Adewale Maja-Pearce

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The NEPA people came the other day. Actually, their official name has changed, but NEPA — an acronym for the utility formally known as the National Electric Power Authority — is easier to say and jibes so well with our expectations: Never Expect Power Always.

Though the organization is now called the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, the new name doesn’t work as an acronym, though its initials, P.H.C.N., are popularly agreed to stand for: Problem Has Changed Name.

I had been expecting them. They come about once a month, a van containing a crew of four or five guys, going from house to house, ready to cut off your power if you lack proof that your payments are up to date — and turn it back on for an $8 reconnection fee, or any reasonable under-the-table amount.…  Seguir leyendo »

Mine is a country of 175 million people, who speak more than 500 languages and are renowned for their inability to get along. Blame usually falls on colonial map makers, and it is well-deserved. But the reasons for our national discord are complex — certainly much too complicated for most of the international media to fathom — so news accounts of the multiple antipathies among our 250 ethnic groups are usually telescoped into what is known in the trade as boilerplate: the Muslim North battles the mostly Christian South for control of Nigeria’s oil wealth.

As a journalist, I know the difficulties of summarizing the world’s mad doings.…  Seguir leyendo »

Last month, we Nigerians received some startling news from the army: Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the militant Islamist group Boko Haram, which has killed some 3,000 people in northern Nigeria over the last four years, “might have died.”

The government has provided no proof of this claim. No corpse has been displayed, and Boko Haram, whose name loosely translates as “Western education is sinful,” has been silent on the matter. Just a few days ago, Boko Haram militants set up a roadblock in the northern town of Benisheik and shot at least 87 people to death as they were trying to flee.…  Seguir leyendo »