Sunday, 28 June 2015

Pride and Possibilities

Dear Naija,

I hope you can take this truth.

We are a people and we have known heritage, tradition, colonisation, civil war, bigotry and all the interesting pricks that come with the journey to optimum development. We are a proud and unique people on the face of the continent and the earth. Our journey is like no other nor will our race ever be.

Then again, there will never be much of a difference between our story and those of other people who are starting now, those still on their way and those who have gotten there. But we must not make all the mistakes. No. That's why we have history and precedents. To learn, modify and adopt, save our time and make the most of the opportunities that are no longer too many. Let's check one out:

 On June 28, 1969, in a village in the United States of America, the custodians of order raided citizens of the state because they were not conventional, because they were peculiar in a way that folk lores and morals of the time could not understand. It was unexpected and the hit was hard, fierce. You should have been there. It must have been like the rage of a terrorists bomb, as hurtful as the bigots cruelty.These custodians must have had all the moral justification at the time, to uphold what seemed 'the law'. Ugly.
Nigeria's Rashidi Williams at San Fransisco's Gay Pride Parade 2015

The people reacted. Sponteneously, violently. Crap was crap and still is crap no matter what version it is translated to, and they were not settling for just 'sorry'. Cruelty was recognised and response commenced immediately. The response did not win an instant victory, more civilised methods were adopted. There were -and still are- campaigns, conversations, sensitisation, prayers, faith, massive expression of audacious commitment and determination. There have been break-throughs as well. There is still is not a complete victory because there is not a complete response.

Nonetheless, the landmark of that response is celebrated every year as the Gay Pride Parade.

It's neither juju nor a show of shame. It's our possibilities staring us in the face. That there is really no chance of results before a response. Look, today as a people we have so much facing us. A good number of us have given up on our country because  our 'business as usual' is horrible.While the others in little and large ways seem to be milking what is left through corrupt means. This is all okay. If there is no darkness, we won't have a chance to tell the dawn apart.

In as much as we hope that Biafra won't happen again, we still have a large role to play in our community as a community and in our individual space. Our little concessions...not helping. Our tilting the scale even when it hurts those who should be preserved...crap. Our insistence on stagnation. Our insorbunation in the face of that which is just... I could go on.

Let us understand and appreciate that in as much as the Nigerian structure and system is not flawless it is perfect enough to secure progress- even as it can be improved. We are all we are and will become all we should be once we decide and act in the light that we can be.

My president and his team are doing a fabulous job. Though things have been a tad theatrical in nation's legislature. It's okay. We will get there. And as the years progress with all these realised possibilities we will have more to be proud of.

The more we appreciare that  our story and journey as a nation ,in more ways than ten thousand and two, are similar to those of countless unique people seeking legitimacy in a difficult world, and learn from audacity, faith, love and determination, the more we progress under God making the best of these pride and possibilities.

This is fact not an argument
. I hope you can take this truth.

I love you,
Nnanna.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Isloveis?



Is love madness or sanity?
Is love preference or equality?
Is love progress, grace?
photo from The Meeting
Is love the weakness that stares you in the face?
Is love the longing that burns in your heart?
Or the sweetness that tears you apart?
Is love the life that gives you speed?
Is love the only permission that you need?
Is love the ageless language that is true?
Is love only meant for a pre-selected few
Is love the angle, a single feature
Or is love simply the big picture
Is love the pink or red that drapes from her hair
Or is it the scream from a mother in despair
Is love the sharp cut of a precious stone
Or the increase that comes from reduction
Is love the life, the good life
Or the aspiration to be better
Is love a philosophy, that great dance
Or the chanting of a thousand different songs
Is love absolute believe or selective doubt
Is love really what everything is about
Is love answer or question
Darkness or the silver-line in the horizon
Is love a heart or spear
Is love that I leave or remain here?

Black Apple Charm



Tell me about the two roads diverged in a wood
But show me the road in between
Like volts bashing against me skull
And the fear that it might be an enchantment
Tell me of this magic that is gentle
Whose kisses are like wafers of nectar
Whose touch walks me to distances
Tell me of an arrival that isn’t as perfect as the journey
Of a traveller that makes the road alive
Black, young, peaceful African charm
Like nothing to be feared
Like Michelangelo has been told again
The stories of discovery
And the love that isn’t a hurricane
The friendship like green leaves of a bold flower
Tell me of a simplicity that conquers
Of a journey that doesn’t hold back anything
Tell me about that one road in between
Of the apple that inspired the world
That inspired us
Of the baby that I have fallen in love with
And the present that I have seen

Monday, 15 June 2015

An Open Letter to Caitlyn Jenner


Dear Caitlyn,
Words cannot express how much you have stunned the world and Africa. But then, I am a fan of audacity so I will tell you just a bit.
A fraction of Africa thinks you most unreasonable for flashing your sex-change in our face. They also toss some rage at your family for unjustifiably hugging all that media attention. We make crazy statements about your ex-wife and how wrong those who support you are.
You have heard, read and seen these statements. You are not burnt and this fascinates me.
Now these are what I think of this:
Absolutely no one, besides you, was Bruce Jenner the first time you ran around in victory with the flag of the United States of America glistening in your hand. You know the spice of applause. You have felt the warmth of validation. You know for a fact that victory begets validation and hardly ever the other way round.
I am a Christian, and I believe in the uniqueness of the human body, soul, mind and journey as it varies from individual to individual. I also believe in the infinite origins and extents of the Almighty God far beyond antique and evolved standards. There is hardly ever, I think, a general rule that applies generally. As a result, your journey is yours to traverse.
Nonetheless, I know the heat of an internal longing, the yearning to turn things around and the pain of boundaries.  I also know the peeve of the inapt and while peace that comes with the legitimate. Your measure of legitimacy, I think, should never be a cross that the world outside imposes on you, it should be a path that you and the Heaven within agree on together.
I love you, and I celebrate the beauty you are: powerful, sexy, fierce and interesting. You are a confirmation and license to so much, liberation to so many.
That you chose to share your journey with the world, for me, is the boldest statement that can be made on the subject. In spite of everything, it is your journey. And when you look in the mirror you have all the justification you need. You are an adult and your life decisions are not an interpersonal democracy until you permit it or when they interfere with the rights, freedom, and the sphere of independent stability of other persons.
I could go on to tell you about Robert Frost’s Road Not Taken, or Lord Denning’s Argument of  the Other Side, but your life, this step, is a far more precise sort of the evolution of guts. Always we see instructions that as humans we can only do so much. But every now and then we are reminded that humanity can rise from the passive status of a complacent community to being the capacity to continually improve capacity, results, relevance, existence and purpose. We have once more been reminded by you. And whoever disputes this had better walk away from elevators and smart phones.
We did not question the evolution when it said we could change the colour of our skin nor when it put images and light inside a box. We did not question it when it could look inside a person's body without tearing it up or when it could tear it up and put it back. We did not question it when it put the whole world- including us- inside a puny tablet. Now we say that it is evil because it preaches a change that we are yet to accept. Caitlyn, can you imagine?
Your legitimacy is your legitimacy- Romans 14:22.Holy Bible- between you and God Almighty, even as you fabulously strut and inspire me, as long you completely believe without the tiniest shadow of doubt, your heart never faulting it.
I was up a few nights ago reading Black and Gay in the UK, when I came across Diriye Osman’s piece titled ‘Feminity in Men is a Source of Power’. The whole piece was phenomenal. In the end he wrote something that struck a chord in my heart:
I glanced in the mirror and saw something I had never seen within myself before: a sense of poise, daring even….one who was bold, unafraid to take risks. I stood before the camera and gazed directly at the lens. There was no need for validation…I knew what I was doing.
I must confess that, initially, I was demystified that you were televising your transformation. And like all transgender cases, I am yet to fully appreciate and understand your journey. But now, I am thankful that you did it anyway. I still look forward to meeting a trans-person, becoming friends even- perhaps then I’ll understand better. I also wish you would consider writing about your transformation…your thoughts, pains, regrets, expectations…everything or at least most of it. I want more and I believe that with more information the rest of us may be unstrapped from our maligning single story.
Congratulations to you Caitlyn Jenner. You look all kinds of fabulous…what’s not to love?

Much love,
Nnanna

Friday, 5 June 2015

With Our Scars Beside Us



Photo from Like Stars in the Sky
You can live above your past
You can live it behind
You can continue like you aren’t blind
Like you aren’t sick or dying
But hey…the truth is that you are
We all are
We are scathed
We are coloured by our stories
Lit up like an moonlight fire
But you see, these scars
They aren’t clothes
They are like shadows behind us
Like friends beside us
I’m sick, but I’ll get better
I’m dying, but I get to live a while longer
They are like people who make the difference clear
Like the mirror that lets us see that we are spent
And how much we have left
Faith, unfortunately isn’t ignorance
It’s not pretentiousness
It’s walking up with our scars beside us
Not like we aren’t dying
But that in spite of eventual death we are complete
We are sufficient
Because we are gods and still God
Everything that is what it is
Everything that will ever be
So yes, I’m scathed
But I’m free

Oremi Alhaji


Photo from The Meeting

You see me because there are eyes in your soul
An eye for my kind
Because I have been hidden from all save few
Of the few and you

You hear me even when I’ve said nothing
Because what you listen to isn’t my voice
But instructions from the universe
Music inspiring you

You walk with me because you have become friend
Even while the most exciting of strangers
And I walk with you because I understand
I see you too

You tell me that I’m different
When in fact its you
And your falling heart
With the seasons that now vent

I’m saying Oremi and letting you sing
Because I see your eyes longing to
I’m still listening
Because I hear you

With you I see myself again
Feel the first
And the next
And the next

With you I see that I have fallen in love a lot
And that this is your first
I should listen
Because you are my next

So I wont hold on
Because I know you wont let go
Either way we’ll be together
Saying innasunka for a while
And perhaps, forever

 (Oremi Alhaji: My Friend The Stranger)