If there is one man whose books I have read, watched his teachings, and listened to over and over, it must be Ravi Zacharias.
He passed on this month, and one lesson I learnt from him is the need to be compassionate and gracious to people even when armed with truth, or even when speaking from a point of power.
Let me share a few quotes from the man who is referred to as the greatest apologist of the 21st Century.
We have a right to believe whatever we want, but not everything we believe is right.
There is no greater discovery than seeing God as the author of your destiny.
What I believe in my heart must make sense in my mind.
Yes, if truth is not undergirded by love, it makes the possessor of that truth obnoxious and the truth repulsive.
Unless I understand the Cross, I cannot understand why my commitment to what is right must be precedence over what I prefer.
I am absolutely convinced that meaninglessness does not come from being weary of pain; meaninglessness comes from being weary of pleasure. And that is why we find ourselves emptied of meaning with our pantries still full.
I remember the time an older man asked me when I was young, “Do you know what you are doing now?” I thought it was some kind of trick question. Tell me,” I said. You are building your memories,” he replied, “so make them good ones.
There can be no reproach to pain unless we assume human dignity, there is no reason for restraints on pleasure unless we assume human worth, there is no legitimacy to monotony unless we assume a greater purpose to life, there is no purpose to life unless we assume design, death has no significance unless we seek what is everlasting.
With no fact as a referent, what is normative is purely a matter of preference.
But life’s joys are only joys if they can be shared.
If God is the author of life, there must be a script.
For many in our high-paced world, despair is not a moment; it is a way of life.
The truth is that whenever a fence is removed, it’s wise to ask why it was put there in the first place.
Facts tell, but stories sell. There is a story going around that Juja has been named a global cybercrime hotspot by Interpol. The story is not true as confirmed here, but it sells. Looking at it, one can get some very good lessons on how our society perceives cybercrime. I would also want to explore the cost of cybercrime on a society in general, with Nigeria as an example.
The reaction to the story is weird. Some are afraid and worried about this new form of crime which they do not understand. I understand that for someone who is not very informed or knowledgeable about such matters, the mention of cyber-crime would make one cringe. It is like when walking out in an open and dark place, you are told that there is a sniper with some very good night vision and he is shooting anything he sees for fun. You do not know how to protect yourself.
I understand the concern, and this is good. People need to be continually educated on the cyber-threats that the society is facing so that they can keep themselves safe.
But for many people, the story of Juja being a cybercrime is something to be happy about. It is a trophy that Juja has earned, and hopefully, the skills will be used against people who are thousands of miles away in developed countries. It is a cool thing to be a cybercriminal because that shows that you have a brain that is still functional, and even above average.
It is considered a game of wits and not a crime. But what is the cost?
Cybercrime didn’t Pay in Nigeria
What is the cost of cybercrime to the innocent bystanders who are neither perpetrators nor the direct victims of the same?
In Nigeria, the so called ‘Yahoo scammers’ have been around for long. They are the people who send you emails claiming to be a rich Arabian Prince with a treasure to share. They scammed the world before the world got to know about it.
In many places, they are celebrated as heroes. People want to be a Yahoo-Yahoo, scam people and make a lot of money. Those who have done it before are not regarded as criminals, but people who know how to survive. It is justified by the fact that it is the poor who are stealing from their colonial masters and other wealthy countries.
But what is the implication to the country in general? These scammers are partly the reason why Nigerians has a bad reputation and the cost for this is high. It is the reason why Nigerians find it hard to get Visas to many countries, why they pay more for those Visas if they get them, and why they are scrutinized more than anybody else.
It is also the reason why many payment companies do not accept cards issued in Nigeria and some International businesses do not want to do business in/with Nigerians. Nigerians are also not allowed to receive money on PayPal, while the extra paperwork required for Nigerians when traveling is just too much.
While very few Nigerians are involved in Cyber crime, all of them pay for it.
‘Normal’ crime costs individuals because they have to build fortresses instead of houses. There many other costs of crime such as the chains on side mirrors, or filling road signage posts with concrete.
For cybercrime, the cost is also there and you may not realize it until it is too late. Nigeria is paying hard.
The answer lies in a satirical news website called PostaMate. The stories presented there are fictional, but unfortunately, many people believe that what you read on the internet is always true. PostaMate has clearly stated that what they post is fictional and majorly for entertainment purpose. It aims at making fun of the society in a humorous way.
The story that was published on PostaMate.Com claimed that Juja had been named as a global cybercrime hotspot. Reading the story, one would easily tell that it is a piece of satire because that is clearly indicated on the page where it is posted. The twitter account that shared the story has also made it clear that this is all about satire.
However, confirmation bias – the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information that confirms or support one’s prior personal beliefs or values – comes into play. There is always a feeling that Kenyan University students and graduates are smart enough to run the world but idle because the country has not given them opportunities. Many people in Kenya have also been victims of cyber crime, or know someone who has, and therefore would want the story to be true.
How did the satirical story become news?
The story from PostaMate quickly made its way around WhatsApp group inform of screenshot images, without the disclaimer that it was just a piece of satire. The story was then amplified and most people who read it did not know that it was just a piece of satire. To make matters worse, a few days before, the DCI had arrested some students and a bank employee in Juja who were suspected of running a cybercrime syndicate. The story confirmed what had been in people’s minds.
But then, a major news outlet fanned the story. NTV picked up the story and therefore confirmed the rumor. The story had been changed, and now confirmed by a ‘trusted’ news source. A new truth was made.
That is how a story meant to entertain is turned into news.
The moral of this story is that not everything you read online is true.
Early on Saturday morning, a power transmission cable snapped somewhere near Nairobi city. The resulting effect was a nationwide blackout in Kenya and Uganda. How did one cable send two countries into darkness?
It is something complicated if you do not understand the power distribution, but we can make it simple for you via an analogy.
Let’s assume that on average, one person can lift 40 kg of weight. Some can do 70 while other only can manage 10kg, but the average always comes to 40 kg.
You need to move your house from one point of your farm to another, and you need to hire some people to do it. You estimate that the house weighs 1000kg, and this translates to 25 people if each of them is to carry 40kg. Remember you are moving the whole house as one unit (it happens).
Since you know that something could go wrong during the lifting, you will need to have more than 25 people to do the work as failure of one man could cripple the whole operation. However, getting too many extra people will cost you more than is necessary, so you opt to go with 27 people. One person will always be free to help lift any side when people are overwhelmed while 26 will always be working.
When it is time to move the house, everything goes on as planned. At one point one man stumbles and the standby guy moves in quickly. Everything is going on according to the plan.
At another point one guy hurts his leg and you are left with 26 people doing the lifting. This is still safe since you only need 25 people for the work.
But then, something unusual happens. One man who is very strong slips. He was carrying about 70 kg of the weight, and when he stops doing the work, every person around him feels the extra burden. To rescue him, his neighbor stops lifting and helps him move out of the way before he is ran over. The others near him stop moving and try to get everybody else to stop moving so that there is no accident. In the confusion that follows, there is an imbalance and the only safe thing to do is to put the house down so that everyone can recollect themselves.
This stops the whole operation for 10 minutes as everyone realigns themselves and work resumes.
How can such a scenario be prevented? Majorly by having more people so that there can be more tolerance to imbalances. However, this increases the cost and it will not help you when all the people holding one side encounter a unexpected obstacle. They will still have to put the house down.
The other option is to divide the house into equal pieces and let every person carry a 40 kg piece. This is would work, but remember some people can only lift 10 kg while others 70 kg. You will spend a lot of time either cutting unequal pieces and marching them to each person’s capacity, or alternatively you might need to pair up the people with less capacity, thus increasing the number of people you need.
The electricity distribution system is called a grid, and involves several electricity generators being connected together into one network so as to serve people all over the country. In Kenya, we have different sources of electricity such as hydroelectric power plants, geothermal, wind, solar and other sources of power, including imports from Uganda.
This interconnection helps keep the load stable even if one source of power fails. It also helps maintain optimum supply such that if demand is low, some sources such as the expensive thermal (diesel) powered plants can be switched off.
The grid has various high voltage lines evacuating power from where it is generated to where it is needed, with Nairobi being the main consumer of power while most generation takes place in remote places such Olkaria and Seven Forks.
In the even that one major power lines fails or a generator is knocked offline, the system adjusts to both to compensate for the changes and to protect the system. However, beyond a certain threshold, the whole system can be overwhelmed, and this time it did.
The line that failed was carrying a significant share of the total system loading, and it affected the whole system which had to shut down. Getting everything back to work is not as easy as a switch flip. It takes time, and in this case some repairs.