Ever wondered how it is that ISIS or some other group can literally raise an army of thousands of young people all willing to inflict violence?
That always had me thinking. And I think I’ve got a good reason why. I am pretty sure the theories can get quite heavy with these things, but here is one word which I think captures the situation well: Joblessness. (It is a Nigerian word that doesn’t quite mean “unemployed” but it is close enough.) Like, it is mad simple: If you don’t wake up early everyday, get into whatever mode of transportation you use and go to some place where you have to concentrate on something productive for 8 hours, you are basically fair game for some ideologue to turn you into an extremist. Trust me on this, after walking this beat for almost a decade now, I can categorically state (as we are wont to say in Nigeria) that when you get home from work, all you want to do is eat and watch The Real Housewives of Atlanta.
But when you are jobless, all sorts of crazy ideas pop into your head. I often wonder about this when I think of the low-key insurgencies in various stages of upsurge which seem to have appeared all over Nigeria in the past couple of years. Boko Haram, IPOB, Niger Delta activists, violent cults, Sunni militias, and so on. The jobless youth are the tinder for all of these movements. The simple point is that if your country is not providing people something to do, there is a far higher chance that they will get to doing something, and it won’t be anything productive. I am not one for predictions and I try not to be cynical or pessimistic by default, but we have to start to consider whether the chickens are coming home to roost.
In short, at the heart of these insurgencies may simply be a lack of opportunities for young people to be gainfully employed and to watch The Real Housewives of Atlanta.
The internet is remarkable. It is endlessly enlightening and just goddam funny. So I’ve decided to try to compile everything I’ve enjoyed in the past month in one place for… I don’t know why, maybe someone else will appreciate such a list. This is obviously not scientific so some of it may be quite obscure. I hope to make this a series, so if you like this be sure to give it a look at the end of this month. Oh, some of this material will have been produced in the period, others before. I share it as I consume the content. One last thing, the list is not ranked in any way, it’s just stuff I enjoy. Here goes.
- A blog post about an encounter between an African-American academic and the police. I think the author did an exceptional job of maintaining the tension in the story as things developed. But things are pretty fucked up in the U.S. man.
- An essay by Andrew Sullivan. Cellphones and social media have a darkside. This essay engages it thoughtfully. (If this gets you thinking and you want to read a little more about this area, the book Deep Work is not a bad book to read.)
- This is an old twosome by the same author. Read this first then this. The short message here is this: PERSISTENCE.
- An irreverent essay by Nassim Nicholas Taleb about intellectuals.
- Here is an article about travelling with an African passport. I don’t really have anything to add, it is terrible to travel on African passport.
- This is the only book Paul Kalanithi ever wrote. He died of an aggressive form of cancer shortly after finishing the book. It is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read and a powerful story about facing our own mortality. I remember reading the final chapter as his death was all but sure, my daughter kept running up to me to play just as Paul was describing the birth of his daughter while the cancer consumed him alive. I was crying like a child. I recommend this unreservedly.
- Some crazy freestyles and/or performances I picked up on YouTube. First the boy Lupe, Mos Def and Talib, Common, Luda, Luda again, and finally, Black Thought and ?uestlove.
- This is pretty funny.
- Here’s an awesome graphic that should come in handy in future.
- This is funny and weird. Who populated that list?