Why I am not Charlie

Some very interesting points, but above all very good writing 🙂 In the ethos of the article, interprete as you will.

a paper bird

imagesThere is no “but” about what happened at Charlie Hebdo yesterday. Some people published some cartoons, and some other people killed them for it.  Words and pictures can be beautiful or vile, pleasing or enraging, inspiring or offensive; but they exist on a different plane from physical violence, whether you want to call that plane spirit or imagination or culture, and to meet them with violence is an offense against the spirit and imagination and culture that distinguish humans. Nothing mitigates this monstrosity. There will be time to analyze why the killers did it, time to parse their backgrounds, their ideologies, their beliefs, time for sociologists and psychologists to add to understanding. There will be explanations, and the explanations will be important, but explanations aren’t the same as excuses. Words don’t kill, they must not be met by killing, and they will not make the killers’ culpability go away.

To abhor what was done to the victims, though, is not…

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That One Time Solange Knowles Broke the Internet and Showed who Run the World :)

image Solange Knowles.  Just broke the fucking internet. This skinny black chick WITHOUT A HUGE BACKSIDE just ‘out-Kimed’ Kim Kardashian West.

 

Who said you need a big butt to “break the internet”? Solange Knowles just did that with her über cool, super fun, and wonderfully creative wedding. The classy unique outfits (she wore a caped pantsuit, for Chrissake!), The Bicycle Ride Entrance; that Soul- Touching Dance Off with her son instead of the ‘Traditional First Dance’ with her Dad; and that “Run the World” Pose with her Bridesmaids all in white, just made me swoon and make me wanna run to the freaking altar myself, if I could just get married #SolangeStyle. And ain’t that a contradiction, considering I’m the ultimate believer in cherishing my wardrobe space, living in the moment, being free, and indulging in self expression. Lol.

 

But seriously, Solange’s wedding for me is the ish. If Beyoncé sometimes appears too perfect, too controlled, almost plastic a la a certain Kate Middleton, then for me Solange and her wedding spells… Girl Power. Real-ness. Being rooted in reality and true to your soul. Being unapologetic for your Bad-Assed-Ness. Like TI rapped with Rihanna in ‘Live Your Life’, Solange is aware of the game, alright, but not in love with all of it. She’s not your typical Black Barbie, this Solange babe. I like that she’s feisty (ask JayZ, if you think I’m lying) but she’s not too rude Gyal like Rihanna. (I don tire Rihanna shock antics sometimes). I love that she sported a humongous Afro for her wedding. I love that she wore a Caped Pantsuit. Girl looked Haute. No Fashion Victim-ness here (Please look to the Kim Kardashian seriously OTT wedding if that’s whatchu looking for). Solange genuinely looked like she was in the moment of her wedding, freeing her mind and just having fun with it. Even Beyoncé kinda bowed down to her in one of the pics. (See below).

image

She didn’t have her wedding in any of the hot and trendy Destinations Du Jours – Californian Vineyards, Kentucky Plantations, Versailles Palace, Florentine Castles, East Coast hotspots like the Hamptons. Hell Naww… Solange crunked it up in the hot and sweaty south. New Orleans Baby! You just know that she served Gumbo and maybe some Okra at that wedding 😉

 

And there’s a theme that I quite like about Solange’s wedding. Redemption. 2nd chances at Love. Solange was a pregnant teen mom who had a shotgun first wedding to spare her Momma’s blushes. But she made good. I mean sure, she has the Superstar Sis and Ms. Tina’s help. But it can’t have been easy to be pregnant at that age, have a child, hold your ish together, and figure out a way to carve your own identity and niche away from the sometimes (ahem, always) in-your-face Beyoncé. But she’s done it. She’s not just some pregnant teen mom riding her sister Beyonce’s coat tails, she’s forged a highly successful career of her own (as a musician, as a DJ, model and fashion muse), and somewhere along the line, she’s found lasting love again to form her own #PowerCouple. How awesome is that?

 

I think there’s a 21st century morality tale in there somewhere. Listen up girls, not all of you are going to down the traditionally accepted path of decent A-Level grades, Good Uni, Great Job, Marriage to some Nice Guy who just happens to be a hotshot investment banker, and then little cute munchkins, with a flat in the city and a house in the country and maybe a housekeeper, nanny and cleaner thrown in for good measure. Some girls are going to have a slightly rockier path. It’s not going to be cookie cutter perfection. It’s going to involve teen pregnancies, drug abuse, single mom jazz, alcohol abuse, council housing and deadbeat guys. But you can escape that, you too can be successful through legal means, if you have enough grit and determination. Don’t settle for Average and subject your child to a life of missed opportunities. ‘Tis hard, but You must need to want to escape the drudgery of your life, and you need to be Inspired. Be Inspired by Solange. (Just don’t go slapping Jay Z in some elevator or your ass will end up in jail. I said BE INSPIRED BY Solange. Don’t go out there and be a ‘wannabe Solange’. You are not Solange, and if your name is not Solange and you slap Jay Z, you will end up in jail, with all the Plebs).

 

So yeah… In case you didn’t QUITE realise… I loved Solange’s wedding. All of it. Consider me a Solange Groupie this week.

 

#QueenSolange

 

P.s. – Ok maybe the one thing I was a little bit…. hmm… about… Where was Matthew Knowles? Dunno what’s gone down there, but unless your Dad is a mass murderer or rapist, or never looked after you, I don’t understand why you won’t like, invite his old bones to your wedding. I get #DaddyIssues but he doesn’t have to walk you down the aisle, just attend as a guest… Forgive and forget and all that jazz.

 

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

Lights will guide me home… All roads lead to Somanya

Djaba Road

It took my sister, Nana Dede, to remind me the other day the fun I used to have being naughty and winding my Dad up! Stealing slices of his beloved pineapple from the fridge, and disrupting his enjoyment of the 7 O’ Clock news, or chatting incessantly (about anything and everything) in the car when he picked us up from school. Nene, his youngest was his favourite, so I guess I felt had to rebel somehow! Hehehe. Growing up, I heard Daddy mutter the words, “I’ll see you in Court” so often, that I always said I wanted to be a lawyer! I soon realised Law wasn’t for me and switched to Politics, my father’s other great love.

The 20th child of 22 kids! Ours was a very unusual family set-up, but it was all I knew. Today, as I reflect back on the sands of time and aspects of my fathers’ legacy, I still hear the “tap, tap” sound of Daddy’s typewriter, churning out long windy letters and voicing his opinions on matters of the day. And I realise, Daddy, you still live on… Through your children and the qualities they inherited from you. My tenacity, temerity, strength of will, interest in Politics & Current affairs, are all traits I inherited from you and have stood me in good stead in life. For that Daddy, I thank you and thank the Good Lord for your life.

May you rest in Perfect Peace Daddy, xxx

P.s. I don’t think I will eat pineapple or see Badedas without thinking of you… Oh and I still wind Daniel up on car journeys! The legacy of Henry K. Djaba remains… always

 

Sam…

Its weird to think,
Five years have passed since I received that call,
Standing in Tyler Court,
Where in a matter of Minutes, my carefree laughter and easy going smile
Were replaced by shocked disbelief and red rimmed eyes.

Its weird to think,
I will never see you again,
Hear your wicked laughter,
And see your sinful smile.
The glint in your eye and your quirky ways…
The Kung Fu Movies and the brilliant but seriously unhealthy breakfasts!

I Miss you
Your devlish ways,
And your thirst for life.
Your Sense of fun
and sense of Honour

I Miss you
And its weird to think,
Of you as gone.

Brainy is the New Sexy :)

I am “Sherlocked”. For those not in the know – that means I got introduced to the BBC’s new Sherlock series last night, and I am now wondering which particular rock I was hiding under last year to miss the awesome brilliance of the first series! Ooh la la! Running to iTunes now to go download the first series (in HD 0f course, dah-ling! The razor-sharp script, forensics and wit simply cannot be watched in anything else 🙂 )

So I definitely see the appeal of Sherlock, esp. to English viewers –  there is something undeniably attractive about a man who is so cerebral, that every day with him is one of discovery and forces a woman to examine the countless myriad of ways in which the world can be one of  joyous intrigue. Where the appeal falls flat for me with Sherlock is  the fact that he has the social skills and emotional connectivity of  a clam. Being African, I revel in the gregarious and the earthy. I’ve dated all types – the dark and mysterious; the resident bad boy; the person who made thoughts of the kamasutra flash before my sight the minute we met; the safe guy from a “good family” that your Momma loves and verbally kicks your ass every day for dumping- but the ones who made me feel so hot and make me truly imagine the fantasy of the white picket fence, are the guys combined cerebral with earthy; keen observation and ruthless logic with gregariousness; entrepreneurial with loud, sharp wittedness.The problem with me and those guys is other women have also found some, if not all of those qualities attractive as well, and they haven’t had the essence of mind to resist the lure of the challenge of another woman’s ahem.. pleasure 😦

But still… even knowing what I now do, I can’t regret the experiences we’ve shared, the joys I have known and the sense of wonder and excitement I always felt when I was with these potential heartbeat destroyers 🙂

Today, at an age when most of my contemporaries are married and preparing to raise their own little ones, I’m still refusing to compromise on my ideal. I realise that the two parts of me have me have finally come together.. The so-called “posh West London girl” and the deeply inherent African woman, who understands the significance, and sometimes  the burdensome package of her heritage.

I’m the girl who travels… who’s chosen a life of uncertainity, who doesn’t have a plan. I’m a pretty great dancer (some might say chancer!)- but to the beat of my own drum, going with the flow and following my heart. Because somewehere along this crazy and exciting path called life, I’ve learnt that the journey is the adventure, not the destination. #NoRegrets

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