The Birth of Bitcoin and a bit about Blockchain Technology

Introduction

I wrote this article back in the summer of 2018 when bitcoin was only $8,256!    It is to introduce my Web 3 series with how it all began. Bitcoin is currently over $43,000 and will rise!   I have not changed much of the article, so please treat it as a historical journey.  We're in 2022 and exciting things around Web 3 and the Metaverse.
In the technology writing series, I will aim to break down what is happening around the new technologies and how they impact our lives. I also hope to provide in-depth support for the writing world.  

The Beginning

Welcome to the first of my maiden Blockchain Technology series and inside Satoshi Nakamoto’s world. You can read through this article related my way (absolutely interesting. A story in itself!) or scroll down to the bottom and read the summary. So here goes……

Bitcoin
Image on Unsplash

The Creator of Bitcoin

Once upon a time, on 3 January 2009 to be precise, a ‘man’ called Satoshi Nakamoto – rumour has it that Satoshi is not even a person but a group of people! But the long and short of it is we do not know who he is – decided to create an electronic form of currency called Bitcoin.

My take on Satoshi Nakamoto
Image by prottoy-hassan from unsplash

Fiat Currency

According to Satoshi, our money, also known as Fiat – “legal tender whose value is backed by the government that issued it” – www.fool.com – goes through various kinds of financial institutions and third parties and on its journey incurs many charges due to regulations.

He felt that if people could transact their currencies through a peer-to-peer or person-to-person electronic cash system, it would be cheaper and more straightforward for all. His examples of institutions are banks, credit card companies, payment platforms, etc

FIAT
neonbrand-Unsplash

Satoshi wrote that exchanging physical cash, like taking coins and paper money to a shop, might be fine, but when it comes to electronic money, the 3rd parties have to trust you and require a lot of your personal data to do this.

Due to the prevalence of fraud, the 3rd party demands even more in-depth knowledge of you, like your mother’s maiden name, your Grandmother’s first name, etc. Come on! You will be shocked at how much of your info is held out there.

Satoshi calls this a Trust issue. Merchants need to trust you to act on your behalf. We also know how long some of these transactions take. If it is an international payment, it could take over a week with serious charges. Transactions are also vulnerable to fraud, and many people have been ‘burned’!

FIAT
Image from Unsplash

Satoshi felt Fiat is controlled CENTRALLY by banks and Governments and does not give citizens enough say. He firmly believed that there should be a way for citizens of any country to carry out transactions directly, without boundaries and with minimal need for middlemen such as banks, governments and other kinds of financial institutions.

Imagine how controversial this thought was, but many geeky computer people got excited about it and avidly followed his plans. To them, it was not about anarchy or bringing down governments. It was about people controlling their own money. And about them carrying out financial transactions worldwide without the need for bank accounts.

The Unbanked
Image by atharva-tulsi from Unsplash

The Unbanked and Unknown

One of the best cases for decentralization is to help the billions around the earth who are known as unbanked. There are about 2.5 billion of these in Africa and other developing nations who are unbanked and unknown – a lot exist without a record of their identity. Without identity most do not have a bank account although Mobile banking in many parts has done a lot to rectify this. Blockchain technology and cryptocurrency will make a bit impact when it is integrated into this space. There are significant developments currently going on in Africa that I will cover in-depth.

So what is Bitcoin?

It is a digital kind of money that can be transferred instantly and securely from one person to the other. You can use it to pay family, friends or transact businesses. It is almost impossible to steal because of how the underlying technology it was built operates.

This technology is called Blockchain and it is simply an electronic spreadsheet that resides identically on  many computers round the world. 

All transactions on this ledger can be viewed by anyone as long as they have what is known as private and  public keys (more on this later) to view the transactions.

Bitcoin can also be divided into 8 decimal places! It means that you can buy a fraction of a bitcoin. Therefore, 0.00000001 BTC is the smallest amount that can be handled in a transaction. The last bitcoin is likely to be generated in the year 2140. The market value of bitcoin fluctuates; at the time of writing this, a bitcoin is; $8,256. When it began in 2009, it was about $0! In 2010 it was worth $0.39. A lot of people who bought it then are now wealthy. Bitcoin is also popularly known as digital gold.

What are the uses of Bitcoin?

  • It can be used as payment for goods or services.
  • You can buy bitcoins from Exchanges (Like the online bureau de change).
  • You can trade bitcoin on trading platforms and exchanges.
  • You can also buy bitcoins from Bitcoin ATMs, although the high transaction fee.
  • You can invest in bitcoin, but the cryptocurrency market is very volatile and not for the faint-hearted. If you want to invest, it has to be money that you can afford to lose.
  • A few’ evangelists’ have predicted that bitcoin could get to 1 million dollars per coin in years to come. It fell from its all-time high of close to $20,000 around December 2017.

SUMMARY

So, let us recap the above;

About Bitcoin

  • Bitcoin was created in 2009 by a man or a group called Satoshi Nakamoto.
  • Electronic money can be processed and viewed simultaneously on many computers worldwide by specialists called Miners with powerful computers that can solve mathematical problems required to find a bitcoin.
  • It is an electronic payment that allows transactions between people as long as they have a private key and public key (more explanation of this later)
  • It is being used worldwide, but it might take many years before broader adoption around the globe happens.

Good things about Bitcoin

  • In the future, the need for banks or financial institutions might become minimal due to the disruption of this technology. Think of how email disrupted the postal system.
  • Many startups in developing countries use it to pay local people who do not have banks or easy access to banks.
  • The birth of bitcoin allowed us to discover the value of its underlying technology – The Blockchain. It has also allowed the creation of hundreds of other digital currencies.
  • Bitcoin is also called digital gold and, in time, might become a store of value, just like paintings by the old Masters.
  • Due to the birth of bitcoin, we now have the Internet Of Money( A book title by Andreas Antonopoulos). It means the internet will become a means of banking our own money. How exciting that is!
  • Bitcoin is not a’ FAD’. It is here to stay.

The Not so good Things

  • It requires considerable computation power to mine, so a bitcoin transaction takes a long, and charges could be expensive. 
  • Its value fluctuates, and it is still very volatile.
  • Cybercriminals have used it for fraud, but it is rising above this.
  • The market is currently unregulated and subject to market manipulation.

Finally..do you know….

There is a traditional currency system in places like the middle east and Afghanistan known as the Hawala, where people exchange currency based on trust. The only difference between it and bitcoin is the mode of transfer. There are no computers. It is too long to explain in this article but do google it. It makes an exciting read.

Hawala
Image by Junhan Foong from Unsplash

I buy my bitcoin and other coins from the following exchanges; Coinbase, Binance. The links are also my my personal referral to these exchanges.

Note that I am not a financial adviser. If you want to make a financial decision please seek advise from a professional.

Some of my favourite books of 2021

This is always incredibly difficult because there are so many damn good writers out there! Then to complicate matters, I am a judge for a prize in 2022 and have been going through a heap of books that I can’t disclose. 

So, I have not been able to do much book review this year, but I have many books that I wait to read in 2022!

Here are the books I will mention that made an impression –

KINTU by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi. I love her fiction that weaves the history of Uganda and also life in diaspora. I have her other books including MANCHESTER HAPPENED – her book of short stories.  She has won a few prizes, but I can see her winning big ones in the future. I will do a review soon.

LOVE IN COLOUR by Bolu Babalola is light and fluffy and re-imagines love using mythology. I liked what she tried to do. Our writing should not be heavyweight all the time.

I read Louise Hare’s THIS LOVELY CITY, a strong crime fiction set in London’s Windrush arrival in the 50s. Louise created a sense of place and time, and I loved her characters and the final twist in the story.

I went back to an old classic, YARDIE by Victor Headley, who took me back to the backwater London of the 80s where the streets were dangerous, and Jamaican bad guys were revered. I am not sure a lot has changed, and perhaps we need a modern take on this. Aspiring Victor Headleys, I’m calling out to you!

I have read and will review The JIGSAW MAN by Nadine Matheson. An ambitious debut with an unforgettable lead in DI Anjelica Henley. Nadine has THE BINDING ROOM coming out in 2022, and I am looking forward to my copy!

I KNOW WHAT YOU’VE DONE by Dorothy Koomson – I thorougly enjoyed this and plan to review this as well. I loved my interview with Dorothy in August at the H&SWriters Festival coordinated by @rashedaashanti. She has written seventeen good books, is absolutely focused on her craft, and supports ‘young’ up-and-coming authors like me.

BROTHERS IN BLOOD by Amer Anwar is another one for review – It introduces Zaq Khan and allows us to travel on a rollercoaster ride through Southall, West London and the Asian community there.

BROKEN PLACES by Tracy Clark takes me on a ride through Chicago with her police turned private detective Cass Raines. I really loved it, and it is also up for review.

BP Walter’s HOLD YOUR BREATH. Barnaby reached out to me on Instagram re: Deadly Sacrifice, and I decided to read his book. What a find! So, I am collecting all his other books to read. He gifted me the DINNER GUEST, which I look forward to reading and reviewing.

MIDNIGHT HOUR is an anthology by some Crime Writers of Color @CWoC and edited by @AbbyVandilever. I am proud to be a part of this incredible line-up of authors! I have just finished the first two, Tracy Clark’s LUCKY THIRTEEN and David Heska Wanbli Weiden’s SKIN and what great reads. so I am in for a treat with all the others.   My short story, THE BLACK WIDOW OF OSHOGBO, introduces ex-army and ex-secret agent Lara from a new series that I will be polishing off in 2022/2023.

Finally, Hollywood Homicide and Hollywood Ending by Kellye Garrett. She brought us broke former actress and aspiring detective Dayna Day. It is good to have fun and laughs, and Kellye’s Dayna is funny as she stumbles through her investigations. Kellye has re-issued the series as eBooks so go get yourselves some copies and enjoy some belly laughs!

So, what will I be reading in 2022? Here is some of my pile! Many have been on my TBR for a while, but I cannot wait to read and review them!

Image by Stellaonithewriter
Image by Stellaonithewriter

Have a wonderful and Happy New year!

Bamboozled by Jesus: How God Tricked Me Into the Life of My Dreams by Yvonne Orji

Bamboozled by Jesus was written by Nigerian-American comedian Yvonne Orji known for her role as Molly in the popular HBO series Insecure. I first heard Yvonne On her podcast, Jesus and Jollof , co-hosted with Luvvie Ajayi. From there, I began to follow her on Instagram and was excited to hear she wrote this book. I also have Luvvie’s book; I am Judging You, which I’m waiting to read as I am a big fan of both girls! I love Jesus and Jollof Rice, especially their stories of growing up with Nigerian immigrant parents and what success meant to them. The podcast is full of nuggets and tips.


Yvonne’s book is a memoir about her life’s journey and how her Christian faith helped her decisions. She said she was tricked into a life of success by her faith in Jesus. She had a lot of testimonies from her career to how she bought her first home. She said she started in entertainment at 24 and did not get her big break till 31.


“While my friends had houses and kids. I had hopes and dreams.”

Yvonne Orji

As a Christian, I enjoyed listening to Yvonne’s story. In the creative world, it’s a thin line between being creative and being consumed by the world. Yvonne stood up to her parents by choosing her career as a comedian. Most immigrant Nigerian parents want their children to have a professional background as they’re scared of them scraping the bottom of the barrel. They understand the brutality of racism and want to give their children the best start in life.

Yvonne studied sciences but could not stomach a career in this, which began her journey to success. It was a tumultuous rocky journey, but Yvonne persevered with prayer. She felt that every journey she made had a message. And she was never giving up until she got her break. She also said success brings its insecurities as there are now more choices to be made, and you have to choose the right ones. One of the unique things about Yvonne is that she is in her 30s and decided to stay a virgin till she married.


I look forward to going back and rereading the book as you can get a lot of inspiration from her journey even if you’re not a Christian. Thank you so much, Yvonne Orji, for taking the time to write this book and standing up for your faith.

(Iru)Fermented African Locust Beans – smells foul but tastes heavenly!

In the Yoruba language, we call the African locust beans iru, but it has many names in different parts of Africa – dawa dawa, eware, ogiri, sumbala, The biological name is Parkia biglobosa. When boiled down and then fermented it produces a savoury flavour that is used as a natural seasoning for soups and stews, and has incredible health benefits.

In Nigeria, once the wealthy understood its benefits they got their cooks and Chefs to add it to native dishes proclaiming that it tasted like the mouth-watering food their grandmothers used to make. If you want to know the truth, I learnt how to cook with iru from my grandmother and great grandmother – may their souls rest in perfect peace.

Iru is a natural umami. I came across umami in my chef fan journey as I love to watch chefs cooking on streaming platforms. I am their groupie!  But seriously, it was when I got interested in Japanese cooking. Umami roughly translates in Japanese as “pleasant savory taste” and is the fifth taste of sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. The Japanese see it as a wholesome taste that completes a dish. I am no culinary expert but just fascinated by food, its taste and smell.

I started my Japanese cooking with Ramen and wanted the broth to have Umami. The only way to gain a quick umami taste is through monosodium glutamate(msg). Japanese Chemist Dr Kikunae Ikeda and businessman Mr Saburosuke Suzuki II created Ajinomoto, a pure msg and the start of artificial umami in 1907. The height of any cooking is that wholesome taste with depth and flavour that cannot be copied except through cheap msg. Ramen is basically noodles in sauce with all sorts of bits thrown in. Sorry if I am upsetting ramen purists😀.  

Usually when we make our food we add some stock cube or other kind of flavour enhancing from the supermarket. Perhaps, either chicken, vegetable or beef stock. That stock has been made to create umami, and once added to your cooking, completes its taste.

But villagers all around Africa discovered that if you fermented the locust beans and added it to a traditional sauce, you transform the taste from basic to flavoursome. Think about what drives you to the best restaurants. It is no more than a complex combination of the five basic tastes.

For example, many years ago I had the best vegan vegetable mix from a health food shop in Greenwich, London. I had to to track down the small catering company that made it because I could not believe that they could lift the typical taste of the food just by the quality of the vegetable and the dressing, but they did!

Back to iru or the locust beans. I need to describe the smell before you rush to an African food store to try and procure it. It is a a combination of foot odour and unwashed crevices. I leave that to your imagination! But when I add it to my traditional Nigerian soup, especially with stockfish, it is finger-licking delicious. Do not blame me though, if your house stinks afterwards, it is all part of the joy!

Does it work for another kind of dish? I have not tried it. I intend to add it to my ramen sauce as an experiment.  

Here is a list of the health benefits of locust beans. I am not a health professional so this is just a guide. Do go and do your own research.

1. Full of polyphenols and therefore an antioxidant 

2. The whole plant itself has health benefits. The bark is used to treat wounds, including leprosy

3. It is used traditionally to treat hypertension 

4. The bark is also made into powder for carob

5. It is rich in lipid, protein, carbohydrates and other nutrients

6. The bark is used to relieve toothache

7. Eating the locust beans helps improve vision

8. Locust beans are from the seed of the carob tree

Cooking my Christmas Turkey The African Way

Growing up in Nigeria, my nourishment for how the West celebrated Christmas was the steady diets of American movies. We considered British films boring and too realistic for comfort and only watched British comedies. Therefore, we cuddled up to American Christmas family angst. A father, mother, and two children or a father, mother, grown children, and grandchildren share a massive turkey and have lots of drama. Perhaps dad was strict while mum was the peacemaker amidst several sibling issues and rivalries.

Everything was done with the backdrop of a massive Christmas tree with twinkling lights and tons of beautifully wrapped gifts waiting to be unwrapped. In Nigeria, my parents did not have any pretension to this. No Christmas turkey but chicken or beef with plenty of white rice, Jollof rice, Moin Moin, and stewed goat meat. This, I believe, influenced my Christmas story Jollof Rice and Crayfish mystery in the culinary cozy mystery anthology by seven crime writers of color – Festive Mayhem 2, where my lead character Elizabeth tries to solve a mystery around jollof rice.

My first shock was how tasteless my turkey was, even with the two days of marination. I managed to dismiss this as beginner’s luck and promised to do better the following year. I had started work and attended tons of Christmas meals by this time. I made sure to choose the Christmas turkey from the menu and was shocked at how bland it was. I would then drench the slab of white meat in gravy and cranberry sauce, which made it palatable. After these, I settled for ducks for other Christmases — too scrawny! Goose — too fatty! Beef — well, too beefy! (I can’t help that!)

At Christmas, presents were to be new clothes or money. I was fascinated by the American way of celebrating Christmas. I could not wait to celebrate my first Christmas in the UK. I pored over recipes and the best way to cook my massive turkey as a foodie. I bought stuffing, gravy(Aah Bisto!), bacon strips, and everything that would allow me to produce the golden, mouthwatering creation of my American dream. I almost wished for a re-creation of drama in my front room as well. I loved Home Alone best!

I then determined to make the turkey my way – the African way. To be truthful, Africans defeat the turkey’s mountainous girt by chopping and dicing it and then seasoning and roasting it in the oven. Or better still, they steer well clear! I consider these cowardly (sorry, my darling African brothers and sisters). After thinking long and hard, I decided that the best way to tackle this and produce a tremendous tasty turkey. I planned to combine every spice in my kitchen’s cupboard plus salt, add plenty of powdered cayenne pepper, and stir in olive oil. Then ensured that my turkey was slathered in this, inside and out. I added chunks of onion as my stuffing and marinated for three days!

Afterwards, I set the turkey inside the oven. When it came out of the oven four hours later, it was golden brown, the juice and a bit of Bistro became gravy, and I was living my African dream! The turkey was delicious, all eaten up and enjoyed by my family, and I never looked back! I had almost forgotten the traditional way of making turkey till one day, a friend asked me how I made my turkey and what stuffing I used. I gave her a strange look and proudly described my method. My description was so funny that it was added to a script in my church play and had everyone in stitches. So, if you fancy a scrumptious, delicious spicy turkey for Christmas, then subscribe to get my free SPICY TURKEY Recipe Card! Remember that you can also cook this turkey and remove the pepper. The beautiful image of the golden brown turkey is by Alison Marras.

Here’s my gift to you. A free Turkey Recipe Card

Mad Cake World

Exhibition! Exhibition!

It was a different world once I began my cake classes and I loved it! It was a world where you talk with your hands. I was clumsy and messy at first and did not have the nimble and quick hands of my friend that introduced me to cakes. She came from an Art background and was good at drawing, painting and modelling.

My early attempts at making sugar leaves and flowers in a sugar pot!

I had to force my normally cerebral brain into making my hands do the talking and oh it was a messy business! My flowers were clumsily created and looked ugly. I would cast envious glances at my more able class mates and wonder at what I was doing at these classes.

But the stubborn person in me persevered as I tried to bend sugar to my will. But one thing I did was to try to produce my own original ideas sugar as a medium.

It was from going to college that I learnt about the cake exhibitions. My friend warned me that they were addictive and to not take a lot of money. I did not believe her till I went.

The exhibitors come from all over the world to sell the latest sugar gadgets. Cookie cutters machines, pliable sugar paste that would half your time, baking tins that would mould your figures, rolling pins that would create the most delicate of designs. I fell hook line and sinker and blew my budget! The exhibition years would start at Squires Kitchen in Farham on to Cake International, then to every other exhibition.

It was at the exhibitions that I realised that beauty could indeed be created with sugar!

I loved it all!

How my Cake journey started……

I had written the book that is now Deadly Sacrifice and was already on a dance between agents and me. I think I made only one submission to a big publisher’s slush pile and the rest were agents. I had been doing this dance for about three years and read an article in a magazine that advised writers to take on hobbies to take the edge off waiting for agents and publishers. I took it to heart and decided to explore my love of baking by learning to decorate the cakes. I went to a friend who was already into it to teach me how to cover a cake and fell in love.

My first sugar flowers on a giant 5 tier cake that I decorated

My first sugar flowers on giant 5 tier cake that I decorated
She suggested I attended cake classes, and that began my journey. Cakes tend to bring smiles to people’s faces. I think it is because it is excellent as presents and for celebrations. My friends were happy to receive my early efforts at decorating, and my children had a decorated cake each birthday. I discovered a world full of cake enthusiasts and met incredibly talented professionals along the way. Like everything that I love, I decided to take my cake decorating hobby seriously.

Most of the popular cake classes that year of 2009 were already filled up except for sugar flowers. It was hysterical! I barely knew how to cover a cake with sugar paste and yet was learning how to make flowers out of sugar. What an experience! Through that class, I got to know about flowers and realised there is hardly anything that you cannot make with sugar!

You can view some of my cake on instagram.

My Cake beginning

Everything has a beginning, and the same could be said for my cake decorating passion. I had always been fascinated with baking and cooking from a young age. And my brother can still recall the first cake I baked in Nigeria, which I coloured blue! They all ate it and had fun with it, and I was happy! I happily baked cakes and made meat pies and experimented with different forms alongside my voracious appetite for reading until I got to university and other distractions took over.

I picked up baking again about 11 years ago when I was searching for other creative outlets aside from my ‘tough’ writing life which was full of rejections! What joy! The baking was the easiest part and the cake decorating a journey that I will share with you.

An Adventurous journey…

IT, Fiction, cake decorating, blogging….there is no end to my adventure! I went through many challenges and prayed through it all. Never stop inching towards your dream. Deadly Sacrifice took me a long time!

I wanted a strong black African female police detective and was turned down by many agents and publishers like so many authors before me. Finally, Detective Constable Toks Ade of the East London Crime Unit found a home with Jacaranda Books . The crime she solves with Detective Sergeant Philip Dean is a grim one involving human trafficking. The inspiration was loosely based on a real life crime that happened in 2001. The torso of a young African boy whom the press nicknamed Adam was found in Thames. It became known as the Torso in Thames. This is the first of many series. I am currently in the process of writing the next one.