Friday, November 17, 2006

Throwaway Nigerians


I get the term from Bibi - as a catch-all for all those crazy creative Nigerians out there in the diaspora who wouldn't dream of living in Nigeria and being forced into banking or law or some other faceless fatface job. Throwaway Nigerians may visit the mother country from time to time, but only a tiny few would ever dream of living there.

One such is Keziah Jones, the incredibly talented musician who has from the start, followed his own path. Bankers and lawyers seldom do anything to change society (ok they play their role). But compared to troubled creative elements who put their life on the line for their art, their value is insignificant. Nigeria needs to find a way to pull some of these people back, if the country is to transform and embrace creativity: the engine room of capitalism and development.

40 comments:

seeker,  10:26 pm  

Not all throway Nigerians are "crazy creative". Some are either too embarrased to come back, or simply can't.

keziah jones,  11:56 pm  

embarrassment or inability,doesnt figure in my case.i cant speak for all those other so called "crazy creatives" out there.i consider my self earned freedom to move freely around the world with a nigerian passport is what helps me to help myself and "nigeria" at the same time.my first allegiance is to my music then my family then my peoples then my country.country is last because it was created for us by our previous colonisers and not for "us" by ourselves,hence our severe problems today.
bringing "crazy creatives" back home alone wont solve nigerias numerous problems,but raising consciousness about the global similarity of all our problems amongst other oppressed peoples of this world will.

Anonymous,  2:27 am  

artists and their admirers can do so damn arrogant, as indicated by your post. Lawyers and bankers add nothing to siciety huh? so how do artists finance (bankers) and protect (lawyers) their projects, if these fatface jobs add little to society.

Ask those creative nollywood producers how much they make from thier movies and whether they'd rathe rlive in a society where laywers made it safe enough for bankers to finance their films.

Besides finance and law is very much as creative as any writer to musician. its all in the vision of the lawyer or banker

Jeremy 8:25 am  

Whether or not that was the real keziah jones (somehow I doubt it):
a) very few people know who keziah jones is in Nigeria. This is a pity because his music and style offers something different to the inane blanditudes of 2Face et al. His music is quirky, intelligent and provocative. Its a pity he's much better known in France than Nigeria. So, his music can't be construed as 'helping' Nigeria at present (or am I missing something?) The argument that Nigeria's problems stem from colonialisation are of course in part true, but then other former colonies around the world (British or otherwise) have done radically better than Nigeria in the past forty years, which points towards a more complex picture than simply blame-the-colonialists. One would have to point to the cursed discovery of oil and local socio-cultural factors as other causal elements at least. I'm not sure raising consciousness about the global similarity of problems will help either. What are needed are practical tools and creative strategies, a spirit of resistance and mobilisation. That's what pulled Argentina out of the mire.
b) 'pulling people back/bringing them home' doesn't necessarily have to be taken literally. It means embracing all forms of Nigerianness within the culture. It means embracing difference - cultural difference, creative difference, intellectual difference, sexual difference.. It means not just endlessly having pictures of politicians and bankers in the newspapers..
c) Talking of which, lawyers and bankers are just the cogs in the wheel of society. Of course like many cogs in many wheels, they are necessary, but they are NOT the drivers of change, they are at best the facilitators. In Nigeria, lawyers and bankers are far from being either on current evidence: the law does not work and the banks are crap. Nigeria needs creatives, whether of the entrepreneurial bent, or of an artistic persuasion. In terms of the latter, it is difficult for money-people to understand the power of artistic expression to re-balance and redress symbolic deficits, when in fact money is often a side-effect of symbolic power.

Anonymous,  9:03 am  

J, i agree with you. a society cannot survive or thrive without artists and creative types. they are the people that require us to pause and take a second look at our society. I'm a banker and I know that my bank should be more supportive of the arts.

Anonymous,  9:07 am  

Jeremy - the first post I disagree with on several counts. Firstly, everybody has a choice as to where they want to live and call home. The fact that keziah is not in Nigeria is his choice. Whislt we might not value creativity as much as developed western society history shows that even in Nigeria those with the talent will make their mark not only in nigeria but abroad - ala Fela, Sunny, Obey and the new crop of artists.It is extremely hard but people do make it. If he want to remain abroad then totally his choice.

Secondly and even more surprising is your dismissive cooments about people that make their contribution through commerce or law - the very foundations of any civil society. As someone with a PhD I would have thought you would give more credence and credit to these noble professions. Sure they might have chosen a different path but nevertheless it takes more than creative types to make the world go round. I for one am not sure that I would want to live in a world run totally by creative people no matter how enchanting it might appear because I suspect that it would not be long before chaos descended and someone would ask to get the lawyers involved.

I know a lot of bankers and solicitors due to my line of work and whilst for some of them it is just a means to an end to others what they are doing is just as creative as anything Keziah can slap on a disc (which I assume has to be copyrighted? marketed? the profits collated by his accountant? and then deposited in a bank? to be managed by his banker?) hmm

Akin 10:18 am  

Sometimes I like the turn of phrase that exudes Utopian expectations.

Someone said of Chxta a few days ago, that as a masters student he should be able to understand rules and here, someone says a person with a PhD should appreciate the legal and banking profession.

I would file those views under argumentum ad hominem whilst pandering to the inverse of intellectual snobbery - people should be able to express a general opinion without having their professions used to weigh preconceived and unsupportable assumptions.

But then, I find that common in Nigerian-speak - You are an engineer, you must ...; you are a doctor you should ...

It would be interesting to see where lawyers and bankers through their creativeness have earned accolades of service to humanity. Noble professions - my foot!

Soul 11:45 am  

Jeremy every single time you talk about Musicians or music, out comes your superiority complex and I'll say it right now..
check yourself

What the heck is wrong with you, you might like Keziah Jones but soo bloody what?.
Bush (british rock band) get mobbed on the streets in the US, but no-one knows who the heck they are in the UK.

Who the heck are you to denigrate Tuface's music as ramblings? because they don't fit your idea of 'serious music'?. oh and please don't trot out Jimi bloody Hendrix again.. why do you white folk do that?.
Why do you always learn to appreciate music 20 - 40 years after black folk have created it. why is it that it is your offspring, your children or your grandchildren who finally learn enough to be able to follow the rhythm and retrospectively teach it back to you?

This is the same silly snobbery you displayed over the artists at the 'this day' concert which I tried to address with you. You dismissed all of them completely based firstly on their lack of musicmanship and artistry and not on the fact that Naija artists should have been doing the job.

You know it is extremely arrogant and irritating when white folk especially people out of Britain who are musically backward (fact) start telling people who and what types of music they should listen to.

What the heck?. Half the decent artists in England leave because most of the UK is focused on bloody useless, lifeless fluffy pop, or re-inventing the wheel by badly covering music that artists have been creating for years. It's full of bloody lifeless identical bands covering 10 to 20 year old music and when they are desperate they cover 30 - 40 year old music.. and half of them are bloody desperate.

And it is bloody irritating when British folk talk about music, because British folk are NOT musically innovative and always musically light years behind.

Tuface has his place, and whilst you may not like his style and certainly he is not my favourite artist...get the hell off your bloody high horse.
Your ignorance and superiority complex is screaming out of you.

This seems to be typical of you:
just because YOU do not 'get it', you automatically dismiss it's value.

What is it Jeremy? is the rhythm too complicated for you?, not enough guitar riffs, not enough drug induced musicology that appeals to your near rhythmless needs?.

Do you know what it takes to write songs, to produce one single?.
Do you have even a smidgen of talent in the entirity of you to do it?.

Oh and please tell...
Name one African country that has done drastically better post colonialisation? Not European...but African.

Nigeria HAS creatives.. they may not fit your standard, they may not garner much respect from you and your ingrained elitism and snobbery BUT it has them.
Is Tuface not a home grown creative?, is faze alone?, and Jeremiah Gyang?, Baba 2010?.

Tell me Jeremy exactly who died , went to heaven and made you God so that you can read the mind of all of us creatives out there thus deeming you the voice of our discontent on why WE (creatives) are not returning?.

Did it ever occur to you that we are choosing to exploit a certain style that isn't the norm and doesn't appeal in Naija and we are willing to explore that to the fullest before we return.

Has it ever occured to you that some creatives are scared to return due to a lack of security in general in naija.

Jeremy, just stop with your almost insane condemnation of an art which you can never produce and which you do not have any talent to do yourself.

Your condescention is appalling, disgusting and like most white folk..based on your inability to appreciate what you do not understand or have no rhythm for.

'Jesus christ on a pogo stick, get a grip will ya, you really need to stop doing this, it reeks of bloody snobbery and elitism.

Jeremy 12:48 pm  

Soul what a rant. You have a racial complex you need to get over - the things you attribute to white people are puerile and silly. If something similar were done in reverse, you'd be the first to scream racism.

I don't need to say very much in response - do you really think many black musicians of today match up to musicians of twenty or thirty years ago? Do you think 2face can be comparable to say Fela, or Beyonce to someone like say Arethra, or say someone like jaz-z compared to say Gil Scott-Heron or Marvin? Its unfortunate that American black music has become so commodified, so much so that it is now called 'urban' music and that we have silly young things like yourself trying desperately to validate it and the age we live in. Black American music, like Black American politics, has by and large lost the plot. Sad but true. We no longer live in the age of black heroes like the Black Panthers, Angela Davis, MLK, Malcolm X et al. We live in a post-bling age of pure materialistic nihilism.

Meanwhile, if you find being around white folk such an uncomfortable experience, why are you not back in Nigeria? Oh sorry its because you're a scaredy-cat. And do you really think you've earned the right to call yourself creative, just cos you have spieled out some derivative mediocre sub-poetic drivel on your blog? Puh-lease.

Soul 2:08 pm  

Actually Jeremy,

If you study under ANY music professional they will tell you that Western music is light years behind..
East Asian being at the fore front, followed closely by African... but don't let that stop you.

re: musicians. yes I do.
but why stop at black musicians.
Do you think that many White musicians of today match those from 20 - 30 years ago? if not then what exactly is your point.

Why do you think you and you alone are the voice on the quality of black musicians especially since you can't even relate.
And as always you did exactly what you always do.. revert back to history instead of looking forward.

pray tell what did I accuse white people of that is not based on FACT.
And what do you have to say that is based on FACT which will cause anyone to scream racism?

Why would I compare Beyonce to Aretha Franklin, when I can compare or even carleen Anderson?

Why would I compare Jay-Z to Gil Scot wheen I can compare Mos Def, or KRS-1.


Even now your ignorance about black musicality is screaming out because you don;t even know how to compare like for like.

No we no longer live in the era of malcolm or Angela davis..
we live in a different era where the heroes are different. but of course you can;t see that because of course...to you ..
the noble black guy was in the past and will always be in the past.

When did I say I was uncomfortable being around white people? baring in mind I was born in the UK.

au contraire.. if you find being around black folk too beneath you why don't you leave. oh sorry...
it's because over here in blighty waxing lyrical about Hull... (lol HULL the official kaka hole of the UK)
doesn't carry much weight and you can;t brow beat your way to authority using it.

haa Haa lol...Actually I have earned the right to call myself creative.. it's what I do 9 - 5.

So you think my posts are 'sub-poetic, derivative drivel' hmmm.
Why, thank you kindly Jeremy. (I wonder why you read them?)

jealous - much?
I mean your opinion on my words actually means....erm.. what exactly...
erm nothing.

If you had an iota of talent musically or creatively.. it still wouldn't. because i'm doing what you will never be capable of. Which is writing from the Soul.
If you find/found my blogging soo intellectually purile, pray tell why link to my blog?.

But then again Jeremy, I was never writing to an audience, just to me.
of course, you can't understand that. you don't have the capability.

So, jeremy... care to post something, anything, 1 thing that you have written that can even be described as remotely appealing?

Show and tell... what have you written?.

how incredibly gallant of you jeremy. how incredibly galant.

but you know what they say...
everyone is a critic, but ohh soo few actually have the talent to actually write.

Did I ever court youfor approval on my personal writings?
Jeez! you just can't stop yourself.

My 'purile, derivative, sub poetry' no mind is a heck of a lot more than you will ever be able to write.
lol.. Jeremy.. I must have touched a nerve. lol

I'm sitting here laughing at the irony of you in a foreign land, telling me to leave the land where I was born. Must be something to have that sort of sense of entitlement.

Soul 2:27 pm  

oh and Jeremy,

the urban term was a phrase coined not for African American music but for black music.
In order to apparently make it more appealling to surburban white folk.. cos of course ..the label 'black' is deemed offensive to their sensibilities.

secondly, 'silly young things like myself' defending 'bling music'.

You've definitely taken leave of your senses. Where did I do that?
And where have you ever seen me defend 'bling' music.

Gosh jeremy, at least have a damn clue about what you claim before you attempt to pronounce judgements.

Everytime you do this, you reveal your bigotry and ignorance.
I hope it sits comfortably on your shoulders...

I said it once and I'll say it again, I might not like certain artists but I do not deny their talent.
You on the other hand are way too eager to do just that

Akin 2:41 pm  

Gosh! If there was one comment that should have been a blog entry elsewhere with a trackback here, I would not have to do much soul searching to say it is this one.

Maybe the unwritten rules of blogging, gilded in blog-etiquette should include; when a comment longs to keep the attention of the reader, it should be a separate blog in entirety.

Anonymous,  3:33 pm  

Hey, hey, hey!!

I'm the President of Jeremy Bashers United and I don't see you on the roll, Soul. Please forward $3.74 membership to me immediately before your next malignant post.

Sheesh, what's the world coming to?!

Anonymous,  3:43 pm  

Hm. Now that I've actually read Soul's post, I have to agree with Jeremy--much as that is a pain in my ass: Soul's is a scattered, unfocused rant colored by a complex; what type exactly, I have no idea, but I know the names of a few good psychologists.

On the other hand, while Jeremy does have a right to his opinions (read up the definition of "opinion" some day, it's amazing) and being that this is his blog, I'd say he has every right, condescending or not--something I've accused him of many times in the past--to post whatever drivel he deems appropriate.

And yes, most of it is indeed (socialist, naive) drivel. I have no idea where he gets the idea that he understand black American politics and music enough to discuss it intelligently (hence, "opinion" cf. definition) but like everyone, he knows what he likes and he "don' like that kinna music". He's an old man, Soul, and a Brit, so think of that what you will. :-)

Anonymous,  5:03 pm  

@akin: you engage in the same "argumentum ad hominem" you accuse these posers of employing, when you attribute thier responss to their nigerianess

as you stated "people should be able to express a general opinion without having their professions used to weigh preconceived and unsupportable assumptions."

the same can be said about nationalities not being used to weigh preconceived and unsupportable assumptions.


i guess the war fought in the US courts by lawyers in the 60s that established many of the civil rights laws of today are of little benefit to humanity; the libraries and charities funded by bankers such as Soros drain society. the creative types at times seem to live in a child-like fantasy world. they find themselves too important and believe what they write or draw functions without the system put in place by the brains from commerce and law.

St Antonym 5:06 pm  

Soul, you need to chill with the race baiting. You have valid points but take it easy, chill out.

Jeremy, I agree almost completely with Toks, and with "Keziah Jones" (for some reason, I think it might actually be him). The freedom that white folks have to live wherever they want is also due black folks. Keziah IS doing something for Africa by being the best musician he can be in France. It's not only by working in Lagos that you can serve the nation. So, I don't think Kezia in New York, or Chris Abani in California, or Achebe in Annandale-on-Hudson is a "throwaway Nigerian." By doing dignified and intense work, each adds tremendous value to the picture of what "Nigeria" is in the world.

And lawyers, accountants and bankers, skewed as their role in society might be, are very important, as are housewives, teachers, trench-diggers. Everyone should be appreciated for what they are.

Of course, artists are special, but that fact comes out less in declaring "artists are special" than in privately encountering something from an artist and having it change your life.

Anonymous,  5:07 pm  

didn't a banker just win the nobel prize for helping the poor. I guess his idea to give micro loans to the poor is not creative enough, or productive enough, for you writers and musicians. maybe he should have written a song about it instead.

Anthony Arojojoye 7:54 pm  

All these 'bloody boody' souls and everything. Make una take am easy o! The last time bloody was profusely mentioned, a plane fell from the sky.

So Keziah is a nigerian! More reason to get his music.

We should always look beyond colour, nationality or race in accepting things. If a musician is creative, he is and must be acknolwledged. Either Tuface or Keziah or Daddy Showkey abi Baba Fryo or Even Katie Melua, if the music is creative people will listen.
Where the carcass lie, the vultures will gather.

Anonymous,  9:35 am  

You're wrong about at least one thing Jeremy- that educating people about the struggles of other groups worldwide won't be useful to Nigeria. When Nigerians learn that others were able to seize their countrĂ½'s leadership and hold them accountable, and later assume middle-income country status like many of the nations in South America, it is likely that they will feel more empowered to do the same.

I would have you know that every single one of the Nigerians at home and abroad who talk about bringing democracy, ending patriarchy, ending class domination and inequality, etc, came to their consciousness through reading about theirs and other peoples history, or joining the struggles of people around the world. Why should we expect different of the average Nigerian?

And Soul is right about at least one thing: you are elitist and quite ignorant about black music. Why do you assume that Aretha Franklin does not appreciate the new kind of music and style that someone like Beyonce brings to the table? Or that any of the musicians you mention would be half as derisive as you are towards black musicians today?

Most of popular mainstream hiphop is materialist and/or misogynist, but not all is, and you display your ignorance about such music by dismissing Jay-Z (someone Kanye West cannot even step up to when it comes to versatility and image and talent). You quote the likes of Angela Davis and Malcolm X, but do you think for a second that any of those revolutionary profundly anti-racist anti-elitist icons would support the position you occupy, as a white male trying to "bring about" social change (which you have more than once admitted you hope to be intellectually elitist) in an African country? Those of us who have read Malcolm X would know that his biggest criticism was for white liberals who assumed they were better than the other rednecks (or perhaps modern-day Bob Geldorf) but were unwilling to check their racism and white privilege.

It is astounding that you do not realise that Malcolm X would be even more merciless towards you than Soul or any other african can be.

I also find it interesting that you proved Soul's point about dismissing what you do not understand by dismissing the poetry she puts up on her blog -spoken word poetry - the one art form the elitist white male canon refuses to take seriously (perhaps because it is not linear?). Spoken word is the beat of the streets (or the cafe!) in a part of New York, London, and if my dream is realised, Lagos that you will always be uncomfortable in...perhaps because they do know their history, and are uninterested in listening to your opinion about them...unlike most of the people who frequent your blog.

soul to soul,  10:00 am  

Soul, well said. Diane Evans, a great writer, is a "throwaway Nigerian," but J publishes her. He only applies insulting terms where it suits him. Just look at the specious white male romanticism: "We no longer live in the age of black heroes"...you are right, we live in a different age where people are still fighting the same fight but white history hasn't revised and made 'em heroes yet. What hypocrisy: when you speak out, you rant...as a woman...speak too much...when a man does that, it is simply answering a point and being academic. You kept my attention right to the end, guess we have longer attention spans than some.

Akin 10:13 am  

A banker won a Nobel Prize but it was not for Economics - probably because it had a practical socio-economic dimension to it because Genesis of that venture was born in experience rather than Economic theory.

Like the Economist said, he probably should have won the Nobel Prize a long time ago, but since the Economist selectors could not be extricated from their love of economic theory, it fell to the Peace selectors to look for a peace dimension to a commercial venture.

So much for bankers recognising creativity amongst themselves.

Soros broke the Bank of England in 1992 with currency speculation, no doubt his ventures in philanthropy are laudable and like Jeremy said of lawyers - they were facilitators of a movement that started amongst the masses (Rosa Parks)and religion (ML King, Malcolm X) during the civil rights movement.

Jeremy 4:15 pm  

"Those of us who have read Malcolm X would know that his biggest criticism was for white liberals who assumed they were better than the other rednecks (or perhaps modern-day Bob Geldorf) but were unwilling to check their racism and white privilege."

Er, anonymous, I have actually read my Malcolm X. Where exactly does he hold the position you ascribe? As is well known (perhaps not by you), Malcolm's trip to Mecca changed his perspective from black nationalism to a softened (but equally determined) fight for global justice. He would have welcomed anyone interested in this struggle.

As for the little thing you wrote about performance poetry - I love performance poetry - I'm no expert but I know my Nuyorican Poets from my Malika B. Its a little bit silly of you to think that I would be ignorant of these things.

But above all, from some of the comments, I detect a strongly Nietzschean ressentiment - the pathetic yelpings of the self-oppressed as they seize on their favourite target - what they perceive to be the white male liberal. Fact is, I'm not a liberal (if you'd read this blog to any depth you would have picked that up). You are so keen to racialise the discussion (notice that I am not). And why are you so fragile about a critical take on black culture that even Beyonce has to be defended?

Anonymous,  5:04 pm  

@akin
give it up. your position on bankers and lawyers in unsustainable. As i pointed out a banker won the nobel based on being creative with micro banking. pretty simple. he has done more for poor people and inspire even more than any so called artists.

in regards to the civil rights movements, you have misplaced Ms. Parks role. she was used (creatively) by lawyers to ignite the movement. she was picked by those in charge to cause the firestorm that would lead to a head-on challenge of these rules. It's one of the many ways lawyers use creativity to bring massive change to the world over.

The civil rights movement had many players and MLK was one of them, as well many lawyers that worked to challenge the foundation of these laws. Just because you see MLK or parks on TV and ignore say Thurgood Marshall and his role, does not make them mere facilitators. Read on the civil rights movement don't develop your knowledge on it by whats fed to you in popular culture. And believe it or not, lawyers, especially civil rights lawyers, are the masses.

Atala Wala Wala 6:52 pm  

Jeremy,

I agree with you - creative types are needed in Nigeria. But it's more important to have entrepreneurial creative types, people who can figure out new solutions to old problems, people who can create the wealth and jobs that are so badly needed in Nigeria.

The only role I can think of artistes in present-day Nigeria is acting as agents of social change, connecting with their audience and using their influence to push out messages to change Nigerians' behaviour. Sadly, very few artistes are able to combine the common-touch that enables them to connect in this way with the political awareness needed to push the right messages out.

Anonymous,  7:19 pm  

Jeremy, his stance towards white people was "softened" in that he went from saying they could do NOTHING for the movement against racism and white supremacy, to saying that white people can contribute and support, BUT THEY SHOULD NOT LEAD THE MOVEMENT. Which, quite frankly, is not what you are doing on this blog. I sense a need on your part to be at the center of things, even when the struggle is for other peoples' self-determination.

It's interesting that you claim that we black radicals (ppl who always talk about racism and white supremacy...bloody annoying init?) are keen to "racialise"discussion when you have at several unprompted times on your blog, claimed all sorts of characteristics about black people and black culture and nigerians....eg. Why is it that I always see black people dropping trash on the ground?

You're not liberal? SO what are you? I thought I remember one particular post where you said that like any good liberal, you support the palestinian struggle...regardless, your actions speak louder than whatever term you may call yourself.

Self-oppressed? Jeremy for someone who has "studied race theory" you obviously have no interest in confronting your own racism and white privilege. Unfortunately (or fortunately) that is the problem with people who esteem academic knowledge and thinking far over the experience gained from actually going through the personal struggle.

Once again, the authors and activists you quote would be the first to condemn your behavior and your condescension towards nigerians, africans and black people. You may bandy their names about as much as you like but the ones who know are not impressed.

One last point: if you know about spoken word, why did you not recognise it for what it was on Soul's blog? Was that just your white privilege talking? (by which I mean the ability to switch your downness with poc folk and poc culture depending on who's watching). Or was it you being silly and childish (like you attribute to your critics) by denigrating something good because you don't like the person who wrote it? Soul has quite a following among conscious poc bloggers (the kind quite happily continuing in the tradition of Malcolm X...) and conscious nigerians, and you have displayed your own silliness by dismissing her poetry.

And by the way, no matter how frequently you talk about women's rights on your blog...your condescenscion towards women who are critical towards you, will continue to rear its ugly head. Like Soul to Soul pointed out, not very original calling a woman (or a black person) irrational, childish, unintellectual, self-oppressed (lmao!!!)...blah blah blah. It is also quite telling that your biggest fans are sexist nigerian men. oh well, you're quite sure of yourself so why should I or anyone else even bother.

Jeremy 7:45 pm  

Anonymous - now you're talking (although you could at least make up a nickname). I appreciate your comments - many wouldn't stomach the criticism by 'accepting' the critical things you say of me (not that I want applause for it). What you say is not a waste of time (yours or mine). Allow me to respond:

1. White supremacy. It often seems like an impossible situation, being white and attempting to have critical approach on how race inflects existence. I know that before I speak, my words will be pre-interpreted as the words of a white person. In a way, there is no way through this impasse, just as there is no way through the impasse of when a black person speaks to a non-black. So, in all my thinking about race, I've come to accept that there is an impossibility at work - something that cannot be resolved with words.

This is essentially why I do not regard myself as a liberal. A liberal thinks things can be talked through to resolution (the classic example being Habermas' notion of 'communicative rationality'). Whereas I think there is a pre-reflective corporeality that needs to be engaged with, which produces layers of impossibility and complexity. In other words, before any of us speak, we are conditioned by the other. We cannot do away with this facticity.

I'm sure that in my provocations, I teeter close to the brink of being racist - sometimes when I see black people dropping litter I feel racist - just as I hate white trash dropping litter. There are many critical things one can say about black cultures, which one is not alowed to say if one is white but which one can say if one is black (witness the book: Capitalist Nigger - which could be written by a Klan member).

Unfortunately, I am sufficiently opinionated (and perhaps arrogant) enough to want to say them anyway.

On your point about condescension towards black people: apart from the litter comment, where is the condescension? Its perhaps easy to read it INTO my critical comments about Nigeria, but then again, in a way that is simply inverted racism. Everyone (expats and repats alike) who lives or visits Nigeria has critical things to say which often border on condescension - how could this country have become such a mess etc etc? But it seems again when an oyinbo says it, it is off-limits. But why should it be so? Unlike many foreigners, for whom Nigeria is just a 419 joke, I am trying to engage, find the openings towards transformation and appreciate the sheer complexity. If you lived here, you would too find it from time to time maddeningly frustrating!

Again, I have no desire to be at the centre of things - in my blog or elsewhere. I much prefer a backroom arrangement. The essential narcissism of the blog-format troubles me. I am continually on the brink of giving the whole thing up. But then another part of me thinks that kicking some dust up about Nigeria might start off some interesting discussions and be yet another opening to transformation.

Enuff of the confessional.

Now onto Soul and your point about women. I love powerful strong women, and have always been drawn to them. But when someone starts a semi-coherent rant which goes round the houses to say 'I really don't like you Jeremy you white git' I take a little umbrage. Unlike yer typical white liberal, I'm not afraid to get into an argument with/upset a black person. Regardless of her standing in the performance poetry scene, she comes across as immature in her comments.

Now as for my 'biggest fans being sexist Nigerian men' - that is a challenge to others to take up, agree or refute!

Peace (maybe).

Soul 8:54 pm  

Actually Jeremy.
You are projecting.

I said exactly what I don't like about your post and that is, I don't like the fact that you keep on denouncing artists that you don't like as talentless and the constant comparisms of artists with dissimilar styles.

You are the one who seems to see think that it is your whiteness that is the problem.

I don't know you, what has me liking you or not liking you got to do with anything.

erm and you have read my blog Jeremy, it is extremely clear on my blog and anywhere that I have commented (including this blog) that I am not shy about saying exactly how I feel.

Your whiteness is not my problem. I addressed your ingrained superiority complex.
You didn't like it

Simple.

Jeremy 9:07 pm  

If only it were. You were the one who brought all manner of racist cliches about white people up, showing yourself up enormously in the process. You were not simply attacking what you perceive to be a superiority complex; you were attacking what you perceive to be a WHITE superiority complex. I'm not sure why you are backing down now, except that you realise that your earlier comments were a bit adrift.

Or am I wrong? Do you still stand by these claims:

1. White people in Britain are musically backward? You'll recall you called this a 'fact'
2. Hull is the official 'kaka' hole of the UK
3. British people are not musically innovative and are light-years behind. (Hmm, I thought you claimed to be British..)

Either you stand by these claims, in which case you are an ignorant racist and patronising towards a country you claim as your birth-place, or you take them back. Which shall it be? Who exactly has the superiority complex?

Soul 9:21 pm  

oh and...
let me get this straight...
are you alluding to the fact that I might have a standing in the 'performace poetry scene'?.

I thought to you my words are 'derivative, mediocre, sub-poetic drivel'... from a silly little girl?. (hmm, isn't it cool that someone my age still gets referred to as a 'silly little girl'
Wouldn't it be something to read some words you put together and let out there..

I seem to recall a comment session where people took umbrage because someone's attempt at condescention by referring to you as a 'boy'. I recall you saying that the 'power connations were different when a white person used it and how you wouldn't use it because of said connotations'.

but hey ho... that's all 'by the by' right?, guess it works differently when you are actually addressing a woman who disagrees with your denegration of musicians.

Moving swiftly on, even though I clearly pointed out in the first line of my response to you, that every time you talk about music or musicians your superiority complex rears its ugly head.
You somehow decided that it really wasn't about that, oh no!

You read between the lines and decided it was because I didn't like you because you are a white git? (your own words)
Okay Jeremy .. keep running with that. It seems to make you feel better.

With regards to the whole liberal thing: I don't really care about your political leanings, liberal, right wing libertarian, left wing, centre, whatever..
These are all self defined labels which don't mean much. Your actions however, what you say and how you say it, shows a heck of a lot more about the type of person that you are.


But then, why even bother addressing any of the issues that you raise about creativity and such..
because evidently, it seems only YOU can define creativity. Anything which doesn't fit into your definition is either talentless trash, rambling or mediocre drivel.

Soul 9:39 pm  

oh Jeremy just stop it.

You have gone on and on and on about how crass modern black music is. For crying out loud you even have a post up right now about it! I suppose you weren't being racist at anypoint

why are you so uptight when I do the same thing.
Do you not time and time again denigrate Modern black/urban music?

I am not backing down on anything.
I stand by every single one of those points.

1) Point one. As taught to me by a very BRITISH music director and repeated over and over again in any classical music society. Ask them they'll tell you.

2) Hull has actually been voted and recorded as the Worst British town to live in. It is not some sort of paradise Jeremy. you might long for it lovingly and that's fine cos it is your hometime, but it is not the place you keep painting it to be

3)Yes. British people are not musically innovative and are light years behind.
If you disagree please highlight how British music has encouraged or celebrated innovation in the past 10 years. and please tell me what does the fact that I was born in Britain have to do with this?

Yes I was born in Britain. Does that mean that I cannot critically assess it? or even condemn it?
You critically assess and even condemn parts of Naija and you weren't even born there?, Does that give you more license to critique it?

I was born here, I live here. Many Brits do this every day. We critique everything, from the violent yob culture, to the constant parade of vocally challenged boybands, to the liberal druggie culture, to the high taxes, and big brother style culture..
Are you implying that I should not do this? that I have no right to do this because I was born here?

I mean Elton John who is a Brit has even worse things to say about the state of British music.
I guess he is a racist too

Why must I take the claims back?

Do you take any of the claims you have made about the state of Nigeria back? The claims you have made about a country which you have adopted as home?
And if not are you a racist?

Soul 9:44 pm  

oh and yes.. you have proved it time and time again..that it is a white superiority complex.

The one where present blackness is never good enough or profound enough and there is alays a constant yearning for the way the negros of old did it.

It is actually a very well documented issue.. but then again Jeremy.. how would you know?.

You keep doing it and I keep pointing it out to you. I pointed it out before. I'm pointing it out now.

Jeremy 10:25 pm  

Soul - you demonstrate a thorough lack of ability to hear what I am saying. My fondness for some black music from the past is part of a much larger nostalgia for a spirit of resistance which is on the wane now. It has nothing to do with a love of 'old negroes'. Your race-baiting is p-a-t-h-e-t-i-c and debases you, not I.

I am glad you stand by the fact that you think white Brits are musically backward. This is something you might like to try on your audiences- as a nice little inclusivity-tester.
The fact that a 'british' (did you mean white?) music director told you means that it must be true right? What an obedient pupil you were, believing everything you were told. I hope you got an A.

It really doesn't need defending, but if you are talking about innovations in classical music (let's define our terms), then who can argue that someone such as Harrison Birtwhistle hasn't been utterly defining of contemporary classical music? Or Gavin Bryars? Or John Tavener? All of these folk pull sounds from the past in redefining what contemporary classical music is. They are up there with Reich and Part & co. What kind of music director would deny this?

But carrying on in this vein is difficult because your argument gets very confused and morphs (by point 3) into an argument against a lack of British (ie white AND black, one supposes) innovation. This is a joke of a claim. Nevertheless, let me have a go:

One could for starters point to the garage to drum&bass back to garage on to grime development as an example of how (in this case) black contemporary British music has been utterly influential, finding a British expression which does not look to America for its inspiration.

You may recall that in Rize, some of the crumping was done to Dizzie Rascal at his most vociferous. Perhaps you don't think he innovated? I suspect that in Rize (and in SC LA), Rascal is seen as someone from outside the commodified hip-hop loop - and as such an inspirational figure. His music is utterly innovative and powerful.

If you take jazz, you need only point to Soweto Kinch as someone who is redefining contemporary British jazz for our times. London is choc full of really superb jazz musicians doing all kinds of weird and wonderful stuff. The London Musicians Collective is an amazing ensemble of characters -with someone like Evan Parker as one of its leading figures. I doubt you've even heard of them (or him). Go listen, and tell me you've heard something similar before.

One day, the history of Jazz will be written from a larger perspective than the American - it has not and never really been exclusively an American form - its influences are too hybrid to make that claim. Britain and Europe are part of the untold story, today as in the past.

In terms of electronica, British sounds are surely up there with the best - whether its Amon Tobin, Aphex Twin, Cinematic Orchestra, Massive Attack, Squarepusher, Jazzanova etc etc etc etc. All these names are coming to me without any thought. A serious student of the British music scene (in its myriad guises, genres and sub-genres) would reveal you have no idea what you say.

In sum, you really are onto a loser in your argument - whether it is the narrow version: white-people-in-the-uk-don't-innovate-musically, or in the broader version people-in-the-uk-don't-innovate-musically.

It smacks of a superiority complex in the extreme, and is a bizarre clouding of judgment for someone who claims to have a critical perspective on British culture. Might I suggest you have backed yourself into a bit of a corner?

Again, I notice now you are trying to impute the claim to me that 'modern black music is crass.' Again, you are projecting.

I have been very clear that I find Beyonce and mainstream hip-hop tiresome and uninteresting - especially when they are brought over at cost to Nigeria and paraded as icons with which to celebrate Nigeria's independence (which is where this whole thing began).

There are however, many more forms of contemporary black music than this - conscious hip-hop a la common and kanye and moss def et al is fantastic stuff. But the whole industry is geared to spieling out stereotypes of black masculinity, which is loathsome. I believe we share this critical perspective.

By the way, Hull is not my hometown. However, despite its image problem, its a very interesting place. If only you knew your history a bit more...(read up on Hull and the civil war). You flatter yourself by the claim that what you are doing is 'critique' - calling a city 'kaka' is hardly that now is it? It is expressions like this which point towards a latent/manifest puerility in your words.

You seem to think I cannot tolerate criticism of things I like, or that somehow I would be offended if the UK is criticised- as part of what you triumphantly take to be exposure of my superiority complex. That again is silly. There are always problems, whereever you go. I am very clear on what I like in the UK, and what I don't like. Just as I am very clear in the same respect about Nigeria, and for that matter anywhere I go.

Please stop the race baiting. It does not dignify you.

deola,  11:13 pm  

why are you arch conservatives vexing?
you all just proving the man right.

abeg, go siddon.

LOL

Soul 11:32 pm  

ahhh Jeremy..
The music is called Grimey Jeremy. Not 'grime'

Where exactly do you think Dizee Rascal is based now and why?
He is based in the US, as are soo many of the creatives. because Britain does not encourage musical innovation. period.

Hull is a crappy town. Anyone who lives in the UK can attest to this. It has a huge heroin/junky problem, high unemployment, e.t.c.

I specifically said that you said Modern black music is crap. i know you've been trying to move the goal posts on what I've been saying but you can't I have been very clear.

erm... how can you claim that we share belief when only a fwe posts ago you said that I was a 'silly girl defending bling music'.
Ironic considering what I've been blogging about in the last few weeks..lol

oh and you can scream till you are blue in the face about me and race baiting.. but you've doing it for the entire life of this blog!.

Your hypocrisy is not startling but just pathetic to actually bare witness to.

You can wax lyrical about Naija being this and that, and the people doing this and that, and being like so.

And i can't?. even when they are valid.

I see that your myopia forced you dragging and kicking.. to ignore the fact that I said
'ask any classical musician and they will tell you that Brit music is light years behind'.

Drum & Bass is dead. And erm Drum bass relied heavily on Jamaican musical influences NOT British.

The more you say, the more it is obvious that you really, really are not the authority you think you are on this.
You keep on calling me silly, calling me a race baiter, calling me a bling music defender.. whatever.

you can suggest whatever you want. you have time and time again denigrated the talent of black American modern artists.

You are like a fish out of water flapping about in a desert.

When you can't make a point, you resort to your default style..
which is label the arguement silly, morphed, confused, illogical.

All nice lovely keywords for
'Jeremy doesn't get it, but is in too deep now to accept it'

I see you put up a post finally acknowledging those same black american artists who you described as talentless...actually now have talent. lol..

Jeremy, I won't call you a 'boy'
I won't call you 'silly'
I know you won't ever 'thrill' us with your spoken word ot musical talent.

I won't ask you not to 'race-bait', I won't ask you not critique Nigeria,
I won't question where the yoruba part of you from that 'Yoruba/English' hybrid description comes from as you addresses my 'claim' to be born in britain...
I won't even bring up the way you look past issues which you can't prove and ignore things which prove you wrong.

Just keep on doing what you do. And I'll keep doing what I do.

Jeremy 8:02 am  

Soul its interesting that you are no longer responding to my argument, merely responding with abuse. My initial defence of musical creativity and innovation in the UK was met with yet more histrionics. QED. Let me try one last time - do you think white British/black British cannot/have not innovated?

Btw, it is grime, not grimey. Where did you get that from?

I've said many times, talent is not enough in music. One can be talented and mediocre. That is Beyonce, that is mainstream hip-hop. Beyond talent lies the value of the expression. When the value of the expression lies in repeating stereotypes and promulgating materialism, it is mediocre. Part of the problem.

Of course drum and bass is dead - but again, that was not the argument. I was pointing to the lineage from garage to drum and bass back to garage then into grime. It is a well known trajectory. Grime will surely morph into something else shortly. All musical forms are hybrid, take their influence from a number of places. Jazz is the classic example. While America is the spiritual home of jazz, its influences are hybrid.

But above all, this exchange demonstrates the impossibility of race. Someone like you, identifying herself as a 'Nubian Soul' (Sudan needs all the help it can get) deliberately misreads and hissy-fits when a white body speaks. It means we are long way from resolving the racial conundrum.

Soul 9:09 am  

lol Jeremy, you are seriously deluded.

I pointed out that everytime you talk about music your superiority complex raises it's ugly head. I pointed out your arrogance and said your constant attack on these artists was based on arrogance..

To which your response was a personal attack not based on the issue at hand, first I was silly young thing, defending 'bling' music, then an attack on my content and me by labelling what I post as
'derivative mediocre sub-poetic drivel on your blog?'.

Your resonses to me here are littered with the words 'young, silly, girl, illogical, purile'.

I mean you actually cherry picked just one of the reasons why I said some creatives do not go home and called me a 'scaredy cat'

So now I have misread you?,... hmmm. not that you have miscommunicated your words, but I have misread you. lol

you questioned the fact that I said I was born in the UK, by saying that calling it a 'claim'
and you insinuated that I should be grateful for it.

And you think that I responded to you with insults?

So you Jeremy are the victim?
lol haa haa.

And now, you issue a 'throwaway' insult to the moniker/alias 'Nubiansoul' saying that 'Sudan needs all the help they can get'

erm, you are funny, when you can't prove your point, you use those nice lovely keywords 'histronics, hissy fit, little girl' ) words used in an attempt to shut women up. Everytime you do it, you show yourself.

You've been insulting and questioning the talent of modern black music at every opportunity you can, when asked to prove yourself you have been found wanting, and you have always changed the subject or claimed that was not the issue, but now you want to critically assess British music.
You are like a dog with a bone, you just can't quit making a silly mess.

And now you've decided that people like me are the reason why we are a long way from solving the racial conundrum

Do you spend your entire life trying to prove that you are not racist, sexist, chauvinist because you can't help but be all those things?

I sense an inner struggle with yourself Jeremy.

Your wife should read this. lol.

Jeremy 9:28 am  

Ok so no response to the argument, just more rant. You are silly silly silly. You don't respond point for point in an argument. You use words like 'kaka' and make sweeping statements about white people/british people which if they were made by a white about blacks would be denounced as completely deluded anti-black racism. It is the sign of an immature mind. Hence words like silly, puerile, hissy fit. You deserve no better.

You appear confused about your identity. You talk about being British yet call yourself 'Nubian soul'. Why you identify with a Sudanese ethnic group I'm not sure. Btw, Nubian Soul has to be THE most afrocentric cliche going (so much for your creativity). Its a bit too much Jill Scott 1999 for this world. Again, I have never insinuated you should be grateful for being British (as if I give a fuck).

I have not insulted 'modern black music' at any stage. I have pointed to the mediocrity of specific artistes, as a way of discussing a more general point about our political times. I have praised many many black artistes in the process (but your ears are deaf to this praise). You consistently turn this into race-baiting with talk of me loving 'old negroes' and the like. You need a hearing aid.

Arguing with you is like arguing with jelly - you flop all over the place, relying 99% of the time on insults. My criticism of you are highly specific: 1) you try to frame me as racist/chauvinist at every opportunity (I reject each attempt) 2) you making sweeping racist statements (I point them out to you at each attempt). 3) You simply don't respond point for point in an argument. All of this adds up to someone not quite in control of what they say.

Anyway, I'm sure this whole thing is extremely tiresome for other readers. Let's agree to violently disagree with one other. You continue to misread me (but not on my blog) and I'll continue to think you're a walking talking cliche with a chip on both shoulders. Enough already.

Anonymous,  12:08 pm  

@Jeremy - Egbon you could have show some maturity a lot lot earlier on.
When I saw the number of comments I thought waow this must be an interesting debate. But most of it was urself and this person at each others (cyber)throats.
Nothing you can do about a young and angry soul man! Don't even try.
so chill and keep doing your thing

sokari 10:46 pm  

I think i am one of these people. but let me say this publically - I am a lesbian and illegal person in Nigeria and I am not going to spend my life in secret hiding from police and society because of my sexuality. I tried and it didnt work. I have been lucky - work has come and placed me back on the continent of my birth and my heritage albeit 3000 miles south of Port Harcourt - I am an African woman and I have choosen to live in a safe place in europe. fortuantely there is one now in Africa - though I know there is a huge gap between the constituional rights and those of society nonetheless i am not illegal in SA so thats where i am heading and there is much to be done and i am up for doing it so frankly right now i just feel like giving two fingers to my own home country - but to be honest i miss port harcourt, i miss kalabari, i miss my home town and all that that means for me but I cannot live in that country that makes me illegal.

And as for all this white, british nonsense in comments - that equally disgusts me - i think before one judges why people come home or stay away you should look at the reasons for their decisions - it is not than simplistic. I maybe a throwaway Nigerian in some peoples minds but frankly from my perspective Nigeria has thrown away me and that is regretable because i have so much to offer but now i am taking it somewhere else where it is appreciated and i am not condemned for who i choose to love.

This Nigerian blogoshpere is full of bigoted narrow minded people - and such people can never ever build a country that is progressive so nigeria will remain forever a backwater due to ignorance and unwillingless to move beyond the status quo.

I guess i said it all here - wait for the come back or silence - either way it says the same thing.

Anonymous,  1:35 am  

what a shocker. Such ambiguity in the writings of these two individuals.

One might wonder they'd share the same trousers.

I think you both made excellent points, but this charade of nationalism tends to fuel my prospect with utter ignorance.

It is ok to critique one's homeland, It is also healthy, and welcomed amongst think-tanks alike, to view/read/understand the mindset of foreigners to one's homeland.

It gives an in-depth perception of one's homeland, both biased and unbiased.

Jeremy raises a good point about being sub conditioned to spew comments materialized by one's race, as opposed to an opponents.

Regardless, I feel constructive criticism may sometimes be overlooked as sheer cynicism, expecially coming from a White individual.

It borderlines an unequivocal inequality ostensibly seen in every post.

Soul, you exhibit your indulgence to racial hierarchy.

Jeremy, you are quite the narciccsit with a prove-me-wrong attitude. Whilst this may be viewed as being cocky, i think it becomes a thing of personal etiquette to maintain a modest profile.

But hey, this is just another opinion that need not be ravaged by you egomaniacs.

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