5

thank God...

...that the South no longer dictates the outcome of presidential elections. NYTimes article explores the diminishing power of low-income, uneducated white Southerners in politics as evidenced by the failed Clinton and McCain bids for president.

Most of the comments from the interviewees, such as how the Obama administration will cause blacks to be more aggressive or that Obama voters should seek penitence, did not surprise me. I spent some of my formative years in the rural South and often my family received threats from neighbors in our all-white neighborhood. As for Southerners and the seriousness of their politics, I found that out the hard way when I was physically assaulted by fellow classmates in the second grade for wishing that Ross Perot would become president in the 1992 elections. (For those who were not there, Ross Perot was the independent party challenger who threatned to siphon Republican votes from Bush I which would result in a Clinton I victory. I was seven or eight at the time and only picked Perot because he was the underdog and felt bad that he did not have many friends....).

Anyway, I think the era of Southern-strategy and catering to hard-working Americans (read Caucasian and barely-educated) is overdue for its demise.

as for the pic....yeah, it might be offensive, but....of course, not all white Southerners who dropped out of high-school look like this....it was more illustrative than anything else

7

soweto blues

just yesterday, i first noticed my neighbor's old school Simon and Garfunkel record stashed with some of her other "antiques" (in quotes since antiques means different things to different age groups). My mind immediately went to Miriam Makeba, who I had not heard from in such a long time since the unfortunate demise of my first-generation iPod.

Anyway, the first time I encountered Miriam Makeba was at the Paul Simon concert in 1987. No, I am not that old to have personally attended what was dubbed the African concert. My parents taped it when it first came out on Public Television and then years after, when I was seven, my brothers and I spent an evening with my parents watching our homemade copy (back when most people had VCRs). The concert took place in Zimbabwe due to apartheid restrictions in South Africa. My parents took the time to explain to us the horrors of apartheid which then led to our first primer on African-European relations over the past decades and centuries. At the young age, after watching my parents' again homemade copy of Sarafina on Broadway and then the moving performances by Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela, and Ladysmith Black Mambazo, I began to appreciate the role of that performers had in highlighting the ills of their society. (Note that I said "began"...at this age, I was still very much picking snot out of my nose and playing with barbies...not engaging in activism and the like).

Now, with the death of Miriam Makeba at the age of 76, I have revisited that footage of the African concert in which she details the plight of South African blacks under apartheid. Listening to her that evening with my family was probably one of my more transformative moments in childhood. Miriam possessed an indescribably soulful voice that challenged and soothed the heart in manner that could only be accomplished by a mother. Mama Africa, our mother, you will be missed.

I couldn't choose between these two performances at the African concert. Hope you will enjoy both though. After hearing the news of her death I have not had the courage to finish the entire clips without breaking down into tears. So please enjoy them for me. The first is entitled Soweto Blues, written by Hugh Masekela and the second, Under African Skies is a duet with Paul Simon. Memories.


2

where's the outrage

so I am sure many of you are familiar with the Uzoma Okere tragedy and the footage that has been posted online. If not, I would suggest visiting this site, this one, or this.

While the blogosphere, particularly the Nigerian blogosphere has surmounted an amazing response to Okere and other recent travesties to human rights in Naij (note Elendu and the more recent Asiwe detentions), I am somewhat disappointed by the silence on the part of the Western media. (okay, so I only did a google news search....but I am quite confident that most of the coverage of these incidents has been performed by Nigerians at home and abroad).

While checking out the facebook group organized on behalf of justice for Okere, I was recently reminded of the Amina Lawal issue a few years back when Sharia law demanded her stoned for having a child out of wedlock. Women's groups, international organizations, major western newspapers and the like were all over it once the story broke....all over it....like white on rice...(sorry for the reeeeeally lame joke, but i just couldn't help but amuse myself a bit)

While replaying the events of Amina Lawal case in my head, I couldn't help but wonder why there is not a similar response to the Okere incident. Where are the western feminists, the American bloggers, the New York Times...Brazil, for crying out loud!

Understandably, Amina's life was very much on the line...moreso than Okere (though both events are grave examples of Nigeria's devaluation of basic human rights). However, there is a part of me that still wonders why the response to the Amina case was so much adopted by the Western media...I'd hate to say it but it seems that the Amina case was much "appealing" to the West. The Lawal case had all the elements of a "let's save the backward Africans"-type drama - a religion that the West finds abhorrent, adultery and sin, and the suppression of sexual freedom mediated by an ancient patriarchal system.

Probably, in a few days, I will be proven horribly wrong or someone will correct me that the Uzoma, Elendu, and Asiwe cases have been accorded the same gravity as the Lawal case....I hope. But if not, I think it just further goes to demonstrate that to look to the West to fight our battles will not give lasting solutions. While the participation of the West in matters of Nigerian human rights is encouraged and much appreciated, I think we all as Nigerians need to look to ourselves to efficiently organize around such issues - mounting a response that rivals that of outsiders. I think to a degree we were able to effectively do so in the British Airways case (at least to the extent that we were able to get some type of apology from them...small steps, people). Personally, I am at a loss as to which means of organizing ourselves will be most effective in Nigeria (admittedly, I am much more familiar with American forms of grassroots-level organizing and protest and I don't assume you can transplant their methods to the Nigerian context...or can you? Hmmmmm...).

(ooooooh, check this out, i blogged twice in one week....this toad is starting to enjoy this afternoon sunshine)

4

out of hiding

yes, i have indeed come out of hiding after some intense initial weeks at school (of which more are to come). i have heard on many occasions, "awọ anaghị agba s n'ehihie n'efu," which means that the toad doesn't come out in the afternoon for no reason (apparently, they are nocturnal creatures).
So what has prompted my coming out back to the daylight of the blogosphere....you may wonder?
'nuff said. considering the gravity of the election of President Barack Hussein Obama on the psyche of both native and first generation African Americans such as myself, I am nothing but speechless, (both literally and figuratively...I woke up this morning with little much but a whisper from all the screaming from election night). I will return back to the blogosphere on a later date to process what an Obama presidency could look like.

For a photo-journal of reactions around the world to the Obama victory, please check out the HuffingtonPost...

15

...brother can you spare a job?

apparently, governor babatunde fashola of lagos state is hiring at his place. amongst new applicants for menial jobs such as cleaners include university degree holders and those who have recently completed their NYSC programs.


but i guess to governor fashola, the planting of trees trumps discussion of the current state of the nigerian university educational system and the future of its youth.

6

needs a rethink...

sometime ago, i wrote on the recent rise of the polio epidemic in the north and its inextricable link to the 1996 Pfizer drug company scandal.  as a result of the unethical practices undertaken by Pfizer during that time period, many northerners to this day remain wary of immunization campaigns, and understandably so.

the mysterious aftermath of the Pfizer scandal and the very real possibility that some communities are still perceived to be susceptible to be used as human guinea pigs (please see Naapali's comment on that post) has caused many parents of Plateau state to refuse the polio vaccine for their children.  the health minister of the state, Dr. Angela Miri in response has called for punitive measures against parents who refuse to have their children vaccinated stating that the behavior of such parents is "very shameful and uncalled for."

while i acknowledge that the vaccination of children against the life-crippling polio is critical to its ultimate eradication, i have to disagree agree with the approach of health officials in Plateau state.  The abuse of northerners in the name of medicine was a very real event and so far no measures have been put in place to prevent a repeat of 1996 meningitis trials.

i think health officials would further their cause by first acknowledging the legitimate fears of the Plateau state parents.  i am very sure that the parents of Plateau state are looking out for the best interest of their families in light of a system that fails to protect them from internal and external medical/scientific exploitation.  in acknowledging those fears, the government should then proceed to address them - possibly educating the public on how to avoid being "419'ed" by multi-national drug companies and the like.  then, as was done in the past, work with religious and community figures in convincing parents of the need to vaccinate their children.

Of course I came up with this while eating dinner, so it is not the most well-thought out course of action.  but i think simply punishing Plateau state parents because in their perceived best interests for their children refuse vaccines serves as a temporary bandage on an ever-festering wound.

7

it seems like affirmative action...

...is not just for black people and women anymore.

in all honesty, did anyone think the VP pick for the Democrats would be another "change" candidate?  Seems that some of the major qualifications for the veepstakes included being male, white, and significantly older than the average American.

...before I receive any hate mail, I post this in jest.

19

silence...

i know, i've been avoiding the blogosphere for a while, but with good reason - reasons that i don't care to explain here. I apologize for the continued silence. I have a backlog of possible blog topics, so please excuse me if rehash something you've discussed weeks past.

few weeks ago, we all of the Nigerian diaspora within the United States shivered at the news of the cold-hearted Minnesota murder that silenced Mrs. Anthonia Iheme, 28, by her husband, Mr. Michael C. Iheme. Shortly after the murder, Mr. Iheme dialed 911 stating that he has "killed the woman that messed [his] life up." Bail has been sent at $1 million dollars and Mrs. Anthonia leaves behind and four-year-old son and three-year-old daughter.

unfortunately, the Iheme murder is part of a growing trend of spousal homicide, particularly of women, amongst Nigerian immigrants in the United States. First let me point out that Nigerians are not the only perpetrators of such acts - remember, the number one killer of pregnant women in the United States is homicide - usually by their husbands or significant others. However, incidents such as this, this, and this within recent memory should warrant some introspection amongst our people everywhere, particularly the United States.

earlier this week, I shared the details of this story with my hair dresser, a recent Nigerian immigrant. Of course, she like all others with a pulse, found this story to be horrifying. She wondered what the woman did to warrant such punishment.

problem....

why should the first concern be about what the woman did or did not do to warrant...what?...murder?

anyway, since she was much older than I, of course, I asked for her insight as to why such things happen and why they have been happening in the Nigerian community in the US. She gave the usual battery of complaints that life in the US to too stressful and increased expectations on men cause them to go mad and some murder their wives.

I proposed that the problem was not that life in America was unbearably hard (if so, I would gather that most Nigerians would have murdered their wives long before they reached the US....but that is a topic for another day). Rather, it starts with this notion that sometimes Nigerian culture (whatever that means...), does its people a disservice by placing undue power in the hands of one to control the fate of another in a lesser position of power. Such manifests itself in marriages, especially when there is quite the age gap between partners. (Not all of such unions are horrible, and some relationships I admire the most are those between couples of differing ages).

there exists this idea, that upon marriage, ownership of the woman is relinquished from the father and transferred to the spouse. With this ownership, comes the idea that one has the mandate to treat the newly acquired property as they please - particularly when it comes to issues of domestic abuse. America is a culture that openly threatens this ideal and pushes perpetrators and victims of wife battery into the dark until something more serious occurs. Yes in this case, Anthonia went to the police on a previous occasion, but I wonder how long it took for her to get to this point or how serious she was in maintaining the restraining order against Mr. Iheme.

i'm sure you're like "...not another domestic violence post...." But I've witnessed such themes repeat themselves in other relationships as well - master/househelp abuse and child abuse, such as this case where a man placed pepper in a child's eyes and genitals.

I noticed my hairdressers' chants of "you're right, my sister" started to die down into silence as I continued on my rant. I think in my excitement, I started to talk too much and challenge some long-held assumptions of who has which place in Nigerian society.

19

preparing for victory

yesterday, i read this incredibly interesting article on theRoot regarding Rev. Jesse Jackson's desire to castrate (yes, castrate) Barack Obama for not paying more attention to the needs of African Americans in the US. I would encourage you to take a few minutes to read the article. But in case you're short of few minutes, the author, Jack White, sees an Obama presidency as a major victory for members of the African diasposra, not only in the US, but globally. White contends that just like the rest of America, blacks especially, do not know what to do with an African American presidency. In essence, they have spent so much time fighting for a cause,that they, including Jesse Jackson, have no idea how to handle victory. (Or rather, Jackson, like the honourable Rev. Jeremiah Wright, is a victim of the "Jealous Negro Syndrome.")

I (and I am sure the author of the article, too) realizes that an Obama presidency is not the end all of race relations issues - but it is definitely a huge move forward for blacks in America and the rest of the United States. But when we finally do get to that blessed day where "...little black boys and little black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and little white girls..." - what will we do with it? Before answering that, what does that blessed day even look like?

As I was going over the comments from my last post, StandTall reminded me of the sort of jaded-ness that Nigerians at home and abroad have of October 1. Its been almost 48 years since that October 1st victory and it we have not yet been able to handle its aftermath. Its seems like our forefathers failed to adequately prepare for this victory. Its the same type of mistake that Bush made of the Iraq invasion and the mistake that we sometimes make in our own personal lives when we spend years struggling towards a goal and fail to plan the next step. What does our own victory look like and how do we prepare for it?

I definitely think that Nigeria is on the road (very slowly, though) to improving itself in several different arenas - politics, health, business, etc.
We have a achieved democracy (or some version thereof)...now what?
We have passed a National Health Bill...now what?
Constant electricity is slated to come in 2011...then what?
If these are some of the victories we have achieved or are looking forward to, what's next on the agenda? What does our Nigeria's victory look like and how do we prepare for it?

Sometimes I wonder if the fact that we don't know what our victory looks like hints at our deeper personal and national expectations.

12

independence afterthoughts

question: if you had a friend, who was responsible for all sorts of tragedies on others - discrimination, murder, indifference, theft, genocide - and whose parents raped and denigrated your mother, stole and continue to rob her naked....

would you honor their birthday invitation?

that is how I've been feeling most of today, July 5th, after yesterday's July 4th - the United States' Independence day - the day we celebrate the nation's birth. Yesterday, my immediate family and I had a small celebration - the standard fare - a small cookout followed by watching fireworks from our rooftop interspersed with random television reruns. It wasn't as big as how we usually celebrate this day: several invited and uninvited guest to be followed by hours and hours of cleanup. Meaning that today, I was alert enough to think of yesterday's events and why, indeed, I really celebrated on the 4th.

To say that I have not, nor the world has not gained much from the US since its independence would be a huge lie. But I can't help but witness the bad that comes with the good. Especially as of late with the Iraqi crisis - a modern take on the brutality of Western colonialism - I have become disillusioned with patriotism as portrayed in the US. That is a patriotism that remains unswervingly pro-American without respect for the sovereignty and dignity of other nations.

As the nations continues to gorge holidays meats and desserts and pop the last of its firecrackers, I can't help but wonder what other nations, those under our thumb - particularly Iraq - must feel about the birth of the United States of America and its subsequent rise to global dominance. Independence Day no longer excites me as it used to. Actually, its quite sobering...

Empathy is a painful thing.

11

some "quirky" things

I've been tagged....since....by both Loomnie and Standtall. I'm trying to attempt to blog at least once a week, maybe twice - so I think I am doing well so far....maybe. So as for six quirky...or maybe not so quirky...things...

1. I like to dance....alot. I'm not so good at it, but I enjoy it incredibly. I can't stand most of the R&B/hip-hop out there because of the lyrics (except for the Southern-style crunk, because I don't understand most of what they're saying anyway - and it's strictly meant for dancing). Why is this quirky? Two reasons A. Because most people I come in contact with think otherwise. I'm quite shy - but when it comes to dancing, I get a little ahead of myself. B. "Old school" music is what gets me jumping - put together tracks from Osadebe, de Coque, Oriental Brothers, Bright - and I'm so there. I enjoy the occasional soukous, but oldies are the goodies.

2. I've spent the past ten years of my life looking for a good planner (calendar, agenda book etc.). And haven't found it. I don't think I'll ever find one that will carry me for more than two months. I get bored very quickly and I am easily titillated by the search for a new planner/calendar (when I probably have more that enough in my possession).

3. Sleep is like my drug. There is no problem a 2-hour nap cannot assuage. I just feel sooooo much better after a good nap. Also, I never understood how some people find it difficult to fall a sleep - either because of stress, worries, or being uncomfortable. I have found that some of my best naps have taken place on the floor of the school library hours before a final exam or assignment. Pillows and blankets, purely optional.

4. When I was younger (around age 5-6), I used to think that some Caucasian women with a flat bum (behind, butt, ikebe, etc.) used to purposely wear cardboard paper in their undies. For the longest time, I itched to ask my first-grade teacher why on earth she would put cardboard in her pants. Fortunately, I was a good child and avoided the potential spanking I would receive at school and at home (I spent some of my elementary, that is primary, school years in rural North Carolina, where they still spanked unruly kids...this was in the early nineties....I think they have since abandoned corporal punishment in all North Carolinian public schools...correct me if I'm wrong....and of course, whenever my brothers and I got in trouble at school, we would receive even worse measure at home....but I think my parents' probably would have laughed over the situation....though privately and most likely after I received my beating....)

5. I get cold very easily - which is strange, because I have spent the majority of my life in a cold climate. I hate air conditioners because they are always too cold. I think the wind messes up perfectly warm days. I am the only one not looking for shade, even amongst my fellow Nigerians in Nigeria - and for the few times I was in Naija during the dry season, I felt so much at ease. I'm not terribly afraid of getting darker or sweating. I am usually the one wearing a jacket in the classroom or wearing long-sleeves in the summer (sometimes, summer fashion is sometimes lovelier than than of winter wear...sometimes). I think I seriously need to get this checked out.

6. I'd do anything for some roasted corn and ube (pear), right now, anything....uhhh, almost....well, it depends...email me - and we can figure out the details of the exchange. lol.

I tag the following people (who've probably been tagged like twice before)....Trae_Z, theAfroBeat, SolomonSydelle, Oracle, BacktoNaija, and Pink-Satin.

The rules:
1. Link the person who tagged you

2. Mention the rules in your blog

3. Tell 6 unspectacular quirks of yours – six, not more.

4. Tag 6 following bloggers by linking them

5. Leave a comment on each of the tagged blogger’s blogs letting them know they’ve been tagged

9

a great iroko tree has fallen...






The passing of Chief Oliver Akanite (1947-2008) also known widely as Oliver de Coque closes a legendary chapter in modern Igbo music. He will be greatly greatly missed.

18

on akata-ism...

i've been holding back on whether i would like to discuss this topic seeing that i made a vow to myself that I would try not to divulge too much personal information on the web....but i felt that it is a topic that has to be dealt with...and dealt with, it shall...well, in the best way I can.


I recently made a vow to myself to stop frequenting the many African Hair Braiding salons that line almost every other corner of the town that I live in. Besides the fact that they charge me extra for having thick hair (well, before I cut it), are getting ridiculously expensive, can't do regular twists (I'm not a big fan of the kinky twists...), and never entertain my feeble attempts at bargaining...I'm finding that more and more my skin crawls at the salon gossip. Of course, gossip is a guaranteed feature of any hair salon and I have been known to indulge in this shameful habit (tsk, tsk). However, the more I frequent such places, the more I realize that the denigration of our trans-Atlantic brethren...i.e. African Americans....is a staple at some of these places (at least, the ones in my community....I'm sure it is not universal).

It is not only amongst our French-speaking African hair braiders does such exist. I have found myself shrinking back at many conversations I have had amongst Nigerians/Ghanaians that center around African Americans (aka, akata in Naija or cotton pickos in Ghana - both of which I find derogatory, since I have never heard those words used in a positive light before.....correct me if I am wrong).

Many find it interesting that I take such offense to such things, seeing that I have some ties to the recently immigrated African community. However, I feel that by being born in the US, I have recently come to the realization that I am, indeed, African American, though not in the traditional sense of the word. More, specifically, Nigerian American - though they never have that option on tax documents and college applications...but if anyone cared to ask...now you know.

Why the "recently?" Well, growing up, like many other first generation Americans of Nigerian extraction, I struggled trying to reconcile the two incongruent parts of my identity....that of being Nigerian and that of being American (I have the two passports to prove it....). And unfortunately, my ties to either community were tenuous, at best - being not fully accepted in the African American community because of my name, rice and stew luches (instead of ham and cheese sandwiches), and my threaded hairdos that my mom insisted I wear (errghhhh - they stuck out everywhere). On the flipside, in the Nigerian community I also stuck out because of my "ascent" (accent), my incessant questions, and my virtually non-existent pidgin English (I have improved since then, thanks to my significant other).

So I stood in between two communities - not realizing that I, my brothers, cousins and fellow first generationers belonged to a community of our own. And we possessed not a mixure of identities, but rather a valid identity all to its own - Nigerian American - to be defined by the individual at his/her own time.....but anyway I digress.

But back to my point. I believe that while living in United States, the category of "Nigerian-American" rightly falls under the umbrella of African American. Being African-American in the United States embraces a diversity of experiences - first-generation African Americans, descendants of slaves, recently immigrated Africans, and mixed race individuals like presumptive Democratic nominee, Barack Obama (!!!). So I personally feel insulted when others under this umbrella of "African-American" denigrate (would I say, traditional?) African-Americans either because of their names (e.g. Tyquesha), food (e.g. chitlins), Ebonics or hairdos that stick out all over the place in a wide variety of Kool-Aid-like colours. The fact that after centuries of degradation from the dominant group, they have been able to maintain their own culture and traditions, distinct from mainstream America - is a testament to their strength of character. I personally think that amongst Africans in the US, the uniqueness of all African-American experiences, especially those different from our own, should be appreciated and not targeted for ridicule.

okay, I have finished my sermon for today...

12

ana enwe obodo enwe...

first a hearty congratulation is in order for the Obama victory last night. Hope all are fired up and ready to go.

i know this is more of a continuation of my last post, but it seems that many are also of the opinion that Nigerian politics is inherently corrupt - very much unlike American politics. However, as the the Democratic primaries dragged on (and continue to do so, apparently...), I can't help but find parallels between this race and the Abia state gubernatorial contest, which a year plus after the last votes had been cast, continues to go forward. Hmmmm, I thought it was "only in Nigeria," where one can take challenge the results of an election in the courts or so-called Rules and By-laws committees.

After Chief T.A. Orji of the Progressive People's Alliance (PPA) had been declared governor in Abia state, the Election Petition Tribunal wanted to nullify his victory on the grounds of ties to the infamous Okija shrine. Apparently, there is a video on youtube (which looks like a fake to me) of one of his excursions to the shrine. Sounds like Obama detractors took a page out of Onyema Ugochukwu's (PDP) play book with the youtube videos of the fiery Jeremiah Wright sermons. Does anyone know whether Orji has adequately "denounced and repudiated" his associations with the controversial cult....I'm a bit out of the loop?

While Obama detractors borrow (or is that plagiarize....remember the Deval Patrick debacle?) material from the PDP campaign, Ugochukwu has been caught borrowing material from the Democratic National Committee, stating that like McCain, Orji will serve as the "third term" of the failed incumbent (Bush, Orji Uzor Kalu).

At last check, T.A. Orji remains Abia state governor and Obama Democratic party leader. Both have that "...winning personal touch," which they use in "...courting people...." While Ugochukwu and Clinton are "distant and cannot seem able to rally the party...behind [their] efforts to achieve [their] ultimate goal." (quotables from this Vanguard article).

Personally, I can see how people might come to the conclusion that both Ugochukwu and Clinton might feel a sense of entitlement to the Abia state governorship or Democratic candidacy. That may explain why they just can't let go....just can't bow out (concede) gracefullyI mean, who is PPA? PDP is king regardless of where you go in Nigeria. And who is Barack Obama? Hillary is a Clinton...a CLINTON...afterall. I guess Oliver de Coque's mantra "ana enwe obodo enwe" (there are people that own this land) is a dying concept. (though, technically in the case of T.A. Orji, there is evidence of godfatherism....to be honest).



Please note, people, that most of these comments are made in jest and with a heavy dose of sarcasm.........we all need a little fun after quite the torturous primary season. I respect both the Clinton and Onyema Ugochukwu candidacies...way back when there was a time I was pro-Hillary. And still, there is a selfish part of me that wanted Onyema to win because he would be more likely to develop my side of Umuahia....

29

nna, i don tire

I had a conversation with a young Igbo man last night (who reads this blog by the way - I'm not telling names - but I hope you still come by to visit) in which he expressed his frustration with Nigeria and his newfound adoration for the US. A recent immigrant to the US, he made it clear that I will never be able to understand why he hates Nigeria seeing that I was not born there. I have since given up on trying to explain to my fellow Naija brothers and sisters that my American-ness doesn't prevent me from forming a credible opinion about Nigeria just as their Nigerian-ness does not prevent them from forming a credible opinion about the US. But I digress....

When he made his opinion known that he hates Nigeria, I simply stated that I was not surprised – and left it at that. In the past I would have countered with a plethora of arguments, forwarded the misguided individual to website after website and rattled off fact after fact from the tip of my tongue until the poor individual was suckered into waving the green-white-green with his fellow Compatriots.

Now, I think I have given up trying to convince people otherwise, in fact, I don tire. If I got a nickel anytime a Nigerian or child of Nigerian immigrants expressed a favorable view of Nigeria, I'd be very poor, miserable woman.

Of course, I still have high hopes for our nation and I have witnessed tremendous positive change in Nigeria within the short timespan I have been alive. And yes, there are downsides - legion. I know why my heart in Nigeria, but I am just curious as to why you, the reader, has any care for Nigeria at all. Why do Nigerians like Nigeria? I know why they don't. But for the half a percent that does, why?

10

ode to nollywood

after much wrestling back and forth, I decided to start another blog....the nollywood critique at wordpress. I will still be here at pyoowata, but will be posting at the nollywood critique as well. if you don't know, I am a nollywood addict, and enjoy these naija films thoroughly. however, just like the rest of you, i hate spending four hours on a film and finding out it was a flop. i've been to other sites that review nollywood movies, but at times the sites can be a bit distracting with other things....what better way to review nollywood films than a blog. the nollywood critique is still in its infancy, but when you can, take some time to visit it once in a while. Leave some comments, and also propose naija films that you would like to see reviewed. I watch at least one naija film a week (seriously) and I am somewhat conversant in nollywood gossip and news, so expect the site to be updated often.

5

throwbacks...

my dears, thank you for all your well wishes and posts while i was on hiatus. they were highly, highly appreciated. I had to hold myself back from posting on other's blogs during that time, lest i find myself spending hours online that should have gone towards schoolwork. i will be replying all of your posts within the next 24 hours or so. also, watch out for some of my comments on your blogs as well, especially the "Brutish Airways" debacle (I have long since boycotted BA and wondered why it took the rest of y'all so long to do the same too...I say that with love and respect...welcome to the light).

speaking of scandals, does anyone know what came out of the Pfizer meningitis clinical trials of 1996 - I know very very old...but I was discussing it with someone the other day and could not find updates on what happened so far. For a brief recap....

In 1996, northern Nigerian witnessed an unprecedented meningitis outbreak in which 12-15,000 people died within a span of six months. During this time, Pfizer scouted for potential young participants for a clinical trial of the antibiotic Trovan, which, at the time, was largely untested for use in children. In a field hospital in Kano, 200 children were selected for this trial and half were administered Trovan, while the other half were given a low dose of another antibiotic. As a result of the trial, several children died or were rendered permanently disabled, claims the Nigerian government.

The problems: I think in terms of ethical research case studies, this is probably the worse I've encountered in recent history. Here's why:

- The trial was performed at at time when Doctors Without Borders, who, true to their mission, sought to alleviate the epidemic by providing free and effective antiobiotics at the same field hospital. The conspiracy theorist in me wants to believe that Pfizer took advantage of this in that families could have consented to signing their children up for the Pfizer trials thinking that the Pfizer and Doctors Without Borders were one in the same.

- Pfizer claimed that the clinical trial was approved by the Nigerian government. However the letter of approval written by some Nigerian ethics committee was a fake, written more than a year after the trial had ended. In fact the letterhead used was created months after the trial.

- No documents detailing if and how consent was obtained by parents of participants exist. Pfizer maintains that nurses on the ground obtained verbal consent from parents, though parents who are suing Pfizer deny this claim.

- Patients whose condition worsened after use of the experimental drug were denied standard therapy. A big boo-boo, to say the least.

- In 2006, the Nigerian government released the results of a panel meant to look into the Pfizer trial and reports found that Pfizer not only violated Nigerian law, but also flouted the International Declaration of Helsinki, and mandates espoused by the UN Convention on the Right of the Child. The best part is that the results of this Nigerian investigation is that the report had been suppressed for five years. It is only as of recent that anyone has come to know of the findings of this report.

Google Pfizer and Nigeria and I am sure you will find more details, I have only scratched the surface. But to give an update, Trovan has since been banned in the United States and Europe because of its life-threatening side effects. And as many of you know, as a result of the Pfizer trials, the once-eradicated polio has resurged in northern Nigeria and has spread other parts of West Africa. Muslim clerics in northern Nigeria used the Pfizer trials to bolster their arguments that polio vaccines were part of a plot to extinguish the Muslim population.

Recently, in 2005, the suit against Pfizer went to court in the United States but was dismissed on the grounds that the US did not have jurisdiction over this case. And in January of this year, a federal high court in Abuja issued a warrant for the arrest of eight former directors of Pfizer Nigeria.

However, beyond this, I have no idea what has happened in regards to this case. If someone can please shed light on what is currently being done to adequately bring justice, please let me know. But this issue brings up several potential points of discussion. One, corruption is not solely a Nigerian commodity. It seems as if in this case, corruption was initiated by the multinational corporation, Pfizer. The former NAFDAC director claims that this trial was conducted without the consent of the Nigerian government. However, we must acknowledge that the Nigerian environment, in fact the developing world environment allows for such tragedies to happen. What if anything can be done to prevent such in the future? (I apologize for the open-endedness of this post, but I have to reorient myself back to the blogosphere once again). By the way guerreiranigeriana, a post on my take on the short-term medical mission's phenomenon and its abuses is forthcoming.

7

on hiatus...

i know...again....

But its crunch time and this is the time in the school year when I actually do work, so sad. So I apologize if I have not gotten back to your interesting comments so far, but will do so when things start to settle down. But for the meantime, I will still be visiting your blogs from time to time and will hold myself from posting lengthy responses...at least for now. I'm hoping that life will return to some semblance of normal in the next two weeks.

...till then
-nneoma

23

his ice is colder than yours

amongst older African Americans, there is this saying that "the white man's ice is colder than that of the black man." It's usually said with some sarcasm because everyone knows that ice is ice, regardless of who sells it or not. What they are trying to say is that some people have been so brainwashed so as to think that things of the West are ultimately superior in every respect and that such a fact can never ever be questioned. I am sure we have all seen instances of this both in Nigeria and abroad. Like for example, we may know of someone who insists on buying their "Made in China" shoes when the AbaMade brand looks similar and may be superior in quality.

So what does all this have to do with our formerly esteemed, but now fallen, Minister of Health, Dr. Adenike Grange. Plenty...well at least, in my humble opinion....your own opinions are most welcomed.

Two weeks ago (yeah, I know, I'm late), Dr. Grange resigned from her post as the nation's Minister of Health, under allegations of corruption and mishandling of funds allocated to the Ministry of Health. As for the specifics, N300 million of unspent funds meant to return to the national treasury went missing or - according to the Ministry - were spent on Christmas bonuses. Grange claims that she did not personally benefit from these funds, but, in my opinion the gross mishandling of these funds hints that she handled her post irresponsibly, at the least.

I was still in Nigeria when Grange was appointed to the position of Minister of Health. When I did a proper search on her credentials (ehem...google), I was more than impressed. Actually, I was inspired, even hopeful. Beyond being a Nigerian woman, (because most Nigerian women are simply awesome...), she served as the president of the International Pediatric Association (IPA) and as a consultant for respected institutions such as the World Health Organization and UNICEF.

I believe it is safe to assume that while she was working for these institutions, which are heavily funded and monitored by the West, she must have been very careful in carrying out her responsibilities. I'm sure that is why she was recommended to and later given the post of Minister of Health (as for the junior Minister, who in his former life was an architect...i no know wetin he dash Yardy make da man call am...but i digress).

But what happened when she entered the Ministry, if this whole debacle is indeed, as she claims, a "lapse" in duty on her part?

That is where the white man's ice comes in. I feel that many (including myself at times) tend to perform differently amongst different people. I feel that amongst the company of her oyinbo peers, Grange probably was meticulous in her various appointments. But when it came to handling the affairs of Nigerians, it seemed as if her guard went down. After all, this is Nigeria - anything goes (including the sum of N300million). If, Grange felt that the white man's ice is colder, then when she goes into his store to buy such ice, it required of her a higher degree of decorum, as she displayed when working with the likes of WHO, IPA, and UNICEF. I guess entering the black man's store she let her guard down and the millions of women and children she claimed to protect.

Dr. Grange is not the first, and definitely not the last, to behave in such a manner. I know that I have done the same too (I won't get into specifics). But I guess this post and the Grange issue serves as a reminder to myself that we should be careful when we approach the work of humanitarian aid or service to our fatherland (or motherland, whichever). Grange in her resignation shifted blame to inherent political corruption in the Ministry. But I wonder if that is a good enough excuse to ignore her own personal call to promoting high moral standards in government. Personally I think she did not take her post as seriously as she did her other appointments in the West simply because she was amongst Nigerians.

But then again, this is just my take on things. She might have had this "lapse" because of personal problems at home or work that made her miss the millions of naira being reshuffled.

But I do agree with her, in a speech she made in 2005, when she quoted Rev. Martin Luther King that "'We shall have to repent in this generation, not so much for the evil deeds of the wicked people but for the appalling silence (and inactivity) of good people.'"

Might I add, that our generation shall have to repent, not so much for an unwillingness to do good, but for being crappy at doing good (sorry, I'm having a brain freeze - no pun intended - and "crappy" was the only word I could think of...)

23

are they to blame?

i am somewhat familiar with the issue of domestic violence in Igbo households, both from personal experience (that is observing other families who engage in this practice) and from what I see in the media (ehem, Nollywood). However, I have recently encountered a disturbing article, (actually there are several more out there) on domestic violence incidence in a random sample of Imo state women, which, I may venture to say, could be generalized to Igbo women at large, and perhaps, Nigerian society (pleeeease correct me, if I am wrong).

The article is entitled, Prevalence, Patterns and Correlates of Domestic Violence in Selected Igbo Communities of Imo State, Nigeria (Okembo C et.al. 2002). I guess you can google scholar it if interested, but if you don't have access to it, email me and I can send you the pdf file. (I'm not sure if I will get in trouble for distributing it, but I think I am willing to take the risk, for the sake of the cause).

For the sake of space, I will spare you the intricate details about study design, sample size etc (though, they are important, I just gloss over these things...bad habit) and highlight some of their results. In a sample of about 300 women (I know, this is a pretty small sample), they found that almost 80% had experienced some form of domestic violence. I thought the number was unbelievable. Women in urban areas were more likely to experience physical beatings from their husbands than rural women. (In regards to polygamy, it was found that women in polygamous marriages were less likely to undergo abuse - just thought that was interesting - please note that I am not advocating the practice). There were other interesting results documenting kinds of abuse, prevalence and preferences and predictors of abuse that you can pick out on your own time.

I would really like to know, if some of you, from your own personal experiences find that domestic violence is as prevalent as this article suggests and your thoughts on this idea that domestic abuse is more common in the cities than rural areas and why? (of course, this was just a preliminary study and I did not check out other papers to find out if they support this stat.

I think what really caught my attention were some of the responses from the participants to why abuse occurs. For example, here is one:

"...Usually [men] see women as physically, economically and socially inferior to [men]. They also feel that they bought women with their money..."

The authors stated that cultural institutions amongst the Igbo are to blame for the continued practice of domestic violence. Particularly, the idea that male children are worth more than female children therefore creating the notion that women can be treated that way. Besides traditional institutions that support the prevalence of domestic abuse, some women cited Christianity as to institution to blame for this continued practice stating that the Bible calls for the "subjection" of women by man.

Let me first state that I would not go so far as to condemn Igbo cultural institutions, which I appreciate and adhere to, nor condemn Christianity, which I practice. However, are these two institutions to blame for the continued practice of domestic violence? What particular aspects are to blame for domestic violence and can one use these institutions to prevent and abolish this practice? What should be done about it and why isn't more being done about it (like addressing it as a vital component of a family planning or reproductive health agenda)?

Sorry if this post is a bit long, but I seriously cut out a lot of stuff in order to get the main point across. I always look forward to all of your responses because they seriously challenge me and get me thinking in ways unimagined.

Oh in regards to the poster above....yes, another google image search. But I thought the poster was interesting in that it is appealing to adherence to tradition which calls for utmost respect for mothers and older-womanhood. An example of how existing societal institutions which promote violence could be used to eradicate it....yes, I said ERADICATE it.

22

race before gender, gender before race

by the way, this blog endorses Barack Obama as the Democratic presidential candidate - just thought I would get it out there.

Beyond policy, commitment to change, his anti-Iraq War stance, and the fact that Clinton will "fire up" the Republican base, I have decided to back Obama because he represents many first-generation Americans who are doing big things. I mean, what can be bigger than running for the presidency against the Clinton machine (note, I used to support the Clinton/Clinton ticket....how I changed, na long story....will explain another day).

And for many African Americans, the choice is sometimes based on the fact that they would like to see one of their own in the White House as well. I sort of assumed that this would be true for most who consider themselves Black (though let me add, that I have nothing against those who think otherwise...and I )

Anyway, this assumption was questioned when I caught some of the commentary of Ohioans during their primary last week. A black female (can't remember her name) said she was voting for Hilary because according to her, "she is a woman first and an African American second..."

My initial reactions to these comments were that this woman has imbibed the unpopular stance of "betraying the race." However, as i thought more over this woman's comments, I began to realize that she is not alone, that there are several black women - African and African American - who have often chosen gender over race. For example, one person that easily comes to mind is Alice Walker and her classic novel, The Color Purple. Many in the black community felt that she weakened the fight against racism in order to pursue a feminist agenda. I guess an African example would be women who fight against female circumcision at the risk of portraying their people in a bad light. Or, to bring it home, my post on misogyny in African music. Sometimes in the course of pursuing Africanism (if there is such a word), feminist issues can be sidelined.

I have not yet sat down to think of who I am first - a woman or a member of the African diaspora. I would think that I am first an African and then a woman therefore countering this woman's statement. And in regards to females that I admire that I mentioned in my first post on african feminism, I have a feeling that they would also take the same stance as well. I, admit, I have not read much on african feminist theory, but I wonder if that is the point of african feminism - to put the african back into feminism as opposed to putting infusing feminism into africa. Or rather, as I hope to do, find a balance between the two. Once again, thoughts on which you consider first - africanism or feminism - would be appreciated. If you have some recommended reading that would also be appreciated (Misan, I read A Thousand Splendid Suns - it was great...a post on Afghani feminism...akuko nke mbu...is forthcoming).

Oh, and Happy International Woman's Week!

5

all is not lost....

for the Nigerian sporting world that is...

After Nigeria's disappointing show at the African Nations Cup (I had to return my green-white-green victory gear back to the recesses of my closet), I began to give up on seeking national pride in sports. Well, I (and several other Naija bloggers) are proud to report differently.

This weekend Akwa Ibom native, Samuel Okon Peter clinched the World Boxing Council's (WBC) Heavyweight title in a sixth round knockout. Personally, the only time I have enjoyed boxing is when he is featured as one of the contenders so I am not sure of all of the boxing terms. All I know is that the opponent went down in the sixth round.

He was featured in The Guardian today, and I found his story to be very inspiring. Dig one of the statements he made to the reporters.

"I have been doing this for about seven years now professionally; I have never been down in my career. I have been knocked down but I stand up to win."

I will definitely keep this one in memory, and I think as a nation, we should realize that our past has been rough - colonialism, civil war, losing the African Nations Cup (I mean that light-heartedly) - and we have been knocked down on several occasions. However, we should take a page out of Peter's playbook that though we have been knocked down, we should continue to stand up to win. I am very much for taking a critical stance on Nigerian national affairs, but let's not just leave at that, criticism. Rather, there should be a hope that through journalism, blogging, activism, going to work every morning etc. we can all inch our ways towards a knockout future. (I apologize in advance if this seems overly-idealistic, but hey, I'm young and it's my prerogative).

16

on african feminism...akuko nke ano

so, I got tired of seeing the image below of the Ghana Black Stars fan whenever I visited my blog and thought that it is high time I put up another post. since this is the month of love and US black history month - i would like to speak to a topic that has affected american black females for centuries and as i am starting to witness, african females as well.

last night, after simultaneously studying and keeping my eye out for the wisconsin and hawaii primaries (more of the latter than the former), I caught the last half or so of BET's "25 Events that (mis)shaped Black America." Under normal circumstances, I would not be caught dead watching late night BET, but my brother was watching it, the show seemed to have some usefulness, and I am a big Michael Eric Dyson fan.

One of the (mis)shaping events that caught my attention was the the hyper-sexualization of the black female or the misogyny of the black female as portrayed by hip-hop. First, I found it interesting that BET should admit that the negative effects of the portrayal of african american females as b****es and hos since they are one of the major exporters of these images. But I started to think that the hypersexualization of the black female is not limited to hip-hop music as well.

Earlier in the week (or maybe last week), I was put off a bit by cover story on the BBC news website, "Ivory Coast's 'big-bottom' Craze." Initially, my annoyance stemmed from the fact there are other more pressing concerns in Ivory Coast other than bum and breast enhancement creams and some song's tribute to big bottoms. But after this BET special, I began to wonder whether the African continent also exports this idea of a hypersexualized black female thru its music in similar ways to Nelly and Ludacris. Granted the history of the black female in the US, especially in light of forced sexual relations with white slavers and the simultaneous systemic emasculization of American black men during slavery stands in stark contrast to the situation on the continent (or I may be wrong here)...but how different is Meiway's call to shake our lolo's from Baby Huey's insistence that the bum should be popped, locked, then dropped? The videos are strikingly similar. I also wonder, is this an anomaly amongst blacks - I mean, are there other people groups that dissect and exploit intimate parts of the black female physique in order to sell records or initiate dance crazes? Africans have also had their own share of exploiting female sexuality by colonial masters (remember Hottentot Venus).

Of course, before I close, I must admit, that although I hate the images of half-naked black women on BET and Awilo's soft porn music videos, I can't help but play some of these catchy tunes on my iPod during a workout. I'm a huge fan of soukous music - HUGE. Additionally, I never leave the house without making sure that my jeans properly "fit" and accentuate what needs to be accentuated. I have struggled alot with the issues I just raised - especially the added dimension of African music turning towards lurid depictions of black women. A part of me says, its just music - not only that, but it's music with an irresistible beat that I cannot find in other genres. And perhaps, in some cases, there is a genuine appreciation for the black female physique. But then another part of me, the one that started this post, wonders if I am contributing to the degradation of black women by espousing any such music. I am slowly leaning towards the latter....

I would really really really like to get your opinions on this topic (also, let me know if I should clarify a bit). Let me know if you think it is "just music" or whether we have allowed the hypersexualization of black women to go too far or whether I have approached this topic incorrectly in comparing the African American situation with that of the continent.

3

vogt go home

after this stunningly sad match between Nigeria and Ghana, it is time to give Vogt, the current coach of the Super Eagles, a long overdue boot. What type of nonsense soccer/football was Nigeria playing this evening? The Nigerian soccer team needs a revolution (sorry to borrow your term solomonsydelle). maybe instead of recruiting soccer players from posh leagues in the West they should recruit some boys from the streets of Aba, Ibadan, Kaduna who would actually care about doing well in such games since their livelihoods depended on it. I mean c'mon Super Eagles, the Black Stars were down by one man.....how sad, how sad....

I promise, this will be my last sports commentary of any kind until 2010....seriously. now back to our regularly scheduled program....

and I will get back to all of your comments and emails soon, I just really had to get this one off my chest...

4

the state of the US African Command

seems like january is a good month for blogging. did anyone bother to catch the state of the union address by President Bush, last night? well I happened to and the pre and post play commentary. well, realising that most of what he was going to say on Iraq and the economy would be nothing new, I tuned in to his besides-Iraq-Afghanistan-Iran foreign policy commentary - which was not much.
Considering his proposed trip to the African continent, I am surprised he did not mention anything about USAFRICOM, which would provide and American military presence in the African continent in order to provide stability and peace. However, when he did talk about Africa - there was NO mention of this program whatsoever. Besides his weak declaration that there is indeed a genocide occurring in Darfur, the rest focused on the usual Africa is a bastion of poverty, disease, and pestilence that needs our help. But it seemed that AFRICOM, which has been rejected by nearly every African country besides Liberia (please correct me if I am wrong), should feature prominently. I wonder why. It seems like USAFRICOM is more of a front to protect the US's "vital interests" (cough...oil...cough) rather than promote stability.

6

on african feminism...akuko nke ato


this is part three (akuko nke ato) of a series of posts on african feminism. (for those of you who take Igbo language and grammar seriously, i apologize in advance for the absence of dots under certain vowels, if some can show me how to do this on blogspot - that would be very helpful).

I was reading BBC this morning in which, of course the Kenyan crisis featured prominently on the Africa page. It truly baffles me how, Kenya, once an exemplar of a peaceful and stable African nation, could collectively go mad in the span of a few days. it's deeply disheartening. it only serves to fuel the idea that the African continent is prone to such violent outbursts and is need of protection (according to the USAFRICOM website more on them in a later post and Bush's planned visit to Africa - minus Nigeria).

Amidst stories of gun-slinging and bows and arrows came up another weapon of war - rape. It should disturb our most common sensibilities that the female body (and sometimes male) is considered fair playing ground in war, conflict, and other clashes. It is literally universal that this happens. According to the article, formal reports of rape have more than doubled in some places rendering hundreds of women the living casualties of war. While trying to find an end this conflict, special attention should be paid to the most vulnerable - women. Additionally, more needs to be done in order to shed light on why this phenomenon happens and how can we prevent it. If anyone has any interesting reading suggestions, you are more than welcome to share. If I find anything, I will post in an addendum. I simply wanted to bring light to the issue.

So, what does a Nollywood film and wartime rape have in common. Well, for those of you who are so inclined to watch Naija films, I would encourage you to check out this film, Silver Stone (yes, part 1 and 2), starring Dakore Egbuson, Bimbo Akintola, Fred Amata, and Mike Ezuruonye. Besides having an awesome cast (woohoo! Mike and Dakore) it sheds light on some of the long-term consequences of wartime rape, using the Biafran war as the example and its effects on families decades later. The film is written by a budding producer in the Nollywood scene, Uche Ice - and I look forward to more of his works in the future. I would especially encourage you to take a peek at the interviews with actors/actresses, producer, and director. What is especially comforting is that the movie project was initiated by a Nigerian male sensitive to the extensive damage of wartime rape on both the female and the rapist. I think that Uche Ice is an African feminist, or at least one in the making...and much kudos on this particular film.

2

so yar'adua is not that mediocre....yet

so for the next post, it was a toss up between Dr. Iyabo Obasanjo's child kidnapping charges, my finding out about former president Obasanjo's alleged siring of his son's children, and Yar'adua's reaffirmation of his commitment to fighting corruption at Davos, Switzerland. Well, though this blog is a compilation of many things, a gossip blog it is not. I'll allow you all to read all the juicy details of the Obasanjo family woes at your own leisure (it's quite hoot - guerreiranigeriana, this is what I do for procrastination).

some of you may remember when i relegated the future of Yar'adua's term to the hallowed halls of mediocrity. well, i haven't gone back on what I said just yet, but I found his "prediction" of the abolition of the immunity clause for governors and presidents to be a great step in the right direction in terms of fighting corruption. I'm not sure if a prediction automatically means implementation - which is why I have not yet removed him from my mediocrity hall of fame. well, I am looking forward to getting rid of the immunity clause that exempts "elected" officials from the rule of law. maybe if they had implemented it sooner, the chief Abian Agbaro, Orji Uzor Kalu, would have been sent to jail long ago. (though I know that he has been released on bail - anyone know of the status of his case so far?)

random fact:
did you know that one of Obasanjo's wives contended in the 2003 election against her own husband. apparently, Major Moji's rejection as candidate for First Lady rubbed her the wrong way. and obviously, i have lots more procrastination time in 2008 than i did in 2003 - which is why I am finding out about this now.

and yes, I know, if the post is supposed to be about Yar'adua, then I should put up a Yardy pic, right? I couldn't help it, Obasanjo makes some of the funniest facial expressions...and let's be honest with ourselves, two-thirds of the post is about Obasanjo and his family wahala. Again, I couldn't help it....okay, okay - here's a semi-funny pic of the current Naija president - I had to dig through the farthest recesses of Google Images for this one. So it is not that funny. I have to admit, it takes very little to get me rolling on the floor laughing.

12

the igbo man and his money

i think I've heard it all, or at least I have heard many jokes, rants and other negative comments on Igbos and their love for money both from outside ethnic groups and within. i can take a good joke once in a while, but when these jokes begin to mark one ethnic group as being more this than the other or less this than that one - it tends to irk me a little bit.

usually such stereotypes have embedded within it some deeper story, some truth that is clouded by the hype. in regards to Igbo and money, I would definitely be the first to admit that the Igbos have done well for themselves in terms of trading, commerce, business etc. but why have many suggested that the Igbo man loves and lives for money.

i cannot in anyway claim to be a spokesperson for Igbos, neither can I claim to be an expert in its history and culture. but in my opinion, it seems like Nigerian has left Igbos with no other choice.

I believe the most of my readers are familiar with the atrocities committed during the Nigeria-Biafran war and how it reduced Igboland to nothing, physically, economically, but fortunately, not mentally. Those who fled from their various homes from the North and otherwise left for the East with nothing and returned to nothing. At the end of the war, Igbos were compensated with a mere 20pounds per family, regardless of how much they lost or started off with. And even such reparations were a joke when it came to actual implementation. In fact, there are many who still are not aware of the 20pounds the Nigerian government owes them. to compound their woes post-Biafra, educational and political opportunities were denied to many bright former Biafrans in the name of "reflecting federal character" forcing thousands to flee the country during the 70s and 80s in search of merit-based university admissions abroad.

one million dead during the war, emigration of thousands of its intelligentsia, no indigenous infrastructure to speak of, and a 20pound promissory note from the Nigerian government. what other options are the igbos left with other than to put a good work ethic to use and start building their economy from the ground up.

so i encourage all Nigerians, to stop embracing such petty stereotypes. and the next time one feels the urge to denigrate Igbos for struggling in order to make something of themselves, they should try to imagine where they came from as a people within the last 38 years.

....oh, and someone owes me 20pounds...

8

the measure of blackness

I know it's been long since I last posted but for a number of reasons over the holidays I took a mental, physical and otherwise break from everything. I think I am sort of back into the swing of things, school, blogging (maybe) etc.

So over the course of this semester I will be writing on health disparities in cardiovascular disease outcomes, particularly amongst black immigrants to the US and the influence of acculturation on health (I know, that was a mouthful). Some of the things I have come across is that relatively few people care about the health of black immigrants (seeing that I can't find that much on it) and that studies of black immigrants and their health could have some potential for addressing the health of African Americans.
In the course of digging through the literature for information on acculturation and African immigrants (I had to dig very deeply), I came across the African American Acculturation Scale, (AAAS) which I wanted to ignore at first, but sat down and thought about it for a while, especially in light of my own experiences.

I think of myself as a lot of different things, being a first generation American to African immigrants. In the United States, I identify myself as African American, not only in a literal sense, but also partaking in the African American culture which over the past 400 years has come to mean so many different things. I think the African American culture is one of the most diverse, seeing that it comprises of people like me, biracial people, and those who's roots can be traced all the way back to the trans-Atlantic slave trade. It took me a long time to realize this, especially while attending a predominantly black high school where most were from similar backgrounds and found it necessary to to categorize who was "black enough" and who talked or acted like white people. Needless to say, my accent and my inability to rattle off rap lyrics from the top of my head placed me in the latter category. Fortunately, there was a growing silent majority of "blacks" and "whites" at my high school who felt that the definition of blackness is quite flexible.

Apparently in academia, the definition of blackness is not as expansive as I and some of my high school mates believed. According to the AAAS, blackness can be measured in your thoughts toward traditional African American foods, willingness to date outside of your race, and political affiliations. Yes, I sort of see the rationale behind looking at these social and cultural aspects of race in order to determine willingness to engage in certain health practices. But there is a part of me that shudders at the thought of determining who's a traditional African American and who is not. And honestly, I think its somewhat outdated. It almost reminds me of a comment a teacher of mine made when I was in high school in which she wanted to find out if my family was "tribal." (yeah, she actually seriously asked me that - I was too stunned to give her a smart answer like if her family still lived in caves or waved the Confederate flag in front of their house or something like that).

Anyway, those are my initial thoughts on the subject, they may change over time or maybe I might find myself challenging these notions in a more public forum (meaning, beyond my blog).
Thoughts?