Click here to find out more.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
If this story is true, the deposed Governor of Rivers State managed to pilfer 100 million pounds a month from the Rivers State coffers in his short time on the throne.
With the door just closed on the filthy Ettehgate scandal, one wonders how things can change in Nigeria when politicians start stealing the second they take up office. The assumption seems to be that being a politician is a licence to thieve public funds. The relationship between stealing public money and impoverishing millions of others in the process does not seem to be widely recognised, especially in the delta region. Now that Celestine Omeiha has lost his gubernatorial immunity, is he going to be investigated by the EFCC?
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Monday, October 29, 2007
Click to enlarge.
Economic Associates is presenting its second conference on the Nigerian economy, with a session in Lagos on 7th November and in London on 13th November, in partnership with the UK's Oxford Economics. The event will cover the global environment, analysis and forecast of Nigeria's macroeconomic progress, sector-by-sector growth and business risk in each of Nigeria's states. There will also be presentations by Finance Minister Shamsudeen Usman and Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola. EA - www.econassociates.com is Nigeria's leading independent economic analysis and forecasting providing essential information and outlook for strategists, executives and managers in the private and public sectors. Attendance (there is a fee) can be arranged by emailing Olly Owen on email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Quintessentially English rap. Thanks to the good doctor for the linkage.
After several months, I have finally 'finished' Matthieu Ricard's book Happiness - a profound meditation on the Buddhist path to eudaimonia and the good life. I say 'finished' because now the book is read, it feels like the journey has only just begun. For anyone at all interested in learning more about the transformative possibilities of Buddhism (perhaps the most practical positive pyschology ever invented), this, along with the books of Thich Nhat Hanh, is a good place to start. Happiness is filled with inspiring quotes, meditation/visualisation exercises and examples which act as markers along the journey. For more on his work in Tibet sustaining the vision of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, click here.
I've often thought that Nigeria lacks decent graffiti. I even emailed Banksy to invite him over a year or so ago - I had an idea he could do some 'capacity building'. I didn't get a reply. It was not meant to be.
Its lovely to find out that there some kids who are doing it already in their own way - check the Seek Project here. Thanks to Ebun Olatoye's 2020 blog for the alert. Love the Rebel Bride design by Earthtones at the top of your blog Ebun. Tunde looks mean and moody!
Its easy to be cynical about the work that donors do. There have been many useless initiatives that are almost designed to fail, here in Nigeria as elsewhere. But many projects are getting smarter, engaging with empirical complexities rather than remaining top-down. Action Aid's project on promoting educating girls in Northern Nigeria is one such intervention. Click here to read a bit about it. Thanks Indar for the link.
Just watched an inspirational documentary on Kambani's Expressions tour round Nigeria (Lagos, Abuja, Enugu) last year. The tour aimed to inspire school kids from public schools by introducing them to artists, participating in creative writing classes and immersing them in local culture (fashion, dance etc.). Tears came to my eyes as I watched it - big kudos to Chima, the guy behind it all. They are doing it again this year, from 16-24 November. A sponsor has had to pull out and they need just UK10,000 more to cover logistics. Click here to find out more about the upcoming tour and how you can help. However small your donation, it will help support an initiative that spreads wonder and joy into the lives of children in Nigeria.
Friday, October 26, 2007
“Frictionless capitalism,” “conscience consumers,” “shop until it stops,” “punk rock capitalism,” and “Brand Bono,” are just a handful of catch phrases and popular culture terms being used to describe and explain the brainchild of U2's front man, Bono and Kennedy clan's Bobby Shriver – (Product)Red. While many of us may not be familiar with (Product)Red and what it has called its “Manifesto,” we all been witness to the numerous adverts and billboards featuring Hollywood celebrities sporting RED t-shirts, or the massive media attention that this campaign has received. Producing the (Product)Red brand as one designed for “responsible” consumers appears to have required the simultaneous production of a discourse on Africa.
This edition of JPAS invites papers that critique, analyze, and offer insights into (Product)Red, specifically, the image(s) of Africa it (re)presents and seeks to (re)present, as well as the forms and kinds of knowledges it is creating and/or reviving. Contributions may examine (Product)Red commercials, its business model, website, participating campaigns (i.e. GAP, Apple, etc.), as well as Bono’s appearance on Oprah, Bono’s special editions of Vanity Fair and The Independent, and various artists/celebrities who contribute to the (Product)Red campaign. Of particular interest, is the campaign's use of discourses on “African AIDS,” African poverty, corruption, or the feminization of poverty, for example, to create an image of Africa that “sells” to the “Western” consumer. In this light, papers exploring the relationship produced between “Africa”/“Africans” and (Product)Red consumers (two categories that are presumably mutually exclusive) is also of interest. More generally, this issue wishes to explore the aspects of knowledge about Africa that this campaign is creating or re/producing.
Those interested, can send papers to Danai Mupotsa at email@example.com by 15 January 2008.
The Journal of Pan African Studies is here.
Inspired by the traditional arts of Nigeria: here.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Bibi has just returned from Kampala, where she gave a paper examining and analysing the growing dress code impositions on women in Nigeria. There was a general lament about the state of scholarship in Nigeria amongst the participants. All across Africa, from Ghana to Senegal, from Kenya and Uganda to South Africa, there is a sense of an academic awakening, with funding for interesting and innovative research programmes in the social sciences. Sadly, Nigeria does not figure at all in this awakening, and does not look likely to any time soon. No matter how many new university licences the Ministry of Education might dole out, who is going to teach in them? Nigeria will continue to be the great unresearched and unresearchable, it seems.
He can enter his delayed dotage, stewing in his sullied reputation. Here.
Seun Kuti special on Radio 1 with Giles Peterson here:
The session starts to really steam 33 mins in with an addictively bouncy track, with a Seun track coming in at around 38:30, the interview starting at 44:00
Ta Saul for the link. Can't wait for Seun's debut album with the Egypt 80 to come out..
An image of Awhum Waterfalls in Enugu State by Dayo Adedayo. For those who have not been in the Motherland for a while, there are large format prints of his beautiful pictures in Lagos and Abuja airports. Click here to see the full series. Its a shame the prints aren't for sale here in Nigeria. They help to re-frame our collective image of the country in terms of the wonder of its nature.
She is a busy lady:
The Makeda Fund founded by Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is seeking applications from qualified individuals interested in taking up a fund manager role. This Fund will be a $50 million equity investment fund. The Fund will focus on making investments of $1-5 million in SMEs that are women-owned or led.The fund sponsors are seeking a proven leader around whom to develop a small professional team to be based in Nigeria. See position details below. Expressions of interest should be sent to Emeka Okafor at firstname.lastname@example.org
Makeda Fund Director
Job Description: Responsible for full-time management of the Makeda Fund
in Lagos, Nigeria, a $50 million equity investment fund. The Fund will
focus on making investments of $1-5 million in SMEs that are women-owned
Specific Job Responsibilities
· Sourcing, analyzing, negotiating and closing SME investments in
women-owned or led
companies for Makeda Fund;
· Identifying new investment opportunities, performing financial and
other appropriate due diligence, designing deal structures for potential
investees, preparing term sheets, investment memos, investment committee
meetings for Makeda Fund;
· Monitoring investments, including collecting and analyzing investee
financial and non-financial information;
· Preparing and submitting reports on financial/non-financial
information and activities of portfolio companies and Makeda Fund on a timely basis;
· Providing appropriate added-value services to Makeda Fund portfolio
companies, including providing portfolio companies with international
market information, assistance with operations, marketing, sales,
accounting and financial analysis, and access to international
consultants with sector expertise;
· Coordinating and participating in board meetings of portfolio companies and Makeda Fund;
· Hiring, training, and supervising other Makeda staff, as appropriate, to accomplish the fund mission and objectives;
· Working with other Makeda staff, as well as the staff of the management company to source, evaluate, close, monitor and exit Makeda Fund deals,
· Preparing a detailed annual budget for Makeda Fund;
· Assessing the social and economic development impact of the Fund's investments;
· Other duties that are consistent with the general job description noted above.
· Masters in Business Administration degree or equivalent;
· Several years successful private equity/direct investment experience;
· Demonstrated experience or interest in Nigeria and West Africa;
· Computer proficiency, including financial modeling;
· Fluency in English and other demonstrated oral and written language skills;
· Hands-on experience with SMEs is highly desired;
· Commitment to values of excellence, teamwork, transparency, integrity, leadership and respect.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Former Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was appointed the Chair of the African and Nigerian Advisory Boards of Renaissance Capital on the 2nd October. Two days later, she was appointed the Managing Director of the World Bank. Is there a potential conflict between her role advising a company that focuses its business on tax havens and her work on Stolen Assets Recovery? The Tax Justice Network thinks so.
Culled from a recent article on Africa Confidential:
"Ekaterina Isaeva, Spokeswoman for Renaissance, confirmed that Okonjo-Iweala 'still chairs' the Moscow-based financial services group's high-profile advisory committees. She said Renaissance could not comment on how her work with Renaissance might impact on her new role at the World Bank. After repeated calls, Amy Stillwell at the World Bank declined any comment."
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Company: FiCres Capital Limited (Private Equity)
Job Title: Project Manager (Real Estate)
Description: This real estate development company is looking for a project manager to take responsibility for the day to day management and coordination of one of our building development projects.
This is a high profile role that requires for you to deliver a completed building on time, within budget and within the stipulated standards of quality.
The project manager will be responsible for coordinating all parties (architects, quantity surveyors, main contractor, etc.) and ensuring they understand what is required of them.
You will need to have the ability to focus on detail and skills in critical path scheduling, budgeting, financial reporting and monitoring and controlling spending.
Experience of construction project management in a blue chip environment is required and a degree in Civil Engineering, Quantity Surveying, Architecture or other building related trade would be useful.
Salary and bonuses are at the top of the industry. Location is Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria. Position would suit someone already based in Nigeria or someone looking to relocate to Nigeria.
Email: email@example.com for more info
Monday, October 22, 2007
The German Energy-Watch group has a report coming out today, asserting that global oil production peaked in 2006 (see the article in today's Guardian here). The global economy is completely unprepared for the jolt. It looks like energy wars loom ahead. Even if you are sceptical of their numbers for whatever reason, the complacency cannot continue. The focus on renewables and a carbon-neutral way of life embedded within capitalism must be massively ramped up, to avoid violence and catastrophe, either in our time or our children's time..
Taken from Marble House, on Kingsway Road. Top left is the recently completed Civic Centre in front of the gutted 1004 Flats, with the Caverton helipad (sans helicopter) along the river bank to the right. Right at the bottom you can see the beautified Falomo roundabout..
Nick and I travelled to the Sacred Forest and Ife yesterday, on yet another journey into the spirit of Yoruba culture. We walked down the spiraling path of the grove to the Osun river. This year's festival maiden was outside the temple - the babalawo was not there. By the river, two women bathed naked in the waters. When they had finished, we walked down to the water and paid hommage. Then we trekked up the hill inside the forest to the shrine of Obatala - orisha of creativity. The sculpture there is wonderful - part man, part horse, part eruptive being...
Then it was onto Ife. Eshu played with us for a while, not allowing us the quick route into town (we ended up in Ijesa). Eventually we made it to see Jimmi Solanke. We visited the Orunmiyan staff, the Ooni's palace and then to this place (picture on left, click to see a larger version) -the spiritual centre for Ifa divination. Each April, babalawos come from all over the world to the World Ifa Congress. We might just have to be there next year...
Friday, October 19, 2007
A guest piece by Abdul-Walid of Acerbia:
James Watson’s recent comments were delivered in that nebulous zone between public and private speech. He was, after all, in his own office, speaking casually with a reporter. The conversation did not focus on his scientific research. Rather, he spoke on a variety of informal topics. But he also knew that his comments would be published. He was speaking to one journalist, but through that journalist he was addressing the world.
It has been important for Watson’s defenders on this matter to cast him as a lone hero, someone who has the courage to say what others haven’t been able to. Defending him in these terms, as hundreds have done on various websites this week, is revealing. What did Watson say? He said he was “inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa” and “all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours—
whereas all the testing says not really.” Consider, in addition, Watson’s second statement: that he hoped everyone was equal but that “people who have to deal with black employees find this is not true.” What do these statements of his mean? I think it might be helpful to examine them structurally.
What Watson is doing in these statements is taking advantage of the gap between public and private speech. Hence the conspiratorial tone, and the offhand manner in which he implicates his interlocutor in his statements. He is using a stage whisper and a megaphone. It is coded language, less carefully coded, perhaps, than what a Republican candidate campaigning in the southern US might say, but coded all the same. Whatever else we might be going on here, it’s clear that Watson has an idea of “our” which is distinct from “Africa” or “black.” He gives this binary opposition a further twist when he implies that on one side you have “people” and on the other “black employees.”
Quite apart from the inaccurate assertions he makes about differences in intelligence, Watson commits a more fundamental error here. He seems to genuinely believe that there’s an in-group that is not and cannot be the same as African people. It certainly would not seem so to someone who has a lifetime habit of thinking of his in-group in terms of whiteness and maleness. It would not seem unethical at all. It would seem normal. That is the problem.
Watson is a geneticist. As such, he knows that the genetic diversity on the African continent far surpasses anything outside it. As difficult as it is to generalize about Europeans in genetic terms, it is even more difficult to generalize about Africa. Whereas Europeans represent a movement of selected populations from East Africa, via the Levant, into the European peninsula, the African population is largely what it has long been: a staggeringly complex web of human diversity. To compare the two in general terms would be like comparing a pair of Tiepolos with the entire artistic output of the Netherlands in the 17th century. It would make no sense.
Watson no doubt knows these things in theoretical terms. However, his urgent need to defend his privilege trumps this knowledge. He talks about Africa, but it means nothing, really. It is merely a word denoting the despised Other. It means only that his own whiteness is a valuable source of self-esteem to him. That Watson does not anywhere in the conversation say “ white” or Europe is, I think, also signal. For him, these categories constitute normality. To be white, to be of purely European descent, is to be “we.” He talks about “our social policy,” and so on. The “our” in question is a racialized in-group that includes the white journalist in conversation with him, the all-white readership he imagines for the Sunday Times, and also includes the world of work where the “people” who do the hiring are white.
What Watson’s “our” does not include is scientists of any other race, or readers of the paper who might be black or Asian, or indeed most of the population of the world. These nodes of exclusion will be familiar to any non-white person who has had to function in a majority-white environment.
Watson’s insinuations are intended, foremost, to provide comfort to just the sort of people who have appeared in large numbers all over the internet to support him. Insecure people, the sort who believe that, as the most widely used study suggests, Nigerians have an average IQ of 67. People who are happy with the insinuation that the average African is mentally retarded, and that to be normal and fully human is to be white.
Watson is wrong here, not only because he gets the facts wrong, and not only because he treats a ridiculously antiquated concept like IQ-testing with incurious respect. For a scientist, these are damaging gaffes, but they are forgivable. He is more egregiously wrong because he does linguistic violence to entire populations of people. In other words, he’s not wrong like Copernicus, he’s wrong like Goebbels.
His “our” denotes a world split into black and white. Blacks don’t belong. Whites are intelligent and they are the employers. They, the whites, are really the “people,” the “gens” from which both gentry and genetics are etymologically derived. But what about the thousands of Chinese-born researchers and professors in molecular biology today? Aren’t they people too? What about the thousands of Indian physicians in the US? What is served by pretending that the world, or the scientific world, is only black and white? Watson’s binary view is unconnected with reality.
My younger sister holds a doctorate in Microbiology and has presented several papers at Watson’s institution, Cold Spring Harbor. That he might cast aspersions on her intelligence is simply laughable. More troubling, however, is that he, from his position of power, continues to aggressively exclude people like my sister from the conversation. He is not alone. His is only the latest nasty and unwarranted attack on a group of people that is, and has been for so long, under constant attack.
Long after the Watson brouhaha has died away, the old question of who belongs will remain. The question of who owns what, who is the "our" in “our social policy,” will have to be tussled with. It would be a mistake to see the Watson case—or any of the other rash of racially aggressive incidents in the media this year—as a question of free speech or political correctness. The issue here is ethical. When Goebbels said, of the Jews, “it is true that the Jew is a human being, but so is a flea a living being—one that is none too pleasant. Our duty towards both ourselves and our conscience is to render it harmless. It is the same with the Jews,” the ethical response is not, “We need to do further tests to figure out whether there’s any scientific truth to that.” It was a social statement, and it was intended to degrade and to humiliate. When James Watson declares, likewise, that blacks are less intelligent than “us,” he is speaking pseudoscientifically, and with a view to humiliation. What is a “black”? What is “intelligence” and how does one test it? The statement is a social one. It is a social intervention, a masked way of saying “I like our kind. And I don’t like blacks.” Watson’s people, those who share such views, understood the code right away.
It goes without saying that Watson would be unable to speak intelligently about the points of comparison and contrast between Scottish folksong, Yoruba oriki and Carnatic music. He would have no access to the depths of intelligence and subtlety contained within each. Such specific knowledge is outside his ken. He doesn’t know it, but he doesn’t even know that he doesn’t know it. Why would he wish to get bogged down in such specificities? He simply wished to air a prejudice.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Does anyone know where you can download the Idoko Report (on Ettehgate) online? Sahara Reporters has it in the E-library, but their log-in process is not working. Someone told me a N80m massage room was part of the contract. It would be good to read the report in detail so we have the facts (the newspapers have not done a good job on this one).
The clear fact as it is now is that 'Madam Speaker' has brought the National Assembly into disrepute and she should resign. Someone has died, all business in the House of Reps has ground to a halt - including the budget process. She may then resume her career as a beautician...
So there I was, buying some stuff at Park and Shop, then shuftying over to the pirate dvd guy in the car park (you can get all the James Bond's on one DVD for N800), when I get approached by a chap offering an haircut. He offers a reasonable price, and says he will do a good job. I didn't have time to squeeze in a sheer when in the UK last week, so I agree. He works out of one of the local spas in town. I drive him to said spa, and he starts his work. He gives the mop a quick inspection, then suggests I go for a new look (I always have the same trim with zero creativity or thought either on my part or on the part of the cutter). I say why not. It turns out he is a Philipino, and as camp as a campsite. After an hour of finessing my locks with an array of scissors fastened to his waist with a transparent plastic belt and pouch, I end up with a fringe and a swept-to-one-side look that makes me look five years younger and quite the metrosexual. I shall return to his fingers once more..
I have been trying to dig out contemporary demographic statistics for Nigeria. The obvious first place to go is the National Population Commission. Their website sadly is gathering cobwebs, and only records figures from the 1991 census. What do these people do all day, that they cannot upload the latest figures? The closest I've got to a demographic break-down for the 1991 census is here - where you can see that 59% of the population is under 29 years old..
Anyone got any better (more up-to-date) data?
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
from my favourite Nigerian paper's op-ed page today:
"Whatever fog Chief Joshua Dariye was about to conjure to obfuscate the import of the return of seized funds from the erstwhile governor of Plateau State, the clarification from the British authorities has indeed given insight into issues involved as a matter of investigation."
Where to start? Are we to assume that Dariye and the 'erstwhile governor' are one and the same person, or not? Or should we just send the writer on a basic writing course instead? Answers on a postcard please.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Luis Santos' pictures from this year's Osun Festival, here.
Monday, October 15, 2007
In a toilet cubicle in my favourite London cinema, instead of the usual Call-this-number-for-sex seediness, the following graffito:
Live long and prosper
The generosity of the message could not help but raise a smile. There is only just enough good karma pushed into the world each day. These four words did their bit to maintain the balance..
Awareness through documentary films and music
Thursday 18th October
7pm - 2am
@ The Salmon and Compass
58 Penton Street, Angel, N1 9PZ
Upstairs 7pm FILM 1: Music Is The Weapon – Dir
Stephane Tchal-Gadjieff & Jean Jacques Flori. 1982, 53
mins. This documentary gives a rare insight into the
public and private life of composer, Afrobeat pioneer
and human rights activist Fela Anikulapo Kuti
(1938-1997). The interviews cover his resistance to
the Nigerian regime, his controversial polygamous
lifestyle and an exploration of the political context
of his work.
8pm FILM 2: Nigeria's Oil War Foreign Correspondent
2005, 18 mins
The Niger Delta People's Volunteer Force has brazenly
stolen oil straight out of pipelines owned by some of
the world's biggest multinationals. The vast Niger
Delta where they operate holds an estimated three
percent of the world's oil. This well organized
crime gang has become a key player in the world's most
strategically important industry. Recently the price
of oil rose to a record $50 a barrel when the market
panicked after they threatened to cut-off the flow of
8.20pm FILM 2: Suffering and Smiling - Dir Dan Ollman,
Nigeria/USA 2006, 65 mins.
Focusing on Fela Kuti and his son Femi, Suffering and
Smiling depicts the impact of their politically
charged music. Following Nigeria's independence in
1960, Fela used his songs to speak out against the
country's corrupt leaders. Since independence the
military and political elite have enriched themselves
by allowing Nigeria's oil and natural resources to be
stripped by multinational corporations with little
benefit to ordinary Nigerians. Fela gave voice to
Nigeria's disenfranchised underclass and sang of a
free and united Africa. Since Fela's death, Femi has
continued the legacy. Equally passionate and
charismatic, he asks why the world's most
resource-rich continent has the poorest people, and
carries a vision of better days ahead for the people
of Nigeria .
9.30pm Q&A & film discussion with Eki from ALISC,
Molara Wood, Ben Amunwa (Remember Sarowiwa) and Ken
Lewis-Allagoa The African Liberation Support Campaign
Network (ALISC) is a democratic organisation led by
Africans fighting oppression and tyranny in Africa,
and racism in the West. Molara Wood is an independent
Nigerian journalist (www.molarawood.blogspot.com )
Remember Saro-Wiwa uses public art and events to raise
awareness about London's social and ecological impact
on the Niger Delta. (www.remembersarowiwa.com ) Ken
Lewis-Allagoa is a Niger Delta lawyer and activist.
MUSIC Downstairs 10.15pm: Live Performance from INEMO
(Black Mango Music) - "Afro Funky Beats" OUT NOW on
Black Mango Music: Inemo Samiama describes himself as
representing a new generation of African musicians.
From his earliest years Inemo was shaped and
influenced by music. His father taught him to play,
and at the age of 18 he formed the group Jah Stix with
Majek Fashek. Debut album 'Bushman'
(Mercury/Universal) mixed African melodies with
techno, hip-hop, jungle, dub and ambient sounds.
Following this huge success, Inemo was nominated for
an RFI (Radio France Industry) Music Award as Best
World Music Artist. Inemo has now decided to return to
his roots. After three years of composing, recording
and traveling between London, Paris and Africa, Inemo
is back with a new album, Afro Funky Beats. With this
album, Inemo demonstrates that his music can reinvent
and enrich itself with new sounds, just like Fela
Kuti, Salif Keita and Angelique Kidjo have done before
Then SPECIAL GUEST PA from UK Hip Hop legend BLAK
Over a decade has passed since BLAK TWANG'S first ever
foray into the British music scene. His most recent
single is the head pounding, socially driven 'Help Dem
Lord' from his forthcoming album 'Speakin From
Xperience'. Born to Nigerian parents and growing up
in South London, he is undoubtedly a pioneer of Hip
Hop maintaining an infallible recognition of his roots
in cultivating his own identity . www.blaktwang.net
11.30pm-12.30: DJ ILKA: German born and raised but
South London based for more than 15 years now, Ilka
started djing in 2005. Her selection includes all
things funky and African such as Coupe Decale, Kwaito,
Afrobeat, Zouglou, Soukous, Naija Pop and more, but
also the occasional Soca, Dancehall and Champeta as
well as other global beats. As a freelance music
publicist, Ilka works with labels like Out Here
Records (Bassekou Kouyate), Analog Africa, Afrolution
Records and Because Music as well as with artists
directly, targeting specialist, BME (black minority
ethnic) and mainstream media. Ilka is the content
editor of the BBC's African music site Africa On Your
Street ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/africaonyourstreet) and
she manages UK-based Nigerian hip-hop group JJC & 419
Squad and Lagos- based Reggae artist African China .
Downstairs Bar til 2am: Afro-beats and grooves hosted
by Kalabash Movement Resident DJs Supa Scion &
Kalabash World is an organisation that seeks to
promote awareness through film and music. Each event
is designed to encourage recognition of the rich
diversity between African Nations, to celebrate
cultural heritage and explore socio-political
situations. We aim to give a platform to Musicians
and Independent film makers and encourage a wider
audience to appreciate their works. Enquiries to
Kalabash South Africa 15th November // Kalabash
Ethiopia 17th Jan
Ibadan-based Abiodun Anako makes fabulous canvas collages, often based on themes drawn from Yoruba culture. Check out his blog here. The piece to the left represents Sango.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Taken last night at the BAC. A room full of red lanterns and vaudeville activities. The audience wore long nosed masks, Eyes Wide Shut style. A man told me (in a Texan drawl and a bow tie, whispering in to my ear) that I would see a fire raging over the sea in the future, and that I would rise above it like a feather in the breeze. In another tent, a woman applied make-up and glitter. A french coquette fluttered about with feathers across her face, refusing her nipples. A Russian Nigerian (was his name Dimitri Yakubu? It should have been) extolled the spiritual virtues of DMT. As usual, I felt late to the partee.
Control was stark and beautiful. To think Ian Curtis would have been 50 this year. His dolorous songs still hum in my head from 25 years ago. Atonement was mildly anticlimactic - but then isn't anything by Ian McEwan always so? The Counterfeiters was a gem, almost as good as The Lives of Others, exploring the moral ambiguities of a jewish criminal masterminding a fake currency operation inside a concentration camp. See it if you can.
Jide Alakija was thoughtful, the people at Global Witness quietly determined. The Serpentine Summer Pavilion spiralled its way to the sky, with Mathew Barney's thick blocks of grease creating an astonishing encounter with materiality in the main Serpentine Gallery. Meanwhile, Doris Salcedo's crack (the Shibboleth) at Tate Modern seems a bit fraudulent to me. Should a huge gash created in the floor necessarily symbolise the divide of racism? Or is it simply that the huge space must regularly be filled, with matter, then with ideas that justify the intervention? How effectively will it provoke the thought in those that witness it that modernity's occluded other is racism?
As usual, London was full of surprises.
Monday, October 08, 2007
Pius Adesanmi questions the omission of African feminists scholars
from the Norton Anthology and challenges the editors as to why “an
entire continent is seen to have produced nothing of feminist
theorizing “I am interested in the conscious and the subconscious
processes that led you to the conclusion that Africa, an entire
continent of fifty-four countries and over a billion people, has
contributed nothing, absolutely nothing, to five centuries of
feminist theorizing. After all, as seasoned academics in the United
States, you both know that exclusions tell much louder stories than
Dear Sandra and Susan, I salute you both in the name of feminism,
women's liberation, gender equality, and, most importantly, global
sisterhood. The publication of your much-anticipated Feminist
Literary Theory and Criticism: A Norton Reader is such an epochal
event that I must interrupt the blissful and well-deserved eternal
sleep that was eventually accorded me when the people and government
of France, ever so fatherly and motherly when it comes to taking care
of poor Africa, graciously returned my brain and backside to the
South African government for burial in my ancestral homeland a few
years ago. I join the American and the global feminist family in
congratulating the two of you on the publication of this truly
wonderful volume. It is obvious that feminist intellectual labor will
never ever be the same again. Resounding success, I must say, has
become synonymous with the long history of intellectual collaboration
between the two of you. Afterall, The Mad Woman in the Attic, the
first gift of your collaborative efforts to humanity, has remained
the only inevitable, unavoidable bible of feminist scholarship ever
since it was published.
The reference to the magnanimity of France in returning my remains to
the government and people of South Africa should have given my
identity away by now. However, it is always safe and wise to swear by
the natural invisibility of Africa and Africans in matters of global
import. And in your immediate context in the United States, it is
outright foolish to assume that anybody considers anything about
Africa worth knowing. Except, of course, hunger, starvation, poverty,
wars, AIDS, famine, and Western charity or "giving" (apologies to
President Bill Clinton). I must therefore assume complete ignorance
of my identity and introduce myself. I hope you will find it in your
hearts to pardon my presumptuousness if you are both already familiar
with my story.
My name is Sarah Baartman, also famously known internationally as
"the Hottentot Venus". I will spare you the sassy details of my story
and focus only on the essential. I was lured to London in 1810 where
I soon became a prisoner of Europe's rapacious and capitalistic
voyeurism. I'm sure I don't have to tell you the story of 19 th
century Europe and its treatment of its Others in Africa and other
places. No doubt, you still remember your Orientalism - Edward Said
has been a very good friend since he got here. The Europe of this
period was also a formidable theatre of all kinds of exhibitions.
Zoophilism was in the air. The colored Other needed to be displayed
publicly and regularly in London, Paris, and Lisbon as colonial fauna.
As fate always manages to arrange these things, I was what Europeans
called – and still call- an "African tribeswoman" gifted with an
exceptional backside. Europe's science promptly concluded that my
buttocks suffered from a biological deformity known as steatopygia.
The lips of my womanhood were also considered to be too huge and
elongated for the civilized global standards determined by the labia
of white women. And so from Britain to France my backside and the
lips of my womanhood became objects of visual consumption in the
public spheres of White patriarchy. For an extra fee, White men could
even touch my behind while I was on display.
Death eventually came calling. You must know that where I come from
in Africa, death is no finality. I merely transitioned to ancestor
hood in the worldview of my people, hence the reverence with which
Africans treat the dead. Not so Europeans. They took their knives and
carving objects, carved out my brain, the lips of my womanhood, and
my backside, put them in bottles, and kept them in public display at
the Musée de l'Homme in Paris. Yes, I can see you cringe. You should.
All sensitive feminists should. The idea, just the idea! The bitter
tragedy of a woman's most vital parts captured by men, carved out of
her dead body by men, and stored in the Museum of Man! Of all places!
My parts remained in public view in that museum, ultimate evidence of
patriarchy's victory over feminism, until 1974 when they were
withdrawn into a private sanctuary. Finally in 2002, France returned
her precious conquest to the people of South Africa.
Dear sisters, the significance of my story to the feminist cause and
to global feminist intellectual labor should be quite obvious by now.
For nearly two centuries, I was an international feminist cause
célèbre, the very embodiment of patriarchal control over African
female sexuality, black female sexuality, and, I daresay, female
sexuality. Let me be clear: the story of my body in the international
economy of meaning is the story of your own bodies, the story of
every woman's body. The difference lies merely in the detail or what
your postmodernist colleagues would call local particularities.
Given the fact that my narrative has become one of the most
formidable sites – I hate it when I sound like you academics! – of
global feminist contestation and intellection, it stands to reason
that any reasonable person would expect me to make a grand,
celebrated entrance into your Norton volume through the work of any
of the numerous African feminist scholars of international repute who
have written about me. At the risk of sounding immodest, nobody would
expect to pick up a summation of five centuries of feminist
intellectual labor – which your Norton anthology represents - and
draw a blank with regard to the story of Sarah Baartman. After all,
I've been theorized, postcolonized, and postmodernized in all the
faddish versions of feminisms out there. I didn't think it was
possible for me to be disappeared in any serious historiographical
account of feminist theory. I didn't expect to be Ralph Ellisoned.
Trust me my dear sisters, I was not motivated to write you by any
narcissistic self-indulgence. You will admit, from what you now know
of my story, that I am quite used to being silenced, being
disappeared. I am actually more worried by the broader, deeper
ideological implications of your having disappeared me softly from
your Norton volume. I am interested in the stories told – or untold –
by your editorial choices and options, the instinct to include and
the impulse to exclude. I am interested in the conscious and the
subconscious processes that led you to the conclusion that Africa, an
entire continent of fifty-four countries and over a billion people,
has contributed nothing, absolutely nothing, to five centuries of
feminist theorizing. After all, as seasoned academics in the United
States, you both know that exclusions tell much louder stories than
inclusions. I know we are on the same page here.
Some people may praise you for making this volume truly global and
representative by including the multi-layered voices of the Other.
They would be right if they did that. After all, you included essays
by bell hooks, Hortense Spillers, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, and
Audre Lorde, evidence of your awareness of Africana feminist voices
and practices; you included essays by Gayatri Spivak and Chandra
Mohanty, evidence of your awareness of the expansive field of Third
World/postcolonial/transnational feminist voices and practices; the
entry by Paula Gunn Allen saved the day for Native American
feminisms; Gloria Anzaldua – another good friend of mine here –
thankfully guarantees the presence of Chicana feminisms in your
volume. In essence, the presence of these Other voices, strategically
sprinkled in the text, is a laudable proof of the fact that you paid
attention when Hazel Carby screamed in an article: "White Woman
Listen"! You listened. You agreed with her that feminism could and
should no longer be the gospel of the White western female according
to Betty Friedan, Germaine Greer, Gloria Steinem, Kate Millett,
Judith Butler, Diana Fuss, Elaine Showalter and others too numerous
to mention. You agreed with Carby that the narratives of the French
delegation – Simone de Beauvoir, Luce Irigaray, Hélène Cixous,
Monique Wittig, and Julia Kristeva – should no longer be deemed
universal. You agreed that Chinese women are probably better
positioned to speak for and about themselves than be represented and
spoken for by Julia Kristeva's About Chinese Women.
It is your awareness of these things that makes your excision of
African feminist theories and theorists from your volume all the more
alarming. Could it be that you imagined that the voices of the
African American women you selected adequately speaks for those of
their continental sisters? Possibly. If this is the case, I must tell
you that African American women cannot be made to stand in and speak
for continental African women. According to an African proverb, the
monkey and the gorilla may claim oneness, monkey is monkey and
gorilla gorilla. Perhaps you imagined that African women would be
better served to find some space inside the Third World/postcolonial/
transnational feminist umbrella you represented with the voices of
Gayatri Spivak and Chandra Mohanty? Possibly. Could it be that you
are simply unaware of the considerable body of African feminist
intellection, right there in your back of the wood in the US academy?
Possibly. Could it be that you just simply elected to disappear them
like you disappeared me? Possibly.
I'm sure you know that Bill O'Reilly, the famous rightwing
fundamentalist talkative on Fox News – has only just discovered in
2007 that African Americans are capable of eating properly with fork
and knife, you know, like real, normal people. Now, I don't want you
to travel that path. I don't want you to discover, in 2007, that
continental African women have been theorizing feminism for a very
long time in US academe and have produced a considerable body of
work, one or two of which should deservedly have passed through the
eye of Norton's needle. Since you included work by Alice Walker, I
take it that you both know how well her theory of "womanism" has
traveled in US and global women studies programs and departments.
Trouble is, in 1985, before Walker used the term, Chikwenye Okonjo
Ogunyemi, a US-based Nigerian feminist scholar, had published an
essay in Signs entitled: "Womanism: The Dynamics of the Contemporary
Black Female Novel in English". Now, Signs is not a journal the two
of you could have missed. It's the most prestigious peer reviewed
journal of feminist studies in the United States. But let's assume
you somehow missed it, Ogunyemi subsequently published a very
important book, African Wo/Man Palava, with the University of Chicago
press in 1996.
Did you also miss that? We're talking U of Chicago Press for God's sake!
There is also Obioma Nnaemeka, a formidable feminist theorist based
in Indiana University. Her reputation is global. Secure. Frankly
speaking, her essay, "Feminism, Rebellious Women, and Cultural
Boundaries" has no business not making your Norton Reader. There is
of course her formidable work on female circumcision in Africa. By
the way, isn't female circumcision in Africa – genital mutilation in
Western parlance – supposed to be a subject of sensational
predilection for western feminists and NGOs? If not a single excerpt
from Obioma Nnaemeka's edited volume, Female Circumcision and the
Politics of Knowledge: African Women in Imperialist Discourses, made
it into your volume, don't you think that something is awfully wrong?
There is also Oyeronke Oyewumi, an important US-based feminist
theorist. The University of Minnesota Press published her book, The
Invention of Women: Making an African Sense of Western Gender
Discourses, to critical acclaim in 1997. Not even a chapter in this
book is worthy of inclusion? There is also Ifi Amadiume. She teaches
at Dartmouth. Her Male Daughters, Female Husbands: Gender in an
African Society is a priceless classic. Did you also miss that? There
are Molara Ogundipe and Nkiru Nzegwu. How about the Egyptian, Nawal
El Saadawi and the Algerian, Assia Djebar? These two global figures
of women's writing and feminist intellectual labor have written
nothing that could have made the cut and rescued an entire continent?
You will notice that I have refrained from mentioning any of the
numerous important feminist thinkers based in Africa. I do not want
to bore you. It is also better to cite those whose alterity in US
academe one would have believed you couldn't conceivably have missed.
I read sadly in your preface that "our own conversations about the
construction of this book has been enhanced by many colleagues and
friends who have shared syllabi with us, discussed their teaching
practices, and made suggestions about possible inclusions". A long
list of names follows and this is where the sadness lies: that not
once in all these conversations with this expansive cast of
consultants did my story and the story of Africa's contribution to
feminist theorizing crop up. Not one person, not one colleague across
the feminist studies landscape in the US pointed out this ominous
oversight – if indeed it was an oversight – to you? Obioma Nnaemeka
is Susan Gubar's neighbor in Indiana for Christ's sake!
There is some good news though. There won't be a shortage of happy
African intellectuals who will query the wisdom of even expecting
Africa to have been included in your work in the first place. Why do
we always whine and complain when Westerners ignore us, they will say?
It is not their responsibility to include us. We should include
ourselves by creating our own structures, period! After all, Oyeronke
Oyewumi, as if anticipating what would happen with your Norton
project, had edited African Gender Studies: A Reader in 2005. Such
opinions would of course ignore the simple fact that your work has a
universalizing underpinning in terms of its historical breadth and
its thematic scope and Africa has been excluded from this picture.
They would ignore the fact that this is Norton and who says Norton
says canons! They would ignore the fact that even if we were to adopt
the reductionist approach that all you have done here is to reflect
the multiple voices that have inflected feminist, gender, and women
studies in the American academy over the years, the end product
conveys the fallacious message that no African woman has been part of
I know you are already wondering how an African woman, who died so
many years ago with no evidence of having attended any University,
happens to be so familiar with academic language and procedure. You
should know the answer to that: I'm now an ancestor, a spirit. I'm
not human. I'm supposed to know everything. That is what sanctions my
intervention in the affairs of you mortals!
Peace and love, Sarah Baartman
**Feminist Literary Theory and Criticism: A Norton Reader (Paperback)
by Sandra M. Gilbert (Author), Susan Gubar (Editor)
* Pius Adesanmi is Associate Professor of English and Director, Project on New African Literatures (http://www.projectponal.com) at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada. Apart from his academic work, Dr. Adesanmi publishes opinion articles regularly in various internet fora. He runs a regular blog for The Zeleza Post ( www.zeleza.com) and has contributed to Counterpunch, Slepton and Chimurenga online. Tel: (613)520 2600, ext. 1175
Sunday, October 07, 2007
These are images [allegedly] of a former Nigerian dictator. Guess who? Answers on a postcard (or in the comments section) please. The winner gets a free polystyrene chandelier.
It doesn't matter whether they really are pictures of a former Nigerian dictator's home or not. Fact is, we can imagine it to be the case. We can imagine that the resources that were diverted from elsewhere (to build hospitals, to pay teachers, to buy books, to pay the police...) ended up paying for this rococco chintz.
We gawp at the Ovation-to-the-power of Ovation tackiness and we think: yes, someone could have stolen that much, and used it, that badly, with no consciousness of what they have done.. As our eyes cast across these symbols of tasteless opulence, we can almost hear the swish of the yards of agbada fabric of the courtiers and sycophants as they whisper in the marble anterooms of the ex-tyrant, watching out for the ghost of an echo of a power that was.
I landed in Jand yesterday. On the plane, to my left, a man slept throughout, with the Koran nestled on his lap. He farted in his sleep silently and continuously. To my right, a guy sneezed and wheezed and groaned. I really must get a face mask for these things, or make enough money to buy my own Lear (Jeremy, wake up, wake up...).
After a quick whizz round the shops, it was up to the shires for a weekend of house-sitting while the folks drift round the High Atlas. Last night, I watched this on DVD. Quintessentially British, in the Mike Leigh/Ken Loach visceral-and-violent mode, with a fabulous performance by Georgia Groome playing an 11 year old runaway girl. The out-takes and interviews on the DVD are fascinating to watch - to see how the decision to switch from a linear narrative to flashback strengthened the piece and moved from telling to showing mode. Interesting to hear the budget breakdown too - 80,000 quid on the shoot, 180,000 on post-production. Watching the on-the-set clips and comparing with the actual film, its fascinating to see the difference post-production makes, in terms of colour-balancing, sound and sequencing.
Its coming up the 3rd anniversary of this blog (I started it in October 29th 2004). Over 1500 posts later, its been quite an odyssey. I've met so many forceful, intricate, magical people through it. To think, I would have not met them in the pre-blog world of 5 years ago. (Yeuch, this sounds like some schmaltzy acceptance speech - I want to thank my mawm, my daddy, and above all, I want to thank Gaad - Pass me the sick bucket).
In the past 3 years, the Nigerian blogosphere has expanded, multiplied, ramified, diversified, but still there are not enough voices from all the different Nigerias that are out there. There's been quite a few people whose decision to move back home has been influenced by reading these pages (and by other Nigerian blogs). There have been many 12-round slug-out arguments with the likes of Fred, Kemi, bitchy and co. I've learnt a lot from realising the limits of my perspective.
So: a big thank you to my readers and commentors for helping me to make sense of my experiences in Nigeria, and who have cared to watch my thoughts develop as Nigeria has welcomed me in to its depths. On with the show...
Thursday, October 04, 2007
I went to a philosophy colloquium-retreat in Umbria a few years ago. Lots of deep and meaningful conversations amongst the cedars etc. There was an extraordinary chap there called Rasmussen from Denmark. We bonded over Rilke, except there was an imbalance between us. While I've memorised a couple of his poems, Rasmussen could remember anything Rilke wrote as soon as he had read it. He could recite the whole of Sonnets to Orpheus, in English, German and Danish. He went into a kind of trance as he did so. Fucker.
Anyway, one of the days, we were discussing Europe and racism. He opined that Denmark had no racial issues. This pinged a bell in the back of my head, and I gave chase. Eventually, bright as a spark Rasmussen admitted there were actually problems with immigration in Denmark, and that all was not quite equitable in the land of the blonds.
Under the all-is-well skies of liberal Europe and Scandinavia, swirls of racism continue to gather and release, blowing people over from time to time, invisible like the wind. Check the symbolic violence of Germany's equivalent of Red Bull here (thanks PW for the link).
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
The German Embassy in cooperation with the German Energy Agency (dena), the Transcorp Hilton Hotel and the International Renewable Energy Conference (IREC 2007) in Abuja is bringing a technology exhibition on Renewable Energies to Nigeria. On 25 panels, the exhibition "Renewables Made in Germany" presents a general introduction to the topic of Renewable Energies and Climate Change as well as a detailed description of the respective technologies like Wind, Photovoltaic, Solar Thermal, Geothermal, Hydroelectric and Bioenergy. It also includes information on Renewable Energy training and education. The technology exhibition will be presented free of charge in the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja from October 8-16. It will then be shown at the Sheraton Hotel during the International Renewable Energy Conference 2007 which will take place from 22-26 of October. More information on "Renewables Made in Germany": www.renewables-made-in-germany.com
One maxim I abide by:
"It is better to remain silent, if what you have to say is not better than silence."
I have nothing better to stay than silence right now..
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Hello Jeremy, you remember me? We met in Lagos outside Nicon House. This is Engineer Williams.
Hello. [Jeremy scratches his head. He is sure he has never met someone called Engineer Williams, but doesn't want to sound rude or forgetful].
Yes Jeremy. I have now been transferred to the NNPC in Abuja. Are you in Lagos?
No. I will be there in two weeks.
Aaagghh ok. So how do I get to see you?
Yes we can meet when I am in Lagos next.
Er, Jeremy [pause]. Can you handle a contract?
Jeremy stays silent. The phone goes dead.