So I've been tagged by Ore...what a milestone especially for the end of a great year. So I guess the point is to reveal 7 weird (not necessarily weird, but interesting) things about me....I'll try my best. Sorry for getting this so late. And Happy Happy New Year to all and I hope all of your New Year's Resolutions come true (like mine which is to lay off stripes and flared jeans, oh, and of course other more serious ones)
1. In response to Ore's first point, I don't like driving....at all. In fact, I don't drive. I either use my feet, take a bike (an ostentatious green and white one) or take public transport - and I enjoy all three - thoroughly.
2. I make jewelry from time to time - that is when I have time. Just some beading stuff. I like beaded jewelry alot, so I used to buy the cheap ones, in quantum - but they kept on breaking. So I figured that if I want to be cheap, I should try and salvage them rather than buy new ones. Now my latest project is to learn how to sew (inspired by my dearest).
3. I hate going to the mall, unless I am amongst really good company so that I may forget that I am in the mall. I also hate shopping online too. I rather plan to go to one store stay there and pick what I want and leave. Too many choices annoy me (especially when I have neither the money nor the time).
4. I have a pet dog and before this I used to be mortally afraid of them. This one is a pretty small one so it's no biggie. My only other pet before this one (besides the turtle we picked up from the park one day - I was seven) was a hamster. I was five then, and this hamster came to an untimely end when I decided that it was looking kind of dirty and needed a bath. I filled up the bathtub and allowed it to swim. I thought it was having fun in the tub until it stopped moving.
5. I used to wear my hair relatively short and natural until last year (2006) when I decided to relax. I am still regretting that decision.
6. I'd prefer to watch a Nollywood flick any day over an American film. My favorite actresses/actors include Bob-Manuel Udokwu, Rita Dominic, and Dakore Egbuson. My brother and I are the Siskel and Ebert of Naija films - seriously, try us.
7. My favorite food is pounded yam with egusi soup - and when I say egusi soup, I mean heavy on the egusi. The the thicker the better (which is actually quite strange, seeing that my second favorite soup is watery - ofe oziza).
So onto the next victims - I tag solomonsydelle, trae_z, femme, KreativeMix (aka SaLonePikin), and Jeremy Weate.
well, not me, but an article I wrote for MIMI Magazine, an online publication for young African women. Here is a snippet:
" In the time it takes you to count from one to ten, another individual dies from complications relating to diabetes. According to the World Health Organization, 80% of chronic disease deaths occur in low and middle income countries and deaths attributed to diabetes and related diseases surpass that of HIV/AIDS. While we in Africa continue to hang-up our bed-nets and practice safer sex - as we should - we remain helplessly behind in the fight against chronic diseases. This leaves our continent vulnerable to having to fight two enemies - acute infectious diseases such as malaria, but also long-term chronic diseases such as diabetes."
Not terribly inspiring, but I thought that the message needs to get out...
now back to books...until December 21st.
This was going to be a response to the heated debate regarding Biafra on NigerianCuriosity's blog. But I decided to make it a post instead. Saves time...
Ask anyone, I am fiercely pro-Igbo, Igbotic, Igbo-centric whichever. However, I think to embark on another Biafra War excursion would be a mistake of EPIC proportions. I used to think differently - thinking that it would be nice to have a Biafra without the war and bloodshed (my grandparents on both sides lost children to the war and my dad in his teens was forced into the war).
Why have I changed my mind on Biafra? Because I realize that most Nigerian leaders are essentially the same and that corruption and horrible leadership transcends ethnic boundaries. If Biafra were to resurrect successfully, we would still have the same crop of leaders, this time Igbo, getting fat off of oil money. It would just bring our embarrassment to the global forefront. If the Igbos can produce the likes of Orji Uzor Kalu as governor, then count me out of Biafra in which such an agbaro could potentially become president. Nna mehn, when I was home this summer, his PPA campaigns annoyed me to no end because he has done ABSOLUTELY nothing for Igbos.
Mind you, I am for increased decentralization of the federal government and more autonomy of all states whether in the North, South, East or West.
Also, can we all learn to celebrate the diversity that is Nigeria? True, Europeans created this Nigerian union - but we're here right? Personally as an Igbo person, I am for investing in ourselves (Igbos) - that is modernizing our cities, developing our educational institutions and being a little bit selfish in regards to focusing on our issues. I am not only Igbocentric - I am also Umuahia-centric and even furthermore Ohuhu-centric. I think my village is the ish and better than yours. But I also value one Nigeria and the beauty of so many different voices and experiences. So my rallying cry is Ohuhu Kwenu! Igbo Kwenu! and more importantly Nigeria Kwenu!
just to let you all know what female circumcision is all about....(warning: the descriptions are not for the faint-hearted)
Type I Excision of the prepuce, with or without excision of part or theentire clitoris (sunna).
Type II Excision of the clitoris, with partial or total removal of the labia minora (excision or reduction or clitoridectomy).
Type III Excision of part or all of the external genitalia, with stitching or narrowing of the vaginal opening (infibulation).
Type IV Unclassified FGC, including piercing, picking, incision of the clitoris and/or labia, cauterization by burning of the clitoris and surrounding tissue, scraping of the tissue surrounding the vaginal orifice or cutting of the vagina, introduction of corrosive substances or herbs into the vagina to cause bleeding or for the purpose of tightening or narrowing it, or any other procedure that falls under the definition of FGC (unclassified).
Today is probably the first time I checked out an nytimes.com blog. I usually go for the frontcover stuff. However, this particular entry was difficult to pass over.
I had hoped that my next African feminism entry would be later in the month, but I guess I could not help myself (oh, and I'll eventually respond to the tag from Ore).
It was only recently (say like a year or two ago), that I found out that female circumcision is still practiced in Nigeria amongst some groups, including Igbos. (Yeah, I was shocked about the latter, for even my even my cultural consultants, i.e. my parents, were unaware that it is practiced).
Of course the witness of many, including within the Nigerian community, testify to the practice being repressive and another means to subjugate women physically, sexually and otherwise. Additionally, there is evidence that it leads to adverse birthing outcomes and increased HIV/AIDs transmission, through the use of infected materials.
I am also aware of the arguments for FGM, which before reading the nytimes.com entry, I had only heard from women on the ground who state that is a part of their culture and that it no different from male circumcision, tatooing, breast augumentation, or cutting the umbilical cord to the point of creating a navel (belly button) in infants.
However, this is the first time I have seen academia address and advocate these arguments. In this case, it was from a post-doctoral candidate who traveled back to Sierra Leone in order to undergo female circumcision.
Personally, I am not against her decision for she felt that to do so would be empowering, both as a woman and as a member of the Kono. However, I am not comfortable with having it as standard practice amongst girls who are not at the age of consent. Even so, if one were to say the age of consent is 18, I am sure there are other very real pressures on women to perform the practice that may seem like coercion (threat of being labeled an outcast in the family and community, etc.). The decision of a post-doc to spend how many hundreds of dollars traveling back to Sierra Leone to undergo circumcision is on very different playing field from a female child or young woman who's social and financial well being is predicated on her willingness to adhere to a practice she may not agree with.
So what's the bottomline here? Well, more power to Fuambai Ahmadu for presenting a viewpoint that is definitely against the grain in the West. I am always for hearing out an alternative explanation. However, as women and as people, we also need to be careful as to whether our personal efforts to liberate ourselves could run the risk of creating a problem for others. Ahmadu, go and do you, but, please, not at the expense of the African girl-child.
oh and "akuko nke abuo" means story part 2 or the second part....and I know, the dots under the u and o are missing...if you know how I can get those characters...let me know.
I found this to be particularly interesting and I even thought to myself, yeah, sometimes Nigerians can be overly negative about the progress of the country considering we just recently came out of colonial strongholds 47 years ago. However, as I used one finger to point at others, there were four fingers pointing back at me....
I believe that by now, you realize that my views tend to be somewhat leftist (if you have not realized it yet, give me a few more weeks to prove it). Naturally, on November 2008, I will be voting Democrat. The issue now is which Democrat. None amongst the Democratic line-up really tickles my fancy, except, perhaps, Brother Kucinich (I tend to be a fan of the underdog in everything). But seriously, I still waver between Obama and Clinton, depending on my mood that week.
Few nights ago, I happened to catch the Republican YouTube debates in which the candidates were fielded questions other than the ones that really matter - education and healthcare. But of course, they voiced out their opinions on the war in Iraq (I’m also a pacifist by the way), torture, civil liberties - all of which I found disgusting (except for McCain on torture - empathy is a great character trait).
I then started to think, you know, in light of the global disaster that was the Bush II years, even if they placed a monkey in office, life would not be so bad. I began to think the same about Yar’adua (or Yawn’adua). Considering the wonton corruption that was the OBJ years, if Yar’adua was to do absolutely nothing for the next four years and maintain some flimsy guise of transparency, he would be considered a hero. Probably, the little credit that Obasanjo gets is because he followed Abacha. I mean, c’mon, the only way to go from Abacha is up. Now that Naija has gone from worst (Abacha) to worse (Obasanjo - though this is still up for debate - we have yet to see what muck will be revealed in the next couple of years), Yar’adua only has to attain some semblance of mediocrity to be hailed a success for generations to come. The same with the upcoming US elections. Whether Huckabee, Obama, Clinton, Guiliani, McCain, etc. - they won’t have to work too hard to bring us from shambles to pre-Bush status quo….long live mediocrity!
Today is officially World AIDS Day which largely brings to light issues of awareness, prevention, stigma surrounding the HIV/AIDS epidemic globally. I think key amongst these issues is prevention, so as to keep this epidemic at bay. Like my friend Femi Kuti says - AIDS no dey show for face....
Recently I attended a talk by Dr. Esther Ofoegbu , an Endocrinologist, and head of Department of Medicine and Head of the Office of Medical Education at the College of Medicine, University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital in Enugu. Like the Maduekwe talk, it was uninspiring, at best (actually it was much worse, at least Maduekwe is skilled in the art of BSing, the Ofoegbu talk was embarrasing - I almost did not want to raise my hand when she asked if there were any Nigerians in the audience). A member of the audience, yours truly, brought up the recent trend towards an integration of traditional healers into the national healthcare discourse. Such was dismissed by our esteemed visitor as nonsense seeing that traditional healers are nothing short of rogues, and she could not possibly understand why Nigerians, even the ones who can afford to attend hospitals, would still frequent these people.
Well, I am not easily deterred in my opinions and it seems like in terms of prevention and basic healthcare needs, it would not be such a bad idea to work in concert with traditional healers in order to reach the larger Nigerian populus with prevention messages like those that relate to not only infectious diseases such as AIDS, but also chronic diseases like hypertension and diabetes. Integration of traditional healers would inevitably lead to increased monitoring of false information being spread about prevention and cure of disease and they could serve as effective screening tools in which they could actually encourage their patients to see health professionals in complex cases. The possibilities are endless when one thinks creatively and gets their minds out of the box. In fact, Ofoegbu, the integration of traditional healers into modern practice is not a bad idea, says the World Bank and the World Health Organization.
First of all, let me admit, that I am no where near qualified to talk about this subject...but it's a blog....
A few days ago, my dad admitted that he was a feminist - which he is by deed, but I never thought he would say it, out in the open. He was surprisingly matter-of-fact about it - or maybe I was just surprised at his choice of words. This for most would be a hard concept to grasp, I mean a tried-and-true Ohuhu man embracing such a so-called "Western" concept. But it happens. And from time to time I catch one or two other Nigerian men taking on the title of "African feminist. (But let me add, that women are just as likely to resist the feminist movement as well)
I am not yet sure how I feel about the words of African feminism and a need to distinguish it from feminism in general. It seems to me that the whole idea of having a separate "African feminism" was in order to distinguish from the bra-burning, female-on-female loving, i-don't-have-to-cook-anymore brand that had been associated with the West - which I think is an extreme portrayal that has been propagated to the detriment of more conservative liberals (anything is possible...). The root of feminism lies in the fact that being the weaker sex does not mean we have to be weaker people, which i think is the goal of both African and Western feminist movements. But for the purposes of discussion of feminism and its relevance to specific issues I have come across, I will stick to African feminism.
Why the recent interest in African feminism? Well, besides my dad's recent admission, I have been thinking a lot about my future, what I want to do, when I want to do it and suitable role models. Additionally, I have entered the blogosphere recently - and its a topic that I see over-and-over again: from V-days to BBA's embrace of on-camera rape.
Inevitably, the discussion of marriage reigns prominent in my own discussions of the future and posts on African womanhood. According to my dad, marriage is good, but working on pursuing my dreams, no matter how lofty is even better. My mom has joined the band-wagon, but the large majority of Igbo women in my life think otherwise. I have had this discussion with others, younger and older and it is quite disconcerting that many have decided to temper their really exciting goals for their lives because of pursuit of marriage. If I were to do so as well, that means that my attempts making a unforgettable, positive impact on the world (like I said, lofty), would have to be made between now and age thirty. Because after that, I would be too busy being married.
So what does African feminism mean to me, now that I, too, have admitted it? It means making a difference whether as a Miss or Mrs. I, and my significant loved one, definitely think that such is possible.
(Sorry for the cliches, also rushing to class). I've seen so many others do it - married (Akunyili, Iweala) or unmarried (sorry, most are personal friends, won't mention their names here).
Like I said in the title, this is just a first of many posts on African feminism, as hinted in Igbo (don't be fooled, my writing skills in Igbo are far better than my Igbo verbal skills....and yes, even though I was born and raised in the US - I can write Igbo...let go of your stereotypes). There are so many topics to cover, like who a woman belongs to when married, Nigeria's incredibly high birth rate, education (like my dad being told that he should not spend so much money on my education because I will eventually get married and the benefits will go towards another family...and you thought this type of stuff only happens at home - we carry it with us...or like one of my younger female inspirations who is applying to undergraduate colleges and the mother thought she should not pursue medicine but rather nursing because she might get married after graduating and need a job...hey but nurses are amazing, though) So many, so many....
see this link for pictures and more info from BBC.
Earlier in the semester, our school's African student group hosted the former Nigerian Minister of Transport (under OBJ) and now Foreign Minister, Chief Ojo Maduekwe. Of course, I attended, since it is one of the very few African events on campus that addresses concerns of the Giant of Africa (Nigeria), but I came in expecting to be disappointed. I mean, to find out that the former Minister of Transport was an Igbo man, and yet the condition of southeastern roads are some of the worst in the country and such has a devastating impact on the economy of the East (seeing that we heavily rely on the trading industry which itself relies on the ability to transport goods from one place to the other)...I know, I know, one Nigeria. Forgive me if I indulge in some Igbocentricity - I can't help it.
Anyway but I digress. Beyond giving a speech full of "big big grammar" (as one fellow student put it) and very little, if any substance one of the sound bites I picked up from his speech was his recounting of an interaction with an American colleague who asked him of what he thinks of his "new colonial masters," that is, the Chinese.
Hitherto, my thoughts in regards to Chinese covert plans to take over the world, one Mattel doll at a time (please I don't really mean that...) have largely been limited to the US, in regards to the influx of foreign imports which drives down the costs of American-made products. This did not really disturb me in that it I was short-sighted and thought of the benefits to me - cheaper underwear. However, I am now beginning to see the danger of such increased Chinese presence on the African continent (I mean, c'mon now, look at Darfur).
I really don't mean to the bash a particular group of people, for I consider myself to be pro-people, but the increased involvement of China in Nigeria and beyond worries me. Firstly, China's human rights records and treatment of its own laborers is nothing to write home about. One could imagine what could happen in a situation with African workers who's governments could easily be bought over with a couple million euros (according to supermodel Gisele Buendchan and Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the dollar is no longer relevant beyond American shores) several abuses of workers rights could occur. This is not to say our current (US) colonial master is more humane, but at least they try to adhere to some type of checks and balances...umm scrap that, I almost forgot about the prelude the Iraq war.
Second concern is the unfair competition with African made goods. Already, Ghana has complained of the Chinese hurting their signature kente cloth trade. With Nigerian private businesses thriving, post-military rule, it would be necessary that there are some limits set in place by the government to protect its indigenous businesses from Chinese products infiltrating th market.
Well, let me stop here before I start to sound like the Nigerian version of Lou Dobbs - man that guy annoys me.
I was actually in the middle of class when I thought of a title to this blog, beyond something like "Nneoma's Blog," or some version thereof. IT had to be something that represented me and encompassed all of my interest both in the past, present, and ambitiously, the future.
So where does PyooWata fit in all this? Where do I begin?
Well "pure water" is a another word for water sold in satchets for about 10naira in Nigeria. No, I was not born in Nigeria, but like millions of others (well I would like to think that there are millions of us), I was born in the West to Nigerian immigrants. When I first traveled back to Nigeria, one thing that intrigued me was the hawking of water on the roads, corners, in front of shops everywhere.
Pure water is not nearly as "pure" as commercially bottled water. In fact, my brothers and I were warned by my mother to steer clear from this, like other dangerous activities such as eating in stranger's houses, chartering motorbike taxis (okada), playing football bare-footed - all of which we eventually did. It aims to be pure, but sometimes, depending on the vendor, the packaging could be caked in sand and it's not too difficult to find random particles floating in the water. In fact, it is probably all those different particles that gave it it's unique flavor. Hey, but it was still refreshing - just bite at the plastic and suck.
Bringing to this back to me, I think I am like this pure water, or rather "pyoo wata", in many ways. I see my one of my primary occupations right now as a becoming something pure. Right now, I am not at that state, for I am a student of many things - science, health, African affairs, art, fashion. I am also a compilation of many things - African, American, Igbo, young, old, southern, northern...and some.
True I may not be pure and maybe some of the things that I discuss may not all sync together. But just bite the plastic and suck (hey you, keep your mind out da gutter...lol), and I am sure you'll enjoy.