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One year after Whitney – Lessons learnt

By Morenike Taire

The entire universe was heartbroken last year when news of the death of the extraordinary vocalist. But if you thought the world’s heart would never mend, you were startlingly wrong. The world has not forgotten Whitney: on the contrary, it is quite agreed that the world will never forget her, still her new and old fans are settled she will forever live in our hearts. Her life, as well as her passing, have taught not a few life lessons.

The party will continue

Allegedly, Whitney’s godfather invited her mother, Cissy Houston, to party the Saturday night before her anniversary. She declined, saying she would rather go for her daughter’s memorial the next day.  Some have expressed outrage over the decision her mogul-mentor made to continue the event amidst Whitney’s shocking and sudden death.

Music heavyweights like Chaka Khan and even Houston’s own mother Cissy considered the act ‘disrespectful’.Also, despite raging conspiracy theories involving (not so) secret cults, Whitney was honoured at the Grammies by  Clive Davis playing what he called a rare performance of Houston belting “All The Man That I Need” at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

*Whitney Houston
*Whitney Houston

Houston’s brother and sister-in-law, Gary and Pat Houston, attended the gala, where Davis thanked them “for being here tonight.” He also called Houston the “greatest, greatest singer of our lifetime.”    It was all part of the party.

The ex will remarry

Okay, he had to do it sometime, but Bobby Brown  could have tied the knot with  before the sad demise of his ex wife, making like it was her or no one else.  The minute her back is turned, though, he couldn’t get hitched quickly enough.  Just four months after Whitney’s demise, Bobby Brown married his fiancée of two years, Alicia Etheredge. The couple was surrounded by family and friends but with one noticeable exception, Brown’s daughter Bobbi Kristina, who did not make it to the festivities. It confirms what the sceptics say: if you die, he’s going to move on.

Time will Heal all Wounds

It is a clichéd saying, but it has definitely been reinforced by Whitney’s passing. Broken hearts have mended, and lovers of Whitney Houston both home and abroad can come to terms with her demise without shedding a tear or developing a lump.

A Legend is better dead than Living

Like  Bob Marley and Michael Jackson before her, Whitney will be finding out from heaven that while being a living legend drives you into self-defeating dependencies such as marijuana, prescription pain killers and crack cocaine and is self-threatening, dead legend is comfortable and real, not to mention lucrative.

As has been the trend with so many artists — Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse, Johnny Cash, among them — sales of Whitney Houston’s music received a huge boost in the aftermath of her sudden death on Feb. 11. With just 24 hours passing between news of Houston’s death and Nielsen SoundScan tabulating the weekly album charts, Whitney: The Greatest Hits still managed to surge into the Top 10 with 64,000 copies sold. That’s a 10,419 percent gain from the previous week, which saw it move fewer than 1,000 copies.

Xpressions

Thank Westerhof

It is a well known fact that Clemens Westerhof, the ‘foreigner’ from Holland, was the one that defined modern Nigerian football.

It was a time that the world had found itself on the edge of globalization, and the first of the sports to fall over was soccer. The round leather  game was already drawing, in Europe, hundreds of thousands of fans to the stadiums each week, but the business side required that non-Europeans- a whole lot of them- be hired to become not experts but new superstars who were to be celebrated not only for their skill but also for their lifestyles.

A new aristocracy was born. The pads, the (trophy) wives, the other toys, the clothes and of course, the cars all became gist material and fodder for party discussions. Endorsements grew. It was  the perfect time for Africans to enter the game, and Westerhof knew this.

The glamour- or the quest for it- drove excellence. Kanu, Okocha, Ikpeba, Kanu, Amokachi, Okechukwu, Oliseh, Siasia, Taribo, Ike Sorunmu, Finidi George and of course Stephen Keshi as well as others all brought in diverse experience into the national team. The Eagles, for the first time, qualified for the world cup.

1994 was the beginning of something glorious, heady days for Nigerian football. Expectations were high, and justifiably, but nothing lasts forever as the saying goes, and the slide into disgrace as it were,  came around the turn of the  century.

Westerhof was out of the national picture, but that did not deter the mass exodus of our finest raw  football talents, the old ones having almost all retired, or attained veteran status. But while  the position of the latter group had changed, it had not become irrelevant. In the old Eagles is a veritable goldmine. Keshi and his colleagues hold in their legs the technical future of Nigerian football in their various legs and they- as well as us- have Clemens Westerhof to thank for it.

Fashion Month at the Capitals

Apart from Valentine’s,February is also the month that has the blood of fashionistas around the free world boiling as the now-est designers put the styles they will be pursuing for the next six months at least on the trendiest catwalks in London, New York, Paris and of course Milan.

The London shows start today for Autumn/Winter 2013, while the New York shows have concluded,

Thigh high slits, bold stripes and asymmetrical hemlines are some of the main features of new York and a controversy is raging over similarities in designs and the factors responsible for them.

There is also the new ‘trend’ of being able to buy online straight off the catwalks, without having to wait for them to get on the high street. New York favourites Tommy Hilfiger, Donna Karan/DKNY, Victoria Beckham and Ralph Lauren wowed as much as the newcomers, bringing fur back with a bang to the fashion scene. Fake, of course.

If New York is glamour, glamour and more glamour, London promises to be a mixture of glamour and  fun, as the fashion week becomes more and more of a cultural event each year and gets more international press than any other fashion week. Paul Smith, Temperly of London, Nicole Fahri, Pringle of Scotland and the good old  Mulberry label.

Milan, of course, will be the ultimate, with all the world’s biggest names in fashion on the runways- Feragamo, Cavalli, Fendi, Gucci, Prada etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Set to begin on the 20th, surprises are expected as much as they usually come in inventive Italy, where a hatmaker showcased her collection for the first time atop buck naked models- men, women, oldies and pregnant women.

The party will be extended in Paris, where the shows start on the 26th and go on for ten days until March, and there it will all end, unless you are counting Russia, where Mercedes Benz is sponsoring a fashion week this year.

Paris will have Yves Saint Laurent, Chloe, Balenciaga, Louis Vuitton and Hermes, and together with London and Milan, will continue to be one of the justifications for Europe’s anticipation of a better economic future.

Statistics: Girl Child Education in Northern Nigeria

The Transforming Education for Girls in Nigeria and Tanzania (TEGINT) project is a special education initiative to transform the education of girls in Northern Tanzania and Northern Nigeria, enabling them to enrol and succeed in school by addressing key challenges and obstacles that hinder their participation in education and increase their vulnerability to gender violence and HIV/AIDS.

TEGINT ran between 2007 and 2012 as a partnership between ActionAid, Maarifa ni Ufunguo in Tanzania and Community Action for Popular Participation (CAPP) in Nigeria, funded by Comic Relief and the Tubney Charitable Trust in the United Kingdom. As well as interventions to enhance girls’ education, the project included a substantial research component involving researchers from Nigeria, Tanzania and the Institute of Education, London.

90%

Despite the legal framework, basic education is still not free for many parents and children. Levies have not reduced over time: over 90% of SBMCs, head teachers and girls state that levies have either stayed the same or increased since 2008.

156th

The Human Development Index, which is a composite statistical measure of life expectancy, adult literacy, and income, is 0.459 placing Nigeria at 156 of 179 countries and making her one of the most unequal countries in the world.

0.278

However, that the real valueof Nigeria’s human development is even lower at 0.278 once the HDI value is adjusted for distributive inequality across the population (UNDP, 2011).

73.8%

Average poverty level in the three northern zones is 73.8% compared to an average of 63.3% in the South (British Council Nigeria, 2012).

46%

Girls in Katsina report receiving information on girls and women’s rights (and do well in schools’ gender profile score) but only 46% said that a girl can lead a school as well as a boy, and32% (the lowest of all states) said that women can engage in politics on equal terms to men.

16

The socioeconomic status of women and girls in the northern zones lags behind those in the south: over two-thirds of girls in the North aged 15-19 years are unable to read compared to less than 10% in the South; in the North only 3% complete secondary school and more than 50% are married by age 16 (British Council Nigeria, 2012).

88%

Said that a teacher who has a sexual relationship with a pupil should be dismissed and never allowed to teach again.

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