Wednesday, March 5, 2014

TO SADIQ ABACHA — ON BEHALF OF WOLE SOYINKA | BY @ayosogunro

Dear Sadiq Abacha,

I do not know you personally, but I admire your filial bravery – however misguided – in defending the honour of your father, the late General Sani Abacha. This in itself is not a problem; it is an obligation—in this cultural construct of ours—for children to rise to the defence of their parents, no matter what infamy or perfidy the said parent might have dabbled in.

The problem I have with your letter, however, arises from two issues: (i) your disparaging of Wole Soyinka, who—despite your referral to an anecdotal opinion that calls him as “a common writer” – is a great father figure, and a source of inspiration, to a fair number of us young Nigerians; and (ii) your attempt to revise Nigerian history and substitute our national experience with your personal opinions.

Therefore, it is necessary that we who are either Wole Soyinka’s “socio-political” children, or who are ordinary Nigerians who experienced life under your father’s reign speak out urgently against your amnesiac article, lest some future historian stumble across the misguided missive, and confuse the self-aggrandized opinions of your family for the perceptions of Nigerians in general.

Your letter started with logical principles, which is a splendid common ground for us. So let us go with the facts: General Sani Abacha was a dictator. He came into power and wielded it for 5 years in a manner hitherto unprecedented in Nigerian history. Facts: uncomfortable for your family, but true all the same.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The search for success

I was told since my childhood to search for success
right at the moment when understanding
curve balls and intertwines strands by strands with competition.
My eyes squint and my stomach reels at the thought that someone okaying
my decisions is all that should matter. It doesn't seem like it matters if the totality
of my belief says that life

should be worth more than a few crumbs or that a baby’ life
is worth more than a woman working 9 to 5, beating success
at its game. Maybe I need to retrace my life in order to grasp the total
chaos that striving for literal understanding
has brought into my life. Okay
maybe, the answer lies in some competition–

Last night at the public relations student meeting, I froze at a competition
the question, whether interning should be scrapped from being life.
All I could think of was fuck! I was blank. Okay!
I also thought about successfully
showing I understood
the words that spewed out. I lost the election because I was blank. Totally.

Success has me knotted about competing. Life hates fairness
on my understanding. I’m not okay with this form. Fuck it!

A version of this poem initially was published by Ynaija as part of its 30 days 30 voices series.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

#Arrow's Nyssa al Ghul: Beloved League of Assassin

Hell hath no fury than an assassin scorned ...

So, I returned to watching Arrow this week. I had stopped at this season's first episode and worked my way up. Love seeing Black Canary and realizing she's Sara Lance. Love that she's Oliver's equal. They both have the same story line, the shipwreck sent them into arms of people who taught them to fight and both have seen enough deaths. Hence they're both strong and damaged.

But greater discovery was this week's episode where the show reveals Nyssa al Ghul. I love love her.
The first scene we see her in, I never have cheered on a villain as much as I did after seeing her pick up the pen. I knew what was coming and I pushed myself into the moment, without a care.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A Portrait of the Artist as a young Man

“The Modern novel mainly began with new efforts to explore the depths of the human mind” (Matz 53). Authors began to deviate from the classical norm in quest of achieving the present “reality.” One of the features of classical novels dealt with, most especially in A Portrait of the Artist as a young Man, is the presentation of plot as a keystone for fiction. Plot has for ages, been used as a tool for separating fiction from reality. Fiction, since it is not reality, tends to leave out all the unexciting phase and traits of the fictional character’s life. Also all narration and action slowly builds up to the climax and then the resolution/end. However, James Joyce downplays the evidence of plot in his narration, to almost an extent of non-existence to showcase explicitly the process of life: from being a child, to losing one’s innocence, to doing things to change the status quo, and to succeeding or not.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Tina Fey’s Prayer For Her Daughter

I plan on buying Bossypants. Planned on it before but forgot. Love, love it. I recently stumbled upon this prayer from Bossypants and it wreaked havoc on my emotional. I knew I had to share. 
First, Lord: No tattoos. May neither Chinese symbol for truth nor Winnie-the-Pooh holding the FSU logo stain her tender haunches.

May she be beautiful but not damaged, for it’s the damage that draws the creepy soccer coach’s eye, not the beauty.

When the crystal meth is offered, may she remember the parents who cut her grapes in half and stick with beer.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Kathryn Bigelow and The Hurt Locker

I would not call Kathryn Bigelow a maverick; I would, however, tag her as a genius. The opening scene of the movie, The Hurt Locker, ends with Staff Sergeant Thompson being killed in a bomb explosion, which is a combination of suspense and danger. The ending shot is that of Sergeant First Class William James looking towards the horizon and marching into premises unknown—a case of suspense, as the viewer is left to wonder what might be James’ luck in the next 365 days. In short, the movie starts and ends with elements of suspense, danger and a little bit of thrill, all signatures of an action movie. Bigelow does not do away with the conventions of action film making; she merely modifies them. Although she delves into the mind of her protagonist, shows the emotions and feelings of the veterans, and cuts back on the gore of war, she does not deviate from the train of thought that action-movie makers are supposed to ensure both the fixation of the audience to the screen, and the juxtaposition of thrill, danger, suspense and explosions.

Why I Speak

"Not My Business" by Niyi Osundare                             "And they came for me" by Pastor Martin Niemoller
They picked Akanni up one morning                              When the Nazis came for the communists,
Beat him soft like clay                                                   I remained silent;
And stuffed him down the belly                                      I was not a communist.
Of a waiting jeep.

What business of mine is it                                            When they locked up the social democrats,
So long they don’t take the yam                                      I remained silent;
From my savouring mouth?                                            I was not a social democrat.

They came one night                                                     When they locked up the trade unionists,
Booted the whole house awake                                       I did not speak out;
And dragged Danladi out,                                               I was not a trade unionist.
Then off to a lengthy absence.

What business of mine is it                                             When they locked up the Jews,
So long they don’t take the yam                                       I remained silent;
From my savouring mouth?                                             I was not a Jew.

Chinwe went to work one day                                          When they came for me,
Only to find her job was gone:                                         there was no one left to speak out.
No query, no warning, no probe -
Just one neat sack for a stainless record.

What business of mine is it
So long they don’t take the yam
From my savouring mouth?

And then one evening
As I sat down to eat my yam
A knock on the door froze my hungry hand.


The jeep was waiting on my bewildered lawn
Waiting, waiting in its usual silence.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

A collection of my Facebook Posts on the Anti-Gay Law

This post is for my mother. It's a collation of all my Facebook posts on the anti-gay law. I couldn't muster enough courage to write a different article that sums up all my thoughts on the matter. Took me a week to get it all out. It will be difficult summarizing my feelings in a few hours. Also, so many people have written on the issue already. 

January 12
It's official, if you're suspected or seen engaging in a homosexual practice, you will spend 14 years in jail. Jonathan signed the law. Of all the fucked problems we have to deal with, na to jail innocent people remain. Good roads, for where? Electricity, na for Yaba left. Quality education and healthcare, you must be joking. Religion and government no dey make sense, let's talk true. Government should get out of a person's body or what they do with it. We're a blind people.

Who is a gay person in Nigeria? A poor Nigerian without connections. S/he's the person the new law will affect.

The one thing I don't get is the height of hypocrisy. I mean, we know of rich men and politicians who sleep with young boys. Abuja is the capital. Yet because these men are married, rich and powerful, they're not gay. Let's be fooling ourselves and keep saying we're helping God.

Why am I concerned? Well, because of this: "Bauchi state have a list of 168 purportedly gay men, of whom 38 have been arrested and 10 who have been tortured recently." Soon, we will erect homosexual concentration camps, if we don't have them already!

While the government was busy giving us stuff to waylay our focus from bigger issues and demanding better governance, Boko Haram was busy laughing and continuing its mission, claiming the lives of 17 people in Maiduguri. Why isn't the government doing something about that? Nigeria hit by deadly car bomb

As a friend said "GEJ messed up up on that last bill he signed, because it means the anti-corruption bill and petroleum bill which has been lying on the house table for months could also have been passed and signed with such alacrity. So the question is where does government priority lie?"

Orlando versus The Passion, Use of Fantasy Elements

 vs

Both novels use fantastical elements in order to manipulate history, thereby giving the authors a freer rein in narrating the stories. Orlando is the story about a man who turns into woman, and experiences changes in eras and the social expectation that comes with them. The Passion, on the other hand, is a story about Henri, “a simple French soldier” and Villanelle, “a red haired, web-footed woman whose husband gambles away her heart” (back cover). Both novels are able to investigate the idea of identity by drawing a thin line between mind and reality and in the process, questioning one’s idea of reality in general.

Orlando spans over three hundred years with Orlando being thirty-six years old and a woman at the end of the narration. Virginia Woolf is able to examine gender differences and the idea of identity by having the protagonist experience both sexes in one life. Orlando becomes a woman at the age of 30 and is confronted with feminine issues only when she puts on female apparel for the first time; on the deck of Enamoured Lady, she is confronted with the thought of chastity and piety as “it was not until she felt the coil of skirts about her legs and the captain offered, with the greatest politeness, to have an awning spread for her on deck that she realized, with a start the penalties and the privileges of her position” (Woolf 153). Orlando starts acting in a way that she would probably have considered frivolous when she was a man. Woolf shows that the idea of identity in relation to gender is actually decided by society and not by one’s biological constitution. Orlando is still Orlando no matter the change. S/he does not feel the gravity of his/her change until she moves back to England and assimilates herself back to the civilized society. Orlando’s identity is not in her gender, but rather in the concepts placed on her gender by the society.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Pride and Prejudice versus Unaccustomed Earth

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Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Jhumpa Lahiri’s Unaccustomed Earth both depict women negotiating social convention and cultural expectation in terms of love and marriage; the only difference in both women’s approaches is that Austen tells her story from the perspective of an English woman in the 19th century, while Lahiri takes her stand from the Bengali culture in the 21st century. Although one would expect that there would be some difference between two novels, Lahiri shows that certain social expectations are still placed on the women of today, even with all the enlightenment and revolutions that have taken place.