blog art

blog art

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

we create as we go along
because we do as comes to us
and in that lies the truth
that there is no truth
the Truth that THERE IS NO TRUTH
since the universalization of truth tastes all soils

But one truth transcends all variations and differences and that truth is LOVE,
Love which sits on your shoulders 
a content Eagle at her mistress's bidding
Love that suckled your nipples to a world of reciprocal ecstasy that imitates universe imitates life imitates creation
and that is the one truth
my slippery soul will leave this earth knowing,
that Truth is Love

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Soulmate


Night rises
He smiles
He turns away
I watch
Fingers sing a lovers note
Kiss on a collarbone
I lead with instinct
The love bird sings to me and only me
He smiles, but turns away

My tongue knows what his lips will taste like
salty
sweet
thirsty
needy
but not in need of me. Yet. 

I circle 
His space my universe
my space his place
for the time being.
Need is a desperate log in the wide blue sea
the tears
his words
his fingers
I tremble
I watch time...I watch time

Full moon tides
Deja vu sparkles on the horizon
palms graze
lips taste
cheeks remember
one heart flutters

One night is a lifetime
Drawing circles of memories that never lived but lived
whispered conversations
ancient kingdoms, art, fire
The Moment When
Guilt dies a fast death in his electric space
Love is an oak tree
In just one night

'How far are we going to let this go?'
Breathing his question against my neck
How do I tell him the truth?
That I've lived centuries by his side as wife, as life, as mate, as soul
will he remember our ancient love in one night?

How do I tell him that I already have a favourite place on his body
Already have him deep inside of me
enjoying his breath on my tongue
How many times I held him against my breasts as he shuddered his ectsasy...his love on me
charged bubbles of a space we used to understand in an ancient place in an ancient century

Time speeds then stops. 
I live millenniums in a moment
He lives this one electric moment
same space, same traces in the same places
words burst into tiny sparkles in the vast universe
He fits just right inside of me
missing puzzle found
violent waters rising
direction is a servant to intuition
Full moon in all her glory
I give to him to give to me. He gives I take. Life is a continuum of charged bliss
reaching reaching reaching hard for a past that is present that is future

He's mine. He's me. I'm his.

Time stops.
He doesn't remember

Does he remember?


Sunday, 26 June 2016

DEFINING DEVELOPMENT: WHO SETS THE STANDARDS?

Hi everyone!

I haven’t blogged in forever, due to a creative bloc, plus a whole lot of school work, sitting down to write something for myself and just myself and not for a lecturer’s yay or nay!

Amazingly, I was selected this year as a Mandela Washington Fellow in President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative and I’m currently serving my tenure on the civic leadership track at the University of Illinois. Thus, the other fellows and I are deeply immersed in topics such as civic engagement, democracy and what it looks like, and of course, development and its measurement. In these discussions, one finds that inevitably, there are constant comparisons made of Africa, and its various countries, to America. A persistent question that has surfaced throughout our 1st week has been the question posed above: Which should come first: Democracy or development? Bracketed in this question has been a lot of despair raised against developmental and ‘democratic’ spaces in Africa; my colleagues bemoaning the state of fiasco in Zimbabwe, the violent instability of South Sudan, the corruption across all democracies in Africa.



To begin to even answer this question, we need to start with a context, with the context of Africa’s history and all the elements that have shaped Africa into what it has become now. Starting from the surface premise of comparing Africa and America would lead to a long diatribe of complaints against Africa and ‘why can’t Africa be as ‘developed’ as America is?’ and frankly, that is a very problematic premise to start with.

So let’s start with the context: who defines development?

It’s like a game of catch between a mistress and her dog. The dog will solely be focused on the competition that has been laid out for it: to get the bone that its mistress is about to throw. The dog’s mistress, on the other hand, who is the ‘bone-thrower’ however is not concerned about the competition, because she operates in a totally different sphere, a sphere of power where the dog’s competition is not relevant to her reality. Because she throws the bone, she is not a part of the competition. She has a higher realm of operation and preoccupation. I use ‘higher’ because whereas the dog whose only focus is to meet the standard its mistress has set for it by catching the bone, the mistress, on the other hand, is the one setting the standards.

It is in this context that I place the discussion of development and democracy. The concert of ‘development’ is a neo-colonial tool. The concept of development as it has been universalized now is one deeply rooted in a Eurocentric worldview. Rooted in 19th century evolutionism and 19th century social technology (processes of western change not African change), development theory and its standards as defined today for Africa is one that does not originate from Africa. Evolutionism is a western concept that implicitly implies a certain process and succession of events that a society must go through to reach a certain stage of wellbeing; this stage of wellbeing is inherently decided by the lens of who defines it. Thus, in Eurocentric development lingo, we have ‘developed’ and ‘developing’ (essentially ‘Third World’, but someone thought to change it not to flare up African sensibilities). Implicit in the designation of ‘developed’ and ‘developing’ is the notion that to reach the higher stage of ‘developed’, an African country must look, feel and act like a western state. It assumes a singular Eurocentric discourse in the language of development, totally disregarding the reality that European processes of social change will not be the same as the processes of social change which have defined what Africa looks like and feels like today.


Mali Empire


In short, if the concept of development is defined from this Eurocentric view of the world, lensed in a European history and European evolution, Africa would never match up. This is because there is a crucial missing perspective: Africa’s. Africa’s processes of social change have not been factored, recognized or respected in this universalized Eurocentric concept of development. It is why in these criteria, we would be and would remain for a long time ‘developing’ countries. Proof of this is evident in the young and fledgling democracies in Africa: Zimbabwe and its current cash crisis (amongst others), Nigeria and Ghana and the almost systemic state of corruption, South Sudan and its prism of violence. The list goes on. Why are these countries defined as ‘young’ though? Because we start counting from a Western development calendar where Ghana was only born 59 years ago, South Sudan a mere 6 years old. What if we looked further than that? In fact, why do we consistently ignore a past further than that in a continent which housed the oldest civilizations if the world?

Worse in this conceptualization of development is the tendency to set western development and democracy as the ‘ideal’. This ‘ideal’ stage of development for instance in American democracy is one that carries with the heavy baggage of racism, where police brutality, racial stratification, and its accompanying counterparts socially, economically, politically, and in Britain with the current surge of ill-feeling against immigrants, are part and parcel of the Eurocentric ideal of ‘developed’. I cannot fathom where Africa would have a place in this ‘ideal’ of democracy and development.   
What are the African processes of social change that have been imperially ignored in this Eurocentric definition of development?

1. The destruction of many African civilizations by Arab and European invasions - empires such as the ancient Egyptian civilization of the pyramids(Kemet), the Mali empire, the Songai empire and the many highbrow cultures in Africa that operated on complex philosophies and social systems (Yoruba, Ibo, Ashanti, Masai) that were evidence of  what will be by today’s standards highly ‘developed.’ Many of these systems were at a point in time slapped with the tag ‘primitive’ in this Eurocentric concept of development.

2. The systemic institutions of Arab and European occupation, colonialism and slavery and the disruption of African processes of social change thereafter

3. The schizophrenic state of Africa as a consequence and what I will call a ‘reeling’ from a past characterized in the last 1000 years (if I may hastily measure) by systemic interference and disruption of African processes of social change

If these factors were considered in a definition and criteria of development, Development as defined today would look and sound very different.

Ashanti Empire


I would not argue for an inclusion of Africa’s historical processes of change in the current criteria for development. To do so would be a futile attempt at fitting square pegs in round holes.We must re-construct the language of development. We need to re-define development solely from an African perspective, with an examination of the various African processes of social change, a study of African social systems, carefully taking into consideration the stages of disruption, studying its repetitive consequences across the continent, and not through, as Ziai put it, the lens of the ‘colonizer’s model of the world’. Only from this lens of development would Africa set its own standards and from there, begin to forge the much needed social change we all crave to see in our societies.


Tuesday, 7 July 2015

WHY EBO WHYTE’S FORBIDDEN IS NOT WHAT GHANAIAN THEATRE NEEDS RIGHT NOW


Ebo Whyte’s latest production, Forbidden, is a masterpiece of a Trojan Horse. Before it gets very far, the production shoots itself in the foot with the same tropes that allude to Ebo Whyte being referred to as the ‘Tyler Perry of Ghana’, ie, you’re sure to be preached at, you get an annoying break out into song at every damn corner (Hey, look! This table is red! Let’s sing about it!), a plot that often seems absentminded, but you also get great actors, a riveting beginning, a creative use of interludes (gotta love the use of the human furniture) and that is where it ends.

Plot synopsis:

‘Bad boy;’ Kwaku Kodua aka Junior wants to marry Church Girl to please his parents. What makes Junior ‘bad’? Don’t worry, he hasn’t murdered anyone, neither does he have psychotic fantasies to do so. He just loves to enjoy his alcohol, smoke the occasional joint, and basically have every day conversation and soak in life while he lives it. His love interest, on the other hand, Hilda, speaks in naïve parables, is so ‘good’ she doesn’t have human emotions and is exactly the reason why overzealous Christians might resemble hypnotized zombies.

But despite the preachy tone Ebo Whyte can’t seem to dissociate from his theatre, the conflict presented is intriguing! How will little Miss Goody Two Shoes and sexy, Knight in devil’s armour court? How will their relationship develop? With two such ‘opposing forces’, which force will win over the other? The classic case of Good versus Evil, a trope that never tires because humanity is OBSSESSED with all the mysteries that lie in that very charged space.

So obviously being a human caught under that spell, the conflict thoroughly intrigued me. I had picked sides and bet on the good girl to go not just bad but dangerously baad (say it with a twang). In this, I say a huge Kudos to the scriptwriter. Previous conflicts in Ebo Whyte productions are mostly as riveting. They may not make me sit on the edge of my seat, but I’m definitely eager to watch how it pans out.

And that’s where the Trojan horse opens its secret latch and our senses are ambushed, never to come back, panting hard on the beach after an incredulous slap and you no longer know what your name is.
[Spoiler alert in case you didn’t catch it and are hoping Ebo Whyte will bring it back again before his December Festival of plays] : The perfectly good tale moves to higher levels of intrigue with little Miss Churchy surprising him on their wedding night. She teaches her worldly husband not a few, but a lot of things about lovemaking he didn’t know, so much that it scares him out of their honeymoon bed. He shivers with a joint on the balcony, not sure whether he had just been violated or not, when his ‘crife’ wife comes to join him. Turns out she smokes Mary Jane like she IS Mary Jane. And not only that, she knows where to get the good stuff (Jamaican accent thrown into the bargain).  Thus the plot thickens. How does little Miss Churchy turn in to badgal Riri in one night? My excitement level here was at its peak. Having won over 90% of my skepticism, I believed the play was going to take me to a fantastic crescendo where I would be left screaming my applause like a mad woman.

But then it dropped. It dropped so hard my bottom still aches from the pain. Hilda launched into a long unbelievable tale about falling on hard times, being a prostitute in Ghana, then dealing in cocaine, she ends up in prison in the USA for drug trafficking, is giving a second chance in the States, and somehow she comes back to Ghana and has to ‘hustle on the streets’ and blah blah blah. A convoluted back story so stuffed to death the turkey rotted before it was cooked. The scriptwriter, in an attempt to explain the groundbreaking crescendo he brought his audience to, couldn’t live up to the peak he had created and sold us some mishmash as though we were 7 yr olds listening to an Ananse story.

Why Forbidden is not what Ghanaian theatre needs right now

1.      It is Preachy. And not in the most innovative ways. Theatre is escapism. It is about delving into human nature as expressed in the newest, oddest, interesting ways the artist can interpret human life for his\her audience. I do not want to be reminded at every turn of a word, or story plot, or actor’s gesture that I have to be ‘a good Christian sister’. Even if that is your aim, sneak it up on me with some pizzazz. Don’t preach it at me. I can go to church for that.

2.      Am I the only one who feels like my intelligence was underrated when I watched this play? See the Ananse story above. C’mon! I’m at least a little bit smarter than that!

3.      Ebo Whyte productions are unarguably the biggest theatre productions in the country. Yet for such a massive command of the Ghanaian Theatre scene, Ebo Whyte productions do not rouse a healthy competition to encourage others to break artistic boundaries, to move from the box of being locally relevant, yet globally irrelevant. That is what art should be about, no? To break rules, to discover new ways of talking about old things, and to elevate human thought.

But a disclaimer must be added here. Ebo Whyte is simply a product of his society, something each and every one of us is without it ever being our fault. It happens simply because we are born into society and come to meet its strictures. Ghanaian society is a conservative religious society and this, most times, can serve as chains which stifle creativity.  Faced with this inevitable challenge, a Ghanaian artist must teach himself or herself to acknowledge this societal obstacle, and try to break free from it. Only then will our artistic wings soar so high even the sun cannot stop us.

Other news on the theatre scene:
1.      The Accra Theatre Workshop run by Elisabeth Sutherland, granddaughter of renowned playwright and Ghanaian icon Efua Sutherland, is a space you should watch out for. I have seen the push in artistic boundaries with this young lady’s productions and learnt a few things about experimental theatre in the process! Follow them on twitter @accratheatre for updates on the upcoming productions.


2.      The Heritage Theatre Series production, Wogbej3ke: The Birth of a Nation, showed last weekend at the national theatre. Twitter was agog with praise at this production which did an excellent job of merging dance, theatre, poetry and music to tell the relevant story of Ghana’s history. A much more lively option than the boring history books if you ask me. Hopefully, by popular request, it will show again soon!

Sunday, 8 March 2015

A Girl’s Hopes for Women's Day




I’m tired of the tropes.

I’m tired of the stereotypes.

I’m tired of being put in a box I can never escape.

I hope we will learn to identify the stereotypes created for us to puppet to: At one point women were ‘too delicate’ and ‘precious’ [Insert the allegory of the Virgin Mary here] to go out and discover the world. In fact, woman was elevated so high she was useless. She remained locked away at home, a bedwarmer to the ‘conqueror’ man. 

Then another stereotype developed, the sexy vixen, who isn’t afraid to bare all her juicy goodies and indulge in her deeply sexual self. But the sexy vixen should not hope to be married. She’s too cheap for that holy institution [Insert: double standards]. 

Then there’s the ‘good girl’ who is definitely a virgin till marriage. Doesn’t go out, doesn’t drink, or dance or have opinions or have a life. She will definitely be the pick for the ‘highest honour’ of marriage. She is man’s ideal of the ‘perfect woman for marriage’. But, of course, she is the last choice for business conducted outside of marriage. 

And we have the ‘cool girl’ who is every man’s dream. Who is the cool girl? The cool girl is just the right amounts of sexy vixen and good girl. She’s a vixen under the sheets, but ‘good’ on the outside. She’s tailored to meet her man’s every need. She never complains when her humanity is being trampled upon or when she’s being disrespected, ’cuz she’s the cool girl!

I hope a day will come when women are released from the prison of the patriarchal system; when we ourselves no longer propagate woman stereotypes handed to us by a patriarchal system. I hope we just be ourselves, even if it’s a little mix of good, wild, crazy, sexy, moody, frustrated or  staying-in-my-peejays-all-day-today.

I hope today women learn to understand more about themselves and their history and their CENTRE in that history. 

I hope armed with that knowledge we will begin to understand that certain conditions we live in today are not to be taken as your inevitable burden: being touched sexually at work, being reduced to just your sexual organ, being generally viewed as of much less worth than men and being paid less because of that, your menstrual cycle being used as an excuse to reduce your worth and capability, that your being married is a rite of passage into domestic slavery, despite your various laurels and career advancements. You don’t need that shit. 

I hope parents today would unlearn their inherited faulty notions of gender roles. I hope when you tell your daughter to sweep, you tell your son to sweep as well. When you keep Ama in to learn how to cook, it is not to learn to cook for a husband in some distant future; it is to teach her for her own good, to learn cook for herself when she becomes independent. I also hope you keep Kofi in to teach him to cook too.  After all, it is essential to his survival to know how to feed himself, basic law of nature. Even the beasts of the wild know that. 

It's as important for a boy to learn to cook as it is for a girl


I hope marriage becomes no longer about an escape from the policing of your parents to the policing of your husband. Same prison. 

Mother and wife may not be my ultimate calling as a woman. And that’s not a big deal. I’m not a freak of nature. I’m actually a human being just like you who has a mind that thinks of not just my womb, but the world and my contribution to it, about the universe and where humanity begins and ends, about political and economical systems and which might work for my country. I think, and I’m capable of so much more than just my womb.

But sometimes, my calling may be to being a mother and wife. And it’s as simple as that. We’re all different yet equally important fingers of the same hand. But it doesn’t mean because it’s my calling, it’s the calling for every woman.  Just because my brother likes skip on one foot doesn’t mean I conclude that every man likes to skip on one foot. 

When I marry you, I come to you as your WIFE, not your domestic slave to take up where was left off, to clean up and cook after you and mind our kids. Even if I love to clean, rub and dust, we’re sharing our lives and home together. It is a partnership, and all our now shared human needs and tiny ittie bitties become a shared responsibility. Especially when I have a 9-to-5 just like you do.
I hope to God we stop the slut-shaming and finger-pointing. I’m tired of the double standards. I’m tired of men being allowed to cheat blatantly on their women, because ‘it’s how men are’ yet women are punished severely for daring to breach their ‘designated boundary’. 

I hope fervently that we come to learn that if I’m in a short skirt, it is not an excuse for you to help me strip my body bare and expose my parts. There’s a reason I left some of it covered. Hell, if I wanted to walk out totally naked, I wouldn’t need your help.  Erase that barbaric, savage mentality.  There’s a reason why you’re not in some forest, scratching your armpits and flitting from tree to tree.  Don’t reduce your humanity and in the process insult mine.

When a woman is raped, questions like “Why was she dressed like that in the first place?” “Why did she go over to his house in the first place?” “Why was she there at that time?” are expressions of shameful ignorance. What you imply by making such illegitimate enquiries is to suggest that men who rape are animals and not human beings, incapable of control, lacking of a brain, so deserve to be put on a dog leash, kept in a cage and fed twice a day on a metal plate. 

I’m tired of women fighting against themselves, backbiting, obstructing and affecting the progress of any other woman (or man for that matter). The idea that ‘women are their own enemies’ is a clever way of turning us against ourselves, because you know what happens when there is infighting amongst women? The dream we’re fighting for remains an illusion. What is the dream? To be put back in our place as human beings of equal worth. That destructive idea is another of those patriarchal lies sown deep into our membranes to hinder our progress.

I’m tired of the “Oh dear Mr. Man, please decide for me what path my life is to take!” You’re a being of incredible power. You can literally move mountains if you wanted to, place a goddamn hill in your living room if you chose. You can transcend time and space. Don’t squeeze your five dimensional self into a one dimensional shadow of yourself. Now that’s a freak of nature.

I’m tired of you thinking you can bully me on the road because I’m a female driver. I’m no different. Put my life in danger, and I will scream every profanity I know on you. And you will shut up, take it all in and apologize. I’m tired that there’s a stereotype of “Women drivers” [said with a frustrated or irritated shake of your head].

I’m tired of the TV tropes. I’m tired of being the one that stays at home and worries about the safety of my man as he goes out to discover the universe or conquer the bad guys or aliens or whatever. Can’t I help in the discovery and conquering too? 

I hope with all my heart that the hypocrisy institutionalized religion uses to suppress one side of humanity (womanhood) for the selfish self-aggrandizement of the other is recognized for what it is: a hypocrisy, a dangerous evil, a sheep in wolf’s clothing, a violation and opportunistic attempt to control the mind using the divinity of religion. 

I hope everyone all over the world comes to understand the reality that MISOGYNY IS A VIRUS. This virus will destroy humanity if we allow it to continue to fester in our thoughts and beliefs and in our actions. 

I hope these words will not be stereotyped, and thrown on infertile ground, wasted. I hope you read this with all senses of your humanity about you. I hope you understand that by living with the faulty notions of patriarchy and misogyny you hinder political, economic, social, spiritual growth of humanity. We are god-like beings. To hinder another from their total potential is an unforgivable crime to ourselves.

I hope we learn to unlearn the lies we have been taught. 

I hope you understand that woman is man and man is woman and together we make a powerful creation: Humanity.

A wise person once said, “Love your neighbor as yourself”. I think that sums up everything nicely!

Happy International Women’s Day! Make it Happen!