Monday, September 26, 2011

Lil Wayne - How To Love [Official Music Video]

sad, beautiful, it made me cry....

I often complain about the "NGO aesthetics" of what scholar Jane Bryce has called "donor films"--the sort of didactic "message oriented" films you see made on HIV prevention, VVF, and other social ills. I was speculating the other day, that the predominance of such films makes it very difficult to deal with serious issues like HIV in creative ways that don't turn off any audience who have seen and heard the message a hundred times before.

I don't know the background of Lil Wayne's music video, How To Love,
and whether there was any NGO involved in it. I doubt it, but I think filmmakers working with "donor" agendas could learn something from it. Perhaps there's something about the emotional punch of the short form of the music video, the expectation of sexy context from Lil Wayne, and the uncontrived sincerity in it that catches you unaware. There is a message here, but it feels more like "truth" than "propaganda", and I can watch it over and over again.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

soyeyya [love] by XDOGGinit

My current music video obsession. I think this may be one of the best Hausa-language music videos I have ever seen. The camera-work is great, and the story is well-told, and the rap beat is so catchy I have been listening to it non-stop since yesterday. Interestingly, this was apparently made in 2006 (which you can tell if you know the Kannywood stars featured--who have aged somewhat since the making of the video), but only just uploaded to youtube a few months ago. The Hausa is a bit non-standard (the use of danmama, danbaba, instead of yar for a girl) but exciting all the same. X-Dogg init is definitely a musician to keep an eye out for.

Monday, July 11, 2011

the stubborn woman of ithica

One article submitted, on to the next.

writing of the last article was aided by spartan sleep schedule. to bed at 8pm. arise at 2am to begin spinning out words.

this weekend threw off the schedule, and late this morning, I sit on a painfully slow internet connection, listening to a playlist of bollywood soundtracks, hausa nanaye, and eminem.

I have at least three more articles to write and a dissertation, and all i want to write is poetry.

my creative inspiration at these moments of procrastination often comes from mythology, the greek and norse and indian myths i devoured and dreamed about during my teenage years. those ancient half-formed contradictory stories which can be gathered and molded/fused into something new.

recently i have been thinking a lot about penelope and ariadne, both women whose love is embodied in their weaving/spinning--both women who are abandoned by their l

penelope weaves and unweaves a shroud for twenty years while waiting for a strayed odysseus to return to her. odysseus plays his manly war game and then spends years dawdling with circe and calypso before continuing his journey home to his chaste wife grown old with waiting.

ariadne spins a young theseus (who was later the first abductor of Helen) out of a maze, with her red thread, only to be abandoned by him. stories alternatively tell of her dying in child
birth with Theseus's child or being married (by force?) to the god of wine, dionysus. in my s

i cast forward my web of red threadthrough a maze of pages
when i come to the entrance to meet him

i discover he is already gone my thread severed
and stained dark
with blood'

ariadne would have been an appropriate goddess to keep watch over penelope's long nights of unravelling.
when penelope married odysseus, it was after a contest in which he beat her father at a race. her father begs her not to leave with odysseus, but she pulls her veil over her face and follows the lover who will leave her for twenty years before returning to ithica disguised as a beggar to drive off the other suitors she has resisted during his long journey.

i have written about ariadne in the past, and also of that fierce goddess medusa, but this t
ime it is penelope who appeals to me. this stubborn woman, who left her family for odysseus, wh
o refuses every other lover, weaving a never-finished shroud every day and then unweaving every night, while everyone else is sleeping.

what waking dreams did she have in those dark hours? Did she weave them into the shroud
during the day, the stories of her husband lying in the arms of a jealous island mistress--firmly unweaving them at night, reaching out and running her fingers through his dreams so that they become a tangle of unformed memories rewoven and redirected into an urge to leave, leave each mistress, cast himself on the sea to continue the journey back home to ithica.

'these mornings when the sun rises, weary,
i take up my thread again. Ariadne,
guide my fingers,
may he lying in darkness,spent
of lust,
dream of our youth

laughter as we glide free,
on open seas toward ithica,
sweet companions tugging sails

the wind carries us
Odysseus sings
i sway with roll of the ship

dancing questions in my eyes

may he dream
the way i sighed
at his first touch,
springs welling
in our courtyard
those tender months

before he left to lead an army,
through distant cities more glamourous
than ithica,
for women more seductive
than me.


i weave, unweave,
my laugh grows stern
my hair grows grey,

other men are rude shadows,

i go to bed alone,
leave them gambling in drunken competitions
in the feasting hall,

i rise at midnight, slip past tables where they snore
over drying pools of wine,

to unweave your shroud,
unravel your deeds,
pick out the rough threads
of my suitors' proposals,
blunt their swords with harsh

I want to undo it all,
release every thread that wove you away,
I want
to weave the promises of ivory you offered
laughter in the garden
children playing hide and seek
Early mornings of love as dawn's fiery
fingers light the sky

but there are too many years
to undo in one night

dreams are hard to unravel, wayward, drifting things-
not all we glimpse in them will come to pass…*


years you spend, Odysseus, caught
in the grasp of another woman,
a small but jealous,
goddess who turns her lovers to beasts
and devours them
so that they will not leave her
when the song of their first love
comes faint on the wind

listen, love, in the quiet hours
while she sleeps drunk. slip
away on feather-clad feet
past sleeping lions
through gates of polished horn
come back to me


'what does a woman do with a husband
twenty years gone?
a man grown droopy
from years of fat lost at sea,
a man filled with stories
of wars in distant cities, memories
of a hungry goddess he pleasured while
i wove'

the shroud is finished
spread over the bed
i shared with my husband

it slides beneath us now

'i hold you fierce
against my shriveled breasts
you, grey wind-swept
man I do not know'

* This stanza is a quote from (Robert Fagles, 1996, Viking Press translation of The Odyssey 19.630-640) The Odyssey (Penguin Classics Deluxe Editio)

Monday, June 27, 2011


blocked, blocked, blocked, blocked, got up at 5am to write. nepa went off just as i realized i hadn't boiled water for tea to wake me up. stared at my screen and dozed between words. finally curled up on the couch with my feet on two stacked bound volumes of newspapers and my head in the deep hole in my couch and slept off with my laptop blinking and purring beside me. (thank God for my investment in an inverter and battery). woke up and decided to read a few more documents from the censorship board, three chapters for the ur-text on northern nigerian cinema culture by B.L. 11:42am haven't written anything. wishing i could do everything everyone wants me to do for them, wishing i could do everything i want to do, no duties, and instead doing nothing but read. sometimes reading helps me start writing. in this case, it just makes me wonder if i can ever write anything so long and so elegant and so beautifully cited, with theory interwoven throughout the historical detail.

i try to remind myself of the sermon in hausa i heard yesterday, "perfect love drives out fear." yesterday it was comforting, inspiring, left me with a glow throughout the day. now i just feel guilty. i do not love [this topic? myself? God? my lost love? my department? my friends whom i am disappointing by refusing to go out and visit?] perfectly, therefore i fear. i fear writing. i fear disappointing. i fear not meeting a deadline.


i do not fear writing. i love writing--this sort of meandering spiel, for example--the reason i started this blog back when i was writing my (awful) masters thesis. i can naval gaze through typing all day long and gain a lot of insight from it. i fear academic writing. the necessary perfection of it. the craft of it. the "jobness" of it. if this article were a blog post, I would be done with it by now, and with a million links and photos too. And probably hundreds of more people would read it than will read this book chapter.

enough kvetching, i've wound out some of the tension in my head. back to the article.

it's on censorship. and perhaps i should try getting myself to write by just not censoring myself. this is not an article for publication, i will lie to myself, it is a blog post that people can google at midnight. i can edit it out later.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Blogger Nostalgia

I spent more time than I really had this evening reading back over old blog posts from this blog. I miss it. I miss writing everything that I am thinking in diary fashion, a lot of which was boring but which sometimes turned up jewels of observation and description. I miss working through my thesis and my thoughts on this blog as if it were a workbook. I miss writing about random walks, the sleepless nights before travelling, about my childhood and my friends. I miss the blogging community and the other bloggers who would often leave comments here: Christian Writer, Teju, Texter, Toks-boy, Jeremy, even the gadfly Fred, and all the others. I miss the satisfaction that this blog brought, and the feeling that even if I was procrastinating something by writing here, that I was building up an archive that I could look back on, in dry spells, for inspiration. And I was right. It has been.

My attention has been taken over by my professional blog, with my real name. I can't write that one off the top of my head with little editing as I did this one (I've let it go too long without an update too, because I can't stand the thought of the hours it will take to properly update), and the damnable addiction of facebook, which has grown too large and too demanding and too invasive--yet i still can't leave it alone. Both forums lack the intimacy and playfulness of this blog that I began in the days when the Nigerian blogging community was just beginning and was still small and affectionate and not as glossy as it is now.

This is the way our lives progress. I now write for money, and am beginning (the key word is *beginning* here) to crank out academic publications. People now write my public email address with comments on my writing and "like" (I blush) my public facebook page. These things, too, are satisfying, but perhaps just as temporal as this blog. The next hurdle on my horizon is finishing the dissertation (in partial requirement for the PhD), which should have been done last year, or now, and perhaps I should return more frequently here as I try to write, much as I did when I was writing my MA thesis.

I miss anonymity. That is, perhaps, the major reason I do not write here as often. This blog has become too visible. Too linked to my public persona. I would say "I can't just kvetch here anymore" but I suppose that is what I am doing. Kvetching. Publically. Some would say "whining." For no good reason.

Many of my blogging friends from the days when I was regularly keeping this up have taken down their blogs, others let them lie fallow. Some of them have become famous authors, who have gotten rave reviews in world presses and nominated for major awards. Others write, now, for money too. But I can't bear to take this blog down. I let it remain, an archive, the place I file youtube videos I like, and my occasional outlet to write things that are not academic and are not professional--to write little rants and creative bits and bobs that fit nowhere else but here.

This space comforts me. I think I will come back more often.

Monday, April 25, 2011


Music video by Nas & Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley performing Patience. (C) 2010 Universal Republic Records, a division of UMG Recordings, Inc.

speechless.... incredibly beautiful on multiple levels....

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Ice prince ft Brymo - Oleku (naija music 2010)

A song worth obsessing over. I've loved this Ice Prince song since I first heard it. An American journalist currently visiting Nigeria for the first time, just sent it to me again telling me how obsessed she was with the song. She also googled the lyrics, which can be read here. She was surprised (as I am) at the dismissive tone of a bjmighty on the nairaland thread who said "Just normal rhyming. He can do better."

Naija-people, sometimes we don't appreciate what we have, until someone from the outside points it out to us.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


fire flared fierce, then flickered down to a warm steady flame, a light that glimmers through cracks in clay, feeds on air and dust, faith, hope, and love, when wick and wax is gone.

Friday, February 11, 2011

#Jan25 Egypt - Omar Offendum, The Narcicyst, Freeway, Ayah, Amir Sulaima...

I should go to bed tonight, but I am obsessed with Egypt.

Here is a video that has been going around: #Jan25 Egypt. On YouTube, the notes read:

"Inspired by the resilience of Egyptian people during their recent uprising, several notable musicians from North America have teamed up to release a song of solidarity and empowerment. The track is fittingly titled “#Jan25″ as a reference to both the date the protests officially began in Egypt, and its prominence as a trending topic on Twitter. Produced by Sami Matar, a Palestinian-American composer from Southern California, and featuring the likes of Freeway, The Narcicyst, Omar Offendum, HBO Def Poet Amir Sulaiman, and Canadian R&B vocalist Ayah – this track serves as a testament to the revolution’s effect on the hearts and minds of today’s youth, and the spirit of resistance it has come to symbolize for oppressed people worldwide."

It begins

First they ignore you.

Then they laugh at you.

Then they fight you.

Then you win.

The song was apparently posted on YouTube a few days ago, but, as music and art so often is, it was prescient, confident of success, yet reflective on the anxieties of revolution: “We know freedom is the answer, the only question is, ‘Who’s Next?’