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Monday, December 27, 2010

My Christmas and the Boredom


I could quite take my memory back to the Christmas of 2009. The unusual thing that happened was that I never celebrated the birth of Jesus at the church with other saints. I thought this would come as a relief of the activities that got me sapped at the Christmas Eve service a day before. I never thought my staying at home portended more preposterous culinary activities {don't mind my grammar, I'm just trying to let words out quickly} that goes along with making the dining part of Christmas well. At the end of it all, when I was reliving the activities that characterised that day; all I could pinpoint to have done were that I helped out in the kitchen; 'murdering' some chickens and sending few texts to friends to extend the pleasantry of the season.


I never wanted that occurrences of last Christmas that got most of my time wasted on frivolities (save the season greeting that I sent to friends and loved ones) to catch up with me this Christmas again. I knew if it were to come this time around, it would come through my family. What I mean is this; the proposal of unnecessary activities of Christmas will come from them, in this case my mom. It would start like this: my mom will wake up on the morning of 25th and tell everyone what our activities are going to be on to make the day special for guests and us. So, before that day came, I was prepared I was going to make this Christmas a special moment for myself only {don't tell me I'm selfish!}.


Viola! Lacasera! To my opportunity, my family's Chritmas celebration took a different turn. It was to be celebrated at our hometown with my grandparents. My excuse was good and did the spin! I told my family I wouldn't join the train to the village because I had preparation to do to sit for my school's exam {I had to palm them off with that. Don't blame me…}. It was the excuse, and it worked well. Events afterwards, started the kind of Christmas I've always longed to have. A Christmas that gives you the total authority to go to the kitchen when you want to, do the laundry when your dump-basket for clothes is full, invite friends over if you are lonely or go under cover and disappear from everyone's radar when you want to connect with you inner being. I had the times jealously all to myself alone at home. However, those moments weren't without some hitches and downtimes that made me to think if that kind of Christmas was what I had really always pinned for.


These were my moments: I woke up almost late for the morning Christmas mass on the 25th because I facebooked into the deep morning of Christmas the day before {the strength against that habit is what is going to come first on my New Year's Resolution List}, on the 24th, wishing virtual friends a wonderful time with Christmas and chatting up some about how they would mark the Christmas. I got to the church and I was happy and grateful to God for that wonderful day He sent His Son, the saviour, to us. I rolled my waist during the praise section as if it was no man's business. The lead-singer led the praise on as if her last breath depended on it. The period the lead singer started over stressing the tunes of the songs longer than usual with her voice, just because she had to impress herself with her musical talent, was the very time my boredom started.


Knowing that there won't be chicken to tear up on my plates and bones to crush that morning when I got home, I settled for roasted small chops of dodo plantain as meat on my badly boiled watery and marshy rice. Na Niger we dey now Electricity was cut off as if the blackout was ordered against my street and I had to rely on my 3-hour battery to social network on the internet; I heard a warning beep thrice before my lappi's laptop screen went dark. I read some lines from an already read novel to while away the boredom a little time into the night when I would be on my bed thanking God for the memorable Christmas. That technique got me nowhere pass loneliness some meters. By this time, my eye-lashes were itchy and my pupils were almost closing my viewing gates….

 

 *****                


Tun… tun… tun… I beeped Bolanle up to come over. I told her I was the only one at home. Bola is our neighbour's daughter that newly moved in some months' ago. I had told her about my plan for Christmas. I assured her if my plan sailed through to stay at home all through the Christmas, I would have her invited over. Though, I later wavered on this plan when my pastor preached strongly about morality instead of the usual birth of Jesus kind of sermon. It happened that I came out for the altar call and my previous plan with Bola changed; now the rest became 'itan'. But with the boredom I had to endure at home all alone, the devil {not my lustful desire} was determined to get my heart again.


Clothes and pants were now on the floor. Some frenzy kicks upwards and downwards and few suppressed groans later on the 'three-seater' couch in our sitting room. Never actually knew what happened. Bola slammed the door angrily as she stormed out. On the 26th, she called and told me I had tempted her to doing what she wouldn't have done if she were herself the day before {need I mention she gave me the electric tickle to initialise the real show when I sighted her almost-naked breasts through her to revealing cleavage?]. She said her mother had also got to know what happened that night when she sobbed into her flat with blood-stained skirt after she banged the door on me.


My family are coming back this Tuesday. I don't think I would be that proud son again. I have just turned a girl at the next flat of my neighbourhood to a real woman. My Christmas was a moment that would change everything in my life so suddenly. My mom's kind perception of Mama Bola might change when she receives a hot welcome from Bola's mom on Tuesday.

*****

 

Still snoring…

I woke up drained in bubbles of afternoon sweats moments later… That; a dream? What a Christmas it was… A dream contrary to what Christmas supposes to be. Shouldn't I be dreaming of me and Santa Claus in snowfalls on his way to Rome?


 

For all those who remembered to send texts, pokes and facebook wall/inbox messages; I love you! Thanks Myne, your text was heartily received. A great gift this is: I also got a call of almost thirteen minutes from a fellow blogger, Gretel. Thanks Gretel, you made my day with that call.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Magun: The Thunderbolt Story



By Adebiyi Rasheed


As a scholar interested in indigenous communication, it is hard for one to ignore a film as culturally rich as 'Magun', a film by Mainframe Productions. It is a film that tells a story of love, trust and betrayal. 'Magun' explores the meeting point between modern scientific medicine and traditional unorthodox medical practices.

 

The Story

The film is woven round Ngozi, a young beautiful Igbo woman who falls in love with Yinka, a young man of Yoruba extraction against all odds. Their marital boat soon hits the rocks when rumours of extra-marital affairs on Ngozi's part start flying about. Yinka laces Ngozi with 'Magun', the mysterious deathly fidelity control, and a serious drama of intrigues, suspense, pains and travails begins.

The Arguments

The ensuing drama throws up a lot of issues, controversies and concepts. The film roots for another look at indigenous medicine. It preaches that the two health systems can be complementary. One will take over where the other stops. Two, it takes compares and contrasts between HIV AIDS and 'Magun': AIDS is a sexually transmitted disease, while 'Magun' is a sexually assisted death. AIDS can be managed, 'Magun' results in instant death for the victims. Three, the film unearths the science in traditional medicine. It disregards the notion that every traditional medicinal are balderdash. In all, the film shows that 'Magun' is not just another controversial affliction; it only proves the efficacy of traditional medicine.

Beyond the Argument

Beyond the argument, 'Magun' draws attention to inter-tribal marriage, its pains and gains, and how the problems that emanate from such can be managed. The film also confronts the audience with the hard choices every man and woman is bound to face. It portrays how trust or the lack of it can destroy a home. And as well, it reflects how single health message can be passed through the use of indigenous communication and the tube. With good quality audio and video, well-arranged plot and rich culturally laden themes; 'Magun' (Thunderbolt) is well worth the money and the time anybody is set to spend on it..

 

This review was contributed by Adebiyi Rasheed, a friend and Uncle. The post is his view on the film, Magun, by Mainframe Productions. I can't really recall when I actually watched this film. I think it was some six or seven years back when I never drew any meaning to the film. I was just like some of those kids who would slot in any cassette {Damn! We were still using video-cassette player then} to take away boredom at any holiday period. It's magical now how this short review was able to make me recount those events in the story and recall the characters vividly. Magun is really some of the classic videos that would never pass away with the extinction of a means of watching films. The plot in the story is always relevant. I hope you enjoyed the review too like I did.

·         Connect with Adebiyi Rasheed on Facebook through his e-mail: biyicrown@yahoo.com




Friday, December 3, 2010

'The Thing Around Your Neck' by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie




Adiche..., Ditch This...

Two things made me review this book: First, Adiche is one of the few authors whose trio of works I have read in close succession without much break, and going by this, I was egged on to round up the 'literary de tour' I had started with her through words. Secondly, the attraction the stand The Thing Around Your Neck occupied in the bookshop I went to do some books shopping sometime ago hooked me to the book. The mere fact that I couldn't afford the expensive price tag on it, because it was standing on a 'Best Seller' shelf, drew me more closely to the book and made me want to know what literary condiments are in it.

That her stories have always been too predicated on her centralised Igbo-plights of the Biafra civil war and Nigerian post colonial lifestyle trauma are just some of the things you would think Adichie may want to take a break from by doing a collection of short stories. This, however, may turn out not to be the case as you soon discover after reading few of the stories in the collection. The Thing Around Your Neck is a fictional, strong but intelligent rehash of Adichie's Biafra-postcolonial-elite-struggle and scrape stories of personal loss and individual realisation.


The Thing Around Your Neck is a collection of 12 stories that navigate through closely related themes and plots despite their different titles. Some are almost laboured, few are climaxed on hackneyed ends, while the rest would take you by surprise at how they tend to play with your mind and put your imagination to task.


****




Reading... 10/12 stories...

CELL ONE – Have you read Gorge Orwell's 1984? The awful stories 1984's Room 101 spins and the webs of fear it weaves in the mind of whoever hears it is what Cell One is known for. Nnamabia's thieving and youthful exuberance is tamed in Cell One. His last great expedition is when he stages a burglary-theft in his parent's home to steal his mother gold pieces. Indulged Nnamabia thinks the luxury he gets as a spoilt child whose father is an academic at Nsukka University can always be extended even when he gets to prison. He manages to put up with the dehumanising condition in the prison when he is arrested on the campus for the activity he knows nothing about – cultism. When he is in prison, his academic father notices a 'positive change' about him. But when Nnamabia is transferred to CELL ONE because he speaks up for an old man who is incarcerated because his offending son cannot be found for the crime he commits and badly treated by the prison wardens for need of water to bathe, the change Nnamabia experiences afterwards is one his parents never appreciates.

ON MONDAY OF LAST WEEK – When Kamarachizuoroanyi comes to America she never expects her life to change so quickly: the conversion starts with her husband who she thinks is less manly for her as he had been when they are still live-in students' couples in Nsukka's University, the second makeover happens when she dumps her Nigerian Masters degree for babysitting job in order to rake in pittances in dollars. On the Monday of last week is when the great transformation of her life occurs. On the Monday of last week is when she starts adjusting her physical appearance to measure up with Josh's mother's who rarely comes out from her painting basement. Tracy, Josh's mother, the mother of the child she attends to, is always living in the basement where she does her painting job. The day Kamara first sees her is On Monday Of Last Week after which she begins reordering her personalities to model after what she notices about that of Tracy.

IMITATION – Just like the imitated African artefacts of the Benin mask and the Ife bronze head in Nkem's home in America, she can't  help her life from becoming the imitation of her husband's, Obiora, girlfriend when she discover he's been keeping one in Nigeria where he stays longer for his businesses' activities. In the fight of the inferiority the description of Obiora's girlfriend leaves her with, she cuts her long and beautiful hair so that she can texturize them to look the same way the girlfriend's hair is said to be. IMITATION illustrates the kind of life and social cycle Nigerian immigrants live in America; where delusions become what they call truth, where the role-models they will like imitating are the citizens that speak English so foreign from what they are used to at home and where news about home is always gotten from phones and the media.

A PRIVATE EXPERIENCE – Inter religious struggles are all the time unreasonable whenever they happen. A Christian man in Kano 'mistakenly' rides upon a Quran in Kano and instantly loses his head for it. His sin is transferred to the rest of his religion's faithful and the scampering for safety amidst stampedes sets off. This is during the time Chika and Nnedi visit their aunt in Kano. Chika misses her sister in the religious violent glee as she spends her solitary in safety with a Hausa woman who also can't find her daughter. Despite the companionship Chika and the Hausa woman try to build during the time they lock themselves up for safety; their woeful experiences still remain what would always hit them personally. Chika's search for Nnedi never succeeds. No one knows what happens to her, but the possibility that she could have been one of the charred bodies littering the street after the war cannot also be ruled out.

GHOSTS – What institution will keep her employees on hungry pensions? – Ghost. What will the survivors of war become after the war has ended? – breathing Ghosts. What will an unorganised society breed when corruption is what brings a means of survival and wealth? – Ghost makers. The story, GHOSTS, is an intertwined thematic literary piece. In its brief structure, it still hurriedly packs three themes into place. James Nwoye, a Mathematics professor, can't get his pension after his so many stopovers to ask for it. James Nwoye's wife, Ebere, is lost to fake drugs that does not kill but never heals the ailment it is used for. The Biafra civil war takes Zik, Mwoye's first daughter and child. A uniting point for Nwoye becomes the pleasure he gets from the ghostly visits of his wife who normally comes to moisturise his skin as her habit is before her death.

THE THING AROUND YOUR NECK – When she wins the visa lottery, she never knows she is to get ready for the challenges that lie ahead in the foreign land she least knows anything about save the rumours that everyone uses gun as he pleases and that the land launches one to sudden wealth. The narrator is the victim of the event she sets out to narrate. Her uncle (though her father's sister's husband) who registers her for the lottery and who she briefly stays with at her arrival in America, turns out to be a game poacher. Her uncle wants to sleep with her. It is after this she realises that America is more different from what she knows it to be. She begins her fighting for self-survival amidst it all. When she receives news of her driver-father's death months after he had been buried back home, she starts wondering what thing she must have been doing in America when her father slumps on his motor wheel.

THE ARRANGERS OF MARRIAGE – The things Chinaza Agatha Udenwa knows when she is being married off to a Nigerian US citizen are that her fortune is changing quickly for the opportunities in America and that her husband is a doctor who works in America. She is forcefully pulled out of this enchantment when she comes to America with her new husband, Ofodile Emeka Udenwa. When what stands behind the curtain of false hope is unveiled to her through her early discoveries in America, she wishes she could get back home. She is confronted with so many things to deal with and later she realises that taking an immediate flight from them all will not equip her well for the fight she will always have to struggle with while in the foreign land.

THE SHIVERING – Two events at evil close sequence happen in Nigeria: the crash of a plane inbound from Lagos to Abuja and the death of the first lady of the country. Ukamaka quivers with intense terror as she scouts around the World Wide Web for latest news on the crises from home. She is too devastated not just for the mere gloomy circumstances that shroud her country, Nigeria, but for the sake that her newly ex-fiancĂ© might have boarded the same plane, since he is to attend a wedding function in Abuja. She gains succour when homosexual and religious fanatic Chinedu joins her to mourn the crises that have befallen their nation. At the beginning of Chinedu's closeness to Ukamaka, the reader's mind may be tempted to believe that Chinedu's sympathy may not be after all sincere; that he might want to use that as a trick to get Ukamaka's attention. The later revelation that Chinedu is a gay with a break-up relationship with a man in Nigeria as a proof shatters every previous thoughts one must have nurtured about the character's trait. As unfamiliar as the homosexual matter is with the setting of Nigeria's fiction, Adichie  tells the story with the confidence of one that cannot be muffled easily.

THE AMERICAN EMBASSY - This story is a dramatic relief of some sort; a breather from the rest of the homo-matted themes of civil-war and immigrant struggle concoctions. Though, it is not that the story is entirely stainless clean from the vibrating subject matter that rings throughout the collection. The technique and the personalised mood and tone with which the story is told sets it out as my best. Through the memory flashes of the lead character of the story, everything is uncovered. Ugonna is shot for his father's sin. His father is one of the editors of a print media (The New Nigeria) who heartily speaks against the callous administration of Abacha. Before Ugonna's father can be clamped upon by the sent messengers of death from those he fights with journalistic words, he is ferried across the border to seek asylum. The narrator recounts her ordeal as she queues to get a visa to join her husband in America. The visa she eventually never collects as she walks out on the embassy officer in frustration.


JUMPING MONKEY HILL – Jumping Monkey Hill is a story in a story. Jumping Monkey Hill in Cape Town is the venue of the writing residency in which Ujunwa Ogundu takes part with some other African writers. The participants are to write a story each, which is to be ready for review and scrutiny at the end of the first week of the two-week writing residency. Though Ujunwa never believes in fiction as being any sort of therapy when she says she will never write about the hurt her father causes her, the story she later writes at the residency turns out to be the crises she has faced in her parents' frosty relationship, the marital dishonesty of her father and the travails of a female job seeker. She writes about a character called Chioma, whose first interview when she goes in search of jobs only requires her breasts as 'job pass' for the job. Chioma later secures a job in the banking sector but informally resigned when she refuses to be Alhaji's (a big affluent man who promises a big deposit to her bank if she becomes his banking wife) plaything. But when Ujunwa's story is refused at the writing residency because it is perceived as "agenda writing", she is quick to tell the organiser, Edward, what part she leaves out to make her story slightly different from what really happen to her as a banker in Lagos.

****
Adichie..., Dished this...

Adichie never disappoints in this regard; she goes into the psychology of Nigerians in Diaspora, she explores their pains, struggles and travails. Adichie celebrates their struggle and praises their determination and courage. Her words are strong and her thinking deep.  She, like the people in her stories, must have passed through or witnessed some of the things talked about. She clings to her roots so tenaciously that all you get to see are Igbo characters and Biafra experiences. She needs to be more Nigerian and spread her narrative across the country. This, however, does not take anything away from the freshness of the stories told. She writes them well.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

News From 'CelebrityRead 4'



Location: Tiamiyu Salvage Street, Opposite Bar Beach, Victoria Island, Lagos.

Venue: Terra Kulture.

 

The pain is timeless;

The emotion is empathic.

The pain is mutual;

The atmosphere was with pin-drop silence.


What made November's reading of CelebrityRead special was not only about the shades of celebrities that were invited or the literary enthusiasts that thronged the venue to see their various celebrities nor the students of Grayscale High School that were in their uniforms; it was the undertone and the theme every of the discussions at the programme revolved on – AIDS Awareness. At first, it was as if the literary event was holding at the grave yard of a forgotten cemetery. The silence that welcomed the event was solemn and pregnant with silent sorrows for those that had fell victims to the terminable but manageable disease of HIV/AIDS. The programme was organised in partner with LeND, YAT and TIER; organisations whose aims are all driven by a purpose: to stop the scourge of HIV/AIDS and help victims of the disease against discrimination.


Desmond from LeND gave a paper presentation on when the commemoration of HIV/AIDS's victims as World AID's day started, the history of the disease and the statistics of the victims of the disease so far. His presentation further made the solemn silence thicker.


Celebrities Reading....

The war on AIDS was declared open at the event with the music from the brother duo, ELERI, whose music carried the tone of war, though a declared war on the excesses of the government.

Myne Whitman reads first from her book, A Heart to Mend. To underscore the importance of the programme, Myne Whitman, the author of the romance novel (A Heart to Mend) had to travel all the way down from the US, the journey she said took her three days of boarding planes from planes and transiting between airport to airport. Myne read from a passage in a book that talks about the situation of the lead characters' (Edward and Gladys) sex life.

She said, "I mostly write about romance. You know sex still remains the major way of contacting this disease? And there's no way you want to talk about romance without bringing in the issue of sex. When I want to write about sex, I make sure I write about it in a more matured and responsible manner."


Modele, a song writer and IT consultant, read next. She took her time to tell a nostalgic story that left the audience with pungent feeling.

"I was at church sometimes ago. After the preaching, the pastor called a lady who was HIV positive among the congregation to talk about the disease. After the lady's speech, the pastor asked that whoever was HIV positive should come to the front. I was surprised at how people were standing up, note that these were the people we had shared handshakes together and sat with each other on the pew without any discomfort. They all looked healthy. No one would have known they were positive if they hadn't stood up. So, there was no way for discrimination at that time even if one wanted to. It would be something else if one changed character with the same people you had laughed and shared pleasantries with. It could just be anyone."

Modele read from Ben Carson's book, a memoir, titled The Big Picture. The part of the book she read illustrates Ben Carson's wavering academic journey and his breakthrough; how he came from the bottom of his class to the top through intensive reading. The reading was reflective and humorous. The audience were constantly bursting into sporadic laughter amidst suppressed groan of hilarity of the difficult time of Ben Carson when he was the dullest of his class. Ben Carson, in his memoir, was able to change his life and rewrite his story when he began giving much time to reading all kinds of books at home through the effort of his mother who did not only forced him to read, but also to write reading-reports on what he had read, though she couldn't read. His shine came when he was able to tell the name and origin of the rock a teacher brought to the class one day. He took his classmates by storm as he won their respect through his explanation of the rock. He later said years after, whenever parents listened to his story and come to him to ask what approach they could use to tame their children and make them study like he did, his response to them has always been; "those years when we were forced to read by my mother, parents were the ones controlling the house, not now that it is otherwise".



Essence, a female singer and music composer, claimed to have started reading at the age of 8.

"I had grownups before, whenever they fling any book away; I was always picking them up. I found myself reading at a very tender age"

Before she started her reading of the book that inspired her most, she also had a story of a HIV testing experience to also tell.

"People were talking about the issue of knowing your HIV status and various ways by which it could be transmitted. I remembered I had removed almost all my teeth before; premolars o, molars o. You know these public hospitals now? I wasn't really sure of their sterilizers and I was too afraid I might have been infected too. So, I made a step of braving myself also for it. When I got to the hospital I told them I was there for HIV test, all they did was a pin prick on this my little finger. That's was just all o. After that they told me I was only to wait for some few minutes for the test result. When the result came my heart was almost out, however, it turned out positive. And I thought to myself, 'before nko, before nko, is it not actually going to be positive?'

"What I just want to say is that anyone could be infected with this virus irrespective of your colour, skin or status as there are other ways it could be transmitted."

Essence, the next celebrity to read, rather chose to read from the books of proverbs called 'African Proverbs For and About Children' written by Helen Ajayi. Essence read some of the proverbs as she also provided their meanings to them. Some excerpts of the proverbs read:

"A frog does not know there are two types of water until it is put inside a hot water"

"A lamb that walks alone is a prey to the world"

"A man who does not have a house shouldn't buy a broom"


Tosin Jegede? You remember her? Anyone who had listened to that didactic song of "parents listen to your children, we are the future of tomorrow..." would be able to recall who Tosin Jegede is. She reeled off a short piece, The Photograph, written by Tony Gamadia. The piece was about the sharp shock one experiences when one's loved one is lost to the virus called HIV.



Chude Jideonwo, the co-ordinator of The Future Awards came some few minutes late even though the programme itself did not start on time. Chude read a short story on HIV written by his friend, Tolu Ogunlesi. The story titled 'No Woman Left Behind' is a story of two semi-literate women. One knows something about the virus and explains it to her friend, the second woman; in an amusing way that hitches more to the pride she is trying to get from being the one who is enlightened on the disease called HIV/AIDS. What makes his reading refreshing and easily comprehending was the manner Chude Jideonwo read the story: vividly; stressing out the discourse between the women to pass their different moods and situations clearly.


Performances:

Performers were not also left out of the show too. Eleri sang 'Let the War Begin' to give voice to the rage directed at the government, Christine Ben-Ameh (Winner, Nokia First Chance) thrilled the audience with a number titled 'May Be This Is Love', a song dedicated to her late friend (an HIV patient) who later died in an automobile accident few weeks to her wedding. Chinedu read T.I.A. (This Is Africa), a poem he said was a retort to his inability to vote in the last election. Every performer had angst and blazing feeling to vent in one way or the other; some were on HIV while the rest were on the bad policies of the government.  


I Observed:


Inculcating reading habit in the minds of youths and children isn't the only task of one organisation. Even if the venue of CelebrityRead was filled to the brim, it wouldn't still have equalled to a pinch percentage of the population of Victoria Island let alone Lagos. What CelebrityRead organisation is doing is just a contributing task, which will take ages, to be frank, to affect people in the long run. With some of the crop of people, save for those who were really there to only network and students who must have been present just to mark the World Aid's Day significantly, one wouldn't need to sniff the whole air before one realises that they were just people who have come to attend just any social event to while away boredom and showcase their sophistication.

At CelebrityRead, Celebrities did read and tell stories... I'm so happy I was there!

 

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