The power, impact and influence of China was evident last Friday in Johannesburg when it met over 40 African leaders. It is instructive that a single country which in the 1980s was still considered a Third World country, could convene what was virtually a meeting of the African Union, AU, and so many Heads of State attended. This was no gathering of some old colonial master holding a Francophone summit with its former subjects, or some illusory ‘commonwealth’ of an ex-slave master giving his former servants the opportunity to take tea and have a handshake. Nor was it some summit of international lenders or do-gooders dishing out interest loans with slavish instructions and conditionalities. Rather, it was a gathering of people with shared colonial memories of forced occupation, exploitation and underdevelopment. A people with a common past whose gathering exuded self- respect and dignity for all, and a shared vision of a non-exploitative world.

To me, the issue about the Forum on China – Africa Cooperation is not the huge $60 billion funding for infrastructure and industrialisation; providing 200,000 Africans technical skills and an additional 40,000 training opportunities in China. Rather, it is the spirit; that spirit that respects the sovereignty of other countries. The spirit that built the new African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa.

One project which exemplifies China’s attitude to Africa is the TAZARA Railways which runs from the Port of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, to Kapiri Moshi in central Zambia. Africa in the 1960s faced a dilemma. The White colonialists ruled Rhodesia (now Zimbabawe) and, landlocked Zambia, a country at the frontline against racist Rhodesia and Apartheid South Africa, had to move its goods through racist territory. It meant that the White supremacists could squeeze or economically strangulate Zambia anytime it wanted. The alternative was for Zambia to take its imports and exports through an African port which would require some 1,860 kilometre-railway. The African countries could not afford it, and their traditional Western friends were unwilling to assist.

Mohammed Babu, a young Tanzanian Minister suggested China should be approached. China was then a poor country, and Tanzanian President, Julius Nyerere, thought it unwise to ask aid from another poor country. However, during a visit to China in February 1965, a hesitant Nyerere broached the issue and Chinese leader, Chairman Mao Tse-Tung responded in what has become the Chinese spirit of partnership and brotherhood: “You have difficulties as we do; but our difficulties are different. To help you build the railway, we are willing to forsake building railways for ourselves.”

The railway which was built from 1970 -75 required China sending a 50,000 workforce from 1965 to 1976 while about 60,000 African workers participated. Without the needed capital and machinery, this remarkable workers brigade, exposed to wild animals and hunger, sacrificed to build the friendship railways. The construction cost $500 million, 64 Chinese and about 100 African lives. Given the motive, human sacrifice and determination, the railway was referred to as the Great Uhuru Railway. Uhuru meaning independence in Swahili.

When I went to China last year, I made enquiries about the families of these Chinese workers who came out to assist Africa, and paid the supreme sacrifice. I intend to do a follow up and also trace the families of the African workers who lost their lives. My intention is to do a documentary or write a book.

Humanity has known extreme poverty and hunger. These are some of the addictive drugs fuelling crimes, conflicts and violence. One of the greatest gifts China has made to humanity is that it feeds 1.357 billion people or 19.24 percent of the world’s population. The Chinese are quite ingenious when it comes to food as they eat virtually anything that is not poisonous.

To be able to cater for themselves, they took hard decisions, including a One-Child Policy which has now been relaxed.

Their strategy of development was to be self-reliant, eat what they produce, be visionary, programmatic and pragmatic while holding on to their culture, language, ideas and ideals. After internal development, they blossomed and stepped out into the centre stage of globalisation outpacing almost all other countries.

In the process they put a lie to the religion that the private sector is the engine of develpoment. They also rejected the theocracy of market forces and pragmatically fixed the value of their currency, and control the stock exchange. That has not stopped them producing some of the biggest companies in modern history like Ali Baba.

Yet, the road was rough for this country with a 4,000-year written record. Of those said to be humanity’s four greatest civilizations; Ancient Egypt, India and Babylonia, China is the only surviving.

Its existence was threatened by Britain which produced opium in colonised India and off-loaded it on China, turning it into an ocean of drug addicts. When the Chinese Qing (Manchu) Dynasty decided to criminalise opium and rid the country of the drug, China was invaded and defeated by Britain in what became known as the First Opium War (1839 – 42). Britain then imposed the 1842 Nanking Treaty under which China legalised the opium trade, exempted imports from transit duties and made the English version of all treaties, superior to that in the Chinese . The Second Opium War was in 1856 when an angry Britain again invaded China for seizing a pirate ship flying the British flag.

When the Chinese Revolution of 1949 removed the pro-West Chian Kai-Shek government, China was not allowed to sit in the United Nations for 22 years. But it overcame its adversaries; retook its seat in both in the General Assembly and Security Council as a permanent member, and, displaying deft diplomatic moves, repossessed Hong Kong from Britain. Taiwan remains the major Chinese territory outside the control of the Peoples Republic of China.

I borrowed the title of this piece from my solidarity message as the Secretary General of African Workers, to the 2013 Congress of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) in which I challenged other underdeveloped countries: “Go to the Chinese, you sluggard, consider their ways and be wise.”

By  Owei Lakemfa



Real or Church drama? Dont know if this was planned or not, but either way God is good and great!








Mr. Kayode Odumosu, an accountant and educationist tells BLESSING ORUCHE, how his school Principal shaped his life and why he is no longer keen about going abroad among other issues.

Growing up for Kayode Odumosu was fun. He recalls that parents were never worried about kidnappers and as such could allow their children  board a bus from Island to Mainland and vice-versa.

“At the age of ten, my family moved from the Island to Mainland in Surulere. It was wonderful back then, because issues such as kidnapping wereonly fairy stories to be imagined  but not experienced. I used to board buses  called SKOLEE at that age, going from Yaba to Lagos Island for primary school at St Paul’s Breadfruit.I repeated the same thing coming back, but the journey from Yaba back to Surulere used to be completed on foot.”

He claims that attending Christ School,Ado Ekiti,Ekiti State for his secondary school education had very positive impact on his life.“I will say I am an Ijebu boy born in Lagos but  bred in Ekiti. During my university days at Ife, my ex-Principal, Reverend Canon Mason, a Welsh, was still visiting us then. His zeal, diligence,  principles, discipline and care were some of the attributes I admired so much.He was a man who shaped my life and that was why when I finally set up my school I called it Mason College named after him. I imbibed and implemented his methods of operations, such as  prayers, songs, discipline even uniforms and above all close supervision of my students”

He speaks loftily about his passion for Ekiti land saying, “thank God I studied there, because it shaped my life. I learnt so many things from them, like being down to earth and desiring the truth to be told no matter the consequences.”

When he was at the university, he played volley ball, and represented Nigerian at the universities games in Benin Republic, Togo and Ghana. Speaking about his social life, he says he has affiliations with prominent Yoruba social groups and others saying. “When I was young my father belonged to  popular Island Club and the Yoruba Tennis Club. After my father’s death, the club invited me as a son to fill the vacuum. I agreed and may be active someday. However, i went back there briefly when my second daughter was going to get married.The only club I had always wanted to join as a member was Ikoyi Club and i did so officially when i became the youngest company secretary for a publicly-quoted company on the Nigerian Stock Exchange at the age of 29. At Ikoyi Club most of the time, we attended as a family. It was good for our children’s upbringing. There were  many activities  for them especially swimming . However, as my work load increased during the running of my schools, the busy schedule took the better part of me.” I have four biological children all female,all graduates,all married,and all same mother.Thank God! But each of them still recollect their experiences at Ikoyi Club in those days. Its now left for them and their husbands to take over and for them to take their own children along too.Exception being my first girl who works with Barclays and lives in England with the hubby.

Odumosu says he craves the best form of relaxation during the weekend.“I listen to music a lot, and watch television whenever it suites me especially for quick updates on world news. I can decide to stop whatever I’m doing and relax myself at any time often starting with deep breathing exercises on my chair My weekends are usually fun-filled with social activities; name them, weddings,christenings/birthdays, burials  or other family events.” To him, weekend menus are the same with his everyday food consumption. “I don’t have any particular preference, any good menu goes.And if my wife who has been my friend for 40yrs  says she does not feel like cooking TFC or garri and groundnuts with extremely cold water and no sugar come into useful play.

I and my family had patronized so many restaurants in Lagos, both on the Island and Mainland. But presently I get discouraged from going so far from Festac for a good lunch or dinner because of my phobia for hectic traffic.”Sunday of course is usually an exception.

On his favourite colour, he says he has preference for navy blue, especially when  combined with white. That combination, he says, was the uniform of his school.

Expectedly, Odumosu still has love for sports particularly  for Arsenal in the EPL. “My best sports are football and volley ball, though I don’t play any longer  I enjoy the games on DSTV.” He says he  also takes delight in playing scrabble game. “One particular game which interests me more now and which I play everyday is Scrabble.I love to compete against the computer and beat it hands down.Nothing else makes me happier than when I do that. “I have never really planned a trip to watch my favourite team, Arsenal, play live. But during the course of one of the trips  with my wife, we visited the Highbury Stadium in North London before it  moved to the Emirates.

I have so many of Arsenal jerseys, most of which my kids bring or sent to me for me,” Odumosu says with excitement. The trained accountant ,auditor and Chartered Secretary had eventful working years with the prestigious Coopers and Lybrands and Akintola Williams /Wisan Management where he says he met lots of expatriates along with whom he went round the world.

“We usually traveled where ever our clients were. Eventually, I joined Modandola Investments as the pioneer company secretary.It was a quietly strong group of companies which had about 23 companies under it and more than 100 expatriates. My bosses at different times thought me so many things, as a young aspiring man.For example Mr Akintola Williams made me realised there was NOTHING important about chieftancy or Otunba titles.  The last company I worked for, before setting up my school was Chrislieb where i was also the Group Company Secretary. I later set up my first school PASS in 1988 with some partners  and then Mason College Festac Town in 1994” he adds.

His perception of life is quite different, especially as regards religion. “When i was growing up,we all grew up together as Christians and Muslims but we knew the programmes of the Muslims and they knew ours.We even attended their mosques and did SUKU NABIYAH together. But today PERSONAL interpretations of the Bible and Quran are responsible for several problems in the world today. People keep struggling for supremacy all the time, which is not necessary,” Odumosu points out.

Though he no longer runs his schools, he is still very busy as a blogger managing eight blogs, saying, “I have imported most of my teaching aids from my schools into my blogs, and I do connect with so many people from about 202 countries round the world who visit my blog, most of whom are lecturers, teachers and students.” The educationist says he is still in touch with his students on Facebook and his blogs.

“My students are planning a  reunion in December,” he says. Talking about his 21 years experience as educationist, Odumosu believes that the Nigerian child’s education has greatly improved.He does not believe compositions in Queen’s English can be used to define the quality of today’s graduates.Today the Nigerian graduate is more exposed and street-smarter to what is going on around him and faraway from him.He is more exposed to what can be called LIFE 101 than the ideals of quality education when we were growing up.I have written loads and posted many articles on our blogs about this.

“As an educationist I believe that one of the things our parents should always look out for, when enrolling their children is whether the proprietor or proprietress knows anything about  computers and the internet.This is because computer education is the most important in a child’s life today. Otherwise the computer teacher may not be competent enough to give the students what is required. Another one is the school library.That is the brain box of every school and  libraries have been central to my life from the age of 10.

“My international experiences have influenced my life positively, even though I believe home is home, but there are so many things I was able to pick during my trips.

After I started working at Coopers and Lybrand, I  visited Ghana,Liberia, Serria Leone, and the Gambia. We were auditing the accounts of  the West African Health Ccommunity then.

“When I was with Akintola Williams (WISAN MAGT), I was able to travel to countries such as Portugal, Spain, Italy, France, Belgium, Holland, Britain, Germany, US, Canada, Brazil,Turkey and another one was on the cards for India when one of our clients decided to employ me with almost triple my remunerations at Akintola Williams.I had to go and plead with Mr Williams specially to give me his blessing to move on.We had clients in all these places, and most of the trips were work- related, while  others were holiday trips,” Odumosu recalls.

An interesting experience which he recounts was about a board meeting of a Nigerian company  held on a ship, from Barcelona to Tunisia on the Mediterranean Sea and that was how he visited Tunisia.”It was on the ship i experienced the importance of ballroom dancing and the need for acquiring proper table manners right from secondary school.I therefore ensured they were both included and implemented in the training of my students at Mason College.We started Ballroom Dancing seriously before any school in Lagos and definitely before Maltina Dance competitions started.

Today when people talk about traveling out, Odumosu feels it is not important to him.“I have seen it all. I’m no longer keen on the idea. Today I spend my time in Nigeria enjoying the life style I have created for myself. It pleases me so much to live here and no other place in the world .In Nigeria a lot of things have gone bad. Wrong operations, but I believe  God has a plan for this country and things will turn out for the better.Opportunities abound in our country. The population is a plus and minus. Sometimes all you need to survive is the population to patronize what you are selling or services you are providing,” he says.