on being a first generation ghanaian american

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).


please...put a quick end to "iwuruwuru" now...

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.


is Akunyili taking this rebranding thing a bit too far?

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).


south africa takes a page out of Onovo's playbook

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.


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the myth of a post-racial America is laid to rest

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.


and the Scramble for Africa continues...

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.