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We Must Find Another Way To Win: a brief reflection on Selma, The Movie

In Berlin, I finally got the chance to see Selma. Sitting in the theatre, I went into oblivion before a torrent of advertisements and teasers – no popcorn, no beer (in Holland and Germany beers are allowed to go with your popcorn in Cinemas – a good enough reason not to go the cinema in France or Nigeria where it’s all soft drink). Eventually the movie kicked off. Like many movies of this kind which before getting to see them have been inundated with hypes and buzz, especially with its controversial outing at the Oscars, I usually come in with a certain level of apprehension coated with cynicism. Nevertheless, I brazed myself for the two-hour journey through this reenactment of a history we’ve come to know as pivotal in the repositioning of Black American narrative with regards to legislative rights. In the first few minutes, I found myself paying too much attention to the artifacts that are often the consequences of attempts to set a movie within a certain era, be it in the past or the future: the almost-forced accent and dress codes of the 60’s Alabama and Washington; …

Movement is the Word

Sometime ago, I came across Mo Ibrahim’s keynote address at the Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture in Tshwane, South Africa. I listened as he pronounced that (and I paraphrase) ‘there will be no progress on the African continent until there is free movement of cultures, capital and people across borders.’ From his words, we can deduce that in many different sectors, not just in the arts, the freedom – or the lack of it – associated with movement plays a major role in the discourse on how to forge ahead in a continent burdened by the downsides of abundance and possibilities. This much is clear. But what seems rather foggy in this mad rush for movement and exploration of possibilities, is the question of direction. Where are we heading? Are we transcending limitations or are we merely circulating within them? These questions have come to form the driving force behind the endeavours of artists and thinkers who champion ‘movement.’ Perhaps the aim is not to arrive at a definite answer. Perhaps it suffices that the questions …

Addis Foto Fest , a Successful Strategy

As I am still on the move, I want to quickly share my experience so far of Addis and the First Addis Ababa Foto Fest a.k.a AFF. I arrived in Addis Ababa on the evening of the 4th of December 2010, flying five hours from Lagos with Ethiopian Airlines. It was a smooth journey, and when I arrived at the Bole International airport, the immigration routines where not at all complicated and in a few minutes I was already at the arrival area. Suddenly, I spotted Aida Muluneh! Now, about Aida Muluneh: she is one of the most energetic and positive-thinking photographer and artist I have ever met, with a warm outlook and a charming smile. When I first met Aida, it was in Paris and my first impression was “here is the young woman with so much energy to let out”. We discussed projects; what was wrong with the African art scene and what ought to be done, this was in 2007. One thing about such conversations of long hours in a bar over …

The Popular Saying

Everywhere I go to; there is a mentality that prevails. I have already stated some of it in previous writings, but in my recent encounters, I have gotten a better grip of its cankerworm effects. When a black man is wealthy (or show signs of some certain affluence) he is either championed or envied by friends, families or peers, but when a white man is wealthy, it is “normal”. This is in nowhere more present than in Maputo. Though, it will be an error to limit such a situation to just Maputo for we can say the same of all Africa. It will not be wrong to even call it a Black Man’s mentality. But in Maputo, it is of a ridiculous alacrity, to the extent that people do not even judge things according to beauty, but by colour and there is no room for a second-guessing in between what one sees and what one knows. Personally, I experienced a lot of this while I was working at the ferry boat that travels between Maputo …

The Mozambican

On looking at the scene in Maputo flooded by a vigorous excavation for wealth by the non-citizens of the country, one could be tempted to lay blames only on the desperateness of these foreigners, but on a second look, I see that the scale is tipping way downwards from the Mozambican side of the balance. The president emphasised greatly on the saving power of foreign investment, but also he talked about boosting human capital and self-esteem amongst Mozambicans. But what I see everywhere is a total lack of ambition within the Mozambicans. In other words, they have conveniently relegated themselves to the position of consumers while the producers and hard workers are the foreigners. They are the “happy” people dancing to the tune of the harp they never play or intend to play. I am sure that when the president talked about self-esteem, he understood this as a fundamental problem, not only on the physical impact but also the psychological damage which always have the unfortunate tendencies of sipping right into the most unconscious part …

The Black Foreigner

Maputo is a city that one could divide amongst two classifications: Mozambicans and foreigners. By foreigners, I mean anyone white or with an element of white. It is also important to state that there are white and mixed Mozambicans, therefore my classification is more of mental than a physical attribute. It serves to depict the flow of relationship between two entities: one with all the foreign investment (or aid) and the other, the local recipient with a constant will to serve as a consumer to whatever as long as it is foreign. The above situation could adequately pass for a perfect representation of the Maputo of today. It is a city infested with a formidable influx of people from different countries and origin. It is on such velocity that the city thrives. It encompasses all genre of the life there. The black young male is constantly on the lookout for a white girl friend. They boast and fling their wings in such achievement as having found a white girlfriend. It is even to the extent …

Maputo

Maputo is rumoured to have about 1.2 million inhabitants ( though when considering the slums and ghettos, that number is much higher). My first impression of Maputo was on a five-day visit in august 2007 during the dance project organised by Qudus Onikeku. Those limited days weren’t enough to have a grasp of the entirety of life in the city. We left thinking that Maputo is a habitat for “happy people”. Now, much of that notion still remains the same but only with a better insight into their “happiness” having spent already 3 weeks in the place. Before I left Paris for this journey, I picked up a pamphlet from the Mozambican embassy where I read a two-page interview of the president (Amando Armilio Guebuza) on his prospect for the country. He talked about useful strategies to maximise the potential of the country, from human capital, to investment in energy, tourism and major exports. He emphasised continuously on the inevitable importance of foreign investment (and investors) as an efficient way of boosting country towards a …

Paris-Berlin-Frankfurt-Johannesburg-Maputo

This time I decided to put all this one onto writing, only heaven knows why. My destination was Maputo in Mozambique somewhere in the South of Africa. but before then I will be making a series of stops: Tuesday, 6.35 am I left Paris for Berlin where I will be spending two days with my one and only Jelka. Thursday 6.45pm I headed towards Johannesburg with a brief stop in Frankfurt. 8.50 am, I arrived in ‘Jo’burg where I will be hanging out with friends,colleagues for another 23 hours before I leave for Maputo – by bus. In Frankfurt, I got into the misfortune of missing my flight which was as a result of the endless security check. At this point it will be useful to mention that I am some black, dread-locks-guy, with a Nigerian passport, and a hand-luggage full of wires and photographic equipment. I guess from the x-ray screens, my luggage was looking like some sort of mini-atomic bomb. So all the way from Paris, I was meant to pass through the …