Sunday, September 05, 2010
Sound of Music...sounds of the classics
picture from here
My aunt and I took her son and his friends ( children of her best friend) to see a stage production of The Sound of Music. For days before the event, my aunt and I debated over the price of ticket seats, budgeted extensively over the trip that would be more than a day's drive for her --whilst I could wing it by metro-- and could barely contain our excitement. We were so excited about going to see one of our favourite childhood memories brought alive on screen.
The venue was parked. We were there early and could barely find parking. Old and young, the audience trudged towards the Wolf Trap entrance and we went to find our seating. It took off to a good start, the music reaching out from strong, professionally trained vocals to hug us like a warm memory. Our seats were nice enough that they offered us a price that would not break the bank and we could even make out the features of amazing performers. My aunt and I, seated next to one another, sang along with the audience and the performers, rocking ourselves side to side. Then we looked over at the kids and the invited children were looking bored out of their minds.
To say I was deflated, was an understatement.
My aunt whispered that they had never seen the movie --which was the reference point for both us and most likely for you--and my jaw hit the floor. Not only had the kids never seen the movie but their mother did not think there was anything odd about the fact that as children within an environment where they could have access to almost any information, their exposure was limited to hip shaking movements of Obesere, Sunny Ade and Yinka Ayefele.
The kids had never been taken to a stage performance before; in fact were confused as to what was happening during the intermission.
I did not know what to think. I am not going to tell you that their lives are infinitely and permanently marred because they have never read any Western Classics or seen movies like, My Fair Lady, Oklahoma, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers or even Koku Baboni, Ralia The Sugar Girl etc because there are millions of children around the world who haven't either and are quite fine.
My thing was that even though they had never read those, they were not reading anything either. They are quick to break into whatever track, Rihanna has found to lay over repeating the same word or jump on an owambe party dance floor to collect the dollar bills, stamped on their foreheads but they cannot tell me one single book they have read or movie that was not stamped by the intellect diminishing Disney.
I am a Sunny fan. Yinka Ayefele, Obesere, Pasuma...not on my radar. One of my greatest sources of gratitude was that as a child, whilst I was not born into a financially wealthy home, I was born into one that was wealthy with KNOWLEDGE. I read extensively and was read to. I listened to the conversations my parents and their friends had and was able to piece together my culture not just as a singular unit but as part of a global fabric. You cannot imagine the look on my face when after I ranted about how evil white people where after reading Alex Haley's ROOTS, my father told me Africans had always owned slaves too and even facilitated the sale of slaves to the Europeans. Shuo!
The first time I went to the beach, I was not allowed in. Not because neither my brother and I had planned to swim-- which we did not know how--nor that we did not bring clothes to do so, but because my father preferred to give us a running commentary about the power of tidal waves. I remember watching with mild irritation as he made us count how many waves were coming and listen to the underlying sound of the HU --another story for another day.
My mother would tell me stories of her growing up--she had an interesting and sometimes pain filled experience--and she would in turn listen to whatever stories I churned out; whether made up or not. I went to see plays. I acted my own out at home. I had a little farm of my own; one of my earliest career goals was to be wealthy industrial farmer...which I could still be if I wanted to.
I think that is why I am the way I am. I grew up learning and always enjoyed something new. Living abroad has been one educational experience after another; no pun intended, seeing as I came here on a student's visa. Which is why, when I see Nigerians living in the US who do not seem inclined to or interested in availing themselves of the opportunities to learn, I shiver inside. So, why did you leave home? You could just have been blissfully unaware within the space you live in in Nigeria instead of constantly saying something quite off putting, like calling the Vietnamese restaurant on the next street from your house, a Chinese take out. Or saying that me being friends with a Sikh Indian is bad, because he is one of the "MUSLIM" Taliban on account of his Dastar (or head wrap)
I am not bourgeoisie . I just feel like, one should know of things outside of your comfort zone because you never know where you might be. Also, it helps you realise just how small you are in this wide world.
Every morning you greet me
Bless my homeland forever.