Tag Archives: race

Three thoughts on Ngugi wa Thiong’os public lecture

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Source

His talk was titled “Decolonising the Mind, Securing the Base”.

  1. We exchanged our accents for European accents and in exchange for access to African resources.
  2. If you know all the languages of the world except your mother tongue, you are enslaved. If you speak your mother tongue in addition to other languages, you are empowered.
  3. Names and language is the imperialist’s last battle for the war that begun with the sword.

His talk was disrupted, I think wrongfully but here are a couple of other views you could check out.

Sunday Reads

  1. How to read more books this year. I am definitely taking it to heart by reducing my junk TV viewing and making sure I always have a book as I go about various chores.
  2. A reading list on Kenya in case you are interested.
  3. If a story moves you, act on it!
  4. This article on insecurity made me stop and think. Really hard!
  5. Somali nicknames are hilarious 🙂
  6. So many white tears in this article. I see that they have only a given demographic of foreign spouses married to South Africans.
  7. Also, this IS cultural expropriation.
  8. More on how couples deal with finances.
  9. I didn’t know there were Nigerian Jews in Johannesburg. Today’s fact!!
  10. What does it mean to be a boy or girl? National Geographic asks 9/10 year old kids.
  11. Stealing from one of the comments, “This is by far the best article I’ve read regarding LBGT and the gospel.”
  12. Chocolate cake and another vegetarian pasta recipe.

Sunday Reads

  1. Loving these sets of articles about women, women and ambition and the work place.
  2. Thinking of doing this for someone I love.
  3. Something about this video made me so homesick for Nairobi.
  4. Some tips for all the new moms out there.
  5. Love that this guy acknowledges what White Male Privilege has meant for him and his accomplishments.
  6. Kenya goes to the polls in  August this year. A quick primer of some of the issues.
  7. Some great African books to look forward to this year.
  8. Somehow not a fan of all these baby products that work on selling fear to parents.
  9. Some more Obama stuff.
  10. We cannot run from God’s voice, where is He calling you to today?
  11. An effective way to incorporate prayer into your life.
  12. A yummy fish recipe.
  13. Getting kids to [always] eat veggies.

You will remember his name

Dr Lwazi Lushaba has had his name all over the #Fallist debate and today I read an open letter he penned to his Department Head.

In the afternoon of the 24th August 2016, the HoD of Politics at UCT addressed to me a letter, whose contents we shall in a moment discourse about. He opens the letter with the following salutation; Dear Lwazi. He could as well have written; Dear Dr. Lwazi Lushaba. It would not have made any difference. For, I cannot say with certainty what I, in his modern imaginary, represent. Accordingly, I have permitted myself the liberty of leading him to the abyss wherein dwells the shattered fragments of my being so he may recognise me for what and who I am. I am of those whose skin colour makes them objects of scorn and disregard. I am one with the black children of Masiphumelele, Imizamo Yethu, Gugulethu, and other black slums who with their tender bare black bodies play all day long in stagnant pools of discarded bathing water, urine, menstrual blood, vomit of drunken black souls, and perhaps discharge from a backyard abortion performed on a body too young to bear life. I am one with those in this country who grow up certain that success is destined to elude them because they are black. For us it remains dark even though the day should have started.

It is a heavy letter and it touches on an entire PhD worth of themes but it’s a worthwhile read because it summarises cogently the state of the races across institutions such as universities and the work place. Please bookmark it and read it when you get the chance to.

Sunday Reads on Africa

  1. I have read ten of these 50 must-read books by African female writers.
  2. Exclusive Books publish their first newsletter focused on African Lit. Great start.
  3. A South African church in pictures.
  4. Hot jams to get you ready for the week ahead!
  5. Beyonce’s style of feminism is not my own.” Chimamanda Adichie.
  6. I would venture a guess that most black women have this growing up with black hair story.
  7. On intersectionality. Yaa Gyasi’s essay on what it means to be Ghanaian in America.
  8. Pettinah Gappah’s recent short story.
  9. Love and Johannesburg. The couple reminds me of the Mr and I.
  10. 21 gifts for the creative black woman in your life.
  11. A guide to Africa’s dictators. Here and Here.
  12. Rachel Strohm highlights work by the team at Democracy in Africa in putting together a long reading list of articles on African issues by African scholars.
  13. This page showing Everyday Africa.
  14. But why is my leader like this? Not sure we need mandarin studies in Uganda just yet.

Book Review: The Book of Memory

Image result for the book of memory

The story that you have asked me to tell you does not begin with the pitiful ugliness of Lloyd’s death. It begins on a long-ago day in August when the sun seared my blistered face and I was nine years old and my father and mother sold me to a strange man.

Memory, the narrator of Petina Gappah’s The Book of Memory, is an albino woman languishing in Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison in Harare, Zimbabwe, after being sentenced for murder. As part of her appeal, her lawyer insists that she write down what happened as she remembers it. The death penalty is a mandatory sentence for murder, and Memory is, both literally and metaphorically, writing for her life. As her story unfolds, Memory reveals that she has been tried and convicted for the murder of Lloyd Hendricks, her adopted father. But who was Lloyd Hendricks? Why does Memory feel no remorse for his death? And did everything happen exactly as she remembers?

Moving between the townships of the poor and the suburbs of the rich, and between past and present, the 2009 Guardian First Book Award–winning writer Petina Gappah weaves a compelling tale of love, obsession, the relentlessness of fate, and the treachery of memory.

The book reminded me of the book, We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo particularly when she talks of the Harare township where Memory grew up. The characterisation of township life was totally believable and reminded me of my experience growing up. The book also does a good job of personifying the life behind bars and the dynamics of womanhood and female friendships.

Overall, Gappah is a lovely story teller, she builds it up slowly and steadily then lets it slow down later. I loved the pace. It totally sucked me in and I read it over a day or two. Then at the end I just hugged the book and smiled. The story continually switches between a flashback to the past and present time. Despite this, it was still easy to follow the broader tale.

Common themes raised in the book include: language, memory, family (siblings, mother-daughter, husband-wife), religion, colonialism(or race as a subset). Various questions I had though while reading the book include:

  • In light of the decolonised free education in our lifetime protests currently happening in South African universities, is the best education White/ Western and in a foreign (ex-colonialist) language? To what extent has this changed? Would you/ I feel comfortable to take our kid to a native school ala Spilt Milk? I am not sure. In terms of decolonising language, the best book I have read on this topic so far is Decolonising the Mind by Ngugi wa Thiong’o.
  • The book also touches on Africa’s complicated history with the White Man. Was Lloyd African? Why because he spoke the language and understood the culture / had allowed himself to be immersed in it fully? If we contrast Lloyd and Alexandra the sister, who is more African?
  • Colonialism and the White Mans’ burden also comes across when we look at the motives of Lloyd in adopting Memory.
  • That duality of existence that I find so intriguing about South Africans and now Zimbabwe. That deep belief in ancestry and mainstream religion or a more modern life. I grew up raised in a predominantly Bible-focused culture and so this duality is totally alien to me.
  • Do we trust our memories? Is it ever as we think or are there things we remember that as we have gotten older we have to come realise are not as they were. As the last child in my home, I have some clear memories of myself as a child but to be honest, I know that a lot of them are mainly based on what I have been told and not necessarily what I particularly remember. What are your earliest memories?

In closing, I am not sure why they did not translate the Shona bits which made me wonder who the real audience is here. It was quite frustrating for me a non-Shona speaker.

Black, Female and Strong

It is a really interesting time to be in South Africa, what with all the #Fallist talks and the different dialogues happening around race, culture and identity. Last week, I attended the Open Book Festival in Cape Town and happened to attend two talks that had me very excited.

The first related to decolonising institutions. Although most African countries obtained political and some level of economic independence, in the main very few countries embarked on that extra step to decolonise their culture, their thinking, their language and their identity. My personal view is that this is vital and regardless of the length of time that has passed from independence, no country is fully emancipated until they do this and I suppose this is where South Africa is at the moment. Slightly controversially, I think that it is the colonised Black people that must fully lead in this process and set the agenda. Also, less clear to me is the question of language. Can a revolution led in the “colonisers” language ever be taken seriously? Or have that full acceptance and recognition? While I am not fully convinced it can be, I am not sure what the counterfactual is.

This talk also touched on the question of privilege which led me to think of my own story and my privilege. As I am obviously Black and female this makes class my privilege because through class, I can transcend some of the discrimination I would otherwise face. For example, I am really grateful that I am privileged to be able to outsource some of the things I don’t enjoy doing around the house to someone else and pay her to do them on my behalf. Some of the expectations that I am graciously excused from as a  new wife by my extended family. I am extremely grateful but also, with privilege does responsibility also increase. To give back, to ensure justice and reduced inequality for others that are less fortunate. To do something.

The second talk was on feminism. The panel has become my ultimate girl/writer crush/ perfect dinner guest list/ people I must meet before I leave the earth. The moderator was Mohale Mashigo and the panelists were: Yewande Omotoso, Nnedi Okorafor and Pumla Dineo Gqola. After the session was over, I just wanted to sit and bask in the warm fuzzies generated by that session. Nothing I love more than passionate and educated women with a strong opinion that they are happy to share and loudly at that. For the hour that they spoke, it was nice to talk about common and sometimes not so common experiences we share as women. When did you first know that you were a feminist? How do the books that you read portray female characters? Media? TV? Is feminism for all? Is this brand of feminism accessible to all or are there some class privilege undertones? When the struggle is so tough, how do you reignite the joy and keep the focus? I am obviously not even summarising the discussion well but it was a very interesting discussion.

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L-R Mashigo, Okorafor, Gqola, Omotoso

Sunday Reads

  1. ​This is so true of my Undergrad experience of Economics as a whole​.
  2. Not really an Oatmeal fan, but this strip is very inspirational.
  3. Great writing advice!!
  4. Article had such promise only to wind up with me asking, and then? so what?
  5. ​This one too was well written about an emotionally evocative topic, white privilege.
  6. ​Practical tips to help us think through nutrition. Also, thinking of stopping to take dairy and switch to alternatives.
  7. Cue the farewell to 2015 posts!
  8. How to respond when things go wrong.

Book review: The Invention of Wings

 Buy here

I love Sue Monk Kidd and have read all her earlier works and so when I heard she had a new book out, I thought yay!! Good stuff. BUT, I wasn’t prepared for the beauty and the magic of The Invention of Wings. Just beauty.

Synopsis

From the celebrated author of The Secret Life of Bees, a #1 New York Times bestselling novel about two unforgettable American women.

Writing at the height of her narrative and imaginative gifts, Sue Monk Kidd presents a masterpiece of hope, daring, the quest for freedom, and the desire to have a voice in the world.

Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.

Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid. We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.

As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements.

Inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke, Kidd goes beyond the record to flesh out the rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, including Handful’s cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in her search for something better.

This exquisitely written novel is a triumph of storytelling that looks with unswerving eyes at a devastating wound in American history, through women whose struggles for liberation, empowerment, and expression will leave no reader unmoved.

First off, I must start with the fact that I loved this cover and the fact that when you start to read about Hetty, you will see how the image on the cover totally resembles her. I totally judge a book by its cover and this would have piqued my interest even if I did not love the author.

My other overarching thought was how this book has such beautiful imagery, it must be converted into a movie or a series for TV. It simply must for the following reasons:

  • I mean if all these Vampire things can be adapted, why not such a beautiful story?
  • Without spoiling too much, quilting and dressmaking is a central theme in the story which I would love to see on screen.
  • Although painful, I would also like to see how they stage the beatings and the diverse relationships between the slaves and the relationship between them and their Owners.
  • Sarah is also a pivotal character and I would love to see who is cast to portray her and then how she develops over time.

All in all, the language was beautiful and it told a very emotional topic in a nuanced and sensitive manner which appealed to me greatly. I found out at the end that it was based on a historical figure, Sarah Grimke, and was slightly embellished. It was the best piece of writing on feminism that I have come across in a loooong long time.

I would definitely recommend this book as well as watch the movie when it comes out.

Book Review: Capitalist Nigger

Buy here

I recently read this book and hated it.

It was poorly edited and very repetitive, also, I felt that Onyeani, the author, did not really counter the accusations he made against Black people – that we don’t really like to research and come up with new knowledge, rather we just sit back, consume and adapt what people around us have done. I would have liked to see his well-thought out theory that is counter the status quo. However, he did have some gems that I took note of.

  • You must understand that the same amount of time it takes to start a small venture might be the same amount of time or even less than it takes in starting a major one.
  • You must possess great discipline and an iron hand if you are to succeed in this world … One of the greatest drawbacks to our march to the promised land of wealth and money is our lack of discipline and persistence in the face of adversity.
  • If you are a slave, you cannot be independent and distinct from the whims and caprices or dictates of your conquerors.
  • Capitalist Nigger … understands that the State of Black economy can only be created when a group of young Black men and women dare to be success. Yes we have to dare to be successful.
  • If you cannot buy African, there is absolutely no way you are going to create a Black economy.
  • A Capitalist Nigger understands that for the Black economy to be created, he must have to create a niche for himself. The movement to restart the Black economy must be planned with absolute focus, with each individual focusing on how he can contribute to making it a reality.
  • The Capitalist Nigger is not going to patronise people who disrespect him and denigrate his intelligence as inferior.
  • It is extremely necessary that we take a few minutes,  hours,  days or months to ponder the intelligence of a race who cannot produce the basic things of life that are needed for their survival and have to depend on those who have oppressed them for years to come to their aid.
  • The question really is how could Africa have millions of educated men and women, yet have to import experts in all fields to manage areas of economic development, engineering and others for which Africans had gone to the same school.
  • Today, Africa is incapable of defending itself militarily, it is incapable of sustaining itself economically,  it has lost its culture and its socialisation is based on European culture.
  • The second annihilation which confronts the African child when he begins his school life is the name he must answer to. … They insisted that  if Africans had to become “Christians” they had to abandon their names which are historically and culturally rich. … I have never seen a European adopting an African name, despite the fact that some of them had lived or were born in Africa. They are not a conquered people ….

The book made me ask myself/ think of:

  1. How am I procuring from black people and making sure that the money circulates within the community I live in or if not, among African people? During the wedding, I tried to have as many African vendors as possible and sometimes it didn’t work out but for the most part,we did keep it within.
  2. It did get me wondering about some of the franchises closest to me and how many of them are owned by a African owner. Also, how would I go about finding that out?
  3. I had to come clean to the fact that part of my reluctance to patronise African-owned establishments is the lack of #excellence and the expectation that because I am supporting them, I should be happy to take scrapes from them. None of that! I won’t have it!
  4. Any establishment that disrespects me or my worth as a buyer, I complain about and if after suitable time no change is made, I vote with my feet and tell my constituents to also abstain from taking their patronage there. And this is the case, African or not!
  5. English/ Caucasian/Foreign names for African children in this day and age. NO! JUST NO!
  6. I still feel sad that I do not speak an African language. Thankfully I have Kiswahili which is African. But I wish I could speak with my grandparents and now some of my in-laws!

I would further recommend Decolonising the Mind by Ngugi wa Thiong’o. Similar subject but mainly about language and literature and the editing is THAT bit better!

So much race stuff to talk about this week …

Totally love Black Millenial Musings writings and these last three posts she has outdone herself talking about race. Lemme know what you think!!

On Columbus Short losing his Scandal job!!

On Racism in Spanish Football

Is there a “best” way to respond to a racist?

Updated: Additional analysis here by Devin Dishner.

 

 

 

Monday Link love

Anything you have read this week that tickled your fancy?

21: KE vs SA: First impressions

Moving towns is not easy, least of all one that you have lived in 20+ years and love dearly. The following is a list of things I first compared between the new home and old home. Enjoy and take it in the spirit it is intended.

  • Being able to read books and newspapers at the bookshop. And not have to pay for them. Oh and no one looks at you funny or tries to intimidate you.
  • Funeral cover advertising. Like regular health insurance except they pay for the costs of your burial. Ah, Ok!
  • Openly gay people. My sisters and I kept saying there must be a third gender because of these men and women that proudly embrace their “other” sex and take it on full-on. One of the leading local soapies even has an openly gay married couple. Yeah, let’s see that on ANY Kenyan station, public or privately owned!
  • Street fashion. It’s interesting to just stop and stare at people’s unique interpretation of fashion. Very colourful and unique.
  • Understanding the phenomenon that is “excess”. Why am I paying for insurance if I must cough up the first X thousand of any claim I make????? Just sounds like daylight robbery.
  • That motor insurance is optional! In Kenya everyone must have insurance whether comprehensive or third-party. Not so here.
  • The prevalence of Afrikaans and Afrikaners. Coming here I knew South Africa has eleven official languages I just didn’t think it had been integrated and people could openly speak of it or that some people were comfortable with and proud to be culturally Afrikaner!
  • I liked the fact that many people my age spoke an African language. As we all know that’s one thing I sorely regret not being able to partake in.
  • Churches having braais with beer/evening events with sherry and beer! And that after the service you can decide to light up your cigarette and no one will kick you out.
  • Leaving handbags on chairs during communion in church and that no one steals the bags.
  • How people combine traditional and modern/traditional and religion and they just know when to do so.
  • Almost all Black names will have a meaning. Nice!
  • The fascination with race – like never knowing I was Black till I came here.
  • Being told the scope of an exam. How’s about reading the whole semester work and then being surprised coz it is called an exam, right?
  • Calling lecturers by their first name to their face. Yeah!
  • Drinking tap water!  In Kenya that’s asking for death right there.
  • The number of well-maintained public parks for recreation. I keep expecting someone to grab that land and construct a house or school.
  • A public transportation system that actually works and/or cheap cabs.
  • I love(d) that any Church service had people from all racial backgrounds.
  • The difference in pronunciation between stuff I knew from home: Panado v Panadol, Weetbix v Weetabix.
  • Butternut and pumpkins are always sweet. That and the introduction to food stuff like “dombolo” (dumplings) and samp. YUM!

6: And she dropped another

I recently read Americanah, Chimamanda’s most recent offering.

Book coverchimamanda-bio

The back of the book states:

From the award-winning author of Half of a Yellow Sun, a dazzling new novel: a story of love and race centered around a young man and woman from Nigeria who face difficult choices and challenges in the countries they come to call home.

As teenagers in a Lagos secondary school, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are leaving the country if they can. Ifemelu—beautiful, self-assured—departs for America to study. She suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships and friendships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home: race. Obinze—the quiet, thoughtful son of a professor—had hoped to join her, but post-9/11 America will not let him in, and he plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London.

Years later, Obinze is a wealthy man in a newly democratic Nigeria, while Ifemelu has achieved success as a writer of an eye-opening blog about race in America. But when Ifemelu returns to Nigeria, and she and Obinze reignite their shared passion—for their homeland and for each other—they will face the toughest decisions of their lives.

Fearless, gripping, at once darkly funny and tender, spanning three continents and numerous lives, Americanah is a richly told story set in today’s globalized world: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s most powerful and astonishing novel yet.

My thoughts?

(Spoiler Alert!!!!!)

  • Race  IS a big deal and we can’t be disingenuous and pretend otherwise.
  • I also didn’t know I was black until I came to South Africa five and a bit years back. Even now, there is a separateness and difference, I am not like the local Blacks, I just don’t have the same kind of heritage issues.
  • Loved how she highlighted the inter-racial differences talking about how a given Black character took the pains not to take an opinion because his family happened to be wealthier than the rest or how he was pro-Hilary and not pro-Obama. We are not a homogeneous nebulous cultural group, we are different.
  • I loved how she spoke of the run up to Obama’s victory. I totally identified with that, the fear that he might be shot dead at any point/ they would discover something awful about him that would force him to get disqualified and then his Pastor spoke and I thought, no!
  • Loved how she characterised the desperation that so many Africans have regarding moving abroad. Very palpable.
  • About natural hair? I rock it, you don’t! Moving along swiftly.
  • Saddened by the portrayal of Nigerian women and the fact that men appear to be firmly in control.
  • It was nice to see her talk of modern day Nigeria and the fact that people do hustle and we appreciate this better when we contrast Obinze in London versus Obinze in Lagos/Abuja. Big boy about town!
  • The apparent ending of the story further saddened me. Does Ifem take him back or not?
  • While the story is pretty much about Ifem and Obinze, there were a few hollow characters. Curtis? Blake?
  • Loved the names. So beautiful.
  • Curiously, I do wonder what the problem was with the girl that Ifem first baby-sat. Was she molested, a psychopath,what?
  • Dike, was another underdeveloped character, or maybe not, I am not sure. (Wondered how the name is pronounced as I read the book)

I loved this book but it made me immediately want to go back to Half of a Yellow Sun.

Interesting take on interracial gender dynamics

Please read and circulate this article widely!

It made such sense to me but what shocked me was when I sent it to some of my (Black) female friends and they too had personal experiences of similar propositions. THAT shocked me and made it real for me!

Stuff I’ve read this week

This article was Freshly pressed on WordPress and I must say it is well written and got me really thinking. She talks about white privilege and race.

Ever wondered about Scientology?

For the mothers out there!

The university that has not admitted women since 1917! Also here.

Changes to the Obamas.

Why do people still eat white bread?

When did we start rolling our eyes to express contempt?

Talking weight in a relationship?

What did you read recently that made you giddy with joy?

how many colours?

Living in South Africa, one can’t help but notice how everything is broken down and viewed in terms of colour, even things that have no such connection.  This is the land of apartheid, I THINK WE ALL KNOW but must it all come down to whether you are White, Coloured, Black or Asian? What’s this all about? On radio, all you hear talk of is racist this, racist the other and its not very comfortable.

In Kenya, we are a mixed race society and while on the one hand we don’t really mix, look at us, we are happy and somewhat peaceful.

Some University kids didn’t want to have a mixed race hostel and so they went ahead and filmed a mean and derogatory video depicting a mock integration ceremony with the schools (Black) support staff. In this day and age,  14 years into the Democracy and Rainbow Nation, why are we still discussing this? Somebody help me here  because coming from Kenya, I don’t understand this kind of discrimination.