Tribute To Johan Cruyff: One Of The World’s Greatest Footballers

CruyffThe good old days of Johan Cruyff in action.

There are thousands of footballers worldwide, but few make history in the field of soccer. Cruyff represented Holland on 48 occasions and scored 33 times for the national side, helping them reach the final at the 1974 World Cup.  

I remember while working at Hotel Okura in Amsterdam, one of my colleagues called Mario, who was a fan of Cruyff, always had the picture of the young days the footballer in his wallet. He removed the picture from his wallet and asked me if I can recognise who he was. “Johan Cruyff, he is my hero too, I said.”

Yes, a great footballer has fans and I ‘m proud to say that I’m one of them. The Dutch legend Johan  died peacefully in Barcelona on Thursday after losing his battle with lung cancer.

The former Ajax and Barcelona passed away surrounded by his family after he was initially diagnosed last October. Cruyff is regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time and went on to enjoy huge success as a coach.

We shall greatly miss him. His place no one can fill, because he is one person, Johan Cruyff. His achievement in the field of soccer history shall remain forever.

Cruyff 2Sporting his famous long locks, Cruyff turns out for Ajax in June 1971. On June 2 that year, in London, Ajax won the European Cup by defeating Panathinaikos 2–0. At the end of the season, he became not only the Dutch but also the European Footballer of the Year.

Cruyff 3Cruyff was a heavy smoker until undergoing major heart surgery in 1991 while manager of Barcelona.

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The State Of The European Union And The Impact Of Television On The Society

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Joel Savage interviews Sergi Vicente, the Director of Barcelona Televisio.

Apartheid bowed to democracy in South Africa, the Berlin wall came tumbling down and the Soviet Union collapsed. Globally things were financially, economically and politically falling apart, when the European Union was formally established on November I, 1993, to share free market and single monetary policy for over more than 300 million citizens.

Many Europeans, including Belgians, argue that things were better and life more comfortable, before the European Union was formed. For example, the past and present turmoil in other European countries, including Greece, reveal the European Union is unstable and steering into stormy waters.

My recent visit to Barcelona, I called on Mr. Sergi Vicente, the director of Barcelona Televisio, to give me his views and opinion on the present state of the European Union and the impact of the television on the society. Below are the excerpts of the interview.

Joel: There are thousands of Europeans, especially Western Europe, who aren’t satisfied over the formation of the European Union, because the pattern of lives changed, as prices of commodities escalated, affecting, the economy and the standard living of Europeans, leaving many unemployed. Let’s take Greece for example. What do you think?

Vicente: I don’t see the unification of the European Union as a failure. There are advantages and disadvantages in everything but in regard to the Union, the best has been achieved. Transparency, Communication, integration and the growth of successful free market, are some of the achievements. Besides, the EU has thrived to develop liberty, justice,  education, prosperity, peace, security, the protection of the environment and health, thus; helping to disseminate basic human values at the global level.

Joel: Lack of employment, is a situation many Europeans are facing today. What’s the employment situation in Spain?

Vicente: As you just said, it’s a crisis many Europeans are facing, yet the problem has led to the creation of new jobs in other fields to reduce the unemployment rate. Unemployment may be long or short term, but things will improve.

Joel: Journalism is rapidly losing its credibility, that’s the way many feel, because a lot of the media hide the truth and facts from the public. What’s your opinion?

Vicente: As a journalist heading an institution, we try our best to give the right information to the general public. This is the reason readers and viewers have favourite newspapers or television stations. Being transparent is one of the tools to build a good reputation. So I don’t see the reason the media should mislead people.

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Mr. Sergi Vicente, Director of Barcelona Televisio.

Joel: Barcelona used to be a city for drug addicts and peddlers. Is there any change?

Vicente: You’ve already seen that there is a dramatic change in the city, since the country is one of the most visited tourists attraction in the world. The mayor, police and other officials had worked hard and still relentlessly working hard to make the city  healthy and  safe for tourists.

Joel: Television is a great source of entertainment and education, yet many believe it’s responsible for crime and immorality which have plagued and crippled our society.

Vicente: I can’t say television is responsible for crime, even though I agree that it has both advantages and disadvantages.Children are protected and cared by adults, thus, it’s the responsibility of parents to control what children watch on the television. Controling children is part of the training and caring for children. Bad friends can also influence children. As a matter of fact, television educates more than influencing children negatively.

Joel: Mr. Vicente, thanks for the interview.

Vicente: You are welcome.

Diary Barcelona: What Makes The City Special And The Best Tourists Center In Europe? (Part Two)

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Tourists at Port of Barcelona crossing the bridge. Announcements are made often to passengers when the bridge is to be opened for passing vessels. 

There is something special about Barcelona, so unique that one lacks the right words to describe this wonderful city. Barcelona is a city one can’t different night from day, because both the day and night are equally dense with its citizens and people from other countries, since is the second largest and one of the beautiful cities in Spain.

The city has identified itself as one of the most fashionable and adorable cities in Europe. The reason is simple and logical. It’s renowned ancient and architectural buildings, history, culture, food and beautiful coastline beaches, add glamour to Barcelona. No matter what season you visit, the city has everything to offer, it’s therefore not surprising to acknowledge the reason the city has been one of the perfect destination centers in Europe in regard to tourism.

All works and no play makes Jack a dull boy. It will be self neglect if one fails to visit Barcelona once in his or her life time. What makes the city so special? The port of Barcelona has the statue of the explorer Christopher Columbus, pointing to the direction of America. Even though historical facts have proved the claims of Columbus discovering of America as total false, since there were native Americans (Arawak Indians) before he sailed to that part of the continent, that doesn’t prevent tourists to visit his statue at the port of Barcelona.

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Cable cars transporting tourists. One of the ways to enjoy Barcelona.

The humans posing as statues along Ramblas, add another spectacular scene among thousands of scenes to see in Barcelona. The cable cars transporting passengers to and flo in the mid air, is something to boast of. In the city I met travellers from all parts of the world, including New Zealand and South Africa. The South African couple told me, they flew to Kenya and joined their second flight to Barcelona. A pretty long journey indeed, but it worth to undertake such journey to come to wonderful Barcelona, they said.

The Ramblas and the Plaza di Catalunya are calling tourists. Newspaper shops, restaurants, shops and flower shops have paraded each side of the Ramblas, offering services in the most fashionably way to tourists. While walking on the Ramblas, I heard a deep voice bellowed “Mr. Savage.” Guess what? A friend I knew in Belgium on holidays with his family. With the streets lined up with beautiful sights and performers, we had a very good time. Next was Plaza Reale where I sat down for hours to watch cultural performers.

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The famous statue of Christopher Columbus pointing to the direction of America.

In 1986, I was also in Barcelona, as the first country in Europe to visit from Africa. On the same Ramblas, I decided to polish my shoes. The fact that a White man is polishing a Black man’s shoes, brings the whole world activities to a standstill. Hundreds of tourists stopped and gathered round us, like people watching a football match. The crowd keeps swelling at a very fast rate that eventually, I requested the shoe polisher to discontinue polishing my shoes. I paid him and walked away. Laugh and grow fat or be slim, whichever way you want it, fasten your seat belt and  read Joel Savage’s ‘Road Of Agony.’

Road of Agony

http://www.amazon.com/Road-Agony-Joel-Savage-ebook/dp/B00DUHSAYI

Ryanair Is A Fraudulent Airline: Why Airline Asks Passengers To Print Boarding Pass Online When They Have Workers At Airports To Serve Passengers?

Passengers board a Ryanair plane parked at Girona airport, September 20, 2012. Ryanair has welcomed a meeting between Irish and Spanish aviation authorities to resolve a dispute between the airline and the Spanish government over safety standards. Ryanair has accused the Spanish aviation authorities of falsifying information on incidents involving its planes, an accusation Spanish officials have rejected. REUTERS/Albert Gea (SPAIN - Tags: TRANSPORT TRAVEL BUSINESS)

Ryanair: Designed a scheme taking illegal money from passengers over lack of printing boarding pass online.

When did Ryanair begin to ask passengers to print boarding passes online, without the intervention of International Air Transport Association (AITA)? Because this is a fraud and a crime.  

I made booking online to Barcelona on July 13, 2015 and I received confirmation that I will be leaving with Vueling Airline and my arrival with Ryanair. If I knew that Ryanair requests passengers to print boarding pass online, I would have cancel the flight immediately.

I printed my the bookings online and at the National Airport in Belgium, I was successfully given a boarding pass by Vueling official, when I presented the printout bookings. After visiting Barcelona, I confirmed my return flight but at the National Airport of Barcelona, when I gave them the bookings printout, Rynair officials demanded my boarding pass.

I said, what do you mean by boarding pass when Rynair needs to give me one before boarding my flight. To my utmost surprise, the Ryanair official behind the counter told me I need to print it online. I asked her, what’s her significance  as Rynair official working at the airport, and expecting passengers to print their boarding pass online?

The official refused to serve me the boarding pass until I paid the sum of 45 Euros. This is illegal and a fraud, Ryanair should know this. No one forces an airline to operate on low fares. If they have decided to do that, they shouldn’t find way and means to take money illegally from passengers.

Until Rynair refund the illegal 45 Euros they collected from me, I will make sure that within a year the airline goes bankrupt.  A Spanish court has already ruled out that Ryanair has no right to force customers to print their own boarding passes.

The judge in Barcelona said that, under international air travel conventions, Ryanaircan neither demand passengers turn up at the airport with their boarding pass, nor charge them €40 (£34) if they do not.

“I declare abusive and, therefore, null, the clause in the contract by which Ryanair obliges the passenger to take a boarding pass to the airport,” Judge Barbara Cordoba said.

Diary Barcelona: A Visit To Barcelona Television/FM Studios – Part One

Barcelona 1

The passion of every television station is to entertain, give first-hand information and run programs the public will be interested. Technology has made today’s television the most popular electronic appliance in the world. For a number of years now, Barcelona Televisio has been one of the best local television centers in Barcelona, influencing much of the day-to-day activities of local civic life.

On July 14, 2015, I was delighted to meet Mr. Jordi Colom, the technical director of Barcelona Televisio, in Spain, who took me around the entire studio to explain the activities behind the success of the television and the radio studios, to discover the influence and impact of technology in today’s modern journalism and mass communication.

Barcelona Televisió, also known as BTV, is a channel of local television, publicly owned and managed by a municipal subsidiary of the city of Barcelona. The broadcasts began on November 3, 1994, in a small place located at Via Laietana, in Barcelona, with the success of unification of the channels and service in each district, under the company information in Comunicació de Barcelona.

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Cross section of journalists at Barcelona Televisio.

Among the objectives of the Barcelona Televisió (BTV) is to become a municipal channel which would encourage citizen participation. Programs offered from its studios include half-hour information, debate, and contents provided by each district television, serving the people in the Catalan language.

With its own language, laws, and customs, independent-minded Catalonia, is one of Spain’s richest and most highly industrialized regions. With a distinguished history stretching back to the early middle ages, many Catalans think of themselves as people not part of Spain.

Under the management of Mr. Sergi Vicente, since 2008, Barcelona Televisio has followed different programming models but has remained a model of proximity and public service.  The success of the television facilitated the creation of the company’s FM station service in 2014, naming it Barcelona FM.

On a familiarization tour, the technical director painstakingly explained the work of the journalists servicing various departments, how the studios operate each day for viewers and how information is gathered and disseminated to the general public. According to Mr. Colom, the locals, referring to the Catalan, increasingly desires local TV programming, including the weather and the traffic, because they rely on those two things to carry out their daily activities.

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Photo: Mr. Jordi Colom, the Technical Director and the visiting journalist Mr. Joel Savage

The well-organized studios provide news writing, editing, technical activities, interviews etc; and also local government affairs programming, regional sports, and news, with great impact on many individuals.

Programming of BTV, based now on the public service and minority-minded, was renovated completely in September 1997. Directed by Manuel Huerga, who won a public competition for the design of programs, the grill was divided into two strips. Spaces of short duration, no more than five minutes, which highlighted the news and cultural agenda.

Television is indeed a wonderful tool which has brought comfort to our homes, as millions of people depend on simultaneously as a source of entertainment, information and to carry out businesses, but there is nothing more interesting than discovering its anatomy and activities. Visiting Barcelona Televisio is the best experience I will never forget.

Where Are You Going This Summer Holiday?

 

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The idiom: ‘All work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy’ might be conceived by an ideologist who knows that after working very hard , life needs relaxation, refreshment and holidays, because they provide relief from the monotony of our daily routine and also significant for our mental and emotional well being.

Unlike Africa blessed with continuous nine months of sunshine, summer comes just once a year in Europe and America, and this sunny period is something special which is never wasted. The legs which have been hiding in trousers are suddenly exposed and short skirts hiding in the wardrobes become adorable fashion for the ladies.

How do we enjoy our perfect Summer holidays? People enjoy summer in various ways. Some travel to favourite or tourists’ attraction places to enjoy the beautiful scenery, landscapes and quiet places. Others prefer to stay indoors and enjoy the barbecue events with their families and friends.

Most of the time, I travel to see my mother in Africa, who is now eighty years. But this year, I decided to change the direction of my summer holiday. I chose Barcelona. Why Barcelona? Just some few months ago, I remembered that in 1986, I opened an account in one of the banks in the city.

I deposited an amount of nine thousand pesetas in my account. (I’m not sure how much that amount is in Euros.) After my holidays in Barcelona, I cashed seven thousand pesetas from the account, leaving behind two thousand pesetas. Definitely my account is now a dormant file, but 1986 to 2015, is long enough to generate certain interest.

This sounds crazy, isn’t it? But I mean it, I’m going to the bank to find my account to re-open it once again, to see how much interest my two thousand pesetas have generated. There wasn’t much computer that time, so whatever means they will use to find my account is their own business.

Holiday 3

Sometimes government takes over dormant accounts after certain period. If my account is gone, that’s not going to ruin my vacation at all. It’s stupid to be miserable in a city called Barcelona during summer holidays, when the city smiles, beautiful restaurants invite, miniskirts tempt, and the sight of beautiful people from all walks of life, makes you appreciate the wonders of creation.

Road Of Agony: A Novel By Joel Savage

In the last week of January 1976, my father died mysteriously, leaving behind his wife and eight children. I was just nineteen but matured enough to realise that I had a big responsibility lying on my shoulders, as the eldest son of my parents.

Shortly after completing my secondary school, the desire to continue my education wasn’t there any longer. Instead, I chose to travel and work, hoping that could help the welfare of my family. I travelled extensively, experiencing bullies, corruption, beatings and lockup.

Road of Agony

In West Africa, I covered Republic of Togo, Republic of Benin, Nigeria, Republic of Guinea, Ivory Coast, and Sierra Leone. Some of these countries I visited had its own sad story and bitter experience. After kidnap, beatings and incarceration, I made it to Barcelona, Spain, to meet another hostile life challenges.

My story is just not a story about me, but also about the bad attitude, vicious character, mercilessness, and wickedness of other people I encountered on the road of agony. I count myself to be one of the luckiest person living in this world today, fortunate enough to unfold this true story.

Excerpt

Obanko told Monk that he wanted to take Babatunde to the Pakistan restaurant for some food because he didn’t have much money on him. Babatunde excused Monk and he left the bar with Obanko to the restaurant. They were eating when the police burst into the restaurant with machine guns. It was the most frightening scene Babatunde had ever seen in his life.

Everyone was asked to put their hands on their heads and they conducted a very thorough search on everybody in the restaurant. Nothing suspicious was found on anyone. However, there was one African who didn’t want to cooperate with the police. He refused to do whatever he was told to do. Due to that, he was manhandled by one of the police officers.

From his speech and behaviour, it was obvious that the police had tormented him for a very long time and that he thought he has had enough of it. That, probably, was the reason he acted that way.He was dragged from the restaurant and pinned against a wall. His mouth was forcefully opened when he refused the order to do so.

With anger, he stretched his neck close to the face of the policeman and opened his mouth with screaming and the policeman gave him a dirty slap across the face. But at the end, nothing suspicious was found in his mouth, so he was set free.

As soon as the police left the scene, Babatunde bombarded Obanko with a series of questions. He asked him about the reason for that operation. Obanko told him that when the police suspect something or acting on a tip off, they always acted like that. The police came to the restaurant because many drug pushers use that place for business transactions.

The police told someone to jump thrice with open legs. The reason they did that was that if drug was hidden in his anus, it would fall on the ground.

“How did the police know that some drug pushers put stuffs in their anus?” asked Babatunde.

“Do you know how many times they have done that to me? I can’t tell you because it’s too numerous to count. Even though they get nothing from me any time they subjected me to this kind of punishment, yet they have caught many pushers in that way. This is Barcelona. Welcome to Barcelona,” said Obanko. He paused for a while and began again.

“Some of the friends we eat and drink with are informants to the police. In Spain, we called such people ‘Chibato.’ Just imagine, how can the police know that something is hidden at that part of the body? It is because of the ‘Chibatoes’.”

“The police are not stupid. They are specially trained for that,” said Babatunde.

“What I mean is before they knew that stuffs could be hidden there, one of the ‘Chibatoes’ informed the police about that. Anyway, let’s go to the Piazza to have a drink,” said Obanko.

“Wait a minute, do you still feel like drinking again despite wobbling on the way to the restaurant?” asked Babatunde.

“For your sake, I’m not taking ‘vino’ (wine) today. We shall take just beer, which has less percentage of alcohol.” At the Piazza, he ordered for two bottles of beer. While waiting for the waitress, he began telling Babatunde his experience in Barcelona.

“I came here four years ago; now, this is what I looked like. I never thought I would ever sell drugs for a living. I don’t want to lie to you. This is Barcelona. Welcome to Barcelona.”

He took a lighter from his breast pocket and lit a cigarette. Babatunde saw a long scar at the lower part of his chin and he asked him how he got it. “It’s a long story but if you want to know, I will tell you. “A junkie bought some ‘sand’ from me. I hope you know what I mean by ‘sand’? It’s cocaine. To avoid calling that name openly in the public, we call it ‘sand’.

Everyone knows about this. The junkie had no money on him. He knew that if he told me the truth, I was not going to give the ‘sand’ to him. “He put his hand in his pocket pretending to pay me; then, he slashed me with a sharp pen knife and escaped. As I lay bleeding, a tenant saw me through his window and called the police to the scene. An ambulance came for me to the hospital. I received a dozen of stitches and I was discharged the same day.”

“What did you tell the police when they questioned you?” asked Babatunde.

“I didn’t tell them the truth. I told them that I was robbed and beaten. I’m not sure if they believe me or not. However, that is a common thing in Barcelona. Everyday, minute, and second, thieves snatch away tourist bags and cameras. Sometimes when they want to save their belongings, they pay the price for it. Some are badly hurt,” said Obanko.

The Author

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Joel Savage is a second child of eight children. He was born in Cape Coast, in the central region of Ghana, on January 19, 1957. Following the footsteps of his father, a veteran journalist, Joel starts writing at a very tender age. Growing up in an environment he sees hard living and the struggling of people, in their normal daily lives, gingers his flair to choose writing on events of reality.

Joel studied at both Ebenezer Secondary School and Accra High School in Accra, Ghana, and later studied at the Ghana Institute of Journalism. Freelancing, he wrote for the Daily Graphic, Ghanaian Times and The Weekly Spectator in Accra, Ghana.

Joel calls his sorrowful, brutal, inhuman and lucid account of surviving a kidnap by armed robbers, as  the ‘Road Of Agony.’ The author lives in Belgium with his wife and three children.

http://www.amazon.com/Road-Agony-Joel-Savage/dp/1621370747