The Lectern: Africa is a continent, not a country

For us in Nigeria, this past month of May was very eventful – mosquitoes; fuel scarcity of such potency that saw prices triple, shops and services shut down; scant electricity; then NO electricity for days on end; more mosquitoes; and but all turned over by the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari. 

Riding with the optimism that we cannot help but feel in this new dispensation, Thia takes to ‘The Lectern’ with a message of identity, of pride and ultimately, of hope. She admits that this is no new subject for discourse, but she also insists that we must not tire of preaching it until we first, then the entire world, learns it.

And so, we welcome the month of June.

The Lectern01

…that we might be read


AFRICA IS A CONTINENT, NOT A COUNTRY

Africa is a continent

This topic is not a peculiar one.

The first time I heard of it was on a TEDTalks video of the Nigerian author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie titled “The Danger of a Single Story” where she jokingly recounted how a Virgin flight she was on mentioned their charity works “in India, Africa and other countries.”

The second time I heard of it was also on a TEDTalks video of another Nigerian, Cobhams Asuquo titled “The Gift of Blindness.”  He also mentioned again rather jokingly that an announcement on a flight he was on mentioned the charitable works the British airways was doing in the UK, Africa and other countries.

Until recently I saw this as inconsequential or rather just unnecessary. I am a fan of great music and one of the songs that I doubt will ever leave my playlist is “We are the World”, both the original and the remix for Haiti. I am sure I have listened to both of them over a hundred times.  Weirdly until recently I never really listened to the lyrics; I merely enjoyed the melody and the rare freshness of many celebrities coming together in one song.

So today I listened. Towards the end of this very awesome song I discovered something I am sure I will never forget:

“…remember Katrina, Africa, Indonesia

and now Haiti needs us…”

It shocked me. Hurricane Katrina was one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the United States of America. The earthquake in Haiti was another really horrible natural disaster. And at about that time in Indonesia, multiple earthquakes and a tsunami at the Mentawai Islands including volcanic eruptions at Mount MerapiI had shaken the Asian country. Seeing as it was a string of natural disasters that hit the above mentioned countries, I began to wonder what natural disaster has hit the whole of Africa.

In all my instances above, Africa was put on a list of countries. In the last one in particular, it was put on a list of geographical areas smaller than many countries. The whole of Africa is not sick. Africa is a continent not a country thus it deserves recognition as such. People make it seem like Africa is a country with South Africa as its capital because in pictures of Africa in most books and magazines, the Safari of South Africa is what is captured as Africa.

Komla Dumor in another TEDx talk stated rather brilliantly that we tell both sides of the story. Yes! Africa is rich naturally. Yes! Africa is still developing. No! We are a continent, a conglomeration of various countries spread across a wide geographical location with various value systems, cultures and languages interwoven rather very beautifully. The moment we start to appreciate this I think it will put things in greater perspective for those doing “charitable works in India, Africa and other countries.” Maybe then Nigeria as a country will become a beneficiary of their benevolence as well as Ghana, Mali, Kenya, Somalia and other AFRICAN COUNTRIES.

This seems confusing at this point and I am asking myself what the whole point of writing this is. Maybe my point is just that this message be passed along so that it is not said anywhere that xenophobia occurs in Africa. Nigeria is not xenophobic and I am sure Benin republic isn’t also, neither are many other African countries.

Africa is way too big to be disrespected so often. Even smaller continents get more respect.

Africa is a continent not a country

Proudly African! Proudly Nigerian! Proudly Igbo!

P.S: This is my identity not just a chant. I should be identifiable by my specific origin not just a random over-generalization. I feel we all should.

by Thia Mbajunwa

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Cynthia Adaugo Mbajunwa is a Christian Igbo Nigerian African female. She loves, as wholly as possible, and looks to make a difference no matter how little. She is sarcastic and shy, a bold feminist currently studying to become a lawyer.

Don’t forget to share with your friends and enemies; also take a minute to tell us in the Comments what you’re thinking about this one. If you have written something which you would like our readers to enjoy from ‘The Lectern’, attach and send it in a mail titled ‘The Lectern’ to ojukwumartin@gmail.com. If you are unsure about a subject matter, still reach out and we can work up something appropriate for you. It does not have to be right or left, right or wrong…only your opinion.

Chisom

One song

This picture was captured from a clip I watched on Facebook a few weeks ago. It was such a profound experience watching this woman work magic with that guitar, and it inspired a story out of me. My very first Flash piece …

ONE SONG

One song

Nceda, Theresa … just one song.”

She hid behind her hands and shook her head slowly from side to side, like a shy virgin on her wedding night. Through her fingers, she peeped into the camera lens. “Kuphela enye?” Just one?

Ewe,” the man affirmed in his terrible Xhosa. The rest of the crew behind him nodded in unison.

Securing the guitar beneath her right armpit, Theresa began to play.

The cameraman rose from his crouch, camera forgotten on the tripod; his astonishment mirrored that of the entire crew. Theresa had seen it before.

The first time she saw such awe, she was only fifteen and her folks had taken her to play at the local inn. She was only seven when she started playing with the old guitar Dada kept hanging in his room – a gift from a former Portuguese boss. ‘Odeku’ hung by the strap on the wall, its stringed nose angled downwards. And Theresa stood on tiptoes and tugged at the strings.

She was gifted, Dada said, and so they took her to play many times at the Ingonyama’s palace and that one time at the inn. Richie was in the crowd that day. A few visits and many promises later, she was with a group of girls en route Jo’Burg where Richie said they would ‘blow’.

Blow, she did – the drugs, liquor, split lips and broken arms blew her mind, body and soul. And a ‘forever’ later, she returned with one suitcase and a viral infection to an empty home.

And so she turned back to ‘Odeku’.

“It isn’t just her obvious talent,” the CNN African Story anchor was saying into the camera, “it’s the ease – near boredom in fact – with which she makes such beautiful music.”


A Flash, by the way, is a really short story, usually anywhere between 20 and 500 words. ‘One song’ was also featured on ShortSharpShot … see it here

If you loved it or not, say something about it below. And depending on your feedback, I just might do this again. 

Thank you 🙂

Chisom

Twenty Fifteen

A brother was telling me just this week about how in Nigeria, we are more about beats, and nada about the lyrics of our music. I agreed with him on a lot of his points, after all how many words of Terry G and even Davido lyrics can I comfortably write down. Yet, I’ll gbedu anytime to ‘Run Mad’ and Davido is fifth on my phone’s ‘Most played’ artistes.

Yet again it pays once in a while to hear something different. And refreshing.

‘Twenty Fifteen’ by Khafeel is one such piece.

You know how recently, the mornings are very unfriendly to go out in, but we have to for daily bread. So you just boarded the bus, the window to your left is blank – no glass, you can’t shut out the biting cold; the lady to your right is F.A.T and as if the Israelites didn’t suffer enough, she balances this humongous basket of cocoyams on her laps; the conductor is eating your ear out about the one thousand naira note you gave him, ‘kosi change oh‘; you stick your ear plugs in your ear and your one prayer is for a track like ‘Twenty Fifteen’.

Made by rather conserved but extremely talented and budding producer, Kinsu, ‘Twenty Fifteen’ by Khafeel is a poetic piece to set the new year on a path of excellence, pomp and ceremony.

Listen here…

http://goo.gl/Vc6J4z

You may find the transcript below. Best enjoy it.

AND SHARE!!!


Twenty Fifteen

May our barns be filled with yam
And the tubers be long and fat.
May our cellars never dry out
Serving newness with the passing of each new day.
May our fields be green
So they can graze, our sheep and cattle.
May we have meat in abundance
Enough to feed even the needy.
May we drink and never thirst
With merry hearts all the days of the year.

Twenty Fifteen.
We call you by your name
From years we’ve seen, we ask you change the game
From whence we’ve been, grant us a new fame
The fat and the lean, let the showers fall on same
All the babes we wean, let them grow and not be lame
Be void of sin, and the wild, we pray you tame
And when finally your light shall dim,
let men not forget that you came.

We bid you to spring forth new waters
From patched lands scorched terrains
Fresh and salty, as the need may arise.

Send the rain and end the pain
As we free our hearts and set our minds
To Conceive the unimaginable
Gather our acts to do the impossible
Tirelessly pronouncing the unpopular
And living life that is void of mediocrity.

Cloth us in apparels of shimmering stone
Emeralds and diamonds, refined to the finest tone
Make us dazzling babies as we savour the late night moan
Grant us the best of wheels, German prides bought not on loan
And tastefully built abodes situated in the world’s choicest zone.

Twenty Fifteen.
Answer by your name
Prosper don’t play safe
Let men their joys resound as we proclaim thee the year of the ornaments.
With trumpets sounding on C
The drums rolling with such ecstasy
The people dancing stamping joyous feet for all to see
A perfect complement to the soft wind blowing over land and sea
Even as tinsels sway and cling to the rhythm of the harmony that we oversee
Giving us a goodly heritage and a perfect legacy.

Twenty Fifteen.
No I’m not eighteen
But yeah I feel like a teen
For love don’t cost a thing.

We pray thee to spread abroad the love that we men need at a time like this
We ask that your arms embrace us, that your lips kiss us, and your warmth enclose us
Giving comfort to all that despair and hope to the ones who cry in silence.

We pray, that your mornings be filled with joy
Exceedingly great, even past the time of noon
And the eve and the morrow shall ever speak of tranquil peace
Economic order and societal bliss.

Twenty Fifteen.
Arise never to fall,
For on your wings we soar unto limitless heights and sights
Strapped and saddled fast and firm
We ride to the place of our victory
Diving into the world’s deepest depths
We uncover treasures locked beneath the floor of the ocean.

Pregnant you are
Midwives we shall be
Walking you safely through timely delivery of the blessings that you have stored up for our use.

Twenty Fifteen.
With arms stretched all out
And smiles that melt the heart of the broken.
We bid you a grand welcome.

Chisom