Friday, April 29, 2011

7 Quirky Things About This Royal Wedding

Bride did her make up- The new Duchess of Cambridge did her own wedding makeup! She is said to have taken lessons from a make up artist Arabella Preston who went up to private flat in Chelsea and even to Clarence House to teach her a thing or two. She was reported to have disliked the professional makeup job done on her face before her engagement party and wiped it off and resolved to go the DIY route. In Nigeria, that’s some 50,000 saved!
The couple kissed twice - Traditionally, the bride and groom of blue blood usually treat the couple to a public show of affection on the Buckingham palace balcony. But no sooner had the couple treated us to a quick, sweet kiss, did screams of Kiss again! Kiss again rent the air, and for the first time in British royal history, we got a second more swoon inspiring kiss.Not everyone enjoyed that kiss...

All them hats - Lord! The British love their hats. From the fancy work of art worn by Princess Eugene , William’s cousin to the reindeer like affair donned by Princess Beatrice of York, Bea’s sister to the glam piece on the pony tail of the ever stoic Victoria Beckham, one is just left wondering if they are in a contest to outdo each other.
The Groom's royal; cousin's Eugenie and Beatrice in their Philip Treacy hats

Zara Phillips, William's cousin in Phillip Treacy too

The groom's garndmother, England's reigning Monarch in a sunny yellow ensemble
Duchess of Cornwall, Groom's step mom in Phillip Treacy, ok, he made over 100 hats at this wedding
Princess Mathilde of Belgium in Phillip Treacy
Princess Marie Chantell of Greece

VICTORIA BECKHAM AND DAVID BECKHAM    photo | David Beckham, Victoria Beckham
Victoria and David Beckham

Princess Anne, younger sister of Prince Charles, father of the groom
Queen Sophia
Queen Magrethe of Denmark
Sophie, Countess of Wessex

Marriage sermon was straight to the point- As a Nigerian and one who has attended lots of weddings, I couldn’t help but notice the brevity of the sermon given by the Archbishop of London. I updated my status on Facebook saying, “Great job, Priest, sharp sharp service, anything they haven’t learnt by now...well....! A lot of advice is needed before marriage but the wedding service is hardly the time and place for it!
The Queen does not sing as everyone sings to her- As the marriage ceremony wore on and it was time to sing the 'national anthem', it was glaringly obvious that the Queen was not singing. Alas, that was because she was being sung to and so she just looked on, albeit soberly. God save the queen, the Brirtish un official anthem goes and if it was a King, it wouldhave been God save the King. The whole anthem issue is embroiled in a controversy right now as certain quarters call for an enactment of a 'proper' anthem.
Reception cake is shaped like a crown- The couple asked the McVities company to bake a chocolate and biscuit wedding cake for them using the Royal Palace recipe( a craving of Prince William) . And it's shaped like a crown. Go figure!
 The McVities Chocolate Cake
But of course the Queen still got them a more traditional befitting(ahem) cakeRoyal Wedding Cake Kate and William Details, Pictures and Design.
Crowd throws their own party- This is one wedding in which even if you don't get an invite, you get to throw your own party and spend your money. Over 5000 street partis have been organized throughout England and people will be spending their pounds. Imagine that! This is one of the few reasons why it wouldn't be too easy to abolish the monarchy as proposed by the republicans. Face it, the monarchy does bring tourists to Britain!

Only Kate got a ring- And, oh, I forgot, only one ring was exchanged. Apparently Prince William wouldn't be wearing any. WeirdWilliam and Kate exchange vows!

I hope you enjoyed reading. If you did watch the Royal wedding between Will and Kate , please drop your comments about the quirky things you notuced too. Cheers and One Love!!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Fela; Not without honour

When news broke on the internet and other more traditional media outlets that Fela!, the Broadway show was showing in the United Kingdom and the United States, I was one of those people who wondered why it was non Nigerians who thought to honour the most prolific musician, entertainer and multi-instrumentalist from our shores. Hunched over my laptop, I cast my mind back to when I was a little girl and would go on visits to my uncle’s and all he had in the way of music were large, round gramophone records with the picture of this bare chested man with a cocky grin.

But not everyone in my generation is fortunate enough to have gone to the school of Fela! Especially for people in generations after mine, the knowledge of Fela and his message is almost nonexistent which is almost typical of the Nigerian system which allows pivotal elements of our history and culture to be replaced by the dictates of European and other foreign popular culture, when we have many aspects of our own culture to celebrate and uphold! So for those of us who don’t know, here is a short break down of the legend that is Fela!

His music: Afrobeat

Afrobeat was pioneered by Fela; a complex fusion of Jazz, funk, psychedelic rock, Nigerian/ Ghanaian High life and traditional West African chants and rhythms which he sung mainly in pidgin and sometimes Yoruba. Characterized by the use of many instruments such as the baritone saxophone, muted Western style guitars, drums, trumpets, horns and the shekere, the performances of Afrobeat utilized a large orchestra and many vocalists and dancers and was known to be very outlandish and wild. A typical African audience delight!

Art: not for the sake of art alone

Fela chose to use his music as a political tool to speak against the infringement of human rights, dictatorships and European cultural imperialism. His music spoke out against the subjugation of the African race, the exploitative side of modern religion and the evil monopoly of multi- nationals. It is easy to imagine that if Fela was singing his music now in 2011, it would unlikely consist of carefully prepared political praise. After all, praise singers are not sent to prison over two hundred times!

Influence on Pop Culture

In recent years there has been a revitalization of Fela’s influence on music and popular culture, culminating in another re-release of his catalog controlled by Universal Music, off-and-on Broadway biopic shows, and new bands, such as Antibalas, who carry the Afrobeat banner to a new generation of listeners.
After a private listening session for her label’s bosses, Beyonce says that her fourth studio project set to be released in June 2011 is inspired by, wait for it, Fela’s music! “How random”, she says.

Her husband, Jay Z at the opening of the Fela! Broadway show in the States, and speaking to MTV news on why he chose to produce the show had this to say, “It’s an inspiration, about the power of music. Here’s a guy that’s on the other side of the world who was influenced by James Brown, who takes this thing and makes his own sort of genre of music. I just think it’s fascinating.”

With the above it is clear that Fela’s life and music has had a far reaching effect across the boarders of the country he called home. But where are the Millions of Nigeria’s who Fela sang to?  What expression of inspiration have they shown?

The salience of these questions becomes even more glaring when compared with recent remarks from Yeni Kuti in her interview with Glory Edozien, featured in Elan magazine,
“It saddens me that there aren’t many afro beat bands. When I go to America they are playing afro beat, even in Japan there are Afrobeat bands. Everybody, expect us on in Nigeria. We need to claim afrobeat as ours before they take it away from us, because one day we’ll wake up and it doesn’t belong to us anymore. They will carry our thing if we don’t look after it. It’s worrying and saddening. More corporate organizations need to look into keeping afro beat in Nigeria. The band that plays for Fela! on Broadway, for example, is an all white afro beat band.”

Of course there isn’t anything wrong with other cultures being inspired by Afrobeat and its originator, Fela. The point here is we ourselves need to imbibe our own culture instead of waiting for others to do it first.

Without honour at home

Eye brows have been raised as to why it is the foreigners who are producing, directing and acting Fela!  Where is Nollywood and the Nigerian music industry in all of this? Why is the lead role not acted by one of his sons and possibly one of our own musicians. This leads me to think that it sometimes takes the foreigners to remind us of what great treasure we have. It is humbling, this great appreciation by foreigners of Fela’s music, especially when the statement of Stephen Hendel, the lead producer of the show is considered in context; “The culture here is very US- centric. The US does not normally go beyond its borders for artistic inspiration.”

Peradventure it would take Fela! showing in Lagos in a few days for us, Nigerians to see just what great talent we had in our midst and who still lives on in his music. Fela is the Chinua Achebe equivalent for music in Nigeria, the Prophet and Chief Priest of the Kingdom of Afrobeat and the one who chose to speak truth to power, giving us such evocative lingo such as “shuffering and shmiling” which in my opinion deserves a special place in the African dictionary.

For someone who dashed hopes that he would become a doctor and instead chose to pursue his love for music, pioneering his own unique Afro beat brand in 1967, his music speaks of hope, angry defiance against institutionalized oppression and the equality of all human race, which have now become much clearer since his passing in 1999.

It is worthy to note that any entertainment industry support fund would be best used in honoring such great legends who stood for something with far greater value than just entertainment.

This article was first published on Bella Naija on the 27th of April, 2011- as part of its Fela Tribute Week. Picture credits-

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Mad World- Short Story

Nothing in Caca’s seventy years of existence could have prepared her for this experience. Not even when she had given birth to her son fifty years ago in a midwife’s hut called MY CHILD far away from civilisation. The son she hadn’t spoken to in six months.

Her captors spoke in voices that betrayed youth; hesitancy flitting through their eyes every now and again. “The world had indeed gone mad, she thought, children who should still be suckling at their mother’s breast?”
The leader handed the phone to her, and in gruff tones he said, “tell him ten million naira by tomorrow or you’ll never be seen again”.

She could hear wailings in the background. Her daughter-in-law’s voice stood out; filled with the terror of the unknown. It dawned on Caca that indeed absence made the heart grow fonder. She missed them; she had been so foolish. The phone slipped out of her hands. A slap blinded her momentarily.

This is what it had come to; the relentless lure for vengeance that came from idleness and a battered self esteem; a misplaced use of energy though, seeing as she was one of their own; a daughter of the land of oil. Her son was just a mere actor and she, a wheezing, cackling bag of bones. It was absurd but then this was real. Fear held her in its unyielding grip.

Sleep that night was tortuous. The cold cement floor and the fat noisy mosquitoes conspired to give a new meaning to fitful sleep, and even once she opened her eyes and saw the butt of a gun pressed to her feet.
She wanted to ease herself. The leader roused himself, obviously disgusted at the disturbance.
“May your mother’s bladder burst!” she swore under her breath.
Can I have some privacy? she asked as he hovered over her just near some tall elephant grass, the steel of the AK47 glinting in the early moonlight.
He snorted.
“Never mind”, she said.
Today was the day. She knew her son would try to get the money. Mother-son bond was a hard one to break. But she resented that.
She scanned the deserted area and knew screaming was not an option. One shot from that gun……!
On getting up, a land mark came in view. Her smile spoke a million words.
When the sun rose properly, he handed her the phone, “Tex Junction, 2.00pm”
She only nodded.
She said softly and clearly into the mouthpiece, “We expect you at 2.00pm, Tex junction, ayen mi.
He frowned and snatched the phone back.
“I didn’t ask you to say that one; he knows he’s your child!”.
The distant sound of a car was heard in the distance as it sliced through the air.
“No car passes here”, he said to his assistant, his brow furrowing.
But the sound soon faded away; hope knocking the wind out of Caca as it took its leave.
Fidgety, he redialled the number and said into the phone, “we are waiting or we kill her!”
“We are here, a voice said, put up your hands and drop your weapons!”.
Her son stared back at her from the door; a shadow of himself.
“Ayen-mi”, she said and collapsed in his arms.
Her captors were rounded up by the policemen; with heads hung loose, eyes filled with cold defiance.
Across the fields, a ramshackle hut stood forlorn and on it hung the fading wood board with the words: AYEN-MI
Mother and son looked at each other.
“Thank you for understanding and remembering”, Caca said to her son.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

This is how it is supposed to be

This is how it is supposed to be. Vying for votes is supposed to be like getting a beautiful woman to marry you. After parading yourself as an eligible suitor and reeling off your list of assets, you should then sit back and let her make her choice.

You may be old, venerable and honest. You may be young, good looking but relatively inexperienced in the ways of the world. You may be charismatic, intelligent but relatively unpopular. You may be a lucky son from a large influential family. Or your village may share a boundary with her fathers’. But whatever it is, it is her choice to make.

It gets even more interesting if you notice that she is having second thoughts; wavering on the brink of decision, deluged by the combinations of pros and cons, for(s) and against(s). Your love for her (ahem!) may then propel you to try all the tricks within your book to get her to SEE more clearly, including casting aspersions on your fellow suitors. It’s all good. All is fair in love and war, they say.

You may need to get an endorsement from her beloved Secondary School teacher or promise her that you would allow her enjoy more equality with you, which she would consider very attractive because she doesn't understand that that is the way 'normal' couples behave. (And in instances of super-normal couples, the hunter actually 'serves' the hunted). But, I digress.

But all this just makes it all the more interesting. If you eventually win her hand, you would always remember that you worked for it, worked hard to inspire her confidence and then hopefully you would be determined to make good your promises.

You may be thinking that if she continues to remain undecided, you may need to ram up the pressure; get her father some bags of money and have him deliver her into your arms or anonymously deposit some money into her siblings’ accounts with a reference; 'buy that I-pad I know you want'.

Or you may take her forcefully; at gun- point or more appropraitely tell the whole world that she has slept with you when she doesn't even know if you have six packs or not.

If you do that, it would then become clear to her that you really do have a perverse way of expressing your love. Because of a burgeoning self awareness, she would ask you for proof of your allegations. A blood stained bed which may be taken into the lab for DNA testing. Just like her finger-prints, they are unique to her. But I digress again.

You won’t need to go that far if you are a true lover.

However way  it turns out, remember she chose you and can un-choose you. Divorce laws are getting  pretty  lax. See Gbagbo and Mubarak. But I digress yet again. Darn!

Friday, April 8, 2011

African Flash Prize Entry: My Three Patients( 750 words)

"I didn't win, but hey...."- Berry Feistypen

Sweaty bodies jostled for space and  seemed to merge into one glistening behemoth with thousands of legs. Balogun is known all over Lagos as the market where legs do not touch the ground.  On a row on Breadfruit Street were the stalls of  the corpulent widow, Alhaja,  MamT mother of eight children and who was just as big as Alhaja and Secretary with a build just like the others and whose husband had just lost his job. They never spoke to each other even though their stalls were lined side by side.

“ Sisi Nurse, I am tired of this fat oh,” Alhaja once said at our weekly health visit. “When a customer comes, getting up from my chair is not easy, she lamented, avoiding the pointed gazes of the others.  The others had told me the same thing at different times, starting with ‘ Sisi Nurse’. It was what I got after six years of medical school, but I couldn’t refuse the call to serve my fatherland. They sold feminine undergarments which had to be brought down when  buyers came calling from nails dangling from rails above. “Foolish idiot!” MamT once said to an unfortunate lady who let her get up from her chair and left without buying anything.

“I have told you before, and explaining as one does to a little child, I went on; plenty meat, plenty  fat, plenty problems” I watched as they all winced at my declaration, but it was not the first time. They were always wincing. Alhaja looked down at her bejeweled fingers, her flesh swollen over all the rings. Now their orders had come again: high mounds of amala, with ewedu soup and those large pieces of assorted meat. But how much meat could one possibly eat?

In private consultation, I tried to scare them by saying, “You know you have obligations to meet,  so if  meat will prevent you from doing your business, why don’t you let it go?”  That seemed to do the trick. A flicker of stern resolve passed through their faces, but it was nursed silently until strength came four weeks later. I watched them from my office across the path.

“Ah! Nothing for me today”, Alhaja said, patting her stomach. On hearing this, the others waved the girl away haughtily, patting their own stomachs and looking everywhere except at each other.On this day,  a customer passed by, her eyes lighting up at the colourful display of pants and feeling light and agile the women all gathered momentum and getting up in a swift movement, lunged for the lady reaching for her all at once. Alhaja held on to her arm, MamT her waist, and Secretary her shoulders. The lady beat them off with a handbag of brown leather, bared her teeth and threatened to bite if they did not release her, and muttering about traders who had gone mad, she walked away from them. Despite this, the women sat down with faint smiles on their faces for they had gotten up quicker than usual, and no one had outwitted the other.
Abstaining from meat though was a strain on them. Secretary seemed to be the worst hit, for she said she felt just like the rich man in the Bible, and wished she would have just a little piece of stewed meat to help her out of this “hell”.
“Cool down, it’s not that serious” I said attempting to make light of the ‘grave’ situation.

Three weeks after, they sang a different tune. “ No sales, Sisi Nurse”, Alhaja said when I asked her about business, my eyes focused on the new rings on her right hand. “The customers are always shouting and walking away any time we all get up. I am tired . We are not eating meat and we are not making sales” she concluded, furrowing her brow.
“If these women would just leave my customers alone”, MamT said with a hiss when I got a chance to speak with her.
“Sisi Nurse, what are you saying about this meat matter?” Secretary asked.
Two weeks after, as I walked past sharing health fliers, I glanced in their direction. Secretary was eating a large piece of meat, the oily stew dripping from the sides of her mouth. “Come and eat”, she said to the other women, her eyes large and imploring like a little girl’s. But they didn’t say thank you. They were out of their chairs in seconds and came to eat.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Leave me alone; That's just how I am !

Who are you? People would answer differently. I think I am a spirit(1st Cor 3: 1) who lives in a body(1st Cor 3: 1-3) and possesses a soul(1st Cor 2: 14). My soul/mind contains my will, intellect and emotions.

When I accepted Jesus into my life and received the gift of salvation, my spirit became saved. By allowing my regenerated spirit to exert maximum influence
in  my life, my soul becomes renewed by my wilful participation with the word of God while I work at leaving behind my old thought patterns, habits and predispostions.

I do not become less of an individual, I just become a 'new' man, maximising my God given strenghts and minimizing my weaknesses ( they are inherent in the best of us; I might add).

That is what I understand by the process of being born again; born anew into a life where I do not have to be tossed to and fro by the vagaries of the flimsy human nature. I do not believe that I have to succumb to the doctrine of "that's just how I am"; rather I believe that if how I am is not an embodiment of all things godly, loving and pure, then I have a way out!

To illustrate fictitiously the differences between the various systems that operate in the world, consider the following parable. Picture a poor fellow sitting on a hot plate suffering from severe pain. The little red warning light on the regualator is going off!
  1. A counselor approaches him who holds the somatic or chemical view-point (The point of view that we really are just bodies) : Hearing the client's complaints, he immediately pre-scribes tranquilizers or pain killers. The solution is to anesthetize him. Or perhaps the client is a do-it-yourselfer who does not have any pills in the medicine closet. He may resort to his own chemical solution by anesthetizing his brain with alcohol. If a surgical specialist is on hand he may suggest that the nerves which are activated may be severed. This will knock out the symptoms and give the client relief. Smash the red light on the regulator!
  2. Then, of course, there's the Freudian analyst who looks over the situation and says : Those who are preoccupied with the sexual part of our being) These pains are located near the sexual area. I think we'd better go back into the patient's childhood experiences and learn about some of his early sexual experiences. Then, perhaps we'll be able to alleviate his pain, though of course no assurance can be given. We recognize that he has been wrongly socialized and his superego is a cruel tyrant. If he can be re socialized he will possibly get better.
  3. Next, a disciple of Rogers appears (Those self awareness folk; lovers of all things self): When the sufferer asks him what he must do to get relief, the therapist replies: I'm not going to advise anything. I'm sure that you have all the resources within yourself to solve the difficulty. I'll reflect your questions back to you and help you clarify and gain insight. Now, sir, you say you are torn two ways?
  4. Finally a Spirit filled Christian (nouthetic counselor) comes upon the scene: He looks around and finds a hot, burning stove under the client. He says, "Get off that hot plate. Now that you're up, sit down on a chair over here and we'll talk about how you can avoid sitting on hot stoves in the future."
Er, folks, you do get my point. I have for the past week been researching internet sites for insights on a particular mental disorder I have some personal interest in. Someone I know has been exhibiting some alarming tendencies that I cannot explain especially because of the person's supposed knowledge of the things of God. Of course all that the websites can offer at best is the extremely gloomy picture of doom or at best a 1 in 10 chance that there can ever be a remedy for this "syndrome".

So after a period of despair, I decide to look up purely Christian websites and I stumbled on a gold mine. There is after all a way out. With true repentance comes an opportunity of true healing and that is the starting point for anyone battling with psychological issues. The same way I described above; when you truly accept his Lordship and Salvation, you then have the singular resource (The Holy Spirit) to deal with the mind issue.

From that point on, your spirit (essentially you) and his Spirit then work together to ensure that your mind is renewed and operates in conformity with his will. So to the degree you allow the Spirit to take over; it is to that same degree that your soul will reflect the sanity and order that God expects.

As for your body; I'll discuss that in my next part. The effects are the very things that most doctors wouldn't ever want you to know. Of course, there is a place for medicine and science, after all God is the author of all knowledge, but we'll see just what that place is.

So, friends, next time, you think "that's just how I am" and proceed to exhibit dispositions that are in direct discordance with the order and structure of God, remember that there is a way out. That doesn't have to be how you are!