Thursday, May 12, 2011

An Excellent EU Joke

European paradise:
You are invited to an official lunch. You are welcomed by an Englishman. Food is prepared by a Frenchman and an Italian puts you in the mood and everything is organised by a German.

European hell:
You are invited to an official lunch. You are welcomed by a Frenchman. Food is prepared by an Englishman, German puts you in the mood but, don't worry, everything is organised by an Italian.

That joke was proposed by a Belgian as the Official European Joke, the joke that every single European pupil should learn at school. The Joke will improve the relationship between the nations as well as promote our self humour and our culture.

The European Council met in order to make a decision. Should the joke be the Official European Joke or not?
The British representative announced, with a very serious face and without moving his jaw, that the joke was absolutely hilarious.

The French one protested because France was depicted in a bad way in the joke. He explained that a joke cannot be funny if it is against France.
Poland also protested because they were not depicted in the joke.

Luxembourg asked who would hold the copyright on the joke. The Swedish representative didn't say a word, but looked at everyone with a twisted smile.

Denmark asked where the explicit sexual reference was. If it is a joke, there should be one, shouldn't there?

Holland didn't get the joke, while Portugal didn't understand what a "joke" was. Was it a new concept?

Spain explained that the joke is funny only if you know that the lunch was at 13h, which is normally breakfast time.

Greece complained that they were not aware of that lunch, that they missed an occasion to have some free food, that they were always forgotten.

Romania then asked what a "lunch" was.

Lithuania et Latvia complained that their translations were inverted, which is unacceptable even if it happens all the time.

Slovenia told them that its own translation was completely forgotten and that they do not make a fuss.

Slovakia announced that, unless the joke was about a little duck and a plumber, there was a mistake in their translation.

The British representative said that the duck and plumber story seemed very funny too.

Hungary had not finished reading the 120 pages of its own translation yet .

Then, the Belgian representative asked if the Belgian who proposed the joke was a Dutch speaking or a French speaking Belgian. Because, in one case, he would of course support a compatriot but, in the other case, he would have to refuse it, regardless of the quality of the joke.

To close the meeting, the German representative announced that it was nice to have the debate here in Brussels but that, now, they all had to make the train to Strasbourg in order to take a decision. He asked that someone to wake up the Italian, so as not to miss the train, so they can come back to Brussels and announce the decision to the press before the end of the day .

"What decision?" asked the Irish representative.

And they all agreed it was time for some coffee.

You've got to love Belgium..

Taxis block Brussels airport after police shooting
Taxis blocked off Brussels airport for several hours after an unlicensed driver was grazed by a police bullet during a chase, local media report.

Cabs were parked across the A201 motorway from late on Tuesday until 0500 (0300 GMT) on Wednesday as rumours spread that the driver had been killed.But his injury was minor and he was released from hospital into custody.

A policeman had reportedly opened fire to stop the taxi as it drove away with him clinging to the bonnet.

The policeman who fired was also detained as investigators and prosecutors in Brussels carried out investigations, Belgium's Le Soir newspaper reports.

Pepper spray
Police were making routine checks for unlicensed taxis when they signalled the driver to stop around 1900 on Tuesday, according to another newspaper, La Derniere Heure.

Far from stopping, the 28-year-old driver accelerated, prompting a policeman to jump on the bonnet.
After being carried along for 2km (1.2 miles), he fired at least once into the dash-board, forcing the driver to stop.
A brawl reportedly followed in which the policeman fired another shot, grazing the driver's shoulder.

Some 200 drivers joined the protest which followed and a second driver was arrested as he tried to "avenge" his colleague.

At 0230, police wielding truncheons and using pepper spray tried to clear the motorway but the stand-off only ended after negotiations involving a trade union representative.
La Derniere Heure notes that unlicensed taxi drivers have been a problem at the airport for years.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Celebrating Yoruba Heroes (OJ Ekemode)

Someone (and i don't know who) said a hero is by definition an ordinary person who does extraordinary things. The Yorubas of west Africa are a remarkable ethnic group whose history has been shaped by many known and unknown heroes.

Here is one of those heroes...Orlando Julius Aremu Olusanya Ekemode (OJ Ekemode)

"I started Afro Beat in 1960.....The first name of my band was The Globetrotters; we were globe trotting with our style of music. When people asked us for our kind of music, we just said it was Afro Beat because we could not start to mention all the genre of music fused. That's how Afro beat originated. It was not from Fela."

"I wrote songs over there [America] that won awards. An example is Going Back To My Roots. I wrote that song with Lamont Dozier. I was the first African to record with African American musicians in a native language. I played drums and other instruments in the music and helped him in arranging the songs.
That album won a Grammy but unfortunately, he did not live up to expectations. I was not acknowledged. I was duped! I am glad that I sang my part of the song in Yoruba. If I had done it in English, it would have been very easy for him to deny. He made it sound as if it was not the song (Back To My Roots) that won him the Grammy. A group in the UK, Odyssey, remixed the song and it was at number five on the Bill Board charts for several months. The song is one of the classics of our time."

Fondly called O.J, his real name is Orlando Julius Aremu Olusanya Ekemode. Born in Ikole-Ekiti, the indigene of Ilesha, Osun State, is the fourth child of Professor Gabriel Ekemode.
His foray into music began as a lad in primary school when he joined the Mambo Dance Band. However, his dad's sudden death the year he finished secondary school put-paid to his academic dreams. Before his career picked up, he played with the likes of J. Oyeshiku, Cotey Necoy and Julius Araba and finally took up apprenticeship with Ademola Haastrup
And today, with a career spanning over 60 years, Orlando has definitely carved a niche for himself.

In this interview with National LIFE, the multi-instrumentalist and singer opened up on how he was robbed of a Grammy Award for popular hit, Back To My Roots. He also opened up on his relationship with late Afro beat legend, Fela Anikulapo Kuti and reaffirmed his claim that he and not Fela founded Afro beat.

Read the full interview here

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Things that make you go WTF (in Brussels)

Bilingual Hell
Brussels is a fascinating place. Even though it claims to be the 'capital of Europe', it's not exactly a visitor friendly place unless you speak French and Dutch. One of my biggest pet peeves is the way streets names are displayed. Brussels is officially bilingual, which means street names are displayed in French and Flemish (Dutch), but sometimes only the Flemish name is displayed and so you can imagine a scenario where you're looking for a street with a French name like "Rue de la Loi" but the sign displayed is "Weestraat" (which is the Flemish name for the same street). How the hell are you supposed to connect the two?

Customer Service???
qu'est-ce que c'est? (what is that?) is the rude response (if you're lucky to get one) you are likely to get from most customer service staff around here. Initially I thought it was just me, but almost everyone complains about the same thing. From the airline check in staff to the supermarket check out staff, they all have one thing in common, they are not there to serve you - the customer, so don't bother them.

Brussels Estate Agents
The devil is truly a Brussels estate agent, if you can help it, avoid dealing with this particular specie while staying in Brussels. They are rude and unprofessional and they think they are doing you a big favour if they respond to your emails or return your calls. Since Brussels is the "capital of Europe", and accommodation is in short supply, the estate agent is truly king around here.

Zebra Crossings
"A zebra crossing typically gives extra rights of way to pedestrians". A shocking surprise awaits anyone gullible enough to believe that statement in Brussels. I have learnt that you cross the road at your own peril, if you assume the driver will stop. The only way to cross is when the approaching vehicle has come to a complete stop and the driver beckons to you to step on the zebra crossing.

The best thing about the Brussels Metro is that you can ride it for free most of the time (unless your station has ticket barriers installed LOL). It runs well most of the time but be prepared for unexpected or unannounced closures (due to strikes or when the metro drivers are having a really bad day). This has happened to me twice, luckily Brussels is a fairly small and compact city and I had my GPS to guide me to my destination.

d'enregistrement, Registreren
Meaning Registration, now this is a big deal in Brussels (actually in Belgium too). How can you be a proper police state if you don't know everything about everyone living in your country?
This is serious business and failure to notify the local authority (communale) of your presence could lead to serious consequences (or so I heard).

Health and Safety Nightmare
I have a new found respect for the health and safety authorities in the UK. Here in Brussels some of the things wey my eye don see while flat it loose and exposed electrical wiring or the sixth floor flat with French doors which opened into a balcony with only a low flimsy barrier stopping you from plunging to the street below....I have definitely seen scary things in this town.

Loose Uneven pavements
I was walking down a side street in Porte de Namur the other day and I swear for one second I thought I was in Lagos driving down a road peppered with potholes, which was strange because I was walking not driving. I ended up doing a very strange walk which could easily pass for break dancing and MJ's moonwalk combined. There are some parts of this city where you need to have shock absorbers just to walk on the pavements.

The Tax rate
In November 2009, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development confirmed once again that Belgium has one of the highest tax burdens in Europe. It amounts to – including social security – 57.3% for a single earner. This compares to an average 44.5% in Europe.
I think this statement speaks for itself....

Shop Closing Times
Most of the shops close by 6pm every day. It is very strange indeed...I haven't spent the weekend here yet, but I heard shops do not open on Sunday WTF?

Friday, January 28, 2011

un homme Ijebu à Bruxelles

an ijebu man in Brussels

So here I am working as a freelance consultant in the capital of Europe. It's cold, miserable and wet, at least the weather is no different from the UK...Luckily I'm only here for 4 1/2 days a week and get to return to the UK every weekend courtesy of that monopolistic cash grabbing entity called Eurostar.

But Thank God for Eurostar, if London wasn't less than 2 hours away, there's no way I'll have worked here. I've often told Mrs Ijebuman that the only place I'll be packing my things to when I leave the UK is Naija.
Now with the current state of play in Naija, the chances of that happening are a bit remote at the moment unless I decide to go into politics, but considering my extreme uncompromising views, a total abhorrence of what passes as religion in Naija and an unwillingness to prostitute myself to some fat bellied political Godfather (forgive the rant).....lets just say there's more chance of a free and fair election in April than me going into Naija politics.

But I digress, Brussels is quite interesting, there are a lot of things I have noticed in the last couple of days, so expect a lot more rants oops sorry blog postings about Brussels.
My peeps are here too, there's a small professional expat group of Naijas from the UK working in various international organisations dotted all over Brussels. I guess with the current recession in the UK and the current state of Naija, continental Europe is now the new frontier for UK based Naijas.

Been So Long....again

Back in 2009, it was supposed to be a short break from blogging but it turned out to be a two year break...So if you're one of the few people who read my blog please check back from time to time, I can't promise much at this stage but I hope this is a permanent return to blogging.

The last 2 years flew by so quickly and a lot of stuff has gone down...I don't even know where to start...Naija…phew..don't even get me started, my BP is just getting back to normal, after all that Yar'Adua shit last year, but as in everything Naija we lost one hopeless politician (aka Babs go slow, Yawn'Adua) and gained another one, Badluck (Good luck for him, Bad luck for Nigeria).

In the last 2 years, my location too has changed, home was still London but I spent a lot of time in other parts of the UK. A few weeks ago I took another big leap by accepting a role to work on a project outside the UK....which brings me to my second post 'un homme Ijebu à Bruxelles' (an ijebu man in Brussels)