All posts by agaudet

Lagos: Drowning in Trash

Lagos, Nigeria: The center of western Africa’s economy and one of the worlds largest trash producers. Lagos was planned to be a small town, but two hundred years later, Lagos grew, almost one hundred times over. One of the biggest cities in the world, it sits sixth on the list of the largest cities in the world. Like most cities, it is saturated in slums and poor boroughs. Areas are so bad, most of the city is not connected with water or sanitation. The original streets were designed for a fraction of the people, leading to hours of traffic daily. Lagos is projected to be one of the largest cities in the world within a hundred years, amounting a population of a staggering one hundred million people. The situation is dire right now, and it is only going to get worse.

Skeptics will say that Lagos isn’t in danger, they will refer to the birth rate and refer to the fact that it is decreasing per one thousand people.


The birth rate is decreasing in Nigeria, however, it is still one of the HIGHEST birth rate in the world per one thousand people. This is an issue, and not only is the birth rate high, the life expectancy is increasing as well. Life expectancy is increasing drastically in Nigeria, a generally good thing, but the current average age is fifty three, tied for the third LOWEST in the world.


This is symbolic of a change in Nigeria, one centered on Lagos. More people are getting access to healthcare, people are realizing that with more medical care in Lagos, it is a top priority to relocate there. However health is also an issue there, with garbage borne illnesses spreading rapidly, such as Lassa.  This is just one example of a looming issue literally towering over the city, garbage.

This is a picture of the Olusosun dump, one of the largest dump sites in the world. Located in the center of town, Olusosun is a place where twenty million pounds of trash gets dumped a day. Olusosun is part of the city now, and is blended into its backbone. It is situated next to a hospital and a school, with the smell of hot trash wafting through the air to the apartments surrounding the dump, and even downtown.

Garbage is so prevalent in the city, that it has become its own business. People have constructed small villages on top of mountains of trash, in order to gather valuable recyclable materials to turn into cash.

This is symbolic of the general trend in Nigeria, the focus on recycling, and the general shrinkage of trash. However, Nigeria doesnt have enough energy to recycle the garbage into pellets. Nigeria suffers from a lack of energy, an issue that the minister of Nigeria, Fashola touches on: “Although the country has expended what may appear sizeable, the money so far spent was inadequate to address the current challenges.”. Nigeria is currently only running on half of its potential energy production, meaning that it lacks the ability to recycle at a reliable rate. This has resulted people flattening the trash into pellets and shipping them to China.

Lagos is an example of what the future is going to look like. If Lagos is expected to inflate enough to house one hundred million people, they are going to need to fix their rising trash issue. Trash, along with lack of power and sanitary conditions is plaguing the country, and even though it seems like a long road ahead, something needs to change or else Nigeria is going to be uninhabitable.

Abu Sayyaf, A Government?

Abu Sayyaf, a guerilla group is centered around Islam and is based in the southern Philippines. It wants to separate from the leadership of the Philippines and seek a place where the Moro people can live. They are mostly known for high level illegal activities like the assassinations of high level government officials. These acts have earned Abu Sayyaf the name of the most brutal group in the Philippines. The groups founder, Khadaffy Abubakar Janjalani, traveled to Middle Eastern Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia and Libya. He studied the Iranian Revolution in 1988, and he met Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, where it is rumored he fought with him against the Soviet Invasion. This is where he was inspired to transform the Philippines into a Muslim state. Since their creation Abu Sayyaf has been operating under the pretense that they aim to turn the Philippines into a primarily Muslim state. They do this by committing violent attacks on tourists and well off Filipinos. To the naked eye this might appear as a guerrilla group terrorizing the country and bullying them into submission; However, Abu Sayyaf operates in a structured hierarchy, operating with branches of their group carrying out attacks based on each of the branches input. This means that Abu Sayyaf is actually trying to be more of a government, rather than just a terrorist group.

It all starts back at the creation of the group with the leader, Janjalani. Janjalani’s sole purpose of the group was to govern the nation of the Philippines under Muslim rule. Janjalani was known for being a preacher. He fought in the Soviet-Afghan war, and it is rumored that he got incredibly inspired at a meeting with Osama Bin Laden. Al-Qaeda provided the group with the necessary resources and training to get off the ground.  After he died the gang separated into two factions, which were quickly extinguished when the leaders of both groups got killed. Since then the group is now in smaller subgroups, but connected by one man, Radullan Sahiron.

This can even be seen by their recent attacks. Fighting started in Marawi on the southern section of the island Mindanao, in 2017. They burned churches, jails and schools before taking bridges and main streets. The churchgoers and police were then beheaded. This seems like a clearcut guerilla act,  just looking at the killings, but this act shows that they can have the power to take towns for themselves,something that a well regulated militia can do. They are a segregated group, muslims in the Philippines, and they govern within their own group. The group is split up into several sections within its hierarchy. It is led by a group of generals, in a structure where the longer someone shows their allegiance to the group, the more power they have. This can clearly be seen with the newest leader elected, Sahiron. Sahiron was an original member of the Majilis Shura, a council of 14 generals who controlled major decisions. They also have a select leader, this would be the closest to the executive branch. The executive appoints major generals to help execute specific tasks. The executive, just like our president, has final say on military operations. They have their own military, which is grown by Abu Sayyaf’s own military scouts, who attend classrooms prayer sessions which draw right from the Koran, calling for the children to fight with the group.

With all these comparisons it is easy to see the similarity between any government and theirs. However, all this is undercut by the fact that they commit terrible atrocities that makes the group appear completely uncivilized to the public. This is why it makes the most sense for Abu Sayyaf to relate back to their roots, the Moro Liberation Front. The MLF is a less extreme group that shares the same values as Abu Sayyaf, but believes there is a more less extreme way for the Philippines to recognize a muslim section of their country. This is why Abu Sayyaf should denounce ISIS and rejoin the MLF, for the better of their own group and the better of the Philippine people.

Abu Sayyaf appears to be a guerrilla group, blatantly attacking tourists and Filipinos for fame and fortune, but they do desire to become a government. Abu Sayyaf has a split leadership allowing them to check each other and let the group run the way that the majority likes. They do commit heinous acts like beheading, but this is only to gain respect from other countries and to let the group financially stay afloat. They use violence as a way to propel conversations towards letting the Muslims have their own state in the Philippines and the more attention they direct to the topic, the higher chance there is that they can establish their own country. Abu Sayyaf is a guerrilla group, but it is clear that they desire to become a country, no matter what the means, the reward is worth it.

Luiz da Silva: Populist Extraordiniare

When asking a Brazilian their opinion when they first think of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, they might say “heroic” or a “man of the people”, so it may somewhat surprise you when you here he was tried and convicted of corruption only a few months back. This begs the question, “Why is a man that was convicted of stealing money from the country and the government considered a hero?”. Luiz da Silva used his humble beginnings as a way to appeal to the people and steal power for his party.

Luiz da Silva was born into extreme poverty in Pernambuco, a state bordering the Atlantic. His father worked as a farmer, and his mother a seamstress, who always needed money. It is no wonder da Silva began working at such a young age, driven to supply his family with money. He worked at small jobs, shining shoes and helping around the house. He didn’t learn to read until the age of ten. He soon completely left the thought of attending school and worked full time as a metalworker in factories near his home town, Garanhuns. When da Silva was thirty years old he was elected president of the metal workers union, a group that Luiz da Silva was proud to represent. He then transformed this group into a more political union, turning it into a political party, trying to sway Brazilians to his leftist ideas.

In the late 1970s he led large protests against the dictatorship that ruled over Brazil, and while doing so, he gained a significant amount of followers and supporters. It is no wonder, then, that he was arrested and imprisoned for a month. Due to his massive following accrued when protesting the hated government, he was elected to Congress. As his political career grew, so did his following, as millions supported his presidential bid. He won with 61 percent of the vote, and in doing so cemented himself as one of the biggest comeback stories, from being born in the slums, to achieving the greatest dream, to become president.

With all this history in mind he also became even more likable with his main political goals, social and economic reform. His social reform brought about the “Forme Zero” or zero hunger bill which brought together many bills for the overall goal of no one suffering from hunger in Brazil. He also created a program entitled the Family Allowance Bill which allowed for more food and supplies to cook for impoverished family. By creating this program he streamlined the process of families applying to get more food, and in doing so he removed administration costs and the overall hassle families had to go through. He was also reelected for a second term,and once again won by achieving  61 percent of the vote.

Not only did Luiz da Silva aim to effect social reform, he also wanted to help grow the economy. He created a program called the Growth Acceleration Program, which  was meant to grow the amount of jobs, repair roads, reduce taxes for the poorer half of the country, and lastly modernize their electricity production. This program was a big success and it seemed like the president could do nothing wrong. Luiz da Silva resigned with the International Monetary Fund and went ahead and paid the full amount owed three years ahead of the projected year. After implementing the Growth Acceleration Program, Brazil’s economy began to thrive. He shook off the classification of emerging market, which Brazil was called for many years, and turned Brazil into a developed market. This new classification led to much investment in Brazil. All this economic success propelled Brazil to new heights, and raised the present of Brazilians in the middle class from 37 to 50 percent of the population. All this work that Luiz da Silva put into his role made him Brazil’s most popular politician of all time, and getting the bid to host the 2016 summer Olympics only added to his popularity.

Back to the question at hand, “Why is he so popular if he was convicted of corruption?”. The answer to this is found in his history and in his success in office. He represented the nation, born into poverty fighting the dictatorship, leading to his presidency, where he passed bills to feed the poor and create jobs which propelled the economy upwards. Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is a symbol of Brazil, a man that all Brazilians are proud to have represented their country, and all this is backed up with the simple fact that while he was in office, he enjoyed a 90 percent approval rating. No matter what this man does in the future, he will always be seen as the pride of Brazil.