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Funmi Iyanda
Lagos, Nigeria
Funmi Iyanda is a multi award-winning producer and broadcast journalist. She is the CEO of Ignite Media and Executive Director of Creation Television
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Friday, January 23, 2009


I just woke up from a nasty nightmare about a party gone awry and people getting murdered whilst I conduct a meaningless interview with a drunken police officer that was trying to hit on me. I blame JENIFA. Last night, in a time honoured 6-year tradition myself and my girlfriends met Thursday evening to catch up on work, life, love and the purpose of existence. It's a no children, no husband, no boyfriend, no children, (oh l said that already) evening spent either at the one person's home, the cinema or a café, restaurant or bar.

We usually have fun whilst we talk about our experiences good and bad at work, home and life. We are one another's cheerleaders and thermometers, we don't do gossip not because we are not interested in other people, we just unfortunately don't hate, dislike or envy anyone enough, clearly badly programmed females.

So yesterday, after talking about work, Michelle's inauguration dress (okay we gossip but surely the obama are the most riveting figures in the world now and ladies, yes boys you too, leave Michelle alone. God knows the sort of pressure she was under to look good on that day) we decided to watch the most popular film in Nigeria right now called JENIFA.

Jenifa is a triumph in word of mouth marketing and exemplary in the variety of people it appeals to. Everybody and their cat told me how brilliantly funny jenifa was so we sat down to a mountain of dodo, rice and fresh fish pepper soup to watch the comedy of the year.

Funke Akindele the star actress is brilliant and hilarious as SULIAT aka JENIFA the village girl on campus bent on becoming a bis gal (big gal). She has created new urban slangs and phrases that you will be totally uncool not to get. Suliat kan! Ayetoro kan! Mo donjasi re! bisgas! Gbogbo bisgas! Ousssss! Yes all those mean something and will be used on the street but only make sense when you watch Jenifa.

Akindele is the best part of the film, actually it is her acting and comic skills that makes the film and rescue it from being 3 hours (part 1 and 2) of torture. Of course you do have to pardon the usual poor production, poor sound, poor editing, poor translation and parts where damn it they just sod vexatious things like translations and continuity. My take on those normal challenges of Nollywood is that technical production issues can be overcome easily with better funding but the heart of filmmaking is a great story, a fabulous plot. All forms of media are really about different platforms of telling a story. That is the central and cheapest part because it only requires talent, which is priceless.

I wish the film Jenifa had stuck to its simple and good central plot of the village girl seeking to fit in on campus and had maintained its sense of humour through out. Instead it oscillated between fairly good comedy, badly done drama, ignorant propaganda and sub plots that suspend credibility.

As women our skin crawled at the many stereotypes of women. One of us is a doctor who had had a rough day dealing with the fall out of ignorance and the bad place women generally are in our society. An example was a very poor woman who had a collapsed uterus, which requires surgery to remove it preferring to die than lose the remote possibility of bearing a male child for her even poorer husband. She has 3 daughters already. This is one of her fairly good cases.

The journalist amongst us pointed out the lack of consequence for the heinous behaviour of the male characters in response to real or perceived ego denting behaviour from their women. There was the campus lover boy who pulled a gun on an aristo (sugar daddy) he caught his girlfriend with. He and his friends robbed the man at gunpoint; he eventually participates in the eye gorging and eventual murder of said girl friend. A really macabre plot, the cause of my nightmare and a moment of surreality in the film was the rave turned ritual murder orgy by a group of campus cult boys which was never reported or accounted for again even though many partying girls where murdered.

Excuse me, when did we transit into a horror film or is the joke on me? Finally, there was a scene where the fiancée of a repented, badly cut maxi Ankara (I can kill those dresses) dress wearing, mum in law to be approved girl condescended to forgive her abortion caused (as concluded by a retarded doctor) infertility by admitting he was a former campus cultist who had murdered many. Help me someone, murder, promiscuity, murder, when did those things become equal in scale of deviant and criminal human behaviour?

The doctor amongst us cringed at the perpetuation of the erroneous belief that infertility is caused by promiscuity and abortions, she shook her head at the continuous assertion of the screen doctor that gonorrhea leads to AIDS. She knows the dire consequences of badly communicated or fear driven sexual education, which is the real culprit with sexual health issues.

l had a problem with the perpetuation of the myth of the girls making good only by direct or indirect prostitution and men's bad behaviour being excusable on account juju. No wonder a little shrimpet once asked my scrimp asked how a mummy can have such a home and buy so many things when actually in her own home, as is true of many homes, her mummy is the primary bread winner but the little one has been socialized not to associate those three words, women, work, actualization.

Most of our socially dysfunctional behaviour is not gender generated but an issue of poverty and breakdown of structures that regulate human conduct. It is a myth that there are big men who give women endless supply of money. On average most men and women in Nigeria are poor, the number of very wealthy men is small and they only give enough to keep the woman needing them whether she is wife, girl friend or concubine.
Most women l know work their asses off to support the husband and family whether in the market place or banking hall. There are a few exceptions to the rule but societies are not defined by exceptions. The younger girls may be easier to fool as their needs are less so the money required is not a much thus more men can take advantage of that, especially as both men and women have bought into the idea of expressing self worth only through the material.
Even then these do not constitute the majority and for those who are, it is not sustainable. I repeat it is not a gender issue, as most young men will do the same if the situation was reversed.

As to the argument that these films reflect our reality l say yes they reflect aspects of our reality, which is often magnified and distorted to grotesque proportions.

In any case, who says those stories of human elevation from Hollywood is the American reality. They take aspects of their reality, dress it up and present a vision of whom and what they aspire to be; the best vision of themselves even in the most brutally subversive movies. When last did you see an American film, sitcom or series that portrays the American army as anything other than clean, all conquering, all humane even when they maim and kill. Is this not the same army whose men news reports have shown to rape young girls in remote posting, and pee on prisoner whilst laughing and filming it? Do you see that in movies?

I do not advocate rabid senseless propaganda or the sort of censorship that murders creativity but please enough already with the ashawo woman, witch woman, juju woman, victim woman, and pseudo religious woman and give us a heroine to admire and love flaws and all. The tragedy is that handled differently that heroine could have been Jenifa, the all-conquering bad style icon of ayetoro! Suliat kan, Ayeetoro kan, jenifa kan, no sakin!! We have done it before; Baba Sala was nuanced, laced with irony and a little subversive especially with the stereotypes and a slapstick comic character. Oh dear! l see l have lost my sense of humour and become strident and incoherent exactly what happens with JENIFA, three unduly long, dazed and confused hours after the first scene.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Fire In My Belly

As we watch the inauguration of Obama today, all senses and emotions (especially for us on the African continent and the black race world wide) engaged. It may be worth our while to not only read (or read again if you have seen it), the speech below from wrageblog given by Obama in Kenya in 2006 but to ingest the subcontext of what he was saying. How are we going to make the African dream come true? Actually who has defined what The African dream is in the manner of Martin Luther King? Perhaps more significantly, should the path be to an African dream as against a Nigerian, Kenyan, Cameroonian dream.....

Today is significant not only as America's moment or Obama's but for the sneering longing that it creates deep in the belly of millions of Africans and other people whose potentials are as yet unrealized. I am spending most part of the day in deep thought about all these even as I struggle to contain my emotions.

Thanks Sally Udoma and the ALI (African Leadership Initiative)community for sharing this.

August 28, 2006
An Honest Government, A Hopeful Future
University of Nairobi
Nairobi, Kenya

“The first time I came to Kenya was in 1987. I had just finished three years of work as a community organizer in low-income neighborhoods of Chicago, and was about to enroll in law school. My sister, Auma, was teaching that year at this university, and so I came to stay with her for a month.

My experience then was very different than it has been on this trip. Instead of a motorcade, we traveled in my sister’s old VW Beetle, which even then was already ten years old. When it broke down in front of Uhuru Park, we had to push until some joakalis came to fix it by the side of the road. I slept on the couch of my sister’s apartment, not a fancy hotel, and often took my meals at a small tea-house in downtown Nairobi. When we went upcountry, we traveled by train and matatu, with chickens and collard greens and sometimes babies placed in my lap.

But it was a magical trip. To begin with, I discovered the warmth and sense of community that the people of Kenya possess - their sense of hopefulness even in the face of great difficulty. I discovered the beauty of the land, a beauty that haunts you long after you’ve left.

And most importantly for me, I discovered the story of my father’s life, and the story of his father before him.

I learned that my grandfather had been a cook for the British and, although he was a respected elder in his village, he was called “boy” by his employers for most of his life. I learned about the brutal repression of Operation Anvil, the days of rape and torture in the “Pipeline” camps, the lives that so many gave, and how my grandfather had been arrested briefly during this period, despite being at the periphery of Kenya’s liberation struggles.

I learned how my father had grown up in a tiny village called Alego, near Siaya, during this period of tumult. I began to understand and appreciate the distance he had traveled - from being a boy herding goats to a student at the University of Hawaii and Harvard University to the respected economist that he was upon his return to Kenya. In many ways, he embodied the new Africa of the early Sixties, a man who had obtained the knowledge of the Western world, and sought to bring it back home, where he hoped he could help create a new nation.

And yet, I discovered that for all his education, my father’s life ended up being filled with disappointments. His ideas about how Kenya should progress often put him at odds with the politics of tribe and patronage, and because he spoke his mind, sometimes to a fault, he ended up being fired from his job and prevented from finding work in the country for many, many years. And on a more personal level, because he never fully reconciled the traditions of his village with more modern conceptions of family - because he related to women as his father had, expecting them to obey him no matter what he did - his family life was unstable, and his children never knew him well.

In many ways, then, my family’s life reflects some of the contradictions of Kenya, and indeed, the African continent as a whole. The history of Africa is a history of ancient kingdoms and great traditions; the story of people fighting to be free from colonial rule; the heroism of not only of great men like Nkrumah and Kenyatta and Mandela, but also ordinary people who endured great hardship, from Ghana to South Africa, to secure self-determination in the face of great odds.

But for all the progress that has been made, we must surely acknowledge that neither Kenya nor the African continent have yet fulfilled their potential - that the hopefulness of the post-colonial era has been replaced by cynicism and sometimes despair, and that true freedom has not yet been won for those struggling to live on less than a few shillings a day, for those who have fallen prey to HIV/AIDS or malaria, to those ordinary citizens who continue to find themselves trapped in the crossfire of war or ethnic conflict.

One statistic powerfully describes this unfulfilled promise. In early 1960’s, as Kenya was gaining its independence, its gross national product was not very different from that of South Korea. Today, South Korea’s economy is forty times larger than Kenya’s.

How can we explain this fact? Certainly it is not due to lack of effort on the part of ordinary Kenyans - we know how hard Kenyans are willing to work, the tremendous sacrifices that Kenyan mothers make for their children, the Herculean efforts that Kenyan fathers make for their families. We know as well the talent, the intelligence, and the creativity that exists in this country. And we know how much this land is blessed - just as the entire African continent is blessed - with great gifts and riches.

So what explains this? I believe there a number of factors at work.

Kenya, like many African nations did not come of age under the best historical circumstances. It suffers from the legacy of colonialism, of national boundaries that were drawn without regard to the political and tribal alignments of indigenous peoples, and that therefore fed conflict and tribal strife.

Kenya was also forced to rapidly move from a highly agrarian to a more urban, industrialized nation. This means that the education and health care systems - issues that my own nation more than 200 years old still struggles with - lag behind, impacting its development.

Third, Kenya is hurt from factors unique to Africa’s geography and place in the world — disease, distance from viable markets and especially terms of trade. When African nations were just gaining independence, industrialized nations had decades of experience building their domestic economies and navigating the international financial system. And, as Frederick Douglass once stated: “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did, and it never will.” As a result, many African nations have been asked to liberalize their markets without reciprocal concessions from mature economies. This lack of access for Africa’s agriculture and commodities has restricted an important engine of economic growth. Other issues, such as resource extraction and the drain of human capital have also been major factors.

As a Senator from the United States, I believe that my country, and other nations, have an obligation and self-interest in being full partners with Kenya and with Africa. And, I will do my part to shape an intelligent foreign policy that promotes peace and prosperity. A foreign policy that gives hope and opportunity to the people of this great continent.

But, Kenya must do its part. It cannot wait for other nations to act first. The hard truth is that nations, by and large, will act in their self-interest and if Kenya does not act, it will fall behind.

It’s more than just history and outside influences that explain why Kenya lags behind. Like many nations across this continent, where Kenya is failing is in its ability to create a government that is transparent and accountable. One that serves its people and is free from corruption.

There is no doubt that what Kenyans have accomplished with this independence is both impressive and inspiring. Among African nations, Kenya remains a model for representative democracy - a place where many different ethnic factions have found a way to live and work together in peace and stability. You enjoy a robust civil society; a press that’s free, fair, and honest; and a strong partnership with my own country that has resulted in critical cooperation on terrorist issues, real strides in fighting disease and poverty, and an important alliance on fostering regional stability.

And yet, the reason I speak of the freedom that you fought so hard to win is because today that freedom is in jeopardy. It is being threatened by corruption.

Corruption is not a new problem. It’s not just a Kenyan problem, or an African problem. It’s a human problem, and it has existed in some form in almost every society. My own city of Chicago has been the home of some of the most corrupt local politics in American history, from patronage machines to questionable elections. In just the last year, our own U.S. Congress has seen a representative resign after taking bribes, and several others fall under investigation for using their public office for private gain.

But while corruption is a problem we all share, here in Kenya it is a crisis - a crisis that’s robbing an honest people of the opportunities they have fought for - the opportunity they deserve.

I know that while recent reports have pointed to strong economic growth in this country, 56% of Kenyans still live in poverty. And I know that the vast majority of people in this country desperately want to change this.

It is painfully obvious that corruption stifles development - it siphons off scarce resources that could improve infrastructure, bolster education systems, and strengthen public health. It stacks the deck so high against entrepreneurs that they cannot get their job-creating ideas off the ground. In fact, one recent survey showed that corruption in Kenya costs local firms 6% of their revenues, the difference between good-paying jobs in Kenya or somewhere else. And corruption also erodes the state from the inside out, sickening the justice system until there is no justice to be found, poisoning the police forces until their presence becomes a source of insecurity rather than comfort.

Corruption has a way of magnifying the very worst twists of fate. It makes it impossible to respond effectively to crises — whether it’s the HIV/AIDS pandemic or malaria or crippling drought.

What’s worse - corruption can also provide opportunities for those who would harness the fear and hatred of others to their agenda and ambitions.

It can shield a war criminal - even one like Felicien Kabuga, suspected of helping to finance and orchestrate the Rwandan genocide - by allowing him to purchase safe haven for a time and robbing all humanity of the opportunity to bring the criminal to justice.

Terrorist attacks - like those that have shed Kenyan blood and struck at the heart of the Kenyan economy - are facilitated by customs and border officers who can be paid off, by police forces so crippled by corruption that they do not protect the personal safety of Kenyans walking the streets of Nairobi, and by forged documents that are easy to find in a climate where graft and fraud thrive.

Some of the worst actors on the international stage can also take advantage of the collective exhaustion and outrage that people feel with official corruption, as we’ve seen with Islamic extremists who promise purification, but deliver totalitarianism. Endemic corruption opens the door to this kind of movement, and in its wake comes a new set of distortions and betrayals of public trust.

In the end, if the people cannot trust their government to do the job for which it exists - to protect them and to promote their common welfare - all else is lost. And this is why the struggle against corruption is one of the great struggles of our time.

The good news is that there are already signs of progress here. Willingness to report corruption is increasingly significantly in Kenya. The Kenyan media has been courageous in uncovering and reporting on some of the most blatant abuses of the system, and there has been a growing recognition among people and politicians that this is a critical issue.

Among other things, this recognition resulted in the coalition that came to power in the December elections of 2002. This coalition succeeded by promising change, and their early gestures - the dismissal of the shaky judges, the renewed vigor of the investigation into the Goldenberg scandal, the calls for real disclosure of elected officials’ personal wealth - were all promising.

But elections are not enough. In a true democracy, it is what happens between elections that is the true measure of how a government treats its people.

Today, we’re starting to see that the Kenyan people want more than a simple changing of the guard, more than piecemeal reforms to a crisis that’s crippling their country. The Kenyan people are crying out for real change, and whether one voted orange or banana in last year’s referendum, the message that many Kenyans seemed to be sending was one of dissatisfaction with the pace of reform, and real frustration with continued tolerance of corruption at high levels.

And so we know that there is more work to be done - more reforms to be made. I don’t have all the solutions or think that they’ll be easy, but there are a few places that a country truly committed to reform could start.

We know that the temptation to take a bribe is greater when you’re not making enough on the job. And we also know that the more people there are on the government payroll, the more likely it is that someone will be encouraged to take a bribe. So if the government found ways to downsize the bureaucracy - to cut out the positions that aren’t necessary or useful - it could use the extra money to increase the salary of other government officials.

Of course, the best way to reduce bureaucracy and increase pay is to create more private sector jobs. And the way to create good jobs is when the rules of a society are transparent - when there’s a clear and advertised set of laws and regulations regarding how to start a business, what it takes to own property, how to go about getting a loan - there is less of a chance that some corrupt bureaucrat will make up his own rules that suit only his interests. Clarifying these rules and focusing resources on building a judicial system that can enforce them and resolve disputes should be a primary goal of any government suffering from corruption.

In addition, we know that the more information the public is provided, the easier it will be for your Kenyan brothers and sisters out in the villages to evaluate whether they are being treated fairly by their public servants or not. Wealth declarations do little good if no one can access them, and accountability in government spending is not possible if no one knows how much was available and allocated to a given project in the first place.

Finally, ethnic-based tribal politics has to stop. It is rooted in the bankrupt idea that the goal of politics or business is to funnel as much of the pie as possible to one’s family, tribe, or circle with little regard for the public good. It stifles innovation and fractures the fabric of the society. Instead of opening businesses and engaging in commerce, people come to rely on patronage and payback as a means of advancing. Instead of unifying the country to move forward on solving problems, it divides neighbor from neighbor.

An accountable, transparent government can break this cycle. When people are judged by merit, not connections, then the best and brightest can lead the country, people will work hard, and the entire economy will grow - everyone will benefit and more resources will be available for all, not just select groups.
Of course, in the end, one of the strongest weapons your country has against corruption is the ability of you, the people, to stand up and speak out about the injustices you see. The Kenyan people are the ultimate guardians against abuses.

The world knows the names of Wangari Maathai and John Githongo, who are fighting against the insidious corruption that has weakened Kenya. But there are so many others, some of whom I’m meeting during my visit here - Betty Murungi, Ken Njau, Jane Onyango, Maina Kiai, Milly Odhiombo, and Hussein Khalid. As well as numerous Kenyan men and women who have refused to pay bribes to get civil servants to perform their duties; the auditors and inspectors general who have done the job before them accurately and fairly, regardless of where the facts have led; the journalists who asked questions and pushed for answers when it may have been more lucrative to look the other way, or whip up a convenient fiction. And then there are anonymous Kenyan whistleblowers who show us what is, so that we can all work together to demand what should be.

By rejecting the insulting idea that corruption is somehow a part of Kenyan culture, these heroes reveal the very opposite - they reveal a strength and integrity of character that can build a great country, a great future. By focusing on building strong, independent institutions - like an anti-corruption commission with real authority - rather than cults of personality, they make a contribution to their country that will last longer than their own lives. They fight the fight of our time.

Looking out at this crowd of young people, I have faith that you will fight this fight too.
You will decide if your leaders will be held accountable, or if you will look the other way.
You will decide if the standards and the rules will be the same for everyone - regardless of ethnicity or of wealth.

And you will determine the direction of this country in the 21st century - whether the hard work of the many is lost to the selfish desires of a few, or whether you build an open, honest, stronger Kenya where everyone rises together.

This is the Kenya that so many who came before you envisioned - all those men and women who struggled and sacrificed and fought for the freedom you enjoy today.

I know that honoring their memory and making that freedom real may seem like an impossible task - an effort bigger than you can imagine - but sometimes all it takes to move us there is doing what little you can to right the wrongs you see.

As I said at the outset, I did not know my father well - he returned to Kenya from America when I was still young. Since that time I have known him through stories - those my mother would tell and those I heard from my relatives here in Kenya on my last trip to this country.

I know from these stories that my father was not a perfect man - that he made his share of mistakes and disappointed his share of people in his lifetime.

As our parents’ children, we have the opportunity to learn from these mistakes and disappointments. We have the opportunity to muster the courage to fulfill the promise of our forefathers and lead our great nations towards a better future.

In today’s Kenya - a Kenya already more open and less repressive than in my father’s day - it is that courage that will bring the reform so many of you so desperately want and deserve. I wish all of you luck in finding this courage in the days and months to come, and I want you to know that as your ally, your friend, and your brother, I will be there to help in any way I can. Thank you.”
Thursday, January 15, 2009

The sex chair

The cafan delivered my sex chair yesterday. I absolutely love it. It’s huge, its heavy, its a gold sprayed wrought iron contraption with gold thread tipped royal purple upholstery. I do admit that it looks rather wonky, some might say a tad tacky but I love it. Besides, the cafan assures me that it will deliver to me copious amounts of mind blowing sex. Now I must tell you about cafan, my crazy artist friend and neighbour.

When I moved into my estate, I was told that he was the substance ingesting, dread locked, robbers harbouring owner of the huge lot with the open access bungalow next to my house and a potential danger to society. On closer inspection it seem to me that he was just a rather bohemian man with interesting looking friends and hobbies. His personal style is what might emerge if you crossed Lenny Kravitz with a starving reggae artist. Aside the 1999 Jaguar and the rundown ‘78 truck packed in his mostly unfenced, undoored and unlocked fabulously hand built home, he seem completely devoid of any material possession and thus free of fear and fancy. He also looks like the type that has copious amounts of fantastic unpaid sex which I suspect is the reason my other now former rich neighbour with the always sad looking wife was so catty about him. The poor man looks like he must pay both wife and girl friend to have sex with him and given his girth and manners neither he nor they can find it particularly enjoyable not that you can tell by the generous moans of those rather wise women (ok, ok, so I am making that part up but it just looks that way alright?).

Anyway back to cafan, I have always wondered what goes on in that bungalow of his but never ventured in simply waving hello to him though the years. In the New Year, I was pleased with the world and idle so I went in to visit and was delighted by his wall and ceiling murals as well as his eclectic knick-knacks and furniture all hand made by himself or fabricated in his workshop. We sat talking in his patio, getting feasted upon by sand flies as he explained the architecture of the house and compound, his background, his fiancée (I must meet the brave young woman who will take him on) and his work.

Then he shows me these twin chairs he had designed and constructed as an aid to what surely must be tantric sex complete with a manual.
He explains how the man must sit on it and grip the sturdy joystick like handles whilst the woman straddles him holding the curved overhead railing for stability and levitation.
Myself being of a rather mischievous and easily excitable disposition promptly ordered a customized one and ten days later, it arrived, much to my squealing delight.

Now my dilemma is this, how will I test drive it? The cafan did offer but abeg this is not wisteria lane, one must know the limits of good neighbourliness.
At the rate I am going I may be looking at my first Zimmer frames before I take somebody home as I am prudish that way although my oracle assures me it is a sign off my suppressed goddess trying to free herself. So what am I to do with my sex chair/throne which is fast turning into a great conversation piece?

Actually, last night I found it super comfortable (good back support) despite its looks and was great for curling up and reading a good old book whilst sipping camomile tea with plantain chips which is what becomes of all good sex, ahem I meant self respecting partnerships.

Style rule no 1

I am not a great fan of style interviews, actually I am not a great fan of interviews, period! You know what they say, doctors are worst patients plus some journalists can ask the most craw baiting questions that becomes ones misfortune to answer. Reason, poor preparation and research but I must stop the musing. Anyways, Desola Bakare of Encomium magazine calls me for a style type interview, I say yes because it is Desola and she is not a self loather and I like her.

When I told her I am a lazy girl with fashion, beauty and all the rest of the shebang and don’t and won’t plan outfits and looks ahead of time and go into a panic if I lose a zip or button. I suspect she didn’t believe me so yesterday when I stumbled on these pictures taken by the tireless Funmi I decided to show them to Desola as proof.
Oh how I miss NEW DAWN! Oh how excited I am about what is coming next!!

So here am in picture one getting made up for the days’ show by the lovely Oluchi who sometimes stands in when my magician in chief Bayo Haastrup goes AWOL. Note her top and my tee shirt.

Here I am all dressed and ready to roll but I noticed that the lightness of the colour and texture of the blouse was washing the colour off my face on the monitor.

Here I call Ebuwa who was directing and my former PA “the bill” for second opinion

Note the expressions on their faces.

I had a brain wave and I asked Oluchi to pop behind the set with me and exchange tops, voila problem solved, no drama, no tantrum, it is okay that the blouse is a little loose and ill fitting, attitude l’omo… cameras roll.

As I no be agbaya, I gave Oluchi the top as keepstakes and returned her top after the show.

Style rule no 1 to 10,
Drink lots of water, eat your veggies and don’t take yourself too seriously.

New fun game: if you pick an outfit from the old days of NEW DAWN, I’ll tell you the story behind it once a week. Also since I get so many agony aunt kind letters, I will start a monthly agony aunt post in response, so send me your problems and lets talk, l can’t solve them but we can share them.
Monday, January 12, 2009

The faulty brain

The shrimp bounds (she doesn’t walk) into my study with the Buddha in tow, her wild head of hair dimming the bright shine of her eyes, as spinning on the spot, her words tumble out, comically repeated by the Buddha.
My brain is bad, it is killing me, really it is
I keep thinking and thinking and I cant explain it oh, ha it so …she dramatically drops on the floor making glugging sounds.
My friend, get up jo and stop the drama, what is the problem?
Promise you won’t laugh she says getting up in a bolt
I won’t
My brain is just thinking and thinking, (long pause)”how did we get here and what are we doing here”
You know mummy, here in the life, in the world.

So on my way to my local gym this morning I was thinking about that question, I am on familiar territory as I was only a little older than the shrimp when I became aware of my "beingness" and subsequently confused by its purpose. As we drove through the gate I saw an obituary notice for a friend I had not seen in a while, he died last week, I had not known he was dead.

Whilst labouring through my hamstring curls, I noticed a young man with perfectly honed body. Ordinarily I might have kept my distance as our appalling social ineptitude usually sees a number of men in these situation misread a casual hello as some kind of come on. But I can see from his perfect evenly cut proportions and demeanour that he was not a spoiled offspring of the rich (gym shape: Popeye’s cousin), or anal corporate (gym shape: what shape?) or indeed the rest of the rich and misguided (gym shape: advance stomach distension). Besides l have promised myself that this year l will stop being an insufferable social bore because I am second guessing the disturbed and the dysfunctional.

Are you an athlete?

He was. An hour later I had unearthed a potentially great story. His was the story of many a Nigerian athlete trying to achieve the extraordinary on sheer will power from competition to competition until he stumbled on a rich sport groupie (man after my heart) at an international competition who has decided to help him towards winning the world championship. This man paid for his gym membership, put him on an allowance to meet his training nutritional needs and is helping him secure a home nearer town so he stops the hellish commute for training.

The whole dialogue seethed with the anger borne of his frustration with the Nigerian sports authorities and older successful athlete until l reminded him of his good fortunes. I then asked him why he thought he is getting a break. He wasn’t sure so suggested that perhaps it is not just a chance for him to be great but a chance to learn greatness as a lot will depend on what he does with his success once achieved, otherwise in 15 years some young man will be slaving away in a run down stadium cursing him and his ilk also, a generational challenge unsolved.

We spoke at length and I was struck at how impressed he was by little things like a rather average gym, the ability to guarantee simple nutritional meals and proximity to training facilities. Little things that matter for an athlete’s success which have been fraudulently neglected since the times of father Tico (read your Nigerian sports history:-)) and indeed how easy it is to provide these things. I left the gym poorly exercised but with eyes burning with maniacal zeal at the potential not only to tell his story from this moment until he kisses that coveted gold medal on the middle podium at the world championship but also at the simple, cost effective idea l have dreamed up to support him and solve a pressing community need in Lagos. I had found the purpose for today.
Wednesday, January 07, 2009

An interesting read in deed

She's my favourite international designer. I just saw the CNN interview, illuminating. All crazy creatives should watch. Not sure the video is up yet but this makes an interesting read.

He is one of my favourite people alive. Wale Ajadi's personality can never be accurately described or captured in words, picture or video. He and I sat down to do this podcast last year.
Monday, January 05, 2009

Happy New Year

I'm back, nuff said. No noise, no fanfare, just a quiet statement of fact: I am back. I mean that in more ways than I can tell you. 2008 was a year of growth for me, she shook me and hurt me and hugged me all at the same time so much so that I did not know how to react. Even worse I did not want you seeing me in that state. The trouble with writing this darned blog is that I write it alone with myself and myself is oft brutally true to herself such that in an unstable state the stuff that comes out can be painful to read, injurious to my career and embarrassing to me post partum (yes writing this is like child delivery). I am also usually very embarrassed by the sheer self-indulgent and ego-massaging exercise it can all become whether the issues are personal, political, local or global, so l stopped.

I did not intend to come back, already devising a less intrusive form of expressing myself and communicating with the world outside of conventional media.
I was resolute until Wale Ajadi invited me on twitter and l realized how in stepping away from it all I might lose the bite.

So I am back but how will I handle those times when I am too angry or despaired about the state of affairs to be rational, funny or self-unaware? I will heed Thomas Aquinas Call

"Three Things are necessary for the salvation of man: to know what he ought to
believe; to know what he ought to desire; and to know what he ought to do".

Thus I am a happy, healthy, calm and aware me going into 2009. The projects are already lined up ready to IGNITE. It's going to be a fantastic year.