Tuesday, 31 January 2017

PLANT A TREE, SAVE THE EARTH


Deforestation is the permanent destruction of forests in order to make the land available for other uses. An estimated 18 million acres (7.3 million hectares) of forest, which is roughly the size of the country of Panama, are lost each year, according to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). It is a process where vegetation is cut down without any simultaneous replanting for economic or social reasons.

Dr. James sitting on logs of wood in Taraba State


Deforestation have taken over Nigerian forests. Deforestation has negative implications on the environment in terms of soil erosion, loss of biodiversity ecosystems, loss of wildlife and increased desertification among many others.

At the rate our tress are been cut down up North, in the forests of Benue, Taraba that I visited recently and Kaduna as I was told, in the next few years, we will have no trees in Nigeria again. Forests are been cleared for logging, timber export, subsistence agriculture and notably the collection of wood for fuel which remains problematic in Nigeria.

Logs of wood for export


deforestation, the way it starts


There are many causes of deforestation. The WWF reports that half of the trees illegally removed from forests are used as fuel. Others include to make more land available for housing and urbanization, harvesting timber to create commercial items such as paper, furniture and homes, creating ingredients that are highly prized consumer items, such as the oil from palm trees and creating room for cattle ranching.

Common methods of deforestation are burning trees and clear cutting. These tactics leave the land completely barren and are controversial practices.

Bush burning also leads to deforestation



Loading of rosewood at Garaba ChedeTaraba-State


Deforestation is considered to be one of the contributing factors to global climate change. The deforestation of trees not only lessens the amount of carbon stored, it also releases carbon dioxide into the air. Seventy percent of the world’s plants and animals live in forests and are losing their habitats to deforestation, according to National Geographic. Loss of habitat can lead to species extinction. It also has negative consequences for medicinal research and local populations who rely on the animals and plants in the forests for hunting and medicine.



Between 1990 and 2000, Nigeria lost an average of 409,700 hectares of forest every year equal to an average annual deforestation rate of 2.38%. Between 1990 and 2005, in total Nigeria lost 35.7% of its forest cover, or around 6,145,000 hectares. Also, as of 2005, Nigeria had the highest rate of deforestation in the world according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).  Federal and State Government should protect these forests and make it mandatory that for every tree cut down, 10 new ones must be planted and nurtured, lets save the earth, lets save Nigeria.
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Monday, 30 January 2017

THE BEAUTY OF ABEOKUTA - THROUGH OLUMO ROCK

Dr James at the entrance of Olumo rock

'Abeokuta' means ‘under the rock’, It lies below the Olumo rock, home to several caves and shrines. Olumo rock was said to have been discovered by a hunter 'Adagba' who retreated with his wife to the safety of the rock whenever the need arise. Adagba later invited three other friends of Egba reconnaissance hunters to appreciate the rock and its surrounding fertile wooded savannah and the presence of Ogun River, after consultation from 'Ifa' divinity, they settled there. In 1830, Shoeke, a hunter and leader of Egba refugees migrating from Ibadan area founded the town of Abeokuta which means “beneath the rock”.

Dr James standing just in front of the rock site

Dr james in front of entrance to hidden room on the rock


Dr James with a grinding stone used for cooking by the people of Egba, 
while they were on the rock


The rock was later named “Olumo” which had two levels of meaning. The first is “Olu” (God) “Mo” (Molded) the second is “Oluwa fi mo” (God has put an end to our wandering and suffering). Abeokuta was originally inhabited by the Egba people who found refuge at the Olumo rock during the inter-tribal wars in the 19th century. The rock provided sanctuary to the people of Egba land against the enemy - warriors from Dahomey (now present day Republic of Benin) as well as a vantage point to monitor the enemy’s advance leading to eventual triumph in war, It is natures massive monuments made of indigenous material. The town of Abeokuta eventually grew as these new settlers spread out from this location.

Dr James squatting between two rocks, 
a narrow passage of escape on the rock

Dr James feeling on top of the world,
 standing at 137 meters from the base of the rock


There is a story about a rock shaped like a snake. It was said that some powerful enemy of the Egba inhibitors on the rock had turned into a snake and climbed the rock with the hope of discovering where the people were hiding. The Rock deity in defense of the people then struck the snake with lightening and the snake turned into stone. The Rock protected the people.

The mythical snake that was struck by lightening and turned to stone


View of Abeokuta from Olumo Rock

The door to the house of the ancient abode of the priestess


It's 137 meters from the base of the rock, the original shape from a distance appeared as a female mammoth guarding her brood. It can be said to be the symbol of unity and freedom of the Egba’s and all the residents of Abeokuta, like the American status of Liberty. Within the rock, I saw carvings, cowrie-studded statues, the ancient abode of the priestesses who live in huts on the rock, an assumable over 300 years old tree. An old woman, said to be 134 years old.


The control engine of the elevator covered with cobwebs

one of the old trees on top of the rock, used as a shrine



Dr James exploring Olumo Rock


Pointing down from Olumo rock

From the top of the rock I saw the whole of Abeokuta, with very prominent buildings like the first Church in Nigeria, N.T.A. Abeokuta, Baptist Boys High School, The family house of late Chief MKO Abiola, the Central Mosque, Sanatan, Ogun River Ogun and others. Olumo rock was turned into a tourist site in 1976 and thus commission in February 3rd 2006 by President Olusegun Obasanjo, it is now open to National and international tourist, with tourist attractions like a museum, restaurants, water fountain and an elevator (which is presently non functional) that will provide even the climbing-challenged a wonderful view of the surrounding city
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Sunday, 29 January 2017

MY VISIT TO KUTEB - A FAMILY DIVIDED AGAINST ITSELF


I was in Taraba State, with the aim of visiting Nigeria’s largest national park - the Gashaka-Gumti Game Reserve, which I was told covers about 6600 sq km. While driving through Kuteb, I had a change of mind, I decided to stop over in Kuteb to find out why most of the building were roofless, as if there was war there and it turned out that, yes there was a war. Though it all looks calm now, once there is fight, there might always be more fight because anger is so easy to be provoked.

Dr James standing in front of a burnt house


The Kuteb or Kutep are found in Taraba State of Nigeria. History have it that they migrated from Egypt about 1000 AD. They are mostly farmers, hunters and fisher men, because of the proximity of the Benue River basin. They even spread into Cameroon. The Colonial master placed them under the ruler-ship of a first-class Jukun ruler, the "Aku Uka" of the Wukari Kingdom. In 1914, the British made the Kwe Kukwen the only graded and third class chief in Takum, with the title of Kwe Takum. He was made paramount over other people in the area.  This change was resented by other ethnic groups of Hausa, Tiv, Chamba, Kukuns and Ichen, who forced the Ukwe Ahmadu Genkwe to leave Takum and reside elsewhere. The last 'Ukwe Takum' was Ali Ibrahim, who ruled from 1963 to 1996.

In the 1970s Takum was part of the old Benue Plateau State. The local government gazette recognized three main chieftaincy stools in the Wukari Federation for the Wukari, Donga and Takum local government areas, each to be elected by their indigenous people. This law was changed by the Governor Joseph Gomwalk in 1975, withdrawing the sole right of the Kuteb to select the holder of the Ukwe Chieftaincy stool of Takum from one of their two royal families. The new law allowed for election of a Chamba chief, while making a Jukun man chairman of the selection committee and altering the composition of the committee to include Jukun and Chamba as well as Hausa and Kuteb. The justification was the changing demographics of Takum, but the result was disturbances that caused the government to ban the traditional annual Kuchichebe festival, where the land is blessed to ensure the next harvest will be fertile. Later, similar festivals were banned in other Wukari Federation areas due to the trouble they caused.

burnt building after the Jukuns and Kutebs clashes






In late 1996, the government of Benue State decided to split the local government area of Takum into two areas, Ussa and Takum. The motivation apparently was to manage the boundaries so that one could be ruled by Kuteb and the other by Chamba or Jukun. The plan failed. In elections, the people elected Kuteb to rule in both districts. So the government intervened again in April of 1997, and moved three Kuteb villages out of the Takum area, villages that were immediate suburbs of Takum and not even contiguous with Ussa. The Kuteb were very angry when the first elections were set aside, and new elections brought out a Chamba for Takum's local government chair.

In October 1997, it was alleged that a group of Kuteb young men took a young Jukun man and beat him to death. Young Jukun gangs retaliated by capturing and killing some Kuteb. Suddenly, weapons appeared on the streets, and a war began. The Kuteb residents of Takum fled to Ussa, and two thirds of all the homes in Takum were destroyed. The conflict was exacerbated when federal police came on the scene. They placed blame on the Kuteb, and began shooting Kutebs. Churches of both the CRCN and the RCCN were damaged and closed. Only the small Muslim quarter remained untouched. More than 100,000 people lost their homes, and about 400 people lost their lives. For more than three years, there were no schools open in Takum. Medical and government services were almost nonexistent. Cross-tribal marriages were broken, and engagements called off. Friends who had gone to school together could not speak to one another. Kuteb members who were still part of the CRCN were pressured to leave.

In October 1997 the Taraba State military administrator Amen Edore Oyakhire sent a Comprehensive brief on the Chieftaincy Stool of Takum Chiefdom to the Armed Forces Ruling Council. That month seven people were killed and seven houses razed in communal violence, and 31 people were arrested. Oyakhire said anyone suspected of involvement in the communal violence would be treated as detractors of the transition to civil rule. In 1998 the Taraba State Government also set up a Peace Committee which managed to negotiate a truce between the ethnic groups.
The Kuteb have been involved in ongoing violent conflicts with their neighbors. An ethnic crisis between the Jukun and Kuteb broke out in 1991. On December 27, 2008 another crisis erupted in Takum over an alleged killing of a Jukun youth by Kuteb youths. Perhaps 20 people died and thousands took refuge in the local military barracks. In 2000, there was fighting between the Jukun/Chamba and Tiv people, with over 250 villages burned. In 2006 violent clashes again began between the Kuteb and the Tiv, in which many people lost their lives. In a December 2008 press conference the Taraba State Governor, Danbaba Suntai, said he could see no end to the conflict.
The interesting thing about this people is that during their wars, they will return their wives homes knowing that both families can't kill their sisters. So my questions is why fight in the first in the first place, why not live in peace
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Saturday, 28 January 2017

ANDREW DESALU WILHELM FOUNDER OF THE 1ST CHURCH IN NIGERIA



The hunger for knowledge led me to visit the Cathedral of St. Peter at Ake, Abeokuta, in Ogun State. The first church in Ake, the first church in Egbaland, the first church in Western Nigeria, the first church in Nigeria. The foundation of the church was laid by Reverend Andrew Desalu Wihelm around 1846, and completed during the time of Henry Townsend. The first Mass was celebrated in the church on June 29, 1880, by the Fathers of the Society of the Mission. The church was built in 1898. It was rallying ground for most of the European missionaries to what became known as Nigeria.
The history of the church cannot be written without linking it to Sir, Andrew Desalu Wilhelm, a freed slave of Egba origin, a catechist and an evangelist of note. Who in 1842 had accompanied John MacCormack and Henry Townsend to Abeokuta en route to Badagry.




Dr Raphael James standing in front of the 1st church in Nigeria



They were received then by Chief Sodeke of Egbaland and Wilhelm was the interpreter to Townsend during their tour. Townsend returned to England for ordination and Wilhelm was left behind, serving as a catechist until 1846, when Townsend returned to Abeokuta with an impressive group of pioneers like Rev. (later Bishop) and Mrs. Crowther, Rev. Golmer, Mr. Marsh (a catechist), and others. Wilhelm preached the Gospel along the dusty streets of Abeokuta for 4 years before the return of Townseed. During this period, Wilhelm became the rallying point for all returnee slaves in Abeokuta. He lived with them in their quarter 'Wasimi' ("come and rest") at Ake. It was during this period that he erected a shed for Christian worship at Ake, laying the foundation of what later became the Cathedral of Saint Peter, Ake. Wilhelm died on February 4, 1866.


Inside the church


The church is the seat of the Bishop of the Diocese of Abeokuta (Dioecesis Abeokutanus) which was created in 1997 by the bull Cum ad aeternam of the Pope John Paul II. He was elevated to cathedral status in 1997.
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Thursday, 26 January 2017

IS APOSTLE AYO JOSEPH BABALOLA FOUNDER OF CAC?



My visit to Odo-Owa site where the founder of the Christ Apostolic Church (CAC), Apostle Ayo Joseph Babalola started it all in 1928.

Apostle Ayo Joseph Babalola

Apostolic Babalola was born as an Anglican at Odo-Owa, Kwara State, Nigeria in 1904. He attended his elementary school at Oto-Awori on Badagry Road, Lagos State, in 1914. While at Standard four, he pulled out from school to become a blacksmith apprentice, which lasted for two years, before he became a steamroller operator under the PWD (Public Works Department), then under the colonial British Government. After 15 days of learning to drive the caterpillar, he was able to drive it without any assistance. He single handedly drove the steamroller on April 1st, 1928 while working on the Osogbo – Ilesha road. On June 14, 1928 he was transferred to Akure – Ilesha road. On October 9, 1928 at about 12 noon by the river Ariran while working with his steamroller, he heard a loud voice from above like the roar of thunder which called his name thrice saying "Joseph! Joseph!! Joseph!!! Leave this job you are doing; if not, this year you are going to be cut off from the earth." Two days later on October 11, 1928, while trying to repair his steamroller, he heard the voice again, commanding him to become a disciple of God and not a tractor driver. That is how he received the call and he went into fasting and prayer. In December 1929, he was baptized in Lagos lagoon.

Apostle Babalola  preaching in the late1930s


The event that happened after then was mysterious, history have it that Apostle Babalola  appeared ruffled, tying a Bible with a fresh palm-frond on his head, in the village and he proclaimed the name of Jesus Christ calling people to repentance. The villagers then saw him and became worried thinking probably that he was mad. This was a community rooted in African tradition, in which he grew up in and suddenly he is preaching Christ. His message was too strange to imbibe, they rejected him and he moved straight to the forest. He stayed in the forest for 15 days screaming at the top of his voice for repentance. When he emerged from the forest without any harm, the villagers started believing in him, for they had thought that he will be consumed by wild beast.

His grave side



Apostle Babalola is regarded as the founder of the Christ Apostolic Church (CAC)". Recent research claims that he was not the founder but one of the founders. The registration form of Corporate Affairs Commission in 1943, noted that they were three founders of "Christ Apostolic Church (CAC)" the first Aladura Pentecostal Church. Though it was formally established in 1941 after a split from the Apostolic Church which the original Aladura organization (Faith Tabernacle) had invited to Nigeria, it was registered in 1943. The Corporate Affairs Commission 1943 form, have it thus: Pastors Akinyele - first President;  Odubanjo Vice-President/General Superintendent, while Babalola was the General Evangelist.



Officially, I think what would have happened was that at the time of registration, the Corporate Affairs Commission must have asked for decentralization of positions in the church. If you ask me my opinion based on experience and research work, I will say it categorically, That Apostle Babalola remains the founder of Christ Apostolic Church (CAC), Not minding what is recorded in Corporate Affairs Commission of 1943.


Dr. James standing beside the rock used as pulpit by Apostle Babalola when he first ministered to the world in 1928.



Dr James on the mountain where Apostle Babalola first preached



Dr James standing beside the entrance of the 'Power House


Dr James relaxing after walking and praying for hours on the mountain


The uniqueness of Apostle Babalola is that he was the most vocal and he held several revivals and converted many idol worshipers, who burnt their traditional fetishes gods. His fame grew like wild fire and the colonial authorities became worried. They arrested him and jailed him. He was later released and he continued with the work that his creator called him to do, he died on July 26, 1959, in Effon-Alaiye, Ondo State.


A CAC retreat center was built at Ikeji-Arakeji, Osun State where Babalola was first called in 1928. The Joseph Ayo Babalola University (JABU) a private Nigerian university located in Ikeji-Arakeji in Osun State, established by the Christ Apostolic Church (CAC) Worldwide is named after him, located at the place where he was called by God in 1928.

Today, the church - the Christ Apostolic Church has spread across the world and can be found in countries including the United States of America, Armenian, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, the Republic of Ireland, Austria, Australia, South Africa, the Ivory Coast, Togo and Chad with headquarter still in Lagos, Nigeria.

On top of the prayer ground which is a large flat rock, a mountain which before the liberation was called 'Oru-Oko' but was spiritually annexed in 1928 by Apostle Babalola and by 1987 the church decided to build a house on top. The church has an inner room for special prayer, it was that it was the gate way to spirits after they depart mother earth, other spots include where a snake was said to have crawled over the Apostle Babalola while lying down in prayer and the very spot where the snake was said to have mysteriously caught fire and burnt. There is also the 'Power House' built close to the stream where Apostle Babalola had his first bathe. There is also the mortar used by Apostle Babalola for palm fruits processing which is the major occupation of the Odo-Owa people.

For those who travels to Jerusalem for pilgrimage this is one place to visit and feel the presence of God, Christian tourists from all works of life visit the mountain for prayers. Yours truly prayed earnestly while on the mountain. This is the time that the Kwara State Government and the Christ Apostolic Church should unite and work together to turn the place to tourist centre for Christians all over the world.
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Wednesday, 25 January 2017

MAMMAN DIKE: LONGEST SERVING ROYAL DRIVER EVER TO THE SULTAN


Dike Okwuosa born in Umuezia village of Asaba, in the nineteen century ago. His journey to Sokoto began right in Asaba when he joined Lord Lugard’s Royal Niger Company as a cook and steward. He followed Lugard to Minna,, where he was taught how to drive a car. When the company’s traders and administrators moved North to conquer the area, Dike was taken along as driver, cook and steward.


MAMMAN DIKE at 140 years old


At Zaria, after Sokoto had fallen, Dike was asked by the colonial officers to proceed to Sokoto and deliver a Ford T-model car to Atahiru 1, the new Sultan of Sokoto installed by the British. He was to return to Zaria, but on getting to Sokoto, fate played a trick on him. He was implored to stay and teach the Sultan and his aides how to drive the car. He stayed behind in Sokoto and became a Muslim during the reign of Sultan Tambari who, like Atahiru 1, was deposed by the British. Then, he dropped Okwuosa, his father’s name, picked Mamman, when naturalized and became a native of Sokoto. He married two Hausa women, wiped out his root as well as his previous life which included his wife and children in Asaba. He served as a driver to six Sultans- Atahiru I, Atahiru II, Muhammadu, Tambari, Hassan and Abubakar sadiq, III, the longest monarch since the caliphate was established by Uthman Dan fodio. He was his cook as well as his companion and confidant. Both of them have been friends during the reign of Sultan Hassan, Sadiq’s uncle to whom Dike was a driver. They were at Talata Mafara when the news of Hassan’s death was broken. While Sadiq went to answer the call, the care of the family fell on Dike, who also transported the family to Sokoto when Sadiq was made the new Sultan.

Atahiru 1, his first master

Giving this background, a bond of friendship, confidence and trust was easily established between these two fellows. So much was the confidence reposed in Dike by Sadiq that Dike was given absolute privileges, such as going to Abubakar Sadiq’s wives with messages from him, entering his bedroom and acting as a channel through which the late Sultan could be reached by visitors. In fact, this confidence it was that gave Dike the license to supervise the building of the present palace, where Dasuki now resides.

Abubakar sadiq, III, the longest monarch
 since the caliphate was established by 
Uthman Dan fodio and Dike's best boss



As at when this photo was taken on January 18, 1989, he must have lived for over 140 years, spending over eighty years in the royal household of Sokoto Kingdom.
He had thirteen kids,  six boys and seven girls. One of them, Muhammed, who is now about 87 years old, took over Mammman’s role in the palace administration. Another worked with the Customs in Daura, Katsina State, while another was a civil servant, worked  at the Federal Secretariat, Sokoto, all his kids speak Hausa. Dike now rests in peace.
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Sunday, 22 January 2017

ENCOUNTER WITH ARA - THE QUEEN OF THE AFRICAN DRUM


The month of January is a very unique month in the life of Aralola Olamuyiwa, the Talking-drum Goddess, Nigeria’s first world-acclaimed female African traditional drummer.

Ara with one of her unique hair styles.


She was born today 42 years ago, in Lagos. Her parents Alhaji Oluwemimo Hamed Olamuyiwa and Alhaja N V Olamuyiwa from Ondo State were staying in Lagos as at the time of her arrival on earth. At age 5, she took to drumming the traditional African drums and by age 10, she had written her first song. She went from performing at family events and corporate events, to becoming the head drummer and represented her school in many singing and choral competitions. Today, the drum defines her artistic presence and premium reign in Nigeria’s entertainment industry.

Ara with DrRaphael James

Ara doing what she knows how to do best

The talking drum queen- ARA


She spent a good part of her childhood years in Warri, Delta State, where she attended Nana Primary School, Our Ladies High School, Folashaye Girls Grammar School. She then had a brief stay at University of Ilorin as a fresh Law student but left and later returned to Ambrose Ali University Ekpoma where she studied English Language.

This year 2017, she is celebrating 27 years on stage. Ara is a proud mother of a boy - Prince Irewole Bialalori Saliu.

Ara as a baby



She is inspired by her love for African culture and heritage. She has what can now be described as one of the finest priceless collection of traditional African drums, all of which constitute her grand orchestra. "Ara is a must-watch soloist. In this past years, she has built and maintained high diplomatic relationship based on her economic diplomacy with some relevant experts and institutions in the United States of America, China, Canada and France. In 2003 she performed for Queen Elizabeth II of England during her visit to Abuja. She is wonderful with her 'Gan-gan' fusion and she blends easily and perfectly too with old and contemporary artistes in studio and on stage with her mastery of the talking drum. She leads a talented orchestra that create pulses of exceptionally entertaining African symphony that once accentuated pristine Yoruba existence. Her success at being able to fuse traditional beats with modern rhythms has led her to holding studio and theatre performances with such world greats as Stevie Wonder and Usher Raymond, Wyclef Jean, Angelie Kidjo and 'ALL 4 One'. Others are: Tuface Idibia, King Sunny Ade, Femi Kuti and Yeni Kuti.

Ara with Dr. Frederick Faseun, founder of OPC

Ara with her band

Ara's son Prince Irewole Bialalori Saliu

Ara on stage with Stevie Wonder

Ara with His Royal Highness, the Oni of ife

Ara with Tuface

Ara With Desmond Eliot and Sammie Okposo



She manages a united family of dancers, drummers and singers. Her strong attachment to the business of providing captivating African entertainment. Aside from her music, she is the brain behind 'The Girl-Child Project' - with focus on facilitating the education and healthcare of less-privileged young girls. She also manage 'The Girl-Child Book Series' which basically is about writing and publishing a girl-child-specific book series for female pupils of primary and secondary schools. Ara transfers knowledge that are capable of assisting young girls to make the right decisions as they grow-up in the face of the challenging and temptations of the pressures of life in her book series. She is also the brain behind 'Inspire Me' - a special project with focus on street-kids. 'Mother ‘n’ Child' - an anti-malaria campaign. 'Ara Empowerment' - special support for needy mothers. 'Sustainable Water Development For Africa' - where she has special alliance with major organizations to provide portable water to selected African on the African continent.

Father- Alhaji Oluwemimo Hamed Olamuyiwa

Mother - Alhaja N V Olamuyiwa


Ara

Ara in her younger years with the drum

Holding up one of her many awards


She produced her first movie - 'Osunfunke' which had five nominations - Best Sound, Cinematography, Supporting Actress and Best Director at the prestigious Best of Nollywood (BON) Awards. She dabbled into movie to further project what she stands for, which is to represent her people’s culture and tourism.

Some of her songs released are: Olomi Mi, Ara De, Ori Mi, Dun Mi Ninu, Eko Ile and Yanke
She has won numerous awards over the years, and has been involved in a lot of charity work over the years too. She was recently appointed Melody for Dialogue among Civilisations and Association (UN) Water Ambassador. She is also the Cultural Ambassador to His Imperial Majesty Alayeluwa Oba ENITAN BABATUNDE OGUNWUSI, Ojaja 11, Ooni of Ifeland.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY QUEEN OF THE TALKING-DRUM!
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