Flashback Friday: – OBAMA, MCCAIN, BUSH, the rest of Europe and the Invisible One…

Super happy that Barack Obama and the rest of the EU are finally waking up to Russia’s bully boy tactics, and imposing some much needed sanctions.  In my view, they should have started this process FIVE YEARS ago!

*The background and disclaimer*

I wrote this 5 years ago, when Russia invaded Georgia under the guise of “protecting” South Ossetia, a region within Georgia with secessionist tendencies. (For those not in the know, I’m not talking Georgia, the State in the United States, go google the Russo- Georgian War). *smiley face*

The post is a bit full of fire and brimstone, but in my defense I was full of the passion of youth. Now I’m an … aah.. ‘older lady’, I’m sure my language would a bit more toned down where I to write this article today, lol.

*The ‘Invisible One’ refers to Gordon Brown, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom , who had a remarkable tendency to go MIA when something tricky but worthy of Prime Minister attention, turned up*

Taking it straight from the jump… a trip down my 2008 Memory Lane

So… like I really wanted to like Obama, I mean I really wanted to love this guy in a in-another-world-I would-have-your-babies kinda way… Finally, the horrors of the “Yo, Blair!”)-Bush years were about to be banished by this fun, “regular folk” hot intellectual… and no, I wasn’t playing identity politics here I was just halfway bowled over, mad, over head in love with guy’s intellectual prowess and just general coolness…

Unfortunately just when one is heading towards the punch line, reality intrudes… in the form of…that flashing red flag… the Caucasus Crisis.

First of all I need to vent this out: WHAT THE F#$* was Russia thinking?!!! And before anyone brings this up: Afghanistan – GOOD, Iraq = BAD (On second thoughts, make that disastrous!)

Now I’m no right-wing neo-con conspiracy theorist, but I’ve been reading some of the news bulletins in the past fortnight in increasing disbelief, and near levels of hysterical incredulousness! How can anyone believe this is the fault of Georgia or indeed Saakashvili?! Hello, I’ve a newsflash that really shouldn’t be a Newsflash- IT’S THE RUSSIANS, STUPID (Sorry Anna, you know I love you dearly)

Russia invades another sovereign country which is dealing with its own border- territorial disputes, and Russia- in the mould of “peacekeepers” invades to wreck the economy and infrastructure, massacres its civilians, loot its buildings, banks, and Obama and the rest of the appeasers urge Georgia to SHOW RESTRAINT??? Are you kidding me? Where is Churchill when you need him, honestly?

And err… let’s not go with the theory, that we need Russia to agree on key issues like Iran, North Korea, the war on Terror, Zimbabwe, Somalia, and all the other tin-pot regimes Russia has helped to prop up and sustain in an effort to thwart the West. Let’s not divide the world into spheres of East and west… let’s just spell it out as it is: Civilised people everywhere when finally given the choice, chose the “greedy, self-serving” ideology of Capitalism in 1989 over the rotting carcass of Communism. All the lefties who would rather not accept the choice of these nations need to take a flying jump to Putin’s Russia (Siberia is so this year, darling) till we can figure out a way to time-capsule them permanently to the midst of Stalin’s purges where they can wail incoherently at the “atrocities” of the West.

Russia’s idea of “co-operation” has consisted mainly of building bad nuclear reactors (Chernobyl) and selling them to Iran, sponsoring as#holes like Gadaffi to wreck terror and chaos across Africa (think Charles Taylor, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast and Guinea) liaising with China to schmooze even further as*holes like Mugabe and Somali, Sudan idiots and thumbing their nose at the Western Capital that has allowed them to rebuild Moscow and its roubles (think BP-TNK). Oh, and lets not forget the holding the West to Ransom (Ukraine) over its vast oil and gas supplies to support its ghastly way of autocratic rule and life and, often limb (Chechnya). In the 21st century of globalised interdependent economies, the “Russian form of co-operation” is one I’d prefer to opt out of, thanks very much.

This is precisely why Georgia matters. Today, it’s Georgia, tomorrow its Ukraine, Poland, and then … who’s next for the game of tag with a nuclear weapon?

The Italians and the rest of the appeasers (I’m sorry Obama, this includes you) need to get real. It’s time to try and salvage a few of the wrecks from this joke of a peacekeeper. Like McCain said, “We’re all Georgians now”. And NATO and the EU need to firmly emphasize that point in whatever face-saving financial cutbacks and destruction of bilateral treaties and pact they announce tomorrow (if they have the balls).

P.S. You may notice I didn’t actually talk about Brown in this column. Nuff said, I’m off to hug a knife-wielding hoodie.

The Seduction of Inadequacy, and what the Lupita Nyong’o Oscar win means for millions of young black girls

Lupita NyongoSo last night, Lupita Nyong’o, the delightful and eloquent Mexican-Kenyan actress and Hollywood’s latest ingénue, won her first Oscar for her harrowing portrayal of a young black female slave in 1840’s America. The subject matter was deep and Nyong’o was mesmerising and masterful in her depiction of the character Patsey. The sensitivity and elegance that Nyongo’s powerful performance lent to Patsey’s life was made all the more disconcerting at the realisation that Patsey wasn’t just some fictional character, but a real life historical figure. Those repeated rapes, abject humiliation and attempts to completely strip Patsey of her worth as a fellow human being, actually happened. Eurrgh. *vomits in mouth*

In the film, the movie ends on a somewhat feel- good note, Solomon Northup gains his freedom and escapes the soul destroying madness of slavery, but I know that in the days after watching that movie I often wondered what became of Patsey, the woman left behind to an era of repeated sexual degradation, cotton picking, and life ended in some unmarked grave in a Southern State of America. All because she was black.

Lupita Nyong’o, to her credit appears not to have let all of Hollywood’s fawning get to her head. And in her beautiful Oscar acceptance speech last night, she paid tribute to Patsey (never given the honour of even a last name, further robbing her of any identity other than a vessel, an instrument to do a white man’s work)”It doesn’t escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is due to so much pain in someone else’s”. This! That line right thurrr! What can I say? If I wasn’t already enamoured of this beautiful fellow African Chic… As it was, her raw emotional intelligence and her empathy in her greatest hour made me fall in love with Miss Nyong’o all over again 🙂

So what is it about Lupita Nyong’o? Of course, I was captivated by her performance in what to some is “just another slave movie”, but it wasn’t just that. I saw her on the red carpet, and I was entranced by her sense of style, her eloquence, her wit. I read articles about her background – From being born in Mexico, raised in Kenya, educated in Kenya, Mexico and the US- and found myself relating to this fellow “AfroPolitan”. Perhaps it’s because she’s just 2 months younger than me, (she turned 31 on Saturday) and African (not just of African descent) that I felt this inexplicable sense of affinity. I certainly never rooted for Halle Berry, Jennifer Hudson, Gabourey Sidibe, Viola Davis in this way (although I loved the movies that garnered their nominations) and I think they are all Beautiful Strong Black women.

The articles I read told how, after graduating Hampshire College in the US, she went back to Kenya and practiced her craft as an actress (a profession a lot of African parents don’t always look on with approval. “Na wa oh, your parents pay all this school fees to send you to school abroad, you endure repeated separations from your parents, childhood steadfast friends and family and all that is familiar to you, and you say want to become what? An actress! Ha!” A great many of my generation of African homies can relate to what would generally be the standard reaction to that career choice. #NotPleasing).

Even after Lupita had supposedly “made it”, and was easily identifiable to thousands of Africans from her role in the MTV Kenyan mini series -Shuga, she was still driven by the need to better herself and go back to Yale and refine her craft, to continuously prove herself. Can we say the same of the Nadia Buaris, the Genevieve Nnajis’, the John Dumelos’ aka ‘stars’ of the African film Industry, and Nollywood? This wasn’t some young chit prepared to rest on her laurels… Hell no! She was going to out there and conquer! “Aah”, I thought to myself, “This girl has character!”.

And then I heard about Lupita’s Essence Speech. If you haven’t read it yet, I suggest all young black women (especially if you’re 35 and below) run, google and read it! What it taught me was that in Lupita Nyong’o is a sense of purpose, and an appreciation that Hollywood’s recognition of her talent, style, class and phenomenal beauty will not only bring the Prada dresses and Miu, Miu campaigns – but also provides her with an immense platform to give back a sense of self-belief, a revival of Obama’s “yes we can” campaign to million of dark skinned black girls around the globe. And she uses that power wisely. Like that other fellow gorgeous Afropolitan, Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie – she of the fabulous words and ability to turn language into a mesmerising art of seduction. Lupita recognises the “Danger of a Single Story” – that dangerous narrative that Hollywood and the Western World has sprouted for donkeys’ ages: To be black and considered beautiful, you have to be a Gabrielle Union/ Rhianna/ Beyonce with fair skin and a massive weave/ lace front wig. It’s a narrative that’s unfortunately been sadly espoused further by fellow Africans who should really know better. *Ignoramuses like that Dencia character selling her bleaching product “whitenecious” springs to mind*

Black has always been beautiful, tis True, but the various standards of black beauty have never truly been represented in the Western Media (the platform that is most accessible to all). And so like Adichie pointed out in that TED speech, the ‘black story’ or the black experience of beauty or success is too often misrepresented in Western media/ Hollywood, selling the notion and influencing way too many people that the only idea of black beauty is a fair skinned black beauty. Or the only idea of Black success is as a gangster, a rude gyal, a hustler/ 419. Or the misrepresentation of black people as maids, taxi drivers, cleaners, down and outs. The fawning accolades and the global attention Lupita Nyong’os’ intelligence, ethereal grace and brand of beauty has garnered, exposes that myth and reveals that “black story” to be incomplete. Of course it is far more important to be beautiful on the inside, but what Lupita’s awards season has shown is that “There is no shame in Black beauty.” So to my Ebony skinned sisters, please stop seeing your skin as an obstacle and revel in your differences, and in your own unique form of beauty. Recognise that Hollywood’s adoration of Lupita represents Acceptance for all forms of black beauty (and black hair), and raise the middle finger to those who demand you conform to a single narrative of beauty and success. You are not inadequate by any means; you are powerful beyond measure 🙂

Patsey’s story was 150 years ago. In the time since, the most common form of slavery has been abolished, all black people have supposedly been physically emancipated, but the chains of inadequacy remain, and prevent millions of black people, black girls from reaching their full potential, especially in the Western World where Black People are the minority race. Lupita’s trajectory – From Mexico, to Kenya, to Yale, to that Oscar stage last night, shows the freedom and achievement that is within ANY Black persons grasp. If only they free themselves from the sense of inadequacy, grasp the mettle of self-belief, and hone their street smarts into social skills effective for a global world. Coco Chanel said a girl should be two things: Classy and Fabulous. I think Lupita Nyong’o is embodying that sentiment right now, and she’s proving you don’t have to be Beyonce with a Lace front Wig, or even Cara Delevingne or Angelina Jolie to do that. Just be true to yourself and your heritage; have the principles to know your rights from your wrongs; have the strength of character to walk away from those wrongs… and the rest of the fruits of success will follow 😉

#OnwardsandUpwards