Archive | September 2014

Famous people you didn’t know were Scottish

By Frederick Mordi

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Today, Scottish people will take a historic decision that will change their lives. They will either vote to remain in the United Kingdom, or vote for independence, in a referendum that has received global attention.

Should the Scots vote to end their union, Scotland would become the youngest country in the world, displacing South Sudan, which gained independence from Sudan on July 11, 2011. But the Scottish pre-ballot polls has so far shown that the result is too close to call. According to analysts, 34 new countries have emerged since 1990, mostly through political upheavals and wars. Interestingly, the Scottish vote has more to do with national pride than the typical factors that often compel nations to split.

However, experts have warned the Scots of grim political and economic repercussions should they go ahead to break away from the UK. The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, whose unfortunate lot it is to convince Scotland to remain in the 300 year-old union, has been quite emotional in his appeal, promising to grant ‘more powers’ to the Scottish Parliament if Scotland decides to stay.

While the world awaits the result of the referendum, it might be worthwhile to take a closer look at a few famous Scots and their contributions to humanity.

Business

Carnegie

Andrew Carnegie, billionaire steel magnate and renowned philanthropist, widely regarded as a titan in the business world; Sir Thomas Lipton, who created the Lipton tea brand; and B. C. Forbes, a journalist and founder of Forbes Magazine, are all Scots. Adam Smith, author of The Wealth of Nations, who is often called the ‘father of economics,’ is also a Scottish national.

Inventors

ATM

Among famous Scots whose inventions revolutionised the world are John Logie Baird, who invented the television; Alexander Graham Bell, credited with invention of the telephone; and John Shepherd-Barron, inventor of the Automatic Teller Machine (ATM). Of course, science will forever remain grateful to another Scotsman, Sir Alexander Fleming, for his discovery of Penicillin.

Explorers

In this category are William Baikie, a naturalist, philologist and surgeon, who helped open up Nigeria to British trade; David Livingstone, a medical doctor, missionary and intrepid explorer, who did much to end slavery in Africa; and Mungo Park, botanist and surgeon, credited with the discovery of the source of the River Niger.

Novelists

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who wrote the Sherlock Holmes series; Robert Louis Stevenson of the Treasure Island fame; and Alistair MacLean, author of The Guns of Navarone and Where Eagles Dare, two novels on World War II that were made into epic films.

Celebrities

Alex

Fans of Manchester United F.C would recall with nostalgia, the exploits of Sir Alex Ferguson, who successfully managed the club for many years. And the last but definitely not the least on this list of illustrious Scots is popular James Bond star and versatile actor, Sean Connery. Philosopher David Hume and Jerry Rawlings, former president of Ghana, who is half-Scot, are placed in this group for convenience.

Whatever the outcome of the referendum, Scotland will definitely remain in the news for a while.

The sanitary inspector

 

By Frederick Mordi

“Yee!” he bleated like a goat in labour, “you are aggravating my pains, woman! Can’t you do it gently? Your hands are as coarse as an elephant’s skin!”

“Sorry, pa Favour,” she replied soothingly, unable to tell him that he was partly responsible for her calloused hands. “I was only trying to help. Should I continue?”

He grunted.

She was more careful now as she rubbed the pungent ointment all over his battered body. There was an egg-sized lump on his head, a deep gash on his forehead and inflated balloons on his thick lips. One would be forgiven in thinking that he ran into a bulldozer…Gogo, who runs the local pharmacy, had stitched him up hurriedly yesterday, after some sympathisers rushed him in.

“Chei! pa Favour, these people are wicked o!” she remarked tearfully between short pauses. “Were they planning to turn me into a widow? See what they did to you! They should be locked up in the police station.”

“How do you mean?” he growled, trying to suppress another pang of pain, which shot through his shoulders. He gritted his teeth and tried to sit up but he fell back on the bed again, awkwardly.

“Why don’t you just take my advice for once and apply for re-deployment to another less hazardous department before they kill you for me?” she whined. “This sanitary inspector work that you do is too dangerous for my liking! You could have gotten yourself lynched by that mob, you know. You were lucky those policemen came in the nick of time. Your cowardly colleagues turned tail when you needed them the most!”

“Are you trying to teach me my job, woman?” the man called pa Favour demanded gruffly. “Mind your business!” She did not give him any more trouble.

Having cowed his wife into submission, he sat up on the rumpled bed with some effort. He finally managed to swallow the pain reliever she left for him on a stool beside the bed, with a glass of water. A dark scowl covered his face as he explored his head with his index finger gingerly.

Pa Favour, the new Chief Sanitary Inspector of the district, is a veritable myrmidon of the law. He takes impish delight in following the letter of the law, his diminutive frame, never an impediment in this often unpleasant task.

They posted him to the district last month. Since then, he had launched a full-scale offensive against the residents, having confided in his meek assistant that he would level down everyone. Sure enough, he has been inspecting their rooms, toilets and kitchens—to fish for kpomo, a local delicacy made from cow skin. As Chief Sanitary Inspector, he felt duty-bound to enforce a ban on the consumption of kpomo announced by the government.

He got himself into hot water yesterday when he ill-advisedly insisted on inspecting the contents of Madam Do Good’s pots of soup, following a tip-off that the corpulent lady, who runs a highly successful canteen outside the mechanic village, had smuggled kpomo into the menu.

Pa Favour had his orders: ensure that sales and consumption of cow skin remained prohibited no matter whose ox was gored. It is whispered in some circles that local leather manufacturers had lobbied government to impose the ban, because unbridled eating of the delicacy was depriving them of vital raw materials for belts, shoes and bags. Dieticians had also enthusiastically thrown their weight behind the prohibition of kpomo consumption, as kpomo does not, according to the eggheads, possess any nutritional value.

What Pa Favour did not reckon with was the angry reactions from the hungry mechanics that formed the bulk of Mama Do Good’s customers. Their initial surprise turned into anger as they protested against having their meal time disrupted. But he ignored them and continued his diligent exploration of the steaming pots of soup whose aroma failed to seduce his nostrils.

Stung beyond reason with fury at his effrontery and total insensitivity, the mechanics pounced on pa Favour. They beat him up mercilessly. Someone later hinted at the fact that mechanics and kpomo are like tea and morning to the Englishman.

The brooding sanitary inspector fingered the lump on his head again cautiously and decided that perhaps that woman was right after all: life has no duplicate!

 Author’s Note: This piece was written over 10 years ago. On September 10, 2014, it was reported in the Nigerian media that the Federal Government was considering banning the consumption of Kpomo.