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


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.


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)


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...