Thursday, 31 July 2008

T.O.S: Thrashed on Soundscan? Terminate(d) on Sight?

At the beginning of the month, I was excited about the release of a second album by the hip hop collective, G-Unit. Exactly a month later, I am very disappointed with its showing on the charts. As fans of hip hop, we have to keep in mind that sales figures have been lacklustre at best. However, with the runaway success of Lil Wayne [selling 1 million copies in one week], there was hope that the 50 Cent-helmed G-Unit would do a similar trip on the charts [Soundscan].

In this, I will focus on the performance of the releases from G Unit rivals: Lil Wayne and Nas. According to info on, Lil Wayne has moved from #2 to #5, with total sales at 1,997,218. He is on threshold of going double platinum with Tha Carter III. After reigning supreme last week at #1 Nas' Untitled holds down the #8 spot this week selling 63,200 this week, bringing the total sold to 250,357. G-Unit sold 13,881copies of Terminate On Sight, earning them the #34 spot. With a combined sum of just 173,250 sold after a month [which is much less than Nas has chalked up in less time or Lil Wayne in a single week, the guys must be swallowing all that bravado and brag about them being 'killers on Soundscan'.

Young Buck who was kicked out of the group shortly before the release must be laughing at them. At least, he is still featured on a number of tracks; I will miss his flow.

This is very instructive for us especially when you feel on top of the game and start to diss your rivals whether it is in the corporate world, showbiz, commerce, politics...all kinds of spheres. Life has a funny way of making your words or actions come back to haunt you and your rivals, competitors or enemies being given a chance to taunt you.

As a fan of G-Unit, I feel the album is a good one though as good as Beg for Mercy. On T.O.S, 50 Cent takes a back seat and let his boys do their thing.

My verdict: I say this is mostly a Lloyd Banks, Tony Yayo and Young Buck album. Tracks I like [yeah, I have been playing it back and forth]: Straight Outta Southside, Rider Pt.2, Close to Me (my favourite), You So Tough, I Like The Way She Do It, No Days Off, Money Makes The World Go Round. Tracks that are ish-ish: Kitty Kat, Let It Go (ft. Mavado), Piano Man, Get Down, T.O.S, I Don't Want To Talk About It. Tracks that I didn't like: Casualties of War.

May be a review will be at if I get myself to write. Otherwise, keep checking, there are other stories to read.

Friday, 25 July 2008

Something Good is Cooking: Africa Reading Challenge

This is to inform you who happen to pass by here that there is this very exciting 'challenge' [I don't consider it so, more like an initiative, good one], which seeks to encourage reading of literature about Africa, Africa related or written by Africans.

I came across this from a blog I read frequently and I am signing up, I am two books up with a third one in the bag. Please all ye who check this blog or subscribe to the feeds, the details below:

Participants commit to read - in the course of 2008 - six books that either were written by African writers, take place in Africa, or deal significantly with Africans and African issues. (Read more if you like!). You can read whatever you want, but of the six books, it is recommended that these from a mixture of genres. For example, you might select books from each of the following:
  • Fiction (novels, short stories, poetry, drama)
  • Memoir / autobiography
  • History and current events
Also recommended is reading books from at least 3 different countries. The challenge is for 2008, but if you feel like jumping in now: karibu sana! If you would like to participate, here are the steps:

When you read a book, write a review of it and post it on your blog. Write the post with a preliminary (or final) list of books to read for the challenge. The list can be partial for the start. Even if you don't have a blog, you can compile the list and take part, visit for more details.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Talking of a Revolution

Today is a national holiday in France [known as Bastille Day or quatorze juillet], where they celebrate the famous storming of the Bastille prison in Paris [that was the symbol of repression and oppression by the monarchy]. This was one of the events of the French Revolution of 1789, that has had a significant impact on revolutions and the struggle of freedoms elsewhere in the world since then.

Africa is like the Bastille of 1789 and its leaders like Louis XVI, then King of France, [tyrannical, corrupt and insensitive to the people]. Like the ordinary people of Paris and France, in general, I am dreaming of the day when the long-suffering and oppressed African people will "storm this Bastille" and usher in freedom, prosperity and social justice!!

An Africa That's Unseen, Unheard, Unnoticed

There are times when there is a very positive story on Africa and its vast potential and successes. I have posted only the intro below:

Mixed in with war and poverty on the remarkable continent are stock markets, high rises, a growing middle class and investment opportunities that offer the highest returns in the world. Read the full story here

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Forty Days, Forty Nights, My Fave Writer Turns Forty

This is a reflection by one of my best authors/writers when he clocked the magical 40 years of age. He writes a regular column called The Riddle in The Daily Monitor, where it appears every Saturday. I always make it a point to read The Riddle every week and it makes me reflect on a number of issues that he tends to raise. My favourite were the series on Idi Amin, which were enlightening [especially to those who were born in the 1970s and later, as we have a distorted view of our history courtesy of those in leadership who have deliberately twisted it to serve their narrow interests]

This guy has a knack for tackling subjects that get agitated, angry enough to write back, soul search, question their long-held beliefs, to mention but that. I remember way back in the 1990s, he used to write radio reviews that the 'leading' radio stations then pull full page adverts to counter his observations, quoting research figures from Steadman and Associates and other research companies.

It is during this time [and because of his knowledge of radio, having worked at three stations] that I met him and interviewed him for my undergraduate research project "Impact of Liberalisation on Government-Owned Electronic Media". This is not to flatter him [since I admire his writing] but I can say he was helpful.

In his article below, I have highlighted in green what I felt resonate with me in some way or the on, please.

Forty days and forty nights alive on earth

On June 26, I turned 40, something that surprises and amuses me. I used to think that when one was 40, one would be a serious, mature person, but I still feel I am as childish as when I was in primary school.

The 1990s that were my hardest and most frustrating, with the benefit of that teacher called hindsight, are now the years I am most grateful for. They taught me, to use the expression of the English poet William Wordsworth in 1798, to “see into the life of things.”

I am grateful that I have lived to discover the truth about the most disturbing chapter in Ugandan history, that of Idi Amin. To now know with factual and documentary proof that Amin is not the man we thought he was and that he did not kill or order the killing of the thousands of Ugandans that died between 1971 and 1979, is a truth I will cherish for the rest of my life.

The fact that all over the world, millions of people have the same general and false view of Amin, from the most respected and prestigious universities and newspapers to the semi-literate man on the street, is what finally makes me realise that there is a level of deception so deep, so universal, so cunning, that it can only be explained by the existence of the master of deception, the devil.

It is this realisation that all, from the finest to the most humble of minds can be as easily deceived as little children. It ended my faith in formal classroom education.

William Shakespeare, for all his brilliance characterisation and the magnificent language of his masterpieces, could only paint in eloquent and memorable terms the true, irrational, hypocritical, vain, evil, and cowardly reality of human nature. But not even he could explain to us why, in the first place, we humans are predisposed to dark, evil, greedy impulses.

Why do man-made machines like computers, calculators, atomic clocks, microscopes, slide rules, and integrated circuits work almost perfectly for most of the time but the human beings that designed and made them are always subject to daily mistakes? To that we still have no answers.

While at Makerere University in 1989, a friend introduced me to a book called Please Understand Me: Character and Temperament Types, written in 1978 by two American clinical psychologists, David Kirsey and Marilyn Bates. That book has had a greater impact on the way I view the world than any other book except the Bible.

It drew me to believe in the idea of predestination. 90 percent of how we feel, react, think, plan, and behave at the core of our personalities was pre-programmed when we were born.

Just by watching or listening to a person for 30 minutes I can determine not only what type he is but also how he will react and behave in most situations most of the time. Where I once required, say, ten years to understand a person, I now need only two hours.

This brings me to the Bible. We Christians claim that the book called the Bible is the word of God. But I think the Bible was either badly written or too compressed during the editing that it failed to fully get its message across and it has ended up confusing more than enlightening us, and yet it has the truths of eternal significance.

The Bible explained, among other things, the law of biogenesis (all life comes out of life and all species reproduce after their own kind), explained the water cycle, the fact that the earth was a sphere and not flat and it was suspended in the air, all these centuries before scientists in the 15th century A.D. started “discovering” these scientific facts. Yet today, ironically, most scientists dismiss this enigmatic book as a relic of the Middle Ages.

Finally, I’ve seen corrupt and greedy people rise to the top and become prosperous; but I have also seen honest and truthful people succeed just as much. I have seen inocent people arrested for crimes they didn’t commit. But I have also seen drug traffickers and murderers arrested and locked up in jail for crimes they committed.

I have seen honest and sincere religious people suffer and live lives of poverty, but so too have I seen thugs and petty thieves struggle and not have enough money. So it is not necessarily a fact that honesty does not pay or crime pays. We might as well be ourselves and live by our conscience.

Am I Mis-Educated?

After reading this and listening to many of my peers [like someone with a Master's degree but making very pedestrian arguments and observation] or PhD holders failing to come up with workable suggestions to national issues, I think seems all these years I spent in school were to tune me into a mis-educated black young man. So, what is the way out of this quagmire, if I may ask the author. Is there any way, we can correct the situation so that we bring up a younger generation that is not "mis-educated".

Miseducation of the Black race is the real inconvenient truth
by Morris D. C. Komakech

In his masterpiece, How African Minds Think; The Inconvenient Truth (see Saturday Monitor, June 21), Mr. Timothy Kalyegira made stunning observations about the prospects of White and Black races which merits rebuttal.

In the article, Mr. Kalyegira narrated his ordeal of frustration in the ‘90s as he witnessed the dismal performances posted by African intellectuals despite having achieved what one considered quality education from traditional academic powerhouses in Africa and abroad.

He observed that in contrast to the African situation, the dominant character of the White societies, their culture and personalities could be summed up in the terms “insight, imagination, linguistic fluency, enthusiasm, and inspiration, abstract, analytical, curious, logical, scientific, inventive, exacting, and efficient”. He further asserted that the prevalence of these traits is largely responsible for producing quality professionals, products, and services and for inspiring sustainable Western civilisation.

Fundamentally, I’m compelled to gravitate towards the arguments posted by Mr. Kalyegira. However, few virtues about White people were omitted and those are the cultures of honesty and accountability to fellow Whites and their territories.

But like all African intellectuals and those who indulge in analysing Africa’s shortcomings, I believe that Mr. Kalyegira permitted his minds to slip and fall in the same booby trap that has engendered perennial misdiagnosis of Africa’s problems. His agreeing that Africans are inflicted with a sorry trait of ordinariness and subsequent explanations did not meet the benchmarks of an upstream thinker.

This article emphasises that mis-education of the African and subsequent colonisation of the African minds with Western religion are the reasons most Africans act as though they were made of inferior quality and has inspired them to always contribute very little to the world’s overall civilisation.

In this article, I shall examine empirical evidences alluding to mis-education.To better understand the concept of mis-education, one needs to understand the very purpose of education. Any form of education is intended to be liberating its recipient as well as his society and to power transformatory processes.

The Whiteman has realised both of these objectives, thus the wonderful traits that Mr. Kalyegira so articulately recounted. For the African, the Western formatted type of education has proven to be limiting. To better understand these concepts, one needs to appreciate the different pedagogical methodologies such as those inspired by critical social theories, phenominology or otherwise.

Research works by Dr Janice E. Hale-Benson of Institute for the Study of the African-American Child at Wayne State University and Dr Geneva Smitherman of Michigan State University, have provided compelling scientific evidences which affirmed that global injustices, divides and miseries follow patterns that are dictated by the education systems.

The works of these two researchers were cited by Dr Rev. Jeremiah Wrights in his April 27, speech at the Dinner fundraising ceremony of the Detroit NCAAP Branch (You should read it). The works of Dr Janice E Hale-Benson can be found in a book, Black children their Roots, Culture and learning Style, 1986 [Amazon for $18.95].

Both Dr Janice Hale (Educationist) and Dr Smitherman (Linguist) established that White children and Black children learn everything differently for which the learning differences have not been accommodated or integrated in the European or American education systems. These studies led to a realisation that white children have a left brained cognitive object oriented learning style and the entire educational learning system in the US, Europe are designed to meet that learning need.

Scientifically speaking, left brain is logical and analytical. Object-oriented learning means the student learns from an object. Black people do not learn this way, they are right-brained, subject-oriented. What this means is that they are creative and intuitive.

Subject-oriented means they learn from subject (person) not object. That is why oral tradition has remained a formidable source of history for African court jesters. Likewise, Dr Smitherman was able to establish that White and Black children learn languages differently; that’s why we have the Blackman’s English and the Whiteman’s English distinct.

To relate this to our situation, one could comfortably allude that the mediocre performances of African intellectuals are inherent in the nature of the education that is not designed to address their learning needs. The education systems in Africa are inadequate and alien. In other words, in Africa and in Uganda, the so-called educated persons are actually the illiterates because their learning process have been impeded by wrong learning styles that are intended for White brains.

As a consequence, our engineers can only rise to the competency level of mechanics and servicemen, and so are our other professionals who resort to stealing public funds for personal liberation and transformation.

This also explains why in Uganda, the most successful merchants and business people are not the most educated in the White man’s education system, they are mostly drawn from the pool of those who stayed home and had the experience of receiving right brained, subject oriented learning. That is why university graduates are job seekers while the uneducated are job creators and employers. Mis-education is the main paradox of the African mind; the inconvenient truth!

Mr Komakech is an African scholar, social critic and political analyst based in Canada. E-mail:

For My Sons

This morning as I was reading through the newspapers online, I came across this article crafted from inspiring talk given by Prof. Charles Olweny, currently Vice Chancellor of Uganda Martyrs' University. I also discovered that he is an Old Boy of St. Mary's College Kisubi, which I attended from 1988 to 1993. [I may also add that he was one of the founders of Friends of Makerere, an organisation that seeks to mobilise alumni of Makerere University to contribute to the advancement of their alma mater and higher eucation in Uganda, generally. In the inaugural edition of The Mak Alumni magazine, which I edited, Prof. Olweny contributed an article on this initiative and how it started].

The article below was published in The Weekly Observer, which I can testify is the best written and edited newspaper in Uganda [Of note: It is run by young people, a testimony of the potential, talent, skills and abilities that is available among Africa's young generation if these 'elders' hanging on would just exit and leave the stage to us]. Anyway, I reproduced this article on this blog because it is something that I would like my sons to get into their minds when they come of age. It is also good for the parents, teachers and all those whose responbilities include mentoring young people.

Good education can't start at the university
Special Report
Written by Prof. Charles Olweny

On June 8, Prof. Charles Olweny, the Vice Chancellor of Uganda Martyrs’ University, Nkozi, was a guest speaker at the reunion of old boys of St. Mary’s College Kisubi last month. Below, we reproduce an abridged version of his inspirational speech at this event:

Today is a great day for me as it represents an official home coming after 48 years of absence. I graduated from St. Mary’s College in 1960 having been among the first batch to start A-level course here.

I was requested to talk on the theme: “Quality Education and Professionalism” and in preparing for this presentation I asked myself what is QUALITY? What is EDUCATION? And what is PROFESSIONALISM? I will share my preferred definitions of what these words mean to me.

Quality is the degree to which services to an individual or population are (a) likely to achieve desired outcome and (b) consistent with current professional knowledge. A customer who buys your product or experiences your service has certain needs and expectations in mind. If the product or service meets or exceeds those expectations time and again, then in the mind of the customer it is a quality product or quality service.

Customers may switch from one supplier to another not just to get a better price, but rather to secure better service, reliability, accessibility and courtesy. Customers are the most important assets of any company although they do not show up on our balance sheets.

At St. Mary’s Kisubi, the customers are the students, their parents, their sponsors, the Church and the people of Uganda. Has St. Mary’s lived up to or exceeded their expectations? If the answer is yes then St. Mary’s is a quality institution.

What about education?

Some will tell you that education is, for example, “NOT just filling a bucket with knowledge”. My late parents taught me three things: Fear God, work hard and respect authority as all authority comes from God. I have added a fourth dimension or value to my children, namely, “be disciplined”. Discipline is doing the right thing when no one is watching.

Discipline is not just demanding people to take action; it is to do with getting them to first engage in disciplined thought and then take disciplined action. In this regard my parents were my first educators.

My own preferred definition of education is, “what is left when all that you learnt at school, college or university is long forgotten.” What is left is “education” When you can no longer define the principle of Archimedes, when you can no longer deduce Pythagoras’ theorem, when you cannot impute E=MC2, when all the neuroanatomy, or biochemistry is gone, when all the calculus you learnt no longer makes sense, then what is left in you is education.

A good education empowers us; provides us with the necessary knowledge and skills to undertake important tasks in our lives, exploits all our potentials, prepares us to become global citizens and above all teaches us to think critically. Text books teach people subject matter but they do not teach people to think let alone to think critically.

I believe St. Mary’s gave me a good education. St. Mary’s instilled in me the notion of discipline. I recall the early morning wake up call from Brother Louis or Brother Paul Major, rain or no rain. We were taught the appreciation of classical music; I developed then a passion for classical music to this day. We were given dancing lessons; I wonder how many of you can dance foxtrot or waltz or calypso? We were given courses in etiquette. We were encouraged to ask questions and to ask the right questions when faced with complex decisions. We were trained not to cone by rote or cram but to try to understand issues and express them in our own words. Now that I can no longer remember the academic issues, what I have left in me is education and I can proudly announce it was a good education.

Lastly, what is professionalism?

A better definition is “exhibiting a courteous conscientious and generally business-like manner at the work place”. Another definition of professionalism is the conduct, aim and qualities that characterize or make a profession or a professional person. The majority of us here are professionals or belong to one or other of the professions. Do we exhibit courtesy? Are we conscientious? Are we business-like in our work place? Do we exhibit qualities that should characterise our profession? Are we reliable, accessible and courteous to those we serve? I leave it up to each of you to answer those questions

Our mission in this world, according to the late Pope John Paul II, is to seek God, study the world and serve humanity. And according to St. Thomas Aquinas, “God’s grace works through nature”. Encountering God in the bits and pieces of every day life is what we should strive for.

Remember the people you encounter in the streets, in the class room, in the market, in the taxi park are your gods. The people who come to your consultancy rooms – whether you are an architect, an engineer or a medical doctor – are all your gods. Please treat them as if they are God.

Take your heart to work and ask everybody else to do the same. Don’t let your special character and values, the secret that you know and no one else does, the truth, don’t let them get swallowed up by the great chewing i.e. Complacency. An ancient Buddhist expression states, “If we are facing the right direction all we have to do is walk”.

I suspect that the organisers wanted me to talk about quality university education. I have intentionally avoided doing so because quality education begins in the home. The ruin of a nation begins in the homes of its people. Quality education begins in the primary and secondary schools. Unfortunately, by the time the students get to university, the dye is cast and it is almost impossible to mould them into quality products.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Greed Destroys Hope: It is Painful, But Weep Not, Child

Back in March this year, when I wrote an entry critical of a government minister's comparison of an ailing government-funded enterprise to a sickle-cell baby, I got a comment from Asclepius [who is a nurse in "a very busy N.W. Chicago surburban hospital]. This was more a point of information, which pointed me to the existence of a drug for sickle-cell anaemia; it is called Nicosan. Though doubtful at first, I started to believe this good news. If you know someone or have a child with this condition, you can know why this has to be good news if it is not a hoax or a fake.

Also, because it is developed in Africa and is on the verge of being accepted in USA and Europe is even more gratifying. But when such an innovation that benefits Africans more is put into jeopardy by greed, corruption and fraud, it is disheartening [check the story below or through this link]. It begs the question whether Africans cannot do something for purely altruistic reasons!

I hope this will be resolved quickly and the drug made available to as many people who need it as possible.

Sickle cell drug mired in controversy
Adole Hassan and Christina Scott
30 June 2008

[ABUJA] A high-profile Nigerian initiative to produce large quantities of a new sickle cell anaemia drug has become mired in accusations of fraud and corruption. Both the Nigerian branch of the private US-based company Xechem International and its state-owned partner, the Sheda Science and Technology Complex (SHESTCO) are under investigation by the country's Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) over an alleged fraud involving 400 million Nigerian naira (US$3.5 million) of public funds. No charges have been laid, according to EFCC investigators.

The Nigerian government funded SHESTCO to help Xechem Nigeria produce and commercialise Nicosan, a drug based on a local herbal medication that combats the painful symptoms of sickle cell anaemia, the inherited red blood cell disease. Meanwhile, question marks surround the spending of separate loans previously obtained for Nicosan production from Nigerian and US banks, whilst Xechem International is embroiled in a legal battle with its founder and former chief executive Ramesh Pandey.

According to the International Biomedical Research Institute (IBRI) in Abuja, about 70 per cent of sickle cell anaemia patients reside in Africa — estimated at over 12 million people. About 80 per cent of rural babies with the genetic illness die by five years of age in Africa. Charles Wambebe, chief executive officer of IBRI, says the disease is "probably the most neglected serious public health disorder in Africa".

Nigeria's population is amongst the worst affected by the disease. Nigerian Minister of State for Science and Technology Alhassan Zaku says that there are four million sufferers in the country.
Nicosan, developed by Nigeria's National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Development as Niprisan, is based on extracts from local West African plants. In 2003, Xechem bought the rights to develop the drug under the trade name Nicosan in a controversial deal (see Row over Nigeria sickle cell patent).

At the time of the sale, the drug had only passed early stages of clinical trials. But results were so positive that by 2005 both the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicine Evaluation Agency (EMEA) had given the treatment 'orphan drug' status — qualifying it for financial incentives to produce drugs considered too expensive or unprofitable to develop.
The drug also received the personal backing of Olusegun Obasanjo, then president of Nigeria, who pledged to help fast track its production in the country.

Nicosan received approval from the Nigerian Food and Drug Administration in March 2006 and, according to Xechem, was first produced two months later (6 July 2006) "on a limited basis".
Xechem International announced in 2007 that it was also pursuing regulatory approval to market Nicosan in the United States and Europe as Hemoxin.

By February this year, according to a report in Nigerian newspaper the Daily Trust, Iretiolu Oniyide, managing director of Xechem Nigeria, claimed that 50,000 capsules of the drug were being produced daily, with full scale-up expected to produce one million capsules a day. Xechem secured two loans from the federal government-owned Nigerian Export-Import Bank (Nexim), starting with US$1.15 million in June 2006 and an additional US$2.7 million in April 2007. A Xechem press release stated that these were for "construction of manufacturing facility-related costs".

In addition, a further loan of US$9.38 million from the US bank UPS was obtained (21 May 2007), guaranteed by the Export-Import Bank, the official export credit agency of the United States federal government, which provides financing for high-risk transactions. The US loan, like the Nigerian loan, was meant to "purchase the US manufactured prefabricated corporate offices, warehouse, plant equipment and machinery needed by Xechem Nigeria to establish a state-of-the-art facility in the outskirts of Abuja".

According to the Xechem press release, the factory was due to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2007 and would "enable Xechem Nigeria to produce commercial scale quantities of Nicosan". But a visit (12 March 2008) by SciDev.Net to the site found no activity at the facility and construction appeared to have been stopped.

Missing money

On top of the bank loans, Xechem also obtained public funding from the Nigerian government.
But on 7 March 2008 a fraud complaint was formally brought before the EFCC against Xechem Nigeria. According to a source within the commission, who wished to remain anonymous, the complaint alleges that none of the US$3.5 million of public money was spent on drug manufacture.

An EFCC spokesperson told SciDev.Net that the commission would not comment on the allegations until after the investigation had been carried out and an interim report was complete. He could not confirm when that report would be available. A staff member of Xechem Nigeria, who also asked to remain anonymous, told SciDev.Net that the money was spent instead, among other things, on buying luxury cars for the directors of SHESTCO and Xechem Nigeria.

Oniyide denies this, telling SciDev.Net that SHESTCO collected the government money and Xechem Nigeria had no control of the public funds. He claims that the public funds were used by SHESTCO to support research and development on a separate Xechem project to produce vitamin C, glucose and ethanol from cassava starch and peels, as well as to support Xechem's staff with items such as a club house and company cars. Several attempts to contact Ayodele Coker, director-general of SHESTCO, for comment were unsuccessful. On SciDev.Net's most recent effort to speak to Coker, staff said that he had gone abroad.

An international affair

Further confusion surrounds the status of Xechem International, its subsidiaries and its founder, northern India-born Ramesh Pandey. Pandey is the founder, chairman and president of the G. D. Pandey Ayurvedic University, an organisation investigating India's traditional medicine which he set up in 2001. The organisation is based in the New Brunswick Technology Center in New Jersey in the United States — the same site that has housed the offices of Xechem.

Pandey founded Xechem International Inc. in the United States in 1994. By 2002, he was in an arrangement with the State Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu in India for a Xechem factory to produce the anti-cancer compound paclitaxel in India, a deal that appeared to fall through. He founded Xechem Pharmaceuticals Nigeria in 2003, primarily to develop Nicosan. But in July 2007, Pandey was forced out as a member of Xechem Nigeria's board of directors. And on 7 December 2007, Xechem International announced in a press release that Pandey had been replaced as chairman and chief executive officer of the company, although he remains a member of the board of Xechem International.

At the same time, Xechem International announced a cost-cutting plan to "increase the focus on its Nigerian operations". This would see the closure of the company's US headquarters, with a move to smaller facilities in the United States.

American biochemist and banker Robert Swift, who joined the board in May 2007 and succeeded Pandey as chief executive three months later, said in the press release that, "The Board feels that all available resources must be focused on production of Nicosan at our Nigerian operation".
Xechem confirmed the downsizing in a statement on 4 June 2008. The company maintains an office in New Jersey with three full time employees, two employees at Rutgers University in New Jersey and "several people part time". Xechem is currently utilising laboratories at Rutgers for the further development of Nicosan, as well as another sickle cell treatment, 5HMF.
The statement also points to the transfer of laboratory equipment worth over US$2 million from its US premises to Xechem Nigeria.

'False blame'

According to Pandey, his removal from the Xechem International board was the result of false accusations over misappropriated funds. He claims that the move was brought about by some recent investors in Xechem and members of the Xechem Nigeria board, who "falsely blamed" him for misappropriating funds at Xechem Nigeria.

"It is unfortunate that some of the old board members and the people whom I brought in [to] Xechem Nigeria were also part of this coup. They thought that since the drug is already standardised and ready to be launched, why do we need to keep Dr. Pandey in the company and share the reward," Pandey told SciDev.Net.

But according to Xechem Nigeria's Oniyide, there are questions over the use of the Nigerian and American loans Pandey obtained to build the drug production factory in Nigeria. Oniyide claims that the Nexim and UPS loans were instead used to establish a parallel facility in India to produce Nicosan. According to documents filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in February this year by Swift, in his capacity as Xechem's chief foresight officer, Xechem's financial statements from 2002 to 2007 "may be inaccurate due to unrecorded financial issues related to Xechem (India)" as no documents tracing ownership could be found and loans from Xechem International to an Indian company have not been properly accounted for.

"It should be noted that the company has not engaged in any active operations of the [Indian] subsidiary since Dr. Pandey's departure as CEO", the report to the SEC says. The report also says Xechem International has proceeded to litigation in India against Pandey and others named as shareholders of Xechem India.

According to Oniyide, Xechem is taking court action because the Indian subsidiary was registered under Pandey's own name. A second SEC document from a few days later (27 February 2008), also signed by Swift, states that Xechem International is "in default on its Debentures with Investors" totalling US$7 million and "cannot determine now whether it will be able to cure any or all of the defaults" as the company "does not have funds or revenues sufficient".

Pandey denies rerouting funds, saying the loans from Nexim were used for the "construction of the buildings and purchase of some equipment" for a commercial-scale production facility at SHESTCO in Nigeria, with extra equipment purchased using the US loans.

Nicosan rolls on

Meanwhile, Oniyide says Xechem International can no longer raise funds in the United States as investors have suspicions about the company. He adds that Xechem Nigeria currently lacks the resources to scale up operations, although he says the company continues to produce 10,000–15,000 capsules a day from limited facilities installed by Pandey at SHESTCO.

Stephen Burg, director at Xechem International, confirmed with SciDev.Net that Nicosan is still available on the Nigerian market. He said production at the Xechem facility at SHESTCO near Abuja remains small-scale but that they were meeting demand, although he would not confirm the volumes being produced.

According to a Xechem International press statement (4 June 2008), Xechem Nigeria is currently able to produce about 50 million Naira (US$420,000) of Nicosan a month. According to the statement, Nicosan shipped to three out of the 36 Nigerian states (Niger, Nassarawa and Ondo) in 2008, generating revenue of around $350,000, which Xechem Nigeria say is enough support day to day operations but not to service any of its debt to Xechem International, Nexim or UPS.

The statement says that Nicosan Xechem Nigeria currently employs around 90 people and has made "improvements" to the Nicosan production pricess, allowing it to "support a greater number of regular customers" than in 2007.

Xechem Nigeria is currently able to produce about 50 million Naira (US$420,000) of Nicosan a month. Burg confirmed that Pandey is still a member of the Xechem International board as an "outside director" with no direct influence on the day-to-day running of the company. Athough Burg says Pandey still participates in board meetings, he could not confirm when Pandey last attended a Xechem meeting.

Burg says that due to ongoing legal cases, he cannot reveal further details of Xechem International, its subsidiaries or the court action taking place in India. Xechem International's statement of 4 June 2008 confirmed that the company is still involved in several lawsuits, including that with Pandey, and "still in settlement discussions in India with respect to stock ownership of Xechem India".

Xechem say they have developed a tablet form of Nicosan for sale in the United States, and identified a US manufacturing facility for production. It expects the drug to be on the market later in 2008, "if there is sufficient working capital".

However, the statement confirms that Xechem International is still experiencing debt problems and "difficulty in raising working capital necessary to run its operations". The company estimates it needs "up to an additional US$1million to continue operations in 2008" and holds debts of over US$14 million. The statement also reveals that Swift has lent two sums of US$28,676 and US$118,255 of his own money to Xechem.

The company warns that there is a "substantial risk that Xechem International will not be able to obtain sufficient proceeds from capital raising efforts or other sources to enable it to continue to operate" and that it may need court protection from creditors if it is unable to raise additional capital "in the very near future". Bankruptcy is mentioned as a possible option. The statement also advises that the SEC, in a letter dated 30 May 2008, has threatened to deregister Xechem from the stock market if it is unable to meet its public filing requirements.

Additional reporting by David Dickson and Mun-Keat Looi

Thursday, 3 July 2008


Yeah, the word that makes eyes pop and the guilt set in while others become self-righteous, either because they need to whitewash their dirty linen or because they are actually clean and want to make everyone else believe that.

Me, I just keep quiet and look at these various reactions when the subject is broached, especially in settings like the dinner table, family reunions, 'marrieds' groupings where there is an unwritten, unspoken pact for 'us to behave'. But not during male-only hang-outs, where it is okay to speak your mind and not be judged later when the last night's alcohol wears off.

Interestingly, married men tend to replay some of these conversations to their better-halves in some kind of ritual that seems to occur over and over within marriage. Somehow, men tend to have this feeling that they have to have disclosure with their wives so as to 'stay clean' from the usual disgressions; that the species are accused of, like infidelity.

I now understand why when one of us gets married, there is the now-cliched talk of leaving the club. Singles don't tend to have this kind of disclosure with their girlfriends and are bound by the men thing-no snitching to the bitches.

Though men are the ones most likely to be 'unfaithful', they are entirely blamed for infidelity, for succumbing to it and for being the cause and effect. Why I don't throw stones in glass houses, I have seen 'good men' go down and are hanged in the court of public opinion without seeking the answers to the why?

When you enter the realm of marriage [here, I'm referring to the Judeo-Christian concept of two become one], you are expected to adhere to these parameters but the reality of physiology and psychology might dictate otherwise.

How do you tell your spouse that you feel like diversifying the opportunities [cons of monopoly], exploring new territory [natural instinct to venture from familiar ground], responding to the 'call of the wild' [humans are part of the animal kingdom]. How do explain the aspect of temptation is always around us, both men and women? For instance, woman works with a more caring man than her husband or man getting more attention from beautiful sexy young women than his wife. Those are just some situations that keep gnawing at you at your most vulnerable...

This is food for thought...what drives man/woman to stray?

What I intended to post is different from the 'treatise' above...I have just read this article and will share a few excerpts that I found interesting, it is called financial infidelity [the above is merely sexual, which we tend to reduce infidelity to, today, I learnt that there are other forms that may be worse:

If you have ever left money with your spouse to buy groceries, purchase an asset that would be mutually beneficial, pay utility bills or simply to put away for a rainy day, then you discover that it was used in hair saloon. It can be very annoying; when this explodes, the row may go on and on.

Now the excerpts:

Financial infidelity -- when one spouse overspends family money without the other's knowledge -- is by far the most deadly marital money conflict.

"I see more cases of divorce caused by financial infidelity than I do from sexual infidelity," says Jennifer Brandt, a partner and family law specialist at the Cozen O'Connor law firm in Philadelphia.

Some marriages never recover from that breach of trust, says Brandt, the lawyer. That's when they come to see her. "I get people at the end of the marriage when it's too late," says Brandt. "You have to start talking about these things before you even get into a marriage." Quiz: Do you know the family finances?

Brandt and others advise that the best way for couples to avoid this problem is for both partners to get actively involved in the finances. You don't both have to pay bills, but both partners must be aware of how much money they have and where it's going.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Some Words Come Back to Haunt Us III

With the recent happenings in Africa and a call to condemn the winner of yet another disputed election, we are reminded of when Uganda or rather Mr. Yoweri Museveni was the first and only leader to send congratulations to Mr. Mwai Kibaki.

Will he do the same this time round? Or have these words come back to haunt him?

...President Museveni, who has taken some beating in the media for sending Kibaki the congratulatory message after the disputed results, suggested in a statement....that he had no regrets about it.

"After the Kenya Electoral Commission declared the results in which H.E. Mwai Kibaki emerged winner, and his being sworn-in on the 30th of December 2007, I, as required by Diplomatic Conventions, called H.E. President Mwai Kibaki, to congratulate him," Mr Museveni said in the statement.

A similar scenario has just happened somewhere else....and there are no congratulations sent as yet.

In the statement, Mr Museveni explains that opposition leader Raila Odinga, who has accused Mr Kibaki of vote rigging, only complained after the ECK had announced the winner, and that he has subsequently talked to both men. "I have, subsequently talked to both President Kibaki and Hon. Odinga, advocating for calm, tolerance, patience and reconciliation, and resolution of the issues among the concerned parties, and have offered assistance in finding a solution to the crisis".

Note the bolded words...we will see if he remembers them in 2011!!

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Terminate on Sight: My Fave Rappers Are Back

I just like these guys [don't ask me why, the lyrics, the beat and delivery and the 'go hard' attitude]. After suffering some poor sales in between the years, it didn't deter them, they just kept doing their thing. Their second album "Terminate on Sight" is released today. This is the kind of persistence that we, the youth in Africa, should have in our approach to work and making the continent a better place to live in.

I still play their 2003 album "Beg for Mercy" in my stereo. Like this morning, I felt I needed to listen to some G-Unit as I washed dishes. The task went smoothly and was finished in record time and looked forward to the day. Supplemented this musical morning with a dose of Bob Marley's "Legend" as I had breakfast.

Then I was off the blocks, put my show on the road and was ready to 'terminate on sight'. But today is G-Unit day, fans and 'haters' get yourself a copy [I will definitely get one]. I wish them success and hope they come to this part of Africa some time.

Having been to Angola and South Africa, they should know they have fans in UG and in East Africa also.