Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Monday, December 28, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Monday, November 30, 2009
Ten minutes into the show, I was hooked and I quickly settled down to enjoy what is to be a 16 episode instalment. As an aspiring filmmaker, I noted in addition to the engaging and thoroughly executed plot, techniques that maximised the fact that it was shot on digital video and not on 35mm like the shows in the West. I could not help comparing to the offerings produced in my own country and it was very clear that ours fell short. There was something, however that stuck out like a sore thumb, rearing its head, every couple minutes or so to prevent me from really falling in love with the story.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Everyday, it is a constant battle for me to erase resentment from my heart. It is selfish to think of all things from my point of comfort as situations could be so much worse otherwise; or would they? Still, I am very much aware that certain individuals and experiences would be avoided if I was where I want to be instead of where I have to be right now.
It is still an an enviable life for some. So many would trade places at the drop of a heart; oblivious they are to the realities of the situation. Or maybe, the realities are their ideals whereas for me, they are a constant inconvenience.
I remain grateful. I remain happy. I remain confident that my time is now and continously. I remain....love
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Wei Zheng was a cabinet-level official during the imperial reign of China’s Tang Dynasty. One day, when he was about to take a nap, two low-level officials held a discussion outside his window. One official commented, “Our promotions depend on this old felloe [Wei Zheng].”
The other disagreed and said: “It is not so. The heavens decide such things.”
After over hearing this conversation, Wei Zheng decided to write a letter to the Office of Personnel Management. He asked the man who had called him an “old fellow” to deliver this letter. The man had no idea that the letter which stated “promote this individual”, was about him.
Upon leaving his administrative office building to deliver this letter, the man experienced stomach pain. Therefore, he asked his colleague, to whom he had spoken outside Wei’s window, to help deliver the letter instead.
The next day, the Office of Personnel Management made a public announcement that the man who believed in the will of the heavens would be promoted. Upon hearing this, Wei became confused and asked both men what had happened. Once he learned that the letter had been delivered by the wrong person, he sighed deeply and said “it appears to be true—even one’s career is determined by the heavens!”
When I read this on the metro today, it struck a chord in me. Like everything else I read, I applied it to scenarios that I am familiar with—thus, putting it in a Nigerian setting—and I saw so many parallels. There are so many people who feel that things that are their due are not happening to them. They expect things to fall into their laps without much effoft on their part. The average Nigerian has the consciousness where someone else is responsible for their happiness and advancement and that all they have to do is pray and all will work out or even worse, they try to cheat the system and then pray that it works out.I don't understand it. In this story, I not only see that the gain was dependent on the heavens but that the heavens rewarded the service. The second soldier performed the task and got the promotion.
The arguement can be made that the first man had no choice when he fell ill and you may be right. But his attitude was never that he would be rewarded for his work but that possibly, he had to cosy up to the old man for his promotion...that's how I saw it, anyway.
How about you?
Monday, November 09, 2009
Now, she responds to the initial email saying that she had intended to call but had been out of town and that now that he had turned this into something ugly, she wanted no more correspondence with him. The woman struck me from all her responses (written) to be calm, self assured and in control of her life and not someone to be easily bullied by an irate baby unable to deal with rejection.
1. Is he not aware that amount of money that it will cost him to fight this in court--where he will most likely loose and end up an even bigger shmuck than he is--will me much, much, much more than $50.00?
2. Like a caller into the show asked, if he so badly wanted to go on the second date, why did he not call her and ask her out?
3. Is rejection now too much to handle? What about those who could not even get a first date? This is not the first time I am seeing something like this. Granted the first time was on a TV show but it got me thinking, do some people think that people they ask out are obligated to like you or want to spend time with you?
4. Is $50.00 too much to spend on a girl? or a boy?
5. What is the protocol for naija dating?
Tell me what you think and what you heard...
Saturday, October 31, 2009
2. Moved away from my base temporarily and I am in the township that public transportation forgot. But that is only temporary because I will be back in my mojo as soon as possible. Things are already looking up.
3. Have a couple projects up my sleeve...can't wait.
4. Have to fix my template because in my quest for a new identity, me thinks I deleted some of the information and now i have to go input it once more...i don tire o
5. So what have you all been up to?
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
His face would have been contorted like with a pain and he would have clutched at her hair as his body jerked involuntarily. I don't know what she would have looked like and that was a blessing. I was sickened as it was. Somehow, I turned around slowly and made my way silently downstairs. They had not seen me. Their whispers and giggles echoed through the quiet house and through my already tired brain. I was immediately greatful that my mother had decided to take her grandsons with her for evening service. They adored her and she fawned over them. Her over indulgence had always irked me but at that moment, I was never more greatful for the fact that my son had not come home with me because had that been the case, I would have asked him to climb the stairs to get me my scarf.
I sank slowly into the couch and held my head in my hands. My marriage was over. I would never forgive this. I don't care what other people say. I was never built to share. What was more crippling was that I was not even angry that they were in bed together, just that I had seen them and that vision had put an end to my evening. I lay back and rested my head, wondering what to next.
Then , I remembered that I had brought in meat with me. I had a sudden craving for vegetable stew. So I went to the kitchen and began to cook. All the time, I washed the meat, they had no idea I was in the house. It was the sound of the blender that brought a screeching halt to their now very audible antics; the rhythm of the creaking bed frame drumming in the ceiling above my head.
When he walked into the kitchen, he had the sheets wrapped around his waist, his face a mixture of shock, fear and others I was not in the mood to decipher. He halted at the door, staring at me. I turned away to pour the pepper mixture on the fire, smiling when it hit the heated oil with a loud hiss. There was a sound from the corner of my eye. I knew it was Aliya. She must have come to see what was happening. Her small shriek made me burst out laughing. I heard her hurry away, most likely to gather her clothing and make her escape. The bitch was so stupid sometimes.
"Food will be ready in about forty five minutes. Do you want eba or semo?" I asked of the two without looking up, trying to control my laughter. The father of my children and husband of twelve years stared at me like I was crazy.
Maybe I was.
"If you are not hungry, " I cut him off, "I suggest you disappear with her because there won't be enough time for me to get rid of both your bodies before the kids get here. You know I have a gun in this house."
He stared. I returned to my frying pepper. It was beginning to splatter under the intense heat. I heard him move away. He was not going to fight me now but he would be back.
Till then I wondered if I should add locust beans or just go with stock fish only.
Sunday, October 04, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
I read them all, from Chinua Achebe to authors whose names I cannot remember but whose stories stuck with me. Through books, I could leave any problems I had behind and move on to another world. As a child, I devoured Enid Blyton books with such speed that I am sure my parents were a little bit stumped because that meant that they had to go buy me new books. And books were not cheap. At least, not alot of them.
As a pre-teen, I gravitated to romance novels with much gusto. This was partly because I was forbidden to read them and partly because I had out grown my childhood novels and wanted more. It was not enough for me to read about a wishing chair or a tree with a spinning top that took you to faraway lands, or a boy called Eze who was apparently always going to school. I needed more, and then walked into my life the works of many faceless writes under the Mills & Boon banner and Harlequinn Romances. I also discovered historical romances and learned alot about a part of British history through the lives of its royalty and its aspiring ton.
It was around that time that I discovered Judith Mcnaught and Sandra Brown. One of my favourite novels of the former is Once and Always. I heard about the book before I read it. In a class with avid readers by myself, this novel must have regretted being carried through the classroom door. By the time I booked a turn and it got round to me, the book had been split into six parts so that one could read the portions at different times. This was necessary because some girls, bless their hearts, were so slow, there was the temptation to deliver a well placed blow to the side of their heads with the hopes that their eyes and brain would spring to action and expedite their reading. But they were not to be rushed and so the only thing to do was rip the book apart and read that way.
When I moved to the US, I thought I had died and gone to heaven the first time I walked into a Barnes & Noble. My solitude being a secret answer to the fact that even though I socialise well within crowds, I don't like to seek gatherings out or be sought out by them either. So, I read and Barnes & Nobles was an addiction. You could sit in it and read the book without buying though I would not try that now, with the recession and all.
Anyways, I found a brand new copy of Once and Always and rushed to buy it. After having been responsible for the murder of one copy whilst in school, I thought it only fitting that I purchase a copy in honour of the wonderful story that it was and as a form of atonement. The novel was about two young people who have been through so much hurt and pain, come together through coercion to find that they could help each other experience the beauty of love for the rest of their experiences. It was beautiful when I read it and my friends and I memorised some of the scenes to renact and retell to those amongst us who appeared to be allergic to anything that was not made a compulsory read by the curriculum.
I ran home that day, excited out of my mind. Oh, if only my girls were here to see what I had in my hand. To reminisce on those days when we were girls with what we thought were deep issues but what seemed trivial now that we were all in the struggle to build our futures. I hurriedly changed, made a plate of snacks, a drink and settled beneath my cocoon of duvets to read.
It's hard for me to describe what happened next. First, I finished the book in less than three hours, trudging through the plot. It was as if I had to slow my thoughts down to read it. The book was well, cute. It was no longer inspiring. It was no longer breathtaking. Infact, some scenes were now too incredible. I just wanted to grab the heads of some of the characters and smash them together, the way parents sometimes do when siblings are fighting. Long and short, I was bored. I was bored because I was no longer wide eyed and innocent. The realisation was both interesting and melancholy.
The same thing happened yesterday when I bought a combined book of three of Sandra Brown's early works. My first book of hers was about this woman whose identity was mistaken after a fatal plane crash. I almost came to blows over that book--story for another day--and Sandra was cemented in my heart from that day onwards.
I am almost through with the first story---Thank God---and the only reason I am reading it is because the money I bought it with was not stolen, it was earned. So, by all things I hold dear, I will labour through and finish it. I am at the point where I am almost tempted to write to the author and ask her if she is aware that her leading male is borderline on sexual harassment. And the fool has a moustache. Sacrilege! Facial hair on a fantasy male is a no-no....sigh, I guess I should be glad that I am older now.
Cos Once & Always is no longer so.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Sunday, September 20, 2009
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Thursday, September 17, 2009
picture from here
The highlight of my morning is when I get to sit and watch him. He comes on board three stops after mine, is heart stoppingly handsome, smells great and is always impeccably dressed. The first time I saw him, I stared so hard, that I missed my stop. The plus side, I found out where he gets off. We don't always end up in the same car but most of the time, we are on the same train. I know because I make sure I get in the driver's car, so that as we enter the station, I get a chance to scan the platform, to know if he is there. If it is not crowded, on that rare occassion, I will change cars to be in his. Such is my morning's entertainment and secret pleasure.
I know what I do will be considered weird and should he be told, he would definitely run screaming for the hills but I can't seem to help myself. I am inexplicably drawn to him and there is nothing I can do about it. Too shy to approach him and too afraid of a public rejection, I simply sit and watch him; stealing glances at his superbly constructed Asian features.
He is Korean. Enough time spent glaring at his reading material was enough for me to fihgure that out. The text was clearly neither chinese nor japanese and with too few consonants to be Malay or Indonesian. How I know these things is amazing to me too but such is the sort of information I have been able to amass over the years. I just do.
When I can't stare directly at him because he has either chosen a seat facing me directly or I am in another car, I comfort myself with the fantasy, with my eyes closed, of what I wished our relationship would be. So many times in my mind, we have bumped into each other outside of the station and he surprises me by remembering my face. Other times, we end up seated by each other and the metro operator helps us out by stalling the train. He will smile at me in greeting and I would give him what I imagine to be a shy response. Because I am listening to my Ipod, I would hum softly a tune which I hope he knows because it is the only Korean song I have. I have Chinese, Indian, Japanese and even some Thai but only one Korean song and that will be the one Korean pop song out of all the millions that exist that he would just happen to know. He will steal glances at me in surprise and one way or the other, we will begin conversating. By the time, the train restarts, we should have covered the basics....
Someone stepped on my foot as the last batch of commuters boarded the train.
"Excuse me, I am sorry," someone said
I opened my eyes and nearky screamed. It was him.
He motioned to the empty seat beside me and I was able to snap my brain into function and move my huge bag off so he could sit.
He smelled like heaven and yet all I could do was hold my breath.
Why today of all days when my hair is a hot mess, would he sit next to me?
The gods are always having a laugh at my expense
Aaaah, my wierd African friend. Her hair's interesting today.
Always sitting with her eyes closed. The music she listens to must be calming because her face is always peaceful.
She smells nice too.
God give me the strength to ask her name.
She would probably scream if I told her that I take a later train every morning because I hope she will be on it.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
The main reason I never desired to live in New York--even though over the years I would entertain the idea after a well enjoyed movie set in the bustling city--was the cold. I had learned very early that the temperature drop in the Big Apple could be alarmingly severe, so I blanked that city as a potential place to live. There was also the fact that the cost of living could make your heart stop. All these thoughts were brushed aside when I had to make a quick and unexpected trip to this much talked and fantasised about city to attend the Arise Africa Fashion as part of the annual Fall season Mercedes Benz Fashion Week.
I raided my aunt's purse for money to make the trip, packed an overnight suitcase, rushed down to Bethesda to take the Tripperbus, on which I was the only black person on the bus besides the driver and ironically was seated at the back of the bus, and began my four hour sojourn to the city. The trip was pleasant and uneventful--
I digress: One of the things I always loved about living in Nigeria was the option to travel. Through travel, I was able to experience the complex and beautiful land that is my fatherland. As you passed through each town, the terrain would change, the people would evolve, the sights, smells and colours would mesmerize. Then there was the "buka" food at the various rest stops--if you were going by public transport--or the toll-gate shopping. I loved it all and could not get enough of it.
--there was nothing to look at on the drive from DC to New York. I mostly slept and tried to keep an hourly account or observation of my trip on my HP Vista laptop that faithfully failed to connect with the available wireless connection provided on the bus whilst everyone around me was able to.
When I got to New York, I stepped off the bus and the first thought that popped into my head was "This is like DC on crack." First of all, it was raining and it seemed like everyone was running somewhere, wet and neurotic. I bumped into so many people and apologised but they were so busy hurrying along, they did not respond.
Then it happened, I had to go meet up with a friend who was allowing me to come over, change in her place, leave my stuff while I attended the show--I was going to be spending the night with a cousin I had not seen in years--and rest a while. The catcher, I had to ride the New York Subway.
It is the dirtiest thing you have ever seen. It was like Ojuelegba bus stop with electricity. It was dank, outdated and smelly. The entrance was narrow and there were no escalators for people with suitcases or elevators for the handicapped. There was no one to ask, no maps on the trains to check where you were or where you were going and I got on at rush hour so everyone and their mama was on it. Thankfully, there were people whom I asked for directions who told me exactly where to get off and how to go.
It was at that moment, I realised that I loved DC. I had been so unkind to my resident state that I had overlooked how much good stuff we had. I use the metro all the time and cannot imagine what I would do if I it looked like the one in New York. Maybe, I would be used to it and not be so bothered...
I attended the show. It was beautiful. I am looking forward to the day when everything in my wardrobe is completely African. From my lingerie, make up to hair extensions. The show started late but it went so fast that it was over at the time i expected it to be. I could not take good pictures because my camera's zoom was not that strong and since I was standing--got a free ticket--I could not get that good a view.
Highlights: Tiffany Amber's collection and Eric Raisina's collection. Oluchi was on the runway and so was
I had fun. Got a taste of the city and realise that if I am to live there, I want a nice, clean uptown neighbourhood....and a car.
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
Saturday, September 05, 2009
Thursday, September 03, 2009
She moved like her life depended on it and maybe it did because she knew that if she were to stop, following the rhythms of the guitar, she might die. She turned this way and that, bending her skirt with a furor that was only matched by the staccato of her feet.
A tear rolled down one cheek and then another and then another and then another. She wept, swept away by her private grief. I watched her, wrapped up in mine.
She wept for her lover, departed, returned to the cloying hands of the earth. His farewell unattended as it was not a place where she was welcome even though at his side, she had been for almost a decade.
She turned this way and that, her fingers curved, wrists flicking back and forth with fierce precision, her face a wet mask of agony. Bathed in the soft, poor light of the stage, her form silhouetted against a wall whose paint had been worn away by years of smoke, sweaty bodies and forgotten dreams.
I loved her, this beautiful dark dancer. She would never be mine. I was only the girl who would hold her while she mourned for the one to whom she had given herself
Friday, August 28, 2009
picture from here
I can't remember him being born or visiting my mother in the hospital but I remember clearly him being brought back from the hospital, the whirlwind of activities and general concentration on the bundle in my mother's arms. Both were shepherded by a diligent and unyielding team consisting of one of my mother's closest friends who was a nurse, my mother's people and my father. I remember trying to get around what at the age of two and a half appeared to be gigantic frames to see what my mother had brought home. I had been expecting his arrival, fascinated by the increasing expansion of my mother's stomach--a fascination that prompted me to jump on her stomach once, nearly sending both her and my unborn brother to the next afterlife--and constantly being reminded that I was a big girl now because I was going to have a little sibling. I remember making my way to the bed, taking one look at the squirming, crying toothless bundle and deciding that this boy was here to bring me trouble. He was my rival.
He was such an annoying little boy. To me. The easier of us two, for my mother at least, he appeared to me to be the favourite child. As soon as he gained mobility, he followed me around, doing everything I was doing or observing if it exceeded his comfort level and reporting back to our mother, Iya Catwalq, who then would run panicked to stop what I was doing. He was a pretty little boy, quiet friendly and curious. Easy to entertain and for a few years, easy to manipulate. There were so many instances where I put him in some harm's way or manipulated him to do things my way and as I was the bigger child at that time, I got away with it.
As we grew up, he always looked at me like I was the brightest thing he knew and in all honesty, I liked it. But I was not a good big sister. By personality, I was a loner, preferring to play by myself or go off exploring by myself. I also found large groups of people a bit alarming but perfected very quickly the art of misdirection through false bravado. I was the out going child and he the quiet reserved one. In truth, I was just as quiet as he but my silences were always taken to mean that something was wrong, so I spoke up all the time and even too much. And when I could, I would go off on my own. My brother on the other hand, always wanted to come along. To him, I must have appeared adventurous and fearless.
He did not like to read preferring instead for me to read and relay the story to him; stories he neither tried to verify or question. So I think my brother has heard about sixteen variations of each Enid Blyton story and countless mash ups of others. It did not matter to him, he loved his sister and that was enough. And I wanted him gone.
One day, when I was in primary three, my brother came up to me and my friends on the play ground. He was in primary one, about five or six years old. He wanted to play with us. My friends saw no problem and put him in the game. I was livid. What was he doing there? I endured him enough at home as it was, I was not in the mood to endure him in school as well. It was a game of catch where the "monster" ran after everyone else and when you got caught, you assumed the role. My brother attached himself to me, running wherever I ran. I would push him away roughly, once to the floor. One of my friends got upset and pulled him away from me, that he should run with her instead, since I was so mean. When it was my turn to chase everyone, I ignored him even though he would cleverly place himself in my way. This happened for two days and on the third day, he did not come to play with us. One of my friends went looking for him and came back to relay that he was not coming to play. He was sitting in his class by himself. I was glad. I had finally been rid of him. Years later, when our relationship had disintegrated to the point where we would fight to cause each other bodily harm and my mother was convinced one of us would kill the other--once we fought and he swung his fist, I ducked but the rotation caused his shoulder to pop out of its socket-- I was reminded of this incident in a dream. It was so clear that I smelled the hot sand. I woke up crying. Ashamed and horrified. What had I done?
So I tried to make amends. By this time, he was about eighteen years old. Very much a young man and set in the knowledge that he did not have a big sister who had his back. It would have been no one's fault but mine that it was that way. I had got here first. It had been my job to take care of him, to protect him. I had always loved him, that was easy, but I never showed it.
My coming to the United States was probably the best thing that happened to our relationship because we have been able to have one. The past five years have put my family through hell but has brought us together. My brother and I talk a lot, confide in each other and I don't lie to him. What I cannot tell my mother, I tell my brother first and vice versa. He has grown so much and constantly inspires me to keep my head up and hold myself together. I wake up everyday and make one more step, no matter how hard, if for no reason than to make sure I don't let him down. Strong, confident and mature, he has willingly sacrificed a lot so that I don't have to. In many ways, the roles have been reversed.
I can still kick his ass though, if he steps out of line. I will just get another man to do it. Me, I am not fighting any man. Or psyche Iya Catwalq on him, she is good with a guilt trip.
So, Omo Mummy, my baby brother: I love you. I promise to be a better sister. You always have me. I am always here for you. Together, we will weather the storms. And we have to do something about your smelly shoes.
Monday, August 24, 2009
picture from here
I wished the ground would open up so I could melt into its dark abyss. I wished to all heavens that I was anywhere but where I was, wished I had not been to quick to advance my entrance, wished I had not heard what I heard. They could not see me, the men whose words had floated around the corner wall shielding my presence to scald my ears. They were still laughing, their discuss freed up by the copious amounts of alcohol they had introduced into their systems. That was why they had said what they had said and why they had said it that way.
"...amazing how they just throw themselves at your feet." Sekibo had chuckled. I was sure they were playing cards because the last part of his sentence was followed by the soft slapping sounds of paper against wood. There was the smell of smoke in the air and I knew it would be Andrew puffing on his imported hand rolled cigars.
"Wetin man pikin fit do?"  Osaro had chuckled, "But you must give me the fact that I don't always indulge."
Hamid spoke next, his mono toned and heavily accented voice unmistakable, "So we are still on for this weekend?"
"Abi o" Sekibo rejoined ,"everyone is coming, no?"
"I would guess so, " Andrew said, "they better because the kishi  we had to put down for the place was not small"
"That party is going to be off the chain. All the girls don full ground. Shayo don organise. And we both know that with Fela in charge of the food, we dey kampe." Hamid added
It was at the mention of my name that things had gone off tangent.
"Speaking of Fela," Osaro began, " what is your decision?"
I had just been about to step around the wall when the question was asked and so I paused because I had had no idea that I had ever been a topic of discussion within the group or that there had been a decision to be made on my account. Who was he talking to?
"Omo, leave that joo," Sekibo answered
"What do you mean?" It was Osaro's voice again.
"O boy, if no be say you be my guy, I for vex for u" Sekibo replied and then added, clearly talking to one of the other guys, "hit me"
"Ah-ah, what happened? What are you talking about" Hamid asked
"He tried to set me up with Fela." Sekibo answered. I felt he sounded a bit angry about it.
"And?" Andrew asked and I wanted to know.
"Haven't you seen the girl?" Sekibo retorted
"I don't follow you." Osaro spoke this time.
"Me neither," Andrew added.
The game seemed to have stalled and they were all waiting for him to elaborate. Myself included.
"He set you up with Ngozi, right?" Sekibo began, "so why would he set me up with Fela?"
"I don't think I am too drunk to say that I don't understand what you are saying." Hamid returned
"I was about to say the same thing, "Osaro inserted, "what is wrong with Fela? She is a nice girl"
"I am sure, but my guy, she is not that fine now." Sekibo stated.
"Whoaaaaaa" this came from Andrew.
"Don't give me that." Sekibo objected, his voice rising, "if she is so nice, why aren't any of you with her?"
There was a brief pause that seemed like it lasted a million years. Then the others began to speak at once.
"It's not about that with Fela. She is nice and funny and kind. Reliable..."
"Fun. She can cook..."
"Nice girl, haba..."
"That's not what I asked you. So none of you would be with her either."
"I did not say that," Osaro replied, "it's just that...well..."
"We don't see Fela like that." Andrew added.
"Oh." This was Sekibo.
"I have known Fela for years." Hamid stated, like it meant anything.
"And who was her last boyfriend?" Sekibo asked.
There was an even longer pause. I knew what they were thinking. They had never seen me with a boyfriend. I had never had one.
"You mean, you have known her for years and have not known her boyfriends?" Sekibo's tone made it seem like I had some terrible secret.
"I don't think I have ever seen her with..."Osaro began, "have you?" he seemed to ask the others. They must have shaken their heads because all I could hear from where I was were grunts.
"So it is the one that nobody wants that you tried to set me up with?" Sekibo spat out, "when there was a fine girl like Ngozi. I mean, when I saw that girl, I was like, Chei!, see something. Only for the Fela girl to show up. Yes, she is nice. Even has a nice body and if I was only looking to sample, then ehen!..."
I did not know why I did not turn around and flee. I knew that men talked about women this way because women did the same but it never occurred to me that I would ever be the topic of discussion or that if I was, that I was apparently so undesirable. Things made so much sense now. I did have many male friends. They were always there for me as I was for them. Yet, it seemed like I was always on the outside looking in as all my friends paired up and had relationships. Here I was, twenty six and one of the guys.
I don't even think it was what Sekibo was saying that hurt me. He was entitled to his opinion. After all, I coud not be everyone's cup of tea either. My heart was breaking for someone else. Osaro. There I was nursing carefully hidden feelings for him. We had kissed once, a while ago. From what was being said, I doubt if he remembered or cared to. I, on the other hand had built an entire future with two kids and a house in VGC on a few moments of contact. Here he was trying to push me off on his friend. Maybe I embarrassed him being around all the time.
I was so lost in thought, I had not realised that someone had got up until Hamid rounded the corner, bearing two empty bottles and clearly on his way to the kitchen to fetch replacements. He ground to a halt, both of us momentarily startled by discovery and the knowledge of what had just been said. Sekibo was still talking,
"Maybe you can set her up with Dede. He'll take anything." he said laughing.
Osaro chuckled, "True, but Fela is not in his league. Maybe she is not your type or mine but that is a quality woman."
"For someone else" Sekibo finished.
"I think she likes you." Andrew muttered.
"Abeg, stop that break dance. But if she wants it bad, I can give her a sample of Sekibo so she does not feel so lonely. I can imagine it must be a constant dry spell for her."
"I can't believe I just realised I have never seen her with a guy. I think I just never paid too much attention to her that way." Osaro said.
"How would you, when you became friends with her to get to her best friend Molara."
"Where is that one now, sef?"
They bantered on. I stood there. Looking at Hamid and he at me.
He looked embarrassed. I was embarrassed.
They noticed he was taking too long to return.
"Wey, Hamid sef?"  Andrew asked, "My glass is dry, man"
I raised my hands to my lips. Then clasped my hands together, pleading. Hamid could not say anything. If they knew I knew what they had said, it would be even worse.
He sighed and nodded.
I turned and fled.
: What can a man do?
: Forget about that, please
: Where is Hamid?
Sunday, August 16, 2009
"One woman decided to cut her losses. As far as she knew, antagonising her husband’s mistress was not the solution especially because the other woman was older and richer than her. She wormed her way into the mistress’ favour, “what’s my own? She was ‘spending’ my husband, so why can’t I spend her money? At first, my husband was wary; afraid I was up to mischief but he soon found out I had no time for lost battles. The woman was too old to have babies for my husband and she was loaded, always jetting around the globe. At the end, she helped me expand my business and one of my children is studying abroad on her bill.”
It wasn’t easy taking a step like that but what the hell; you might as well make the best of a bad situation. If your husband is on loan, make the best of it."
I am so tired of Nigerian/All men related bullshit. Is there no hope? At all?
Can anyone vouch for her spouse and his uncompromising fidelity? Please share. I refuse to believe that there is nothing to look forward to when it comes to men.
Monday, August 10, 2009
Dum dum dum dum dum
The sweat dances on her skin
with each movement
glistening in the sun
with a sheen of brown glaze
the movement of her waist
dum dum dum dum dum
transfixed they watch
unable to calm their own dance
wanting to rotate
with the beads around her waist
she is not
she is hot
the sound of ages
dum dum dum dum dum
they call out to her and she answers
daughter of the rhythm circle
breasts still high
even after the birth of four
around her thighs
happy and wild
the movement of her waist
Friday, July 31, 2009
But I am looking for it. I have been looking for it for the past thirty minutes, trudging along cobbled paths in heels that are alarmingly tight but pretty around my swollen feet. I have been trying to hurry my approach to the house but I am tired, hot and hungry. I can only move as fast as I am and since I have no car unlike the slender brunette murmuring into her blackberry, ensconced behind the secure comfort of her air conditioned BMW, I must arrive at my destination, dripping with sweat much like the dying flowers in front of me.
There is a bell. It does not look like it works but I press it anyway. In this part of town, you never know. Things that look old are really not so; just carefully selected to imply that they have been there for a long time. I take a deep breath and reach up to smooth what I can of my hair. It's care has declined horribly and its appearance is much suited to the plant box. It will have to do. If what I seek here is what I get, then hopefully in a bit, there might be hope for my head's crown. That's what my mother calls my hair: my head's crown. Today, my head's crown is wilted and wet.
The door opens.
An old lady appears.
"Hello," I say, "I am here for the interview"
"The help goes around the back."
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Wednesday, July 08, 2009
I don't cry at movies. I have sat through some of the most heartbreaking stories and walked out to the amazement of those in my company with eyes as dry as the desert. On Wednesday, I cried. No, I wept. I was watching The Stoning of Soraya M, a movie based on a true story written by the Paris based journalist Freidoun Sahebjan. It did not matter that the story was set in 1980s Iran; with each word spoken, each action made and finally, with each stone thrown, I felt I was watching a scarily possible scenario in my home country of Nigeria.
Zahrah, played by the gorgeous and timeless Shoreh Agdashloo is the powerful voice of conscience in this story. She must brave the controlling zealot mob, the corrupt justice system of a religiously regulated village to tell the story of her how her niece Soraya, played by Mozhan Marn, accused of adultery by her mean-spirited, divorce seeking husband was buried up to her waist in her bridal whites and stoned to death by a mob of males ranging from the very little to the very old. Taking her story under perilous circumstances out of the village and to the rest of the world is the character writer played by Jim Caviezel.
In one of the most defining moments of the film, the village mayor says to the weeping and bewildered Soraya,
"According to our laws, when a husband accuses a woman of adultery, she must prove her innocence....subsequently, when a wife accuses her husband of adultery, she must prove his guilt."
To which, Zahrah retorts, "...So all women are guilty?"
The movie's ending is as harrowing to watch as it is spectacular. The filmmaker in me, applauds the techniques and execution and the woman that I am weeps. Soraya, is me. She is you. She is every woman. It does not matter the society, western or non-western, when a woman is accused, she is stoned. Sometimes, it is with rocks, words, fists, loss of opportunity, abuse of her basic rights, abuse of her person, abuse of her mind. She does not have to do anything major, she just has to be a woman.
I had to wait a couple days to write about the movie because it so broke my heart. What would I do in the same situation? What could I do? What should I do?
I think I will for now, till I can do much better, do what Zahrah did. Speak up against any injustice. It is written somewhere that "An unjust law is no law at all"...and there are many many unjust laws.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
The 50 minute fare presented commentary from UK based Africans like Yinka Shonibare, Mpho Skeef, Nana o Anyim, Chiweitel Ejiofor and Mazzi Binaisa; just to name a few. The participants answered questions in attempts to describe what Africa meant to them.
As an introduction, the film served its purpose but would not be sufficient to stand as an encompassing portrait of Africa, possibly because the voices are incomplete or that the continent itself is so diverse and complex that such an attempt might be impossible. Still, being that This is My Africa was described by the filmmaker, Zina Saro-Wiwa as part of an intended series, I am excited at the prospect of projects that celebrate the continent continuously as Africa's image is dynamic.
Borrowing from the handouts that were given at the screening, I will tell you some things that represent Africa to me...
1. Eze goes to school
2. Koku Baboni
3. Mine Boy
4. Sugar Girl
5. Purple Hibiscus
2. Bella Naija
5. SABC Africa
1. Any African fabric
1. Hugh Masekela
4. Koffi Olomide
7. Femi Kuti
8. Sunny Ade
1. A reasonable man
2. We are together (Children of Agape Choir)
4. White waters
5. Owo Blow
6. Ti Oluwa Nile
2. Tiffany Amber
What is your Africa?
Thursday, June 25, 2009
my heart desires
my imagination torments
I smile and I nod
She thinks I am quiet
She does not know that I am not there
I went away a long long time ago
The line was too thin
The thread to bare
I had to go
covered in silence
She does not know that I am not there
I went away a long long time ago.
Do you want to know?
Even if you did
You cannot change
I have tried to do so
I have tried to find proof
That is why I am not there
I went away a long time ago.
I went away a long time ago
Friday, June 19, 2009
"I don't want to go with her." I said simply. No, I did not think she was the evil woman that my mother said she was, but the fact was that she was not his wife. That woman was probably curled up in her bed, sick with worry of what similar poison her youngest child was being fed against her. That woman was my mother. And she was very unhappy.
Rekiya, my older sister had slapped me when I told her I would make the trip.
"Fool" she spat in my face, "how can you betray Mama?"
I did not cry, even as the stars swam before my eyes and the pain ricocheted across my face.
"He told me I should come", I said proudly. She was jealous. Papa had told me to come and not her. And I had. And he was passing me off on Fouzia.
"What did you say?" he asked in his soft quiet voice, a voice I remembered being read to with which now dripped with disappointment. I tried not to flinch.
"I will not go with her. I will not go with your whore." I told him.
He slapped me. For the first time in my thirteen years, he raised his hand against me and slapped me. Right there, on the front steps of the balcony where he lived with his mistress. My head was knocked aside and I held it there, lolling to the side, resting on my left shoulder while he stood over me, his hand raised as if to strike again. He didn't.
"You can go back to your mother." he said simply. Years later, I would marvel at how his voice remained steady. I couldn't speak. My heart was racing so fast that had I opened my mouth, my tears would have washed it out of me.
He left me there, hurting, his mistress only a few feet away, standing outside infront of the house. The sun was suddenly so hot that my skin prickled.
"Come out of the sun, " Fouzia said, simply.
I looked up then from the place on the sand where my tears had fallen and immediately disappeared within its heat.
"This is your fault." I said to her. I tried to spit but all my saliva had fled with the slap and my mouth was dry.
Fouzia chuckled. It was a slow and mirthless sound.
"Of course. It was me that slapped you ba?"
It could have been mocking but for some reason, it wasn't.
Then I started to cry.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Friday, June 12, 2009
He did not move and neither did I. I wondered what he was doing there and if in some way he had been sent by forces unbeknown to me to send a message. I wondered if I should let him in and immediately chastised the lack of wisdom in that idea. What was I to say to this dark stranger, resident to the back streets and dark alleys of the neighbourhood. I had seen many times, skulking away with graceful strides.
I blinked and then he was gone. Just like he had come. His stay was brief. His presence much more lasting. I was left to wonder.
His name, his history and his destiny.
My alley visitor.
Saturday, June 06, 2009
Granted, compared to your colleagues in the industry, your work is above average and I am not going to make this open letter to be about technical issues like using techniques better suited to the theatrical stage in scenes,grammatical errors and misspellings in subtitles, excessive dialogue, improperly handled boom mics and poor scene blocking that results in crew shadows being visible to the audience. I am more interested in the content of your work and the fact that though I get excited when I hear you have come up with a new project, I am barely into the story five minutes and I am left deflated and disappointed.
1. Representing your sisterhood: There are very few women writers, producers and directors and so far there is no one that is at this point really presenting any progressive thinking for women. Women are simply portrayed in stereotypes and misinformation. The only type of woman that is celebrated is one that does not challenge the traditional roles which place her as secondary to the man and define her solely by her marital status and reproductive abilities. As a member of the sorority, I always find very little that caters to the modern woman. And your stories don't.
In Jenifa, all the girls that were fashion conscious were promiscious. All the sexually active girls either ended up dead, diseased or with a reproductive defect. As someone who went to Unilag, you cannot tell me you don't know of females who keep up with trends without the sole purpose of securing an older and irresponsible man to financially support them. Also, you cannot tell me that all the sexually active girls that you know end up with the same results listed above. Do a bit of research and you will find thousands of females with stories to inspire and encourage and not endorse stereotypes that objectify or demean us.
In Aye Olomokan, all I hear from the beginning of the movie till the end, despite the supposed twist at the end is that, if a woman cannot cook and clean, this is reason enough for her man/husband to sleep with the maid or any other woman who figures that she knows how because she can mix pepper, locust beans and spinach into an edible concoction.
If you believe the stereotypes you portray, then you, Funke Akindele, are not an artist or complete as a woman. I mean, where is your husband and children, if that is all a woman is defined by? Your life and work are an antithesis to the embedded messages you present.
Are you then saying to your fellow sisters, that all we are to be are cooks, maids and breeding machines? Really? With a university degree under your belt?
2. Over exaggeration of humor at the expense of the plot: Exaggeration is a technique better suited to the stage because the person at the end of the room cannot clearly see the facial expression of the actor beneath the lights and thus the thespian has to employ over emphasised gestures and extended dialouges to explain what is going on.
It is only in Nigerian movies that one would find characters conducting a monologue with no one else in the scene. And yet, we are from a culture where such an action is considered a sign of lunacy. Gatemen/hired help will spend almost five minutes saying nothing important, even though it is funny. Characters have quirks that don't correlate with their image:I mean,in Aye Olomo kan, why would a woman in her twenties be watching Hannah Montana? Fifteen year old Americans don't watch Hannah Montana and for some reason, a character in your story does? Okayee. Humor must have a point or it is a waste of reel, editing and audience time.
3. Depth of characters: There is never depth to your characters. They are always one dimensional and have linear expressions within the plot. You have in Jenifa, a girl who seeks to define her identity within an environment that is superficial ending up with HIV (that one is even a post for another day) and you have your main character in Aye Olomokan loosing her husband because she can only boil water, make tea and custard.
I know that just because a woman is bad at one thing does not make her a bad person or a total write off. Maybe she cannot cook, but she is good with making money. Maybe she is not good with money but she had great people skills that come in handy with the relationship. Maybe she is lazy with housework but a gifter writer. Maybe she can sing and write songs. Maybe she is fashionable and that is a way for her to changer her life and the lives of others.
A woman is multi faceted. Have you not seen women athletes, braving it all. How about market women who have to rise before dawn to get to the depot to meet with trailers coming from the north; negotiating sales, customers with dreams and aspirations for themselves or for their kids?You are multi faceted. Why is that never expressed in your stories?
Also, the men in your stories are always old fashioned and playing by stoneage manuals: Man comes in and says to wife "Go into the kitchen and fix my food." I thought to myself, is she a maid or "bone of his bone". There are men who don't base their relationships with their wives on whether or not eba is hot, or if they ate pounded yam. I feel that constantly presenting men in that light sets low standards for them. A man, who will walk out on a marriage because of vegetable soup is not worth his oxygen. What will he do in the event of a huge test from God? Disappear?
I am not calling out anyone else on this because frankly speaking, I don't expect them to do any better that what they have and I am don't care about what they do. Most of the other producers are men, and frankly speaking, you think they are going to advocate for the woman? But you can. You are a woman too and you appear to be enlightened. I know that you are much better than what your work implies you to be. I sense it in your attempts and presentation but don't see it in the delivery of your subject matter.
I know that our styles of storytelling are different and you most likely will totally disagree with me; afterall, if I have all this to say, where is my own film portfolio? I guess without one at this point, you might give no credence to my observations. Still, as a soror of the arts, I expect more of a mind like yours because these are the standards we should be setting.
So, you and I need to have a talk.
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
That Sunday, it rained. It had been drizzling all through Saturday before and when dawn broke that morning, even before the cock had the chance to draw enough air into its breast to belt out its horrible morning greeting, the skies opened up and dumped its gallons upon the city of Lagos. While some people were running helter skelter to save their neighbourhood's from flooding, the Daughters of Obasa, securely ensconsced within securely and properly planned neighbourhoods prepared for both the morning's service and the meeting after.
Unlike other Sunday mornings, they would all take seperate cars from the rest of the family; the kids and their father--if present in the picture--would either pick up lunch at one of the eateries or head home to waiting arms of well trained maid. The Daughters however, would shed their church hats or hand woven silk scarves, put their luxury vehicles into gear and head for the day's meeting.
The evening before, they would all have paid a visit to the hair dresser who would have coaxed imported human hair into sculptures atop their hair; a clear sign to their husbands upon their arrival at home that there would be no action that night. Not that there was that much. The Daughters had resigned themselves to the fate that their spouses found entertainment elsewhere. For one, two Daughters were the entertainment of other men. Those kinds of things were not important. What was important, was the inclusion in an exclusive club of women with disposable incomes and enviable luxury lifestyles. Lifestyles that if profiled would make even Jackie Collins, the western author whose career had grown on her ability to write scintillating exposes on the lives of the rich and famous, sit with her mouth open. Jackie would not be able to fathom the kind of lives the women of Lagos society lived. The Daughters of Obasa did not keep up with the latest trends; they set it.
Theirs was a strict code of appearances. Hair was to be long and cascading. If you were not blessed with long tresses or had lost them due to years of chemical damage, you improvised with the imported purchases from Asia. Nails were the shiniest of french manicures and on no account was there to be colour on your toes. Those too were to be clear and tipped in white. Your feet were subjected to warm, salt water pedicure every week and encased in slippers hand made in the workrooms of a major Italian brand name. Clothing was never repeated and if it was indeginous was to be sewn with nothing less than a five figure sum; the fabric being imported from the UK or Eastern Europe.
Jewelry, oh the glitter. Each woman wore only signature pieces. These were not women who adorned themselves with gold chains and huge earrings. These were not women who would be caught dead with anything other than their wedding bands and engagement rings on their fingers. These were women who shopped with the stores closed to the public. They would receive the international calls from jewelers in their country of preference to let them know that a new line was in circulation. These would not be the designs that one would find in a magazine. These would be designs that came pre-insured. For daily use, they picked up simple strands of spun gold, platinum or fresh water pearls.
The Daughters would never be found on the pages of the tabloids. The press would never be allowed at events that they attended. When they walked into the room, whispers circulated like the cloud of signature fragrances that enveloped their beings. These were the Daughters of Obasa; the women of unique definition and all Hera wanted was to be rid of them in her life.
In the beginning, she had been giddy with the notoriety of inclusion. Her induction into the club took three years and almost bankrupted her husband. The husbands or men of the Daughters belonged to their own and one group did not exist exclusive of the other.
Consoling herself with the knowledge that the Daughters were a philantropic organisation, Hera launched herself at them with such determination that it was all but a given that she would be allowed into the group. Barely eighteen months in, and she was done.
It never ended. The conformity. She was to arrive at exactly 3.45, after the woman who was to arrive at 3.30 and before the woman who was to arrive at 4.00. Many times, she had had to park up the street, biding time in her plush air conditioned interior because she dared not break the status quo. Heirarchy was everything and if you stepped out of place, you were dropped like a bad fart. Nothing was ever spoken to the effect but arriving at the meeting to find someone absent was a sure sign. No one, not even when Laide Marinho had just undergone a hysterectomy, missed a meeting.
There would be the perfunctory greetings which also served as a wardrobe assessment. You were all but finished if you arrived carrying a purse worth less than 2,000.00 pounds. Almost all the women had Birkin's and if they didn't, they were on waiting lists. The greetings were followed by light refreshments of champagne in signature bottles. No one, seemed to consider the fact that these women would need to drive back home. No one ever came with a driver. These were independent, modern women and everyone knew that a driver was only a spy for the husband.
The meeting itself was always about 45 mins long. Minutes would be read and would be brief. Checks would be proferred for the monthly donations towards whatever cause had taken their fancy and they got down to business. This was the time, when they kicked off their shoes and reclined in the comfort of the couches and day beds. This was when each one would artfully try to out do the other with whatever scandalous information they had.
It was in the Daughter's circle that Hera had first learned that a governor had a male lover that his first wife had had killed and that the governor had been so broken up about it, he had signed off on the wrong government and nearly dissolved the state into chaos. Hera had watched the news of the riots in the state capital like everyone else oblivous to the goings on.
It was in the Daughter's circle that affairs were discussed, paternity issues were solved, information on the best traditional medicine man was divulged, contacts to "correct" husband's mistresses that were over stepping their boundaries, schools for children, plastic surgeon referrals, fertility treatments, shopping concierge referrals and whatever else struck their fancy.
At the very head was Miatta Khosa. And she ruled with a fist so strong and judgement so deadly that it had been rumoured that she had once made the president shed tears. She made everyone understand the price of their membership and everyone always paid.
Miatta had told Hera what to do. Sunbo Majekodunmi had had to "leave" the group. Someone had to take her place. Miatta was confident Hera would do a great job. Sunbo had been the social secretary of the group.
And Miatta's lover.