Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Oprah's gift and my tears

I shed bittersweet tears this evening after watching these videos about "Oprah's girls".

Tears of joy for the gifted, determined, wise little girls who have had their lives transformed so dramatically by Oprah's gift. Tears of joy that their dreams have come true, that they have an amazing chance. Tears in hope of their reaching their goals and beyond.

Sad tears for the fact that over 40 years after Nigeria gained independence, we have still not gotten it right. There are still millions of girls who are just like those girls in the videos, even worse off in Nigeria.

I shed tears because we have leaders content to ride their Mercedes Benz on roads riddled with potholes, like the shock absorbers make it okay. I weep silently at our "elite", content to live in mini-fortresses which double as lighthouses, because they are the only ones able to afford generating sets in the neighborhood, instead of fixing electricity. They ship their children abroad en-masse to be educated, at institutions they could never afford by legitimate means or private universities at home, instead of fixing the system. I shiver at people who proudly talk about "our culture"- a decayed neo-culture, a caricature of the old values, where one with neither any sense at all nor of a high moral standing is valued more than millions of higher worth, just because of filthy lucre.

My sad tears are also occasioned by the situation of our young people. For poverty is a curse, but a lack of dreams and burning aspirations apart from baffs, a big car and the latest this or that is an even greater curse.

Ask a cousin what you can get for her and you will ninety times out of 100 hear her say perfume, or timberlands or a top. It is rare nowadays to hear "a book" . Even the privileged youth take their opportunities for granted, lofty aspirations are a waste of time, get rich quick schemes in order to "make it" are the in thing now.

I shed tears at my own cowardice, I feel a yearning to make a difference, yet fear of the unknown and a reluctance to leave my comfort zone is preventing me from trying better than half heartedly to make a change.

I shed tears because I don’t know if I will ever be brave enough.

Monday, February 26, 2007

And the Oscar goes to... and the snubbing of Nollywood.

2006 was a good movie year. I haven't seen most of the movies, but the ones I have seen were good. I think Helen Mirren deserved her best actress win. I totally enjoyed The Queen and the droll humour got me all cracked up. I would have liked Blood Diamonds to win something because I thought it was a truly memorable movie and Leonardo Dicaprio and Djimon Honsou were good. Either way, I am particularly pleased by the list of winners this year.

Black actors have not just miraculously gotten better since Denzel Washington won the best actor Oscar in 2001 - the first to be so recognised since Sidney Poitier in 1963. They are just finally working on a more level playing field. I am so happy that Forrest Whittaker won the Oscar, even though I have not yet seen the movie for which he won it - The last King of Scotland.
Now, hopefully the day will come, and soon too, when women of colour(gosh I'm sounding like that cosmetic advert on CNN!) get a truly level field. I fear the battle will be harder - just cos we are women. Anyway, since Halle also won in 2001, I'm believing that other people will be given a chance to play challenging characters. Jennifer Hudson's win makes her a real Dreamgirl! It certainly doesn't get dreamier than that.

I know African-Americans are busy denying Barack Obama is 'black" enough in the American context because his father was African and did not go through slavery. Yet, whatever some people say or think, I still firmly believe that when a black person anywhere in the world breaks a barrier, they have brought all black people around the world one step closer to equality. Their success makes it possibly for us all and our children to believe that all things are indeed possibly for him that both believeth and works hard.
So, I rejoice for the African-Americans who are suceeding in their fields like I rejoiced when Wangari Maathai won the Nobel Peace prize - in spite of the fact that most Kenyans have an inbuilt - unjustified in my opinion - distrust and dislike for Nigerians( but hey, I'm Nigerian, so maybe that's why I think so).

To other issues, in the last few days, I have seen/read several news reports about the African film industry where Nollywood did not even get a mention. I will be the first to admit that most Nollywood movies are rubbish, but since we all also know that Nollywood is the third largest film industry in the world, I feel that Nollywood deserved a mention. Instead, one was fed with information over the fledging South African move industry. I wonder if they paid for the PR which they got! Nollywood needs to tighten its belt and stop churning out crap - or else no one can complain when its looked over.

Monday, February 05, 2007


I've been very wound up the last few months and an old acquaintance, V, with whom I met up recently after about five years of very rare contact, suggested Tibetan Yoga. I got home and did a google search and found out that apparently, the body consists of seven "chakras"(actually Tibetans say its five, so I bet some westerner has done some wuruwuru- mixing Tibetan, Nepalese and Indian therapies) - seven "principal energy centers" which correspond to the seven endocrine glands, also known as chakras. Abnormal health, stress etc is supposedly caused by the fact that these chakras are not functioning like they should.
These five relatively simple exercises(also known as five tibetan rites) will apparently , according to this website:

"balance the 7 chakras & regulate the hormonal output. They affect our digestive system, cardio vascular system, nervous system and respiratory system.These low profile yogic secrets of the Lamas will unearth all the energies and an awesome power lying dormant within you, aligning it with the cosmic energy to give you the best of both mind & body."

V claims that since she started doing these exercises daily, she has felt much better than in a long long time.

I tried the first exercise , if one can call it that, basically standing with your arms spread and spinning round and it felt good. Like it always has. Now, I didn't know a thing about Tibet when I was eight and spun round and round on that warm evening when it rained heavily and I could smell and almost taste the sand and dust saturated steam that rose as the rain hit the dry season pavements, roaring in my ears as I whirled round and round with my siblings. It felt good then and it sure feels good now.
Spinning is fine, but I am determined not to cross the thin line between therapy and exercises and ideology, which is one of the reasons I have steered wide clear activities like Yoga and meditation in the past. I think I will still do the exercises, but no way I'm "emptying my mind" or meditating. The only meditation I'll be doing is praying! Interesting the way people are into alternative therapy these days.
Another friend suggested Chinese therapy to help me relax- acupuncture, massage, etc. Mmm, it all sounds very tempting, but I'm scared to get involved in something I can't handle. I am sure though that it would relieve my stress, nothing like a bit of massage with oils to make you feel good about yourself.
Meanwhile, V claims she can't drink any alcohol because her "seer" wants to pass her powers to her. Men, I am glad I only see her once in like five years o. Like life is not hard enough, for one to be looking for extra trouble by going to seers, seriously, I found it creepy. In this day and age. Na wa.

On another note, here are is a page I came across as I surfed along the Blogville.

Black people love us - I'm not really sure how to take this website, maybe I have lost my sense of humour?!?! OK,I think they are trying to provoke people to think about their prejudices, but isn't it a bit extreme?
BLOG WATCH!!!! Don't forget to give credit if you borrow anything from this blog.