You should check out my mom's (yes, as in my own mother's) blog - Akuko Ifo (honestly, it is too late in the day for me to start searching for o's and u's with dots under them...and yeah, you're right - in the time it took me to write this, I could have spelled out "Akuko Ifo" properly.) My mom recently started a blog to share some of the folktales she told my brothers and I when we were younger. Please feel free to widely circulate this message to your children and friends with young children. Right now, all she has up is an intro post, but she hopes to have a fresh story up after the Christmas holiday.
I thought I was the only one who could not sit through the completion of Adichie's TED talk, "Danger of a Single Story." Honestly, I think my self-declared fast from Facebook was largely spurned by the inundation of my mailbox and Newsfeed with links to this talk.
First let me admit that I literally swallowed Half a Yellow Sun after dinner one night, and nearly felt somewhat depressed when I started inching towards the final pages of the novel because I so desired the book to go on, and on, and on. To say that Adichie is an amazing storyteller, would be quite the understatement. I have not yet had the chance to pick up her collection of short stories, The Thing Around Your Neck (Christmas gift, anyone?).
Yes, call me a hater, but I felt that at least the first few minutes that I did happen to slug through were somewhat tiresome. Literally, it was the "single story" that I have heard countless numbers of Nigerian, Ghanaian, Jamaican immigrants tell over again, but this time, more eloquently and on a more public stage...
Young person fetishizes the West...person grows up and travels to this West...person becomes increasingly jaded with the West and its apparent love affair with itself (to the ignorance of other non-Western countries)...person becomes more aware of the beauty and diversity of his/her African identity (primarily through Western outlets which were hitherto thought of as inaccessible in home country)...person shuns western dress and takes interest in rocking dashikis and African headwraps...
And true, as someone has mentioned to me in the past, Adichie's loudest critics happen to be men - see here and here - which was why I was initially hesitant to bring attention to yet another male who just doesn't get our collective love affair with Adichie. Beyond calling attention to the fact that several Nigerian stories were well-established around the time of Adichie's birth, Nnorum Azuonye also points out the apparent contradiction behind Adichie's talk...
The jaundice in The Danger of a Single Story is that Ms Adichie was in fact perpetuating stereotypes. Anyone who does not know better who watches that presentation would conclude that all Westerners refer to Africa as a country. We know this is not true. There is a lot of it going on, but it is not standard by any stretch of the imagination. Never mind that Africans, especially Nigerians are guilty of insinuating that Africa is a country. Many times in the United Kingdom, you ask a Nigerian where he comes from. Afraid of admitting to being a Nigerian and being consigned to the heap of criminals...he would say he comes from Africa. He would only admit the Nigerian connection if the person asking knows Africa is a continent and questions further, ‘what part of Africa do you come from?’ Interestingly, some would respond to this more specific question with a neither here nor there answer; ‘my Dad originally comes from Lagos, and my mother is from Benin.’ If pushed further, he will say, ‘Make it Lagos. I come from Lagos.’Azuonye forgot to add that yes, while some Westerners find Africa as the bastion of poverty and disease, several of our compatriots have also made careers off of such saving some nebulous creature called Africa. I would suggest taking a peek at the essay yourself...and if Azuonye also sounds tiresome, by all means, change the page in search of yet another single story.
H/T Aloofar for the link
Have been a little slow with social media updates since the holidays so forgive me if I wasn't aware of this earlier.
Texas in Africa describes the recent partnership between Twitter and (RED) to celebrate World AIDS Day as a "failure." I wholeheartedly agree. December 1, a day when the entire world promotes AIDS awareness, Twitter has decided to highlight all tweets with the word Africa in red thereby reinforcing an inextricable link between Africa and AIDS.
Seriously, why? Was not aware that today was Africa AIDS day....missed the memo.
Have been feeling under the weather since the weekend, so used that opportunity to watch Nollywood films with the parents. Unfortunately, I could not get to flea market to collect movies from my usual Senegalese hook-up. Anyway, Youtube to the rescue.
I have always admired veteran Nollywood actresses and film, The Maid, starring Eucharia Anunobi, amongst others, caught my attention. It's a religious film - which is more palatable to my conservative parents (as opposed to films such as this one). Anyway, the film, produced in 2004, follows a Christian family and their maid as they come into a better financial situation and slowly lose their faith. The maid, (played by Mercy Johnson), later becomes demon possessed and enlists the help of the Eucharia's children - no older than 12 or 13, in carrying out demonic activities in school and in the family.
You can already figure out the rest of the film - maid and children run havoc in various homes and schools, powerful pastor comes in to cast out demons and "To God Be the Glory." No need for spoiler alerts here. However, in light of this year's revelations of the child witches phenomenon, I found the portrayal of the maid and children as agents of Satan to be incredibly disturbing. The scene below opens with a child in a cast who was injured during one of these violent exorcisms. Later, another young boy admits to killing his parents and preventing "locking up" the success of his uncle's business.
Such scenes are highly reminiscent of testimonies from rescued "child witches" who claim they were severely abused or abandoned because similarly minded "pastors" accused them of causing the misfortune of their parents through occultic means. Also, many are familiar with the all to familiar story of justifying abuse metted out to house helps who also may be deemed as "witches and wizards." Unfortunately, as in the case here, reality, at times, inspires some Nollywood themes. However, Nollywood, in turn, reinforces some of these realities through films such as these. Not only does to further ruin Nigeria's fragile image, it also supports the notion that yes, some children are indeed agents of evil, bearers of evil spirits which require purging. Films such as these demonstrate the need to reign in Nollywood's negative portrayal of Nigerians.
Speaking of Nollywood, check out the NollywoodForever blog, which provides detailed reviews about the latest Nigerian and Ghanaian films. Highly recommend it. Much better than my short-lived attempt (couldn't support the habit at the time).
To even attempt to describe the political mess that has occurred over the past ten years in Anambra state is quite the feat. However, Chxta, at his blog has done so, and I commend him for it. Seriously, it reads like a very complicated drama - and I am surprised that Nollywood has not yet picked up on it yet - godfathers, rifts between brothers, dubious shrines - the whole nine.
Currently, the Anambra Court of Appeals is deciding whether to re-instate Andy Uba as governor once the Peter Obi's term expires in 2010. Leader of All Progressives Grand Alliance Party (APGA) and former military leader of Biafra, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, made headlines last week when he claimed that installation of Andy Uba as governor were grounds for the start of another civil war.
“...What we are playing out [in Anambra] is not anything short of playing with the possibilities of another civil war.Over the past few days, several have debated whether Ojukwu's calls for justice on behalf of Anambrarians are in essence, calls for another civil war - an invitation for chaos. More than 30 years post-1967, the unsavoury memories of the Nigerian civil war still remain ingrained in the psyche of a number of Igbo who survived the conflict and whose lives remain forever changed by memories of forced conscription, air raids, and starvation. Members of the opposing party and others have strongly condemned Ojukwu's comments and some, not necessarily associated with PDP, have even gone as far as stating that Ojukwu himself, poses a national security threat.
I make no apologies about this; the Anambra people are looking unto me, and I am sure most of them have already decided that if we have to fight again, I will be Commander-in-Chief. So, I want to make it clear today I am before you and I am begging. Please I am begging, not drag us into another civil war.
“I make it quite clear that whatever we are playing with we must know the full consequences of it. The full consequences are that we are stepping with our eyes wide open into another bloody conflict. I will not sit around and allow Anambra State to be used as a balloon ball for children to kick around. No. We have our rights. We are a people. I will certainly, to the end, support justice for Anambra State.” (emphasis, mine)
Critics of Ojukwu's critics maintain that Ojukwu's comments were largely taken out of context, claiming that Ojukwu merely stated that decisions taken by the court could potentially destabilise that state. And of course, across Nigerian or Igbo messages boards, requests for Ojukwu's canonisation as the Igbo patron saint have been registered.
While Ojukwu's comments were somewhat misunderstood by the mass media (see bolded portions above), I still question his motives. He did clearly state that if Anambra found itself in such a civil war, he would position himself as the people's "commander-in-chief." Reactions to Ojukwu's careless statements have surprised me a bit, for I was not aware that he still commanded such respect and loyalty from the masses (or perhaps, this is an Anambra thing?). Personally, I am of the opinion that Ojukwu has long expired his usefulness and that his latest rants thinly disguise his selfish desire for some relevance in modern Igbo politics. Also, let us remember that beyond the Biafran war, this is not Ojukwu's first time he has called for popular uprisings on the part of the Igbos. During his failed bid for presidency of Nigeria, in 2007, he ironically states that Igbos will only be fulfilled if there were allowed to live a "separate existence."
Ambitions aside, Ojukwu's recent penchant for civil wars and separate existences reflective of larger trend that has been embraced by several parties, organisations and ethinic groups within Nigeria. When dissatisfied with due process or the rule of law (both of which are have largely been corrupted), the alternative presented to Nigerians is anarchy and chaos. Nigeria's fledgling democracy and tenous stability is oftentimes the target and unfortunate victim of, at times, well-meaning parties. The crisis in the Niger Delta is case-in-point and I would even venture to say that the recent, though resolved, stalement between univerisity unions and the Nigerian government served as a destabilising force within the nation. Ojukwu, Niger Delta militants, unions - all find themselves resorting to methods which put the people they claim to serve at a disadvantage. True change will only come to Nigeria when ordinary citizens are able to effectively petition their government in the face of grave injustices.
Earlier this year, Minister of Health, Babatunde Osotimehinin, in response to the decades-old "brain drain" of the continent's healthworkers, urged developed nations to invest in African medical schools and facilities. His request, is largely based on the belief that the continent's pervasive health woes are linked to the emigration of its health professionals. The draining of Africa's intellectual capital has also been witnessed in other fields as well, including business and academia. Current opinion holds that the flight professionals and academics to western shores is a destabilising force in developing nations. While developing nations invest resources into the training of its professionals, developed nations are poised to reap the benefits of such harvests.
Lately, several have begun to challenge such notions. Emeka Okafor, of Africa Unchained, asks if the brain drain might have some beneficial outcomes in the form of flow of capital through remittances, collaborations between foreign-based Africans and institution in their home countries, etc. Interestingly enough, some who aim to fight the continent's brain drain have been, at some point, primary beneficiaries of this phenomenon.
Within the arena of healthcare, the premise that brain drain of health workers equals poor health outcomes, is a a notion that also requires re-examination. Within the Nigerian context (anecdotal evidence alert!!!), I have met recent medical school grads who seek employment in more lucrative alternative fields. While noble, the pursuit of a career in medicine oftentimes fails to support its heroes. Beyond this, the success of a nation's health system depends on far much more than its healthcare workers.
Over the weekend, Foreign Policy, debunked a number of myths associated with the emigration of healthcare workers (an by extension, other professionals) to western countries. An argument I found of particular interest was that against the idea that developing nations waste resources on healthcare professionals who emigrate to western countries.
"The belief that skilled emigrants must cause public losses in the amount of their training cost is based on a series of stereotypes. First, large numbers of skilled emigrants are funded by themselves or by foreign scholarships. A survey of African-born members of the American Medical Association conducted by one of the authors found that about half of them acquired their medical training outside their country of birth. Second, many skilled emigrants serve the countries they come from for long periods before departure. The same survey found that African physicians in the United States and Canada who were trained in their country of birth spent, on average, over five years working in that country prior to emigration. This constitutes a substantial return on all investment in their training."
In my latest NigeriansTalk.org post (yes, I'm blogging by proxy), I argue that the fact that we have a motive for the death of Grace Ushang, but no perpetrator, fosters the idea that Ushang is somehow a player in her own demise. Grace Ushang, may her soul rest in peace, died because some sick person decided to brutally violate her. Her rape and eventual death was not committed in defense of Allah or in adherence to shar'ia law. The fault of Ushang's rape and murder lies wholly on the perverted mind of the rapist and not her khaki trousers.
The fact that there is an excuse being circulated as to why Ushang was attacked so ruthlessly is a glaring indictment on our nation’s view of rape and other violent acts committed against women. We all know, (minus Senator Ekaette), that the worn-out excuse of ”her trousers (skirt, blouse, what-have-you) made me do it” is a pretty pathetic explanation for anything. However, the fact that we even try to explain away such heinous crimes is orders of magnitude more pathetic. Any explanation for rape other than the rapist is, truly, a sick bastard, directly or indirectly shifts blame to the victim. If such is not the case or intention, blaming Ushang’s khakis is some twisted means by which to rationalize the brutality of the crime. Needless to say, I don’t buy into either – blaming the victim, nor tempering the barbaric nature of the crime with some careless explanation. Let’s call a spade a spade – wonton violence is wonton violence and can only be perpetuated by the vilest of the vile.When Director-Generals of NYSC call for corpers to be more "security-conscious," mothers ask their daughters to bear with it, or Senators set out to legislate lengths of skirts, there is a underlying blame-the-victim mentality that is being perpetuated. Sexual assault and domestic violence, again I reiterate, are reflective of the batterer, and not victim.
Check out my first blog interview on StandTall's blog, The Activist.
And lest I forget, Happy Birthday Nigeria...49 years and many more to come. Let's hope that by 50, we'll be lit up (#lightupnigeria).
Just found out about the new PBS documentary, Bronx Princess from CLUTCH Magazine Online. You can watch the film in its entirety here.
Had to share this one, it is a short piece chronicling the coming-of-age story of 18-year-old Rocky Otoo, who finds she must negotiate between her American upbringing and Ghanaian heritage. The film follows her from the Bronx to her father's palace in Ghana. Below is the description from the website and Youtube trailer:
Rocky Otoo is the Bronx-bred teenage daughter of Ghanaian parents, and she's no pushover. She is a sassy high-achiever bound for college. With freedom in sight, Rocky rebels against her mother's rules. When their relationship reaches a breaking point, Rocky flees to her father, a chief in Ghana. What follows is captured in Bronx Princess, a tumultuous coming-of-age story set in a homeland both familiar and strange. Her precocious — and very American — ideas of a successful, independent life conflict with her father's traditional African values. Reconciling her dual legacies becomes an unexpected chapter in this unforgettable young woman's education. A co-production with the Independent Television Service (ITVS).
Recently found this letter to INEC (Independent National Election Committee), written by Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative, 'Gbenga Sesan. Voices some of the frustrations I have with the commission. If there is task that Nigeria should confront immediately, as in tommorow, it would be the sacking of Professor Maurice Iwu, the illegally appointed INEC chairman. You may remember him from 2007 when he ochestrated the last err...elections that brought him to Yar'adua to the throne. He then had the audacity to suggest, following the Obama election, that America should learn from his handling of the Nigerian election.
Aspiring 2011 candidates should come together with like-minded organisations to speak on behalf of themselves and people against the continuation of Iwu's term. INEC cannot even begin to claim independence while working in concert with Iwu's scheming. Nigeria will never be able to enjoy the fruits of a free and fair election while Iwuruwuru electioneering remains alive and well.
yesterday, i posted a blog review on the response to the District 9 film on the NigeriansTalk.org blog. I have previously expressed my disgust towards the film. Over the weekend, Minister of Information, Dora Akunyili, finally registered her own disdain towards the film. As much I stand in support of her stern condemnation of the film, I do not, however agree with her proposal (or is is already in effect?) to ban the film from showing in Nigerian movie houses.
If we continue to censor such images, how can we, as bloggers and as a nation, counter such offensive portrayals. It is largely through our ability to access such information that ordinary Nigerian citizens can assist in Akunyili’s rebranding project. The Nigerian government’s willingness to take on District 9, should also be seen as a victory to the many Nigerian bloggers who took offense to this film. One would hope that Akunyili’s mission is not one of censorship which gives birth to misinformation and impedes upon the progress Nigerians have made and continue to make in the blogosphere. Such would be counter-intuitive to the goals of promoting Good People and creating a Great Nation.Olumide at his blog, highlights a double standard that may be in existence here. While we openly condemn negative portrayals of Nigerians in the foriegn media, some of our own filmmakers, for years, have made their living of depictions of our people in similar circumstances. Nollywood, though it is slowly changing, could have credited its foundations to rubbishing the image of its own people.*** Similarities between early Nollywood pictures and blaxploitation films in America can be found. Will think on this more in a follow-up post.
***Of course, I need to add the caveat that this is not all of Nollywood. Additionally, I must add that Nollywood features examples in which our dirty laundry needs to be aired in public, such as in the film Edikan (re the child witch phenomenon).
Despite the enmity between South Africa and Nigeria (as evidenced by last year's riots and the reactions to the recent District 9 movie), both countries seem to have a lot in common.
One of which is their intense desire to squelch the growing tide of crime within their borders. Understandable, seeing that South Africa has one of the highest homicide rates in the world and Nigeria can just about take the blame for everything that is wrong and morally amiss in this world we live in....(sarcasm folks, sarcasm). Last month, recently minted Nigerian Inspector General of Police, Ogbonna Onovo lobbied for increased powers to be lent to his police force on the occasion of the 2011 elections. Amongst other things, Onovo requested that police officers be allowed to open fire at those brandishing weapons at polling stations and the ability to arrest those who "commit electoral offenses."
Onovo's South African counterpart, Bheki Cele, recently made a similar "shoot-to-kill" request to members of the country's parliament in anticipation of the upcoming World Cup festivities.
Sadly, in both cases, Nigerians will end up the indirect targets of both proposed moves. The fear that exists in the minds of many is that Onovo's proposal could be utilized by political parties who could initimidate opponents through local police forces. This has already been well documented in my home state during the Bakassi era. Though such has been demonstrated with vigilante groups, the potential buying and selling of local police force loyalties is not teribly far-fetched.
Also, considering the xenophobic sentiments that mar the South African landscape, the targetting of Nigerian citizens through Cele's proposal, is not at all inconceivable. Several of the riots we all witnessed last year in South African slums were largely directed towards Nigerian immigrants who are believed to be at the root of the majority of crimes committed. With such stereotypes pervasive amongst some white and black South Africans alike, it remains possible that under the guise of maintaining peace, the lives of Nigerians in South Africa may indeed by sacrificed.
for those interested in reaching a broader Nigerian audience within the blogosphere, this is for you...
NigeriansTalk.org serves as a one-stop site for those interested in Nigeria through the lens of its large community of bloggers. We feature regular feeds, articles, and reviews of posts written by bloggers of Nigerian extraction, bloggers living in Nigeria, and bloggers who blog about Nigeria. NigeriansTalk.org seeks to cover the wide spectrum of perspectives on various social, political, and personal issues - issues that affect Nigerians at home and abroad. We hope that through our collective voices, we will document and bring about the future we seek for our country.
Though we openly accept submissions from anyone who writes generally about Nigerian affairs, we, at NigeriansTalk.org, are actively seeking regular contributors for the following categories:
For more information, click here
Various media outlets have been a-buzz as of late with regards to the Maureen Dowd's New York Times Op-Ed piece published this past weekend. She dared to pen what many in the black and white community have long whispered in hushed conversations and discussed around private family dining tables. The recent backlash against the Obama administration goes beyond fears of big government and Wall Street bailouts. It is inextricably entrenched in racism.
It has been apparent since Obama first declared his interest in the presidency that fringe conservative groups have expressed their displeasure with the prospects of black presidency. However, when we all held hands that January morning, singing Kumbaaya to in honor of the the Obama inauguration, many thought race relations in the United States had turned for the better. Apparently not, for matters have only gone worse for all the world to behold.
Under the guise of rejecting health care reform (I mean, honestly folks, why are vast numbers of "working stiffs" in support of health execs in the first place....) and protecting kids from Obama's stay-in-school propaganda, reaks the stench of racism. With statements such as, "I'm taking back my country," and war cries reminiscent of our secessionist past, it is hard to imagine that so-called activists gathered at the US Capitol this weekend were indeed color-blind. Posters such as that to the right, only serves to confirms this.
The latest slate of events proves that the myth of a post-racial America can, for now, be laid to rest. Several in the media and elsewhere, have literally spent the last few months walking on egg-shells so as to avoid the accusation of pulling out the "race card." I honestly believe that the majority of Americans do not subscribe to such beliefs. However, the existence of such radicals who bear signs stating, "We came unarmed, this time," proves that marginalized groups in America must still remain on alert.
Oil, diamonds, cocoa - na old tory....these days its all about the acreage - in farmland, that is.
The Integrated Regional Information Network of the United Nations reports that Norwegian-based company, Biofuel Africa Limited, is responsible for the forced displacement of Northern Ghanaian farmers and their families. No longer used for subsistence farming, work on the over-20,000 acres of formerly Ghanaian land has now shifted towards the harvesting of the Jatropha carcus seed. Extract of the seed is then used for the sole purpose of biofuels generation...and nothing else. While the company purports that they have offered such displaced persons better alternatives to their former lands, the majority of the farmers have yet to receive the fruits of the said negotiations. Report from local activist on discussions between community members and the Norwegian company can be found here.
The post-colonial scramble for African farmland is not a new one. Countries such as Saudi Arabia and Korea have long purchased African farmland for the purpose of feeding their growing populations: see here and here. For a continent marred by food insecurity, the idea of arable land for sale to the highest foreign bidder is quite unthinkable. Though, it has all the trappings of the conventional pre-colonial story - abundant natural resources, wuru wuru deals with supposed village heads, weak national land acquisitions policies.
interesting conversation about the recent science-fiction film, District 9, can be found at Nnedi's blog here.
Just saw the movie last night and was horrified at its depiction of Nigerians, to say the least. Yes, I am used to slandering of the Nigerian brand and usually, I try to not let it bother me. However, after the horrific events that took place in South Africa in May of last year, I could not stomach the positive reviews of District 9. Last year, South Africa declared war on its immigrants, particularly Nigerians, who were deemed as the culprit for the plight of black South Africans (apparently, apartheid can take a back seat on this one....). During the month of May we were bombarded with images of the slaughter, burning, destruction of our fellow Nigerians and other Africans caught in the mayhem. District 9, for me, only served to legitimize such violence against the savage Nigerians, since in the words of the director, the tiny fraction of Nigerians living in South Africa, are indeed responsible for the MAJORITY of crime in a country that has been touted to have one of the highest homicide rates in the world...
Unfortunately, as one commenter posted on her blog, it is relatively easy to take shots at Nigerians seeing that we would not be able to come up with a concerted rebuttal or make a dent in their pockets. Previously, I have taken the Nigerian re-branding project lightly; however, scenarios such as what I have described seem to necessitate a serious look at the dangers, the baggage inherent in the mere mention of the words Nigeria, Nigerian. Rather than waste time on useless logos and mantras of "Good People, Great Nation" (or whatever they are using these days), efforts should go towards countering such portrayals of our people at home and abroad.
Note this is largely a "re-post" (like a re-tweet) from the latest of the MIMI Magazine blog.
the question most new, first-and-otherwise generation Africans/Caribbeans in America grapple with on several occasion. Documentary, the Neo African Americans seeks to debate the answers. Trailer and website can be found here.
Posted on this issue some time ago and the comments section generated some interesting debate.
the measure of blackness
race before gender, gender before race
Beyond that, there are other Nigerian bloggers to tackle the meaning of being black and foreign in the United States. (Okay admittedly, I was only able to find one other blogger, but if you know of other similar discussion threads, let me know.
Unfortunately, time won't allow me to pay much attention to the much anticipated Hillary Clinton visit to the continent. On what is to be considered her biggest overseas mission to date, Mrs. Clinton started her seven-nation Africa trip in Kenya, which was then followed then by South Africa, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, today, and then Liberia and Cape Verde. As for the Nigeria trip, I will try and stay in tune with the blogosphere's reaction to her visit. So far I know know of that of NigerianCuriosity, who highlighted that Clinton's failure to meet with Nigerian "non-officials" does nothing support those largely responsible for most reforms we see in the country.****
Yesterday, a few news media outlets seemed to temporarily forget the incessant Michael Jackson death probe and highlight Mrs. Clinton's almost desperate desire to distinguish herself from her larger-than-life husband. Details found here. Anyway, personally, I could care less of her inability to stifle her insecurities - even on the public stage - and continued commitments to aid and SA-authored Zimbabwean hand-holding are so tired. What really caught my attention was her response, noted at the end of the article, to a question about the West and an apology for what is considered to be one of the most bloodiest colonial histories - that of Congo (I would recommend King Leopold's Ghost as a pretty good primer or for the moving-picture inclined, I hear the documentary, White King, Red Rubber, Black Death, is another good start.)
"...another student had asked if the U.S. and the West felt a need to apologize to the people of Congo for colonialism and postcolonial interference.
That brought a pointed rebuttal as well.
"I cannot excuse the past and I will not try," [Clinton] said. "We can either think about the past and be imprisoned by it or we can decide we're going to have a better future and work to make it."
It seems like Clinton is toeing the line of her boss, Barack Obama, who in his last visit to Africa, nearly absolved the West of its hand in Africa's problems. In relegating colonialism as a non-issue, she indirectly minimises its horrors and denies its influence on present day affairs. Yes, we should focus on moving forward, but like I have mentioned time and time again, we cannot move forward without acknowledging the mistakes of the past. Clinton and Obama refuse to acknowledge such mistakes; and through their position, they encourage the world to follow suit. To ignore the West's assault on the Congolese pre-independence, to me is more than a "glaring omission" (yes, I borrowed the term from NigerianCuriosity), it's grossly insensitive on the part of the American Secretary of State. In fact, I would almost liken it to those who continue minimise the travesty of the Holocaust. True, Hillary,or anyone in the Obama administration, has nothing to do with Congo's past....but some modicum of sympathy would at least nudge the Secretary of State to acknowledge the brutality that was meted out to the nation's citizens.
****Just learned that Clinton will be holding a town-meeting with (American Embassy selected) Nigerian NGOs. Can't wait to hear what comes out of it.
As some of you may already know, I am a huge Nollywood fan and have been in the business of collecting and watching these films since time immemorial... If you don't know, any time you see the name "Isong" attached to a film, expect a well-produced film. Time and time again, I have been simply dazzled by Emem Isong films.
Just as of today, I learned of another Isong in the film industry, Uduak Isong Oguamanam, the mind behind the blog, Artsville. With Desmond Elliot as director, she and Emem Isong co-produced the "nocumentary,***" Edikan, a film highlighting the ills of the "child witch" phenomenon in Akwa Ibom. The film premieres Friday, July 17th at Terra Culture by 5:30pm. The film "attempts to enlighten the parents of affected children who are themselves victims of the greed and wickedness of some fake pastors. ..." I can't imagine that the film will be anything less than amazing and kudos to the director and producers for highlighting such an important issue in a format that I am sure is accessible to the Nigerian audience. Hoping that the film will soon cross the Atlantic for my...I mean, our...viewing as well...(hint, hint...).
Below is a youtube preview of the film (Uduak, hope you don't mind)...
***Nocumentary = Nollywood meets documentary
I have been following the Akwa Ibom child witch phenomenon for some time now. unfortunately the only time i mentioned their plight on this blog was in reference to Maduekwe's incredible denial of their existence. For more information and the organization that seeks to protect our society's most vulnerable members, Child's Right and Rehabilitation Network (CRARN), I would check out the following posts from members of the Nigerian blogosphere...
naijablog - has been following the story since 2007
bellanaija - her personal take on the situation
Nigerian Health Watch - a more recent piece on the CRARN attacks
Fortunately, the children of CRARN are taking matters into their own hands, peacefully, and protesting police brutality against the children and staff members. See the article here. Inspiring. However, I went to the comments and found that one particular fellow seemed to deny the existence of maltreatment of these children. Of course I reacted (hopefully 234NEXT will publish my comments soon). However, I began to wonder, beyond Maduekwe, how widespread is this attempt on the part of Nigerians to close their eyes to the horrible "child witch" phenomenon in Akwa Ibom? I have talked primarily to my fellow Naijamericans here who do believe that such is happening and needs to be addressed promptly (however, I have noted that many have used it as a platform to rehash their horrid stereotypes about the perceived backward-ness of some ethnic groups in the South-South - to which I whole-heartedly disagree with....).
Anyway, it may be my naivete....but how and why would someone read about the plight of these innocents and then figure that such news is not real? Am I missing something?
Like the rest of you, I so much looked forward to Obama's first visit to sub-Saharan Africa since his inauguration. As much as I secretly envied Ghana for getting first dibs at the international superstar, I couldn't help but share in their excitement. Were it not for poverty, I so would have been there.
In the excitement, I, admittedly, may have fallen into the trap of expecting a "miracle speech," as Akin puts it. Of course, it was not. But I believe I have sobered up a bit and realized the folly of my ways. However, lingering disappointments still remain.
The crux of Obama's message to the continent was that in essence Africa needs to shape up or shape out. According to the American president, several of Africa's modern day woes are largely due to its own mismanagement of its governance. He cursory acknowledged the role of colonialism, but largely placed blames on despotic regimes and leaders. By declaring such, Obama has opened a whole new debate on Africa - how we got here and where we are going. Obama has voiced the opinion of many in the West who, because of the overwhelming sense of "white guilt," would not dare voice such criticisms of Africa.
Yes, I do agree that Africa has on many an ocassion shot itself in the foot - perhaps one too many times. However, I find that Obama's speech was tantamount to absolving Western powers of their past and current role in the failure of several African states. Unfortunately, the privilege of having "African blood run through his veins," has provided additional fodder for Westerners to point all five fingers at the African continent. If the most powerful black leader in the world agrees that Africa is to blame for Africa, then who is the West, to counteract such.
In addition, Obama chooses Ghana as an example of Africans finally deciding to choose democracy over autocracy. In essence, Obama concludes, if Ghana can do it - there is no reason why other African nations cannot follow suit. it goes without saying that it is an impossible exercise to extrapolate the results of one African state's efforts at nation-building to another (different colonial histories, sociopolitical climates, etc). However, as I always say, echi di ime - tomorrow is pregnant - no one knows what tomorrow will bring. A few years ago, Obama could have chosen Ivory Coast or even his paternal home of Kenyan as that great democratic hope we should all aspire to (Please, I am not wishing ill to my brethren in Ghana - just merely stating a fact of life). I don't think there exists an African country in which its populace would rather choose chaos over stable and peacful governance that is responsible to it citizens. However, to ignore or rather deny the role of colonialism, followed by our independence which was not truly independent, serves to demonize a people in the eyes of a world that is already showing signs of wanting to give up on our continent. Like I mentioned in a comment on SSD's piece on the Obama speech, it is funny how Obama is willing to support affirmative action in the US, but does not recognize the need to equalize the playing field between Africa and a world that has spurned her. It is almost as if Obama looks at his ascendancy to to the American presidency as a self-made effort, and cannot imagine why other Africans cannot excel as he or his goat-herder-father-turned-graduate did.
Personally, I think Obama's message did further damage to the continent's PR campaign. I think I have said this before in my blog (or possibly in conversation), we cannot move forward without a thorough analysis of what brought us here to our current predicament in the first place. A man who does not know when the rain began to beat him, will truly remain lost***
I am tired of Bush-esque 15minute speeches sympathizing about the plight of the hapless Africans, and now growing tired of Obama-esque, "it is not our (the West) fault," lectures.
***Borrowed this from an Igbo proverb, which states "a man who does not know when the rain began to beat him, will not know where he dried his body."
seems like everyone has been talking about Yar'adua's offer of amnesty (...white flag of surrender, perhaps?...) to Niger Delta combatants (freedom fighters, thugs, what-have-you).
all well and good...
now, maybe he can focus on the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of ordinary Nigerians anxiously awaiting trial in the hell holes known as the Nigerian prison system.
sorry, couldn't let this one slide. And thanks to all those who have commented in the past and asked after me. Will get to your emails soon. As to whether I have returned to the blogosphere...we'll see what is in store for the future.
well, i've been meaning to blog about two recent discoveries that I have been all over as of recent. I couldn't choose between the two, so i decided to post both here.
Celebrating Ndi-Igbo: Acclaiming People of Igbo Descent
I am so on this blog...literally a daily post on big things members of the Igbo Diaspora have accomplished both past and present. Kudos to Ababoy for this initiative.
This guy has been in my head for the longest ever since I picked up his 2009 CD, Troubadour. I thought this CD was incredible, with tracks like Wavin' Flag and Take a Minute, until I checked out his earlier CD, The Dusty Foot Philosopher - a more reflective, somber version of K'Naan.
Excited about Mogadishu and Ndi Igbo.....but as for what I am not excited about....
my zune which decided to die on me like a month after i got it....i guess it's back to Apple (i tried, Bill Gates, i tried....)
just came back from vacation and realized that new england did not receive the memo that spring started days ago....well that is by the way.
while on vacation, a friend pointed me to idols west africa clips on youtube (since youtube, these days, seems to be my main source of free entertainment). these clips are most likely quite old (wikipedia says the show aired two years ago)....but as usual, I am late with everything. i apologize for those who have already laid this show to rest.
amongst these clips was one of a fela kuti imitator who shows up to audition in his undies (pants, tighty whities, briefs, what-have-you). i admit, i laughed hysterically at the clip....
however, i found the comments by judge dede mabiaku to be more than aggravating. about 50seconds into the clip, dede asks the contestant if he had ever seen fela on stage dressed similarly. the contestant answers yes - only to be rebutted by dede accusation that he, the contestant - is a liar. dede later goes on to express how the fela's memory is being insulted by this guy's penchant to appear before the camera in his underpants.
well, dede, apparently, you are not aware that imitation is the the best form of flattery. while dede feigns appreciation toward the legend that was fela, he forgets that fela "death is in his pocket"** kuti was known to dress similarly on stage.
many commenters on that youtube clip expressed their outrage at dede's denigration of the poor guy - outrage that is justifiable. but what i find more aggravating is dede's blatant ignorance of a man he claims to worship. a nigerian man dede's age, especially one judging a musical contest should be at least half-way competent enough to know that fela kuti was on different wavelength from the rest of the country in mannerisms, politics, and music. in fact when dede says that the contestant is on some wrong pills, i couldn't help but think of how dede would have responded if the contestant rolled up into the auditions smoking a marijuana joint in keeping with the fela imitation.
in a show about west african music, none of the judges knew fela kuti (or maybe they confused him with someone else - femi, perhaps?). and i have a feeling that alot of nigerians and lovers of nigerian music (me, included) are quick to idolize fela without really knowing what he was about. when people mention great african musicians, fela is one of the first to come to mind. to think otherwise would be blasphemy. in fact, when i was a bit younger, i was absolutely shocked when i found that my father, who's taste in music i respect, expressed his revulsion at fela kuti. initially i found this unforgiveable - but later realised that my dad's preference was an informed one. he did not care much for his politics and found his lifestyle undesirable.
this post is in no way meant to be a bash on fela kuti. rather, i personally wanted ask us why we respect the fela kutis of the world who have long passed on. i cant help but think that if such people lived amongst us today, they would most likely be shunned by many of the likes of dede and i. our idolatry is, at times, misguided.
**learned from a good source....(cough...atupa....cough) that anikulapo means death is in his pocket....most likely an allusion to his HIV/AIDS diagnosis
oh, in regards to the picture above...i do not endorse smoking of any kind - particularly of joints nearly as large as my arm...
just found out through loomnie that the famed Igbo historian, Professor Adiele Afigbo, died this morning. when one iroko tree falls, it is big news....but now it seems that of late several of our great ones are dying. just yesterday i twittered (yes, i twitter now) on how i had celestine ukwu on repeat and just this afternoon while driving, i cried as i listened to the old school highlife my dad and I used to dance to on saturday mornings. Egwu ndi a enweghi atu....works that can never be duplicated.....Achebe, Nwapa, Okigbo, Igwe, Egbuna, Isichei....were names that regularly graced our shelves. Most are aging and some are no more. I'd hate to get off tangent, but I sometimes wonder the kind of cultural legacy I will one day find myself passing down to my own children.***
Afigbo is a native of Okigwe, not too far away from my maternal home. He remains one of Igboland's most noted historians having authored several books on the history of southeastern Nigeria. His "Ropes of Sand," (a gift I received some years back from a good family friend), was probably my first formal introduction to Igbo history and origins. I remember only reading an excerpt of his other earlier work "The Warrant Chiefs: Indirect Rule in Southeastern Nigeria," during one of my many moments of procrastination. I have yet to read some of his later works, but hope to do so when chanced.
Professor Afigbo will be missed.
*** just to qualify this, i do believe that nigeria currently finds itself in somewhat of a cultural renaissance with some of the newer works that are coming out. i guess my comment here is more a reflection of wondering whether I, personally, would be able to share that culture with my children as effectively as my parents did. I look at my shelves and all i see are textbooks - "Bate's Guide to Physical Examination and History Taking" is not much of a literary legacy to pass down...sigh...
nigerians are talking....all the time. and i'm not just talking (haha) about everyday conversation or mindless chatter (like that of our esteemed parrot of the House, Patrick Obahiagbon). rather, the Nigerian blogosphere is blowing up and new bloggers are being added to our ranks daily.
in honor of Nigerian bloggers and to promote both veterans and newbies, Loomnie and I started NigeriansTalk.com
NigeriansTalk.com is basically like a blog-round up for, about and by Nigerians. Every Monday, starting next week, we will post a review of the hottest news from bloggers such as yourself (and ehemm, myself)...on occasion we'll have blogging tips, interviews with famed nigerian bloggers (cough...SSD...cough) and other really interesting things - once we think of them.
so when you are chanced, check out the website...and if you are interested in becoming a reviewer....even better...
A bit about NigeriansTalk.com (sorry could not figure out how to do that block quote thing that loomnie had on his site...but anyway...):
NigeriansTalk is a weekly review of posts written by bloggers of Nigerian extraction, bloggers living in Nigeria and bloggers who blog about Nigeria. NigeriansTalk seeks to cover the wide spectrum of perspectives on various social, political, and personal issues, issues that affect Nigerians at home and abroad. We hope that through our collective voices, we will bring about the future we seek for our country.
now back to our regularly scheduled program...
but the conversation around slumdog millionaire has been so interesting thus far. would like to forward you to obla yoo's blog who is of a differing opinion than mine. I love a good debate, especially amongst friends.
as i was responding to the various comments, i remembered Uzodinma Iweala's Washington Post article entitled, "Stop Trying to 'Save' Africa" (which is funny because I totally forgot that he wrote Beasts of No Nation, which on ther surface, would seem like a "Save Africa" book....will read it eventually I see if this is true or not). His article was in part response to the flagrantly annoying "I AM AFRICAN" campaign, which to this day, still makes my skin crawl....ergghhh (see this for an interesting pic responding back to this nonsense)
Personally, as much as I enjoy films about countries other than the US, I sometimes feel that amongst some Westerners, such films are so one-sided that it gives them the idea that all Indians are like this or that all Africans (regardless of nationality) wear various colours on faces for no apparent reason, on the regular.
This is Africa, folks, this is AFRRRRRICAAA (shouts Nneoma, raising her face to the sky which hangs peacefully over the Serengheti, as scantily-clad tribal natives sing the songs of the ancients in concert with the rhythmic bleating of wild chimpanzees....oh and by the way, this, this and this goes to prove that it is indeed Westerners who live one on one with the chimpanzees, not us...lol)
My apologies for bringing up an older topic and making matters worse by referencing an article from two years ago....will bring fresh content soon...i think.
recent winner of four Golden Globes and several other cinematic accolades, Slumdog Millionaire, apparently has been facing much criticism and protest by Indians and related social activists. the new york times digs deep to discover the roots of this backlash by seeking the opinions of Indian intellectuals. Their comments, that that of the NYTimes readers, are quite interesting. I have yet to see the film (admittedly, I live under a rock), but I can't help but empathise with those who may find this film as "poverty porn," much like several depictions of "African" everyday life by the West....the "experts," however, seem to diasgree...
update january 2010: last year I did manage to watch the film (thank you HBO OnDemand). And by the end of the film, I *almost* cried...I'm a sucker for romance...sue me.
Few months ago, the world was abuzz with the outing of the heinous crimes occurring against mere children deemed as witches in Akwa Ibom. For more on this subject click here. I think it was generally agreed upon that driving nails through the skulls of adolescents and young people in efforts to rid them of the devil is not the most humane route.
Fortunately, Akwa Ibom, after much international and local uproar took a stand against such acts and prosecuted perpetrators of such acts. Strangely enough, we did not hear from the federal government until now.
Our good friend failed-Transportation-minister-turned-foriegn-affairs-minister finally provided the world with the Nigerian government's reaction to the plight of these children. These children, who suffered very tangible physical and psychological bruises from their ordeals, were PAID, yes paid to admit they were tortured, reports NEXT from the Universal Periodical Review session on Nigeria. From a previous post and comments I have made on other blogs, I am sure you can tell that I am not his biggest fan (and that horrendous striped Kangol cap doesn't help matters either). However, this latest admission trumps all - it reflects his blatant disregard for the basic human rights of communities less-privileged than those he may find himself in. His statement is analogous to blaming the rape vicitm for his/her rape or rather denying those very real events. It is because of people like Chief Ojo Maduekwe, "O Gbu Umuntakiri I" of Nigeria that victims remain victims.
Under normal circumstances, Yar'adua should have him sacked as the spokesperson of Nigeria to the outside world....but then again, the case of Nigeria is not a normal circumstance.
i have apparently been living under a rock (aka the United States) since it is only recently that I heard of the great Dr. Louis Obyo Obyo Nelson, who has been touted to have found a "cure" for diabetes.
last week, several Nigerian newspapers, including ThisDay, celebrated Nelson as a home-grown national hero, relishing the idea that something good has finally come out of Nigeria. Recently appointed Minister of State in the Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Aliyu Idi Hong echoes such sentiments by describing Nelsons' "medicament" as historical....one would think Obama was being elected all over again considering the excitement that has been generated over the past few days.
why this news bothers me....let me count the ways....or rather let me start with the positives. In light of a piece I wrote some time back for mimimagazine about the growing, yet silent, dangers of chronic disease amongst Nigerians, I am quite elated that a discussion of diabetes has taken a prominent place in national headlines. The World Health Organization predicts that in Nigeria, mortality due to infectious disease, maternal/perinatal conditions AND nutritional deficiencies are expected to decline by 6% by 2015. However, in that same period, deaths due to diabetes and related conditions are expected to increase by 52% (please check my numbers, i just lifted this from and old assignment). I expect that this is largely due to the fact that we hardly talk about chronic disease on a national scale in Nigeria - or in developing nations in general....and when we do - its a whole lot of misinformation. But at least, diabetes is getting some shine time.
and speaking of misinformation, this brings me to my dear Dr. Nelson. from some work I did in the East sometime ago, I made the crude observation that many talk about chronic diseases, such as diabetes, as a condition to be cured. I guess the infectious disease model of you have an infection which requires a drug to rid the body of that foreign body is being applied to diabetes as well. I have encountered several Nigerian patients, family and friends who have either sought a cure for their diabetes or claimed to have been cured - medically, spiritually, or otherwise. Such thinking, my friends, is dangerous. This is because, in thinking that they are cured, diabetics abandon needed treatment/monitoring to keep their ever-fluctuating blood sugar levels under control. So when Nelson talks of a cure for diabetes, not only am I highly suspicious, but also, I am greatly concerned at the message he and his unofficial advertisers (Dr. Aliyu Idi Hong) are sending to folks. Now if Nelson's medicament (you can tell I am totally digging this my new word, medicament...) could manage diabetes....then all well and good.
several people have cited that the credibility of Nelson's claim lies in the fact that he's getting an almighty US patent and is working in conjunction with GDPAU - which I found out is a school of Ayurvedic medicine in New Jersey of all places (thanks google). Honestly people, I could scrape dandruff off my weave, bottle it, medicament-ize it and submit it for a US Patent - as long as someone has not done it before. I just hope that ordinary Nigerians are not the ones to suffer from some wuru wuru clinical trial remiscent of my other good friend, Pfizer.
oops....i lied....apparently Nigerians are indeed the guinea pigs of Nelson's drug.....forgot to read the rest of the ThisDay article....its really late....
now, you may have noticed that the title of this post mentioned erectile dysfunction....well, not only was it a carefully crafted ploy to get more hits on my blog....Nelson has also claimed that a side effect of this drug includes improved sexual function. Considering that erectile dysfunction and diabetes almost go hand-in-hand for men, I would be quite impressed with any drug that addresses both diabetes and prior vascular damage caused by diabetes that leads to erectile dysfunction....and that's about all I have to say about erectile dysfunction and related medicaments.
by the way, I am very pro-alternative and complementary medicine....its just that at the same token, i am anti-misinformation....
so Nigeria and Ghana have recently added some new bloggers to their ranks, who happen to be good friends of mine. Please, when you can, check out the random, yet relevant, thoughts of a gal and the Lamp, or Atupa,when you are chanced.
my dears, two new stars have been born....
apparently, mosquitoes are not just for the poor anymore (or those unfortunate souls caught in Connecticut boonies during the summer....ehem....like me).
Bill Gates, speaking at the TED2009 conference, desired to make this plain to his audience by releasing 150 (who counted?) malaria free, though hungry, mosquitoes on his audience.
The stunt is cute, but what is even better is his commitment towards funding efforts to find a malaria vaccine to prevent related deaths in the future. For more on the "ideas worth spreading" being discussed at TED, check out their website for streaming coverage (and links to live bloggers at the conference).
thanks mommy for the link...
of which I am guilty of.....check Grandiose Parlour's post, "Nigeria: Can We Wiki Our Elected Officials," discussing the potential of possibility of....gasp....seriously holding our elected officials accountable for what they say and do.
wait...so i think this is the first time i realized that the Nigerian government is representing the families affected by the 1996 Pfizer meningitis trials in Kano. i blogged about this case briefly sometime back. as of Tuesday, the Nigerian government, representing these unfortunate families, has decided to settle out of court with Pfizer. hmmmm, how convenient for enlargement of federal government coffers.
why, again, is the Nigerian government representing these families (scratches head)? i am all for government helping the needs of the less fortunate, but it seems that in the interests of these familes and the Nigerian government can and probably do conflict. I am not terribly familiar with the details of this case, since such info is not being broadly distributed to the public....but it seems like a better course would have been to hold two trials (unless I am in the dark and this is what is in fact going on...). One trial would be Nigeria v. Pfizer and would give the federal government the opportunity to sue the company for operating such a drug trial without proper permission from the Nigerian government. The second would be that of the Kano families v. Pfizer in which the drug company would be charged for crimes they committed against these individuals. Let me know what you think on this one....or please share other resources on this particular issue....
justice may remain elusive for these families after being pimped by large pharma (Pfizer) and now quite possibly, their own government. well, i guess this is the end of the road for this particular case. quite unfortnately though, this is an increasing trend on the part of pharmaceuticals to test their product in developing nations. trying to get my hands on Sonia Shah's "the body hunters," which I plan to devour and share after i get thru a brutal exam next week.
in my younger brash days, I used to be among the many who saw advanced fee fraud, popularly known as 419 scams, as fitting "punishment" for westerners attempting to get rich quick from the corruption that runs relatively unchecked in Nigeria. in fact, upon receiving one of these 419 emails some years back, i replied giving the scam artist tips on how to make his emails more believable (hint, getting rid of the CBN@yahoo.com address and using sentence case rather than all caps, etc)....it was out of jest at the time....but i now find my actions regrettable. these days i have sobered some and realized that not only do these scams destroy families and their livelihoods, it has an enormous impact on the willingness of foreigners to engage in the Nigerian economy. It hurts us in the long-run moreso than we think.
anyway, i am happy that some on the receiving end of these scams are wising up and I was pleasantly entertained by this man's attempt to get the scammer at his own game....i believe making almost $200 in the process (which he says he later donated to charity). thanks BB for giving me a good laugh with this one...
....and not the world.
I personally cast my vote on November 4, 2008 in favor of Barack Obama as president of the united states. although I appreciate his mass appeal to just about everyone on this planet, i do have to come to the realization that Obama was indeed elected to look out for american interests and the welfare of its various alliances and whatnot.
american presidents have been doing this since the birth of this great union...and we can expect this trend to continue - kenyan-blooded president or not. considering the position of the united states as the rome of its day and its founding principles of committment to justice and equality for all, i have never been totally comfortable with such a self-interested view. i have mentioned this in a previous post american independence day 2008, when I came to the conclusion that in the US the life of one american seems to be far worth the life anyone else.
as i tuned into the comments of newly minted President Barack Obama on the Israeli attacks on the Gaza strip, i find that i now have to amend that previous conclusion. the life of one american and perhaps its allies trumps that of hundreds of other non-american or non-allied people. as much as i love the man, i must be very honest - the position of Barack Obama - and democrats in general - is not terribly different from past administrations such as Bush I and II. i guess Obama does admit that humanitarian assistance is needed in the Gaza strip - but that is about it. i find this very disconcerting.
Since the unrest late December, there have been a total of 13 Israeli deaths (mostly soldiers) while on the Palestinian side, the number is at 1,200, with the majority being innocent civilians. as much as i am for any country defending its borders, i think that common sense would tell us that the punishment did not fit the crime. however, in keeping with the american ideology that americans and their partners lives are worth far more than that of others, a CNN poll found that the majority of americans felt that the israeli use of force was too little or just about right...
of course i found this incredibly troubling especially after watching the account of this young man, a former middlebury college student, who lost two brothers due to this "justified" onslaught of violence against palestinians. as someone who has brothers of my own, i could not help but see myself in him and consider that quite possibly, we all are deserving of the right to life - regardless of nationality or affliation.