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Surviving Biafra 2

The Material Costs 

 A full assessment of the material costs of the war only became possible when the war ended and people found a way of coming back to what was left of their ancestral homesteads. Many returned to find that their homes had either caved in of their own accords, or had been burned down during the initial operations that drove them out of town. For a time, many had to start their own reconstructions with makeshift structures, with walls made of palm fronds and split bamboo or woven reed grass, (ị̀sàrà). It would take years to muster the energy and resources to put together proper houses once again. On a communal level, the schools were not spared by the madness of the war. The St. James’ Primary School, for example, had been bombed nearly to its foundation and needed to be rebuilt before it became usable for classes again. That meant that for close to two years after the war, the nearby church had to double as both a school and a church. Live bullets from the war littered the premises and some pupils with a silly sense of adventure competed with one another to see who could get them to explode by pointedly striking them against stones! The old college that later re-incarnated as Boys’ Secondary School in 1976 suffered even a worse destruction. Until the decision was made to rebuild the complex and turn it into the secondary school that it later became, the site was a picture of crumbling walls and pillars that had managed to defy the elements for nine years.... 

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Surviving Biafra 1


...In material terms, people had to do whatever they could to begin to put their lives back together again. To begin with, no one returned from the war with any currencies that were still acceptable in the markets. Even those who would have had lots of money in the banks prior to the war were now allowed access to only £20.00 out of the whole lot, as a result of a government policy intended to teach the Igbo man a rude lesson for breaking away from Nigeria in the first place. Those who were able to return to teaching or other civil service duties managed to scrape together a livelihood when the salaries started coming in again. The farmers who came home to re-bury the remains of lost ones gradually went back to their farms, leaving the children behind to enrol themselves into school. The families that were hitherto displaced from their careers and businesses in other parts of the country slowly returned to their various bases too. Only the aged and widows who no longer found the strength or inclination to return to active farming stayed back to tend their homesteads.... 

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Internet Scams - Be Aware

Most of us like to think we're too clever to be caught out by internet fraudsters. In fact any of us can be caught out by these scroungers . Their tricks have gone far beyond the infamous fax from a "Nigerian prince" , "the 419" or variants of these - asking you for money.

Now frauds are increasingly sophisticated and you are much more likely to be contacted (email,sms or telephone) by someone you trust (seemingly). Fraudsters dupe their victims using a type of psychological manipulation known as "social engineering". It is essentially a confidence trick that influences a person to take action that may not be in their best interest. With many technical security defences in place to prevent large and medium size enterprises from being hacked directly, it is us humans that present the best medium and to a certain extent, the sweet spot for criminals to target. To explain how "social engineering" works here is an analogy - Children are little people we all loved. And they get us to do things which under normal circumstances we'd never thought of doing ever. The same psychological principles is what the scammers are applying . They build rapport, get us to like them, trust them, and often inject a sense of urgency into the scenario. This all releases certain chemicals in our brain that allow us to take actions we perhaps shouldn't take.Why is it growing? Social engineering fraud has been identified by the international police agency Interpol as one of the world's emerging fraud trends. In the last two years there has been a spike in this type of fraud, with reported losses in 2015 doubling to nearly $1bn (£675m)

It's a lucrative crime. You don't need a skilled programmer to do social engineering - just someone who's willing to talk to people or write emails. On top of this, the growth of the internet has played right into the criminal's hands. A key part of social engineering is having information on your target. Criminals can get this from buying hacked company data and studying their victim's social media profile online.

In June last year Emma Watson, a British businesswoman who was setting up a children's nursery, got a phone call from her bank's fraud team. They told her that they had stopped some unusual transactions on her account, but because it had been compromised she had to transfer her money into some other accounts they had set up in her name. "They were completely professional, it was a clear line, they knew my name, they called me on my landline, they used all the language," she says. "They were very reassuring, saying 'I know this is a distressing time for you and I'm going to help you'." In fact it wasn't her bank calling at all, but criminals fraudulently posing as her bank's fraud team. Emma ended up transferring £100,000 into the fraudsters' accounts online. Only a fraction of it has so far been traced and returned. This type of fraud is called "Vishing" where criminals persuade victims to hand over personal details or transfer money, over the telephone. They have a number of techniques at their disposal.

  •  Information: the criminals already have your name, address, phone number, bank details - essentially the kind of information you would expect a genuine caller to have  
  •  Urgency: You are made to believe your money is in danger and have to act quickly - fear often leads people into acting without thinking  
  •  Phone spoofing: The phone number appears as if it's coming from somewhere else, so when you pick up the phone you already believe the caller because the number is convincing  
  • Holding the line: In some cases, the criminals can hold your telephone line, so if you hang up to call back the bank, you can get put straight back to the fraudsters. 
  •  Atmosphere: You hear a lot of background noise so it sounds like a call centre rather than a guy in a basement - they either do have a call centre, or are playing a sound effects CD. 

Here is the advice: Don't ever give personal information like banking or credit cards over the phone to someone who has called you. If you get a call, hang up, and ring the number on the back of your credit card using a different phone from the one they called you on.

Phishing emails have risen in number and have got a lot more sophisticated. How they work? They play on your trust and they use a front, whether it's a bank, a friend's name, or someone you expect communications from, and they put urgency on you to respond immediately. Most of the phishing emails will looked very convincing - for example like one from Amazon if you recently made a purchase from them or from your bank. In case of the former, clicking a link would open up what look like a real Amazon log-in page. A closer look at the address bar in your browser might indicate a site in Russia, Ukraine, Romania etc. etc - it certainly wasn't Amazon.com. If the scammers hit the right emotional triggers at the right time, anyone can be a victim of phishing." Phishing emails can look very convincing - copying branding and 'spoofing' email addresses to make them look genuine. Here is a simple advice once you have opened the mail - "hover the mouse over the link and the URL details will come up and will show if it's valid, or taking you somewhere unrecognizable" If in doubt, never click on the link. If an email looks genuine then contact the sender through their official website. Never use telephone numbers or links provided in the email if you never requested or anticipated them.
Smishing is SMS phishing where text messages are sent trying to encourage people to pay money out or click on suspicious links. Sometimes attackers try to get victims on the phone by sending a text message asking them to call a number, in order to persuade them further. Unsolicited text messages from unknown numbers should raise alarm bells, but often banks do text their customers for a variety of reasons. In that case, you should call the bank using a number from a bank statement or a verified source, not a text message.

 The Internet  2016  -  don't be a victim surf wisely

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Kolanuts in Igbo Religion and Traditions


....In religious matters, Kolanut is at one level the Igbo equivalent of the Christian Holy Communion.  Kolanut rites signify the communion not only between one man and his fellow human beings, but also between the Igbo man and his many Deities. There is a wise Igbo saying that when an elder holds up a Kolanut and clears his throat, the gods will lend their ears (Ókènyè jìdé ọ́jị̄, kwácháá ākpị̄rị̄, Å„dị́ mÌ„mụ̄ọ̄ àghụ́cháá Å„tị̀).  Apart from the ancestors, the ancient Igbo believed in many lesser Deities which were usually seen as the intermediaries between man and his creator, hence it was important that each of these were invoked in the prayers and libations.  These intermediary Deities might include the Spirits that were believed to inhabit such natural abodes as the Sun (Ányánwụ̄), itself seen among many clans as the son of the High God of creation (Ẹ́nyánwụ̄ nwā Èzhèchítóókè); the Sky (Ígwé); the Land or Mother Earth (Àlà), the Hills (Úgwú); the Valleys (Ã’gwùgwù), the Springs and Rivers (Íyí); Sacred Trees, such the Iroko, or even man-made creations which were then consecrated and given spiritual forces with the help of seasoned Oracular Priests, (Ńdị́ Díbị̀à áká kārā ākā)....


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Book Launch Event

A Welcome Address Presented by Ezike Bon Ugwu on the occasion of the launch and celebration of the Igbo language project: IGBO  Our Mother Language.

Date: - Saturday 4th April 2015.

.....I would like to share with you a brief history of Written Igbo, if only to put in perspective the problems currently bedeviling the Igbo language, and also to show why the coming of a primer of this volume may still be considered relevant at this time.   Historical records tell us that Written Igbo, in the form that we know it today, owes its beginnings to the early missionary activities that began in Sierra Leone at the turn of the nineteenth century when Britain repatriated its ex-slaves to a place which thereafter became known as Free Town.  While on the repatriation mission, the Church Missionary Society that accompanied the returnees to Free Town decided on a much wider mission of evangelising the whole of Africa, perhaps as a way of atoning for the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade.  But to do this, they first had to learn the languages of the people as were represented in the camp by the ex-slaves.  That was how they began a programme of word list collection with which they then went to work in various parts of Africa.   

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Igbo Interactive - Multi Media Learning Tool

...Today, I am also happy to report that in addition to the book, we have created a robust interactive audio trainer which is now accessible to any interested party on our website (www.ezeogupublication.co.uk) subject to a token subscription fee.

The interactive media allows the learner to click any words, phrases or objects they would like to know, listen to the voice that is generated by this action, and then repeat what they hear. Apart from just teaching the language, the package can provide a fun family time where people are able to hook up their laptops to the wide screen TV in their living room. That way, everybody - mother, father and children - gets to participate and parents and guardians have a chance to correct the children if they get it wrong, or provide supportive additional information, based on their own experiences. Together, I believe, the book and the audio package will help the enthusiastic learner not only with their speaking skills but also with reading and wrting Igbo...

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