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.


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.


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.


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...


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).