Hillary because she was a woman. If Hillary had been a beauty queen, could they have accepted her? There is also the angle that Palin is not a lawyer which is ideal as far as they're concerned. Perhaps Hillary should have had 5 children too and perhaps played hockey? The conservatives have thrown their conservatism out the window because she is a Republican. And one with a lot of spunk, charisma, and a successful track record in governance and administration for at least 2 years.
The Republicans have chosen someone better looking than Geena Davis to take over the Presidency as Commander-in-Chief. Strategically, her selection is a brilliant move. It is however, a gambit that is not foolproof.

The Republicans hope that Palin's youth would provide sustainable cover for the alzheimeric age of John McCain, rally the young voters to their ticket by her vibrant personality and younger than Obama's years factor, win over Hillary's supporters disgruntled by her failure to capture the DNC nomination, attract those voters who want a woman in the highest echelons of government, and provide a beautiful face for America in the global stage. Experience is her biggest drawback since 2 years as governor may not be sufficient exposure when transposed to the concerns of America today and in the next 4 years. So too would be her total absence of foreign relations and foreign policy expertise. Her role as facilitator for the President with Congress, Washington lobbyists, and power brokers could be detrimental to her longevity if she pursues her former tack. Her acquiesance, on the other hand, could transform her into a Washington type politician in a very short time.

The empowerment of women and their involvement in the highest positions of the country must be supported and advanced, provided this is not a ploy against all women aspiring for higher position. If elected and she is led to fail in this post, it would take a whole generation before another woman could be trusted with such a post or higher. America is late in this development and it has taken a long struggle to get to this point. If she is merely a smokescreen to get McCain elected to continue the policies of the Bush Administration, then this could be damaging to the idea of having a woman President in the next 2 decades.

What American voters should bear in mind is the fact that if the Republicans win, it will be McCain who will be President, not Palin. And if the expectations of the GOP about what they hope to achieve with Palin as McCain's running mate are true, then they consider Republican supporters and American voters at large as an entity with a ridiculous incapacity for logical thinking, blinded by party loyalty that discriminates against the interest of the country as a whole. Party bigwigs and strategists most probably see American voters as manipulable, gullible, and possessed with brains that are valued in the organ donor market for their slightly used or mint condition.

On the other hand, all the enthusiasm and jubilation at the appointment of the sensational Sarah Palin may be appropriate and timely. McCain, who pales in comparison to Palin, could really use the sizzle she could bring to the campaign. The GOP could truly want both their nominees to win and would want Palin to be prepared immediately for the highest post, because, shortly after the election, they expect McCain to die.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Thesis of Teacher Thea

Teachers - once defined by their commitment to molding minds through the inculcation of values and knowledge were, for some time, considered a vanishing breed. The dedication with which practitioners ennobled their profession by nurturing the learning process of their students with personal involvement and sacrifice - elevated the profession to the highest levels of esteem society could provide. Their valued contribution towards development was critical in sustaining the future of a just and humane society.

Over the last 2 decades, this breed was thought to be extinct, replaced by the mechanical method of instruction bound by rules, procedures and statistical parameters that made education a rigid dogma - implemented by civil servants saddled by tons of duties unrelated to education and burdened by low compensation.
This reduced the practice to near mendicancy and loss of self esteem that relegated the teachers to the dustbin of forgotten and regrettable professions. Only a handful of the very senior ones remaining seemed to carry on the nobility of molding upright citizens for the country. However, a new crop of teachers from the current generation have been blessed with the DNA of those highly respected teachers of the past. One such teacher is Althea Danielle Tolentino.

Teacher Thea is a typical single young woman on the threshold of joining the teaching profession. Despite having a more comfortable life than most students her age, she was never detached from the realities and circumstances that impact on the less fortunate children who do not have the opportunity for a college education. She consistently equated this unfortunate situation to the country's future, so much so that she chose an indigent community in Metro Manila to take part in the major portion of her thesis in Music Education major in Classic Guitar at the University of the Philippines. The thesis calls for the training of a group of people in classic guitar music for 13 weeks, and for this group to perform in a recital for the purpose. Teacher Thea knew that the skills her would-be students would acquire may give them some opportunities and open some doors to a better way of life after the recital. The training would be given for free.

For this training up to the recital, teacher Thea secured the commitment of a major music store to provide the guitars, which were to be returned after their performance. There were 11 students of various ages who signed up for the training, but who were skeptical about the learning they would get, or the completion of the timetable and program for the training. Teacher Thea understood this doubt since many broken promises from various sectors and politicians have jaded their view of do-gooders. The training began on July 3rd 2008 with the recital scheduled for October 5th. Only 3 guitars were available then, one belonged to teacher Thea, and the other two she borrowed from her friends.

After 3 weeks, the students were convinced by the seriousness of the effort and were thrilled by the skills they were acquiring. They also appreciated teacher Thea's empathy regarding their dreams and the predicaments that hinder these. Even the neighbors were getting impressed by the sounds they were hearing from the training site, and were excited at the idea of seeing their friends perform at the University. But they were practicing with only 3 guitars which teacher Thea entrusted them with, and which they passed around at the end of each training session to practice what was taught. They had not played together as a group and could not hear the full compliment of 11 guitars played at the same time. The company that promised to provide the guitars had not come through, and appeared to have reneged on their commitment.

Teacher Thea noticed the worried look on their faces at the end of 3 weeks and feared that the disappointment would demolish their enthusiasm. She was wrong. The students were actually worried that she would get a low grade for the failed training and time was running out. They were wrong too, because teacher Thea was less concerned about her grade, and was worried that the failed training would lend credence to their belief that this effort is another unfulfilled promise. The students showed her their drawings of guitar frets with dotted lines where the fingers for the chords should be placed, and told her that they could still practice the pieces selected - an action meant to motivate their teacher. She however, showed enthusiasm for this approach to discourage self pity amongst her students. But she knew she had to do something.

Teacher Thea posted an appeal on her Multiply website last August 20 citing the circumstances and requesting kind hearted people to lend guitars for the trainees. On the very next day, she received an overwhelming response with donations of cash and people unknown to her lending their guitars - dropping it off at the University's College of Music. She had enough for each of her trainees which were to be returned after the recital. She pasted the names of her trainees on the guitars for their personal use. Upon seeing their names and the instruments, the students were in near tears, and for the first time, they practiced and played together with the full compliment of 11 guitars.

Teacher Thea has enough cash to buy 4 good locally made guitars. If more donations come through, she intends to purchase a guitar for each of her 11 students to be given after the recital as a surprise gift.

What is evident here is the positive response to genuine and sincere endeavor, coupled with skill and applied with the acceptance and understanding of the needs of recipients - that unlocked the interest and aptitude for learning the skills taught;
the creation of hope where resignation once thrived; and the recognition of society at large of the value that such an approach could engender which they have long sought and thought to have ended. No doubt, other pockets of nobility in the teaching profession exists in many parts of the country. One other such practitioner is teacher Yeng based in Davao City, who continues to upgrade her skills to have more meaningful interaction with her students through knowledge and understanding.

There is perhaps a new element that teacher Thea will add to her thesis: that in giving her utmost best and using all available avenues, learning and the enthusiastic embrace of the lessons taught will provide her such exhilarating satisfaction no other experience can match. That learning is nourishment for mind and soul. Finally, that those bureaucrats and politicians who have demeaned the profession should be banished from this earth.


Monday, August 18, 2008

Bakaasi and the Baptism of Blood Oil

As Cameroonians partied and celebrated on the beaches of the northern side of Bakaasi, some 300,000 Nigerian fishermen were forced to swallow the painful and bitter pill of eviction from the Bakaasi peninsula. The loss of their rich fishing culture as a result of the handover has destroyed their way of life. Some 30,000 of them had moved to a location set aside for them at Cross River state, but it has no access to the sea. Cameroonians will own the fishing resources, and look forward to reaping the benefits of the substantial oil fields believed to be deposited offshore, but remained untapped because of the dispute. This offshore resource could be their baptism into the realm of blood oil.

Nigeria observed its commitment to the rule of law, but challenged the ruling of the International Court of Justice against it based on a 19th century colonial agreement between Britain and Germany. Two years ago, it agreed to cede the peninsula to Cameroon – citing the bigger gains of its adherence than the pain of losing ancestral homes. The fisher folks feel however that the government abandoned its duties. The massive displacement of families from Bakaasi could provide a wealth of recruits for the “militants” who are in the business of “illegal bunkering”, and the way of life of these Nigerian fishermen may be transformed beyond what they bargained for because of their desperation.

These “militants” were once armed militias of state governments, recruited to conduct large scale rigging of the 2003 elections. After being abandoned, they turned to oil theft to fund their activities. Most of these militants are gangs led by commanders, who are constantly battling each other for a larger share of their clientele’s business. Their tasks are to provide security to the barges and ships engaged in oil bunkering and neutralize all interference to the systematic theft of oil. They bribe the Nigerian military and coerce local leaders to allow the bunkerers to pass. They are also used by their clients to blow up pipelines to force the oil companies to shut down the flow, allowing them to install taps and valves in the pipeline. The installation is usually done by an expert formerly employed by the oil company.

The oil bunkerers who hire these militants have formed a cartel, and are operated by some of Nigeria’s powerful political kingmakers who brandish immense political influence. Nigerian President Umaru Yar’Adua likened the situation to the blood diamonds that resulted in brutal civil wars in West Africa, and has called on the international community to assist in ending this illegal trade. Some members of this syndicate may even be supporters and financiers of Yar’Adua himself. Going against them could induce a coup d’ etat, a civil war, or destabilization efforts that could bring the state to its knees. Yar’Adua is thus held hostage by the syndicates that affect his government’s efforts at eradicating corruption.

Less than a handful of the militant groups are genuinely inspired by nationalism. Most are engaged in selling their services to the cartel. This nationalist fervor is used as a cover by the cartel for the massive losses in oil supplies, attributing the theft to the cause of the pro-people activists. But militant assisted theft is just one method. Fake documents, excess loading of oil beyond what is allowed, or simply lifting oil from the dock and diverted to the cartel’s vessels; all with the connivance of oil company officials, ship’s captains and national oil state officials, are also carried out. Around 80,000 barrels of oil are stolen daily, bringing the cartel’s revenues to an estimated US $60 million a day. An amount they would kill for if this revenue stream were obstructed by anyone, including President Yar’Adua.

Nigeria has agreed to work with Cameroon to explore oil in the Bakaasi peninsula. This will involve officials and powerful political figures from two independent states. A partnership that may result in another oil bunkering cartel between the existing Nigerian syndicate and a new Cameroonian bloc. The potential for conflict exists in the essence of the greed and avarice underlying the illegal intent. And if suspicions on revenue undercutting occurs, the result could be bloody with overwhelming political repercussions – including war. Militants may be recruited from the displaced Nigerians, whose bitterness about their own country’s neglect could fuel their passions, but would suffocate their souls. Cameroonian hopes for a better life may be quashed by constant violent clashes with militants, or trapped in a savage war with their neighbors.

These events have not yet transpired but the elements for their fruition are already in place. It may take a couple of years or more for the actual oil production to take place in Bakaasi, if substantial oil deposits do exist. President Yar’Adua already feels his inability to eradicate the cartel as evidenced by his slowing down on reforms and corruption. Seeking assistance from the international community gives a global recognition to the problem, but it does little to impede the cartel’s operations. Either this is merely hand washing on Yar’Adua’s part, or a sincere and meticulous evaluation of the extent of efforts he is willing to take.

Being an intelligent and perceptive leader, President Yar’Adua perhaps realizes that the shadowy forces that lurk beneath and behind government and the aspirations of his people are serious threats to the progress and development of his country. Allowing them to operate unimpeded could return Nigeria to backwardness and despair. This is his Gethsemane. A confrontation with these shadowy forces is inevitable, but at a huge cost and sacrifice on his part – perhaps with his life. This would be the parameters by which his devotion to duty and love of country would be measured; together with the noble heroism by which he stands by his principles for the benefit of Nigeria and its people. Or, he can look the other way and be less than a mere shadow of himself, and the promises he has made for Nigerians. The forked road awaits him. Whatever path he takes, at the end of that road lies his destiny.


Friday, August 15, 2008

Advance of the Amber Americans

The idea that America, as we know it today, would turn into the land of the yellows, the browns and the blacks in a short span of 34 years may be disconcerting to many conservative Americans. Caucasians have long dominated the population in terms of numbers, and the world at large has long gotten used to the country's predominantly white citizens as the traditional face of the American race. The minority status of Caucasian Americans is perhaps nature's way of reversing fortunes, and the acceptance or rejection of this evolution by the present generation will determine the smooth transition, or rough sailing, of this event.

The native Americans never quite reached that point of being dominant as they were decimated beyond ever becoming a majority in the nation's demographics. Prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus, they were all over the land. But they were unable to deter the illegal immigrants from pouring in great numbers time and again, violating their borders, slaughtering their livestock, destroying the environment, and destabilizing the ecological balance. They were unprepared for the massive influx of undocumented illegals whose weaponry were far superior to their arrows and spears. They were driven to wastelands after being reduced to less than a fraction of their number, where their way of life and beliefs would be eroded by psychological and cultural damage, to just wither and fade.

The US Census Bureau estimates that by 2042, or 8 years earlier than expected, Hispanics, Asians, and all other races combined will become the majority. No mention was made of Middle Eastern nationalities, but it will be a population that's different in age, race and ethnicity. However, the Caucasians will still be the major population group, accounting for 46 to 48%. The Census Bureau qualified its projections by stating that the numbers are subject to big revisions depending on immigration policies, and natural and/or man made disasters. This does not mean that government and industry would all be headed by non-Caucasians at the time, as many of these Amber Americans would probably still be children and infants.

But there would be changes in the landscape. We would see more tea houses than Starbucks; a lot of Dimsum, Sushi bars and Taco outlets, and a lot less of McDonalds; and plenty of steamed buns, spring rolls and Tamales outnumbering the hot dog stands 3 to 1. Kentucky Fried Chicken may probably be outsold by Yan's Peking Duck or Nguyen's Pho Bo, or even Pacita's Halo-Halo. There will also be changes in daily wear as traditional clothing of the more conservative members from various ethnic groups would dot the urban and suburban areas. Or, the American flag could be seen printed on a turban wrapped around the heads of many Asian men. The American accent may also undergo changes and its distinctions may be blurred (as in the Boston, New York, or Mid-West accent), and new words would enrich the American vocabulary - although these may not be immediately understood by all. Religion may be predominantly Catholic, or Buddhist, or Hindu.

Hollywood will produce movies in various languages, all with English sub-titles; and televison talk show hosts will have new faces. The Late Show with Dan Wong and Tonight Show with Juan Lanuza will top bill the airwaves. Country music and all other genre will sound funny compared to what it sounds today. Newspapers and publications will also have very different formats and concepts. US Ambassadors may be ethnically from the countries they are assigned to, and this could foster better understanding and world peace.

However, the reverse is also true. The ethnicity may engender divisions and bitter conflict among the competing races that may result in ethnic re-grouping; where the different states are dominated by a particular ethnic group. The unfortunate effect would be the break-up of the states into independent countries; and worse, warring among themselves.

There are many possibilities, some positve, some negative. How this is handled and managed by the country's leaders up to that point will establish how truly noble America is, and how much this rich aggrupation of culture and divergence could be harnessed and molded to make it the greatest country on earth. Or, the paranoia of many members of its current dominant population could impede this development, and it would lose the source of its wealth and power - as well as the intangible values that would make it the citadel of justice and equality. That is the saddest development of all.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Gaffe in Georgia's Gamble

World leaders were celebrating peace, unity and sportsmanship at the grand opening ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but deceit and betrayal were foremost in their minds. In the remote Eastern European state of South Ossetia, sinister plots were initiated as the world's attention was focused on the games; conducted by the minions of treachery and orchestrated by the congenital aggressors masquerading as defenders of human rights and democratic ideals. This duplicity wasted many lives and brought untold suffering to thousands more, but the unspeakable intent threatens to create tensions beyond the intensity of post war conflicts, that may cause irreparable damage to the fragile fabric of peace.

Georgia President Mikheil Saakashvili ordered an attack on South Ossetia last August 7, in a bid to retake the largely independent but internationally unrecognized state. Georgian forces, trained and equipped by America, were ferried from their posts in Iraq by US ships - where they were given battle experience - to form the Georgian frontline. The attack elicited a response from Russian troops stationed in South Ossetia, whose presence as peacekeepers was ordained in 1992 by Edward Shevarnadze, and who subsequently assumed Georgia's Presidency in 1995. At the time, Abkhazia and South Ossetia were embroiled in widespread inter-ethnic violence and wars; with Russian support, both regions achieved de facto independence from Georgia.

The South Ossetians are hostile towards the government of Georgia, where differences in language, culture, and way of life are wide and deep. Their long violent history against Geogia reached its tipping point in 1989, and since then, tensions have always been at fever pitch. In 2004, Georgia under Saakashvili reasserted its authority in the southwestern autonomous Republic of Ajaria. This success encouraged Georgia to intensify efforts at taking back South Ossetia; but with Russia's open assistance, the effort failed. South Ossetians have embraced Russia and have been issued passports as Russian citizens. The attack therefore on South Ossetia on August 7, gave Russia the moral authority and obligation to intervene not just as peacekeepers - but to defend its citizens from hostile acts of war and annexation - and to cripple the enemy's capability to launch another offensive.

It is believed that Georgia would not behave so audaciously without the blessings of the west and its benefactor the United States. The Georgian military was strengthened through a series of reforms after the Rose Revolution, which deposed Shevarnadze in 2003 and elected Saakashvili as President. Of its 45,000 strong force, 12,000 were trained and equipped by America and fielded in Iraq as part of the coalition forces. But these forces were no match for the Russian presence which destroyed Georgia's military hardware and facilities in the 5 day battle; and severely weakened the morale of its soldiers. More than this, President Saakashvili may have lost all credibility in reasserting Georgian power in this Eastern European enclave.

Mikheil Saakashvili and his western backers grossly misjudged Russia's response to this aggression, and miscalculated the extent of the very thorough trashing of its forces and military equipment. He overplayed a weak position to begin with by attacking "Russian citizens", hoping the shadow of the US-NATO alliance would bluff Russia to acquiesce. He was dead wrong. He also failed to read the mindset of Russia's leaders where since the Orange Revolution in Ukraine resulting in that state's alliance with the west, Moscow made preparations to strengthen its political structures and systems - expecting this event to be exported to Russian soil. Moscow also saw fit to deem Ukraine and Georgia as hostile influences.

The West's response was to call a halt to "Russian Aggression" and flashed news of "1,500 deaths as Russia Bombs Georgia". The biased and slanted reporting and delicate formulation of stories creates impressions of Russia as the one taking the offensive. Photos of a burning apartment block that was missed by a bomb targeted for a military facility adds credence to the slant. But no photos of the devastation of South Ossetia's capital has been shown. The orchestration of the media has long been prepared by the west for this act of aggression, but the results on the ground are a lot different from what they expected. Russia rightly delayed accepting the ceasefire until they were in a stronger position from where they could dictate the terms. The US-Nato ploy has backfired.

Russia was very displeased when the US-Nato supported and recognized Kosovo's declaration of independence a few months back. The west celebrated the right of Albanians to declare their freedom and seek their own path of development away from Serbia. This event was in the back of Moscow's mind, and it bolstered its own argument for intervention in South Ossetia by using the wests's policy of allowing smaller ethnic groups to declare their freedom from a larger state, where ethnic differences and a long history of violent conflicts have no possibility of merging or consolidating as one. In addition, Russia sees the series of interventions by the west as encirclement of its own country, with the alignment of Ukraine, Georgia and Kosovo to the west, as well as the pincer approach to Iran from Afghanistan and Iraq - effectively cutting off the Caspian Sea - where oil supplies from the middle east by-pass Russia.

The US-Nato combine can move to expel Russia as a peacekeeper because it is a participant in the conflict, and acted as an aggressor. Moscow can counter that it did its job as peacekeeper by pushing back the real aggressor into the former boundaries prior to the conflict. If that fails, Russia can always claim to have defended its citizens from attack. The end game may result in a diplomatic stalemate but Russia has won this exchange. It has effectively demolished the Georgian military whose backers are still fighting on two fronts and cannot afford to antagonize a positioned bear ready to strike. Russia has also weakened Saakashvili, whose opponents may demand his resignation for the heavy price they'll have to pay for this mis-adventure.

The US-NATO combine will certainly pull back and limit themselves to diplomatic sound bytes on peace and liberty in an attempt to picture Russia as a hegemonist - then will scheme at a later date to orchestrate another offensive - all in the name of democracy and the western way of life. When in fact, it's oil that has always been the issue, and the control of supplies and reserves globally; to the point of waging war and induce savage acts of cruelty on hapless populations, all in the name of freedom, human rights and democratic ideals.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Mandate to Mend and to Marry

Bello Abubakar had been sought for his ability to cure, and his reputation as a healer is surpassed only by the frequency with which God communicates with him. Over the last several decades, he has healed ailments that he sees and simply removes, because of what he claims is the power granted by Allah. Among the many he has healed are women, and he married 86 of them - siring a total of 176 children. Apparently, the power includes a substantial amount of animal magnetism that induces endurance as well. It is a force of healing and breeding that has transformed this former Teacher and Preacher into God's gift to women of Nigeria.

Bello may be a believer in the curative powers of love, and marrying those women whom God told him to heal and wed increases the potency and efficacy of his healing capabilities. But cloning technology may have to be applied to his passion for healing, because with 86 wives, he hardly has time to get dressed - much less heal. Or, he may need equipment similar to an ATM which dispenses his love juice that his wives can withdraw, to continue their lifetime treatment. The dispenser may be molded according to the structure of his endowment.

At 84 years old, most of Bello Abubakar's wives are less than 25% of his age, and a considerable number are younger than his own children. He contends however that no punishment is meted in the Koran for having more than 4 wives, and the boundaries are limited only by one's endurance, endowment and ability. Words spoken like a true love God. Moreover, since Allah specified punishment for fornication and adultery, he is better blessed because he married all of them. A love God of the marrying kind - truly a gift for womanhood.

Despite the absence of George Clooney's charm, Brad Pitt's physique, and Barack Obama's eloquence, Bello's curing skills are attested to and praised by all his wives. Perhaps his healing instrument is as phenomenal as that of Big John Holmes. Convincing all 86 of them is already a spectacular feat in itself, where most men cannot even convince their wives about coming home very late because a commercial jet landed on the freeway. They came with various ailments and all were cured. It is unclear if their ills were from the waist down. To his credit, Bello never left any of them - with 176 kids, it's obvious he always came.

Islamic authorities in Nigeria have been alienated by Bello's family life and have labeled it a cult. Most of his wives stay in an unfinished and fetid house in Bida, others in a house in Lagos. His wives do not work and there is no visible means of feeding such a humongous brood. But one wife said they ask the kids to beg for money, setting a quota for each that would suffice to feed the community daily. Often, it is insufficient. With hardly any time for healing new clients, his income declined, but his libido remains constant. He has already exceeded Jihad's promise of 76 virgins in heaven after death, enjoying heaven on earth while very much alive. Small wonder his wives believe he is next in line from the prophet Muhammad.

Seriously, this is another assault on womens rights and is definitely an injustice to humanity, but none of the wives will ever be convinced that they are being violated. The hunger and lack of education of the mothers and the children would be sufficient grounds to terminate this aberrant situation, but no action could be mounted. Oddly, Bello Abubakar advises all men not to follow his example - not because of the atrocity it creates but because they might collapse from exhaustion. Perhaps it would be ideal for Nigeria's pharmaceutical industry to analyze and recreate what makes him tick and to produce a product that would effectively compete with viagra from his DNA. It could generate more food for his family and provide an income stream greater than Nigeria's oil.

However, Allah willing, none of his sons would have the same healing prowess nor inclination for his tempestuous vocation. If not, heaven help the 69 million women of Nigeria, whose population may increase beyond what the country can possibly absorb.