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Breaking the cage

Some bird fly. Some can't.
Some don't really want to.

By Kazim and Orin

We all know about our own independence and the Liberation War [if not: dude, seriously?]. We struggled, we fought for our rights and we gave 3 million lives. But what about other countries across the world? How did they gain their independence? Some of them certainly fought. Some of them gained it through diplomatic means. Others got it for free. It takes all kinds, we suppose. Here are some of the more interesting ones.

The shortest lived country ever
Some people may have already of The Republic of Benin, especially if your parents are in the military or you know someone who has served as a peacekeeper. But this is not the Benin we're talking about. There was another Benin that existed during the Nigerian civil war between Nigerian government and the secessionist country Biafra.

Surrounded by invasions and counter invasions, the Biafra-blessed Military Administrator, Major Okonkwo, declared independence on September 19th, 1967. In his declaration, like every other leader, he said, “Long live the Republic of Benin”. It lasted roughly 24 hours, as the Nigerian forces captured the country at 6pm the following day.

Where be William Wallace?
Every movie buff knows William Wallace thanks to Braveheart. Game buffs know him too, thanks to Age of Empires II. He fought and died to gain Scottish independence and is widely considered to be the most famed Scotsman. However, Scotland is today part of the United Kingdom, in a political union, while retaining separate legal, educational and religious institutions.

But the winds, they are a-changing. The newly elected Scottish Nationalist Party has vowed to hold elections to decide whether Scotland should separate from United Kingdom. This, of course, has made some English politicians go completely bonkers, with some members of conservative party saying that, without English military support, the Scottish navy will only consist of fishery protection vessels and a country that weak is, “asking to be invaded.” That's interesting, because considering Europe's current political scenario and England's track record for the part few centuries, they are the ones most likely to invade. Said politicians have already threatened to bomb Scottish Airports should they become a security threat. Paranoid, much?

Burn ALL the passes
In Afrikaans, Apartheid means separateness. You see, the white minority was ruling over the non-white majority and there was a lot of discrimination. The non-whites were supposed to hold passes everywhere they went; they had separate transportation, schools, churches, they did not have a right to vote and laws against them were significantly harsher than the ones applied on whites. So, one day a man by the name of Nelson Mandela said something along the lines of “to hell with this” and burned his pass. The government decided to send him to prison on charges of treason. Bad idea.

Mandela was in prison for 27 years until the apartheid was dissolved and became the first non-white president of South Africa. The message, other than anti-racism, is that you should burn your report cards as it creates educational discrimination between the majority with average grades and the minority goodie-two-shoes.

Don't want it? Well, too bad
Most countries want to be separate and free and thus they end up fighting for it. What happened with Singapore was different case.

Singapore had merged with Malaysia much as Scotland merged with the UK. But there were some tensions along the political and racial lines. When the PAP (People's Action Party) won the elections in the Singapore Legislative Assembly, they demanded equal rights for all races. The opposition and Malaysia's dominating party, United Malay's National Organisation (UMNO), decided to call in their assembly and promptly kicked Singapore out of their league. Because, you know, Singapore is so tiny. Since it was a small country with no natural resources, even one of their legendary leader, Lee Kuan Yew, had doubts about their survival. There was general distress and even tears.

Of course, now Singapore is one of richest countries in the world. Guess it pays to have one of best seaports in history.

Image: Sadia Islam

Sleep Paralysis

By Neshmeen Faatimah

Feels just like this except without the resultant adventure, romance, fame and riches

You're having a nightmare. A giant ant-eating oak tree is chasing you around in a deep dark swimming pool. Like the exercise-deprived individual you are, and also owing to the fact that you can't swim, you can feel Mr. Oak gaining on you. He is now breathing down your neck. Suddenly, BAM! You're awake (I promise this isn't one of those articles you used to write at school as a child, in a time where everything ended in a dream). You think you're awake. Except, you aren't actually awake. You feel like your eyes are open. You can see your bed, your slowly swinging fan and your twilight poster under the dim light in your room. You can hear your father's snores far away. You can feel the cold air from the AC hitting your face, your soft comfy blanket against your body. But you can't move. You can't get up. There's a heavy weight on your chest and it's suffocating you. You feel a presence in the room. There's a dark shadow floating towards you. It is real. Everything is real. You try to scream, but you can't. You try to fling your arms at it, but you can't. Panicked and terrified, you don't understand what's happening.

Sleep paralysis. There's a new hype going about in the world of facebook and 9gag about lucid dreaming (gaining the ability to control your dreams and going inception on yourself). While all that sounds well and good, I assure you it is not when it happens to you naturally- when your brain simply cannot comprehend what is happening and you feel like a hallucinatory coma patient.

How does it happen? When you sink into sleep, your body releases a chemical that paralyses you so that you can't act out your dreams. Sometimes, you wake up before your brain withdraws the chemical from your body- Your mind wakes up, but your body doesn't.

Sleep paralysis, surprisingly, is a very common occurrence which happens to everyone at least once or twice in their lifetime. But for some cursed individuals, like this writer right here, it is a daily nightmare. Luckily, it is not unhealthy or harmful to the body. Just incredibly horrifying. There is also no cure. Just tips to avoid it, make the experience last for a shorter time and, if possible, make it a little pleasant. Here are some:

Maintain a regular sleep routine and keep stress levels low.

Try not to sleep on your back, as sleep paralysis usually only happens in this position.

Calm yourself and instead of trying to fling your body everywhere, try to move a small part of your body- like a finger or a cheek muscle. When your brain fails to do this, it realizes what's wrong and fixes it.

Don't strain yourself or exercise just before sleep.

If all else fails, try to explore the depths of your mind inside the dream. Think of sparkly unicorns and purple rhino babies. Add in a few rainbows. See what happens.


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