Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Black History Month





October has just passed and with it Black History Month in Britain. Numerous events took place in London and other places where Black and African history and heritage throughout the world are celebrated during the month. I have attended three of such events at one of my local libraries:



- A talk by Daniel Kaluuya, a British born Ugandan who is an up and coming actor and writer best known for playing Posh Kenneth in the E4 teen-drama Skins. Daniel also had huge success earlier this year as Leon in Roy Williams’ Sucker Punch at the Royal Court Theatre.

I regret arriving late to Daniel's talk and having to leave early but got the impression that he is a promising talent whose career is worth following.



- A lecture by Sly Quarcoopome, a Ghanaian, poet and lecturer in Criminal Law/Psychology and Criminology, who read his poetry on the trials and tribulations of African consciousness.

Sly dedicated a special reflection on the experience of his home country, Ghana, Africa's first independent nation and the fate of its first leader, the Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah, the author of Consciencism, with his democratic election and then overthrow by a CIA-sponsored coup d'etat. An experience replicated elsewhere on the continent throughout the 60's, which Sly, who presented himself as "an aspiring poet", put into these verses:


African Holocaust

From centuries of Slavery to Colonialism
From Stealing of
Gold to Diamonds
From Massacres to Genocides
From Imperialism to Modern Day Slavery
From Single Party to Multi-party Systems
From Divide & Rule to CIA & MI5 Coup-de-tats
From Dictatorships to Tribalism
From Corruption to Nepotism
From Religious Strives to North & South Divide
From Democracy to Dem-All-Crazy!!!


He also talked extensively about Africa's plight - from the continent's 'discovery' to what he termed 'modern day slavery' of Africans, both at home and in the diaspora, as well as the downtrodden of all nations and origins, with an emphasis on the differential impacts of the current economic crisis in society, especially in Britain. All this he conveyed in this poem inspired on Bob Marley's song of the same title, which was in turn inspired on a speech by Haile Selassie:


WAR!!!

Until the philosophy
This labels some
First World
And others, Third World
There's gonna be WAR!

Until the political tendencies
To name some nations
Under-developing
And others
Developed
There's gonna be WAR!

Until the shenanigans
That some are civilised
Due to richness
And others
Uncivilised n Barbaric
Due to poverty
There's gonna be WAR!

Until all legitimate
Freedom Fighters
Dis-labelled as Terrirists
There's gonna be WAR!

War in the North
War down South
War left side - East
War right side - West
War all over the bleeding place!

War down Wall Street
War up Capitol Hill
War down Parliament Square
War around the White House
War even in the shooters alley
War all over the bloody place.



Sly also had a word on women's discrimination throughout Africa. One particular statement he made that comes to mind was that "if a man is a wife abuser and keeps a lodger, sooner or later that lodger will also start abusing that woman and when a woman is abused in all likelihood she will also become an abuser, particularly towards her children, spawning a vicious cycle of crime and violence in society."

That is something one can observe in societies like the Angolan where, even recently, at least eight women were reported as victims of rape every day in the capital city, Luanda, while child abuse, including sexual, is rampant throughout the country and specially in provinces like Huila. And this sort of violence against women and children is then aped by foreigners in the country – something that my own recent experience in the lusosphere and with some Angolan media circles, even if not direct or physical, can serve as an example…

At the end of his well structured and presented lecture, I intervened just to add some cases to those Sly had mentioned, namely the equally CIA-sponsored overthrow of Lumumba in the Congo Zaire (now DRC) and the recent death (killing!) of Jimmy Mubenga. I also called attention to the need, especially in this year of celebration of the 'African Jubilee', to widen the scope of our reflections and discussions from what others have inflicted upon Africa and Africans throughout History to what we Africans have been inflicting upon ourselves and on the land of our ancestors. In this regard, I gave the specific exemple of the May 27th 1977 'holocaust' in Angola which left thousands of people dead, disappeared, emprisoned, mentally handicapped or psychologically disturbed...
Another example that can be given in that vein is the pogrom known as the Sexta Feira Sangrenta against the Bakongo in Luanda, on January 22nd 1993.




- A presentation by Chinwe Azubuike, a female contemporary voice from Africa, born in Lagos, Nigeria, who describes herself as a spokeswoman for Nigeria’s deprived class.

This last one was that which touched me the most, not least because it was protagonised by a woman. Throughout the presentation of her campaign denouncing violence against women, specifically against widows in Nigeria, and the performance of some of her poems, I was moved almost to tears at times.

There I was sitting in front of this short, slim, yet strong young lady who, with her short-cut hair - which reminded me of exactly how I used to wear mine (... for that I would either go to a barber's shop or cut it myself, and sometimes my late partner, who also liked it very much that way, would cut it for me...) when I was about her age and had also just published my humble first, and so far only, book of poems - holding all my attention and emotions, between the gravity and tension of the subjects she is dealing with and the distension and pleasure of a frank smile conveying to her audience the idea that suffering and healing are facts of life: the first being inflicted upon us by others (and sometimes by ourselves), the second being brought about by our conscious decision to stop both the causes and the consequences of that suffering.


Fears Of A Celibate Woman


The selfish lust of man
Has
earned him my doubt and distrust.

With this vast body of desires,
I
feel forsaken

Who is fit to uncross my twisted legs
And throw them
wide apart?
For my core is burning

Oh! You knight in shining Armour,
Come and prove me wrong.



She followed the paused, pulsating, reflexive (and reflective) reading of each poem (just as I would read my own) by a short explanation - something that I never did with mine, either verbally or in writing (except of late with some I've published on this blog), because it is my belief that poetry either succeeds at being self-explanatory or is ineffective. She also somehow concurred to this assertion by saying after the first reading that it "probably wasn't fair to do that as the author should just leave it to the audience to make sense of the poem." However, in doing so, she was also implicitly acknowledging something that I have experienced myself: the risk of our poems' intended message being lost in "the senses" (translation ... transliteration... prejudgements... prejudices... meaning... projection ... association... appropriation...) the audience, or the reader (not to mention the, often reckless, critics...), may discretionarily attach to them - but then, that's the gamble inherent to poetry writing, especially that of the symbolic kind, isn't it?


To The Memories Of Homage


I still remember the duty your
lips pay
left and right as you walk
down the aisle of people back in
motherland

The responses of women
with wrappers wrapped high above
their breasts
busy, bustling with wares to be assembled for an early sale
in the glowing warmth of the morning sun
They never forget to respond~
with the chewing sticks stuck in their mouths
They never forget to call
out your name
even before a salute leaps out of your lips

I still
remember the sequential interference
of greetings that stops you in your
track
to enquire the fate of your house-hold
and livestock if you
possess any
At times irritating, but all in good faith
by well meaning
hearts and acts of brotherliness

I remember the rebukes your
unintentional mind attracts
from those who surpass your age when morals
evade you
The slogan says ‘it is not love’
yet we engaged in it without
ceasing
it gave and earned us respect

So whenever I see familiar
faces here
who avert their eyes,
I wonder what they think salutation
depicts.



Well, at the end I took the opportunity to thank Chinwe for her beautifully crafted poems and to briefly say how much the underlying themes of both her poetry (e.g. the loss of her father, celibacy, or the sense of solitude and isolation in the diaspora with that permanent longing for echoes of the motherland in each of our smiles lost in those on the streets or at bus stops we momentarily think might be one of our own but really don't want to know us - yet, I've also experienced this is my own homecountry!) and her campaign (the ritual - both symbolic and physical - humiliation, moral degradation, prosecution and stigmatisation of widows in Nigeria) were so close, directly or indirectly, to some of my own life experiences.

I also shared with her and the rest of the audience the trials of widows in Southern Africa (particularly those in countries most affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the region) which are very similar to those she described as happening in Nigeria, albeit for seemingly different reasons and in differing cultural settings, and how, for example, the passing of the 2005 Family Law in Mozambique (see details here and here) was a significant landmark in addressing some of these issues and their root causes.

But throughout, perhaps the only thing I really wanted to tell her but didn't muster to was something along the lines "do you know that there are women who are deprived even of the right to widowhood?"



- While looking up on the net for some more information about Chinwe, who also forms part of Exiled Writers Ink, a collective of artists and writers, I found out that she was featured earlier this year at my good friend and fellow blogger Sokari's Black Looks;

- I also visited the website of one of the organisations to which her campaign is linked, which also works with partners and associations of widows in countries where widowhood is a problem in terms of human rights abuses, discrimination, marginalisation, poverty and violence, such as Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Angola, The Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda, Widows For Peace Through Democracy - where I came across an organisation which might be worth exploring just for its name: The Organisation of Strong Women who Live Alone .






October has just passed and with it Black History Month in Britain. Numerous events took place in London and other places where Black and African history and heritage throughout the world are celebrated during the month. I have attended three of such events at one of my local libraries:



- A talk by Daniel Kaluuya, a British born Ugandan who is an up and coming actor and writer best known for playing Posh Kenneth in the E4 teen-drama Skins. Daniel also had huge success earlier this year as Leon in Roy Williams’ Sucker Punch at the Royal Court Theatre.

I regret arriving late to Daniel's talk and having to leave early but got the impression that he is a promising talent whose career is worth following.



- A lecture by Sly Quarcoopome, a Ghanaian, poet and lecturer in Criminal Law/Psychology and Criminology, who read his poetry on the trials and tribulations of African consciousness.

Sly dedicated a special reflection on the experience of his home country, Ghana, Africa's first independent nation and the fate of its first leader, the Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah, the author of Consciencism, with his democratic election and then overthrow by a CIA-sponsored coup d'etat. An experience replicated elsewhere on the continent throughout the 60's, which Sly, who presented himself as "an aspiring poet", put into these verses:


African Holocaust

From centuries of Slavery to Colonialism
From Stealing of
Gold to Diamonds
From Massacres to Genocides
From Imperialism to Modern Day Slavery
From Single Party to Multi-party Systems
From Divide & Rule to CIA & MI5 Coup-de-tats
From Dictatorships to Tribalism
From Corruption to Nepotism
From Religious Strives to North & South Divide
From Democracy to Dem-All-Crazy!!!


He also talked extensively about Africa's plight - from the continent's 'discovery' to what he termed 'modern day slavery' of Africans, both at home and in the diaspora, as well as the downtrodden of all nations and origins, with an emphasis on the differential impacts of the current economic crisis in society, especially in Britain. All this he conveyed in this poem inspired on Bob Marley's song of the same title, which was in turn inspired on a speech by Haile Selassie:


WAR!!!

Until the philosophy
This labels some
First World
And others, Third World
There's gonna be WAR!

Until the political tendencies
To name some nations
Under-developing
And others
Developed
There's gonna be WAR!

Until the shenanigans
That some are civilised
Due to richness
And others
Uncivilised n Barbaric
Due to poverty
There's gonna be WAR!

Until all legitimate
Freedom Fighters
Dis-labelled as Terrirists
There's gonna be WAR!

War in the North
War down South
War left side - East
War right side - West
War all over the bleeding place!

War down Wall Street
War up Capitol Hill
War down Parliament Square
War around the White House
War even in the shooters alley
War all over the bloody place.



Sly also had a word on women's discrimination throughout Africa. One particular statement he made that comes to mind was that "if a man is a wife abuser and keeps a lodger, sooner or later that lodger will also start abusing that woman and when a woman is abused in all likelihood she will also become an abuser, particularly towards her children, spawning a vicious cycle of crime and violence in society."

That is something one can observe in societies like the Angolan where, even recently, at least eight women were reported as victims of rape every day in the capital city, Luanda, while child abuse, including sexual, is rampant throughout the country and specially in provinces like Huila. And this sort of violence against women and children is then aped by foreigners in the country – something that my own recent experience in the lusosphere and with some Angolan media circles, even if not direct or physical, can serve as an example…

At the end of his well structured and presented lecture, I intervened just to add some cases to those Sly had mentioned, namely the equally CIA-sponsored overthrow of Lumumba in the Congo Zaire (now DRC) and the recent death (killing!) of Jimmy Mubenga. I also called attention to the need, especially in this year of celebration of the 'African Jubilee', to widen the scope of our reflections and discussions from what others have inflicted upon Africa and Africans throughout History to what we Africans have been inflicting upon ourselves and on the land of our ancestors. In this regard, I gave the specific exemple of the May 27th 1977 'holocaust' in Angola which left thousands of people dead, disappeared, emprisoned, mentally handicapped or psychologically disturbed...
Another example that can be given in that vein is the pogrom known as the Sexta Feira Sangrenta against the Bakongo in Luanda, on January 22nd 1993.




- A presentation by Chinwe Azubuike, a female contemporary voice from Africa, born in Lagos, Nigeria, who describes herself as a spokeswoman for Nigeria’s deprived class.

This last one was that which touched me the most, not least because it was protagonised by a woman. Throughout the presentation of her campaign denouncing violence against women, specifically against widows in Nigeria, and the performance of some of her poems, I was moved almost to tears at times.

There I was sitting in front of this short, slim, yet strong young lady who, with her short-cut hair - which reminded me of exactly how I used to wear mine (... for that I would either go to a barber's shop or cut it myself, and sometimes my late partner, who also liked it very much that way, would cut it for me...) when I was about her age and had also just published my humble first, and so far only, book of poems - holding all my attention and emotions, between the gravity and tension of the subjects she is dealing with and the distension and pleasure of a frank smile conveying to her audience the idea that suffering and healing are facts of life: the first being inflicted upon us by others (and sometimes by ourselves), the second being brought about by our conscious decision to stop both the causes and the consequences of that suffering.


Fears Of A Celibate Woman


The selfish lust of man
Has
earned him my doubt and distrust.

With this vast body of desires,
I
feel forsaken

Who is fit to uncross my twisted legs
And throw them
wide apart?
For my core is burning

Oh! You knight in shining Armour,
Come and prove me wrong.



She followed the paused, pulsating, reflexive (and reflective) reading of each poem (just as I would read my own) by a short explanation - something that I never did with mine, either verbally or in writing (except of late with some I've published on this blog), because it is my belief that poetry either succeeds at being self-explanatory or is ineffective. She also somehow concurred to this assertion by saying after the first reading that it "probably wasn't fair to do that as the author should just leave it to the audience to make sense of the poem." However, in doing so, she was also implicitly acknowledging something that I have experienced myself: the risk of our poems' intended message being lost in "the senses" (translation ... transliteration... prejudgements... prejudices... meaning... projection ... association... appropriation...) the audience, or the reader (not to mention the, often reckless, critics...), may discretionarily attach to them - but then, that's the gamble inherent to poetry writing, especially that of the symbolic kind, isn't it?


To The Memories Of Homage


I still remember the duty your
lips pay
left and right as you walk
down the aisle of people back in
motherland

The responses of women
with wrappers wrapped high above
their breasts
busy, bustling with wares to be assembled for an early sale
in the glowing warmth of the morning sun
They never forget to respond~
with the chewing sticks stuck in their mouths
They never forget to call
out your name
even before a salute leaps out of your lips

I still
remember the sequential interference
of greetings that stops you in your
track
to enquire the fate of your house-hold
and livestock if you
possess any
At times irritating, but all in good faith
by well meaning
hearts and acts of brotherliness

I remember the rebukes your
unintentional mind attracts
from those who surpass your age when morals
evade you
The slogan says ‘it is not love’
yet we engaged in it without
ceasing
it gave and earned us respect

So whenever I see familiar
faces here
who avert their eyes,
I wonder what they think salutation
depicts.



Well, at the end I took the opportunity to thank Chinwe for her beautifully crafted poems and to briefly say how much the underlying themes of both her poetry (e.g. the loss of her father, celibacy, or the sense of solitude and isolation in the diaspora with that permanent longing for echoes of the motherland in each of our smiles lost in those on the streets or at bus stops we momentarily think might be one of our own but really don't want to know us - yet, I've also experienced this is my own homecountry!) and her campaign (the ritual - both symbolic and physical - humiliation, moral degradation, prosecution and stigmatisation of widows in Nigeria) were so close, directly or indirectly, to some of my own life experiences.

I also shared with her and the rest of the audience the trials of widows in Southern Africa (particularly those in countries most affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the region) which are very similar to those she described as happening in Nigeria, albeit for seemingly different reasons and in differing cultural settings, and how, for example, the passing of the 2005 Family Law in Mozambique (see details here and here) was a significant landmark in addressing some of these issues and their root causes.

But throughout, perhaps the only thing I really wanted to tell her but didn't muster to was something along the lines "do you know that there are women who are deprived even of the right to widowhood?"



- While looking up on the net for some more information about Chinwe, who also forms part of Exiled Writers Ink, a collective of artists and writers, I found out that she was featured earlier this year at my good friend and fellow blogger Sokari's Black Looks;

- I also visited the website of one of the organisations to which her campaign is linked, which also works with partners and associations of widows in countries where widowhood is a problem in terms of human rights abuses, discrimination, marginalisation, poverty and violence, such as Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Angola, The Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda, Widows For Peace Through Democracy - where I came across an organisation which might be worth exploring just for its name: The Organisation of Strong Women who Live Alone .


4 comments:

sokari said...

Wonderful and Chinwe is one of my dearest and closest friends so I am going to direct her to your review. She is a wonderful beautiful person. Thanks so much for publishing this post.

Koluki said...

Thanks Sokari.
It was really a pleasure to get to know Chinwe's work and it's rewarding to find that you are close friends!
Isn't the world small and life beautiful?

:-)

Sly said...

Well done Lady K.

Peace and inner-tranquility be unto you forever. Nice to know a beautiful soul and intelligent soul like you. The struggle continues.

God bless.

Koluki said...

Hello Sly!

It's great to have your comment on this.
It was really enriching to attend to your lecture and I've just added your contribution on women's discrimination which I had initially overlooked - you know, we women sometimes get so 'full of ourselves' that we either don't listen to what the brothers are saying or we quickly forget about it all... ;-)


May also God bless you and I wish you Peace and all the best as well.

And, indeed, A Luta Continua!