January 2007

On Fox News last Sunday we finally heard a definitive bit of push back from Joe Biden. This is particularly welcome, since the Bush administration has been doing the terrorists jobs for them, more effectively than the terrorists ever could. As it says at Crooks and Liars:

All you Democrats, pay attention, this is what you should be saying EVERY time you’re on the air.

WALLACE: “Sen. Biden, I know this is not your intent, but in fact, wouldn’t your resolution send a message that would embolden our enemies and discourage our troops in the field?”

BIDEN: “Absolutely not. And not only does Carl Levin and Joe Biden and Senator Hagel and Senator Snowe but the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Iraqi Study Group, every single person out there that is of any consequence thinks, knows the Vice President doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I can’t be more blunt than that. He is yet to be right one single time on Iraq. Name me one single time he’s been correct. It’s about time we stop listening to that ideological rhetoric and Bin Laden and the rest. Bin Laden isn’t the issue here, but Bin Laden will become the issue. The issue is there’s a civil war, Chris…”

Jane Hamsher and Christy Hardin Smith have built a fabulous and increasingly powerful political community through their blog FireDogLake. Jane just underwent surgery for breast cancer. CrossedCrocodiles joins all those wishing her well and a speedy recovery. It is wonderful to read all the information and opinion collected at FireDogLake. I urge anyone who reads this to go there and read, and donate something to share their support for Jane and the blog. We need both her and the FireDogLake community to help restore a liberal and progressive political culture in the USA.

I Go Chop Your Dollar came out in the fall of 2005, and seems to be an anthem for the Lads from Lagos, the Nigerian 419ers. As Dibussi Tande says:

Nigerian artist, Nkem Owoh (aka Osuofia) released a song titled “I go chop your dollar” which ridicules Europeans and Americans who fall for these scams. Although the song is a satirical happy-go-lucky number, it immediately became the unofficial 419 anthem.

Watch the video.

Although the song may seem to be praising criminal behavior, criminal behavior has always been a source of entertainment, look at the popularity of the Godfather movies or the Sopranos TV show. This song captures a major social phenomenon with a very catchy and danceable song. I think everyone who gets email has received some of these 419 messages at some time or another. It is even possible to view them as a rather entertaining effort in creative writing.

The singer, Osuofia, Nkem Owoh, is a comic actor who has starred in a number of Nollywood movies, such as Osuofia in London. You can find more at iNollywood by searching for him by name. Naija Jams provides us some more information:

Prior to seeing the video, I was confused and didn’t know exactly what to think. I asked myself, “Have the 419ers taken over Lagos? Are they so popular that their praises were being sung on the radio?” Thankfully the video is out and after viewing it, everything became immediately clear to me. I’d like to share a few points:

  1. The artist on the track is Nigeria’s most popular comedic actor, Nkem Owoh
  2. Nkem is known throughout West Africa for his comedic wit & flawless delivery in films such as, such as: My In Law, Atinga, Ukwa, Osuofia in London, etc.
  3. He is often interchangeably referred to as the characters in his films – most commonly Osuofia.
  4. The song, “Oyinbo, I Go Chop Your Dollar,” is the title track from the comedy, The Master, starring Nkem Owoh as a scheming 419er.
  5. The song is intended to be a comedic accompaniment and title track to the film, The Master.
  6. If there was any doubt, lyrics like, “National Airport na me get am / National Stadium na me build am” (I own the National Airport / I built the Nigerian National Stadium (Surulere – Lagos, Nigeria)) clearly communicate this.

Hopefully this clarifies things for some viwers.

You can read brief descriptions of some of the common 419 scams and find the lyrics to the song here:

I Go Chop Your Dollar

I don suffer no be small
Upon say I get sense
Poverty no good at all, no
Na im make I join this business
419 no be thief, its just a game
Everybody dey play am
if anybody fall mugu, ha! my brother I go chop am

National Airport na me get am
National Stadium na me build am
President na my sister brother
You be the mugu, I be the master
Oyinbo I go chop your dollar, I go take your money dissapear
419 is just a game, you are the loser I am the winner
The refinery na me get am,
The contract, na you I go give am
But you go pay me small money make I bring am
you be the mugu, I be the master… na me be the master ooo!!!!

When Oyinbo play wayo, them go say na new style
When country man do im own, them go de shout bring am, kill am, die!
Oyinbo people greedy, I say them greedy
I don see them tire thats why when them fall enter my trap o!
I dey show them fire

Your source for the real news here.

A boat on the Afram river

Is the present government of Ghana assisting the US to recolonize Ghana? Will it allow the US to build a military base in the most fertile part of Ghana, the Afram plains, Ghana’s bread basket? It is no secret that the US wants a military presence in West Africa.

Please make no mistake, a US base would mean recolonization. The present US government are contemptuous of their European allies, even their own people. The Republicans who run the government have for the most part been brought up to be contemptuous of people with darker skin, and are not likely to give up these attitudes. They may deny that, but race baiting is still one of their core campaign tactics. The Bush government destroys just about everything it touches, and we don’t want its heavy hand on Ghana. In so far as a base might bring jobs, those opportunities would be opportunities to be servants to colonial masters, with no upward mobility.

In recent decades the US has a habit of encouraging anti-democratic forces within countries, because the representatives of those forces are often much more willing to sell out their countries and countrymen to short term US interests. A US base in Ghana would mean even more attempts by the US to meddle in Ghanaian politics. And it would not be in order to help Ghanaian democracy flourish.

Ghana has an enormous amount to be proud of, maintaining an independent democracy in the midst of often very undemocratic surrounding countries. Certainly there are problems in Ghana, but the stable government encourages businesses and economic opportunities. The peaceful transfer of power is critical to economic development and opportunity. The story from the Afram plains is particularly worrisome.

From the Headlines at the GhanaHomePage:

The agenda of building US military base(s) in Ghana has now been exposed.

Months gone by a number of our Ghanaians drowned on the Volta Lake when they were forcibly removed from a forest reserve they called home. The reasons that the State gave to the Ghanaian public, at the time of tragedy was that, the victims were cutting down trees in the forest reserve. Not much was done for the survivors by our Government.
. . .

Contrary to the official version of the event, certain citizens leaked disturbing information, which alleged that the Ghanaian government was planning to use the area to build forward bases for the US military. Equally troublingly is the fact that, the Afram Plains is the nation’s breadbasket. It stretches along some of the most fertile lands needed for food production.

Why Afram plains many might ask? The reason is simply. It will be ideal for military bases. The bases will easily have access to fresh water, via the Volta Lake. The Afram Plains is a flat land, which makes it a suitable environment for the construction of airstrips. There are no hills or forests to hide enemies, whether real or imaginary. The lake serves as an easy and reliable route to transport heavy munitions, personnel and vital supplies such as food to the bases. From what this writer has read and seen the US military plans to open up an entrance, via Volta Region and Ada, for their frigates and other small to medium naval vessels.

The government of Ghana did deny and still denies that, there are any such plans for the US forces in Ghana. . . Unfortunately for our government, its attempt to shield the truth from the Ghanaian public was exposed by recent interviews granted by US military officials and strategist who are now openly talking about building bases in Senegal, Uganda, Ghana, Djibouti, Cameroon, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. In one such interviews, which was reported by the Insight newspaper, one official stated that, “The United States of America is seriously considering the establishment of a military base in Ghana for the sole purpose of protecting its access to West African oil.” Marine General James L. Jones, Head of the US European Command, who made the disclosure said the Pentagon was seeking to acquire access to two kinds of bases in Senegal, Ghana, Mali and Kenya and other African Countries (Source: The Centre for Research on Globalization. (CRG)

When you consider the expressed purpose of a base is US oil interests, one has to think of the devastation western oil interests have created in the nearby Niger delta. Are they likely to be any more responsible, democratic, and inclusive in Ghana?

The Afram plains are north of the Afram river, which is a major tributary of the Volta, and also forms part of the Volta lake. You can see the Afram plains marked on the map here.

Ghana has a wealth of knowledge and talent, but too much of that talent has travelled away from Ghana. German President Dr. Horst Kohler has been visiting Ghana, and among the things he discussed was the brain drain, of educated professionals out of Ghana. Dr. Kohler said essentially the same thing as Dr. Ali Mazrui in a lecture about the brain drain from all of Africa:

. . . as much as there existed ‘pull-in’ factors that attracted the continent’s professionals to, especially, the western world there was the need to look at the ‘push-out’ factors and address them.

Ghana’s successes are beginning to attract back some of her professionals. At least there are a number of people I know who are talking about returning to Ghana, and a number have already gone home. But in Ghana there is one big “push-out” factor that I see. Not only are salaries too low in terms of cost of living, workers are not paid on time, or regularly, or sometimes even at all, and this includes government workers, especially outside the capitol. There are many highly skilled and dedicated people in Ghana. But if they cannot earn a living, even when they have a job, leaving Ghana becomes more tempting. If the government just paid its workers regularly and on time, it could keep many more dedicated professionals who love Ghana. The same is true for businesses and individual employers.

As The Chronicle says:

The Ghanaian worker, has, since Independence been called upon to sacrifice for brighter days, which never seem to come and going by the figures on what is paid expatriates, The Chronicle believes we can do better for our professionals to minimize the ‘push-out’ factors.

It is worth remembering, we are still a democracy.

The reason local police should not be involved with immigration enforcement is that it makes our communities more dangerous for all of us.

If someone is afraid to report crime, the criminals have free run of the community. Many of the people stirring up fear of illegal aliens have much to gain by creating a climate of fear. One example is a member of the Virginia General Assembly, right in Virginia Congressman Virgil Goode‘s backyard. Delegate to the Virginia General Assembly Allen Dudley maintains a trailer slum exploiting illegal immigrants, overcharging for unsanitary conditions.

GOTV explains quite clearly the danger to the community that occurs if we mix immigration law with local policing. It makes our communities much more dangerous:

I just want to point out the obvious, these politicians who rant about illegal aliens are just jerking our chain. What they really want is illegal aliens who are so fearful that they will endure any insult, any exploitation, any crime, rather than bring it to the attention of the authorities for fear of deportation. This is exactly why mixing immigration law with local police work is such rotten policy.

Virginia has certain laws governing landlords, including housing codes. Before you can rent, your property must meet minimum standards. By renting to illegal aliens, and then stirring up a political hysteria against immigrants, you reduce the possibility of immigrants reporting any crime you might be committing. So you can rent slum property, pay workers with rubber checks, and run a hundred other scams, secure in the knowledge that your victims will never bring you to justice.

And it is not just illegal immigrants, or even legal immigrants, even naturalized citizens, years after they have been naturalized, are reluctant to report crimes for fear of the authorities. The current hysteria about immigration is making our society much more dangerous.

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