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Thursday, June 23, 2011

The New Faces Of The Nigerian Student Fraternity In The Diaspora

The New Faces Of The Nigerian Student Fraternity In The Diaspora


Roy Chikwem

The Nigerian student fraternities have been imported over the years into countries such as United States of America, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands, South Africa, and other European mainland territories. These Nigerian student fraternities operating in the Diaspora have been able to successfully market and sell themselves to their respective host communities through charity work, community development and other social programs. It is not uncommon to notice the physical structures of the Buccaneers Confraternity and Pyrates Confraternity in notable American cities and states such as Atlanta, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Dallas, Boston, Oakland, Kansas, Houston, Maryland, Florida, Washington DC, New Jersey, New York, Chicago, and Wisconsin. The Nigerian student fraternities are well organized, managed, and controlled by graduate fraternity members that have since relocated to the Diaspora because of a better standard of living and other personal reasons. These fraternity graduates are made-up of professionals ranging from medical doctors, lawyers, pharmacists, bankers, certified accountants, civil servants, teachers, religious leaders, information technologists, professors, politicians, law enforcement agents, engineers, and other noble professions.

These Nigerian student fraternities have been able to provide their members with communal resources they would not have access to as individuals. These include planned events; investment opportunities, membership discount programs, newsletters, mentorship programs, job coaching programs, and acculturation for the new arrivals into the America society, membership directories, and financial aids. These initiatives enable members to accomplish their personal and professional goals and to meet other fellow professionals across the country. They encourage and foster close association and fraternity among members. Fraternities can mean many things to many people. They can mean academic benefits, varied social life, personal involvement with others, chances to develop personal and group leadership capabilities, the opportunity to make friends for a lifetime, or a balanced combination of all these elements. Fraternity life offers the types of social living you have looked forward to in school, the companionship of close friends, the feeling of "belonging," a home away from home, and many other benefits.

But a fraternity is much more than simply a feeling of belonging. A fraternity is a way of life. Sharing common experiences in the pursuance of a college education can be fun but the first job at college is academics. While other factors, both of social and academic nature, are of value in your development into a well-rounded individual, it is the knowledge gained through diligent study, which can reap the greatest rewards. In most national fraternities, each in-take has at least one mentor, commonly known as a "big brother," whose responsibility is to help provide the confidence and influence in making the college experience successful. In many cases, your "big brother" will become one of your closest friends and someone you can always count on being there when you need him. Fraternal brotherhood is an opportunity. It's an opportunity to meet a lot of different people who have varied views, maybe like your own, and maybe completely different. Brotherhood is being able to get along with various people and appreciating each person for his own opinion.

Recently, the Buccaneers Confraternity - United States Chapter known as the Alpha-Beta Galleon hosted by its branch in Dallas, Texas held its 2007 Annual Convention. The occasion lasted the entire weekend and it attracted Buccaneers and non-members from every part of the United States of America. The Buccaneers, who referred to themselves as “Sealords” were composed of highly educated professionals and their spouses and/or their significant partners attended the occasion. They were all dressed in business suit and tie including their yellow berets as they made their way to the 5-star hotel. They exchanged complimentary greetings among each other as fraternity handshakes were freely given and the introduction of their spouses was the order of the day. They joked about life in general and their school days in Nigeria. On that Friday, they had a get-together referred to as “Shiptail”; drinks and food were all in the surplus. The Buccaneers sat in small groups with their spouses as they laughed and talked about diverse issues ranging from family life, fatherhood, marriage life, health, business, politics, and especially the brutal and senseless violent activities of student fraternities in Nigeria. Many Buccaneers openly condemned the violence in Nigerian campuses by so-called fraternity groups. They expressed how shameful and embarrassing, it has been to read about the negative fraternity stories coming from Nigeria because they strongly believed that fraternity is all about brotherhood and bond of friendship of people of like minds coming together to fight the ills militating against the society and they resounded that violence should not have any part in fraternities.

They openly shared with non-members and spouses about the “good old days” on campus as Buccaneers and how it was all about social justice, academic excellence, friendship and brotherhood. They added that violence was never a part of their operations and they shared mutual inter-fraternal relationships with other fraternities without any bloodshed. They discussed what they needed to do as an organization and individuals in fighting the cursed menace called “student cultism”. The Buccaneers ranged in age from their twenties to sixties and they were all proud to openly and freely wear their yellow berets. Many Buccaneers were busy sharing their fraternal experiences with non-members while they talked about the history of the organization and its evolution within the years. They exhibited utmost maturity, professionalism and respect as they carried themselves around the hotel. Literally within hours, the hotel was filled with hundreds of Buccaneers including their spouses and family members.

After the said “Shiptail”, the Buccaneers Confraternity hosted their members including friends and spouses to all night party at an elegant banquet hall. An executive bus shuttle was freely provided to transport Buccaneers including friends and spouses to the party. The party was attended by hundreds of guest from the American, African, Nigerian, Caribbean and Spanish community including community leaders and local politicians. The DJ played Nigerian music mixed with 70s, 80s, and 90s urban songs. The dance floor was totally filled, food and drinks were in abundance and all hands were on deck, as Buccaneers volunteered in coordinating the event. Professional caterers, photographers, bartenders and security officers can be easily seen around the event. During and after the party, no single Buccaneer was seen drunk or misbehaving; truly “Odas is Odas” as one of the Buccaneers Confraternity mottos says was fully observed and followed. Friends and spouses were freely seen as they showed off their dancing moves on the floor and others were busy with sidebar discussions. Especially spouses, they were truly proud to be seen and associated with the Buccaneers because many non-members were impressed with the ways the Buccaneers conducted themselves and the good public services, they stood for. The party ended successfully and gracefully.

The next day, Saturday, the Buccaneers Confraternity hosted all members, friends and spouses to a free breakfast buffet. Many sat down at the breakfast buffet talking about their school experiences as Buccaneers and the atmosphere was much relaxed and calm. Later, in the afternoon, Buccaneers Confraternity held a closed-door meeting and presentation strictly for Sealords, where important issues affecting the organization was debated and discussed. Also, they had a solemn Requiem service to honor and memorialize their fellow Buccaneers who have sailed to the land of the great beyond. Towards, the evening, Buccaneers Confraternity transported their members including friends and spouses to the shipyard to set sail into the sea to celebrate the end of their annual convention. The ship hired by the Buccaneers Confraternity was the biggest and most expensive ship docked at the shipyard. Buccaneers including spouses and friends boarded the multi-story ship. The Buccaneers were fully dressed in their traditional yellow regalia’s and berets. Then, the ship did set sail but not after the Buccaneers Confraternity Flag was flown at full mast. They sang their traditional songs while spouses and friends were busy in the lower deck enjoying the music and the all Nigerian style dishes from fried rice, moi-moi, vegetable soup, suya-meat, fu-fu, goat-meat, fried chicken, fried turkey, bitter leaf soup, egusi soup and all brands of beer and tropical wine. At the end of the voyage, Buccaneers including friends and spouses were transported back to the hotel. The next morning, Sunday, Buccaneers Confraternity hosted Buccaneers, friends and spouses to a free breakfast buffet while many others had to board flights at the Dallas Fort-Worth International Airport to their respective destinations. There were exchange of business cards and Buccaneers Confraternity Souvenirs were distributed at the end of the convention.

Nevertheless, the National Association of Seadogs (NAS) known as Pyrates Confraternity also celebrated their 11th Annual Area Zero convention. The event was tagged UNO Memorial Tribute to celebrate the lives of three fallen Pyrates, Umeadi, Nwachie and Oji. They lost their lives to an auto accident while traveling to Oakland from Southern California 10 years earlier on their way to a NAS meeting. The three-day convention included a memorial for the lost Pyrates, a dinner dance, a colloquium discussion and the group ceremonial “sayling” a boat trip where Pyrates members pass on the heritage and tradition of the organization. The event was hosted by the NAS branch located in Inglewood, California (8Quake Zone).

However, the Buccaneers Confraternity has evolved into an international organization with branches in Africa, Europe, Asia, United States of America and Canada. Today, the Buccaneers Confraternity - United States Chapter known as the Alpha-Beta Galleon have become a well-known organization in their branches for their charitable giving’s and noble contributions to societal development. They donated over two thousand U.S. Dollars to the Katrina victims when the deadly hurricane went through New Orleans, Louisiana. Their current project is a book drive to freely supply Nigerian tertiary institutions with over one hundred thousand text and reference books as well as other school supplies. At the Dallas Annual Convention, they raised over one thousand dollars towards the shipment cost of the books to Nigeria. The Buccaneers Confraternity was born in University of Ibadan (Modaship) with Dr. Bolaji Carew as its first head in 1972. The confraternity remained in the University of Ibadan from 1972 till 1976 when the idea of a national outlook was conceived. This led to decks being established in various institutions of higher learning around Nigeria and aboard.

Roy Chikwem is a member of Amnesty International, American Civil Liberties Union and the Executive Director of Chikwem Foundation, Inc that is dedicated to the communities we live and work. We believe in the education of every Nigerian and African child and the mantra that “Education is the key to success”. E-mail:

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Bankole, The EFCC and the perennial hypocrisy of the fight on corruption by Stani Slaus

Picture taken from

Reading through the news the past weekend, one of the mega headlines was the arrest of the former speaker of the House of Reps over allegations of fraud and other corrupt practices. Mr Bank-ole tried with the aid of his security detail to fob off the EFCC operatives but sadly for him, their bosses had to intervene to withdraw them and forestall any bloodshed.
Some have decried the manner of his arrest. Why the urgency, why the sudden rush to arrest this young former lawmaker? They forget that he has refused to honor the invitation of the EFCC on two occasions and this time around, the EFCC have claimed that they heard from very credible sources that he was about to scamper and hightail out of the country.
Some on facebook and other social media voiced their anger over the arrest of Dimeji Bank-ole. A good friend of mine made bold to claim that EFCC was carrying out its job in a selective manner. In my friend’s opinion, Bank-ole was only trying to ‘empower’ himself just like those before him did. According to my friend, Bank-ole should be left alone in peace.
I initially thought that he was being sarcastic and I tried to read between the lines but I could find nothing to read there. I have read subsequent updates from him regarding his thoughts on this issue and I see clearly now that he is serious indeed. Bank-ole has done wrong, but since people have done the same thing in the past before him, he should be left in peace to enjoy the fruits of his wanton behavior.
On the other hand, there are others who are happy over the turn of events and hope that a statement would be made regarding Bank-ole, if he is found guilty. This school of thought, however, is not holding its breath regarding anything cogent coming out of this. In their opinion, this is just grandstanding on the part of EFCC and it will return to business as usual very soon.
People can be forgiven for their cynicism, after all, this is a country of the ‘anything goes’ fame. People can loot the treasury all they like and nothing gets done. But I believe this is a dangerous cynical though that should not be encouraged. If the EFCC has decided to pursue this man, then they need our encouragement to see that the right thing gets done.
People need to know that attaining an elective position is not an automatic passport to riches, rather it is a call to duty, to serve and not be served, to protect the interests of the electorate that voted them in. The situation is so dire these days that the aim of an average young man looking for elective position is to go in there and siphon public funds.
The callousness displayed by these people should be abhorred and not encouraged. There are bad roads everywhere; there are youths everywhere engaging in armed robbery and other crimes against the society. If people spend public funds on the normal things they should be spent on, education, good roads, social awareness, health , security and light, then the ills that trouble the society today would be solved at least by half or even more.
Unfortunately, the jackals don’t think like normal people. These people are carefully groomed from generation to generation, corrupt practices are passed on from parents to children and the vicious circle continues. I agree with my friend who would like bigger thieves to be pursued rather than just going after Bank-Ole.
After all, there have being allegations floating around for more than a decade now about a former military head who stole $12 billion from the coffers of the nation. A mind boggling sum indeed! The pertinent detail here is that no successive government till date has had the balls, the gumption to investigate these allegations. If I am not mistaken, a panel of inquiry under a respected Judge was set up to look at this and that panel recommended the prosecution of this former leader. Has any successive government bothered to prioritize these recommendations? No. Is the EFCC interested? Well they haven’t made any mention of that, so we know where their loyalties lie on the issue.
Paying lip-service to corrupt practices will continue to encourage people to come out and steal public funds. The EFCC itself must try to be steadfast in seeking punitive measures for these alleged thieves. The judiciary also has to show some spine, as the EFCC cannot do the job alone. There is no point is somebody stealing about two hundred million naira or so and at the end of the day they get only 6 months jail time and that spent in the hospital bed!
Putting the foot down on corruption requires strong leadership which GEJ should strive to provide. Nigeria is a great nation with vastly intelligent people, unfortunately this intelligence is concentrated or rather dedicated to ripping off the nation, 419 or armed robbery. This should not be the case. The time has come for us all to be vigilante and try to cut off this hideous ‘gorgon’ head.


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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Europe alert Levels by John Cleese


The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent events in Libya and have therefore raised their security level from "Miffed" to "Peeved." Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to "Irritated" or even "A Bit Cross." The English have not been "A Bit Cross" since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies nearly ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from "Tiresome" to "A Bloody Nuisance." The last time the British issued a "Bloody Nuisance" warning level was in 1588, when threatened by the Spanish Armada.

The Scots have raised their threat level from "P*ssed Off" to "Let's get the B*stards." They don't have any other levels. This is the reason they have been used on the front line of the British army for the last 300 years.

The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from "Run" to "Hide." The only two higher levels in France are "Collaborate" and "Surrender." The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France 's white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the country's military capability.

Italy has increased the alert level from "Shout Loudly and Excitedly" to "Elaborate Military Posturing." Two more levels remain: "Ineffective Combat Operations" and "Change Sides."

The Germans have increased their alert state from "Disdainful Arrogance" to "Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs." They also have two higher levels: "Invade a Neighbour" and "Lose."

Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual; the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels .

The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.

Australia , meanwhile, has raised its security level from "No worries" to "She'll be alright, Mate." Two more escalation levels remain: "Crikey! I think we'll need to cancel the barbie this weekend!" and "The barbie is canceled." So far no situation has ever warranted use of the final escalation level.

John Cleese - British writer, actor and tall person
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